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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Friday, 30 December 2016

Time to Reflect

Shockingly (or not, if you follow my blog...) it has been well over a year since I wrote anything. OOPS and SORRY.
I tried to write a post a while ago, but the pressure to come up with something inspiring was a little too great. Thats the trouble of leaving it so long....

It's the time of year where people have meaningful conversations, full of reflections of the year passing by and dreams for the one to come. I'm in the Dominican, sitting in the breeze on the porch, surrounded by trees, birds and mosquitoes. It's strange to have Christmas and new year in a warm country, when you come from England - anything but warm!

My reflections on the year gone by are mostly positive ones. 2016 has been a good year for me and the work I get to do out here. Here are some of my highlights...

The clinic in Esperanza was reopened in April - earlier in the year I partnered with Go MAD ministries (Go Make A Difference), a ministry run by some good friends of mine here. Working together meant we could open the clinic, and so we now get to have Dr Katz and Anairis the nurse come to the village every week. We treat around 25 patients each Friday, seeing everyone from newborn babies to senior citizens. It really excites me to be able to help provide medical care to those in need of it.

Since the start of the new school year in August we have been sending a whole bus of students to the near by secondary school! The number of students graduating from Grade 8 in the village school has meant that we now have too many to go on motorbike taxis. Seeing whole year groups of students going to secondary school is fantastic. Most of the families in Esperanza could not afford the daily transport cost to enable their children to continue in education, and this is one program that I am really passionate about. I always took my education for granted, and didnt even like going to school sometimes. Education is so very important though, in fighting poverty and exploitation. In creating future opportunities and being eligible for employment.

The summer Mission Direct teams worked really hard, digging a water line to enable us to provide clean water to a very remote community called Severet. This village has around 100 families, and without clean water their health and well being was being jeopardized. The teams did well, and it was fantastic to be able to celebrate the completion of the water line with a big community celebration day - we even hired a bouncy castle!

Another highlight for me was serving on my church leadership team and seeing our community outreach program start to develop. It's an interesting location to be reaching out in - many of the english speakers here are not people I have a whole lot in common with. That doesnt mean they dont need Jesus though, and so being creative in ways of getting to know more people has been fun and rewarding. MOst weeks a small team of us take part in a charty trivia quiz, making new friends and realising how little we know about trivia...

The big challenge since the summer has been funding for the Esperanza village school - the main source of funding was ending this month, and it wasn't looking too promising. I was wondering how God was going to move, whether the school would have to close, or just how on earth it would be possible to find the extra $3000 per month that it would take to keep it open. I fully knew and trusted that God was seeing the situation, but also fully knew that just because I wanted th school to stay open, didnt mean it would. Massive answer to prayer came when the Dominican govenment agreed to pay the teachers salaries!! We dont know how long for, it could be for a month or it could be for 30 years, no clue! But it is super encouraging to see that the children can continue to learn - education is so vital in enabling them to change their own futures.

Not everything has been great and exciting - that wouldn't be real life would it! But it is really encouraging to stop and look back, to think about how the year has been and how a difference has been made and is being made.

I am so thankful to God for allowing me to be a part of this big jigsaw puzzle and to play this role. I am also incredibly thankful and humbled to think of all my friends, family and churches that give their hard earned money to keep me out here, and running all the programs that we have going on now. It is staggering to think that Im approaching the 7th anniversary of moving here - I really had no idea I would be here for longer than 8 months. I would never have got on the plane - honestly, I woudlnt. But i am so glad I did.

I read a diary entry this morning, that i wrote last year. It said 'if you stop walking, you dont see the miracle'
Its true. There have been many, many occasions over the last 7 years when I faced a situation that seemed bigger than me. That's because most situations seem bigger than me... Im not that brave really. But, in any of those situations I could have stopped, felt defeated and quit. I could easily have walked away from the situations. However, by pausing and remembering that I am NOT GOD and am just a little part of the bigger picture, by carrying on obediently to do my part, whatever little part that might be, I have seen time and time again that the mountain moves. The situation changes and somehow God works things out. Take the school funding for example. Im not into prosperity gospel, i certainly do not think that all funding i ever see a need for will drop into my lap - but time and time again i have seen a miracle of provision at exactly the right moment. The miracle and provision are often nothing to do with finance at all. If i'd quit, the miracle would not haev been able to happen - or I would have not been there to experience it!
Miracles aren't restricted to developing world situations either - a popular question put to me when I go back to England is 'What miracles have you seen this year?' Sometimes, the miracle is small, sometimes you dont think to call it a miracle and it's less obvious. I think a reconciled relationship is a miracle. When you choose to humbly live the way Jesus shows us, and when you are in disagreement with someone to work it out, to persevere for the purpose of reconciliation - thats a miracle too. If you are in one of those situations right now, then take heart and Keep walking so you get to see the miracle. Dont give up ;) God sees you. -Im also in no way trying to say I have this sorted in my life, just this is what Im trying to do in my own relationships and life, so as it;s my blog, i thought i would share it!

What Next?

I have learnt that having dreams and goals here is good. I have also learnt that situations change and needs change quickly. I am therefore nervous to give you a list of my goals for the next year....
however, the situation that i am pestering God about is the Nazareth House rebuild - a dream now for so long, and progress is being made at last, but I am impatient....
Also the continuation of all of the Esperanza projects and programs - school transport, healthcare, education in general.

So, there we go. Thats my New Years Eve Eve reflection for you all. More of an update than anything else, but maybe it will get me blogging again.... vamos a ver.

I hope that all of you have time to stop and reflect back on the year gone - on how you have grown as a person, how God has shaped you and walked with you. None of us knows the future, but one thing I can guarantee you for the year to come is that God is right there with you. Dont forget it. He is real and He is there. He sees you. He knows you. He loves you.

Happy 2017 😊 Thanks for reading!


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  2. Nice one Claire - keep up the great work

  3. Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing! :-) <3