Happy Easter, everyone! Well, our building excitement was put on hold for a few months while we dealt with City Hall and a building permit. That is a long story that I won't get into, but I'll just say that they were intentionally making things difficult and we never found out why. It was many months of back and forth, during which time we could not continue with the construction. I did keep quite busy during those months, however, working with the Dominican National Association of the Deaf (ANSORDO), the University of Rochester, Deaf Worlds, and a Dominican university called Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra on a Deaf census project. I had been interpreting virtual meetings with this project for nearly a year, and it was finally time to do the field work. We traveled to six randomly chosen provinces and surveyed nearly 3,000 households in different randomly chosen sectors of each province. It was such a cool experience that allowed me to see so much of the country, including extremely remote areas. We even got stuck in the mud in the middle of no where one day. This was the first population-based census of the Deaf population in the Dominican Republic, and quite possibly the world. The papers reporting the results are currently being written up for publishing.
In December, we had our annual Christmas celebration. Because we have been raising money for the church construction, we were thinking about having a small celebration this year. We were going to prepare a few small food bags and just have a gathering with those who had been regularly attending church (a growing number, but still recovering from the pandemic) without serving lunch. However, God basically slapped me on the wrist for my lack of faith when He began to touch people's hearts both here in the DR and in the States to donate money, food, clothes, and shoes. We ended up having one of our most amazing celebrations to date with really big food bags for every family, a prepared lunch with so much food that many people took seconds home, toys for each child, and enough clothes and shoes that each individual left with 2-5 articles of clothing. It was absolutely incredible and so much fun!! What an amazing blessing and testimony to how faithful God is!!
Finally, in late January, we got our building permit and were able to start building again! Things have been moving so fast since then! I have been in awe watching each step of the building process. The way these guys have such a well-oiled system to work quickly and precisely is amazing. The next step is to pour the concrete for the ceiling of the first floor. Unfortunately, building anything right now is crazy expensive. Building materials have nearly doubled in price in the last few months. Numbers that we crunched just two months ago are now not even close to the prices we are having to pay. When we priced concrete a couple of months ago, it cost about $80 per cubic meter. Now it costs $120. We thought we had raised enough money to get the first floor to a point that we would be able to use it for our church services, but we now find ourselves quite short. It took a month to get the wood and rebar structures ready to pour the concrete. The wood belongs to the people who put it up, and they are saying that they are going to need it back very soon. If any of you have considered donating but have been waiting for the right time, or if you have already donated and might consider giving something more, now is the time. You can donate by clicking the "Donate" button on the right hand side of this page. We have some Dominican donors who have committed to donating toilets, windows, doors, etc., but we need to get that concrete poured before we can do anything else.
I know that God's timing is perfect and that if He wants this church built now, that He will touch hearts in order to provide exactly what we need and exactly when. I have been told that God is never late, but He is rarely early. He is always exactly right on time.
Check out these pictures of the building process so far!
As always, I thank you all for your interest in this ministry and for all of your prayers and donations. None of this would be possible without each and every one of you.