We are excited to announce that we have two new couples that have committed to serve with SI here in the DR. Jayson and Lindsay York and their three children plan to join us the middle of August. Jayson will be working on Funds Development here in the DR. Hans and Jami Miller and their two young boys will be joining us in February of 2011. Hans will working in our construction site and helping with maintenance around the base and at ministry sites. Jami has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Development and has been trained to be a coach to other teachers. Pray for these two families as they fund raise and prepare to transition to life in the DR.
In April two of our staff, Rudy and Yajairia, were married here at the SI base. We pray blessings on Rudy and Yajairia as they continue to serve SI together.
In April we also took our staff to Haiti to help in one of the tent communities of Port-au-Prince that has developed since the earthquake. This was a great experience for each one of us to step out of our comfort zone, to be reminded what it is like for the teams we host when they come to the DR, and to minister to those who had lost so much in the earthquake. It is amazing that as we serve, God uses what we give and He multiples it over and over again to bless others. Thanks again for your support and investment into the lives of so many here in the Dominican Republic.
Here are some reflections of the last five months from the DR Field Director.
January to May have been very busy months for SI/DR. We've hosted nine different outreaches, which have been a blessing to both us at Students International and to the surrounding communities here in the Dominican Republic. Our first team was from Greenville College in southern Illinois. From this team we had several people commit to serve here in the DR this summer as interns and two students signed up to be a part of our fall semester program.
In February we hosted a women's outreach team. While here, God laid on the heart of one of the ladies to raise the money to purchase four new treadle (non-electric) sewing machines for our social work sites. Two will be placed in our social work site in El Callejon and two in our women's center in Los Higos. This visionary, a former home-economics teacher, will be coming this month to train the leaders of these sites how to use the machines. What a blessing this will be! Another one of the ladies that came as a participant on the women's team has now signed up to bring a group of women from Indiana to the DR next February.
In March a team from Taylor University brought hundreds of pairs of shoes with them to be distributed to the people in the communities of our ministry sites. Before you could receive a pair of shoes, Team Victory washed each child's feet and prayed for them. You can imagine the excitement of all those who were blessed with a brand new pair of shoes!
Also in March, along with our regular teams, we hosted a vision tour lead by the President of SI, Dave Hansen. The response from this group was a great encouragement to us. In this group was a couple from Hume Lake in California that leads the Joshua Wilderness Institute. After visiting here they signed up to bring a group of around 70 for a two-week outreach in January. We also hosted several people from a Church in Sturgis, Michigan who decided to bring a team in June.
These are some of the ways that the fruits of our labor have blessed us. I wish you could hear or that I could share all the testimonies of people who have come and left a part of their heart here in Jarabacoa. Again, we praise God for His faithfulness!
For the past 7 years, Students International has been working alongside the poor of El Gorrión (a settlement of about 55 families displaced by landslides caused by Hurricane Mitch), responding to some of its most pressing needs. We've built water cisterns, taught in its local school, and developed relationships with its destitute but resilient residents. Recently, SI has undertaken building a community center that would help meet some other felt needs, such as: adequate nutrition, by providing children with one daily balanced meal; vocational training, by operating carpentry and sewing workshops; spiritual growth, by conducting youth & adult Bible studies; and health care, by running a small clinic in partnership with SI's clinic in neighboring Magdalena. Additionally, the community center's physical presence would speak to our commitment to partnership over the long term. SI broke ground last month, as God has placed several people in our path, both in the U.S. and locally, to help move this project along. We will be building in phases as the funds become available. We are so excited for this project's potential! Please pray for the raising of the necessary funds and for God's favor to proceed with the community center's construction.
On September 13, 2008 around 400 people gathered at the Alipaz home for the 4th annual SI banquet in Visalia, CA. Some of the highlights from the banquet include reports from the field by summer participants who live in the Central Valley. One of several speakers was Ryan McKenzie of Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, who shared about the growth he saw in his students in Guatemala and the beauty he saw in the lives of the poor they served there. Another speaker was new staff member Cailah Pritchard. Though she’s headed to Costa Rica, she served this past summer in Fiji and shared about the unexpected lessons God had for her in relational ministry. It was a great night celebrating what God is doing in and through Students International, challenging all of to explore what God would have us do next. See the pictures in this link