Villa Esperanza

Villa Esperanza

About Me - trying to live a life that is as full as it can possibly be - loving God & loving others

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Thursday, 12 December 2013

DIstance Makes the Heart...?

Distance makes the heart….what?
It’s funny how distance makes things seem rosier isn’t it! Often when Im in the DR I have fond memories of England. I contemplate England’s beauty, lovely people, fantastic food and characterful pubs. However, once I’m here I’m conscious of grey skies, dark mornings, dark evenings and not very many views to take in! Added to that the mad frenzied look in people’s eyes as they enter the Christmas Season… insane panic shopping, millions of parties, carol services, mince pies and general hectic business which seems to overwhelm the nation from mid November (when I arrive…) through to Dec 27th!
Then when Im in England I think about the DR and miss it’s sunshine, forgetting how horrendous the humidity and heat can be mid summer and how I used to dream of needing a duvet and hoody again! I pine away for the DR’s beaches (which I honestly hardly ever go too.) I miss the lovely supermarket and the friendly people who like to chat to me wherever I go. I forget that I have to speak Spanish there, I forget that sometimes I get weary of the repetitive conversations about my marital status and lack of children… I forget that actually its quite nice to be unnoticed sometimes.
Anyway, I have come to realize that no matter where in the world there will always be things that I miss, things that I don’t, people that I miss and people that I need a little break from! Being colourblind, I cant see pink but I definitely have the ability to see the world through rose tinted glasses! Or maybe the grass is always greener… don’t ask me, Im colourblind!
 Its strange to feel homesick for a country that has become home but isn’t your original home! It’s nice though, to feel like Im looking forward to being back on the Island that God has drawn me too. To be fair, I don’t really get homesick for anywhere, I just have moments of missing a person who happens to be 6000 miles from where I am.
That being said, I am having a nice time in England. I spent the first few weeks travelling around a bit and speaking at different churches and groups – talking about the work of Mission Direct and the work Im doing in Esperanza Village. People have been so kind to me, and Ive been amazed at how many little ‘coincidental’ meetings there have been with other people who have links to the Dominican too.
People have shown such interest in the work that God is leading in the DR, and it amazes me time and time again when people donate towards the work, or want to pray for me and the work. I have been moved many times by people’s interest and heart for people they have never met but are family with – God’s family is massive! Elderly people who want to take information to pray for young families in Esperanza – knowing that their prayers are so important. Its just been amazing to see my two worlds come together through the love and compassion of people willing to pray. Very humbling to be a part of.

Anyways, its nearly Christmas, Im looking forward to spending some time with my family before I hop back over to the DR in early January. Looking forward to being back there, to being told how white I am again and constantly being asked if I am ill… ‘no, we just don’t have the sunshine in England’ is my usual response. Almost true….


I hope and pray that 2013 has been a year where you and I have learnt new things to take with us into 2014. I pray that God will continue to teach, shape and mould us all as we try to love and serve Him and those around us. I hope that 2014 is a year where we all draw closer to God and learn more about Him and His heart for the world around us. I am just full of hope for the year and years to come. No one knows what the next year will bring, and that can be really scarey, but with those rose tinted glasses and a little faith in a great God, I know that whatever may come it will be an adventure! 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Amazed by YOUR kindness

 
Life has been as fun and busy as always out in the DR. The last mission team hopped on their plane and flew away two weeks ago. Since then I've had time to get back to the village I love so much and spend time there with my friends and the community. Being away for so long, working with teams, has really shown me how much I care about the village, and I believe that God has put a big Esperanza Shaped Hole in my heart. I love spending time talking with people there, helping them wherever I can and just being there with them. I've said before how hard it is to explain exactly what it si I do - its kind of a cross between being a youth worker, social worker, pastoral carer, bringer of food, problem solver, joker etc etc.


Two weeks ago I was asked to help the students who are now too old for the school in the village. They graduated grade 8 and they are the first cohort of students to do ao. The nearest secondary school is a long walk away and it just wouldn't be possible for the students to walk there and back every day. I had known that this challenge was coming, but I had been so busy with teams all summer that it kind of slipped my mind... so there we were, on the Thursday before school started back, with no transport and students wanting to learn but having no real opportunity. For families in Esperanza, the cost of sending someone to the school and back would be impossible. It's about the same as 8 pounds, or $12 US Dollars a week. The vast majority of the village wouldn't be able to afford it.

I am a great believer in education, and so to think that students don't have that opportunity to further themselves and potentially change their futures due to lack of transport money was pretty grim! So... in desperation, after doing some maths, I turned to the wonderful thing that is facebook to see if people might be able to help me help the students get to school. I really don't like asking people directly for money, but then I remember that Im not asking for me, Im asking for people who cant ask for themselves. When I get my mind straight and realize that we are all a part of this big world together, it helps!

 Anyway, the response was amazing! Lots of people responded with everything from one week's transport being paid for, to one year, toongoing monthly commitments being made! I am overwhelmed at the kindness of people thousands of miles away, and at the encouragement that I believe this is to me to carry on! Jesus tells us in the bible, in Matthew that we don't need to worry and that God will provide for all of our real needs - I still struggle sometimes not to worry a little when I see a big need and have no idea how I am going to deal with it.  This last week or two has shown me again that God sees the work here and He will provide for his children here - in school transport this time!

Im also excited by the kindness of the motorbike taxi drivers in the village. Im paying them each just under half what they would usually charge to take someone to the school and back, because that is enough to cover their gas and give them a tiny bit more on top - they all agreed that they want to help me to help their village, and that if more money comes in they will get a bit more. Their kindness, when they too are living in poverty, is so humbling. They could of stood together and demanded more, and what choice would I of had? But they know how important education is, and they want to help me help their young people too.









Working together - it's pretty sweet!!! 

SO, thank you so much for helping, and for reading, and for praying! I really do appreciate you all!

2 months until Im back in the UK, looking forward to seeing as many of you as I possibly can in that time!!

C xxx

Friday, 6 September 2013

A thumb for $100

Something that I love and hate, in almost equal measure, is that living here you never ever know what might be in store during the day. In the UK I had an office job, which was fairly mundane and almost always the same. I had a predictable pattern to my life, and I think I sort of liked it.... But over the last few years I have discovered the 'joy' of never knowing what lies ahead! It does make for some exciting days, and for some upsetting ones! 

Last week I was with the Mission Team, showing them where the family they had been building a new home for was moving from. We visited their old shack, spent time in the community, and just as we were about to leave I was introduced to a little boy. This boy was about to change my day, and I was about to have the privileged of changing his! He had a really badly infected thumb. Swollen so badly that it looked more like a disfigured big toe than a thumb. I was amazed! 

The team went back to the hotel, to enjoy a couple of hours of swimming and free time to celebrate the end of their hard work... I went off to the hospital with Davidson - after finding someone else to lend him a pair of flip flops, as he had none. Alessandro, my Italian friend, drove us to the hospital, where Davidson was treated to a coke and a bag of crisps - he hadnt eaten anything yet that day. He also used a flushing toilet for the first time in his 7 year existence! 

The doctor did his thing, pus oozed everywhere, Davidson screamed and wailed and got really distressed which was horrible - but ultimately he had to have his thumb drained or risk loosing it or getting a nasty blood infection. The nice part was I got an amazing hug when it was done.... 

Then it was off to the pharmacy to buy his antibiotics and painkiller and new dressings. We took him back to the community and told 3 people exactly how he needed to take his meds, and how to clean and care for his thumb... All in all it cost $100 dollars. 

Part of me felt cross that his thumb had gotten into that state - caused by a splinter! But when you realise that his Mother has no job and that there is no doctor popping into the community and no clinic there - that transport to get to the nearest clinic would be more than she could afford, never mind the medicine etc, it does make you think doesnt it. Life isnt as easy and simple as we often think it is. You never know what the day ahead might bring....

Its exciting to think that for a few dollars you can save someones thumb from being amputated.... its also a massive responsibility to keep your eyes open for what the real needs are around you! 

Im not adding photos because they are gross and you might be about to eat some greeny/yellowey soupy type thing....!!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Time to get inspired!

24 hours ago I was with Mission DIrect team 4, dedicating the two homes that they had sponsored to two beautiful families. We visited the shacks that the families were moving from and got a real insight into the massive difference that these new homes would make to them.
The homes may not look all that amazing to us, in our European/North American eyes, but compared to mud floor, tin shacks that leak every time it rains and have to toilets, the homes are palacial.

The homes are a free gift to the people, they dont have to pay any rent, which means that the tiny incomes the families may be able to scrape together can now be spent on food or other essentials. This makes a massive difference, as does the fact that the new homes are built in new communities, where we also build medical clinics, schools and churches. The aim of the Samaritan Foundation is to improove people's lives, not just give them a new house.

Team 4 were a lovely team, they were committed to getting the job done, and to serving the people here in any way they could. They were flexible and helpful and that truely was a blessing to me as their leader, and to the people here.

Having worked with mission teams for the last 3 1/2 years, in the same area, I have met some amazing people! There is one lady that I would like to tell you about today, because she never ceases to inspire me. I have heard her share her life story dozens of times, but it still makes me smile, feel inspired and sometimes shed a tear or two. This lady is one of my heroes of the faith, and its time you got to hear more about her....

Sister Mercedes!!!!

She is a normal lady, living a devout life as a nun in the Dominican. One day she felt God calling her to begin working with disabled children, so she went to help at a children’s home. After 3 months Sister Mercedes returned to live in her nunnery. People around her kept asking her why she didn’t start her own home for abandoned children and orphans. Sister Mercedes was pretty reluctant to take on such a massive commitment alone, but God kept putting it on her heart and mind…. So after much prayer, reluctantly but obediently, Sister Mercedes opened a children’s home, called Nazareth House. She started 11 years ago with 5 children, and today has 18 children living with her. 16 of the children have physical and mental disabilities; only 7 of the children are able to attend school.
Sister Mercedes has no regular financial support from anyone and is totally, 100% reliant on God for everything – for her own personal needs and for the needs of her 18 children and 4 staff. The Dominican governments don’t support Sister Mercedes; there are no government benefits or social healthcare available to her and the children. Medication is expensive, and most of the children need lots of medication due to their complex disabilities. To trust in God and to step out in such real, dependent faith for His constant provision – not just for your own needs but for those of so many others too – that is inspiring faith. Sister Mercedes doesn’t have a big bank account waiting as a back-up if God falls through one day. If there is no money, they don’t eat. If there is no money they can’t pay their rent. She lives on the edge, but without stress!
Nazareth House is not an institution, it is Sister Mercedes own home, which she shares with her 18 children. The children call her Mum. She doesn’t get to have a day off. She loves her children completely and sacrificially and she had no idea that this would be God’s call for her life.
She is one of the most humble women I have ever met, doing an amazing and beautiful thing to serve God and his people. Her love for God and conviction to care for the children that no one else wanted is what makes Sister Mercedes my hero of the faith.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 v19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
… Moving on to verse 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Sister Mercedes is someone who embodies this passage. She prays, she doesn’t worry. She knows her Father will provide, and He does.

When the Holy Spirit tugs at your heart, you have to act. It is a dangerous thing to ignore God. Many of the people I work with here have similar testimonies as to how they ended up working full time in missions – most of us were a little reluctant but were obedient in a small way, which God used to lead us into bigger things. Be faithful in the little things, God has a BIG adventure in store for each and every one of us – it might not be to open a Nazareth House, but you never know!!!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Learning....

Its August which means two things....1.The Dominican is CRAZY hot and HUMID 2.Mission teams are here from England, building homes....! Now in England its not ever crazy hot or humid, even though English people like to moan about the weather, their idea of hot is nothing close to the DR's idea of hot! We have all been working really hard in the hot sun, sweating like pigs! There have been some stinky stinky bus rides back to the hotel after construction sessions!!

Since June I've been working with teams solidly, building basic housing for those living in shacks. Giving people a home is an amazing thing, and house dedication day makes all the hot construction well worth the effort, even though construction is not something that I get overly excited by anymore! The end justifies the means, and on Monday we are giving two more families new homes. So far this summer the organisation I am here with has given 4 homes, with another 4 about to be handed over in the next 3 weeks.
Every mission team is different and has a different character to it. Each group of people notice new and different things - everyone has a different perspective on what they see and experience here, even though most teams are doing similar activities. It excites me to see teams really trying to understand the situation that people here are living in, trying to understand why it is hard for many Haitian people to find work in the Dominican, trying to understand a little of the daily struggles that thousands of people here face. Its so different to British life and culture and it takes a while to even begin to understand life here. Ive been here 3 1/2 years and still dont claim to understand!

What excites me is when people on teams ask questions, to try and gain understanding, instead of making assumptions. We see people sitting around and our first assumption might be that people are lazy and cant be bothered to go to work... when we ask questions we begin to discover why people arent working - without the legal documention required it is almost impossible to find fairly paid employment. Transport to get out of the villages we work in costs at least an hours wage, if not more.

My hope is that we all continue to ask questions, and to learn and discover more and more. Understanding leads to compassion, empathy and action.

The current mission ream have 4 more days here with us, they are a fantastic group, full of questions and willing to serve and get involved. We almost managed to wear them out yesterday, with two days of full-on construction... today they are recovering! Im recoving too...! Then I have 5 day and the next team arrives for two weeks! Summer is busy, busy, busy, but worth the exhaustion!!

Im hoping that the next batch of 28 birth certificates will be ready to distribute, along with the 6 passports being ready to collect next week too... ! Seeing the fruit of ones labor is SUCH FUN!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Esperanza today

Today i had a lot of fun in esperanza! This little video shows the creative fun you can have with an old wooden seat!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAWlMGy3l0w&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Monday, 1 July 2013

Random Update!

It's been a while since I wrote anything...life out here has been really really busy!
Today is my first day on my own since....19th May! I've had a really good time, mostly, though. Im not complaining! I had a lady from Mission DIrect come to investigate brining medical teams to the DR, which turned out to be a much better visit than i though it was going to be!! Then my friend Caroline came to visit for two weeks - which was great fun. I really enjoyed showing her my DR life. Caroline's visit was a real encouragement to me - thank you CAROLINE. During the time that Caroline was here we received back another 3 passports for 3 men from Esperanza village - 3 isnt 300 but it is another 3 people a step further to legal rights to work in the DR, and thats exciting.

After Caroline's visit came the next MD team, who did a great job working on the house they sponsored, aswell as all the afternoon ministry projects. The family that were receiving the home have a disabled son, so the team dug deep and raised the money to buy him his first wheelchair, meaning that his family wont have to carry him in a hammock anymore! They also built a little ramp into the hosue for him, so that he can have some freedom to come ina nd out alone. I really love ti when teams see an individual need and manage to help meet it. It really encourages me. God uses us in so many different ways!

I found the team really tiring too this time around - I dont know if its my age....now im the OTHER side of 30... or if some times its just more tiring than others!

This last week Ive been showing the regional manager from the Mission Direct office around, helping her to get an understanding of what MD are up too out here. I've also been up in Esperanza village, trying to help to support some ladies in the village as they care for a gentleman who is dying. He has no family and they have no money to buy soap to clean his dirty sheets and other basic things like that. Being able to help at times like this is really important and I always feel blessed to be able to help in these situations. I went to visit the man on Friday and spent time praying with him, talking to him about God and helping with some of his basic needs. HIs neighbour ladies are lovely and are doing a great job at cleaning him and making sure he is as comfortable as he could be. Things are so very different in the UK, with institutions and professionals involved - but this man is being loved and I guess thats what matters most really....

The next MD team comes on Monday - this is busy season for teams now - Im really blessed to have Bob and Alison here leading with me for the next couple of teams - sharing some of the challenges, excitments and paperwork!! Please keep the three of us in your prayers over the coming months!

I cant think of much else to say right now - life is busy but fantastic. I love what Im doing, Im doing what I love and I think that is an amazing thing to be able to say!!
Send me an email, tell me how life is for you!!

Claire x

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Tree Frog Tragedy

Hello dear Blog fiends!!
Well, its Saturday morning and its HOT and Im still in my PJ's at 10:30am! Yep, Im having a lazy Saturday! The sad thing is that you cant stay lazy for too long because just sitting still you end up sweaty and smelly! Nice hey....

Today Im heading to the beach with a friend and her family who are here visiting. We are taking 6 kids from one of the villages with us too, so who knows what might happen! The kids get pretty excited about swimming in the sea - which is a bit of a concern as that excitment isnt always matched with skill...so I guess we will all be swimming...! Excellent, no need to shower before i go then!!

I had a sad experience this week, boo... you may remember reading my post awhile ago about the potato frog? Well, this too involved frogs... I have a friendly tree frog, called Henry, who likes to hang out on the balcony at night with me and keep me company. We have a little chat about the day and just enjoy being together. Well.... I got up the other morning and there was something on the floor by the bathroom door... I put on my glasses and discovered that it was Henry - with one leg squished! Tragedy of tragedies, he looked like he was dead. Now, I have learnt from the past frog experience and so I assumed nothing - and got a piece of paper to probe him with. I probed and he didnt move, so I decided he was indeed deceased. I went to pick him up and he jumped!! I let out a startled shriek and then went to find a container to move him in. I put him outside, so that he could go back to his usual home on the balcony. I went to work.... I came home from work and he was missing. I havent seen him since. That was on Tuesday. I feel very sad that my friend has gone. I just hope that he has moved on and found a new play mate to hang out with at night and discuss the day... I cant bear the thought that he is no more ;(

And in serious news.... This last month has been a bit of a strange one really! Ive moved house again, but havent really unpacked yet so Im not really feeling very settled here. There have been a few problems with housing recently and its left me a little unsettled in general - so Im not sure if Im going to stay in this apartment or move out again.... having a choice is an amazing blessing but also means Im not quite sure what the best choice is...!!
Ive had a problem with my back, which is now all better, but for a while I thought I had been bitten by a deadly spider - even though there arent any here- as my whole leg went numb for about 3 weeks! After a hospital trip, x rays and MRI it turned out I had herniated a disc in my back. I bonded on a whole new level with my friend Megan as she then had to inject my behind every night for 5 nights.... we had to google how to do an injection, which was quite fun. Healthcare here is just a little different hey!! Anyway, my back is fine now and my leg is too ;) horrah ;)

Then I got strep throat,,, which was pretty painful, but Im pretty much over that now too! Everything seemed to happen at once, but thats good because I didnt have a team in adn could take a few days off to get better ;)

Lessons learnt this month -
Tree frogs belong outside! If Henry hadnt been trying to use the bathroom inside his leg would never of been crushed.
Im getting old and can no longer lift 94lb bags of cement without damaging myself
Medical care in the UK is fantastic, despite our moans, the NHS is amazing really.
Sometimes you need to take a few days out to recooperate, and thats ok!!

So, thats a bit of a random blog, but its been a bit of a random month in DR world!!

Im looking forward to my friend Caroline's visit later this month - shes coming for two weeks and hopefully will be able to help teach the staff at the special needs orphanages some basic physio that they can do with the children to help improve their quality of lfie a little.

ALso looking forward to Bob and Alison coming out for 3 months to work with me in leading the bigger summer teams for Mission Direct. It will be good to have a team of leaders working together, and supporting each other ;)

Toodle Pip

xx


Monday, 15 April 2013

Easter Is Over

Hey World, how are you all?!
Its been a little while! Ive been leading a mission team for the last 2 weeks. We had a team of 10 people, aged 7-73, from all over the UK and USA. The team bonded well and got stuck in with all of the building work and projects really well. There wasnt much moaning...!! Probably more moaning from me than from anyone else actually!!

The team did a good job, and we almost managed without a hospital trip...but sadly no. The penultimate day saw us head off to check out one team members allergic reaction which had caused her face and arms to swell pretty seriously. Few injections later and we were off again though ;)

There are lots of things I could write about, but I think the thing that spoke to ME the most this two weeks was the need to put God first and the relationship with Him which needs to be jealously guarded sometimes. In our team quiet times we kept coming back to the need to focus on Jesus - which sounds so obvious, but sometimes it is really easy to get so caught up in doing good things, or even in serving in missions, that you kind of side step the very reason that your doing the good things in the first place. Does that make sense? I fear it does!! Somw of the team were talking about wanting to come back and be in the Dominican for longer - and maybe that is the right thing for them - but what we all kept being led back too was the face that our emotions need to be treated with caution! God can and does use our emotions, but sometimes when we follow our emotions we just get carried away with things, and actually we need to slow down and take a step back and just wait on God. Thats what we talked about anyways ;)

We also did the Harlem Shake - go to you tube and type in Harlem Shake dom rep  It makes me laugh every time ;)

x thanks for reading x

Friday, 29 March 2013

Tha calm before the madness!

Hello and Happy Easter!!

This whole week has been really busy in DR life! Which makes it feel quite strange that today is quiet! Today is good friday and its a public holiday here so everything is closed. The weather has changed and turned cold and wet, and its very quiet outside!!

In contrast to a week that has been really humid and hot, with so many jobs to get done and manic rushing around to do...! I think Ive spent at least 7 hours on the back of motorbike taxis this week, going from village to village, travelling through the sugar cane fields and up mountain paths! I truely do appreciate the beauty of the DR countryside! I just dont appreciate the rough dirt roads!!

Yesterday I had a meeting to obtain the next batch of birth certificates - 53 more for Esperanza, which is amazing! It is such an encouragement to me to see people in the UK getting a hold of this vision and really supporting it! My church did a fund raiser last week and raised enough for another bunch too! Thanks to all of you who have helped in any way with this - through prayer, or through donating. Its amazing, last year when I was collecting peoples information in the village they were all asking me what it was for. I explained that I had a dream and that it was a BIG dream. I said I didnt know if it would happen but that I believed it was right to try and get them all legal papers. I said that we all needed to join together and ask God to help us as I didnt have any money to do this project. The people all looked at me a little sceptically and agreed to ask God to help us. So every time that I get to hand over a birth certificate or a visa or a passport we all get to be reminded that God has heard our prayers and that God loves them and has put it on the hearts of the people in other countries to help us here! Pretty cool hey ;)

SO today is a bit of a quiet day, although Im off to a friends house later on.
Sunday is the first Mission Direct team of the year to the DR. There will be 10 of them coming to help serve the people here and to serve God. We hope to make a difference in the lives of lots of people over the next two weeks - we will be building a home for a family, taking them out of a shack and into a brick home! We will be visiting schools, a drug rehab center, childrens programs, feeding programs and all kinds of other things too! Please keep us in your prayers over the next two weeks - Im the only leader for this team, so good health for me and plenty of energy would be fantastic too!

Have a great Easter, remember what this weekend is really all about (no, not chocolate, bunnies and hot cross buns.....)

Claire x

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Dedication Day




These photos were taken yesterday at Esperanza Village dedication day.
I first came to the DR in July 2009 and spent 2 weeks helping to build 3 homes in this village. Those homes were number 10, 11 & 12. At that time, the villagers were living in tin shacks, with wood, oil drums and rubbish bags as their building materials. Most of their floors were mud.

Yesterday, we celebrated over 4 years of hard work, resulting in the whole original village now having a proper home, made of brick with zinc roofs. These homes are built by The Samaritan Foundation, in partnership with Mission DIrect and many many churches, organisations and individuals across the world. Each home has a sponsor  the Samaritan Foundation doesnt have money to pay for homes, clinics, schools or churches unless individulas donate and sponsor them.

Esperanza is still a struggling community, but yesterday we stood together and celebrated God's goodness in being able to build 260 homes there. Thank you to everyone that has been here on a trip or sent money or supported me or helped in any way with the construction of the homes, school, clinic, church and shops in this community. Your love in action has helped to show this community that they are not forgotten and that the world knows about them and cares for them.

The physical building work is done, but there is so much we can still do to help this community. FOr many of the people they dont have any legal identification - wothout which they have no rights. We had 7 people from the village taken to Haiti last week by the immigration police. These people werent doing anything criminal and all of them were even born in the DR. They need our help to join together with them and get legal papers - birth certificates, passports and visas, to enable them to live and work here in the DR.

If anyone is able to help with any financial gifts, please email me at hopedominican@gmail.com
If you are able to pray for this massive project then please do, please join with me in asking God to make a way for these beautiful people to have a different future.

Thank you so much for reading and for celebrating the successes with me!!!

Claire

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hard Days


There is no doubt about it, this has been a hard week! Last Thursday night a young woman from Esperanza died during a C Section in the hospital. She was only 6 or 7 months pregnant and so the baby is in the special baby room in the hospital. She also has 4 other children who are 8, 7, 3 and 1 1/2. One of the children's father is around, I dont know about the others....

Friday was probably the hardest day since Ive lived in the DR - seeing the pain, suffering and confusion of the children, and then being at the hospital and getting totally frustrated with the staff there who woudlnt talk to me...argh!!! Sometimes it is really frustrating living here...! Realising that there are no social services who are going to get involved with this baby or the other children, that all the processes we have set up in the UK to safeguard these really vulnrable kids - these things just dont happen here. Heartbreaking and tragic, and all kinds of other feelings too!!

The 4 children are now living in 2 different villages, 2 in Chichigua and 2 in La Vagia. They are living with a godmother and a aunt. I dont know these women, but I pray that they are good women who will care for and love the children...

As for the baby, well, he is still in the hospital but apparently he can come home in the next few days... home....where on earth is his home? His mother is dead and his father might not be his father and doesnt want him. This baby is only a few days old - poor little guy doesnt even have a name yet! Please, please, please join me in praying for someone suitable to come forward to care for him. Someone that will love him and provide for him and cherish him as the gift that he is. Im a bit tempted to look after him myself, but I know that as a single woman I cant adopt him here, and therefore I would never be able to leave the island again!!! uuurrr...no!!

In the positive news.... the working visas arrived back from Haiti!! Horrah!! So that means that there are now 6 of the working men who are officially LEGALLY in the DR for the first time in their lives!!!! 6 men is a start, we have about 2000 more to get, but as I tell the people in the village, God knows our needs and as He enables us we will get more and we will keep working until God tells us to stop!!

SO, please pray for...
The unnamed baby and a carer for him.
THANK GOD for the visas coming and the hope that has brought to the village.
Please pray for more wisdom for me in tryign to help but not interfere with the dramas in the village!
Please pray for the 4 children who are adjusting to new homes, apart from each other, and the death of their Mumma.

Thank you and Im sorry if Ive made you sad. A week like this certainly adds perspective to my life and to what I think my troubles are!! Maybe you coudl take a moment and just realise how blessed we really are that we grew up in places that have child protection services, foster parents and all kinds of official bodies that step in and help at a time of emergency. It is such a blessing.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Happy Christmas...in February!

Well... its early February but Ive been out delivering Christmas pressies! I felt a little like Mumma Christmas... Over my time in the UK this winter I was privileged to be able to speak at various different churches, youth groups, fund raisers, dinners etc etc and share some of the stories of the beautiful people in Esperanza and the Dominican Republic. What really blessed me was how interested people all seemed to be! Either Brits are all fantastic actors, or God was on the move!

For the past 2 years now Ive taken my good friend Megan's gift catalog idea and tried to use it to help fundraise for items for people living in poverty who need a little helping hand. It means that the nice people in England give a donation for something- like a bed, a birth certificate, food, a goat, passports, working visas etc, then I get the money, come to the DR and go and make the purchases. Then the best part comes, when I get to deliver the item to those who really need it - whose lives it will impact and improve, who I get to tell that God loves them and so does someone in England!

So the challenge today was to purchase goats. Ive never purchased a goat before, or had any close dealings with a goat, apart from when I was about 5 and a goat tried to eat my sleeve...tut. At one point I was imagining myself on a motorbike taxi, clinging on to two small goats...but fortunately that didnt happen. Danni, who is the only person in Esperanza wirh a truck, kindly drove to the place where the goats were, and loaded them into his truck. Phew. He has a leg in plaster and a flat tire on his truck, so I decided I wouldn't go along for the ride...! The goats arrived and everyone was pretty excited, which was fun to watch. The family of goats are now in Esperanza, enjoying an ocean view and in the loving care of Bernardo and his father Fernando. The hope is they will be used for milk and possibly breeding - producing mroe income for the family.

In the last few days I have also been able to purchase a new bed for a man who claims to be 104 years old! He just arrived in Ascencion village one day last week with no family, no possessions, nothing but his faith in God and a smile on his face. The people of Ascencion - which is another Samaritan Foundation village - have loved him and taken him in to one of their homes. It never ceases to amaze me how people living in poverty are so kind and generous with the little that they do have. I learn so much from their generosity and value of human life. It is humbling to witness.

Today we tried to get the first 6 working visas for the people in Esperanza too - without a current passport and working visa the people - who are of Haitian descent- cant legally work in the Dominican. Through donations given this winter we have the money to get some passports and visas - which is so fantastic! If people cant work they have such limited opportunities. I will have to wait until later this week to find out if the visas worked or not...!

So right now is a pretty exciting time! Thank you to everyone who made Alternative Christmas Gift purchases - I am so very aware that without your support and financial gifts I could not do what i am doing. It never ceases to amaze me how God uses all of us together to carry out His plans, each part working together - its such a privilege for me to be here, and I thank God and my supporters every day.

IM not sure what tomorrow will bring, but out here its usually not quite what I think its going to be anyway!! Goodnight & Sleep tight!!

To God be the glory!



Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Diary of a Delirious diva...!!




I was eating breakfast, sitting on the sofa, when I noticed what appeared to be a large potato on the floor. ‘That’s odd’ I thought, ‘I cook at the other end of the room, and I don’t even have any potatoes….’  There was no (logical) way that this could be a potato. Further investigation was clearly required. Now, if I was a married type I would definitely declare this a Man’s Job, to investigate UO’s (Unidentified Objects), but alas, as a Single this too is my job. If I had confirmation that this was a snake, rodent or other large monstrous critter than I would declare this a Grounds Man’s job/Office worker/Security Guard/ANYONE BUT ME job. But the potential potato really wasn’t appearing that threatening.

I advanced, feet clad securely in uber-safe Flip Flops, armed with a long Poking Stick (aka a coat hanger). I tentatively prodded the ‘Potato’ and retracted to watch for results. The ‘Potato’ responded by sticking out its tongue. Interesting. Potatoes don’t usually have tongues.

I retreated to a safe distance to contemplate and consider my various  options.  Deciding that, with only 5 minutes until I had to leave for work, time was of the essence, action was needed…I gathered the necessary equipment -  an empty, flattened cereal box and a large Tupperware container.  I poked with the box and the Potato Leapt into the air. It transpired the Potato was indeed a rather large and disgruntled frog!!

So, armed with this knowledge, I proceeded to Man Up to the task, and emitting only one small squeal of distress, I ushered the Gigantic Frog Monster into the Tupperware and out to the balcony. Gently putting the container on the floor I backed away with hands held up in a gesture of peace. Then, safely inside, I slid shut the glass door and heaved a sigh of relief. My work here was done; with seconds to spare I scampered from the Frog Free apartment and off to Esperanza for the day. Ahhhh,

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Life is a Rollercoaster, just gotta ride it!

So I guess my blog titles will all be linked to songs!

I've been back in the Dominican for 5 days now, spent 2 days in the village, a day unpacking and food buying, had some meetings with people, caught up with some friends, and had Sunday!

I found it hard in the village this time around - its really hard for me to always be thinking with a long term perspective - how do we really help people who are living in poverty. When that is an abstract question it might be easier to answer than when you are talking about your actual daily life. Tomorrow morning when I go to Esperanza, how do I help my FRIENDS there who are living in POVERTY? What can I offer them or do for them and with them, to help and empower them to change their futures... that is the challenge, and it happens every single day here.

Im trying hard to think with my head, not just act with my heart - but I certainly dont always succeed. It's hard to not give a loan to someone when they ask for it, but when you know they have no possible way of repaying it, and they already owe you a loan...what would Jesus Do? What is the right thing to do? Its a toughie!!

I listen to other missionary type friends discussing these things, talking about what they think is best, about real development work and sustainable projects and things like that. Sometimes I just feel so out of my depth and overwhelmed! But then other days I feel like I am part of something so much bigger that really is making a difference here - the thing that I have been reminded of this weekend though is that God is with me. God says we shoudl ask for wisdom and He will give us it, and that is what Im doing. I know I dont have the answers, I know that God does. Im trying to walk in faithful obedience to Him and to His call on my life.

This all sounds like Im being negative, Im not- its good and helpful to think!!

Today I wore a new white t shirt to church - its nice to have new clothes (post England trip!!). I was carrying my friends baby up the path to church, turned around to wait for my friends to catch me up and.... SPLAT. A MASSIVE bird Poo - landed right on my shoulder, making my lovely new white shirt now a Two Tone shirt, with a massive, obvious and gloopy poo on me.... great start hey!!

I guess you just gotta laugh ;)