lunes, 24 de diciembre de 2018

Christmas Party and Activities!

What a busy couple of months we've had! Very busy, and very exciting! (Warning, this post will contain LOTS of pictures.)

The Christmas doll-making class was a huge success! Each person worked very hard to hand make various dolls. We then decided that we were going to sell them so that, at the end, we could divide the money and each member of the class would be able to walk away with some Christmas cash.

They turned out really beautiful!!!

We sold them to their family and friends, people in my sign language classes, people we work with, and I even sold some out on the street!

In the end, we managed to sell almost all of them, and even had to make more of the angels because so many people wanted them. Each person who participated in the class walked away with almost $40. In the Dominican Republic, they celebrate Christmas by having a big family dinner on Christmas Eve. It is culturally very important (even in the lower classes) to buy new clothes to wear for this dinner. Many of the Deaf adults who received the money expressed to me that they were so happy that they would be able to buy their Christmas Eve outfit and also contribute some money toward their family's meal.

In the midst of all of this, we also had another class, which I personally enjoyed very much because we got to eat all of the product. The participants learned how to make what is called "picadera". These are various snack foods that are purchased (or made) and served at any and every kind of party or celebration. They learned how to make little sandwiches, pasta salad, friend yuca balls with cheese, pastelitos (basically little empanadas), quipes, and croquetas. Being able to make these snack foods will allow them to make and sell them to others and/or to make them for their own celebrations and save money.

Our last activity of the year was our church Christmas party. This event took about a week of all-hands-on-deck preparation. Many of the Deaf leaders of the church stepped up to help prepare the baskets, clean the church, serve the food, and do anything that we needed in order to make the activity run smoothly. It was amazing to see them take responsibility for their church and give back to their community.

The party went better than we could have imagined. With the help of various generous donors (both Dominican and American), we were able to prepare 110 food baskets, give out toys to around 30 children (some Deaf and some hearing children of Deaf adults, or CODAs), and serve lunch to everyone who attended. The baskets weighed about 25 pounds each! With the food in those baskets, the recipients would be able to make Christmas Eve dinner for their whole family and probably have some left overs. They contained about eight pounds of rice, three pounds of beans, five pounds of sugar, two pounds of powdered milk, pasta, tomato paste, canned sardines, canned sausages, cooking oil, salami, Christmas fruits (apples, grapes, and raisins), juice, cornmeal, oatmeal, crackers, cookies, coffee, hot chocolate, and candy.

As for the party itself, it was amazing! About 120 Deaf men, women, and children showed up. About 30 of those come to church and Bible study every week, 40 come to church occasionally, 30 show up once or twice a year, and 20 I had never even met before! Many of them brought their children, and a few even brought their parents. In all, there were around 150 in attendance.

We started off with a church service. Many of the new people had never been to church before, or had been and never really knew what it was about because of the language barrier. We had a time of worship, a time of prayer, and a message about the true meaning of Christmas. For me, if even one of those who came for the first time starts coming to church regularly and is saved, it was all worth it.

After church, we had a time of food and fellowship. We prepared and served food to all 150 attendees. We then gave out the food baskets and toys. We had enough toys for all of the children and enough baskets to give out one per family. It was such a joyous time. Well, if I'm being honest, also quite stressful! I barely even had time to take any pictures! But I really could not have asked for anything more.

I am now back in Florida for the holidays, very much enjoying time with my family and friends. The crisp air is also a nice change! Thank you all so much for supporting this mission, whether it be through your prayers, your presence, your gifts, or your service. People tend to put me up on a pedestal as the "missionary", but we are all a part of this mission. Yes, I am the one on the ground doing the work there, but I could not do any of it if it wasn't for all of you here. Like it says in 1 Corinthians 12, we are all parts of the body of Christ, and no one part can stand alone. God has, and will continue to, use every single one of you to make everything you see and read in this blog possible. Thank you, all! Merry Christmas, happy new year, and God bless!

viernes, 2 de noviembre de 2018

Fall in a Nutshell

During the course of our barber class, we were invited to a community event where many professional barbers gave up their day at work to provide free services to a poor community. Hundreds of men and boys came out to get a free hair cut. Our group had the opportunity to go, watch, and even practice cutting hair. Our group of women also got to learn how to apply facials. Everyone had a great time. It was a very cool experience for everyone, as our group had a great learning experience and the hearing community was exposed to the Deaf community as well.

After two months of learning and practicing, five men proved that they could be certified as barber's assistants (one is not shown in the picture because he was out of town on the day of the graduation). We are currently making the arrangements for them to begin apprenticeships at a few barber shops so that they can finish their training and become certified professional barbers.
We concluded the class with 15 hours of life skills workshops, which five women also participated in.  It was the perfect way to finish off the class and was very interesting and educational.

I was lucky enough to take part in the Second International Symposium for Deaf Education. Experts in Deaf studies, Deaf education, and psychology for the Deaf (both hearing and Deaf) came from various countries, including the United States, Chile, and Costa Rica. It was a three day event with lectures for parents of deaf children, teachers of the Deaf, psychologists who work with the Deaf, and the Deaf teaching assistants. People came from all over the country to take part in this event. We were all able to learn from some very prominent and knowledgeable people. These sorts of events are so important here in the Dominican, as there are so few experts and so little access to accurate information about the Deaf.

This Deaf presenter communicated in Chilean Sign Language, which was translated into Spanish, which was then interpreted into Dominican Sign Language!

The Deaf community celebrated the International Week of the Deaf with a march through the city. Hundreds of Deaf people and hearing allies, young and old, came to bring awareness to the community and communicate their needs. It was a hot but fun day organized by the National Association for the Deaf in the Dominican Republic (ANSORDO). We started at the Senate building, marched to the Ministry of Education, and then ended in the National Theater for some speeches and dance performances. The event received quite a bit of press attention. I must say, I was impressed that there were no injuries. So many people walking next to traffic looking at each other's signs instead of where they were walking! Haha!

As far as the church itself, our church services have a relatively steady attendance of between 30 and 45 people and our weekly Bible study gets around 20. It is awesome to see so many people dedicated to learning about God and spending time in worship. We are also getting some hearing people from my sign language classes attending church and Bible study as a way to get involved in the Deaf community and practice sign language. We are faced with the good problem of having to look for a bigger place because we simply no longer fit in our current location! We often have people standing outside and watching the church service through the windows because the church is so full! Please join us in prayer as we look for a new location, with the ultimate goal of buying some land and constructing our own church.

We have now turned our sights towards Christmas! This past week, we began a Christmas decorations class, where the participants will learn how to make various beautiful Christmas decorations that they can easily sell to make extra money during this holiday season. We also have begun planning our Christmas celebration, for which we are expecting at the very least 150 attendees. We are gathering donations in order to give out as many food bags as possible to the families in need, provide toys as gifts for the children, and serve a delicious meal at the celebration. If you would like more information or would like to donate, you can contact me by e-mail at