School is in Session!

Hello Friends, 
Here at Handfuls of Hope School we are so happy to have successfully finished our first week of school. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point. This work started in the beginning of August, when we started training with our teachers and getting the school ready to receive students.

In August our school director and a few teachers were blessed with the opportunity to attend the ACSI conference in Santo Domingo where they were taught how to better impact our students for Christ. We were also blessed with a group of visiting US teachers who helped train our staff. They taught our teachers about evaluating student’s reading level, Bloom's Taxonomy, using recycled materials in the classroom, etc. This group also ministered to our teachers by praying with them, helping prepare posters to decorate their classroom and purchasing much needed furniture and materials. After this group left, we worked nonstop for a week and a half with our staff and volunteers from our local church to paint the classrooms and clean up the school so that everything was ready to receive our students.

As the students arrived on Monday you could see the joy on their faces, as many of our returning and new students were so excited to be at the school. We opened the day with introductions, devotions, singing and prayer to start the new school year right. During this first week we all reviewed the classroom and school rules, and each teacher had a different and fun way to teach them to their students. Our fifth and sixth grade teachers put on a drama for their students to explain the classroom rules. It was so entertaining to see the students laughing and almost falling out of their seats watching their teachers dressed up as students and acting out the different procedures. All in all, it was a fun and blessed week.

Below are a few photos from our first day of school. More photos are available in our photo gallery. We are excited to share with you all the joy on the faces of our students and staff and, more importantly, to show our appreciation for what YOU have done to make this new school year possible.  Thank you so much!

~Alesha Kollert

Evangel Church DR Mission Trip - Day 6

Day 6

Team Evangel and all the people they encountered continued to feel God's grace. Teachers, who teach grades Pre-K through 9, had their final day of participation in the Teacher's Conference. All received gift bags that they were able to fill with items that included crayons, pencils, pens, staplers, and folders. They also did a rocket experiment, filling water bottles with vinegar and baking soda. 

After the experiment, the teachers were asked what questions they would pose after doing this with their students.

They shared that they would ask their students what they learned; the importance of the activity; what materials would they use; and what would they do differently next time.

Teachers also did a balloon activity with a CD and flip bottle top. They blew air into the balloon and put it over the top that had been inserted into the CD. As the balloon deflated, the CD spun and moved across the floor.

Team Evangel later met with the teachers to assess their classroom needs and assisted them in creating posters for their classrooms. Team members also were blessed by the opportunity to help furnish a Pre-K classroom.

Additional Evangel team members visited the village of Sabana Larga, where they played jump rope ball with some of the children. The atmosphere was joyful at a local church where Team Evangel helped lead and participate in a praise and worship, then listened to a Bible study. As part of the Isaiah 58 program, people in the village later received food and clothes while the children spent a good deal of time coloring pictures. They also received personalized backpacks that were decorated with a message about God's goodness.

For the past three days, Team Evangel was treated to delicious lunches and dinners cooked by several gracious women at Colegio Cristiano. Glory be to God!

~ Sonya Kimble-Ellis

Evangel Church DR Mission Trip - Day 5

Day 5

God's anointing shined today while Team Evangel visited the village of Beni. Team members walked through the village with members of Handfuls of Hope (HOH), canvasing the villagers to come hear the word of the Lord. 

The townspeople were open to hearing and receiving God's best. Throughout the gravel-covered streets, the sound of music and the sweet aroma of an upcoming meal represented comfort, joy, and a sense of home. 

Many children and adults joined Team Evangel and HOH to sing praise songs and worship in a tree-covered yard located behind the church. Afterward, the young ones colored onto sheets that had fun illustrations; did chalk drawings onto concrete steps; and received personalized backpacks. 

The village residents were blessed with bags of food and were prayed for by team members. They also received items of clothing. Members also returned to another village to paint a home while several helped fill children's backpacks with school supplies. The day was truly a blessing to all.

~ Sonya Kimble-Ellis

Evangel Church DR Mission Trip - Day 4

Day 4

Team Evangel and those we ministered to had a blessed day in the Lord. Some of the team members participated in and conducted a Teachers Conference at Colegio Cristiano Esdras.

Team leader Yasmin Burrell led a session on "Blooms Taxonomy," which outlined in part what teachers should Record, Understand, Apply, and Analyze, Evaluate, and Create in their classrooms.  The teachers were pleased to receive a gift bag with the phrase 'Reaching by Teaching.' On the back was a Bible verse from John 7:16.

As an icebreaker, they participated in an exercise that required them to line up in the order of their birthdate. Each teacher had to communicate their birthdate to the other teachers without speaking a word. There was a lot of laughter and recognition of various communication techniques during this exercise.

"I realized what it was like when students don't know how to communicate well," said one teacher.  "I saw that there are times when you might not understand the child at that moment. But will time and work, you will understand," shared another.

In a morning activity, teachers worked together to create a hands-on writing/drawing activity of what a teacher is, says, does. Their responses included the words mother, companion, clown, banker, educator, and more. During the afternoon, teachers participated in a hands-on painting and writing activity that encouraged them to share and illustrate their 'gift'. The activity was based on a passage from Proverbs 18:16. The afternoon ended with an anointed time of prayer. 

Several team members also visited and blessed the people of Melon Hill. Members canvased the village for people with whom to share the Gospel of Jesus. The time in the village included handing out clothes, food, and praying for souls. Children were joyful as they played basketball, games and drew and colored pictures onto backpacks. God's grace was shown throughout the entire day.

~ Sonya Kimble-Ellis

Evangel Church DR Mission Trip - Day 3

The team arrived in Catalina for our first day of ministry there. Jeanne and Ceres and Alesha poured into our teachers. It was an amazing time, with so much progress. What an eternal investment. The rest of the team went, in the morning, to La Rigola and to San Jose in the afternoon. We presented the good news of Jesus to all, sang beautiful songs, played with kids, and handed out 12000 meals worth of food and also shoes and clothes. Heading back to the capital now, for a quick shower and dinner at Provacon. Yum yum. Keep praying for us throughout the week. God is working in so many ways. 

Evangel Church DR Mission Trip - Day 2

We woke up Sunday with new energy. Shared a few minutes after breakfast learning about the HOH ministry and then off to IBI, an awesome church in the capital. We worshiped the Lord and heard a great message. Lunch at Pollo Victorino and the the Robert Reed Children's Hospital. What a great time! Some of these children are so sick. We were blessed being able to visit and pray for the children and families. God is so good. We are excited for Monday as we start ministry out in Catalina working with the HOH team there. Pray for us, that God be glorified. 

Grace Church DR Mission Trip - Day 10

Today was a fun but sad day. We got to sleep in today. We went straight to Catalina to spend as much time as we could with the guys and the girls, Yasmeroly and Esmeroly. One of the guys, Miguel brought his horse named Samantha to the party! We played many games with the guys and the girls and had a real fun time. We had lunch but we didn't stay for dinner. Saying goodbye was the hardest part. We promised them that we would see them again and we left back to the hotel. We had two hours to rest and swim. We went back to the mall for dinner. We went to a nice Italian restaurant. The food was great and we all had a fun time. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for Ice cream. To finish off the day we are having a debrief of our Trip and a possible snack party. It's sad to leave but it will feel good to be back in the states. Please pray for a safe flight and no delays, all the villages we went to and served, school starts in three weeks in Catalina.
~ Nate

Grace Church DR Mission Trip - Day 9

Hey everyone! Today we woke up really early then drove 2 hours to Bayaguana for Isaiah 58. When we arrived, we were instantly welcomed by a crowd of at least 60 people. We sang Eres Todo, Light The Fire, and Sinking Deep then performed our skit. After that, we stayed there for lunch because the pastor invited us to stay and brought up soda and juice. Then we drove another 45 minutes to the next village, Monte Plata. When we arrived, we helped clear out some planks of wood and encountered the first of two wolf spiders. We started painting the building with wood finish  (extremely sticky by the way - Nate got covered in it and it ripped out his arm hair) then encountered another wolf spider in a concrete block. When that was finally finished, we set up for another Isaiah 58. We handed out bracelets and lollipops and face painted. When we left, we drove 30 minutes to Pollo Victorina and ate so much chicken to end this amazing day. Now we are on our way back to the hotel. 


Grace Church DR Mission Trip - Day 8

This morning we woke up (I woke up late as per usual) and got ready to leave for Catalina. We got there relatively on-time and packed up the bus with Manna Packs and headed to a village called Matanzas. While there we sang songs, performed our drama, face painted, and handed out food.  On our way back from Mantanzas we all ignored language barriers and sang our hearts out to Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston. We got back to Catalina and ate lunch. Soon after we headed back to Matanzas to an English school to help new students with pronunciation and the basic things they've learned so far. (It was a lot of fun). We then headed back to Catalina, ate dinner, and got ready for evening church. Church was great, we sang a lot, Jeff preached, Alesha Kollert translated, and together we all learned about anchoring our souls in Jesus Christ. As I am typing we are pulling up to our hotel and our day has come to an end. 
- Carson

Grace Church DR Mission Trip - Day 7

Hey everyone, today we got up early today to head to Catalina to pack some more food for Isaiah 58. After that we all packed about 20 of us into la guagua (the bus) and went to the village of La Rigola, when we got there we set up the tent but we were on top of the mountain so the tent almost blew away. We moved inside into the classroom. We sang our classic 3 songs (Eres Todo, Light the fire, Hallelujah) and then we did our skit once again. After the village we went to the Handfuls school, had some lunch and then Yasmeroly surprised us and we got to spend 3 hours with her. Then it was time to get down to work and paint the outside of the school, we ended up getting more paint on ourselves rather than the building :/. We swept up the inside of the school and then it was time for dinner. After dinner we got in the guagua and headed to the grocery store to get some food for the rest of the week and then we headed back to the hotel. Adios! Hasta Mañana
~ Josie

Grace Church DR Mission Trip - Day 6

Tuesday, August 1

So we only have 4 days left here and I can't even believe we're already at this point. Today was another very early morning since we had to go to 2 villages for Isaiah 58. The first village we went to was a small building with lots of kids so just imagine the lack of space we had for the skit. After we served breakfast to the children, did worship and our skit, we got prepared for some chaos with face paint, bubbles, and bracelets. The pastor that we met was very kind and he luckily spoke English (he was born and raised in Long Island) He showed nothing but love to everyone. In between the villages we went to a mall to kill time and some of us got normal food while some of us got The infamous "Yogen Fruz." Totally worth it. The second village was a little different. We walked through rocks, broken glass, and many many goats before we got to the main area. As we got to area where we would perform our tasks, we noticed a small arena where cock fights were held and it was very interesting. Everything went smooth while we were there in spite of the sweat dripping and flying off of my nose. We were done for the day at around 5 so we headed back to the hotel to either swim or sleep... unless you're me and Carson who went to the gym... for dinner we headed to an empanada place and let me tell ya... they were bangin. That was pretty much our day and were excited to make the best of our last few days here. See y'all back in America on Sunday🤙

Grace Church DR Mission Trip 2017 - Day 5

Monday, Day 5

Hey everyone! Today we woke up early to head to Catalina to pack food for Isaiah 58, then we went to a village to serve food, perform our skit, sing, and entertain the children with face paint, bracelet-making and coloring. After we finished serving in that village we went back to Catalina for lunch where we FINALLY met our youth group's sponsor child, Yasmeroly! Needless to say she was shown lots of love from all of us, which she returned to us in the form of giggles and sass. After hanging out with Yasmeroly, we went to another village where we also did Isaiah 58 and did the same activities as the village before (plus some of the villagers catching an iguana, which we ended up taking back to Catalina with us). Back in Catalina, we packed food for tomorrow's Isaiah 58 ministry and ate dinner and dessert which involved lots and lots  of laughs. We then drove back to the hotel and stopped at a grocery store on the way back to get some unhealthy snacks of course. Now we're back at the hotel eating those unhealthy snacks:) about to go to bed. 

- Rachel

Grace Church DR Mission Trip 2017 - Day 4

Sunday, Day Four 

Hey friends and family! Today in the DR the team started out with breakfast in the morning with omelettes, donuts, and fresh fruit galore. After our stomachs were full, we headed out to IBI church for a Sunday service, using headsets to transform the pastor's Spanish into words we can understand, minding the translator's hilarious mess-ups. After the service with amazing worship (there were three guitars!!!) we travelled to Krispy Kreme for a snack which was delish. We then headed back to the hotel for some rest; we watched Frozen in Spanish and played a few rounds of our favorite game, werewolf. We loaded up the bus again and headed to my favorite part of the Trip, the children's hospital. We split into two groups, one for singing and one for playing with puppets. We sang Eres Todo in every room and, as we continued through the hospital, the children's and parent's smiles grew wider and wider. We prayed for each sick child individually, hoping that one day God will set them free from illness. After the hospital, we practiced our skit (finally) until we had it down to a science. To end the day, we had a bite at a tropical restaurant. Overall, the day was great. Our prayer request ...for focus on the meaning of this trip and for health due to sunburn and headaches. 

Grace Church DR Mission Trip 2017 - Day 3

Grace Church Day Three,  Saturday

Hello everybody! Today was awesome. We started our day with a yummy breakfast and hopped on the bus to visit Catalina for the first time. Once we arrived, we dragged damaged desks out of classrooms and sanded them down to prepare them for a new coat of paint. We enjoyed a lunch of different types of sandwiches as well as a bunch of different types of fruit juice  (which we discovered I might be allergic to one of them... whoops). After lunch we headed to a small village called San José for our ministry called Isaiah 58. We sang, face-painted, colored, played soccer, handed out food, made bracelets, and prayed with the people. Eventually we headed back to the Handfuls of Hope house to bag food and clothes for future ministry trips. After that, we drove back to the capital for dinner at a chicken place, which was nice and all, but the best part was the Bon we had after. Bon is THE BEST place to get Yogen Fruz (frozen yogurt) in the entire Dominican Republic. 

Now we're all off to shower and pass out in our beds... So goodnight everyone! (I love you mommy and daddy ❤) 

Grace Church DR Mission Trip 2017

Grace Church Day Two (Friday)

Hey parents, family, and friends! Today was an action packed and beautiful day. We joined Liquid Church on the beach for their last day in the DR AND we had some special girls from Pasitos de Jesus 《the orphanage HOH works with》 join us for a fun filled day of swimming and beach games. Then we headed over to the orphanage with the girls for LOTS of dancing, singing, and a pizza party! It was an absolutely amazing day to say the least.  Now we are going to be heading back to the hotel soon to rehearse our skit and then get some rest for our busy day tomorrow! 

Grace Church DR Mission Trip 2017

Grace Church Day One, Thursday

Day One (?) is in the books. All of our travel from church to JFK to DR was uneventful and smooth. We arrived to the Santo Domingo airport and were greeted by Benjamin, who served as our host all day. We settled into the hotel and then went out to the market for shopping and lunch. Afterwards we walked the Colonial Zone, stopped at the Chocolate Museum and then ate dinner at a restaurant in the Capital. We went to the supermercado to buy food to make lunch for 100 people at tomorrow's event. After rehearsing the drama, we all turned into bed to catch up on our sleep.  We are tired but excited about being here and what all we will do the next 10 days. Pray for a good night's sleep, health and an openness to God's voice. 

Each day a different member of the team will write a wrap up of that day's events and any prayer requests we have. Tune in tomorrow night.

Liquid Church DR Mission Trip - Homeward Bound

It has been an incredible week. As we prepare to leave this wonderful island with its wonderful people, we do so with a new understanding of the word "heartstrings", as it refers to our deepest emotions and affections. Our heartstrings have certainly been tugged every which way and, safe to say, that each of us will carry a bit of this week's experience in our hearts for a very long time to come. We thank you for your prayers and support.

 Here is an update on our travel plans.  We have just learned that our flight from Santo Domingo will be delayed.



We now are scheduled to leave Santo Domingo at 6:22 PM, arriving at JFK at 10:15 PM

This should put us back in Mountainside at approximately 12:15 AM


Liquid Church DR Mission Trip - Day 7

Don't even know how to report today. The most emotional day of the week. Both Liquid and Grace groups went to the beach with the beautiful girls of Pasitos de Jesus.  Then we went to Pasitos for a pizza party. What followed was amazing. The singing, dramas and testimonies from Mama Dalma and several girls. Then out of nowhere Charina, the first girl Dalma welcomed in the home, a sweet girl with Down's syndrome gave her testimony. Kat did an amazing job translating. You see, Charina has never spoken before a group before or shown emotion. Not a dry eye in the place including Charina's sisters. God was clearly moving on so many hearts including one of our own girls who prayed to accept the Lord as Savior. Thank you Lord for letting us be there tonight. Well heading back to the hotel and then flying home tomorrow. Now we hand off to the amazing Grace Church team. I love you guys. 

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Liquid Church DR Mission Trip - Day 6

Today was the Liquid youth's last day of Isaiah 58 ministry. This morning this wonderful team went to Los Pinos. Then back to Catalina for lunch. We spent the afternoon playing with the kids of the Handfuls of Hope school. Great time that ended with Taco Salad for the sendoff dinner. Just a great day given to all by the Lord. Tonight we welcome the Grace Church Youth team. Can't wait to see everyone. 

For more photos, please visit our photo gallery