November 2014 – Lights On!

¡Llegó la luz!  
This phrase can be heard shouted several times a day by children and shopkeepers alike in the dense, poorer neighborhoods of Santiago. “The lights have arrived!” has indeed proven a significant blessing for our household this month.

After 5 months of 30+ hrs/wk vs. our previous 12hr/wk outages, we were really struggling to keep all of our work deadlines intact. After deciding that the promised “24 horas de luz” may not really be happening, we splurged and bought a two battery back up system for our house. It sustains our internet, lights and fans for just about the 8 hours of continuous outages that we need it to, and wow, is this a beautiful thing.  The missions advice we once received to “live at the level you need to get your ministry done” was definitely helpful advice in discerning to buy this battery, where our professional friends’ homes have them, but most of our church folks do not.

Pray with us towards a reality in which all have the electricity needed to sustain their livelihoods and support their families in this modern world.  So what have we been up to, while the lights have delayed our updates?

Congreso OTFOL

Over 100 students and professionals were able to their professional growth.

Over 100 students and professionals were able to their professional growth.

At the end of Sept., the second Congress for PT, OT, speech therapists and orthotists was realized for about 100 participants. Our pastor Julio Sosa again opened the 2-day conference in prayer. Speakers from several different countries combined with local leaders and participants from these rehabilitation fields that represent areas of major health care shortages in the DR.

Despite more logistical challenges this year than previously, the conference again proved financially sustainable and closed with seed funds available for next year. Not only do we see this as a great continuing education opportunity, but a chance for leadership development among these professions, none of which have professional organizations or more than at best, a scant health care law protecting their practice or the patients that receive their services.

Coordinating during the conference for rehabilitation professionales in September

Coordinating during the conference for rehabilitation professionals in September

Through participation in the organization of this event with Nick, the PTs and OTs from the Japanese Peace Corps and professors (photo right), we hope to slowly build more leadership in these fields that can in turn promote further legislation and quality health care in the future.

 

Clinical Education and Research Support
From August – December Nick is teaching again with 12hrs/week in a clinical/lab outpatient physical therapy setting. His 10 university students continue to give him insight into further curricular content issues, as we continue to diligently work with PT faculty to update coursework and professor knowledge. Too bad he can’t give students a grade for wearing seat belts on the ride home!

One of Nick's students guiding a patient in a shoulder exercise

One of Nick’s students guiding a patient in a shoulder exercise

Laurie joined a research committee that approves research topics and grades oral and written student theses. This has provided a somewhat flexible way for her to support the University in their shortage of therapy faculty, while also managing 7 month old Daniel’s care. Again, challenging areas of academic need are coming to our awareness through this work, as many projects were not designed at a level of rigor that would be acceptable for publication. The reasons for this are complicated and multi-factorial, so we expect change will be slow, though interest and desire to learn are high. Little rehabilitation research currently published out of Latin America may be one discouraging factor to clinicians providing up to date health care, so we’re glad to participate in this effort.Nicks students car 2014

Life as Three 
Daniel is keeping us on our toes between learning how to pull himself to stand and continually changing sleeping habits, which seem to be particularly thrown off by our traveling. It seems that there is no “arrival” in the catching up that one does to a growing child, but we’re enjoying the ride!  We are curious to see if his first words will be in English or Spanish, though we suspect English.

We’ve had some highs and a very low low this month. Nick completed his 4th Ultramarathon! Then just last week, Laurie’s aunt Ruth passed away. We will be making a brief, unplanned trip home to CA during Christmas break to support our family.

Renovating the focus of ministry for the Spring
As this year closes, we have decided to take a step back next semester from teaching classes, to allow some more room for immediate compassionate responses to people around us. Our main role will continue to be faculty & curriculum development at the University, as we still feel that long term development vs. relief of short term needs is the most appropriate way for us to engage here in Santiago. However, there are several people in our lives that really need visitation and care in ways that we have not been able to respond to recently as we would’ve liked.

We remember too that being with people who are suffering ministers to us spiritually as well, and we need some renewal. With our Dominican home church sermons aimed (appropriately) at a congregation from a different culture than ours, we need other forms of spiritual formation. We’re hoping that with a renewed emphasis on compassion beyond the long term focus, God will whisper some new (old, wise) things to us this season.

St. Theodosius says it well:

 “Mindful of the commandment of the good Lord, my unworthy self declares to you that it is good for us to feed the hungry and the homeless with the fruits of our labor….If God’s grace does not uphold and nourish us through the poor, what should we do with all our works?”

May God’s grace uphold you and nourish you this winter.    

Celebrating Thanksgiving with friends

Celebrating Thanksgiving with friends

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