Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Year...New Beginnings

"Behold I make all things new" -Revelations 21:5

The end of 2007 was a time of transition for us. A time of letting go of our old world for awhile and of adjusting to our new life here in the Dominican Republic. We begin our new year, 2008, with new resolve to enter fully into this wonderful opportunity we have in the Batey. We start the year with a new commitment to the people here and to our family and friends back home who are so generously supporting us. We enter the year with new energy and renewed faith and trust that God is present in the Batey and has a purpose for us.
We are surrounded by daily evidence that the Spirit is blowing new life and new energy into the Batey Lecheria. We hope that you will be pleased with work being done by and with the people of the Batey as we begin this year.

Building Community

The people are beginning to come together with a sense of community. Sr. Anita is working with a parents' group that meets weekly and discusses issues that affect the community. The women of the batey gather together to clean the community areas of the batey. We captured this picture early one morning as they were sweeping: young and old, mothers and grandmothers working together for the good of the community. This is a huge step for the Batey and fills us with great hope.

Nutrition Program
Our brand new Nutrition Program is really taking off. The program is for mothers and children under 4 yrs old. We have checked the height, weight and iron levels of the over 65 children who have already entered the program. We have found that the majority of the children are anemic; many are severely anemic. We have provided education for the mothers on healthy diet, preventing parasites and the meaning of anemia. We are providing vitamins with iron and frequently we have been able to provide a nutritious snack for the moms and children. Our goal for this program is to be able to provide daily vitamins, a nutritious breakfast, further education for the mothers on parenting topics and an inviting space where the mothers can gather together, play with their children and support one another in their role as mothers.

Community Center: A Place to Gather

With the growing Nutrition Program and sense of community, we have begun to feel the need for a larger space for people to gather. We anticipate the new community center to be done within a month and the Nutrition Program and Parent's Group will have a new place to meet and grow! This community center is made possible thanks to several private donations, a grant from the European Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and a large donation from the parish of St. Luke in Charlotte NC.

Latrine Project: Phase 3

Work is under way as we begin the 3rd year of building latrines with the families of Lechería. We hope to build 30 or more latrines by the summer with the help of visiting volunteer builders from the states. Families in Lechería are preparing by digging and lining holes, and gathering workers to help haul and prepare materials. We've hired a block layer from the batey who will also help supervise the family help. Roofs and doors will be built and attached by our visiting "trabajadores".

A New School for the Children of the Batey

A non-profit organization from Spain is building a new school. Here in the Batey Lecheria, we have an educational program structured in the Montessori style of learning. This program is available to the children for half a day. They attend public school the other half of the day. At this time it is a mile walk up a rocky steep hill to the school and many children do not go as often as they should. Having a new school in the "barrio" (neighborhood) means more children are likely to go to school everyday. With education comes hope.

A New Garden for the Rosario Family

We have noticed the whole family working to build a low stone wall and to plant a garden in front of their house. Evidence of pride in their home and the family working together is a sign of the winds of change blowing our way! Seventeen yr. old Maria displays her work in the garden....

Population Boom
The cattle population, that is! We have seen at least 5 new calves born since Christmas. Along with new calves, comes nursing mama cows and milk for the children of the Batey

As the new year stretches before us, we take a moment to thank God for the gifts of the past year and ask God's blessing on the challenges that await...
"I Am the New Year" - Bible Illustrator
I am the new year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.

I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months.

All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.

All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.

All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have—these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.

I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, "Behold, I make all things new."


Theo said...

wow! ... talk about God being present ... great update, thanks to you both and thanks to God! ... God bless, Theo.

Anonymous said...

Reading your blog is like taking a spiritual retreat - thank you for reminding me of how small my "problems" are. I will be praying for you both and your new friends in Batey. Love, Julie Windeknecht

Linda Flynn said...

How beautiful to be able to witness all the wonderful work God is doing thru you and the others! Thank you for helping me to get to know and care for these brothers and sisters of mine--esp. the moms of young ones whom I can identify with.
Love and miss you!
Linda F

Mary said...

Thank you both...so much for sharing the beautiful and meaningful work you are doing there. I sit and read and am overcome with emotion and love in seeing God working through your hands. My prayers are with you and the people you are reaching out to.
God Bless,
Love, Mary C

Chris said...

You two are such a gift to all of us at St. Luke's. Through you, we are able to broaden our faith by miles, and to take a spiritual journey which would not have been possible without your mission to Santo Domingo. Vaya con Dios y Buena Suerte Amigos!