Build a Bright Future for Our Piedras Vivas Youth

A math equation that goes a LONG way.

Introducing the Bright Future Campaign

In November of last year, after witnessing the incredible need for organized and structured activities to get the local kids off the streets around where we live, we decided to launch a youth outreach program, which are calling Piedras Vivas (Living Stones, taken from 1 Peter 2:4-5).  Since then, we have been running a program two days a week in our garage port (one for the older and another for the younger kids). In early February, we increased the number of times of our club to now four days a week.   Read More…

Camp Piedras Vivas – Summer 2013

Camp Piedras Vivas - summer 2013

Zach playing with some kids from Batey de La UnionIn combination with our new Piedras Vivas Youth Club, this summer we are also going to run a summer day-camp for the kids in the club and a few others who live in the area. It’s another effort to help keep the kids occupied this summer under safe and supervised care.

The summer camp is going to run for six weeks, four days each week.  The activities involved will be included in four general “centers” or categories, including;

  • Sports and recreation
  • Bible
  • Arts and crafts
  • English as a second language

Our goal is to involve around forty children for each session.

Counselors Needed

We have a few opportunities available as summer day-camp counselors to help us coordinate and run the program. These positions will require each counselor to commit for a complete 8-week term (May 29 – July 26) and  to raise their own support (around $2,200 not including flights).  In addition, the “staff” will have plenty of opportunities to be involved in some additional outreach and fun together as a group.

We are currently looking for 4-6 counselors for summer 2013.

Interested in serving?  Download the application and return it no later than February 15th.   For more information, please contact us at pat@respondtochrist.org.

Meet Chucho

Meet Chucho

SPOTLIGHT ON: Jesus David, or ChuCho

Chucho (a nickname which actually means “mutt” – nicknames, by the way, are VERY common here) is an 11-year old Dominican boy who lives in Las Zayas with his grandmother and sister. We live in a neighborhood called Urabanizacion Maria O that is walking distance from and is located in between Las Zayas, which is mainly a Dominican neighborhood, and a predominantly Haitian village called Batey de La Union.  We are one of two “gringo” families that live in the area. We met Chucho through some other local kids and right away we fell in love with his exuberant and fun personality.  Read More…

Mooooooo

Our moovelous neighbor.

We went out to take a walk together as a family in our neighborhood and this friendly guy was hanging outside our gate. This is a daily occurrence as the guys who run the little “farm” down the road open up the gates and let them roam around the area. It’s fun to see about 30 cows all chillin’ out in the streets…but no fun having to dodge their feces bombs. “No Asher, don’t pick up that dirt.”  Also, if it’s trash day, you can’t just leave the trash cans out as the cows are smart enough to open them and feast…and leave a mess in the wake.

And we’re finally getting used to their moo calls waking us up in the morning (along with the roosters and barking dogs).

Another aspect of life in the D.R.

Piper’s A.P.T.A.T. – A Great Tool

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I saw this on John Piper’s Twitter feed the other day and retweeted it, but I thought it would be good to also reference it here.

If you haven’t heard of John Piper, he is touted as one of the greatest Biblical pastors of our time.  He is one of the favorite speakers at Louie Giglio’s Passion Conferences and others across the country. Desiring God, his full time ministry, outside of the church he pastors in Minnesota, offers daily strategies in helping others fight for the joy of the Lord.

This little bit of goodness in the video below – which he refers to as A.P.T.A.T. – is a tool he’s personally used (and preached about)  for the last 25 years to put God’s Word into action when confronted with various challenges in life. If you’re one who like to journal, this is something I’d write out in your journal and bookmark as a tool to possibly use when you face similar situations.

Have a look.(You can also visit www.desiringgod.org to view it in his original sermon on it).

A.P.T.A.T. from Desiring God on Vimeo.

 

A.P.T.A.T. Spelled Out

A — I admit I can’t in myself do what needs to be done.
P — I pray for God’s help.
T — I trust a particular promise he has given us in His Word.
A — I act to do whatever God is calling me to do.
T — I thank him for his help when I am done.

 

Highway to Home

There is a lot you can learn from on a brief drive here in the D.R.  Take a peak at what I (Pat) saw each day for the past three months as I drove to and from Montellano from and to our house in Cangrejo (about a ten minute drive…when there are no cows in the road or when the local military base isn’t doing any marching drills down the highway).  The photos below show my way from Montellano back to our house in Cangrejo (captions for each photo are above the photo).

Below is the “highway” (or autovista) that goes along the edge of the north coast and connects all the cities and towns.  You’ll notice that it is only a two lane road. Also notice that there are no street lights.

Autovista near Montellano

This is one of the main turnoffs (calle de bomba) for Montellano. “Bomba” is the word used for “pump” and that can refer to anything that pumps…ball pump, tire pump, but in this case it is referring to the gas station (gas pump), which coincidentally is a Shell station.  One thing to know  is that here there is no such thing as a self-serve gas station. It seems like a meaningless job in our eyes, but the guys who pump gas for people are getting their only form of income (small at that) most likely for their families.  The “Antony Santos” advertisement you see on the post are hung all over the place. I believe he’s a singer and is coming soon. These signs are everywhere. You’ll also notice the bars on the walls, windows and balcony of the house. All homes (including ours) have them.

The road is shared by all kinds of motorized objects. As you can see in this photo motorcycles (or moto conchos) usually drive on the right side of the road in the median. And when someone on a moto is carrying a gas tank as you pass them, and a tour bus who is driving down the middle of the road passes you (as you see coming), it can get a little nerving.

A shared road...cars, motos and sometimes even cows.

Danilo is one of the two main presidential candidates running for office. The elections aren’t until later in the spring. He is running against the other candidate, named Hipolito Mejia (but more commonly referred to as Papa for his campaign slogan – llego Papa). The way it works here is that each candidate is given certain weeks to hang their signs in order to reduce the potential amount of violence and sabotage from the supporters of the other candidates. It’s Danilo’s turn, and his purple signs are everywhere. If I had the opportunity to vote based solely on their marketing campaigns, I’d vote Danilo. He has a much friendlier face and less cheesey (yes, this is less cheesey) marketing plan than you see on the signs for Papo…trust me. I’ll cover the elections more down the road (pun intended).

The large, flowery stalks you see in the background on the other side of the road are sugar cane. They are in high bloom right now and very tall. If there aren’t buildings lining the street, sure enough you’ll see instead more sugar cane. And since the local factory is out of business, it just grows and grows until someone decides to do a “control” burn of it.

Danilo for President sign

This is the bridge that goes over the river. Cangrejo, the little town where we live, is on either side of this river. If you didn’t know, cangrejo is the Spanish word for “crab.” Not sure why, I’ve never seen a single crab around here. Back to the bridge…just to the left of where I am is a school/church that is run by another ministry called Servant’s Heart Ministries. In the mornings and afternoons, you’d see lots of children crossing this bridge on foot as cars and trucks zoom past them (tight squeeze for sure).

Bridge over the River in Cangrejo.

This is the turn off for the Mustard Seed orphanage and also our friend Bernard’s house. There are Mustard Seed ministries throughout the Caribbean and South America. Hogar Immanuel is the Dominican chapter. Mustard Seed operates an orphanage for children with severe mental and/or physical development conditions (“para ninos con discapacidades”). It is so hard for the average family to care for their own children in the economic conditions in this country, so it’s no surprise that children with disabilities are often neglected or abandoned. We are wanting to spend more time in the future at the Mustard Seed.

Mustard Seed sign

We are finally almost to our house. This is the entrance to our “neighborhood” called Maria O as well as the way to get to the La Union Haitian village. When giving directions to anyone (especially the local utility technicians), you have to give them other points of reference. In this case, we say turn at the signs for the Banca de Siler and American Fender stores, which also has a colmado (small street store) where we often get our drinking water botellons (5 gallon bottles). A little further up the road behind the row of trees are the homes of some of the officers who serve in the Dominican Air Force.  The homes are just before the entrance to the base itself. One day as I was on my way to the Makarios School, I was surprised by a large group of soldiers on the road, who must have been participating in some marching practices…although they didn’t look very organized. I hope that’s not indicative of the way they guard and protect their nation.

Maria O entrance

Here is one of the two main streets in our neighborhood (and the last photo on this journey…phew, right?). This neighborhood is actually quite surprising in comparison to other areas in and around Cangrejo. We were blessed to find a home here especially for it’s convenience to the area where we want to serve and the safety element for our family.  You don’t find too many paved neighborhoods around here.

Oh, and do you like my windshield? It was fairly clean at the start of this brief journey, and now check it out.

Maria O neighborhood

Until our next journey together…

A Day of Throwing Eggs & Flour

So apparently today (November 30) is a tradition here in the D.R. where youth (younger and older) take to the streets armed with water balloons, eggs, and flour for some lighthearted (mostly) fun. They will throw these at each other usually, but it’s also a tradition to throw these at passing cars, unless the driver tosses out a RD $5 peso coin.  So far, I haven’t been attacked and I haven’t had to throw out any money, but I stopped by the colmado (small street store) and got some change just in case.

The tradition, it is told, is to honor an old baker back in Spain who in protest to one of the old kings took some water and flour (and possibly eggs) and threw them at the king to illustrate his opposition to the king’s ruling ways.  It’s yet another excuse, I think, to use to skip school.

There seems to be all kinds of traditions here that to us seem pretty silly. I’m sure we have our own silly traditions as well back in the States, but this one takes the cake (pun intended).

His Voice is Sweet

I love these lines in Phil Wickham’s Safe song:

Did you know that the voice that brings the dead to life
Is the very same voice that calls you to rise
So hear Him now He’s calling you home
You will never be alone

The thought that God’s voice, which was so powerful that it brought forth life, is the same voice He shares in love with His children…you and me…is just incredible. That’s why we shouldn’t take our conversations (our worship, prayers, devotions) so lightly.  And that’s also why we should take our response seriously. For Him to place a special mission on our hearts for His sake is an important thing, something I choose not to ignore.

And the best part is that despite any anxiety or fear, just as Wickham explains, we will be safe in His arms. And that makes the step of obedience easier to fulfill. Praise the Lord oh my soul.

Click below to listen to the entire song.
YouTube Preview Image

Responding in the Name of Jesus Christ

As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to and watching the live broadcast of the Festival of Hope in Haiti.  Franklin Graham, along with Michael W. Smith, Lecrae and others, are  speaking and performing in the Port au Prince soccer stadium.  Interspersed between the acts, they are showing Samaritan’s Purses efforts in Haiti.  In one of their video updates on their work in Haiti, one of their graphics said “Responding in the name of Jesus Christ.” That’s exactly the heart of our message as well, thus the name of our ministry.

As this week marks the one year anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, my prayer is that the promises that the Lord shows in Isaiah 61 are upon the people of Haiti.

1. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who arebound;

2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.

5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, And the sons of the foreigner Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

6 But you shall be named the priests of the Lord, They shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, And in their glory you shall boast.

7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.

8 “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.

9 Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, And their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, That they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed.”

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Fast & Pray for Haiti

Fast and Pray for Haiti on Jan. 12January 12th will mark the anniversary of the devastating earthquake that literally tore apart Haiti, resulting in over 250,000 deaths and almost 1 million people homeless. Haiti was already the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, and the earthquake there made the situation much worse.  Thousands of children are now orphans. A cholera epidemic followed and infected more than 100,000 people and took the lives of over 2,000 more people. And then to top it off, the recent presidential elections have resulted in causing violent riots and escalating division among the people. It’s a hard time for the people of Haiti.

On Wednesday, January 12, 2011, we are encouraging you to join us in a day of fasting and praying for Haiti. The power of prayer is truly remarkable.  God calls us to intercede and pray for others (Psalm 55:17, Luke 22:32, James 5:13). And He hears us and answers us under the sovereignty of His will (Jeremiah 29:12, Ezra 8:23, 1 Samuel 1:27).

If you want to pray specifically for some Haitians we know and those who are ministering in Haiti, please be sure to come back to this blog and visit our Facebook page, where we will be sharing specific prayer requests we’ve received from them.

Throughout this day, people all over the world will lift up Haiti in prayer. Be a part of this incredible act.  It’s our ultimate response to the Lord’s grace and love.