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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reality Check 1 comment

Our Team:

Day 10

Today was a little bit of a different day. We started it off normally, but instead of going to work we went on a road trip towards the mountains to visit two other schools that COCREF supports (COlegio Christiano REFormado).  Both schools are in Bateys (pronounced ba-tay) which are communities within a sugar plantation. The housing is a long concrete structure with VERY small homes for 10 families in the middle of sugar cane fields. These schools are both very isolated from the cities. One used to be a functioning sugar plantation but is no longer, while the other still is.

The first one we visited is called Apocalypses. This was the larger of the two schools and went from Kindergarten to gr. 8. These children were very poor, they came to school and were given breakfast and lunch and are entirely supported by COCREF. Some walk up to five Kilometers to get there. The principal has been there for 20 years and has seen what the Lord and education can do. This school had two graduates that are now in university and another one who is now a teacher. We had a chance to talk with the resource teacher at the school – you can hear her love for the children in the way she talks about her work. She has boxes of supplies to help the students with the various subjects and games and flash cards to teach various skills. Some of her flash cards are made from newspaper titles that she cut out and mounted on paper. There is a student that struggles with fine motor skills and she has paper and yarn for him “stitch” to help develop the skill. She uses the same methods as teachers at home and loves her job.The principal has a prayer that they will be able to build a basketball court in the back field for the kids. Another thing that the school needs is a new kitchen as theirs is barely functional, and bathrooms with water. But the children are happy there and the grade 5’s sang us a song. We had the opportunity to pray with the principal before we left and also sing some songs in the surrounding community right outside the school. The kids joined right in clapping and singing the songs they knew in Spanish. One of the teachers assistant’s can speak fairly good English so she joined in with the English words and asked to keep the song book we were using. We ended up leaving three of them.

Back into the van we went for another hour drive to an even more remote school, Santa Alicia. This is one that is still located in the middle of a sugar cane field. This was the poorest school we’ve seen. Once we arrived at an opening next to the road there was another track leading up to the school. It was a dirt road cut between the vegetation on either side, and it was quite smoky... You might be thinking why was it smoky? Well there was a fire burning in the field, which we at first thought was intentional as the people burn the sugar cane before harvesting it to get rid of unwanted pests like spiders and snakes. However, we later discovered that this fire was actually caused by a downed power line. Now if you’ve ever been to the DR you will know that their power lines are like jumbles of wire everywhere. This particular wire, however, is completely exposed and it happened to fall onto one of the peoples horses which started the fire, and yes killed the horse. It was very surprising for us to hear the story and understand what had actually happened, we do not know how common events like this are in this community but it seemed to be causing problems, they had to move their livestock and try to keep the rest of the animals safe and away from the fire and the entire village was out of power for maybe up to a week. It is hard to stop a fire like that but by the time we left it did seem to be dying out. As for the actual school, it was a single room that functioned as a church and a school house. If you can imagine what a school house might have looked like in the pioneer age, this was pretty close - all wooden and pretty small. BUT WOW! What a greeting we received upon our arrival. Once we passed the burning field we pulled up right outside this school house and the children were all crammed in the doorway cheering because they were so excited to see us. As soon as we stepped out of the gua gua (the bus) a little girl ran up to all the women and gave hugs. She did not want to let go of our hands. We then made our way into the school room. It is hard to describe how we felt when we stepped into the room. Overwhelming might be a good word... it was almost hard to stand because you were constantly being hugged, holding a child’s hand or picking them up. Many of the ladies on our team were greeted instantly with girls wanting to brush our hair. There was also a precious little baby that was passed around to several team members. It was such joy for the mother to see us holding her baby! That is a great way to describe these people, joyful, welcoming and loving. They couldn’t get enough of us being there. This school only goes until about grade 3 or 4, if the children want to receive a higher education than this they may need to walk to upwards of 10 or 11 kilometers. It’s not hard to think that this may be the highest level of education they will receive.

Visiting these schools may not have been as physically taxing as the work we have been doing this whole time, but it is fair to say that today may have been the most emotionally and mentally taxing day we have had yet. This was a reminder of why these schools are so needed here - a glimpse into the local reality. Please be praying for these schools, their love of Christ and the joy and hope they have in Him are so evident and we praise God together with them for the work He is doing at each one.

After the schools we spent the rest of the day out with our host Victor and driver Daniel. We went for pizza, visited the beach quickly, and went to the local market to pick up some trinkets or souvenirs. Let us tell you, bartering is a skill, and can be pretty funny at times. It was great learning how and having the help of other team members.  It has been such a privilege having Victor and Daniel guiding us around. Spending this past week with them has been so rewarding and it has been very special sharing personal stories, testimonies, and great times with these two who have an obvious love for Christ and the people of the Dominican. Not to mention Daniel is a great driver! The Dominican traffic took some time to get used to, but Daniel helped out a lot and he is a very trustworthy driver.

We ended the night off with our devotions as usual and after such a filled day we are all ready for bed.

Hasta luego mi amigos!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A walk to remember 4 comments

Day 9

This is a song that Klaas sung over us during devotions tonight as a blessing and an encouragement to the team:   

There’s a light inside of you
and it opens the eyes of the blind
makes the darkness fly from the prisoner’s eye
That light inside of you

Well the dark in places low
where religions cannot go
will all disappear when the light draws near
that light inside of you

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Monday, February 10, 2014

no mas concreto!!! 0 comments

Day 7

A day of rest

Went to Victor’s church – lunch – rest – walk through the old city – bed.
Of course there is more to this, but this is the jist of our Sunday. It was a beautiful day of rest!

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

PROTECTOR OF MY SOUL 3 comments

Day 6

PROTECTOR OF MY SOUL

This song ended our evening devotions on our day of Adventure. Little did we know as we boarded our mini bus at 6:30 am, later that day, some of us were in danger as our white water rafting boat capsized and dunked us under the water.

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