DR Journal - July 16, 2013

What an amazing day in Catalina!

Today was the first day of the 2013 Teacher's Conference hosted by Handfuls of Hope. Over the past three years,  our team has been blessed to have a team member who is a NJ Superintendent who is passionate about the Dominican Education System. Through an updated curriculum, our team is providing local teachers with limited resources access to updated curriculum and best practices to enhance the learning experience in the classroom. 

The VBS team visited two villages named Matanzas and Carreton to over two hundred people including children, youth and adults. 

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In Matanzas, we ministered to over one hundred children and forty teens and adults. It was great to see how engaged and open this town was to hear the Lord.  To start off, the children, teen and adult ministries all occurred in non-Christian homes.  To think non-Christians would open their homes and backyards to host bible studies and sing praises unto the Lord is pretty amazing.  What was even more exciting was the woman who allowed the young women and mothers to meet in her home accepted the Lord today. 

When we arrived at Carreton, there was not one child at VBS.  Simply said, the team was discouraged.  Were any children going to arrive? Instead of sitting and waiting.  Some members of the team decided to venture out throughout the village and invite children to VBS.  Suddenly, a swarm of children walked towards the team- all excited to attend VBS.  Not only did we minister to over one hundred children in Carreton, we also ministered to a group of forty team - the largest group of teens in all the villages.  Twenty of them were young men between the ages of 12-20 years old.

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HOH member sharing his testimony with teens in Carreton

Three members of our team had the opportunity to share their testimonies and spent time sharing God's love.  The coolest part was that all three testimonies were in spanish.  No translator needed. Jeff, one of the individuals on the team, explained, "For three Americans to speak for thirty minutes in Spanish is proof of God's spirit working through us to reach these young people and continue the work of God's Kingdom." These young men were engaged, hungry to learn more about the Lord. 

Back in Catalina, our construction crew was hard at work and committed to build the new school. We are excited to report that we are making great progress! The school buildings foundations are down, school walls up and the outdoor pavillion where students will eat lunch is underway. Still, it wasn't an easy process.  When the team arrived on site, a school wall collapsed overnight, there were not enough construction tools or supplies and the weather was extremely hot and no shade at the site.  People became discouraged and frustrated. Nothing seemed to go according to plan.  Then, one of the team members called "PT" (aka prayer time). Everyone stopped what they were doing, came together and prayed. It was amazing how prayer took our nerves away. We realized we had to give all our worries up to God.  After multiple "PTs," we found an electrical store to buy supplies we needed, the wall was up and everyone encouraged each other. In addition, our team also worked on renovation projects, painting the exterior and interior of the church building.

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Wall of pre-k and kindergarten building goes up

As always, we ask you to join us in prayer for tomorrow as we prepare to visit two villages, continue construction projects and enter day two of the teacher's conference. 

DR Journal, Monday 7/15/2013

Hola a nuestros hermanos y hermanas!

Today was an amazing and God filled day. There were many children ready to learn in the village of Catalina and La Noria. The excitment on their faces showed abundantly and you could feel the presence of the Lord in every step we took closer to them.

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Children of Catalina

We sang with them as they loudly praised to God. The sounds of their voices was amazing, it was beautiful, touching, it was God. The children sat attentively and learned about the story of David and Goliath, they all knew the story by heart and were thrilled to be able to participate in telling it with us. We helped them rehearse the scripture of Philippians 4:19 in Spanish and taught them how to say the verse in sign language as well.

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Filipenses 4:19 / Philippians 4:19

Mi Dios, pues, suplirá todo lo que os falta conforme á sus riquezas en gloria en Cristo Jesús.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
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It was a challenge for them, but a challenge they conquered and had a lot of fun doing so. Creatively we exercised their minds with arts and crafts. Using the verses separated on colorful stickers, color coordinated tongue depressors, string, and jewels, we helped make a craft they were able to take with them to remember this verse and know they are watched overLydia and Lindsey helping a child with his craft by our Lord Jesus Christ. Its always amazing to see God's work of perfection in each and every one of them, allowing him to use us as his vessels.

We sat together and ate lunch, which was a great experience. The food was tasty and the people are wonderful. Spending time with them is a blessing because they are such happy and faith-filled people, no matter the circumstances.

As we rode the bus on our way back to the hotel in Santo Domingo, there were multiple opportunites to preach to people on the street as we sat in traffic. We

provided them with Bibles as we passed and let the Lord work in his time. Every moment is the right moment when bringing someone closer to him.

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Men of La Noria

DR Journal Monday 7/15/2013 - Construction Team Update

Greetings from the sunny and tropical Dominican Republic .  Our first full day in the village of Catalina was super busy as the construction team sprang into action. Our major construction project is the Handfuls of Hope School building and the project is well underway. The foundation has been laid for the main school building, which will consist of five classrooms. The concrete floor is scheduled to be poured tomorrow but, before that can happen, the block foundation must be filled with dirt and tamped down to form a solid base for the concrete floor.

Truckload upon truckload of fill dirt was delivered to the site and our team worked tirelessly, shoveling, raking, and spreading the seemingly endless supply of dirt and rocks.  A front-end loader was supposed to be onsite but, due to mechanical  issues, the machine was not available, forcing the team to resort to plan B, moving tons of dirt and rocks by hand.

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Finally, late in the day, we were able to arrange for a machine to be brought onsite and not a moment too soon as the hot sun had sapped our energy to the point where it seemed impossible to finish the job.

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In the meantime, our carpentry team was busy preparing to start framing the walls of the new pre-school building which will consist of two classrooms and two bathrooms. As quickly as materials were delivered to the site, the team began cutting boards in preparation for assembly of the roof trusses. More updates to come...

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Ahhh... Sean helps to cool Rob down a bit with a block of ice from the cooler