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
We are Catholic lay missionaries serving along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
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