Our first weekend back home

Well, it was a busy summer and a great time in the States for Em and me (Dustin), but we've arrived back home in the DR and have already been caught up in some exciting things! This past weekend I participated in Christian Surfers Dominican Republic's National Camp-Out, and Emily spent it translating progress reports on how the students are developing socially, personally, and educationally and being transformed by the gospel in her school. 

Christian Surfers DR Campout

When we started Christian Surfers in the Dominican Republic back in 2009, we had no idea the amazing things God would do. Seven years later we celebrated our sixth national camp-out with over 90 surfers camping out together and hearing the good news of Jesus Christ in conversations, worship, and messages. The thing that excited me most, however, was seeing the local leaders of the ministry step up and organize the event while loving on all these surfers. The majority of our leaders came from backgrounds where substance abuse was normal and was even a requirement to be a surfer. Now, this group of guys, who have all radically changed through their encounters with Christ, symbolizes the hope of Jesus for a new generation and we're seeing more and more young surfers put their faith in Jesus because of these guys' testimonies. This year we held the camp out at the location where we just recently relaunched our Santo Domingo chapter. Praise God for what he's doing in the Dominican Republic with surfers.

Jesús, one of Emily's coworkers. Every year as she translates progress reports, Emily is impressed by how he and the other teachers know their students well and care about their growth into who God created them to be.
Jesús, one of Emily's coworkers. Every year as she translates progress reports, Emily is impressed by how he and the other teachers know their students well and care about their growth into who God created them to be.

Kids Alive Progress Reports

One of the main components of Kids Alive International's sponsorship program is the annual progress report. Each year, the teachers fill out progress reports on their students' growth over the past year and any concerns they have about the student. They also share prayer requests for each student. This is an opportunity for our Christian teachers to share with the students' sponsors about how God is using Kids Alive to educate and raise a God-fearing generation here in the Dominican Republic. Emily translates nearly 150 of these reports every year to send to child sponsors in the US and Canada. One of the stories we'd like to share with you is from Emily's co-worker, Jesus. Yes, Emily has a co-worker whose name is Jesus. One of the girls in Jesus' 4th grade class has historically caused lots of issues at the school. She wouldn't do her work in the classroom, would distract other students, would get in fights a lot, lacked respect for pretty much everyone, and has been that way since she entered the school 5 years ago. And yet this year, Jesus was proud to report that she has become social, playful, has a better self-esteem, and that her behavior has improved a lot. She has been able to remain calm in situations which would have caused her to fight in the past, and she has made excellent strides in her classwork. We praise God for stories like this about lives being transformed in Caraballo!

We would also like to say another huge thank you to all of you who hosted us, shared meals with us, listened to our part of God's story, committed to supporting us, prayed over us, and encouraged us while were in the US last month. We were blessed beyond what we could have imagined. Thank you!

Haiti

Since the start of Christian Surfers Dominican Republic, Christian Surfers United States has played an important part in the growth of the ministry. The US has been sending mission teams and support to help us reach local Dominican Surfers for Jesus over the past seven years. The DR ministry has been growing strong and it has become time for the DR to help its’ neighbors.

I first went to Haiti in November of 2014. There, I visited Surf Haiti, the first organized surf school in the country. It was a short visit to the team there, but we were able to make a plan in order to grow the sport of surfing in the poorest nation of the Americas.

Junior Category getting ready to go!
Junior Category getting ready to go!
Sharing the gospel during the award ceremony.
Sharing the gospel during the award ceremony.

 The dream was that we were going to have a team from Christian Surfers DR go to Haiti to help put on the first surf contest in the history of Haiti. The contest would achieve numerous things:

1 - It would be the first contest in Haiti 2 - It would be a public show of the DR and Haiti working together despite a long history of conflict between the two nations 3 - It would allow CSDR to share the gospel of Christ to the growing surf community in Haiti 4 - The Dominicans could inspire young Haitian surfers to improve their own skills 5 - The Dominicans that work full time at surf schools in the DR could give advice to the young Haitian surf school

Morning bible study for the DR team.
Morning bible study for the DR team.

On April 29, four surfers from Christian Surfers DR arrived in Jacmel, Haiti, to help make this dream a reality. We had 5 categories of surf competition with over 35 competitors in total. There was also a large crowd on the beach that erupted in applause on each wave caught. We were able to give medals to the top three competitors in each category and share the gospel of Jesus Christ during the award ceremony. We’ve established a great friendship with Surf Haiti and pray that God allows us to continue in this successful partnership. We’re hoping to have a couple of the surfers from Surf Haiti come over to the DR for our annual surf contest in February.

Please pray that the gospel is able to impact this young surf community in Haiti and that we are able to support them as their neighbors. We would love to see Christian Surfers started someday in Jacmel, Haiti.

18 hr drive from Cabarete, DR to Jacmel, Haiti. ugh...
18 hr drive from Cabarete, DR to Jacmel, Haiti. ugh...

Profe, are you a millionaire?

Believe it or not, one of my students asked me that question not long ago! I bribed promised my students a party when they could read independently for 15 minutes without losing focus, and right before Christmas, they earned their party! I've put a few photos in this post that give you a glimpse of what our room looks like during our daily "Read to Self" time.

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For me, spending $15 to throw my students a party does not qualify me as a millionaire, but my ability to do that is a luxury in this country. So I assured my students that no, I am not a millionaire, and then I got to explain to them that I, like them, have sponsors who support me while I work at the school. So just like their sponsors help them go to school, my sponsors help me do things like buy new books for our class, get to and from school every day, and throw my students parties! Since our school has a strong child sponsorship program, my kids understood what I meant. 

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Their response? "You should be sure to say a BIIIIIIIIIG THANK YOU to your sponsors!"On party day, the kids came into school and I told them that we were going to watch Curious George. I then proceeded to tell them what I had brought them for their party: cookies, apples, juice, and a homemade cake. Their eyes got wide, they cheered, and one little boy asked, "Profe, are you a millionaire?" "No, why do you think that?" "Because you brought us SO MUCH STUFF for our party!"

IMG_4609After 6 1/2 years on the mission field, I am well aware that I literally could not be here if it weren't for you, my supporters, who faithfully give financially and uphold me in prayer. Living on support means learning to be a good steward and living within a small budget because we want to be responsible with your gifts. But it also means that when the opportunity arises to encourage others and invest in their lives, we are able to give (or throw a party!) as we feel led by the Holy Spirit because God uses you to provide for our financial needs. So thank you. A BIIIIIIIIG thank you! From my students, who are impacted by your giving in more ways than you know, and from me and Dustin, who are honored that God uses us to serve and uses you to send us.

And now, just for fun, here's a photo shoot that we'll call "the many feelings of 2nd grade" - enjoy!PicMonkey Collage