viernes, 12 de agosto de 2022

Building update, Rochester, and Ecuador

Since I last wrote in April, we poured the concrete for the roof and columns, installed all of the PVC to run the electricity for the building, dug the septic and cistern, and applied a cement layer to the entire interior and exterior of the building. Though we still have a lot to do, the structure itself is finished.

View from the front

Parking area and cistern

The sanctuary
Sanctuary (pulpit will go on that wall in the back)

View from pulpit to the other side of the building
(Door on the left is the kitchen. Door on the right is to bathrooms and storage)


Hallway to the bathrooms and storage area under the stairs

One of the bathrooms

Storage under the stairs

The next steps are to install metal bars on all of the windows and doors, pour the cement for the flooring and the parking area, install windows and doors, lay the tile flooring, install the bathrooms, and install the fans and lighting. Once all of that is finished, we will be able to move in to the building while we continue building upstairs!

Though the building isn't quite ready to start holding church services regularly, we did have our first service in the building last month. We received shoe donations from Children's International and food bag donations from the Dominican government that month and decided to make a special activity out of it. We held our regular church service, gave out the food and shoe donations, and had juice and snacks. We were thrilled to see many people that we hadn't seen since the COVID shutdown, see a couple of new faces, and also see all of the hard work on this building really pay off. Raising money for the construction has been very difficult lately, and even now we have put everything on hold for lack of funds to continue, but the fact that we were able to use the building for the activity was such a necessary reminder that God is in control and that everything will come together in His perfect timing.

The last five weeks have been insane for me because I traveled to both Rochester, New York and Quito, Ecuador. The trip to Rochester was related to a qualitative research study conducted with the Dominican Deaf community, focusing on language deprivation and healthcare experiences. The research is being done by the same multi-institutional collaboration that did the census project, 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 (PUCMM). Over the past couple of years, Deaf Dominicans were trained to conduct interviews and then proceeded to interview over 100 other Deaf Dominicans from different provinces throughout the country. Some interviews were done over Zoom and others in person. The interviews then had to be interpreted into English, transcripts created by an AI program from the interpreted audios, Deaf eyes looked at parts that were unclear to the interpreters, AI errors in the transcripts cleaned up, transcripts formatted, and now we are coding the data, which will then be analyzed.

First, a small team from the University of Rochester traveled here to the DR to work with a team of Deaf Dominicans and make sure that the interpretations were accurate and to clarify parts of the interviews that were unclear to the interpreters. We spent 10 days working on that. Then Pablo (a Deaf man who is the president of ANSORDO, also works in the Bible translation project, and is a good friend of mine) and I went with the American team back to Rochester for a week to continue cleaning and formatting the transcripts and start coding. There was a lot of work to be done, but we had an amazing time with some absolutely incredible people. I also got to see some good friends from camp and catch up with them a bit! It has been such an honor to be involved in such important work. I cannot wait to see the results of this research and to see them published so that it can be used for advocacy for the Deaf community here in the DR!

Pablo and I got back from Rochester late that Saturday night and left for Ecuador early that Monday morning with the rest of our Bible translation team for a two-week workshop provided by the United Bible Societies. Already exhausted from working 10-12 hour days for the last three weeks, I had to dig deep to find the energy to keep pushing forward. But wow, was it worth it. Sign Language Bible translation teams from 14 Latin American countries attended. I was much more confident not only in my Spanish but also in my ability to use gestures and learn new signs from each country to break the barrier between different Sign Languages than I was in 2019, so I was really able to take advantage and interact with all of the amazing Deaf translators and interpreters. 

The first week focused on literary genres and devices in the Bible and how to translate them into Sign Language. Many people don't realize that Sign Language does have poetry, and that this poetry has rhyme, rhythm, inflection, alliteration, parallelism, etc., etc., etc., just like written and spoken poetry do. Every auditory device in existence can be recreated in a visual way! 

The second week focused on New Testament history and culture. We learned about New Testament manuscripts, variants in those manuscripts, some history and context behind different books in the New Testament and their authors, the Greco-Roman influence during that time, etc. 

Both weeks were full of so much important and interesting information that will help each translation project. This was the first in person workshop since COVID began, and we were all so grateful for the opportunity and the time together.

At the end of this month, Pablo and I will be traveling again. This time, to Italy. Pablo has been invited by the United Bible Societies to teach a workshop to future Bible consultants for Sign Language translation projects about technological necessities and challenges in Sign Language translation video production. Until then, I am trying my best to balance rest with catching up on things that I had to put aside for the last five weeks while also trying to raise enough money to continue construction on the church. Seeing how our leaders at the church have stepped up in the last few weeks shows me that things are moving in the right direction. Every single day God shows me that He is in control. As my grandmother would say, "God's got this." And that as long as we have our hearts open to receive His guidance and are obedient, all things work together for good. As always, prayers for the church and all of these projects are so needed and appreciated. God bless.

lunes, 18 de abril de 2022

Emergency Need for Donations!

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.