Hey, everyone! It has been an absurdly long time since I last posted (I feel like I open up all of my posts with a statement like that...). So many exciting things have happened! The school year finished, camp Hands of Joy was a HUGE success (about 335 campers from all over the country!!!), and I spent a month in the States visiting with my family and friends. I was so blessed to have the time and ability to go back and enjoy visiting with so many people. Now, I'm back in the Dominican Republic for at least another year. And I have a new direction.
For many reasons, I began praying about what it is God wants me to do during this upcoming year. Through a series of very difficult events, it became clear that it is time for me to serve the Deaf community here in a different way. Ever since the Lord called me to serve here in the DR, I knew that my calling was ultimately to serve the larger community. That teaching was my entry point. My training, if you will. I had an amazing year, and I absolutely loved teaching. It breaks my heart that I won't be teaching those young adults. However, the vision that God has placed on my heart is so very exciting! I have teamed up with some people here, and we are starting a vocational training project. After the Deaf graduate from school (if they go to school at all), there is nothing for them. They can't go to a university because there are only a handful of interpreters in the country. They have a very difficult time getting jobs because they often have no skills, and employers simply don't want to hire employees that they can't communicate with. So, we are going to be running classes such as decorating, generator repair (very important here), baking, furniture repair, car detailing, car repair, beauty salon skills, and more. We are hoping to get these Deaf men and women off of the streets by giving them a safe and instructive refuge, give them skills and discipline to find jobs, impart in them a sense of hope and opportunity, encourage the development of Deaf identity and pride, and (most importantly) expose them to the word of God every day. We will have a Bible study once a week as well as devotionals every day.
We met with an organization here that does vocational training classes at various locations in this community, and they are excited to work with us! This is such an unbelievable and unexpected blessing. They are going to provide the teachers, much of the necessary materials, money for transportation for the participants, and certifications for those who complete the courses. We are going to start with decorating and generator repair, and these classes will begin in a couple of weeks.
What started out as a dream, an empty house, is becoming a reality. I couldn't be more excited about this next step. We still have a lot of necessities to buy to set this up and get it running, so we could use all of your prayers!! In addition, the link to the gofundme I set up for this project is on the right side of this page, if you are interested in helping out financially. God is such a provider. Watching how He has worked already, how He has touched people's hearts for this vision, and how people have been so generous leaves me in complete awe. It also has been the confirmation that I needed to know for sure that I am on the path that God has intended for me. I will be posting updates and pictures here in the upcoming weeks!