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, 17 September 2015

Updates and a dream

So, following on from February's post...wow that was a while ago... I can concur that I am still not God! However, the year has continued to be a crazy one, with more twists and turns in the legal documentation process (Dominican process to legalise all foreigners living in the DR, including Haitians...those not registered face deportation) than I ever though possible. Despite a lot of difficulties, pretty much everyone has documentation that allows them either more time for Haiti to issue the ID documents needed to complete the Dominican process, or a 2 year visa. SO, THAT'S FANTASTIC

During the year I learnt the meaning of perseverance, determination, hope and action.
It was really, really hard. But it is done. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to be here at this amazing time in Dominican history, and to everyone that gave their cash to make it possible to help so many people. By the end, there were people from 4 communities coming to me for help, and the pot never ran dry, I didn't have to turn anyone away due to lack of funds, and that is a real miracle.

The summer teams are going well, last one is nearly finished. The documentation finished after the second team arrived, so I'm excited to have a proper break next week and not have to be preparing for anything or thinking about anything! Its a bit like when the final exams finish at university and all of a sudden you have free time again, and can have a social life and hobbies! I am excited! IT has been a long time since I had a real break.

Summer teams have been going well. We have had team members aged 11-75 this summer, all kinds of different people, with different backgrounds and passions! Team members come for 2 weeks to serve the poor and help meet physical needs of others, sharing the love of God as they do so. We have sponsored and helped build 11 homes for families living in shacks, giving them a proper brick home with non leaking roof, toilet and running water. Temperatures have reached 48 degrees (with the humidity index) so its been very sweaty work!

The teams also provided the funds to keep the children's feeding program running throughout the summer in Ascencion Village. The children and elderly receive 3 hot meals a week at the feeding program - during school holidays this program feeds around 400 children, so without the mission teams there would have been some even hungrier tummies.
We also take teams to Christ Transforms Drug and Alcohol rehab centre, where team members are invited to share testimonies and encouragements with the men as they fight to break their addictions. Many team members also contribute to the finances of this centre, which receives no government funding. Teams make a real difference here. If you are interested in coming on a mission team next summer, then check out www.missiondirect.org

The BIG DREAM that I have for the next year though has to be Nazareth House. Nazareth House is a home where Sister Mercedes lives with her 15 children. Each of her children has a different disability. They are a family. The children don't leave when they reach 18, it is their family. For LIFE. Sister Mercedes has been living this way for 13 years, relying on God to provide for all of her needs. She rents a home, which has been up for sale for nearly 2 years. If it sells, they have no where to go. They need our help, and I have been pushing doors as hard as I can for the last year, trying to help be a part of the answer to the problem. Things are moving so slowly, but at least they are starting to move! Please join us in praying for a solution to the housing problem, as soon as I have some proper news I will blog about it and let you all know. Watch this space....!!

So, that's a little update from me...
Please be praying for Nazareth House and a solution to come soon!!
Thanks ;)


Friday, 27 February 2015

Maybe I did learn something at bible college!!

It's been a while since I wrote a post- some of you have noticed that, and others - shame on you- have not! How have you survived so long without an update from me?!! It must have been hard for you. Im sorry.

It seems like my trip to England was a very long time ago, I came back to the Dominican at the start of December and it has been a crazy, crazy non stop few months. I dont want to go into too much detail here, in the public domain, so any of you who dont know the drama that has been going on out here, please feel free to drop me an email at hopedominican@gmail.com and, depending on who you are, I will give you a heads up!

Since December, I've learnt a lot.
I've learnt that the concept of Numerical Order is not as straight forward as I though... I was raised to believe that numerical order is an absolute truth...that it goes like this... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10...
However, I discovered that for many of my friends here in the village of Esperanza, numerical order goes like this... 1, 11, 111, 12, 122, 13, 133, 14, 144... basically, any number starting with a 1 is smaller than any number starting with a 2 etc. Interesting. Frustrating when you are desperately trying to keep your files in house number order... Interesting though. They are so sure that they are right that I have almost given in to their system...!

I've also learnt that Im not God. Now...I knew this before - obviously - but I got to the point of being almost overwhelmed by the stress of the current task - and the finance side of it, aswell as the organisational and administrative side. Everything was building up and becoming very stressful - I was finding it hard to get to sleep, I was working crazy long hours, constantly thinking about everything that needs doing. Then it came to me. Im not God. I can only do what I can do, with the finances and resources that God has provided, for the people that are committed to doing their part to get the task done.
Sorry this is all a bit cryptic. I hope you all know what Im on about...

A few years ago I spent some time at Bristol Baptist College, I did half a masters in youth and community work with applied theology. During that course, we spent a lot of time looking at theological reflection. Posh words for Stepping back and seeing how God is involved in our everyday experiences. As my stress levels increased in January, I realised that this couldnt carry on or I would get burnt out. So, I tried it - I stepped back and asked God where He was, what His roles were in solving the big problem we are facing, and then where I fit in. It helped so much.

Realising that I am not God, and therefore can not do everything for everyone, has been very liberating. It doesnt mean I am sitting at home with my feet up, Im still working hard and putting in everything I have to help the village - but without the stress. Everytime I start to feel a bit stressed, I recite the word Perspective. It helps.

So, I dont know what the outcome of all of this will be - I dont know what is going to happen in the next few months, but I do know that if Im faithful in doing my part with what God gives me, putting my all into the task and  helping those I can, then the rest isnt really up to me.

Its true for all of you too. I know some of you are parents and are worried about your children, your marriages, your careers, your retirement, your health, your friends and your family...any number of things. Life is scary sometimes, no matter who we are or what we do or how strong our faith is. But...I just want to encourage you, when you are feeling overwhelmed, there is a God who is right there too - try stopping for a while and just asking Him where HE is in the situations that you are facing. Where is He, what is His heart, what is it that you are meant to do and what are you meant to trust Him to do... perspective. you are not God. I am not God. But God is God.