Hello friends and family!
It’s a rainy evening here in Monte Plata and I have the great privilege of writing to you all to update you on the Lord’s work here. February has been one of the calmest months I’ve had since arriving here and today marks my 6 month arrival anniversary. Some days I feel like I’ve been here for much longer than 6 months, and other days I feel as though I just arrived. Either way, I am thankful for all the Lord has taught me in my first 6 months here and all the ways in which He continues to provide for our ministry.
Casa Monte Plata has undergone what feels like a complete transformation since Christmas. With the arrival of our new house mom, the implementation of some tough (but necessary) new rules, a new Dominican young man working in our little boys’ house every afternoon, and more unity among the four of us North Americans, it really feels like Casa Monte Plata is a new place. Discipline issues have drastically decreased, our kids are more kind to each other, events are running more smoothly, and it’s an altogether happier place. Needless to say, we are incredibly thankful for the work that the Holy Spirit is doing there. Just last week I was sitting on the porch with one of our high school boys, Gabe*, who was a constant behavior issue before Christmas. Things were so bad that he was told that one more infraction would lead to his dismissal from the program. He told us he really wanted to turn things around, but none of us expected to see the change in this young man that we have seen over the past two months. Gabe was once always seen on the outside of the group, scowling, bullying the younger boys, refusing to do homework, and having a bad attitude. Now he asks me for help with his homework nearly every day, organizes games and activities for the younger boys, and is helpful in his house and around the property. It is a true transformation – thanks be to God! We were doing math homework on his porch last week when he stopped and said “I want to talk to you and Alex about becoming a Christian, because I used to be a Christian, but then I wasn’t, and now I want to be a Christian again.” I immediately thought “How did we get from trapezoids to salvation?!” How thankful I am for the privilege of talking with Gabe and studying what God’s word has to say about assurance of salvation. He became emotional when we explained that if we could lose our salvation by doing bad things, that means we could gain our salvation by doing good things, and the Bible clearly tells us that our salvation is a “gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Thank you Lord for this truth! Please join me in praising God for all He has done at our residential facility. Continue praying that He would send another set of house parents for our older boys. (On a side note, we also welcomed a new member to the Casa Monte Plata family this month, a 1.5 year old black lab/dalmatian mix named Latina. Needless to say, our kids love her!)
Our work at the school continues as we enter into the last part of the school year. It’s hard to believe we are only a few months away from summer! Plans are being made for our summer school program and our kids are currently working on class projects to celebrate Independence Day in the Dominican Republic (February 27). My most exciting news about school may seem small to many of you, but is a great victory for me. In the past 2 months, five different teachers have asked me for help with their instruction and lesson planning on their own. Although I give professional development presentations every other week, up until this semester, the teachers hadn’t felt comfortable coming to me after school and asking for individual help. I am greatly encouraged by their willingness to approach me and I feel like we are truly forming a relationship of mutual trust. It is exciting!! Four different teachers have come to my home in the afternoons or evenings to work on lesson planning. I absolutely love it!
I’d like to invite you to take a look at my blog which features two blog posts just from this past week about the state of math education in the Dominican Republic and a story about a 7th grade boy who blessed me in a special way. There are also some pictures of our Valentine’s Day celebrations here in Monte Plata.
Please pray for me this weekend as I travel with all of the North American Kids Alive Dominican Republic missionaries to Jarabacoa for a staff retreat. We have all been studying the book The Peacemaker (I highly recommend it!) and will be discussing it as a staff and talking about the implications for missionary-to-missionary relationships, missionary-to-host culture relationships, and missionary-to-family relationships. There is also a team of counselors available to talk with us about our experiences on the mission field. But more importantly than anything, we are looking forward to a time of worship, learning, and fellowship together since we rarely get to see each other.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. I am thankful for you! Please don’t hesitate to write back and let me know how I can be praying for you specifically!