Thankfulness — December 5, 2022
This has been one heck of a year. Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about all of us being together - alive and healthy - after multiple crazy traumas.
Over the course of a few months it felt like everything that could go wrong did: Adam’s foot had gotten worse so he wasn’t able to fly back to the DR, I continued to hold things together in the DR along with having a newborn, Emily broke her arm, our water pump kept breaking and flooding the yard (which meant we had no running water inside either), and ultimately the worst - one of our children became very, very sick almost didn’t make it - twice she faced emergency surgeries, and the doctors prepared me for the worst both times.
When it rains, it pours… right?
This fall I spent a month with Camila admitted to various hospital (first in San Juan and later in Santo Domingo). She had a severe bowel obstruction that should have caused a fatal sepsis. God was merciful. Our sweet and spunky little girl had the odds stacked against her but she made it.
As Camila continues to recover we have settled into a good routine for taking care of her colostomy. At first it was challenging due to the tropical climate here. Not only were flies attracted to her but she would also sweat which caused the base of the bag to not stick the right way and then more flies would be attracted to her - a vicious cycle to say the least! However, we’ve jumped those hurdles and she has completely adapted to life with a colostomy bag. She is back to jumping, running and bossing all of us around - the sassy Cami we all love! Her next and final surgery will be March 8, 2023 at Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan. This should be the final surgery, they will remove the colostomy and reconnect her colon. Afterwards, she needs to stay in the States for 6 weeks for recovery. So, as a family we are going to take advantage of that time to come home. By then it will be close to 2 full years since we’ve all been in Michigan. We are embracing that gift of time - even though it comes at the cost of a 3rd surgery.
Though it’s been a doozy of a year personally, it’s also been a very fruitful year for BBOH. We hosted two teams (one from St Mary in Pinckney and one from University of St Francis). We’ve started a new Youth Outreach program with Olivia Kumke, our new long term volunteer. Olivia is doing Christian ballet classes and helping with youth programming for the parish in our small town. She has been such a blessing! Later this month we have an Advent Family Night where her classes will perform and we’ll do family centered reflections in preparation for Christmas - a first event of its kind for the area!
We also have a short term volunteer, Rob, who came to work for 3 weeks. His program fee allowed us to get back to remote communities (other than Rosa la Piedra) and provide medical consultations (something we haven’t had the funds to do since before COVID). The medical team visited Manyaya, Dos Bocas and Juan Cano, among other communities. Another huge blessing!
Looking into 2023 we have a few more teams scheduled than last year, but we would still love to have more! If you know of anyone interested in serving - individual people, parishes, youth groups or anything in between - please get them in contact with us!
Our home parish, St Mary in Pinckney, will be doing a spaghetti dinner hosted by the Knights of Columbus to raise money for our family. As a missionary family finances are typically very tight, but with all of the medical bills plus upcoming travel to the States, they have become overwhelming. We are VERY grateful to the Knights for hosting this event and to the parish for their help. We literally can only keep serving with your help - and we take your many sacrifices seriously. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! ❤️❤️
Happy New Year
Blessings and peace to everyone! I pray that this post reaches each of you doing well and enjoying the beginning of 2022. The end of 2021 was a roller coaster of health concerns and balancing the many moving parts of family life and ministry.
Since November Adam has continued to endure open ulcers on his feet. There WAS an infection in this foot, but thanks be to God the infection is completely gone. He is focusing on staying off of the foot so that the wound can continue to heal. As you can imagine, that is a tough thing to do in our family with small kids and many responsibilities. Please pray that his wounds close up and he is able to start moving around more. We found an incredible doctor in the capital who speaks English and most importantly whom we trust. It has been an immense blessing to be able to have his feet continually trimmed and seen here locally.
This fall we focused on showering our foster teen with love. It was a season of sweet "firsts" and some hard conversations. She is doing extremely well with homeschooling and tutoring. We are planning to transition to a local night school later this spring where she can continue to catch up on her studies. An older couple from our parish offered to help with her schooling and have been tutoring her twice a week - a true gift of their time and talent. She also got some long-awaited health tests and was also evaluated by an optometrist. Armed with new glasses, her reading pace and comprehension have taken off! We are very proud of all of her hard work, both in her studies and in embracing so much transition. Spending time with her and pouring into her has opened our eyes even further to some heartbreaking local realities. Please continue to pray for her as we manage emotions, expectations and past traumas.
December came and went quicker than we could have imagined. We celebrated Dominican Nochebuena (Christmas Eve dinner, a uniquely special meal that has the sentiments of American Thanksgiving mixed with Christmas) with Dr. Angel's family. Unfortunately, in December we also battled head lice and COVID19. Thankfully we are on the recovering side of both of those issues. Please continue to pray for health and protection for our whole family as we continue to live and serve abroad.
We were finally able to get the sea container pulled through customs and all of the furniture was brought up the mountain to the clinic site. It is such a beautiful thing to see! THANK YOU to everyone who donated, organized and moved donations so that these items could reach their final destination in Rosa la Piedra. We are so grateful for your sacrifices!
The BBOH-FUMSIL Medical Team (Dr. Angel, Kailey and a crew of helpers) continue to do medical clinics once a week at the new medical center. Once we have finished the security wall and the electrical system, we can start planning to offer more regular services Monday through Friday.
Our preschool and child development center opened during December 2021 for a trial season of classes. We are working toward opening full time this month. Please continue to keep these littlest ones close in prayer and that we are able to continue instilling hope and the love of Christ through hands-on learning.
We are also preparing to host our first group of volunteers since the pandemic began. St. Mary Parish in Pinckney MI is sending a small team in February. We are so excited to return to our regularly scheduled mission teams! Please pray for continued good health as we prepare for the team by getting the Mission House up to par and planning all the details of their trip.
Though time has passed quickly, please be assured of our gratefulness for your love and support. We are only able to be here serving full time because of YOUR sacrifices and gifts that make this mission possible. Thank you for supporting our family, for supporting the mission and for covering us in prayer!
We are praying for each of you as we enter 2022 with hearts full of hope for the future!
Happy fall everyone! I hope that each of you are enjoying the cooler weather. Though it's not at all cold here in the Dominican, the weather has shifted to cooler breezes and dare I say it - chilly nights!
The last couple of months have been a whirlwind. I apologize we missed last month's blog. In our last post we asked for prayers for a sibling set that has had extremely difficult family dynamics. Due to even more complicating factors (including human trafficking allegations) we started September by adding a teen foster daughter to our home. After working closely with a Diocesan priest from her neighborhood, it was determined that the best solution for her complicated situation was to be in a home that would oversee her education and prevent the trafficking situation by providing a safe, stable environment. We initially planned for this new home environment to be in a Dominican household. We knew this would be ideal (and we still believe this would have been ideal) but we were unable to find a willing household. With the impending situation becoming more urgent, and with the blessing from the Diocesan priest, we opened our hearts and our homes to this sweet girl. Though the last month hasn't been without challenges, God has confirmed over and over again that this was the right decision for her and for our family. She has joined our homeschool and is slowing learning to read. Our goal is to be reading and writing with enough proficiency to go to the local Catholic school in January 2022. Please cover her in prayer! Pray that she continues to study hard, that she remains open with us, that her heart would be receptive of God's love while also struggling with big life questions.
Early in September we were able to go to the Department of Migration for our residency appointments. It was a long day, beginning with our 9 am appointment and not ending until 6 pm with our medical evals. But I am thrilled to report that everything was accepted and we are moving forward to the next phase! Now we wait 2-3 months for our final appointments. Please keep this intention covered in prayer as well.
Construction on the clinic continues to move forward. In all transparency, we are extremely frustrated with the foreman of the project. His responses to our questions and concerns are less than receptive and his attendance at the worksite has been extremely minimal. Things are still steadily moving forward, even if not at the pace that we would prefer haha. Pastor Ryan and his mission group with Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in California raised $30,000 for the solar panel system for the clinic!!! This is a HUGE blessing as the cost of the solar system has been a priority for awhile now. God has been exceedingly generous through His people and their heart for the people on the DR - Haiti border.
In lieu of our annual auction fundraiser, we are planning to do an online fundraiser (similar to the one that we organized in August 2020). More details to come! We are also looking at doing a small Christmas shop so people can buy BBOH merchandise for gifts this year. All items will be available for a short period of time only, so keep your eyes open for that launch soon!
The sea container arrived here in the DR in mid September but we haven't yet received it. After a long customs-clearing process and inspections from various government departments, we are hopeful to get it released this week. Here are some photos of the container loading in Michigan
THANK YOU to everyone that made this possible!!!! It took many hands to load the container, lots of storage locations and sacrifices of time, talent and treasure. We are forever grateful to each of you!
A couple of weeks ago we had to make the very difficult decision to put down our guard dog, Thor. He was a German shepherd from a litter that was born to our friend's dog. He was just barely 1 year old. After a horrible accident (he tried to jump a high gate and got stuck on the iron spikes on the top) he was suffering from paralysis in the back part of his body, leaving two legs unusable. Fortunately, our good friend Jenn is a vet in the capital of the DR, Santo Domingo. She was an immense help after the accident and in the following weeks as we waited for signs of movement in his legs. We wouldn't have been able to give him the care he needed without her and her generosity of time and talent. Thor will be forever missed. <3
As I currently write this, Adam is in Michigan for more maintenance on his feet. He still has one pesky callus that needs to be trimmed regularly and a problem area on the other foot. Please continue to pray for this intention - it is always in the back of our minds and requires monitoring. Adam returns on Saturday. Though his trip was short and to the point, we have missed him terribly and look forward to having him back!
-For our foster teen as she continues to adjust to life in a house with many littles and new expectations. For her studies but most especially for her heart - that she may comforted as she processes all of her life experiences.
-For our residency status, that we will be officially approved as soon as possible.
-For the health of our whole family and for complete healing in Adam's feet.
-For all of our projects: the new medical clinic, the preschool, the nutrition program, etc. For all that goes into keeping these programs afloat - both behind the scenes and in person with our community members.
Adventures in Missions
While Adam was in the States, our new-to-us vehicle had major repairs done. The engine (which was supposed to be new) had failed and we needed a new one. Luckily, the seller of the vehicle was responsive and agreed to help us fix the situation. Though it was a large unexpected expense, we were able to get a new motor with the seller paying for half of the cost. Used car sales can be tricky in the US, but especially so in a developing country. God surely was watching over us as the seller went above and beyond to help with the situation instead of simply not returning our calls. Everything was fixed by the time Adam was back in the DR!
As many of you know, years ago there was a season of life when we took care of malnourished children in the Mission House in Palo Seco. Though that was a very tough season for many reasons (many kids, lots of sicknesses, stress, etc.), it was also a period of time that I will forever cherish. It was a season that taught me so much about local culture, parenting and family dynamics. There was a set of siblings that came into our care during that time. For their privacy, I'm not going to name them or share photos. However, I want to ask for your prayers for these siblings. All these years later, the kids have grown and so has the severity of their family dynamics. We are working with the parish closest to them in an effort to "build bridges" (see what I did there? hahaha) and meet their needs as best we can. But please, please, please pray for them. Pray that their physical needs will be met and their hearts will be protected - and that ultimately they see God's hand in caring for them. And also pray for us as we have meeting after meeting, attempting to fill the gaps and aide as some sort of hybrid CPS/social services/education intervention.
During July I was able to join Dr. Angel and Kailey for consultations in Rosa la Piedra on two occasions. It was surreal to be serving the community from inside the walls of the Clinic of Hope. A dream come true! Y'all know that I teared up (surprise, surprise!) multiple times during those visits. It was so refreshing to see familiar faces, even from behind masks. Being in the actual building brought such a sense of hope and accomplishment... I found myself visualizing all of the ways that we can lift up those villages with long term change and eternal hope. I am looking forward to the completion of the clinic and serving Rosa la Piedra through education and catechesis alongside the medical clinic.
Pastor Ryan and Good Shepherd Luthern Church in California contacted us about raising money for the clinic through their annual missions fundraiser. We were so honored to be chosen as a receipt of their efforts. Through their one day event they were able to raise $30,000 for the electrical system, polar panels and batteries for the clinic! AMAZING! I had been worried about the cost of a good solar system. But just like many times before, God provided what was needed for HIS clinic.
Preparations for the sea container continue to push forward.
So many people have come together to make this shipment happen.
We are forever grateful for each of your sacrifices!
We have two major moving dates - Aug 13 & Aug 25. On Aug 13 all of the donations will be moved from the Stutzky's house to Grand Rapids Transport (Jenison, MI). Then on Aug 25, the sea container will arrive at Grand Rapids Transport and all donations will be moved from storage onto the container. We need as many strong people as possible to help with all of this moving! If you or someone you know are able to help, please reach out to us. The only items we still need are appliances: refrigerators, generator, stove and washing machines. If you have any of those items, please contact us right away to arrange for transport to the sea container.
-For the sibling set and their family, that as a community we can wrap them in love and protection.
-For our pending residency status and the appointments in September
-For our family, that we remain healthy (we had a short bout with amoebas recently) and safe while we serve here in the DR.
Good news!! After weeks of searching and debating the pros and cons of various vehicle makes and models, we finally settled on a new-to-us vehicle both for our family and for work in the mountains. Thanks to the generosity of our support team, we were able to purchase a 2008 Montero, 7 seater with 4x4. Though the Montero is on the older side, it is a workhorse that is easily serviced locally in San Juan. Parts are fairly easy to find and the cost of repairs is relatively low.
Bad news: After having the Montero for only 4 days we began to see signs of motor problems so we took it to the Diocese mechanic here in San Juan. It quickly became clear that something was seriously wrong. After speaking with the seller, the Montero was towed back to Santo Domingo. Many tests later, it was deemed that the vehicle needs a new motor. We are so grateful for the seller who has assumed the lions share of this cost and the time it takes to find skilled labor and new parts. Though this is a very frustrating issue and the timing feels particularly sour, in the end it will be a good thing that we have a newer motor, bringing it even more up to date.
I am grateful for the mobility that this vehicle provides but also for the example of God's divine province over the mission, always providing for what we need. This mission has always been sustained by you, our mission team, and there is no better example of that than this new-to-us vehicle. Thank you from the deepest part of our hearts.
One of the first ways that we will put this vehicle to good use is by going on a trip with Bishop Tomas of the Diocese of San Juan. He invited us to go with him on a visit to a Diocesan Medical Center in the Cibao region of the country. Bishop Tomas previously worked closely with the center (perhaps even started it? I don't know all of the history yet) and he has dreams of opening similar centers in the south (where we live). We are just getting to know this new bishop, but so far one of my favorite things about him is his true appreciation for children and families. After joking that we would need a small bus to travel all together, I was quick to say that we would find a way for the kids to stay home. But Bishop Tomas insisted that we bring our kids with us on this trip and encouraged us to involve our kids in the mission as much as we can. He emphasized several times that children are not a burden but a blessing and by bringing them along we are living witnesses and testimony of family life. It is refreshing to feel supported as a lay missionary family striving to both serve and be open to life simultaneously.... we'll see if he feels differently after 6+ hours of cheerios flying and siblings arguing in the car. Haha!
Planning of the sea container shipment is coming along well. Thank you to everyone who has donated items, medical furniture, their time and resources to make it possible!!! We've been reaching out to companies of all kinds and sizes in search of donations, everything from solar panels to bed sheets. I am BLOWN AWAY by the support that has come out of the woodwork - people buying items on auctions, organizing pickups and drop-offs, finding exam beds, dentist chairs, etc. This is only possible thanks to our amazing volunteers -- you are the best of the best!!! The container is set for pickup on August 27 and will take less than 20 days to make it to the Dominican port. Please continue to pray for the success of the container, that it may be filled with the vitally needed supplies and will arrive without problem to our location near the Haiti border.
After lots of back and forth with the Office of Migration, I am so thrilled to say that our residency applications have been approved!!! We can now move onto the next step which is a set of in person appointments and medical evaluations for everyone. Thank you for praying for this intention and please continue to pray us through the rest of the process. Our first in person appointment is on September 20, 2021. Once that goes well, we will wait another 2-3 months for final evaluations. Once everything is approved we will be temporary residents (temporary for 5 years, then granted permanent residency).
The littlest member of our family, Camila, was not yet born when we first began this process. We applied for her visa earlier this year but it wasn't approved yet when we returned to the DR in May. Last Friday I got a call from the Dominican Consulate in Chicago. Our contact there explained that the visa was approved and advised that we should come asap to get it put into Camila's passport. Most of the consulate positions are by political appointment and now is the season of turnover. Once the office is full of new staff we will be at their mercy if they honor her approved visa, require more documents or ask us to re-apply for her visa altogether. Adam's foot needs to be seen by his podiatrist in the States anyway, so we quickly prepared for a short (4-5 day) trip to the States for Adam and Camila. They fly out this afternoon. Please keep them in your prayers as Adam travels solo with Cami and for me while I hold down the fort here in the DR.
-Safe travel for Adam & Camila, that all that needs to be done is accomplished (doc appointments, visa appt, prescripton refills)
-For continued healing in Adam's foot!!
-For safety and health of the whole family.
We made it!!
Adam had shoulder surgery at the end of January. It was a slightly longer recovery than anticipated including several months of PT. But, thanks be to God, he is good as new! After such a long season of being displaced and moving from home to home, we are finally back in the Dominican Republic! Thank you for your constant prayers! We returned to the DR on May 5, 2021. It some ways it feels like we never left and in other ways it's remarkable how much has changed here over the last year.
Since our rental house had been empty throughout the last year, we had lots of critters that had taken up residence. We also had a fair amount of mold to contend with. Most of the plants in the backyard had died, leaving behind a big ant hill that was thriving in our absence. During our first couple of weeks (when we tried to stay home and away from people, just in case we had come in contact with COVID), we set to work on fixing up these aspects of the house. We also had to get the fridge fixed twice! Always an adventure! But now that we are settled, it feels so good to be back.
During the last year Monsignor Grullon, the Bishop of San Juan, retired and a new Bishop was appointed. One of our first tasks was to meet with him, share who we are and what the ministry of BBOH entails. Though I was very nervous, especially because we had to bring all of our kids to the meeting (we don't have childcare here). But, the meeting was fantastic. Bishop Tomas Alejo is very supportive, even promising to come visit our new clinic. He shared his hope of starting large medical centers in the three provinces that comprise his diocese. Needless to say, our hearts are very much aligned on our focus to provide access to healthcare for the poor. Bishop Alejo is also extremely supportive of families, young children and getting them involved with the mission. He made us promise to bring all of our kids along for the visit to new clinic -- I agreed as long as they ride with him!! haha.
Our residency status continues to take baby steps forward. It has been a slow process that was complicated by COVID lockdowns. The first visas that Adam and I had expired while we were in the States, so we had unexpected costs and steps to re-apply and update all of the paperwork. Working with the government of a developing nation has proven to be as challenging as it sounds haha. Our residency applications are complete and through the first step of approvals. The next part of the process is a medical evaluation and a series of appointments in the capital (I spit coffee across the table when the Office of Migration explained the post-COVID process and cost!!). Please pray for this process! The kids visas will expire in August and we are trying our best to get residency approval before then (once we have residency we no longer need the visas, so if it's approved before August we can avoid the cost and delay of reapplying for children's visas). Though the whole process is frustrating, it will be worth it to be considered residents and avoid all taxes/fees/legal issues in the future.
Almost two weeks ago we got word that Sr. Roselyn Nichols, the co-founder of FUMSIL, wasn't doing well and Dr. Angel got a call that she had asked to speak with him. He tried his best to get to Wisconsin to say goodbye in person, but she passed the night before he got there. (Thank you to the sweet angels that helped with his travel costs, you know who you are!!!) Sr. Roselyn passed on May 31 and was laid to rest in Osh Kosh, WI on June 4, 2021. It's difficult to put into words how much Sister meant to us, to the community in El Llano, to Dr. Angel and to so many people around the world. She was a true servant, spending her life to improve the lives of others. She will never be forgotten. Her passing provided an opportunity for us to catch up with former volunteers who knew her from mission trips (2006-2011) before she retired. Talking about our memories with these people allowed me to process and reflect in a unique way. There were so many moments where Sister showed us grace and love, despite our inexperience with the world. As early 20-something kids, we didn't appreciate her wisdom or her advice as much as we could have. What I wouldn't give to be able to have conversations with her now! Her grace and grit continue to inspire me. Our greatest challenge will be living up to her example and carrying her legacy. It is also our greatest honor.
As the clinic construction is more than halfway complete, we are preparing to send a sea container full of furniture and supplies for both the clinic and our mission house. To review the list of items needed you can click here. Grand Rapids Transport is donating storage space in an empty container, which will then be moved to be side-by-side with the international shipping container on a dock. On shipping day, we will move all donations from the storage container to the shipping container. We are SO GRATEFUL for this space. Storage has been our biggest obstacle to sending a shipment. With the help of Grand Rapids Transport, we are finally able to begin the process! Learn more about Grand Rapids Transport here.
Recently, Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Brighton, MI did a collection of over the counter medications for our pharmacy and for supplies for mobile clinics. Over the last year, we have had few donations come down in suitcases and these vital supplies are so appreciated. They were able to collect three large boxes of medications and monetary donations we well. We are so grateful for their support!!! A special thank you to Char Curtis, Joanie Jones and Kate Braciszewski for organizing and executing this collection!
Our search for a reliable family vehicle continues. We have funds saved from before the pandemic that are designated for a new vehicle, but finding a reliable one here on the island is proving to be tricky. The lawyer for the Diocese is extremely helpful in doing searches for all potential vehicles, checking on past accidents, assessed value and bad tickets tied to a vehicle. Please pray for that we are able to find a good, reliable vehicle that fits our family and is 4x4 for work in the mountains.
As always, we are grateful for the sacrifice that each of you have made to allow our family to serve here in the Dominican Republic. We know that your gifts to our family are true sacrifices and we do not take them lightly. Thank you for supporting and praying us through these many seasons of change and ministry. Be assured of our prayers for each of you as well. Please let us know if there is a specific way we can be praying for you.
Jessica, Adam & kids
-For the repose of the soul of Sr. Roselyn Nichols and for our hearts as we continue to mourn this loss and walk alongside the community who is also mourning this loss
-For a reliable ministry and family vehicle
-For God's favor and blessing for the remainder of the residency process, that He will provide both in patience and in finances.
-For continued wisdom and direction as we step back into ministry amid COVID precautions and closures
The end of a long year
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our supporters and friends! I pray that this update finds each of you healthy and doing well. As fall turned into winter, not much has changed for our family. We are still staying at the cabin up north (no cell service is starting to get to me! If you've called it is likely that we never even got a missed call, my apologies for lags in responding).
Adam's foot has completely healed, praise God. The surgery was successful and the recovery was speedy (compared to the 6+ months he battled with the open wound). Mid December he was discharged from the podiatry follow up appointments with a completely healed foot! This was joyful news! Though his shoulder is still in pain, things feel much lighter without having to bandage and care meticulously for an open ulcer. Adam continues going to PT for the shoulder pain. Imaging on the area doesn't show any damage or problems which is confusing for the physicians (and us!) given the amount of pain and the loud clicking anytime he moves the shoulder joint. After the holidays they are going to look more into the collar bone/sternum areas to see if the problem originates further down the line, so to speak. Despite these setbacks, Adam has been picking up hours as a contractor for a company that he worked with previously. This extra support has been helpful with our prolonged stay in Michigan...the difference in the cost of living from the Dominican to the USA is a form of cultural shock all its own.
Despite all of the inconveniences construction continues to move forward on the Clinic of Hope in Rosa La Piedra. Just before Christmas the roof went up on the house side of the project - a true Christmas miracle!
The Public Health office in the DR continues to have the mobile clinic sector closed. We are praying for a re-opening soon so that we can send a medical team to see our many patients that have gone without care for 9+ months.
We have continued to work for the mission as best we can remotely. BBOH Board Meetings have moved to zoom allowing us to keep up with the admin side of running the organization. 2021 will be the start of new things behind the scenes: a new board member and updating our quickbooks skills. If anyone with experience in quickbooks is able to help us wrap our minds around a few things, please do let me know!
The kids are doing well and have completely adjusted to being in Michigan. Snow began falling here a long time ago and they have enjoyed playing outside, building snow men and snow angels. Ben especially enjoys looking for animal prints in the snow and looking up which animals have been in the area. We continue to homeschool and soak in all of this family time together. Some days we soak it all up by playing games, doing activities and baking... other days we all sink into our own corners of the house and beg for personal space. I think many of us can relate to the ups and downs of living through a time such as 2020. We try our best to take the good with the bad and focus on our many blessings.
As the year comes to a close, we want to thank you for all of your prayers and support during this time. The community that God has provided for our family and for the mission continues to blow us away with spiritual support and generous giving. Thank you for being part of our team! We wouldn't be able to do this without you. <3
-For complete healing in Adam's shoulder, avoiding surgery if possible
-That the Public Health Dept in the Dominican Republic would allow us to resume mobile medical clinics and care for the hundreds of patients that have not had access to healthcare.
-For a successful fundraiser in 2021 to finish the clinic timely
As the weather in Michigan continues to get colder we are embracing the fall colors, sights and smells. There's nothing like apple cider and doughnuts to cure a little homesickness for the DR. :) Everyday it's becoming clearer and clearer that we will be in the States through Christmas. We are currently renting an AirBnB in Alger, MI (near West Branch). We found this place online and after talking to the owner he agreed to rent to us on a month to month basis while we are living out this strange time of displacement due to COVID-19 and health concerns. This has been a huge blessing! Though we are anxious to get back home to the DR, it is comforting to have a place to land for the moment. Our days pass quickly with homeschooling, doctor appointments and working remotely to support the mission from here. We were able to get our dog, Zelie, from the Dominican with the help of a generous American who was traveling back to the midwest. Our family pup has brought a lot of comfort to all of us during such a transitional time.
Adam's health has improved in some ways but taken hard turns in other ways. The hole in his foot took a turn for the worse after we moved from the cabin on [empty] Wixom Lake into the AirBnB we are in now. After consulting with his doctors it was determined that in the interest of his long-term foot health they should remove the knuckle of the toe (opposite foot from his other foot surgery a couple of years ago). Yesterday he had the surgery and it was a success! The surgeon gave a great report - including that the bone looked perfectly healthy! So we have every reason to be hopeful that his healing process will be quick and relatively painless. He is still battling shoulder pain and may have surgery on that at some point.
The mission in the Dominican continues to move forward. Construction of the clinic is in motion. The online fundraiser we did at the end of the summer raised over $24,000 for all of the interior pieces of the clinic (windows, doors, tiles, etc.). We are honored to put a plaque in each room with a dedication from the person who sponsored the space. It truly was amazing to see our community come together and sponsor these costs! Thank you to all those who donated, allowing us to open the clinic timely! We are planning another online fundraiser for later in November in lieu of our annual auction. More details to come.
As of right now, the Ministry of Public Health has not fully re-opened all of the sectors that fall under their jurisdiction. This means that our mobile medical clinic program is not yet allowed to see patients. Please pray with us that they re-open timely. Many of our patients are suffering from this decision - patients that rely on blood pressure medication, severely malnourished children, women who need pre-natal care and many other needs that are left unmet. We have already received word that several children and adults have died directly related to the lack of access to healthcare. Please pray for this special intention!
Over the last couple of months there have been storms that came through Elias Pina. One of the storms took off the roof of the Mission House in Palo Seco! Completely gone! Thankfully the owner of the home was very quick to respond and it has now been repaired. For those anticipating coming down to work in 2021 - you will see a brand new roof in Palo Seco!
Looking ahead, we are thoughtfully and thoroughly planning for the return of our mission teams. We look forward to having people return to work with us in 2021 with revised protocols and procedures that keep them and the people they serve as safe as possible. If you are interested in coming, please reach out to us for availability.
2020 has been a crazy year that no one anticipated. We want to thank you for all of your prayers and support during this time. The community that God has provided for our family and for the mission continues to blow us away with spiritual support and generous giving. Thank you for being part of our team!
Ways you can pray for us:
-For the health of our whole family, especially for Adam's foot and shoulder, that he may heal and be ready for return to the mission in mind and body.
-For the re-opening of mobile medical clinics in the province of Elias Pina
-For the continued health and safety of Kailey, who is currently in the Dominican Repulic, along with Dr. Angel, his family and all of our Dominican staff and local friends
-That the construction of the clinic would continue to push forward, even in the face of obstacles related to COVID-19, so that we can open and serve those who need it the most
As the summer continues I am happy to report that we are all safe and healthy. We are currently staying at a family cabin near Edenville, MI (where the dams broke earlier this year). We will be here until September 1st. We are so grateful for this space. It is truly beautiful up here with beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere.
While we are here in the States we have been enjoying as much family time as possible. We've been visiting grandparents, enjoying the outdoors and soaking in all of this time together. Toward the end of last school year we changed up our homeschool curriculum and the kids have loved it so much that we've continued some of those studies. I find that it keeps all of us occupied and feeling accomplished in our day to day routine. We had a virtual BBOH Board Meeting recently and enjoyed time catching up with each of the members. It is a gift to be supported by them.
Adam's foot continues to heal extremely well. Previously there was some talk about a possible surgery but because his foot is healing that isn't necessary anymore. Praise God!! Adam's passport was sent in to be renewed in June but due to COVID there is a long turn around time.
We recieved news that the kids (everyone but Camila, we haven't applied for her yet) are approved for their Dominican visas! This is a joyful step toward residency in the DR. We've sent their passports into the Dominican Consulate and we are awaiting their return. Adam also renewed his passport in June because it was set to expire within 6 months (we cannot travel on a passport that will expire within that timeframe so we had no choice but to send it in for renewal). So as it sits today, 4 out of the 6 people in our family don't have their passports! Both of these tasks have been complicated by covid19 and we are praying for quick turn around times.
Come September we will be at yet another fork in the road. We will either be traveling back to the Dominican Republic or transitioning into a missionary housing opportunity in Ada, MI. To be honest, I am torn about what is the right thing to do. COVID numbers continue to rise in the Dominican and our teams are most likely canceled through the end of the year. My heart aches to be home, to be in our house and resume some level of normalcy (I am especially missing our dog). But going home to sit primarily in seclusion as social distancing and curfews are in full swing isn't ideal either. Please cover us in prayers for wisdom as we continue to discern where it is that the Lord wants us to be during this in-between time.
One thing is certain: He wants this clinic in Rosa la Piedra to be built. A few weeks ago we started planning a small scale online fundraiser specifically for the cost of the interior items like windows and doors. We have been BLOWN AWAY by the response from our community!!! Less than 24 hours after announcing it online ALL of the rooms were sponsored, less than 24 hours after that and ALL of the 'plan B' rooms were also sponsored. Here we are a week later with only tiles, the lower price item, left to be purchased.
The only explanation is that His plans are greater than our own.
Thank you for joining us on this mysterious, never know what will happen next adventure. Thank you for supporting us financially, spiritually and for walking this journey together.
Be assured of our prayers for you and your families.
Love, Adam and Jessica Carlile
Our apologies for the overdue blog post. I sat down and tried to write this blog many times this spring, eventually becoming frustrated with myself for not having the proper words to sum up all that has been going on. This time of COVID19, quarantine/social distancing and travel restrictions has brought more anxiety to the surface than any other period of my life thus far (maybe you can relate?). We are so appreciative of those who have reached out to us and asked how we are doing. Like the rest of the world the Dominican Republic has been practicing social distancing and other precautions since mid March. They also have implemented a curfew. At first it was from 5 pm to 6 am but has now relaxed a bit to 7 pm to 5 am. When all of this began to go down it was unsettling to hear the ramifications of big changes: international borders closing, groups canceling left and right, fear sinking in about if/when should we leave the DR and head home. Would there even be flights to take? If we go, how long until we can come back? How will this impact a delicate economy like the tourism dependent one where we work and serve? How will the children in our campos be impacted?
All at once I remembered a conversation I had in 2008 with my dear friend Mai and Dr. Angel. We were driving down a mountain side with multiple children on our laps, dust filling the air as we tried to beat the clock and get to the Sisters of Charity in time (they have a specific closing hour and we try to respect that as best we can). Mai and I were on the brink of tears as we held tighly to children, supporting necks and trying our best to soothe scared little faces. We knew these kids. We recognized their faces. These weren't the outlier or stranger or even desperate families who came from miles away. These were local kids who had been relatively healthy in the months prior. Why was this happening now? Though not a scientific statistic backed by data, I can tell you without a doubt the clinic that day and in the weeks following had some of the highest numbers of severely malnourished children that I've seen yet. In an attempt to understand what was going on, we asked Dr. Angel, "What just happened? Why so many people? Why so many sick children?". He shared several possible reasons but the one he believed to be the root cause was the difficult economy due to the economical state of the United States and other developed nations. He began to explain complex international economics and how they may be applied to the situations of the children we were holding through a snowball like effect. I must admit, at some point my eyes glazed over as my brain and heart just couldn't process anymore. The anxiety I felt during that conversation 12 years ago came rushing back to me as I watched President Danilo of the Dominican Republic announce that all borders would be closed by land, air and sea due to the COVID19 pandemic. Will these beneficial but drastic measures cause similar (or worse) outcomes for our area?
And just like that - our ministry was put on hold. Schools were closed for the remainder of the year, mobile medical clinics are not allowed to resume and airports have not yet opened. For months now I have flip flopped between praying and dwelling on the possibilities. With all of these unknowns, nothing is certain. The effects remain yet to be seen. But too much dwelling or discussion about all of the potential outcomes just ramps up the anxieties and tears. Instead I have had to actively choose hope. Our good, good Father will be there with us no matter what the outcomes may be. He was there in 2008 and He is here in 2020.
Initially, Adam and I made the decision to stay in the DR and hunker down, self quarantining and doing our best to "flatten the curve" from where we were. We spent April enjoying family time. We planted a small garden and built a very humble fire pit (turns out construction isn't my gifting, haha). Somehow isolated life with 4 little ones seemed busier than our regular schedules!
In the beginning of May things changed abruptly. Adam's foot developed another ulcer due to some pesky bone formation (opposite foot this time). It appeared to be getting worse and we decided it was best to return to the States sooner rather than later, especially given the uncertainty of international relations. We had to make a quick decision about returning to the States as the only available flight for 3 weeks was set to depart in 48 hours (leaving from a city 6 hours away!). We packed up the essentials and prepared to say goodbye to people we love dearly not knowing when we would be allowed to come back home again. We have been in Michigan for about a month now, currently awaiting results of an MRI to determine next steps for the foot ulcer. There is a possibility of minor surgery to remove the problematic portion of bone. Please pray for this special intention! Pray for health, wisdom and a resolution to this ongoing concern.
Please also keep our kids in your prayers. Thus far they are champions and doing well, but I think often about their little hearts. Emily asks for San Juan the most, wanting to see her friends and go home to "her house". Ben earned his yellow belt before COVID hit, lost two teeth and learned how to ride a bike. Nico still loves baseball more than anything else in the world and has a heart of gold. Cami is a very happy baby, a complete joy to be around... at least when she's not hungry. And we all miss our dog (we adopted a small terrier -- that we thought was a mini doodle -- which is a story for another day!).
Thank you for your love, support and prayers! We have been so blessed by your commitment to our family and in turn to the villages that are along the Haiti - Dominican border. <3
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