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
“You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and you shall have hatred for your enemy.' But I say to you: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. And pray for those who persecute and slander you.”
Love. It’s the first and simplest commandment in terms of rules. However, it’s also one of the more difficult to follow. Not for reasons people often assume. It’s easy to love your children, your spouse, your parents and relatives. Sometimes it’s not though. Sometimes, it’s the most difficult to love the most obvious. Ourselves. Even more so, going a bit further, our enemies. With social media being the modern propaganda arm for any would be radical group or government ideologist, groups in control often seek to divide the masses. Perhaps because united as one, we are unstoppable. Divided we fall.
You see the social media posts, “so and so is a nazi” “so and so is a racist” etc. Most of us roll our eyes and know a shill when we see it. Don’t fall into the trap. I see life in memes now since we have kids under the age of 7. I can no longer look at an article and give it proper attention since my life is filled with bathroom breaks, snack breaks then lunch, then dinner, dishes, trash etc. I can’t forget to mention all the wonderfully amazing snotty kisses and spaghetti sauce-laden hugs. Thank the Lord Jess handles most poopy diapers that are horrific. (thanks Jess, you’re a lifesaver). I assume most people are entirely too busy to give any real research into any given subject that may be an important topic of the day. They look at memes. I look at memes. For those who may not know, a meme is typically a photo that sums up an idea with a text based message scrolled across it. Or a gif with text. I. E. “My life right now...” and it’s a picture of a raccoon in an attic with 9 babies. Which is funny because the author had 4 kids in less than 7 years. .
The meme is and will continue to be a powerhouse of attracting and spreading misinformation, ideas, truths and also, unfortunately, lies. What the point of all of this? Well time. Attention to things is less and less as our lives become more filled with technology. It almost seems like part of a grand plan to overload us, then easily distract us making us forget our purpose here. It’s to love! If anything we’re doing is anything but loving one another, it’s not of God.
As most of you know, we were slated to return December 28th to the DR. Our newborn daughter (Oct 5th) was diagnosed with bronchiolitis making it impossible to travel that day. We decided to put off travel and change our tickets for Jan 2. This fall and winter while we were home we sent out a mailer detailing what we’re doing, what we’ve done and what we need to keep doing the things. We are humbled and honored by the huge response. We’re much closer to our goal for a utility vehicle for our family/mission in the mountains. We have a ways to go still, but it got me thinking about how we can communicate more effectively as a mission. If you know me personally, then you know I LOVE memes. So I put this out there as a pseudo poll. Would anyone want to see a monthly meme from BBOH? It would be via Facebook because that’s what we use mostly. I know all the cool kids don’t anymore, but we’re older now so we aren’t as hip as we once thought we were. This would be a meme that’s pertinent to the topic for the month in order to draw conversation or ideas from. They would be uplifting, funny, or a tear jerker. I would love to hear your thoughts. These memes would either revolve around our family as a missionary family, our organization etc. One thing we never do, nor will ever do, is political memes or memes that hurt people in any way. That’s our rule. So send us your thoughts!
Also, remember to love your neighbor, enemy and yourself!!
Keep us in your prayers! Have a great 2020!!
PS. In typical Carlile fashion, this blog was written before the New Year but we got tied up caring for a sick baby Camila (she's better now, praise God!), traveling to the DR and receiving an awesome team from Rockhurst University that it is just now being posted. We have settled into life back in the DR somewhat chaotically but we are thrilled to be back! Please check out our social media for photos from last week's team and to be updated on the teams coming down soon!
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says it perfectly. The Clinic of Hope Gala was a huge success! We raised just over $20,000!! We cannot thank you all enough for your giving spirit, your faith in us and your incredible love for others. Giving to others in need, to the point of where it hurts is a hard concept. I can’t say I’m proud of the fact that it took me, well into my mid twenties, to figure out what, so many of our collegiate volunteers have already figured out. At the ripe old age of 20 something to boot!
We know that it’s in God's nature to give. When I learned that if I had my palms open all the time, not just when I need something put in it, the amount of things that flowed through those palms, always open, astounded me. I let the Lord put in my palm, then take out joyfully for someone else's needs. And while still open, usually more is put back. The idea applies to much more than just monetary purposes. Sharing feelings, joy and love with others can also work this way. When we close ourselves emotionally to others, we lose out on a rich experience that is what it means to be human. People cannot connect joyfully with someone who has their emotional palms closed shut like a safe. Holding all their shame. It takes time to allow yourself to be that vulnerable. I’m definitely not perfect at it either. I am always work in progress though. As are all of you!
We had a visit to Chicago last week for a meeting with the consulate of the Dominican Republic. Jess has made a friend there through asking all the things one would need for a residency process. Which, in case you were wondering, is a total paperwork nightmare. I don’t have enough time to explain the seven visits to various Secretary of State offices to find someone to apostille documents... that was just one step that took several days. However, all the steps were completed and we submitted them with our passports for everyone except new baby Camila. She didn’t get her passport until yesterday. The Missionary Visas that will allow us to be residents of the Dominican Republic should be approved this week! The kids' will take a little longer as they need to be sent to the Dominican Republic for processing rather than done in-house at the Chicago consulate. Please pray for them to be expedient with them so it is all handled this month!
Everyone got a stomach bug that tore through our house. Emmy had it worst. It was just a 24 hr deal, but how difficult. It makes me appreciate the fact that by and large we’re healthy. Being here in the States allows me to participate with the Pinckney Police Dept. One of the events we did was the Cram the Cruiser Food Drive of Livingston County. The donations went to local food pantries just before Thanksgiving. Another I have coming up is Shop with a Cop. Kids with special circumstances are selected every year to partake. It’s an incredible event with some heartbreaking stories. I’ve done it the last 4 years and I cannot say enough about its impact on the community. Jessica is doing amazing. She’s the glue that binds us together. She singlehanded organized our residency, homeschooling for two of 4 kids, preparing catechesis training for when we return and so many other things. I often wonder if I was like that 7 years ago. So full of energy and drive. Camilla is doing really well! She’s gaining weight! She eats like she’s a part of the family and sleeps a bit better and more consistent at night. We are gearing up here for Christmas and to leave for the DR on the 28th of December. We were blessed by my parents allowing us to borrow their 8 passenger Ford Flex to acomódate our growing family when Camila was born. We now need to figure out a solution for a vehicle in the DR. Our Jeep Patriot, on it’s last leg, will no longer hold all of us. This is scary, but we have faith that the Lord will provide!! Jessica did some online training in fundraising via good old fashioned mailings. If you aren't on our mailing list please send us your address and we'll be sure to send you the forthcoming letter.
Please keep us in your prayers this month!! We need them! As you all will be in ours!! We would love to catch up with anyone who would like to. We love hearing about how you all are doing and updating us on how to can continue to pray for you all. Many blessings on each of you!
Adam, Jess, Ben, Emmy, Nico and of course, Camila
Life is so delicate, the balance must be perfect for it to work. Think about it. Perfect ratios of water, air, minerals and amino acids among many other things. If even one component is out of balance you get at the very least genetically flawed specimens. Or, just lack of life.
In August I lost my childhood best friend of 32 years. He had some imbalances that were unsustainable. Jessica and I came home earlier than expected due to this loss and ended up setting us on a path that I actually am quite thankful for now. Not long after we got home Jess started having a lot of itchy symptoms on her feet and hands. This is a symptom of Cholestatis, which is a condition that can cause infant demise if taken full term. Cami was not due until Oct 24th, so being that we were home almost 3 weeks early, we decided to take the advice and get induced at 37 weeks to avoid any risk to Cami. The month of September was very stressful in regards to the pregnancy. We had multiple trips to the ER and doctor appointments to monitor Camila’s heart rate. It had dropped to dangerous levels a couple times which is scary. By the end of September week 37 couldn’t come fast enough. We wanted to wait to make sure her lungs were developed enough to survive without the NICU.
On Saturday, October 5th at 8:45 exactly 24.5 hours after being induced, Camila Jean Carlile was born at 5lb 6oz and 17” long. The amazing thing was, she was born with a true knot in the umbilical cord. It was white in color suggesting it was being pulled tighter as she grew. This also, if baby goes full term is likely to end in infant demise. We had all the cards stacked against us. However, in John 14:6 Jesus said “Jesus said to him: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.”
Life is of God. JESUS is life. Even, in the worst case scenario, had Cami not made it, as many children do not make it every day, Jesus is still life. We must have faith and trust that this little life is what the Lord wants in this moment in time. If He chose to take her home before she was born, however heartbreaking this may be for us, ultimately, it’s His child. We’ve dedicated, and will continue to dedicate all of our children to the kingdom of God. I do have faith that the Lord almighty has our families interest at heart. No matter how bleak or devastating life can be, we always have to remember that. We may never understand, but that is the essence of faith.
My heart sings with joy that we were blessed with the outcome we were given. Now, being a family of 6, we start our journey of into the balancing act of ministry and family. At the top of our to-do list is raise money for a new vehicle. Our 2010 Jeep Patriot is on it's last leg -- a dying transmission and leaking oil -- a dangerous combo on mountain terrain. We've been talking with MATS international, a nonprofit that helps missionaries find good vehicles for significantly reduced prices, about the type of vehicle needed for all of our responsibilities: the volunteer program, medical clinics and our family. More to come soon about what we find out! Here in the States we are blessed by my parents allowing us access to their second vehicle. Knowing that our family no longer fits in a traditional 5 passenger vehicle, they traded in theirs for a 7 seater - talk about blessings!
Please continue to pray for our family as we settle into our new normal with baby Cami and prepare for our return to the Dominican Republic.
We have officially closed our Summer International Volunteer season! Over the last month we hosted 3 more teams (all BBOH Ambassador groups!) and a second intern. It was a great month spent in medical clinics and doing vitamin distributions in campos both large and small.
Since our preschool in El Chivo is closed for summer vacation, we organized our Monday's and Friday's with the volunteers a bit differently. Instead of going to the preschool we took them to various communities where we did a vitamin distribution (not a full clinic). These were typically in smaller rural areas. We weighed the kids, checked for indicators of malnourishment and gave each family multivitamins, vitamin A (thank you to Vitamin Angels in CA!!!) and anti-parasite medications. Vitamin deficiencies and parasites are the primary causes of malnourishment in this area. Therefore, by providing vitamins and anti-parasite meds, we aim to clean out the gut and restore vitamin balances. In the long run, this motivates children to WANT to eat vs. combating parasite symptoms daily and remaining undernourished. (This is the reader's digest version of Dr. Angel's explanation to families, if you want more info send me a message!) We also used this new-found time in the schedule to do home visits with the elderly. Groups took their blood pressure, blood sugar and in many instances also took urine samples. This is a HUGE service to elderly community that we otherwise can't get to without the man power of volunteer groups.
THANK YOU to everyone who came to serve this month!!!! Below are some photos of these programs in action.
Clinic of Hope Construction
Kailey Stutzky, our Medical Coordinator, went back to the States for a few weeks of rest in July. During this time she spoke at two parishes in the Diocese of Grand Rapids as part of the 2019 Missionary Cooperation Plan. We are AMAZED and THRILLED to announce that an incredible $30,000 was raised to help us complete the construction of the new medical clinic!! This is a HUGE blessing and once again proof that the Lord will provide as long as we continue to follow the path He has laid before us. This donation will allow us to finish walls and the roof, bringing the clinic into a very basic but functional phase. We are meeting with the engineering team to carefully plan the use of this precious donation and expect construction to resume in the next two weeks. Please keep this project and all of it's beneficiaries in your prayers!
New Addition to the Carlile Family!
We are also excited to announce the blessing of baby #4 to our family! We are due with a little GIRL on Oct. 29, 2019. I had Pinterest-like hopes of taking an adorable picture of the kids to announce this new little one but alas, real life happened and no such picture was taken. While we are all thrilled with this addition, it is especially exciting for Emily who has been actively praying for a baby sister for a long time now. Both her and Ben are already wonderful big siblings, we know that they will embrace this new little one with lots of love. Nico on the other hand might take some convincing as he gets kicked out of the youngest position in the family.... haha! We will be returning to the States on Sep. 16th to spend the last 6 weeks of pregnancy close to Jessica's OB and family. Please pray for a continued healthy pregnancy and for a safe delivery.
With this new addition comes some new challenges. Most notably that our whole family will no longer fit in a standard 5-passenger vehicle. We are need of a mini-van or something similar to borrow while we are in the States. We will need this vehicle from Oct - Dec 2019 as our planned return to the DR is just after Christmas 2019. If you or someone you know would be willing to help us with this special need, please reach out and contact us!
Thank you for all of your continued prayers and support! We remain very humbled by all of your support, kind words of encouragement and prayers! THANK YOU!
-For balance and stability for the Carlile kiddos as we prepare to be in the States for 3 months. That they will embrace life in Michigan and transition from one culture and language into the next with ease and grace.
-For a safe, reliable mode of transportation both in the Dominican Republic and in the States as we become a family of 6.
-For unity as a team during this time of transition from the end of summer volunteer season into a fall of Medical Clinic construction and fundraising (Gala Auction Nov. 9!)
-For the El Chivo preschool that is preparing to open for a new school year with 40+ students. For patience, patience and more patience as we continue to work toward a Montessori approach to education.
-In thanksgiving for interns and friends (shoutout to Cassie and Olivia!!!!) who have supported the mission and our family in countless ways by serving unconditionally with groups and by taking care of our kids. We are so appreciative of their hearts and that they followed the Lord's call to serve with us this summer!
As the temps steadily rise into the mid 90s we've been busy with visitors, teams and interns this summer. Our Volunteer Coordinator Intern, Cassie Herrington, has been here for over a month now helping the mission teams by living in the house with them and leading all evening activities/reflections. The truth is that she is much more than a Volunteer Coordinator. She has also re-vamped our website with a fresh look (check it out here!) and supported our family by loving our kids well. We are grateful for her presence this summer!
Grandma Coffelt, Jessica's mom, came to visit in June, helping us with the kids while we had a team here and doing "Grandma Camp" with the kids. It was a true blessing for us all to be able to spend time together. The kids especially benefitted from some one-on-one time with Grandma having tea parties, baking, doing crafts, etc. We are so grateful that she took the time to come and visit us!
In June we had a team come down with BBOH Ambassador Lindsay Nelson. It was was an awesome blend of people and personalities! We really enjoyed getting to know this group and being able to see old friends like Lindsay and Mo. We had 3 medical clinics and 2 Nutrition Programs & Anti Parasite Distributions. It was a VERY busy week.
At a recent clinic in Rosa la Piedra (where we are building the new clinic) we had an AMAZING turnout. Over 150 patients showed up and even more children were brought to be weighed. These patients walked from many different rural villages to make it to the clinic site. 6 severely malnourished children were brought to Las Matas for around the clock care and monitoring by a religious order there. Unfortunately two of the children have since passed away.... a very hard reality that we are once again faced with. The loss of a child to the complications of malnutrition is heartbreaking. I don't know that we will ever become accustomed to this aspect of medical missions. Please pray for our hearts and minds as we remain flexible to the will of the Lord.
Please pray for those little ones, their families and for our staff as we navigate the emotional stress of these situations. There is third little one from the same area who is also very sick and in the hospital, please pray for his full recovery, in Jesus' name.
This month we will be hosting 3 mission teams and a second intern. We have 9 medical clinics planned and 6 Vitamin and Anti-Parasite Distributions. Our good friend Olivia is also coming down closer to the end of the month to participate as a volunteer but then also to stay and help us with the kids for 3 weeks.... a HUGE blessing!
Please keep a look out on the new website and BBOH Facebook page for continued updates as the month goes on. We remain grateful for each of you and for your heart to support missions through supporting our family.
In Christ's Peace,
Adam & Jess
To our supports, friends and family:
It’s that time again! We get to do the will of God! What a time to be alive! There is something about following (or attempting to) the will of our Lord and Savior. Knowing that you’re on a mission from the most high. Of course, it’s not easy. It’s not without its hardships, difficulties and problems. However, it is full of incredible grace that allows us to push through those barriers. When we jump out of the boat like Peter in Matthew 14:29 (“And he said, "Come." And Peter, descending from the boat, walked over the water, so as to go to Jesus.”), we get to ask to come to Jesus. No matter the physical realm. No matter what state the world is in. No matter what the laws of physics say are possible. When we do this, we’re stepping out in faith. That’s why we’re here.
With that said, amazing things that defy physical reality have happened in the last month. We have been presented the opportunity to film a short documentary for the Knights of Columbus “Everyday Heros” campaign. As a knighted 4th degree SK of Assembly 2050 in Howell, Michigan, we have had an incredible base of support from my fellow Knights. Both at Assembly 2050 and Counsel 11791 (3rd Degree at St. Mary’s in Pinckney, MI). The Knights of Columbus hired the production company Spirit Juice to spend a week with us here in the Dominican Republic. It was an incredible experience and very humbling. They filmed myself as well as bits of our life over the course of the week. I was able to speak to why we do what we do here in the DR, what drives us to keep going, and what we need to continue moving forward.
One of the topics discussed was our vehicle situation. Vehicles are the way that we reach people so far outside of our area. They’re an essential part of moving our volunteers up the mountain and moving our family around. We currently have a 2012 Jeep Patriot. We shipped it in 2016 and received it in Jan of 2017. Due to import laws, we aren’t able to sell or transfer the vehicle for 5 years after the receive date (which would be 2022). The problem is, we have put so many miles on this vehicle and put it through so much, that we are now encroaching upon repairs that cannot be done in the Dominican Republic (CVT transmission, 'Continually Variable Transmission', that cannot be replaced and the repercussions of an electrical fire that occurred behind the radio - luckily I put out the fire and the entire vehicle wasn't set ablaze). So we find ourselves again in the spot of needing a vehicle for the mission. Without it we can't get to work, easily transport volunteers or accomplish the mission at hand. We’re currently using it sparingly to preserve the life it has left in it. Please keep us in your prayers on this major point. Dominican law dictates that a vehicle cannot be imported if it’s over 5 years old by the time it’s received. This means if we were to start the process tomorrow, we wouldn’t be able to import a vehicle that’s more than 4 years old due to the shipping process timeline. This is a tall order we know. Not too big for God though!!
It was encouraging to share these types of mission needs through the filmed interviews. The rest of filming the K of C documentary went amazing! We were able to do a sit down interview with Alè, one of the children who lived with us. He came to us at 2.5 years old, unable to walk weighing just 10 lbs. Although he was nervous, he did great! His family was also enthusiastic about being interviewed.
The video will be available soon! We will be sure to share it when it is made public.
On May 23rd we will be receiving a new group from the University of Saint Francis consisting of 14 people! This is a group that planned a trip to Haiti, but had to back out due to political disruptions and protests. They were referred to us and we planned a 5 day trip with them! They’re going to offer many exciting things for our programs with the inclusion of a livestock veterinarian. I, however will be in Michigan from May 23rd to June 4th. The entire duration of their trip! So please keep Kailey and Jessica in your prayers during that time! So far May has brought us many opportunities to step out of the boat....and it's only May 13th! Though it is uncomfortable, we ultimately desire for God's will to be done regardless of our comfort. We know He won’t let us sink into the raging sea.
God bless all of you for your unwavering support!
-For our vehicle, that the Jeep is able to hang in there while we pray through what the next move/opportunity may be for transportation needs.
-For Adam as he prepares to go to the States for 10 days and for Jess and Kailey who will be holding down the fort both at home with the kids and in the field with a new group of volunteers.
-In Thanksgiving for our health!! All three kids got a nasty fever virus with high temps, but they've pulled through, thanks be to God.
-For continued construction of the new Medical Clinic in Rosa la Piedra. Kailey is diligently applying for grants to help cover the next phases of construction.
-For all of the students and staff at the school in El Chivo as we begin to prepare for the end of the school year and graduation for the 5 year old students.
-Last but not least, for our family, that we may continue to be united in mission with our hearts turned toward the Lord as we live out what has been asked of us.
Good afternoon everyone! I hope that this post finds all of you doing well. We have been busy here in the DR keeping up with our International Volunteer Programs, construction of the new clinic and slow (but steady) progress with Montessori curriculum in El Chivo.
First up: International Volunteer Program
We hosted two college teams this March. The first was from the St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan. And the second team was from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. Both groups were wonderful to work with, ready to serve and embrace life along the Haiti border. We were able to accomplish 6 medical clinics in total, serving hundreds of medical patients and children in the nutrition program. These groups also brought down important donations for medical clinics and for the preschool in El Chivo. For example, the preschool now has all the folders we need to make a portfolio for each child (folders are hard to come by here) AND we have new workbooks in Spanish for each student as well. These are immense gifts to the school that will help us do our job well and finish the school year strong. Some very kind and generous friends also sent down special items to make our Mission House more comfortable, small gifts for the kids and I even got new nail polish (#winning). All in all it was a busy March hosting teams, but a month well spent. Our next volunteer team doesn't come until June, allowing us to focus on the next big project...
Construction of the new medical clinic!
Thanks to donations from the K of C council at Kailey's home parish and other donations, we have another $5,000 ready to be invested into the construction of the new medical clinic. Construction began last week and we are all SO EXCITED to see the walls of the clinic go up! To give you an idea of construction costs, $3,000 USD purchased truck loads of cement, sand, rebar and cement blocks (4,000 cement blocks to be exact!).
Dr. Angel reached out to a local avocado farm operated by Dominican business the Macapi Group. They have owned and operated the avocado farms in the region where our clinic will be for generations now. After several conversations and a site visit to the new clinic, they agreed to help us with the transportation of our building materials. This will save the project thousands of dollars in the end as each individual truck charged close to $400 USD for delivery to the work site. So instead of paying for transportation, Macapi has agreed to assist with the transportation of the building materials with their own vehicles which are capable of climbing the mountain. If you have a moment, please check out Macapi on Facebook/Instagram/and in the grocery store... they are an international company with a big heart, genuinely caring about the communities where they grow their produce.
As we continue to push forward with fundraising, we have two exciting announcements!
1. Building Bridges of Hope was selected as a partner organization for the 2019 Mission Appeals in the Diocese of Grand Rapids!!! Kailey will be speaking at 3 parishes in the Diocese of GR about our new medical clinic and taking up a secondary collection at each location. This is a DREAM of ours to participate as an official partner in the Mission Appeal. Please keep this intention in your prayers, that the appeals will be successful and provide for the next phase of construction.
2. We have had an AMAZING turnout with an online t-shirt sale! We've already raised nearly $3,000 by selling t-shirts online. THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased or donated!! We are blown away by your support and encouragement! To check out the shirts, click here. The sale runs until April 9, so there is still time to order if you'd like.
Enough "thank you's" can't be said to communicate how much we truly appreciate the support of our team back at home in the States. We wouldn't be able to be here without you all. THANK YOU! <3
-For someone trustworthy to help us with our kids during the day. It's becoming stressful to balance work needs and family needs. Please pray that someone comes into our life to love on our kiddos while we are at work.
-For peace and patience while teaching in El Chivo. Things are going well overall, but progress is slow and steady which can become tedious.
-For true rest during the coming month, Time to rest, recharge and refocus on Him.
Hello everyone! We pray that this update finds you doing well. The last couple of months have been a whirlwind for us here in the DR. January was busy with two groups. First we hosted Rockhurst University who returned to our program after several years off. It was SO GOOD to see them again! The group was a wonderful blend of personalities and servant hearts. We appreciated their time and talent immensely. Up next was the St. Catherine of Sienna group of 27. With so many volunteers the week looked drastically different from our normal volunteer program. This large group stayed at a retreat center in Las Matas and we had a group of returning volunteers assist us as Work Site Leaders. The week was PHENOMENAL and we accomplished SO MUCH together! So far in February we have only hosted one group -- and they were from our hometown! The St. Mary Pinckney group is always a pleasure to have here. And as a special treat, my mom came as the group leader. It was a phenomenal experience and the kids also LOVED being able to see Grandma.
This semester Jessica has been teaching in El Chivo as we transition into a Montessori school. It has been a challenge to say the least but the children have adapted very well. We start the day off with more traditional oral teaching and book work, followed by the Montessori work trays focusing on fine/gross motor skills, pre-writing skills and hand-eye coordination. Please keep the school in your prayers! We have 42 kids who come from challenging backgrounds.... which can make the school day challenging as well. This program is 100% funded privately by BBOH donors - thank you to those who have donated to this school year!
The construction of our new medical clinic in Rosa la Piedra is underway! We broke ground in December and have continued steadily. Our initial funds (roughly $20,000) have been spent on the land study, excavation of the land, rebar and pouring of the cement footings. Construction is currently at a stop while we raise the next chunk of funds. We have reached out to Cross Catholic International (the same org that partnered with us for a vehicle for El Chivo Preschool) and with the Knights of Columbus at Kailey's home parish (St. Pius X in Grandville). We will be reaching out to more K of C groups soon and asking for matching funds to further multiply the work of the KofC group from St. Pius X. If you or someone you know is a Knight and would like more info, please let us know!
All in all, we are doing well -- thanks be to God! The next month will be spent with our spring break program (St. Mary Student Parish at the Univ. of MI and Aquinas College), followed by preparations for summer internships and work teams. Never a dull moment around here! Thank you to everyone who has donated to our family, to the mission and to the many projects that we have running. We wouldn't be able to do with without you! Please keep the steady stream of prayers coming as well.... they sustain us! And please be assured of our prayers for you as well.
--For our children as they continue to adjust to life in the DR. Emy loves spending time with her friends here but it has been harder for Ben to make solid friendships. He is participating in a karate class, hoping to make some friends. Please pray that the Lord sends him a kind friend and eases his loneliness.
--Please pray for balance within our household as we continue to navigate homeschooling, family time, teaching in El Chivo, administrative duties, the new clinic, etc.
--For someone we can trust to help with the care of our children during the work day. We were blessed for 6 weeks with two different people (shoutout to you Olivia and Katelyn!!) who came to help us with our children. But we don't have anyone here right now and still don't have a long term plan in place.
--That as a team the leadership of FUMSIL and BBOH can remain focused on the tasks the Lord has assigned us.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We are so excited to be back in the Dominican Republic. We arrived back on Dec 9, 2018. Our first few days were spent getting re-acquainted with town and seeing old friends. The kids had a few teary moments as the reality of living here in the DR became tangible. Please continue to pray for their little hearts, that they can re-establish stability after the craziness of the last 12 months. Thankfully, after a few holiday parties with friends and visits to their favorite park, they have become more settled into life here in the Dominican Republic.
Our medical coordinator, Kailey, arrived the next week and we hit the ground running with meetings and preparations for the new medical clinic in Rosa la Piedra/Calimete region. One of the most important meetings was with the Bishop of our Diocese, Monsignor Jose Grullon. He is a very kind man with a great sense of humor. I always go into meetings like this one super nervous but then I am put at ease by his gentleness and ability to make us smile. With Bishop Grullon's blessing we are moving forward with the new medical clinic! We are BLOWN AWAY by the support for this project. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to hear our hearts for this area, donated to the cause and encouraged us to push forward. The fundraising event in Grand Rapids in November was hugely successful. In the end, we've raised roughly $20,000 for the clinic so far! With this first installment of funds we are preparing the land, laying the foundation and raising some walls. We are reaching out to other organizations and researching grant opportunities to find a matching grant to cover the remaining funds needed. If anyone has any leads on grants or private donors who would be interested in this type of thing, please reach out to us!
On December 20 we celebrated Christmas with our preschool in El Chivo. This was a joy and super fun occasion for our family. Ben and Emily loved being in the school and we enjoyed seeing everyone again. Starting next month (Jan 7), Jessica will be teaching in El Chivo and helping with the transition to a Montessori-style preschool curriculum. We are blessed to have Olivia who will be here for 2 weeks and Katelyn who will be here for 3 weeks to help us with the kids. This will be particularly helpful as Jessica will be at the preschool most days while Kailey and Adam will be at the construction site frequently. Eventually, our vision is for Ben to accompany Jess at the school several days a week so that he can practice Spanish.
Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very different from years past. We obviously missed being with family but also tried to make the best of it. On Christmas Day we invited other missionaries in San Juan de la Maguana to come over to watch the Polar Express. It was special to feel so warmly received by the other missionaries here. Their presence in our lives has helped our family's transition tremendously.
On January 5 we begin one of our busiest seasons with volunteers. Please keep us in your prayers! We have Rockhurst University in January, then the St. Catherine of Sienna Academy. In February and March we will host St. Mary in Pinckney, Aquinas College and St. Mary Student Parish of Univ. of MI.
During this time of volunteer programs, construction and family transitions we invite you to follow our Facebook page (click here to see it!) so that you can see photos and updates in real time. We will continue to update the blog monthly as well.
We are grateful for the support team that has joined us on this journey which allows our service in the Dominican Republic to be possible. You have stood by our side as we struggled in the States over the last 12 months and have been such a source of encouragement. Thank you so very much! We sincerely could not do this without you!
-For our family as we re-establish stability for our children, for our new homeschooling journey, and for even more transition in January when Jessica begins helping in El Chivo preschool.
-In thanksgiving for two friends who are coming in January to help us with the kids!! And that God would send the perfect person to continue helping us for the following months.
-For favor and blessings on the new construction project, especially for the ability to complete the budget and therefore build the WHOLE clinic at the same time.
-For greater patience and understanding of ourselves, our children and one another as we continue to walk this journey of mission.
We are Catholic lay missionaries serving along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
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