Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Day 4 is complete -- Storms and all

Well, we have officially closed day four of our adventure. Today we worked VBS in one of the batay's. We had to move VBS into the bus because of a thunderstorm that hit today. During VBS we told them the story of Jesus calming the storm, which after a while the storm was calmed. We then did arts and crafts with the kids after that. All of the kids were smiling when we handed them crayons to color their pictures. After VBS we began to bring out the jump ropes in the rain, and the kids were smiling from ear to ear. As we pulled out we almost got stuck in the mud because the ground was so wet from the thunderstorm, but we eventually got out.

-- Ryan Adams

After today, I have officially realized that I underestimated the amount of mud that can be produced in the span of a few days. Thunder storms and rain showers have been coming and going over the week, and today was no exception. We pulled up to batay and not long after the flood gates opened; this caused quite drastic change of plans as we decided to make the VBS a BBS (Bus Bible School). Though we had a slow start, we eventually got the ball rolling and everything went pretty smoothly. The children listened to the story of Jesus calming the storm, and they did a coloring activity along with it. When we felt that it was safe to leave the bus, we fed the children juice and crackers. Altogether, I would say that it was a pretty smooth day.

-- David Killian

Our water filter distribution this year is focused in Batey Santa Lucia.  This batey is close to an hour's drive due north of Casa Pastoral.  The best description of the area is "hill country" and it is truly beautiful. As of today we have installed 55 filters which is a slower pace than we have historically  been able to achieve. Pace picked up today and I expect it will be able increase our rate tomorrow.
Monday we started in the section of the batey that houses mostly newcomers and transients.  The poverty there was extreme.  Today, we moved to the larger, "permanent" resident section of the batey. Compared to other bateys I have visited, Santa Lucia is in the lower end of the poverty scale.  Furthermore, there is no established church on site and and I did not see evidence of a school.  Of more concern is the lack of a Good Samaritan Hospital Health Promotion Officer.  On previous visits, I have learned that this individual is very important to the success of clean water.   I have enjoyed having two grandsons with me on this trip.  Both have been able to work on the water teams.

-- Mike Killian

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday ... hard work, rain, and some very special moments ...

Today was my second day at VBS. It was definitely different than the first day. First of all it was a two hour trip to the community. It was very isolated and they didn't get too many visits. They were very happy to see us since this only happened once every year. The second thing that was different was the two groups of VBS.  We started off the morning VBS with a normal sized group and then it started raining. We were under a pavilion that an elderly man owned, so we stayed dry for the most part. Then, after I read the story and we started on the craft, I became a runner. We still had some supplies on the bus, which was on the street, and some in the  clinic, which was across the street. At this point the rain was coming down poring, so I ended up soaked. At least I kept cool. Once the first group was done the rain had stopped and there was mud everywhere. We had our lunch break, and some of the locals had cooked us some food. The things they made that we could eat were cooked bananas and potatoes. The second group started off pretty normal. Then, as we were about to start our craft, which was a sheep puppet, school kids came in and filled the entire place with a few on the outer edges of the pavilion. I'd like to say there were about fifty plus people involved some how in VBS. We stopped passing out the craft and got the school kids caught up on the story that we were doing, which was the lost sheep, so some of the kids heard the story twice. There were barely enough snacks to go around, and a couple extra glasses of juice, but not enough pencil pouches. We ended up giving the ones that we had to the teachers that had brought the students to VBS. There were many ages there from a seven month kid to young mothers, and all of them wanted to hear the story and do the craft and all of them enjoyed playing with the puppet, making them talk and bah. Once we finally finished handing out snacks, saying our thanks to the older man, and giving the moms that came at the end a snack, we went into the clinic and they were almost done, which was different than the first day. Yesterday we had to wait for them, so the fact that they only had a few more minutes meant that we had run late trying to get all of the kids finished. So we packed up the bus and started on the two hour ride back to the mission house, where it started raining again, just getting there before dinner.

- Sarah Cooley

What an amazing day!  God is so good!  I spent the day working in VBS with Becka, Sarah, Chris, and Estella (our interpreter).  Sarah has already given a great summary of our exciting day of VBS outside, in the rain, with over 100 children in the afternoon.  It was a little overwhelming to say the least, but what was even more overwhelming was the compassion. love, and grace that Estella shows to the children every time we visit a new group.  She is so amazing in the way that she communicates with them and handles all the surprises that get sent our way!  This afternoon she and Sarah shared the story of the Lost Lamb with the children.  Thank you Trinity for cutting out and bagging all those lost lambs for the craft!  A VBS craft would not have been possible today (with over 100 kids) without all your prep work.  You saved the day!  It was so wonderful watching Estella share the story with the kids.  In my very limited Spanish comprehension, I could understand that she was explaining to the kids that each one of them is important to God.  That they are each special to Him, just as the lambs are to the shepherd.  What a wonderful message for those sweet children.

Each day on these trips I experience things that it takes me some time to process before I can write or talk about.  Yesterday, I had one of those moments.  Emilio is our coordinator and head interpreter (for medical and VBS) for the week.  He is amazing, but yesterday he did something that touched me in a way I will always remember.  As we were finishing lunch, I noticed that he was cleaning up so I offered to help.  There was a small amount of rice and chicken left - enough to fill a small cup.  Emilio was scraping it out into a cup and asked me to come outside with him.  He whispered to me that it was only a small amount, but maybe it could help one small "nino" today.  We walked outside together and he found a small little girl who was curled up in her mother's lap.  He tapped her on the shoulder and handed her the cup of rice.  The little girl began eagerly spooning the food into her mouth, and the mother was so grateful. As I was reflecting on what Emilio did and said, I couldn't help but comparing it with the work we are doing here.  We cannot fix all of the Dominican's problems and we cannot help everyone here, but we can make a small difference for some.  I am just constantly amazed by the love, compassion, vision, and devotion of the people we have the privilege of working with here!  God is so good!

- Beth Woodard

Today was day two for the construction team. On day one it was all about moving dirt to level out the floor on a duplex. Day two was more of the same, but we got to begin on painting the interior and raking the filled rooms in preparation for laying concrete.

The children were very excited to see all of us again and were eager to do whatever we were doing. We had plenty of little helpers. It was really a blessing to see the joy in their faces. They loved to run up and ask "Whats your name?" and when you told them you would hear a chorus of your name repeated back to you.

The heat was ramped up today, there wasn't much of a breeze today compared to Monday. Everyone was having a tough time working for more than 15 minutes, so we had to take frequent breaks. But, here in Batey 106 if you're on break, that means you're playing with the kids.

The kids love being tossed up in the air. Oh man, I can't even describe to you how awesome it was to play with them. Their surprised faced and squeals of excitement... I can't really put the experience into words, Side note: My arms and shoulders are tired! and I don't think it was from the shoveling.

Day 3 should see us mixing and pouring concrete and finishing up the painting. The end is in sight for this duplex. But I'm looking forward to spending more time with those kids and giving them as much love as I can.

-Brian Spencer

Monday, May 29, 2017

First Day at the Job Sites

Today, as I stepped off the bus for my first day at construction, the kids I played with last year recognized me and wanted to catch up with me. They were overwhelmed with joy as we carried them and they climbed on us. Then, as the day ended, Ryan gave them hats which made them the happiest I have ever seen anyone. It amazes me still after 2 trips how happy they can be with so little and such horrible living conditions. 
- Andrew Woodard

So today I was on VBS. When we finally made it to our site we unloaded the bus and got ready for VBS. In the morning we did the creation story and made a craft which was a wheel like thing that when you spun it showed the different days of the creation. In the afternoon we did the story where the shepherd lost a sheep and hunted it down and made a sheep puppet for the craft. When we finished, the clinic had like another 40 people to take care of so we took out the jump ropes and bubbles. We got very tired from jumping too much.
- Christopher Woodard

To keep the children at bay while others set up for VBS at Batey Higuera I became fingernail polisher extraordinaire!!! That is until Glenn came to get me to let me know that this year we were going to make eyeglasses part of our medical component and he was tagging me as "IT". He wasn't sure how it was going to work so I could figure it out. Fortunately, I only had to distribute reading glasses. That was easy since I had to figure out my own "prescription". Try, fail, try again. I had a whole box of tricks and made about 60 people very happy. Unfortunately there were a few that had very obvious cataracts that no glasses were going to fix. I told everyone El gusto es mio to their thank yous and added "Via con Dios!"  Overall it was a great day.  Oh, one more thing, my granddaughter is in the blue shirt, long hair, black shoes in some pictures. She did great today. So proud of her!
- Corrie Cooley