s谩bado, 10 de diciembre de 2016

(Biological) Baby #3 Announcement

In a few days.. I'll be done with law school! Finishing up with my last few assignments. I always need some new interest to give me breaks and entertain me. Luckily, my friend Aimee recently told me about a new movie called LOVING about an interracial couple in Virginia that changed the laws concerning interracial marriages in the U.S. Being here in the D.R. I miss new movies and such. What an awesome case to read about during my final days of law school. Makes me proud to be a Virginian. Not because of the history of racism there, but because of the strong, fighting lovers in the state. 馃檪
And speaking of interracial couples, this one is expecting (biological) baby #3 (a boy) in April! Here's a pic on hand that happens to show us, the growing belly, and me being very tired! Just a few more days until I'm a J.D.


This was a Facebook announcement. My mom commented that that was the worst photo of me she has ever seen and I said that I didn't really have any other ones with Jeres and I but here is a recent one a volunteer just sent me: 

And here is a picture of those puppies we took in who are growing up! 

jueves, 3 de noviembre de 2016

Good-Bye My Sweet Viola

When I moved here to the DR from the US almost 9 years ago, I didn´t actually come alone. Someone else came with me who never left my side (except for 8 months in 2010 when she was stolen.. then we found her and stole her back.. hence the "Dog Thieves" portion of the book I published). I got Viola at the end of my freshman year at VT at a free spay and neuter clinic in Viola, TN. I went with a cage and prayed for God to give me a dog that would show others his love. She was people shy, sensitive and we both learned to toughen up and defend ourselves by living with traumatized kids with hard hearts. 

Over the years we have stuck it through together and seen many hearts soften and change. Over the past few months she grayed and began walking gingerly. Yesterday we found her peacefully at rest in our neighbor´s yard. I am thankful that she never seemed to get sick or suffer.. just breathed her last after a long and full life. She would´ve turned 13 in March/April. Rest in peace my sweet girl. You will always be my number one canine.

New Little Guy: Wevli

Here are a few FB posts that will explain:

October 12, 2015

In June I posted that Wendy Campbell took in Baby Wevli at a clinic put on by Helping Hands at the school in Padre Granero when she saw he was near death. She has nursed him back to health. At one year old he weighed 6 lbs. just before his 1st birthday (his hospital paper shows he was 4.5 lbs. at birth), and he now weighs 18 lbs at 1 year, 3 months. Thank God for you and your decision to act, Wendy.

6 lbs. at 1 year.

Gaining weight quickly with Wendy Campbell who nursed him back to health.

July 4, 2016

This is our new little guy, Wevli. Today is his second birthday. I posted before about my friend Wendy who took him in a year ago and nursed him back to health from near starvation. He has been with us for six months now and is such a joy. Happy birthday, Wevli!!

Dressed up by Jeres.

Maraya, Jeres, Wevli, Yenilove (in our past rental house)

Napping at Villa Carolina

mi茅rcoles, 7 de septiembre de 2016

Tears of Joy and Peace

Some, but not all of us, after church one Sunday in July. From the left: Chinaider, Carlo, Jean Dona, Sony, Ilayas and Maraya, me and Wevli, Yenilove, and Ivenson. Jeres took the picture and the car is his friend Loudie's car.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me 
(Hillsong video below)

This morning I am crying tears of joy and peace. It's 5:45 am. Yesterday morning the director of my kids' school sort of chastized me for getting there late. It wasn't a big deal for the little kids, but Eriverto who is in high school is not let in after a certain point. "You're going to need to get up earlier" he said. I didn't say this, but the light bulbs in this house don't illuminate it very much. The sky lights do. But if it's dark outside, I don't think I can get the kids up. We get up as soon as it's light. I have to shake and tap Maraya every morning as it is in a fully illuminated room. I told him that the real challenge is that we don't have water. I also told him that we have a van that goes from Los Dominguez to Mu帽oz every morning at 7:40 and Eriverto can jump on that.

Yesterday morning the water truck did not come at 7 as he said he would but I heard one beeping nearby. I ran down one road thinking I was going the right way and then heard him down another road, which I then ran to. And it's true I woke up later. I have a 9pm bedtime goal this year but the boys disrupt it a lot. Loren got back from Haiti at about 11pm last night and I couldn't get them to settle down. They talked loudly in the yard until 1pm or so. The kids slept through it, but I didn't. Then Jeres and I talked until probably 3am since we never really have any other time to talk. So I did wake up a little late.

This morning as I write this it's pouring down rain. Thanks to Nelson the crazy who busted my windows, my car will be soaked and we will all go to school wet. Because it was raining last night, I had to park the car on the street, a bit far from our house. Getting the kids from the house to the car and vice versa in the rain and mud is another ordeal.  But it's true: waking up earlier makes all of that easier. It was just a little embarrassing to have the talking to, especially regarding a boy who we give a ride to school but is not actually my responsibility. I love giving kids scholarships, but I do not love when the parents think that because you are finding the funds to pay for the schooling, that the child has become your responsibility. I have conversations like this often, and am waiting for Adeline, Eriverto's mom, to get back from her month (so far) in Haiti that was supposed to be a week to have one with her for sure! 

Anyway, enough complaining and sharing frustrations. Why am I crying tears of joy?  Okay, leading up to the answer will have a few more frustrations and complaints, but ends with success and praise. The frustrations and complaints put the success and praise into perspective. 

Yesterday I took my Remedies final exam. Last Thursday I took my Community Property and Wills and Trusts finals. I am done with my core classes for the 4th and final year of law school!!!! Now I will start an Education Law elective where everything is open book it seems.  The final does not have to be taken at a set time but I can take it whenever I get to it before November 25th. I will also start a pass/fail BAR prep course. And then I'm DONE!!!!! JD in the house! (almost, almost)

So that is probably something leading up to the tears of joy. But here is the icing on the cake. Yesterday morning when I woke up the boys (Ezayi had goiter surgery and is taking it easy for a few weeks) I saw my broom laying in front of Junior's room broken. EVERY TIME I get a new broom for MY house, one of them takes it and breaks it or loses it seeminly immediately. And here is proof. We had just one broom and one mop for the two houses. Why? Because I knew as soon as I got another, they would only take mine and they would last less time. It must be something in the mentality. "Oh, there are two so I can go wash a moto down the road with this one... and never bring it back". I got so sick of not being able to clean that I believe it was four days ago that I brought home a new broom and mop. They were not brand new but I took them from the volunteer house and decided to get new ones for the volunteer house when the next volunteers come, since it is empty for a bit. Kati left on August 25th. 

I quickly wrote "Catalina" on both the mop and broom and every day checked to make sure they were in OUR house. After three days, the broom was missing. It was evening when I noticed this. I called down to the boys, "Who has my brooom? Please bring me my broom." However, I did not physically go down and look. The next morning as I went to wake them up, you know what I found. HOW IN THE WORLD COULD THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!?!?! I didn't know it was Junior at first and just started yelling asking which idiot broke my broom, banging on their three doors and telling them to open them. If they had opened them, I probably would have gone in and started hitting their ankles with the broken piece that said my name if they had opened the doors. I don't like to call them idiots but it reminded me of a high school English teacher. That year the class had many crazy boys. She was a very sweet lady but they would not settle down and listen for the life of her. I remember he calling them stupid idiots in a calm and rational voice and them cracking up at the fact. 

They didn't open their doors. I heard Jean Dona say, "Something that doesn't even barely cost any money.." I went to his door and asked Lorenzo to open it for me. Lorenzo didn't want to. He said he didn't have clothes on and couldn't find the key to his locker to put clothes on. I told him that I realized he was probably trying to hide Loren. Loren should not have slept there but I figured he did since I heard them talking until 1am. Why Loren shouldn't have slept there (Loren and Lorenzo are twin brothers) is another story. 

I said I didn't need to come in. I needed to see Jean Dona. Just send Jean Dona out. After I mouthed off for a bit, Jean Dona eventually came to the door with a smirk on his face. Loren squeezed out in the same clothes he arrived in last night and said, "Hit them with the stick," and then went on his way. I asked Jean Dona what he had said. He said he didn't say anything. I told him what I had heard him say. He said he didn't say that and he wouldn't say something like that. I told him that I knew the person who broke the stick was an idiot, but I didn't think that he was too to think that I should buy something only for them to break it immediately. He said no, he would not say that. 

I went to my house and got trash bags. I returned and mouthed off about how dirty the yard was. Trash everywhere. Some came out and helped cleaning immediately. Chinaider popped out of the same room where Jean Dona and Lorenzo sleep to help. I had forgotten that he had slept there. He moved out of his apartment because it was apparently a criminal place that the police were frequenting. He was saving up to rent a new place close to us. However, his money is not yet complete. He was staying with a friend but his friend's wife came back from Haiti and they kicked him out. I didn't want him to stay as he is already independent and didn't want it to turn into anything long term, but I think it really will just be for a few days. I am holding onto his money for him so I know he is almost there and will give the money directly to the landlord.

Anyway, I discovered that it was Junior who did it. He had also thrown a shelf on the ground outside because he was cleaning inside the day before. I told him he has to buy a new broom and he mouthed off in return. He and Sony never opened their door and did not help clean. In our new house we have just two tiny bedrooms so Junior sleeps in the boys' house whereas he lived in our house for years. Carlo was very distraught over a stomach ache and as I ran around finding the water truck about 15 minutes later, I got some pills for him for the stomach ache. He ended up not going to school because of it. 

How would you feel if your new broom was broken immediately like that? How in the world did he break it? HOW!?!?! He's a bit boisterous..but really? Anyway, things like that are frustrating. So that leads me to this morning and the tears of joy and peace. Last night I didn't feel well. A few kept coming to my window with requests for things. I kept telling them I was already sleeping and couldn't get up. Jean Dona got very upset about this. He is a bit impatient. He is the smallest and youngest in the group. But he is a real handful. He has quite a "street kid" personality. We have had to save him from several people trying to hurt him because he has broken their things and I think I wrote about him biting another kid's ear... but he is pretty darn cute, I will say. 

When the boys older than him are going somewhere like a concert on the Malecon (boardwalk) that they went to on Sunday, they come to tell me that they were not going with Jean Dona. If he goes, it is not them who goes with him. They see he is preparing himself. They actually told me that it looked like Chinaider would be going with him as they were together. I said okay, thanks for telling me. They know that if they go out with him, I'll blame them for influencing him, etc. They asked to be able to stay out until 11pm whereas the normal curfew is 10pm. On this occasion it was Lorenzo and Sony informing me that they were not going out with Jean Dona and asking if they could stay out until 11. 

Photo from Sunday evening posted on FB on Monday. "I didn't go out with Jean Dona. Jean Dona is the little one with the black hat. Chinaider in blue next to him with white shorts. Sony and Lorenzo are in there too.

So yesterday I saw Jean Dona and Chinaider walking together as we arrived home. My thoughts were.. is Chinaider being a good influence or not? They both helped us carry in Wevli and Maraya when we had to park the car on the road in the rain. There's just a curtain on our bedroom. I brought the kids in and was drying them off. We were about to change into dry clothes when Jean Dona popped his head in. Of course I was initially a little annoyed at the lack of privacy and wanted to remind him to not do that but he proudly held out a plastic coke bottle with a huge grin on his face. It had a small amount of red seeds in it. I moved closer to him, looked, and exclaimed, "Grenn legliz!" That means "church seeds" or "rosario seeds" which is what we use a lot in the art shop to make jewelry. But they weren't the normal church seeds. They were not oval but a bit odd shaped, bright red, and did not have the black dot. These were a different type of church seed that I had told Chinaider I learned existed here, but no one had found them yet, and I had hoped to find them so we could make jewelry with them too. I had shown him a picture weeks before. So when I saw that they were these seeds, I got even more excited! 

Jean Dona beamed. He told me how far he and Chinaider had gone very far to get them. He then pulled out a Gatorade bottle that was completely full! I got even more excited! They said they were going to sell them. I told them to sell them to me. (Obviously that was their plan.) I told him that we were going to change our clothes and he popped his head out of the room. 

I later told them I thought 2 for one peso was a fair price. I was comparing it to how much buying beads costs. They started counting. As they got to several hundred, I realized that we needed to make sure we could put holes in the seeds and talked to them about that. So we're still working on that but in conclusion, Chinaider was being a good influence! 

This morning I woke up around 5am and realized that I had not brought my car battery inside last night. Here, people steal car batteries out of cars in the night, so if it's not really secure in your car, you have to take it inside in the night. When I park the car in front of my house, I don't have to worry about this. But when I leave it on the street, I do. The last time I left my car on the road due to rain, I accidentally left my keys in the car. In the morning, they were not there. One of the boys actually held them the entire day and even tried to say that someone had found them down the road and was asking for a reward for them, which I knew was a lie. I knew I had left them in the ignition as I have done many times before. How else would I have turned off the car? I accused him of lying. He then brought me the keys. But that's just an example of things that can happen with this bunch. 

So this morning when I realized I hadn't entered the car battery, I ran to go look. I thought negatively, "They could've helped me and brought in the battery but they would probably rather steal it and sell it instead." If it's there, I'll have the mechanic make the thing to secure it today, I promised myself. I got to the car and tried to turn on the lights. They would not turn on. I lifted the hood, took a look, and it was not there. I ran back to our house and asked Jeres if he or anyone else had brought it in. Looked around and did not see it. I thought, if it's not there, I will have to accuse Chinaider because he just started staying here again. But maybe someone stored it in their room for me. I went to the room I knew Chinaider was sleeping in and called him. He must not have been sleeping. He answered me right away. "Did you bring my car battery inside last night?"

"Yes," he answered. 

"Oh, thank you Chinaider," I said with great relief. He told me it was in the room and asked if I needed it. I said not yet. I thanked him again. I just felt so relieved and thankful for him. My negative thoughts were turned around. I came inside and got on Facebook to see what was up. I saw a friend had posted a song by Hillsong that I hadn't heard before called Oceans. 

I listened and the tears started flowing. Tears of joy and tears of peace. 

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace
For I am yours and you are mine. 

It's 6:45am now. I ran and got the boys up at 6:30. Now I need to get my kids going. Hopefully we aren't late today. May we and you have a good one with many blessings. 

jueves, 18 de agosto de 2016

Wild Thing

When we picked up our friend and VT professor Reed Kennedy upon his arrival to visit us here in Puerto Plata, Maraya hid behind Yenilove in the car and glared at him with suspicion. I laughed and noted that within no time she would be hanging on him and buttering up to him. Of course the next day he was reporting curious and funny questions she was posing him. A few days later he had given her the name "Wild Thing". 

I thought it was a perfect fit. Maraya and Ilayas have such different personalities. Both are pretty wild. I was a little surprised when the Pace Academy group was here and the kids played in the pool with them to see Ilayas run up and do a back flip off the side of the pool. But he is so sweet, caring, and sensitive, whereas Maraya is quite aggressive! She is sweet and caring too when she wants to be, but she sure does like to dominate!

I've noticed this summer that she likes to hang on certain male teachers, employees, and members of the organization, and obligate them to do what she wants. For example, the day before yesterday she clung onto Gaddy our art shop manager ordering him to ride his bike with her. When it came time to get in the car and go, we had to force her as she tried to escape. Other times she hangs on Chinaider and obligates him to buy her a piece of gum. The male normally laughs and seems to enjoy the attention, which she takes full advantage of!

I realize this is not ideal behavior. She should ask nicely and say please, which we teach her to do. But when she can get away with it, she takes control! I have a hard time not laughing at some stuff she does when I maybe should be showing my disapproval because... it's pretty funny. I am, however, ready for the school year to start and her be back in class with peers rather than at Project Esperanza activities all the time apparently feeling like she can rule the world. :)

My real motivation for writing this post was because after Reed gave her the name, she embodied a wild thing to me the other day. I left the kids with Daddy as I did law school and then came home to pick them up and take them with me to run some errands. So they had already dressed themselves. She was in her princess
dress that her cousin Blake sent for her a few years ago, but it had now ripped. Being a bit overdressed for the occasion with somewhat wild hair and a ripped fancy dress just fit with the name "Wild Thing". But what made matters worse was that as she rolled around on the floor in public places as she often does and I always try to get her not to do, I noticed that her shorts she wore under the dress as underwear were completely ripped and showing her butt. 
So as we went to the bank and ran other errands, I kept reminding her to not let people see her shorts. Of course see seemed to take enjoyment in showing off her butt to people, crawling on the floor and such. She and Yenilove laughed at people's reactions as they noticed. 

Then while driving past a store I realized maybe where Maraya had gotten this idea from. Perhaps it was a new style as a mannequin outside of a store in town was showing off something very similar.  

This little Wild Thing will start kindergarten on Monday and will celebrate her 5th birthday in September. May the Lord protect her and use her life for his glory.  

martes, 16 de agosto de 2016

Passports and Disney

Immigration came to our neighborhood the other day and took some folks away. A neighbor came to tell us around 5:30am and I woke up the boys and suggested that thsoe who don't have proper paperwork go into the mountain, which they did. After they heard that Immigration had left, they came back. Two of our students' stepdad was taken and the brother and caregiver of another student was taken, as well as many neighbors. However, we know most, if not all, will be back soon, as it is not hard to get back. Many are already back as they paid off the guards on the way to Haiti.

This situation got us talking about countries, passports, etc. Ilayas inquired about his passport and what it meant. He mentioned that people without passports couldn't go to "Dees Neigh Chon Nell" or China or anywhere. I asked where "Dees Neigh Chon Nell" was and he said it's the place where they make movies like The Descendants! I then realized he was saying Disney Channel with a Spanish accent, what he really meant was Disney World, and I laughed my head off. 

Two weeks after turning seven, Ilayas lost a front tooth!

domingo, 31 de julio de 2016

So It Begins...

My brother, who spends time here each year and has a little house here, can’t really understand my life. “You need to stop taking in kids! You need to stop taking in dogs!” he said. I laughed at the dog comment because I have one dog and I have had her for twelve years. I got her at a free spay and neuter clinic I volunteered at in Viola, Tennessee, and helped spay her at 11 weeks old. The boys in the group home took in a puppy last year. Her name is Blanquita. Before she was even one year old, she gave birth to a litter of puppies. 
Blanquita gave birth to six puppies in a locker in group home.

The puppies were doing well until they turned one month old. She wasn’t there one night and they began whimpering in the night. The next morning as we left for school and spring break activities where we had four groups here in one week, she was still not back. They all looked solemn and were quietly whimpering. “We may have to bottle feed them,” I thought since they had not gotten the milk from their mom. 
About two days before they began passing away.
When we came back that afternoon, she was there, but two had passed away! I took two who were not looking good to the vet who told us what milk to get. We went and found a baby dog bottle and began bottle feeding the remaining four. But they died one by one. We also got worm medicine and de-wormed them, but within a week, all four had died. And we worked hard. The mother was there and caring for them as well. It was just the one night that she left them. 

Crystal visited a few weeks ago and through the organization she volunteered with, Moringa’s Mission, she sponsored to get Blanquita spayed so no more puppies for her and sad situations like that.

So really, I don’t think we were excessively taking in dogs. The boys took in one dog. I did not get involved really and because of that, she produced six more dogs who died one by one in our garage, despite our efforts to save them. It was very sad but I was not going to let them die without fighting for them. I had to show my kids and the boys the value of life, and it would’ve been conflicting for me to do otherwise. After the last puppy died, we talked about it during our weekly group home meeting. What did they take away from that? How could they apply it to life? Family planning, preventing suffering, caring for women, for mothers who product children… it was a great talk.

This happened in March.  Shortly after, we began constructing on the land we had bought for the group home two years earlier. The boys learned a lot. By the end of April, we moved. We didn’t move because it was ready for us to move up there, but because their landlady asked for the house and April 21st was the final deadline she gave. Since then our family and the group home have shared one compost toilet, we have no running water still, and when it rains we are covered in mud, but we are at the base of the mountain with more fresh air and privacy and that makes it all worth it.
As I write this the rain sounds on the tin roof and lightning flickers through the sun lights every now and then. Thank you, Lord. This is beautiful. 

So in June, Carlo came to our house with a puppy that had been thrown out in the creek bed. The creek bed is normally dry. I believe he said that there were more but other people had taken them, or I can’t actually remember. But he told me that someone had thrown these dogs out to die and if we didn’t care for it, it would die. He showed me where he had been bit by another dog and had a cut. It was crying.
So we cared for it and gave it milk and food but then had to go meet my mom who was visiting. Ilayas was the leader of the caregiving. I thank God for that sensitive little nurturer. He melts my heart on a daily basis. I came back with my mom to get some things before she left and the puppy was sleeping in an empty cement bag outside of our house. I thought that was a good sign that he had a full stomach and was feeling better than in the morning. 

That evening, I asked the boys about the puppy. They told me that it had died. I told them that I had left it sleeping in the cement bag earlier that day. They said that when they found it, it was covered in flies and dying, so they took it to the creek bed, threw rocks at it to finish it off, and buried it. Jameson did the rock throwing, I was told. What was done was done. 

In late July on our last day of camp, Crystal helped fundraise and we planned with Moringa’s Mission to bring our campers with best attendance to visit their animal rescue, which is about an hour away from us. It was a great trip. My kids (Ilayas, Yenilove, and Maraya) were among the top twelve with best camp attendance and got to go without me even having to pull any strings! They rode a
horse, washed puppies, and had a great time. Ilayas longed to ride a horse by himself and they all came back with a desire to care for puppies. None of our three group home boys of camp age made the cut, unfortunately. The others who went were Magdala and Elena Richardson,Adoni and Nairobi Martinez, Clideson Cheristal, Dateson Dume, Esmayline Orima, KerenchyPetit-Compere, and Julie Francois Onese. Keveline Charles and her little sister Anely were invited but their mom felt uneasy allowing them to go so they stayed behind.

Today, July 30th, about a week after we went to Moringa’s Mission, something happened. I was inside working on the computer and I heard Maraya calling me to come quick. I didn’t go. She kept calling. I asked Yenilove to go see what was going on. Yenilove came back reporting that Maraya was holding a puppy. I thought it was a neighbor’s litter and didn’t think much of it. They brought one in for me to see. It was cute. But I still didn’t pay much attention. Ten or so minutes later I walked outside and saw them on the edge of the property carrying two puppies. They said that they had first seen four and then went to go collect all four but now only found two. 

They started babying them and caring for them. I was tending to other things as they were doing this, but they took both puppies on the step behind the house. They made many trips carrying a cup of water one by one. Yenilove told Maraya to hurry up as Maraya climbed up on a chair with two cups, fetched water from the green tank in our house, got down from the chair with two cups of water, then went to step on top of the bed that serves as a couch where others were sitting watching TV, as someone was blocking the path way between TV and bed to the door. I made them move and told her to pass, and it was at that time that I paid more attention to the effort they were making to give these babies a bath. It made me so proud. Then they took clothes out of the dirty clothes pile and swaddled them cradled them, and carried them around for the rest of the day. They put them to sleep on Yenilove’s bed and checked up on them often.

Yenilove then came and woke me up at 2:30am but I was already partially awake from the puppies crying. I was lying on the double bed with Ilayas, Wevli, and Maraya. Yenilove in her bed and Jeres on the couch/bed. Junior now stays in a room with Sony and Enelbi in the group home, perhaps sixty feet from our house, as we just have two bedrooms in this house, and the group home has three bedrooms. 

I got up and helped her give the puppies food, but realized that there was some crying coming from outside. I opened the door and two wet puppies stood outside. We brought one in easily but the other ran to the side. He did a, “I want to come in but I’m scared of you”. As I went after him, he ran around the house. I rounded him toward the other door which was open and thought maybe he would go in on his own. As he passed in front, a dark little hand reached out at him and he ran under the car. It was Yenilove’s hand. Jeres got up and looked a bit confused as this was going on. It’s not so normal for people here to have dogs inside in general so I am pleased that he didn’t really get upset about it all. 

The puppy hid under the car and the rain poured. I eventually was able to get ahold of its leg, pull it out, and bring it inside, although it put up a fight. The two wet ones reunited with the two dry ones and everyone nibbled on some of Viola’s food. They eventually curled up and fell asleep. I put down a blanket that the boys had thrown away in the compost without it having anything wrong with it. I had one of them wash it among other clothing items that were found as a punishment and stored them, telling them that we didn’t know when we would need them, but they had nothing wrong with them to throw them out. 
Why did I title this post, “So It Begins”? Well, I’m not sure if the river bed is a common place to throw puppies out and we happen to live by it or if people have identified us as caregivers and are bringing their unwanted puppies here. My granddad was identified as such. He was a vet and was my absolute idol growing up. Someone dropping off a box of puppies
Ilayas made a basket puppy bed.
was like Christmas morning for me. And I see that my kids feel the same way. Ilayas has shed a few tears already. I told them that we would bring the dogs to Moringa’s Mission and wrote to Dee about it right away.  I told Ilayas that maybe we could keep one, but where would it go while he was at school? And we talked through that a bit. 

Dee wrote me back quickly to let me know that they cannot take them. She had twenty-five when we were there the other day and had already promised to take in others. So we are stuck with them for the time being. 

So to my brother, I say, sorry. I wasn’t taking in puppies, but now I am, despite your advice not to. Do I really have a choice here? In Sosua they have an animal rescue but you have to pay them to care for the dog you bring in, from what I hear. Moringa’s Mission is further away from Sosua
and they are full. I have never heard of this sort of work in Puerto Plata or anywhere else nearby. I’ll search more, but this country is full of unspayed and unneutered dogs and I’m sure a shelter could be full in each neighborhood quickly if they existed.

But can I really teach my kids that their desire to care for these puppies is incorrect and that we should instead leave them outside to whimper in the rain and die? I don’t think so. I don’t see what other choice I have here. And so it has been with the kids that we have taken in. I continue to learn more about different government options and how to counsel mothers who are struggling to care for their kids and what their options are. 

One mother keeps coming to the school in Padre Granero asking for help for her eleven year old girl. She has five and this girl has health issues. She loves her and all of her kids, but wishes someone would adopt her. I talked to CONANI about it and they said she should bring the girl here from Haiti, step 1. She doesn’t have the transportation money. I have spoken to several people but no one has stepped up to help. If I had had the funds, I would’ve helped her out already. I think people feel unsure that she will actually come with the kids and I understand that. But I would rather her take the money and run then for the girl to die and me not to have been able to help her with the request for transportation money. 

I tried counseling a mom in PG. But she left her newborn and two year old with a neighbor and says that she can do what she wants with them. She’s not coming back. I talked to CONANI about it and they said they would do a visit but this has been… more than a month now, I believe. CONANI is very understaffed. As soon as a little bit more funds are available, I’ll visit the woman and help them out with milk. Thank God for her. 

Anyway, there’s an update for ya! I wonder how others feel on the issue? If it were you, would you put the puppies back in the river bed? Would you forget about the abandoned babies and the neighbor who is a single, poor mom with five kids of her own who is struggling to care for them? If you had $12 for a can of milk or $100 to pay for the transportation (and it’s a bit more than just the cost of transportation as the issue is a little complicated with her coming from Haiti to the DR which is why it costs more) and you honestly have all that you need to get by each day, would you share that with someone who honestly doesn’t? 

I remember when we first did start taking in kids and members of our board of directors said, what will be the criteria to take in kids? We can’t just take in everyone. My thoughts were, we’ll take in anyone who God brings to us. And we’ll pray for his guidance. I know that is an overly simple answer, but the truth is that he hasn’t given us more than we can handle, with him. There have been things that I felt like I couldn’t handle, but he has gotten me through. And I think he knows why he brought me to the Dominican Republic and not Haiti. Here we can serve Haiti without being defeated by it. And we can serve the Dominican Republic at the same time. I don’t think that we need to hold back love out of fear of what we are losing. We are gaining more than we are losing, whether we see it that way or not.  I have said this before, but love is not like water. If you use water, you have less. Love is like fire. If you use fire, it grows. 

Dear children, let us not love with words and in speech but with action and in truth. (1 John 3:18

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.

jueves, 28 de julio de 2016

Ten Years...

A church from my hometown sent letters to their sponsored students and a card addressed to "Caitlin and Staff". Among other things, it has a verse, Jeremiah 33:3. It says, "Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

I love that verse. I loved the card. It reminds me of the most interesting bible study I did the past few weeks with my good friend Gemma. I think I'll write a post about what she showed me as I was really blown away.

It has now been ten years since I first came here to Puerto Plata. Well, ten years and two months.
Wanbert also liked the card from the church.
Yesterday I did an interview with a teacher. She seems great and she said she is waiting for a blessing to be accepted to teach in the public sector, as it pays more, but will work with us until that happens. We need to recruit two more before school starts. Wanbert walked into the office as we were talking and talked to her a bit about the school. He said that he works with me and that I work really hard and she said that that is what the director had said. She said he said that I work tirelessly.

My heart fills with pride when someone says that. I have worked hard and I do work hard. I am not trying to pat my own back but I just feel the need to say that I have worked sooo hard. Is it enough? Will it ever be enough? I have felt a strong sense of fear yesterday and today because we don't yet have enough money to pay teachers this month. And we don't yet have money to get everyone ready for the new school starting in a few weeks.

I know God will come through. I know he will provide. Every month he provides. Every month. He has never failed. It is amazing. It has been amazing to see over the course of 10 years now since we took on financial responsibility.

Yet I still feel afraid. And I feel foolish for the things I try to do from here to bring in more money and they don't work out or haven't worked out yet. Some have worked out like the volunteer program and the art shop. Those are businesses that actually turn a profit (while there is a non-profit side to them but really they are businesses to support the non-profit, complete with expenses, income, and profit). But other things have not gone as well. But then again, they didn't go so well at first either so maybe I should hang in there?

We have never had monthly sponsors cover the monthly budget consistently and we have never had all of our students sponsored. That would just be too predictable I guess and God really likes to keep me on my toes apparently.

But we have our own group home land and building now. We just finished the tether ball game and I can't wait for the common room to get done so we can set up a ping pong table. Not a real one but a piece of plywood to lay on their table and then a net you can put up and take down. I have the rackets and balls. It's basically ready to go just need the room to be done so we can store the stuff in there otherwise they'll be broken or lost in half a day.

And we have our school building in Padre Granero. Both are such babies and need more work so even if they are ours now, there is still the large amount of care that goes into caring for a baby.

Part of me says, Lord, when will I get a break? And part of me says, if I have a break I will probably rip my hair out and create something else to do because I'm a bit of a work-a-holic. Did I mention that we have a new member of our family? Wevli?

Law school is almost over. Praises to the only one who could get me through it. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Beginning of September I will be done with my core classes. After that, one easy looking elective and a BAR prep course is all that is left and will end in December. I am basically done. I can't believe it.

I love my kids so much. My heart overflows with love for them. Today was basically the only day of the whole summer vacation where I spent the most of the day away from them in order to do my Wills and Trusts midterm. My heart ached to be away from them. And I love Project Esperanza so much. Thank you Father. I look forward to many more great and unsearchable things I do not know.

Oh, and I have been on the search for a solution for our Sweet ADHD Teen. I will visit a place tomorrow. We love him so much but man have things been more peaceful with him at his brother's house!! No offense to him at all in that and I have hope that he will do great things.

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Lord of the harvest, please send the workers.

martes, 5 de julio de 2016

Our Sweet ADHD Teen

If you read my last update, you probably think we here are a bit crazy. You may think that even more when I tell you that since those events, things got even crazier. I won’t bore you with the full, long stories, but will just share that someone had their locker broken into and lots of hard earned money stolen that resulted in the purchase of gasoline, the plan to burn down the new wooden house we built, rocks thrown at the house resulting in holes which the perpetrator quickly patched feeling regret for his moments of rage, and then a few days later, the same bottle of gasoline that was taken away from said perpetrator was poured onto the head of one young man who continues to destroy and harm other people’s belongings with no real signs of remorse or responsibility. Matches were on hand and he was held down in threat of having the vice scared out of him. We’ll see if it worked. This punishment was not approved by me ahead of time, but was another moment of rage. I share this with you in an attempt to be transparent and make light of the hell that is trying to raise a group of unrelated teenage boys together. 

I won’t mention this young man’s name, but I have to share with you about someone who has been with us here for almost five years now, since he was 12 years old. He just turned 17. I am not referring to Junior. Junior is doing okay and probably going onto 10th grade next year, praise the Lord. 

We love this young man to death, but he is most surely a case of ADHD. He has an older brother in the area and a sister in the capital who comes and visits occasionally. He can thoroughly clean a three bedroom house in an hour’s time, but you might lose a few belongings in the process. He is sweet and personable. We love him, but we can’t have him here with us anymore. I have shed tears over it, but I have finally come to that conclusion. It is time for him to learn reality, and time for others to have some protection from his shenanigans and uncontrollable behavior.

I won’t go into any more details but I will just say that he is too big for us to correct and we can only try to improve things for future difficult cases. We have a small difficult case on our hands, but this one is big and strong and out of our league.  We sent him to his brother’s for a month on Saturday. During vacation, he always creates more problems. It is pretty much a given that during vacation from school, this young man will cause problems. It seems to go hand in hand with his ADHD, not having enough to do although we found a mentorship for him that he didn’t stick with. 

But he often calls me mom, tells volunteers that I’m his mom, and I love him like a son. When we have to send him away to his brother’s for a bit, the kids ask about him and miss him. After sending him away this last time, I cried, knowing that we most likely can’t have him back here again. But we cannot abandon a 17 year old like that either, I don’t think. We fear that he will end up in prison if he does not have the structure he needs. Therefore, I plan to go to the Minor’s Court to see about sending him to a special school in La Vega for his last year of living as a minor. He would then turn 18 after having finished there, and I will have felt as though I have done all that I can. If he rents a place nearby, I’ll always be near and the organization will always be near to counsel him and be his family, but I do not think he should return to live in the home. This is all I know to do.  

I’ll update after I talk to the Minor’s Court. Please pray for our sweet ADHD boy. May God save him from himself and use this extra energy for God’s glory. May he channel it and contain it and protect it. 

"And we know that in all things, God works forthe good of those who love him." - Romans 8:28