I was fortunate to be able to visit my family and friends back in the States for Christmas and New Year's. It was a relatively short visit, but such a blessing to me. For many reasons, I almost didn't go. Fortunately, my family pretty much forced me to! It is always bittersweet coming back after a visit. I am always at the same time anxious to get back and sad to leave.
When I did get back, we requested (somewhat demanded?) that the owner of the church building make some very necessary repairs. We got the piping fixed in the bathroom, all of the faucets replaced, got the kitchen floor fixed, replaced the very broken door knobs, got a new lid for the cistern.
We also made some improvements to the place ourselves! We painted the inside walls, put up mosquito netting on all of the windows, did some DEEP cleaning, purchased three computers and three sewing machines (for future classes and general use by the Deaf community), and put up a sign with the church's name out on the street so that people can find us more easily.
|Making a napkin holder out of newspaper
However, one of the most exciting things that has happened is that we are now receiving a monthly donation so that we can provide transportation for church on Sundays. There are many in the Deaf community who want so badly to come to church, but live far and/or simply can't afford the transportation to get there and back. We are now able to run a route on Sundays in order to pick up and drop off these men and women. We have been doing this for almost a month now and are regularly able to bring 8-15 people who would not otherwise be able to come to church. This is such a blessing! Even some Deaf children are attending church now! We may have to find a new location soon, because the church is growing faster than we could have anticipated and we barely fit in the room that we use as the sanctuary! We get between 30 and 40 Deaf men and women every week, a huge jump from the 7-15 we used to get. We are also providing a small breakfast for those who come to church, as many have to wake up early to make it and/or don't have food in their homes to eat for breakfast. My Methodist upbringing taught me "give them food and they will come!" And it seems to be proving true!
|We barely fit!
|One of our kids leading a worship song
|The group that utilizes the transportation
|Group picture with the van's snazzy new banner
After the Christmas party, we had a few bags of food left over and were trying to decide what to do with them. One of the Deaf women, who is a leader in the church, suggested that we donate them to some very poor hearing families that she knows. I was so touched by this notion and we all agreed it was a great idea. The Deaf community here is used to receiving free things and not very used to giving or serving. That is something I would really like to work on with this group, and this leader has on in her heart as well.
In the midst of all this craziness, I finally got to go do something tourist-y! We went to Montaña Redonda near Miches in the eastern part of the country, rode in the back of a truck up a mountain, and got to enjoy some beautiful views. We had a great time, and it was just the little escape that I needed.
As always, I ask for your continued prayers. This community has so many needs and so few people working to meet them. Please pray for me and for the leadership of the church and also for the Deaf community as a whole here. Recently, many Deaf people here have been killed and have been committing suicide. This community needs God and needs your prayers. Thank you!