Monthly Archives: September 2005

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The 12 Weeks of Summer

I’d love to take you through a brief overview of, no, not the 12-days of Christmas, but rather the 12-weeks of summer here in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic with Students International. Hopefully then as I continue to upload more & more pictures, you’ll have more of a background to what may or may not have been happening. Let me first give you a quick look at the schedule of the week’s activities on a two-week outreach in the Dominican Republic as this summer’s theme was IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS:

Monday: fly into Santiago, get situated at the base
Tuesday: (each morning starts with worship, a short talk by one of our staff, quiet time & breakfast) morning, cultural & SI orientation, afternoon, site orientation, evening, culture night full of activities
Wednesday: 9 am – 4 pm at ministry sites, evening, team time
Thursday: ministry sites, supper in a home in the community
Friday: ministry sites, evening activities varied depending on the outreach
Saturday: Waterfall excursion & evening in town
Sunday: day of rest, Dominican church service in the afternoon
Monday: ministry sites, team time
Tuesday: ministry sites, game night
Wednesday: ministry sites, evening of worship & special speaker
Thursday: ministry sites, team time & debriefing
Friday: ministry sites, banquet in the evening
Saturday: head back to the States

Outreach #1 – May 23-June4
The summer started here with a great group of students from college IVCF groups from Conneticut & Boston College. Lauren, Savina, Charlene & Cali helped us get a big first step painted on the murals of the cemetary in town. As we walked through the streets of Jarabacoa talking on a little tour they also helped birth a sort of outreach idea of doing a mini Bible school of sorts in a poor community down by the river using a painting on canvas & walking around with a guitar to gather children & share about Jesus. It was a hard start to the summer as well as two of our students contracted amoebas (a rough parasite) & got to know SI’s medical site as well at Clinica Inmaculada while spending quality time with my roommate the Dr. Alba Valdez. Sickness doesn’t normally come near our students during their time here in Jarabacoa, & while the cause was never found, the Lord used it if not to get our staff on our knees even more for the rest of the summer. It also brought our small group at the Art Site closer together in dependency to be each other’s family, encouragers, visitors, etc. as we openly shared our lives.

Outreach #2 – June 6-18
Californians do have a lot of fun! June started off with a bang of college kids from California (& some PT students from Arkansas). As the morning sun desired to bake us, Melissa, Dannah, Lena, and Diana painted like professionals in the cemetary wall’s afternoon shade as they prepared canvas murals to be used in the community as well as to be used on the upcoming trip I was to be making to Elias Pina. Those girls have some major artistic talent & were a blessing as we could just let them go & use the knowledge & talents they have. We visited the community twice to play with the kids as well as then to share a painting of Daniel in the Lion’s Den as they also showed off their theatrical artistic talents with a dramatization of the Old Testament story. These women were dedicated to each other & what they were here for, whether they understood all God’s purposes or not as they openly & honestly met each other & the Dominican Republic exactly where they were.

June 19-30
After attending an absolutely fabulous worship conference given by Danilo Montero at my church on Sat., June 18, I headed with Julian & Indira (a Colombian couple who’ve been working with us this summer) to join the group from Seattle Pacific University who were settling into there living arrangements for their 40 days to be spent in Elias Pina, a border area with Haiti. Charlie, Matthew, Nate & Cody – four engineering majors – were joined by Joana, Caroline, Reina, & Jane in all their diversity to serve Jesus in various capacities. It was a blessing & priviledge to be able to see a different part of the island, get to know other Dominican, Haitian, Colombian & American brothers & sisters, as well as help the team start to find their place & be involved in a little bit of what the Lord is doing in that part of the island. The Colombians & I spent less than two whole weeks with them there, but got to see bits & pieces & then hear more stories as the team returned to Jarabac oa in July as they were involved in trying to repair windmills, hand pumps for potable water, dentistry & medical work in outdoor clinics with Julian (who’s a dentist) as well as in the local hospital, working with the local governing officials, ministering to those of the community & family who served as their hosts in being available to build relationships, and more ways I don’t even know.

Outreach #4 – July 4-16
While I was on the border of Haiti, Fran was packing up our art site & I was back to help move the final things out of our previous location as we then welcomed a group from our dear friends from Crystal Valley church in Indiana. Gill, Sahara, Ashley & Aimei were incredible as nomadic missionary artists as a tropical depression dumped rain on us for a week or so, delaying work at the wall. Our traveling art site (most permanently located in the back of my Suzuki jeep and the town park where we ate lunch & spent siesta) did traveling art classes visiting the education sites in Mata Gorda & El Callejon (perfect as Aimei is an art instructor of young children), while then in the second week as sunshine was more abundant, the cemetary wall was painted all kinds of pretty. While the Lord did amazing things through these students, He did absolutely amazing things in them as well!

Outreach #5 – July 18-30
Indiana & California… two states making a major difference in the Dominican Republic as that’s where this outreaches participants were from. High schoolers from the church where one of our summer interns serves as the Youth Pastor the rest of the year, and a young adult group from a church in Indiana. As it started to rain as we started to share with Heidi & Sabrina during orientation after a driving tour & then heading to the park, we went to a Cafe owned by the brother of our now landlord where that afternoon unfolded the blessing of the new art site. It was exciting to continue working at the wall, but also be able to share with Dominican students of the Art School that we once again had a site. These two young ladies (& their leaders as they joined us at various times) were a blessing as we moved into the new site, shared dreams of the Art Site, painted a lot at the wall, and even started to see dreams take shape. As Heidi’s a graphic designer, she also blessed us with the creating of the new logo of the Escuela D’Arte. As we suddenly landed in this new & huge blessing which had once simply been a dream, we took each day as it came & enjoyed every step of the way.

Outreach #6 – August 1-13
We ended the summer with some great kids from a Christian high school in California & Crown College’s women’s volleyball team (from my dear Minnesota). Erika, Amy & Sarah brought lots of joy & laughter with them as we did cleaning around the site, lots of painting at the cemetary wall, and laughed some more. As we ended the summer working hard, laughing a lot, and seeking to follow Jesus in whatever He had for us in that moment, those girls brought us to the point where now Fran & I only have six more blocks to paint in order to complete the murals on the cemetary wall. By God’s grace, we’ll finish completely all the way down to different Biblical messages written as a means of discouraging worshipping of the images that are paint on a wall, and encouraging the seeking of the One who gives life & meaning to the stories & lessons represented in the scenes.

It has been a summer filled with grace, mercy, love, lessons, laughter, and overall God drawing each of us closer to Himself… Dominicans, Americans, Colombians, Haitians, those are all just the countries listed on our passports. May He receive all the glory & honor He deserves for all that He allows us a part in as He does beyond what we could ever ask or imagine!




When I came to the Dominican Republic in June of 2004 for an interview, I had such a small concept of what life in the DR would be like. I’ve adjusted more easily than most & love my life here, but that week was a small part of the start of many relationships that would enrich & change my life. Whether we realize it or not, relationships (friends, family, whomever) have incredible influence in our lives. That’s how its meant to be, God knew what He was doing in creating us to be relational beings. He desired relationship with us & for His children to have fellowship with one another.

One of those people I met the week I was here for my interview was Willy. Willy was a student at the Art School at that time. A young man about 16 or so, full of life, friendly, good-humored, with so much ahead of him. Willy’s family doesn’t have much but in the DR, economic circumstances don’t crush most people’s spirits. In the time that I was back in the States raising support & preparing to move to the DR, Willy was able to find work to help support his family. Since moving here in November, Willy would visit Francisco & I at the art site when he could. No longer able to study art, working a man’s job for little pay & trying to finish high school, he’d stop in to visit his old art teacher & American friend.

Last week we were hit with the shocking reminder of the fragility of life. Willy contracted Dengue Fever from a pesky mosquito. After three days of a high fever & his mother not wanting to take him to the doctor, Willy passed away after taking himself to the hospital. There are many bits of the story & what happened that I don’t know, but what I have heard is that Willy made a decision to accept Jesus as his Lord & Savior with one of his brothers who is a believer. This life passes like the blink of an eye. Not that we should live every moment anticipating or fearing death, but rather that we should live every moment to the fullest. Willy was supposedly hanging out & swimming in the river on Sunday & breathed his last breath on this earth on Tuesday.

While I wish Willy could have experienced real “life” on this earth after making a decision for Jesus, I now pray for his family & friends that there may be an impact on the community of Barrio Blanco, that God may use it for His glory.