Monday, December 21, 2009

viaje al Pueblo

For the last day of school before vacations Alberto and I decided to do something special with the kids. The majority of the kids from our school live in the community of Mata Gorda, which is a small rural community about 20 minutes from town. Most of the families only go into town about once a week at most and it is very rare that the kids ever go; only if it is a special occasion or if they are sick and need to see a doctor.

So Alberto and I decided that it would be really fun to take the kids on a 'field trip' into town. We rented a taxi mini-bus and loaded all 22 kids and 4 teachers inside.
The kids were so excited as we began our journey into town, pointing out landmarks that they recognized to show us that they had been to town before. There was also a lively discussion determining who had been into town more than the next kid.

Our first stop was the town park. Now, this is not a playground park like many of you might imagine but more like a town square. In most Latin American towns there is one or many parks like this one always next to a large Catholic church.

Look at these two cuties waiting patiently for instructions. The kids had a blast running around the park and up and down the stairs.
We then bought them ice cream, about 50% of which was dropped on the ground, but they all enjoyed it nonetheless. Next we took them to Doulos Discovery School, which is a very nice private Christian school here in Jarabacoa. They have a really cool playground so we let the kids play there for about an hour.
They especially enjoyed the koi pond with fish and turtles!
To top off the day we took them to Pica Pollo for friend chicken and fried green bananas for lunch. Yum!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

School Christmas Party

This past wednesday we had a Christmas party for the kids at the school in Mata Gorda. THere was home-made popcorn and we showed the Jesus Movie for kids on a big screen using a projector. Once the actual movie started the little school was packed. Many community members showed up for the movie which was wonderful. Everyone was so attentive to the movie, especially the kids.
After the movie everyone was treated to some home-made treats. The party continued with each child receiving a bag full of gifts. The gifts included stuffed animals, toy cars, purses, playdough, puzzles, pencils, candy and a new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. The kids were so excited to receive these gifts as many of them would otherwise not get any gifts for Christmas.
The party was so much fun and it make me so happy to see the joy on the kids' faces when they received their gifts. Praise God for the joy He brings us during this season. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to share this joy and His love with the children of Mata Gorda.
Thank you so much for you continued support of the school by sponsoring the children in Mata Gorda. Thanks to your donations we were able to have this party for the children and they were so blessed by the gifts they received. Thank you so much!!

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

End of the year Pics

next post..... graduation!!!

Cultures Collide

This past team I had the pleasure of not only working with a new team of American students, but also a group of Korean students. A group came from a church in Michigan with a group of mainly Korean exchange students. It was so fun for me to learn a little about Korean culture and I loved listening to them speak Korean amongst themselves. They were great students with amazing hearts for service. The kids at school especially enjoyed when they taught them how to write their names in Korean! Here we are with our names in Korean
Here is Chang Woo writing our names in Korean


Summer is winding down here is Mata Gorda. Both the teachers and the kids were feeling like we needed to change things up here at the school So we decided to put on a VBS for the kids. It was pretty simple, but turned out to be so much fun. The kids split into three groups and rotated throughout the day doing art activities, playing sports and learning a Bible story.

The best part of each day was the end when we would quiz the kids on the memory verse of the day. We had a sound system set up and the kids loved talking in the microphone. It was very entertaining watching the kids stumble through the verses, but even sweeter hearing the Word of God come out of these kids' mouths. I was reminded of Psalm 119:11 that says "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You." Essentially that is our goal: to teach these kids God's word so that they might choose to follow Him. It was a sweet reminder of the eternal impact of every little thing that we do.

Bright New Colors!!!

Two weeks ago we had a group of students come down to serve with us from Bakersfield Christian High School. One of the projects that we worked on while they were here was painting. We continued the project of painting the swingset and play house. This is still a work in progress...
They also added their own special touch by painting murals on our lunch tables. The first one is a picture of the world with the saying "God has the whole world in His hands". THe kids love looking at the map and pointing out the island of the DR on the map
The second table was painted with a scene of Noah's ark. This one was fun for the kids as they identified all of the different animals.
Thank you, Bakersfield Christian, for leaving a beautiful, lasting impression on the school. Thank you for showing love through Art.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Transforming Love of Jesus

2 Corinthians 5:14 says that it is the love of Christ that compels us because Jesus died for all. In my life I come to realize more and more that it truly is the love of Christ that compels us to live our lives the way we do. It is his love that compels us to love. Even when there is no promise of love in return.

Meet Joel. He is a 4 year old at the preschool in Mata Gorda. This school year has been a test of the transforming power that God's love can have on a person's life, even a child as young as Joel. At the beginning of the school year, Joel was a bit nervous as he began his first year at the school. Even though he was one of the smallest children at the school, it soon became evident that he had learned how to stand up for himself. Instead of the sweet face that you see in the photo, Joel wore an angry, aggressive, and defensive face everyday. He was constantly fighting with the other children, getting in trouble and was just a generally unhappy, disobedient child. I soon found out that he came from a very rough, unloving, neglecting home life. I knew that more discipline would not change this child, but rather love was what he needed. I decided that everyday I would walk up to him first, before any other child, and give him a hug. This may not seem like a big deal, as most of the kids run at me in the morning for hugs, but for Joel it was something completely out of the ordinary. At first he was very uncomfortable with the whole situation, sometimes even running away from me or not even putting his arms around me. But I persisted. Every morning, he was my first hug. I would hold him tight, kiss his face and tell him that I loved him and that he was beautiful. From his reaction, I'm quite certain nobody had ever told him that before.

But you know what? It worked. This experiment in love really worked. Today Joel is a completely different child. He is the first to run at me now for a hug. Sometimes he even tells me that I'm beautiful. He now obeys his teachers, does his work, shares with others, and learns well. And it is all because he is loved.

Isn't that how God's love changes us as well? A love that compels us to live, think, and act differently. Because we know we are loved.