Last evening was a little cooler, and this morning we had some cloud cover along with a few sprinkles, so it was a very comfortable day. We were able to do a little site seeing. We traveled to Guaymate (I think that was how it was spelled), and looked at a pastor's house that some from our team had worked on a few years ago. We were able to visit a while with his family and see how they have completed the house. We were able to see a little of the country side and noticed that some cities or towns were better taken care of, and more wealthy--still you see a tremendous amount of poverty. We were able to see sugar cane fields, and see teams of 6 oxens pulling carts loaded with sugar cane to a place where it is processed. It was very interesting to view different areas of the country. Overall I am so thankful that I was able to come on the serve project, and feel very fortunate to work along side so many people here, and hopefully they were blessed by us being here. Tonight I gave everyone else a chance to say a few words before we head home tomorrow morning--leaving here at 4 in the morning. --Deb Hulstein
I have been in this situation here before and in Mexico. It makes me feel very blessed. There are many needy people in the world, wish I could help them all. It was a great blessing for us all. --Larry Van Veldhuizen
I'm so much more aware of my blessings now than I was before. It's truly a blessing to serve the same God, no matter where and what color you are. Prayer is more personal now than before I came to the DR. --Kevin Hulstein
Thank you to First CRC for the opportunity to serve here in the DR. We have met some incredible fellow christians here who have shown us how to be ocntent in whatever their circumstances. The very little material wealth they have has not dampened their exuberance to serve the same God we all share. --Nelvin and Jan Brons
Our stay and work in the DR is almost over. I feel it was successful and glad that we went. I felt fine all the time while we were here, which I am thankful for. Rose, I am looking forward to seeing you Saturday about 10:00 pm and everyone else on Sunday. --Duane Koele
Thanks to all back home for your prayers and financial support. What a priviledge it is to come down here and work along side the Haitians to build their church. They worked as hard as we did and were very thankful for our support. --Joe Van Schouwen
Can't believe it's time to go home already tomorrow (although a HOT shower does sound good.) We have had a really great experience here in the DR. The work that we did and the relationships that were built while working side by side with the Haitian people was awesome! We were truly blessed by this experience. See you soon. --Phil and Bonnie De Stigter
Going to the DR was an eye opening experience. Working and playing with the local church members was truly a blessing. They have so little but yet so happy. I've learned so much about the DR people and their culture. --Jerry De Vries
"Delightful, Dedicated, Deb" asked us to make an entry on the blog. Guess she thought she had done her share :-) We have had an awesome 10 days richly blessed by God. We have worked hard, laughed often, and prayed much. Once again we are so very thankful to the congregation, family, and friends for your prayers and your financial support that allowed us to take on this endeavor. We will have many stories of how we were blessed when we return. --Lora De Vries
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Well, it's late here, and all the others are in bed--so it will be a short blog tonight. Today we went to check on the progress of a few of the other schools and churches that other groups had worked on. We first stopped at Colegio Cristiano Renacer--a school that Joe, Duane and Larry had worked on when they came a couple of years ago. They worked on the first floor, and now a second & third floor have been added. The second floor is finished, but the third still needs some work. It's interesting and exciting to see the projects are still proceeding along. We then stopped by the New Creation in Faith christian school to see how the Canadian group living on the floor above us were coming on their project, and then also stopped by the San Pablo Christian School. We came back to the Mission Center for lunch and then headed out to the church that the group from Hull was working on during the earth quake. We took a group picture in front of it. It was good to see that the local people were continuing to work on it. They were adding a place for the pulpit it front, and some columns out in front. The extra money that our church raised from the offering will go to this church to help them buy doors and windows, and I think also to help pay for the flooring--so it was good to see that also. We then saw a little of the downtown area, and went out to the Colonial Zone. The pictures are of our group sitting outside the Mission Center where we stay--waiting to head out for the day, and this is also where we spend our evenings in devotions, and getting our instructions for the next day from Duane Postma. There is a picture of Ghitto, director of the Mission Center, playing guitar during our breakfast, and also a picture of Joe helping out Irbaland, a Haitian girl who needed to be hospitalized here, following the earth quake. Her right arm is bandaged since she needed skin grafting and has lost her fingers, and her left arm is amputated between the shoulder and the elbow. She is always happy to see us, even though she only speaks Creol (spelling?) we still can communicate pretty well.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
We started out the day going to Km43 to check out the cement pour. At least they were using a cement mixer instead of mixing it by hand, but it still had to be thrown up on the roof by hand. "No nonsense Nelvin" jumped right in with throwing the cement up on the roof. Needless to say--he was looking for a replacement in a half hours time. Others helped up on the roof by running the wheelbarrow down the path to the back of the roof, and then smoothing it all out and Duane was pitching sand down below. There really wasn't a good place for the women to help out--so we were mobbed by the kids again. They are always excited to see "The Americanos" arrive. Then around 11:30 we headed over to the other church we worked on, and finished up laying the rest of the blocks. Jan had to check out the facilities there--little less than desireable--haha. Have to chase the geckos out first before you dare to undress. The guys layed the blocks, and the women filled in all the cracks--on the blocks that is. "Lively, lovely, laughing Lora" provided the mud for us so we wouldn't have to get up and down from the scaffolding. Larry befriended a friendly cow that was walking by. The cows don't look all that great here--of course--they aren't a "Hulstein". We then went back to our original church to see the finished cement project, and we took a picture of our group in front of the church along with some of the locals. Then we watched a guy climb a coconut tree, and chopped some down so we could all sample coconut juice. It tasted better than I expected. We picked up some of our tools and the generator, and headed back. Tomorrow we plan to check out a few schools, and not sure what else. Will let you know again tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
We started out the day going to the church we have been working on, to pick up tools and supplies to go to another church that needed our help. Duane and Larry checked if the church will be ready to pour concrete on Wednesday. We went to a church in Basima where the basic 6 block high wall was standing, and they had removed the old roof and wooden sides. We brought in sand and block--and started our work. "Buff Bonnie" was busy cutting rerod while "Fussy Phil" was making sure that all the block was set correctly--please check out the pictures. Tomorrow we will go visit a school that Joe, Larry and Duane had worked on before--but were unable to see it completed. We'll do that first in the morning, then probably go to our original church project to help out with the cement pouring. Then if we have time we will go back to our second church project to finish putting up the last row or two of block. Everyone remains very busy, and pretty much shot by the end of the day. The cold showers do tend to wake you up again, if the traffic on the way home hasn't already set you on edge. It's amazing to see all of the mopeds or small motorcycles on the road, along with all kinds of banana or orange trucks, and other vehicles. They don't keep the slower traffic on the right, so you are constantly weaving in and out to avoid slower mopeds--sometimes loaded with 3 or 4 people. Anyway, it's an experience, and you will just have to see the pictures.
Monday, February 15, 2010
We went back to the site again to finish up putting the plywood along the top side for forms to pour the cement in. Some of the scaffolding was a little shaky but no one got hurt--so a great day. The women were busy with creating cages out of rebar and then laying all of the other rebar across the roof. Men were busy with the plywood, putting spacers together and into the walls preparing for cement. Over our dinner break the kids come out of the woodwork--just waiting for us to play with them. We took along frizbees, a jump rope, and sidewalk chalk. They all wanted to play before the younger ones had to go to school in the afternoon. "Teacher Jan" also gave the kids and some moms an English lesson from the Teddy Bear book she took along. Today we had "Loafing Larry" taking a siesta in the wheelbarrow. Chaperone Duane and leader Joe tried their hardest to raise him--but sometimes you just got to do what you have to do. Tonight after supper and devotions, Steve Brauning from the CR Home Missions gave us a tour of the ministry center where he is located, and updated us on their mission and the projects they are working on. Since our offering was so terrific, we asked where the additional funds will be going. Part of it will be going to another church project which we will be working on on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then on Thursday we will go back to our original project, and hopefully lay all the cement. One thing Home Missions stresses is that we don't completely finish a project--so the members of the congregation can take ownership in it, and bring it to completion themselves. We don't come here to build something for them, or give them something free--we come along side them and assist them, do it their way, and let it be their project. We will have lots of pictures and stories for you when we get home.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
GOD IS GOOD!! It's Sunday night and we had an awesome day. We went to worship at the church of the foreman on our church building project, since the church we are working on has all support beams up, and no room to worship this Sunday. The service was incredible. The men sat on one side and the women on the other, and when we arrived, we were ushered to the front benches. Now I know a few of you back home would frown on having to sit in the front row, but we thoroughly enjoyed it--we were their honored guests. We just had to keep an eye out for when they sat down or stood up behind us. They started singing, the keyboard and guitars started in, and then the drums, and the people were just singing at the top of their lungs, just praising God. We couldn't understand what they were singing, but we began humming along. A couple of tunes were familiar, so we sang what we knew, and just soaked in the experience. They sang a lot and read scripture, and then Duane Postma spoke to them about what we were doing there, and all were very grateful. Kevin gave a welcome from our congretation while Duane translated after our group sang the song Alabare! and the congregation joined in on the refrain. Then a pastor gave a message in Creole language, and a translator helped us out in English. The entire service was very inspirational. Pastor Mark and the worship committee, you have a challenge to match what went on there. We could only understand part of it, but we were so moved by the entire service--we probably got more out of this service, than .... OK, I won't go there. HaHa. Then we made the trip to Santiago to visit Shelley Hernandez and see what she is doing over there. It is incredible the desire she has to praise the Lord in what she is doing. She began with a small task to begin a preschool for the locals who could not afford a Christian education, and it continues to grow. She now teaches 2year-olds through 3rd grade, and they are hoping to add 4th & 5th next year, with higher levels to follow. They currently meet in a church which gets converted into classrooms during the week, and also use a nearby house. They have begun building a new school with three rooms on the main floor, and three rooms above it, and then hope to continue on from there. We were inspired by what she is doing, and all feel the great need they have there, and are very happy that we are able to provide her support. I'll give you more details and a lot more pictures when we return. Just a little update on our group--Duane Koele has named himself as the chaperone--he does have a little age and experience over the rest of us. Joe has been self proclaimed as our leader--so far we have not over thrown his power. Jerry has been named as El Bano Boy--Bano meaning bathroom. Unfortunately he needed to remain close to the facilities today, and was unable to join us today (we told him not to drink the water), but am glad to report that he is feeling better again tonight. Another day of work tomorrow and am looking forward to what we can accomplish. Later.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
It's another warm one here again. Got up early--way too early for me, but had breakfast and hit the road to the site. Started out by putting up braces for the 2 X 4's on the roof, and putting spacers in between the walls that need to be poured. After the guys started laying some plywood on the roof, the women worked up on the roof, tying re-rod (or something like that) together to make cages for the cement. We thought we could work on our tan a little bit up there, but the guys kept checking on us to make sure we were working. We spent a little time playing with the kids over our noon break. They are always excited to see what we are doing, and trying to help as much as possible--working with Duane and Lora, putting the spacers together, and sometimes getting in our way. OSHA would have a cow seeing these kids on a work site like this. We were pretty much shot by the end of the day--the sun and heat can get to you after a while. The shower feels awesome--even though it's only cold water. Time to get cleaned up, eat supper, have devotions, and a little bit of down-time. Sunday we will attend a church service, and then plan to go visit Shelley Hernadez in Santiago. Will update you again tomorrow.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Man is it hot here!!!! Any sympathy out there? We started out with breakfast at 7:00 AM, and head to the work site after a bit of time loading supplies and equipment. We packed 14 of us in the one van and headed down the road for about a 30 min. experience to get there. When we arrived, the nationals had taken the old church down, and had block part of the way up. We ended up putting plywood all the way around the top, to be able to pour cement above the windows, and along the top, up to the roof. We also put 2 X 4's across the top, preparing to lay the plywood and get it ready for the cement ceiling. It was very hot working in the sun--so we pumped the water down us. We stopped for a dinner break, and worked till about 3:30. We were exhausted, but had a great day. The locals were very impressed with all of the work that we got done. Can hardly wait till tomorrow--it will be a great day--lots of work, but am enjoying it. More info. will come again tomorrow.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Well, we have arrived safely after leaving Omaha at 6:00 in the morning. We had a little snack when we arrived here at the Mission Center, and it is now 11:15 p.m. It has been a long day, but all the luggage arrived, and everything went very well. We left Sioux Center at about 5 above, and it is now 78 degrees, and it was raining before we got here, and the roosters are crowing already (for those of you who have been here before). Looking forward to getting up early for breakfast and heading out to the work site. Will post more tomorrow night. Adios!!