We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal with our neighbors and pastor’s family. Added to the mix was Megan, a US occupational therapy student we are hosting for 6 weeks, and Michael, a recent Regis graduate and volunteer. It was so fun sharing totally new foods with our Dominican friends!
As we pause at the year-end and reflect on 6 months in the Dominican Republic, we realize how grateful we are for you. You have sustained us in our first season of international ministry with your calls, prayers, emails and financial support. We want to share with you a ministry summary, beyond the details you have already heard about in monthly newsletters. As a whole, community partnerships have played a huge role in all aspects of this work! Additionally, we’re excited to present our (less-than-expected) financial needs for 2012.
Health care ministries. Your partnership is laying the groundwork towards improving the lives of people with disabilities in the Dominican Republic, through advocacy and accompaniment of patients and the physical therapy profession. Laurie continues to edit a technical level curriculum, and we look forward to working with a local university directly in the coming months. We are mid-way through a needs assessment of the profession, and expect this to yield solid relationships as well as connect needs to existing resources. After the holidays, we will visit clinics outside of Santiago to better understand rural physical therapy in the Dominican Republic, and in response to a wonderful invitation to provide clinical feedback for a network of outpatient therapy clinics. Pray that God would continue to open doors in this way! We found that face to face communication & education are well-received in this culture, and look forward to these visits.
Although our main emphasis is on long term development, we have steadily treated a number of patients, from children with disabilities, to adults with fractures, back pain and total joint replacements. The relationships we build through in-home patient care are rich and satisfying. Seeing patients get better is encouraging as we labor on the larger issues behind the scenes. In other words, it may take years before friends like Juan (see previous update) are able to live with dignity in the DR’s system for adults with disabilities, but boy is he worth the struggle!
We are now in deeper collaboration with our Lutheran partners, exploring the idea of a fair-profit rehabilitation center to support the non-profit Casa Hogar, a home for kids with disabilities who are orphaned. For 2012, we envision beginning to work 2-3 days/wk in a clinic, providing hands on clinical education to students and providing continuing education, either as the Lutheran clinic becomes a reality, in partnership with the local University, or elsewhere.
A Holistic Faith. Whereas we believe that every part of our work comes out of and is directed towards showing God’s love and compassion for all people, here we’ll speak to involvement at our local Nazarene church. In 2011, our focus has been coming alongside the pastors & leadership of the child sponsorship program, Pan de Vida (Bread of Life). Pray as we continue to work on education and building unity amongst ministry leadership, so the kids receive the most love possible using new Compassion International curriculum. This weekly morning commitment will continue in 2012.
We continue to build relationships that allow discipleship opportunities with church members.
In Dominican churches (regardless of denomination), we find a heavy emphasis on evangelism that is primarily interpreted as preaching. As we continue to learn and grow in our own spiritual journeys, we hope to grow with our church in learning to participate in the Gospel as a holistic, integrated call to love with all of our bodies, minds and spirits. Nick is currently using his weekly English class with the pastor’s son to explore theology and justice themes, and is enjoying this immensely.
Much of the patient care we speak of is currently provided for folks in the neighborhood that we share with the church. While Laurie provided some in-home care this week, a neighbor exclaimed “God must be at work! To bring this American girl all the way from her home to find you in your little house! Look at you! You are walking!” Thank you for allowing us to work in this way!
Compassion. While working steadily on long-term development and accompaniment, we want you to know about a few short-term things that you have supported as well. We are often urgently approached on the street by individuals in crisis. We try as much as possible to make space to exchange stories while we take him/her out to lunch. We experience this as humanizing and dignifying for both of us. You have provided several lunches and groceries for families in this way, which is especially important in our city because there are no soup kitchens, scarce shelter facilities, and the poverty exceeds even the immense generosity that families exhibit. Whenever possible, we try to offer your gifts through the hands of the church, so that we can remain friends and neighbors in our community, instead of being largely valued as a source of money. Through offerings, you have supported the purchase of a new bed for a woman after it was destroyed by sewage flowing into her house. You purchased Spanish language literature for our church’s discipleship training. You are in the process of supporting a man who is blind in his quest for sight, through bilateral cataract surgery. Thank you, thank you, for offering what you have, and for participating in the concept that when we share, there is enough in this world for everyone! Thanks be to God!
Money as Blessing- 2012 Budget As we transition our budget to follow the calendar year, we are so thankful for our faithful monthly and annual giving partners. If these monthly sponsorships continue through the next year, we need to raise $8,500 for the 2012 calendar year. We are happy to tell you that despite inflation, our overall budget needs are slightly less than what we anticipated for last year (~$29,500)! If fully fundraised, we plan to purchase a used car to increase efficiency with ministry time and energy, and because public transportation costs already exceed $150/mo. For those who donated initially to put us on the plane to get here, please consider giving at this time for the next year of ministry, or joining our monthly sponsorship team. To put it concretely, the $8,500 need could look like 5 new donations at $60/mo plus 14 new $30/mo sponsors. It could look like $100/mo or $10/mo, annual or one time tax deductible donations. Any amount is welcome. Please consider this our official annual appeal!
Join us in prayer over the challenge of raising support from afar. We look forward to a Dominican Christmas, and sharing it with you in the next update. On behalf of your family here, ¡Feliz Navidad! There is much to celebrate!
Nick & Laurie