martes, 29 de agosto de 2017

Whenever I Doubt HE Works it Out

The first week, we had no more than eight people come each day and we couldn't even start the classes. The organization who is providing the classes for us told me they were seriously considering giving up on this project, as they have strict rules about the number of participants (rules which, in their defense, are necessary in order to make the most of their time and money). Today, we had 25. And I'm not talking about 25 men and women that we know from years at camp, who are in school, and who go to the church. I'm talking about 25 Deaf adults, most of whom I have never met before, who have no jobs, very few opportunities, and sit (SAT!!) in their houses bored and isolated or taking care of their nieces and nephews everyday. I'm talking about 25 Deaf adults who do not have a church home. This is the community that I felt led to reach out to, to support, to empower.

Some of these Deaf adults are frustrated with the current state things and want to fight for their rights and opportunities. Others expect nothing of themselves because no one else has ever expected anything of them. A few finished high school, most didn't make it past middle school. Some have held jobs before, others have never worked. Some are Christians, others are not. They are ALL fantastic, intelligent, fun, fascinating people.
Group discussions about politics, Deaf rights, language, and so much more.

We fixed the van (giant sigh) and began going out to the homes of these Deaf adults to invite them and bring them to the church for the classes. We went to the homes of the friends of the few who came in the beginning, and they led us to their friends who led us to their friends. We handed out flyers, talked to families, posted on social media, and definitely did a lot of praying. Slowly, but surely, we have been finding them.

So many of the parents don't want to let their Deaf adult children come take advantage of these classes because they don't think the adult can go out on his or her own, the Deaf adult is responsible for the cleaning and taking care of all of the nieces and nephews, or whatever other reason that is completely unfair and, honestly, just because they are Deaf. The biggest difficulty is that most of them can't afford the transportation to get to and from the church everyday. The organization providing the classes has agreed to give some money, and I am providing the rest through donations, for gas, and we are currently working out a route to pick up and drop off as many as possible every day.

We finally got enough participants to start the decorations class. We started with 10 and now we have a seemingly steady group of 19. They have been working hard and learning a lot!
Here's a fun math problem for you all to help me solve.
            Fans + paper = paper all over the floor.            Dominican Republic heat + no fans = death.
? + ? = everyone is alive, happy, and able to work

The women really seem to be enjoying it. So far, they have learned how to make these four decorations!!

Baskets for a unicorn/rainbow themed party.
Little backpacks for a baseball themed party.

We haven't been able to start the generator class yet because we just don't have enough participants. We are trying to figure out how to make this class work as well. Even though they don't want to take the decorations class and the generator class has not started yet, there is a group of about five Deaf men who come every day just to have a safe place to hang out together. For some reason, I find that to be so awesome.

There were also two large Deaf events this past week. ANSORDO (Asociación Nacional de Sordos de la República Dominicana) had their re-inauguration ceremony. I went and brought many of the participants from the classes so that we could all be a part of this big night. The organization has been holding workshops for weeks and working closely with DDW (Discovering Deaf Worlds) from the United States in order to figure out how to empower and develop the Deaf Community here in the Dominican Republic. The event was very nice, and various people, hearing and Deaf, shared the history, successes, and goals of ANSORDO. I am so excited to see this group of people (almost entirely Deaf) working so hard to advance the Deaf Community. I also got to meet the leadership of ANSORDO, which was such an honor.

The next night, my group and many other Deaf ministries from around the city and some from different parts of the country came to a church that has a very successful Deaf ministry to watch a movie that they made entirely in sign language. It was the story of how Thomas Gallaudet brought sign language to America and began Deaf education there. They showed the movie, sang praise songs (voice and sign), and showed a chapter of their current project to translate the Bible into sign language videos. It was a fun night that I was thankful that my group and I could be a part of.

I'm really not sure how the same exact events can be at the same time encouraging and exciting while also discouraging and stressful, but that is how I have felt for the past couple of weeks. If it's not one problem, it's another. But God has worked out everything that has come our way, and I feel so blessed and encouraged about how much this project has grown in such a short period of time. Please continue praying for this project. Your prayers are definitely helping. And please consider donating for this transportation issue. It was very costly to get the van up and running (it apparently had a lot of issues and it's nothing short of a miracle that we were able to use it for camp) in order to do home visits and to transport our participants, and gas here is very expensive.

sábado, 12 de agosto de 2017

Getting Started!!

It has been a long couple of weeks of hard work, but we are finally ready to start classes on Monday!! God has been so good in that we have received numerous donations and have either been given or have had the money to buy everything that we need to get started. We spent these weeks buying the necessities, cleaning, organizing, preparing, and painting. If you have never painted metal bars with a bunch of little curves and designs, you have never truly tested your patience and endurance.
When we began renting the house, the outside was a terrible strawberry ice-cream pink with yellow metal bars. Who would do that??? The inside was empty, dirty, dark, and hot. Now, it looks amazing (if I do say so myself), and I am so excited to get started!


After (from outside the gate)

Before (Church)
After (Church)

Before (Office)
After (Office)

There is no way all of this would have gotten done if I wouldn't have had so much amazing help!!

We were able to buy the chairs that we will use for church and for the classes, the tables, fans, and equip the kitchen! We hooked up the electricity and have a phone and internet. We have the teachers and all of the arrangements for the classes made. We're so official! Now just to see how many people show up...Getting the information about this project out to the Deaf Community is a difficult task. There are so many people that we do not know, who are not connected with the school, and are spread out all around the city. We may start out with very small numbers before the word gets out by "word of hands." This may be a blessing in that it will give us an opportunity to work out the kinks and will give me the chance to get used to interpreting Spanish to sign language. To be honest, I am worried. But I know that God has shown that He is with us in this project, so I know He will continue to be with us and will establish all of it as He sees fit. This has definitely been a test of trust and faith, and God has come through at every turn.

Please continue to support me with your prayers, and if you feel led to support this project financially, the link to my gofundme is