23 Apr 2013 | 10:00 am
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
Remember the story of Abram in the Bible? How God promised to give him a child, but Abraham and Sarah got anxious and ended up making a big mistake. The remarkable thing is, God still kept his promise and blessed them with Isaac. God loved them, despite the fact they doubted and panicked and took matters into their own hands. (Genesis chapters 15,16 & 21).
Living in poverty can put a person in a constant state of fear and worry. Studies show that people living in poverty tend to live in less than sanitary conditions and have less access to nutrition and adequate education. Lack of education makes a person feel inferior and effects social and emotional relationships.
Studies also show that a person can develop and heal later on in life. In a sense, rise above these effects of poverty. It takes work, determination and Jesus, but it is possible.
"The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down."
I have a friend in Hato del Yaque. Her name is Yolanda. She has been working as a cook with for the nutrition center for several years now. She is a single mother. She lives in a very small wooden house by the polluted canal. She never learned to read or write, but is smart and a hard worker. She knows that God has promised a good future for her and her kids.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans
to give you hope and a future."
She is became a Christian a several years ago and started attending Church. It was difficult. Her family didn't understand why she wouldn't drink with them and are offended that she won't worship the dead with them anymore. Then at Christmas time, her mother died. Yolanda felt alone, worried and overwhelmed.
Like Abraham and Sarah, she began to panic and think maybe she needed to help God. Like any single woman in poverty she began to think she needed a man to help supply her needs instead of God alone. The Christmas after her mother died she felt especially keenly her loss. There was a man who wanted to move into her house, so thinking that maybe this was good for her and her children she agreed.
But it turned out not to be so good.
A couple of months later a group from Discovery Church in Simi Valley came for a mission trip. A wonderful lady stood up and gave her testimony to the ladies.
Lovie is a smart, happy and beautiful example to all of Christ's love and redemption. When she gave her testimony she spoke of poverty, abuse and addiction; She spoke of self worth and the promises of God. She shared about how after years of feeling like she didn't deserve a good future. God gave it to her. God blessed her with a job to help others and a good husband. God did and does what he promises.
Lovie's testimony was one of the reasons Yolanda finally decided to completely trust God. The man moved out of her house and she began to be steady in work and attend services regularly.
But a surprise happened.
About 5 months later Yolanda found out she was pregnant. She was devastated. Now she would have three children and no husband. Now she would have a larger family to fit in her home and how was she going to supply all that she needed? Fear, worry and loneliness became her companion again, but not for long...
Instead of ostracizing her, she found that her church family embraced her. The ladies of the church held a shower and as poor as they are themselves, supplied her with what she needed.
When the baby boy was born, instead of giving him several family names that is common in any family, especially in the Latin culture, Yolanda decided to simply name him Isaac.
So we had a baby dedication in church yesterday in Hato del Yaque. Yolanda dedicated Isaac to the Lord. Montan and I stood up and witnesses and I promised to give both Yolanda and Isaac as much spiritual guidance as God leads and they will allow.
There is still a lot of life ahead for Yolanda and her three children. With the help of her Father God and her church family she is rising above the effects of poverty. There will be many ups and downs I am sure, but I am positive that God has good things in store for Yolanda and her family.
The same is true for everyone living in Hato del Yaque and really all of us.
"He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; He saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth"
Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University
Prof Michael Marmot: UCL
Eric Jensen, "The Effects of Poverty on the Brain"
20 Nov 2012 | 2:57 pm
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water.
I will take away sickness from among you,
That is a strange verse if you are in a country where the faucet water is riddled with "amoebas" and outbreaks of leptospirosis are commonplace.
There is this house next to our hub in HdY. Sometimes from the roof I wave and say "hi" to the people, but I never really visited their home or got to know them. Their daughter in law and son came to church some. Mostly the daughter in law. Their granddaughter recently entered our nutrition center.
In October, a team from First Christian Church of Fort Myers was here. One of our cooks asked if I would go pray because the son was very sick and staying there with them. So, I went with Pastor Elido and one of the team members to pray for him. I went more to comfort the family of a sick person rather than anything. As we sat there, Elido conversing with the father, the sick man came out and sat with us. He was terribly thin and had a strange look in his eye. I was uncomfortable with the look and tried not to make eye contact for too long. I mostly sat and listened to the conversation. In doing so I learned that the man had Aids and his organs were beginning to fail. They talked about healing, heaven, fear and faith.
I left with the feeling that there was nothing to do, and the understanding that this story was all too common.
According to dr1, an online newspaper, an estimated 88,000 people in the Dominican Republic are infected with HIV/AIDS. The article reads "There are currently 23,000 adult women between the ages of 15 and 49 with HIV/AIDS." Since there are so many single parent homes in the DR an estimated 58,000 children have been orphaned or are at risk of being orphaned because of the disease. I recently read a paper that was done in 2009 about prostitution in the DR. Apparently even with the grotesque sex tourism, it is locals that make up over 80% of the customers.
The point of me spewing these numbers out is to show that the conversation I had with the widow and her friends after our neighbor died is a common tale... common beliefs... a common problem.
After I heard that the man had died I went to both homes. First I went to the home of the father of the man who died. They all seemed tired, but somehow relieved. They said that he had suffered greatly and was scared and were glad that it was finally over. I can understand that.
Then I went to the man's home where his wife was sitting outside with some friends. She seemed ... scared.
Her friend was very talkative about HIV and how men who have it aren't careful and don't seem to care about who they spread it too. She said that people don't take the medication because they feel fine for a long time and so don't bother. She said that sometimes people don't believe they have it because they don't have anything wrong at first and so they don't tell their partners.
When the widow finally chimed in she said that her husband had been very promiscuous before he settled down with her. She has HIV, but took the medicine when she had her kids and they have been negative so far.
They said that when you have the disease you become a sort of outcast, so most people pretend they don't have it. But TB doesn't lie. Tuberculosis is an opportunistic disease and here almost anyone who has an extremely weakened immune system can get it, especially people with HIV. The ladies told me that if you have a horrible cough people will start to think that you have TB and if you have TB they automatically think you have HIV and then they won't associate with you.
The thing that struck me most is something the widow said. She said that her doctor told her that the disease was so common that pretty soon every one on earth will die from AIDS. So pretty much he was saying that there is nothing we can do and its not a big deal. But it is a big deal.
A couple of years ago, when I started to look into adoption, I researched what it would look like if I adopted a child with HIV. I researched, read, even emailed and called doctors who were experts in the area. According to them, HIV is very livable and if we all took precautions and proper medication, HIV could be wiped from the face of the earth.
Well, that remains to be seen. Meanwhile in our little barrio of 26,000 people we are just getting started. Our enemy isn't HIV. Our enemy isn't promiscuity, adultery or fornication. Our enemy isn't the absent father or the neglectful mother.
Our enemy is the one who desires to steal, kill and destroy
The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy;
I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.
This is Jesus speaking. "The thief" refers to Satan whose weapons are the vises that we cling to, as we try to fill our lives.
But Jesus is speaking. "I have come so that they may have life...". So there is a counter attack. We are not left defenseless. We have truth.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4
We fight by welcoming as many people as will come to be part of our church body. We visit the sick, disciple through sports leagues, teach young people of their own worth in Christs eyes through studies and clubs. We love the struggling parents and help them provide for their children where we can.
Jesus said "I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure."
When people look at a little place like Hato del Yaque. They see the poverty, lack of education, drugs, prostitution, malnutrition and disease.
Jesus did what he did because he saw something else. He sees love, hope, abundance, joy, peace and wisdom. He sees eternity in their eyes. He believes they are worth every fight and he is sending you and me into battle for them.
As Paul said during his days of battle...
"As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."
2 Corinthians 6:6-10
Ok, I have never been beaten or imprisoned, but I can relate to pretty much everything else. And I too have been given a great grace. Every plate of food, every princess study, each time I translate a vbs, it is for the sole purpose of bestowing even just a smidgen of it.
Again I resonate with Paul when I say to you...
"... to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus"
1 Corinthians 1:2b-4
Reference: http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/global?page=cr02-dr-00, http://dr1.com/articles/hiv.shtml
26 May 2012 | 6:29 pm
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
Our vision for Hato del Yaque is big. Very big.
|Pastor Elido tying rebar with a team member|
There is a central building that has a dormitory for teams, an office for Pastor Elido, a kitchen and pantry, a water purification system and a large cafeteria where the children in the nutrition center eat as well as the American mission teams. The second floor is under construction for classrooms and sanctuary.
We have recently bulldozed our new baseball field and anticipate our volleyball and basketball courts.
Across the street the ministry house is well under way. The first floor will be a duplex. I and my son will live on one side and Pastor Elido’s family will live on the other side. The second floor will have apartments for interns and other staff. The third floor will be an open area for get togethers.
All of these buildings are tools to touch people’s lives and make an impact in this enchanting community.
Pastor Elido is spending time raising up leaders to expand every facet of ministry so that Christ will be felt in Hato del Yaque.
Elido has encouraged the congregation to raise funds for equipment for their church instead of waiting for handouts. Last year the poverty stricken congregation raised enough money to buy themselves a used sound board for a sound system. This gave them a sense of accomplishment, unity and pride.
In March we had some intruders come into our building who robbed us of that same sound board.
The following day Pastor Elido and I went to the station to make a report. The captain establishes his authority by talking in a manner that everyone around has to listen. He begins to talk about how there are so many “tigers” in Hato del Yaque and how you can’t trust anybody and these thieves have no conscience… but something he says grabs our attention. He says “let me tell you that God won’t forgive this thief”. Both of us in unison say “That’s not true!”. Elido begins to reference the Bible, speaking of the thief that entered heaven with Jesus. I point out that we are in Hato del Yaque specifically because of that thief, because Jesus does forgive him.
The captain didn’t agree with us, but it was like a match was lit. We remembered that it truly was for the “tigers” that we are in Hato del Yaque. The congregation has rallied. They too are realizing who they represent in this community and what the true cost …. and reward, may be.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you be Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
– Colossians 1:21-22.
29 Nov 2011 | 10:34 am
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
Since my pastor Aristides died last December I have been to several more Dominican funerals. One was of Montans mother. She was like 107 years old or something. She was alert until the last month or so. She liked having someone sit on the bed with her while she rambled about life. I only understood about 40% but still enjoyed it.
Another funeral was for someone I had never even met.
I was blessed this year to go to the women's conference. Nikki and Samira along with a fabulous team of women put together the beautiful theme of "submerged in Living water". The decorations were something out of my fantasies as a child and the foot washing at the end of teh prayer walk was heart melting. My favorite though was the communion. There were women I respect from various parts of the Dominican serving the others.
|Left to right. Griselda (los guandules), Reina (la mosca) Yudi and friend (the hole)|
'praying' Modesta (Hato del Yaque), Alexandra (Batey 9), Fior (Via Cafetelera),
Tata (Hoya del Caimito and retired DR first lady of GO), Kendy (Hoya del Caimito
and present DR first lady of GO)
The women in the church wait all year for this. They make things to sell in order to pay their way. It very well may be the biggest event in their lives all year save the birth or marriage of a family member.
I roomed with all of the people from Hato del Yaque. One of the ladies was named Lucia. She really hadn't come to church in a long time. Her son, Christian, has been coming on and off since he was a child, but she has never been very consistant.
It was a great opportunity for Lucia to reconnect with the church body and get to know our new Pastor's wife, Modesta.
|The ladies from the church in Hato del Yaque, La Mina, minus Lucia|
Unfortunatly Lucia received a phonecall during the conference with the news that her mother had died. Once Modesta was able to get me to understand what had happened, we instantly looked for a vehicle to take her to her mother's house where they would be holding the funeral.
As quickly as I could I grabbed my purse and the van keys. Someone asked if they could go with us so that I wouldn't be driving alone. I said "of course" and opened the door. I jumped in the drivers seat and looked in the rearview mirror. What I saw made tears spring to my eyes. Not one person came with us, but the whole entire group of women from two churches in Hato del Yaque came. They prayed and comforted and loved on Lucia all the way to Moca where the house was. They all missed a quarter of their precious conference.
We arrived before any other family. We stayed during the preliminary wailing of Lucia until stronger friends and family arrived.
The thing is... Lucia was not a faithful member of the church. It would have sufficed if the Pastor's wife and maybe one other had went. But thats not how these women do things. The whole group went.
True, I am here to teach and support and help people. But I have so much to learn from these ladies about being a woman of God.
2 Corinthians 6:10as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
22 Feb 2011 | 9:42 pm
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
I'm reading this book called "When Helping Hurts". The author talks about poverty and how it effects our world view and view of self.
After Aristides died Adams, Arelis and I were talking about what the people in Hato del Yaque need to change their lives. One of the things they said, which surprised me, is that people need to change how they view themselves. That they have a low self-esteem which prevents them believing that God has a better life for them.
This book I'm reading has excersices at the end of every chapter. In one of the excercises it asked that I write key words that come to mind when I think of poverty. Some of the words I wrote were...
Then it shared some of the answers that thousands of people living in poverty across the globe.
Some of their key words were...
garbage-ashamed-depressed-low self esteem-inferior-powerless-never-destiny-always.
I was surprised to note that while my words weren't positive, theirs seemed grim and boxed in.
Last september I started working with girls ages 10-14. For the first three months all we talked about was how they were God's princesses if they chose to recieve his salvation and with that comes destiny and responsibility. We call it "the princess project"
Last week we started reading the book "The battle of every young woman"
A large percentage of girls in Hato del Yaque are pregnant before the age of fifteen. The father of the baby are often much older and sooner or later move on. At 25 it is likely that they will have several children with different Fathers. They will be without work, without education and without the maturity to raise the children they have.
It is a cycle that will never end. Unless... unless these girls realize that they are worth more than a passing fling. That if they stay in school and work hard their dreams really can come true. That they are an important part of society. And that each one of them is the apple of God's eye regardless of what the world says of them.
So, we started reading "the battle of every young woman". The cover discribes it as "Guarding your mind, heart, and body in a sex saturated world"
So before getting started we talked about our dreams that God has placed on our hearts. We talked about how God has a purpose for each of us. These dreams are worth the fight. Each girl is worth the fight.
Some of them want to be good mothers. Some teachers and doctors and lawyers.
One girl said that her goal was to be sexy. I thought "Oh my! we have our work cut out for us" and its true.
But like Arelis says, it will be worth it. Each week there are more girls. I have to keep ordering more books. They are so hungery for a different option than following what society has laid before them.
Each one of these girls is a jewel. Please pray for us. Pray for each girl to step into the beautiful destiny that God has for them and for me and the other leaders to have wisdom and patience.
"You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God." ~Isaiah 62:3
So, I didn't know what the word diadem meant. I looked it up and the definition was simply "crown". Synonyms...coronet, tiara, halo, dignity.
Being a princess means you have dignity and power and responsibility.
May we all learn what that means and live like we are God's crown.
This link is really on the topic of HIV in young girls, but it does a great job of communicating what it is like for young girls in poverty. Please check it out. http://www.girleffect.org/
29 Dec 2010 | 10:11 pm
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
This has been a memorable year for me with the nutrition center opening in Hato del Yaque, resuming girls’ discipleship ministry, and hosting many great teams.
But something that happened this year that is both sad and impactful. On Thursday night December 16 Pastor Aristides Pimentel, Pastor of the church in Hato del Yaque died suddenly. I then received a crash course on the mourning process of Dominicans.
About twenty minutes before midnight Quirsis Montan called to tell me that the Pastor had died and I needed to come. She said that they were on their way and we were to meet at Aristides’ house. John Martinez and I arrived at the house before anyone else. The family and the body arrived from the hospital and right away I could hear crying and wailing. Arelis, Aristides’ wife hugged me as she cried and told me the story of what happened.
Friends and church members trickled in and each one hugged the family. Arelis continued to tell the story as she and her sister cried out loud. The body was prepared for viewing by the mortician being helped by friends and family. Until late in the morning we all sat around crying and comforting each other. The neighbor came over and made a big batch of tea for everyone.
The following day, many more people including many of the other pastors that work with GO, showed up. Everyone mingled at the house, ate and told stories of their connection with Aristides. At the burial later that day there was wailing and tears, but there was also singing. I was especially touched to see Adams, Aristides’ son, with some of the construction workers shovel the dirt over the grave. GO had sent a large flower arrangement. After the grave was covered the woman and children disassembled the arrangement and planted the flowers and greenery on the grave. It was an incredibly beautiful gesture. Several days later there was a memorial where we celebrated Aristides’ life of ministry for God to others.
The whole process was a very loud and open affair. Different from any funeral I’ve been to in the states. The Dominican culture, like most Latin cultures is incredibly communal. I was shocked at the openness of friends and family showing their grief.
I started thinking about the story of Lazarus. Even though Jesus already knew that Lazarus was going to die, He wept when he found out he had died. Jesus knew he would live again, yet he still wept. Jeff Rogers says Jesus wept because he knew that death is not the way it’s supposed to be and I agree.
God created the garden so that we could all live in community with him. When he told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed they “would surely die” he didn’t mean just them. It must of broke God’s heart that we chose being separate from him, that we chose death over being with him. That’s why we cry though. We cry because we are separated from the ones we love. We mourn the loss of them, but we also deep down mourn the loss of the life we were supposed to have. The eternal life with God.
Aristides favorite passage is Psalm 133
1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.
Aristides understood what God wants for us. Like Jesus did when he wept for Lazarus and when he died on the cross, so that we could live for eternity with him like he originally intended.
So I am morning for my friend, but I am looking up and ahead to a loving God that draws us to himself.
23 Aug 2010 | 9:58 pm
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
The Ministry Center in Hato Del Yaque is a work in progress.
The first floor of the main building is finished. Short-term mission teams stay in the dorms while they do ministry here in the DR. The children and young people are always excited to see the bus arrive and love spending time with the teams. The kitchen is open and working. Nena and her accomplices work diligently to cook for the teams and for the 83 children eating in the nutrition center six days a week. All this takes place on the first floor.
The local church congregation meets on the first floor also while they are waiting for the sanctuary on the second floor to be built.
The teams have been working on the ministry house across the street which is where I will live eventually. It will be a duplex on the first floor, apartments for interns and staff on the second and an open area on the top where teams can meet for devos and etc.
That’s just what we are working on right now. We haven’t even started on the basketball and volleyball courts so that we can have before and after school sports programs. Or the playground so that the kids can have a safe place to play. There is so much potential there.
Not potential in the cement or block or re bar or our skills to build, but in every child that is eating at the center. For every boy that comes to play baseball even though we don’t have a big place for them to play yet. There is potential for every church member that comes to a meeting and prays for their neighbor.
My friend Tata and I were talking the other day. Her husband is out of work… again. Five of her kids are in the nutrition program. She said that sometimes the kids would cry and she didn’t know if it was because they were sick or if it was hunger pains. She didn’t have anything but a tiny bit of rice to give them. But now they are in the nutrition center. She said she didn’t know what they would do without it.
There is a bunch of potential in her and those kids.
The roads are really bad in this part of Hato Del Yaque. So the last couple of weeks the teams and I have been trying to even them out a bit with picks and shovels. The kids have been helping too by throwing rocks into the big holes. Pastor Aristides said it was a good example of the church to be working on the road for everyone else in the community. I started thinking that this is who is going to change this community. The church, missionaries and these kids. There is so much potential in these kids.
When Joshua was entering the promise land there was still allot of work to be done. We still have a long way to go, but lives are being changed at this moment.
Thank God for every opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:6
The baseball ministry meets and practices at the ministry center
Mixing concrete for the foundation of the ministry house
Kids are eating lunch at the building six days a week.
24 Feb 2010 | 9:29 am
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
This year has started in the usual way. I helped facilitate some wonderful teams do ministry here in the Dominican Republic. That is what I do on a regular basis. Facilitate people, encourage nationals and develop relationships between the two. We are good at that here at GO Ministries.
On January 12 I was in Hato del Yaque visiting with the Montan family in thier little tin roofed, wood house. As we were visiting the whole house began to shake. It was long enough for us to realize and discuss that an earthquake was happening. There wasn't any damage to the house and we went on our way.
A few hours later I learned that the earthquake was massive, Port Au Prince was flattened and the death tole .... insurmountable.
Brook Brotzman, the president of GO heard about the quake and sprang instantly into action. Within a few days we had a fund for people to donate to Haiti, a cargo bay at the airport in Santiago to move supplies and volunteer pilots with planes to fly it all to different locations in Haiti. The church here in the DR stepped it up. The youth volunteered their time to move cargo and many people in my neighborhood donated supplies.
Many different organizations and businesses wanted to contribute, but many didn't have an avenue.
From the cargo bay we facilitated donations coming in and going out.
There were no commercial flights going into Haiti so we began flying doctors and rescue workers. We were able to make a schedule for people going in and out and even house them for a night when needed.
Most of my job consisted of taking care of the people as they went into or came out of Haiti. Many times I sat down to dinner with people coming out of Haiti and they could debrief and share of their time. The stories that I heard are heart wrenching. Stories of people under rubble for days. Of children needing amputations and then dying anyway. Of the smell of death so strong people took up smoking just to keep from vomiting.
I also heard stories of found loved ones and hope for a better Haiti.
It is amazing how God is able to use a horrific event like this to bring together so many people together for a common purpose. To help mankind. After all, that was the point of Jesus coming here, wasn't it?
Right after the earthquake I remember feeling like I wish I could do more. I wished I was better at school so I could have been a doctor. I wished I was a pilot so I could fly there or something...else.
But as people and supplies kept coming through I began to realize that our ministry was doing what it always does. Facilitate people, encourage nationals and develop relationships.
God places each one of us where we are and gives us the talents he gives us. After years of doing the same thing it can become clear in a moment when it really matters why God has placed you where he has.
One of the amazing people I met sent me this email which may shed a little more light into what I have been doing the past few months. God bless each and every one of you.
Good morning Jennifer Goodenough ~Greetings. Hope everything is well with you, Ken and the rest of GO Ministries. I know you've met a bazillion people, so let me try to refresh your memory... My name's JEFF and Go Ministries helped me and two other Wisconsin guys get home from Haiti a little over a week ago. One of your planes picked us up at Jacmel and brought us to Santiago. Ken picked us up at the airport and delivered us to you. You then took us to a little roadside cafe where we had Empanadas, talked about Go Ministries, Corvallis, fund-raising and a few other things, then you chauffeured us to your dormitory for the night. Next morning you returned, made coffee and dropped us at the airport where we caught a plane for home. Hopefully that tweaked something to help you recall us, but if not, it's OK.My purpose in emailing you is just to thank you and Ken for what you're doing. It's huge, spirit driven and very badly needed. Please convey my/our gratitude to Ken, your pilots and to everyone who's had a hand in supporting your work. Thank you so much!It's good being back in Wisconsin and reconnecting with family and friends. The air is a bit brisk and we have plenty of snow for snowshoeing, one of my favorite pastimes. My plan is to return to our Orphanage at Grand Goave Haiti sometime the first week of March. I miss the kids and my thoughts are always on the work that needs to be done there, as everywhere in Haiti. I expect American Airlines will have resumed their regular schedule by then, so shouldn't need help getting in or out of the Country. In any case, Go Ministries truly blessed us and it was a pleasure to meet you and Ken and to learn more about the good work being done in the name of our Lord and Savior. Take care of yourself and God Bless. I've attached a couple of pictures for your scrapbook...Go Beavers! On Wisconsin! JEFF
24 May 2009 | 1:23 pm
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
You know when a special time really is special. It sticks with you. Like one year my sis and her family got a run down cabin in the snowy cascades for Christmas. We had to keep the whole drafty place warm with this humongous fireplace. So many interesting little things happened that bonded us together that week in a way that had never happened in our usual surrounding. A log fell out of the fireplace in the middle of the night that we had to get back in. A bat needed to be rescued from the chimney. We went for long walks in the snow looking for beaver wood. It turned out to be one of the best Christmas' that we've ever had.
It has always stuck with me, that Christmas.
That's kind of like what the Celebration of Partnerships was for me this year. The kind of time that inspires you in those subtle ways that last.
All of the American GO staff were down for the event. We had a couple pre-conference meetings and it was really great to be together.
For the conference our entire purpose was to encourage the National and American partnerships and I think we accomplished what we set out to do.
The celebration was held at a resort in Puerto Plata. When the nationals arrived they brought a great energy of anticipation with them and it was contagious.
Pastor Gabriel has been the national president of GO ministries since its conception thirteen years ago. At the conference he announced his role change to "international representative". He passed the torch to his eldest son Pastor Eduard Gabriel who is now the National president of GO ministries. It was a very emotional time for everyone.
Above: Pastor Gabriel gives blessings to his daughter in law Kendy
for there new adventures as the National President of GO
Gabriel is still very much in action and an essential part of the ministry. The transition was so emotional because we all reflected on how much Pastor Gabriel and his wife Tata have impacted our lives.
Several people stood up to say how God used Gabriel to save them. Yeni, who pastors with her husband in the Hole talked of how Gabriel helped her mother with all their family needed as she was growing up and she met her husband Felix at Gabriel's church and now they Pastor in one of the most difficult areas in Santiago. Gabriel was an essential part of Yeni meeting Jesus and now Yeni is essential to so many people meeting Jesus.
Fran, who works construction with the work crew talked of how Gabriel helped get Fran's wife and children to the DR so that they could be together and now Fran has steady work and his children are getting an education at the GO sponsored school that Gabriel began. Fran was a Haitian immigrant worker that most people thought of as nothing, but Gabriel saw someone worth investing in.
That sticks with me. All the people that Gabriel invested in so long ago and for many years he didn't see immediate fruit. But he remained faithful and steady and now the fruit is evident.
Yeah.... that's inspiring to me.
A wonderful partnership exists between Discovery church in California and The Cuerpo de Cristo church in Hato del Yaque. I met Pastor Todd Clark from Discovery Church for the first time during the celebration.
My favorite times were meal times. At our table always sat Pastor Todd, Pastor Aristides and his wife Arelis, Adams, Montan and his wife Tina, Pastor Eladio and his wife who also have a church in HdY, and me. We all talked about ministry and family and laughed and broke bread together. There is so much that I enjoyed about that time. I learned more in those few days of eating together about each person there than I had in the last year of ministry.
Below: Aristides, Arelis and Adams sang in the
Dining room and the lobby
Now we are back in Ministry and in our usual schedules and going forward with plans and service.
But this special event that really did turn out to be special will stick with me.
Aristides has been quoting Psalm 133:1 a lot lately.
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"
It is easy to forget that even when we are doing life together as we do in ministry here in the DR and with you in the US.
together we are building churches and homes, feeding children, encouraging the body of believers, bringing medicine to the sick, sharing the love of Jesus... and the list goes on.
The last verse in psalm 133 says "...For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."
There is a blessing in unity that makes an eternal impact.
Thank you for your partnership.
23 Mar 2009 | 1:36 pm
Posted by: Jen in the Dominican Republic
Since the Dominican has a semi tropical climate, there is plenty of rainfall to keep everything green and growing year round. The only problem with that is the flooding that happens frequently. People live in flood plains because it is cheap. Especially in the Hole where people don't pay for electricity or water because its not supposed to be inhabited. But it is home to hundreds of families.
Pastor Felix has been working in the Hole for eight years now and has seen his share of frustrations, especially when one of the children in the Nutrition center falls into drugs or gets pregnant at 13 to 14.
In addition to drugs, prostitution and all that goes along with those issues Felix battles unsanitary conditions. The Hole is an unofficial landfill and all of the runoff water from the surrounding streets runs down into it.
When the waters rise, it carries the trash into people's homes that they generally keep very clean.
Here is Pastor Felix standing where a home was just the day before.
At the end of 2007, Hurricane Olga washed away the bridge that people use to cross the contaminated river.
What was so neat about that is that in the following months the community actually built a new one themselves. Different people pitched in with mixing concrete and welding the scrap iron together to make it so people didn't have to jump on wobbly tires or wade across. I felt proud, as did they of their work
Last month there were some heavy rains which washed away the foundation of the bridge breaking it in two and carrying away a nearby home.
Now the kids walk up and down this steep walk way over the water to come to the nutrition center and to go to school.
Life can be like that can't it. Just when you've pulled together to make things right, a big storm moves in to tear down your accomplishments.
I'm Thankful that life isn't all about accomplishment, but the lives we encounter along the way.
Despite any setbacks or discouragements Felix continues to work in the Hole. More and more people are coming together to glorify God every week, who not only builds a bridge over water, but in their lives for a cleaner life and salvation. God gives the strength to resist drugs and gives the love to care for each other.
Despite the storms, God continues to rebuild lives.
"And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint."
The bridge in the Hole will get built again, but more importantly lives of the people who live there will continue to be touched and offered help during the storms that come in the flood plain of life.
Thank you for being part of all this, for your partnership and encouragments.