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approaching Christmas

December 4th, 2017

Christmas is a time for JOY!

Our island is regaining GREEN as trees and plants regrow their leaves. The streets and school grounds still bear the scars of the hurricanes from September.  Our electricity is reliable – because we are on a large generator supplied by FEMA with daily deliveries of diesel. We have moved our classes to the school chapel which is powered by the FEMA generator (the classroom is on a small generator for which we buy the gas and oil and take care of maintenance).

With all of that still happening around us, we are trying to embrace CHRISTmas – the celebration of Christ’s incarnation, the promised Saviour born to a virgin at last has come! I say TRYING because, with all that was happening in September and October, as a teacher, I got behind in my planning ahead for Christmas. I failed to order supplies for Christmas crafts and activities.  I have been otherwise occupied with LIFE such that I was not thinking into November and December.

But God, in His goodness, provided through YOU who sent and are sending parcels of supplies.  Suddenly, when someone asked, I thought, “Please send some Christmas crafts for the students. I have nothing planned.  I lost a few months!”

And so the Christmas craft supply boxes have arrived from Wisconsin and Florida and Maine just to name a few.  We started last week by putting a few Christmas lights in the school chapel to brighten our days.  (We have solar powered Christmas lights outside for our evening enjoyment. And some friends have sent more so that the students can take home some solar powered lights for their homes!)

The students and visitors are enjoying making origami stars, candle holders, wee Christmas trees and various painted decorations. TWO people sent us JOY ornaments (see above).  I think God is reminding us that even with the changes we have experienced and continue to live with, His JOY is always available.  With Nehemiah, we can say:

the joy of the Lord is our strength.

hearts overflowing

November 18th, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017 we had our last school day before Thanksgiving. Yep. Even with the days missed for hurricanes (we did not take off for Columbus Day or Veteran’s Day or other three day weekend holidays) we are taking a break for Thanksgiving.

The parents of the students are looking forward to not driving our worsening road for a week – pot holes do not get filled, more electric lines are descending onto the roads as the broken poles shift. The staff is looking forward to not making creative lunches for the students – dehydrated meals are lovely but how do you add veggies and balance when there are so few choices around?

We SO appreciate your parcels – sent with such thoughtfulness!  Today we received cans of pulled pork and spaghetti sauce, crackers, acrylic paints, solar powered Christmas lights (well, they are nice year round but our students still want to celebrate Christmas at home and so this was a request we made), etc.

One of our senders sent some great craft paper and supplies.  We all practiced creating a 3 by 3 grid on the  12 by 12 inch square paper and then  used paper folding and glue to create little boxes to which we affixed felt turkeys and ornaments.  We stuffed the boxes with things many supporters sent – peanuts, granola, trail mix, gummy candies, beef jerky, candles, etc.  and each student took home two or more boxes.  They were instructed to SHARE or GIVE these to their parents and grandparents with words of THANKS. Hopefully that will happen!

Friday, November 17 also found us saying GOODBYE FOR NOW to a student  of ours who has been with us since nursery school.  Mizael and his mom and brother are moving to the States for a little while… well, that is the plan. Mizael will be continuing his education with us through Google documents, Skype, and online learning with his present teacher, Betsy, as his supervisor.  They have been practicing in person and on days Mizael has missed for dental appointments. When his house has had BOTH electricity and Internet connections he has been able to continue his educational learning from home. We celebrated an early Christmas with Mizael and after hugs and prayers, sent him on his way.

Pray with us for the needs of

  • teachers – B.S. in education or interpreting/ASL as a minimum requirement; knowledgeable in ASL and Deaf children or willing to learn on the job; servant-hearted and willing to go the extra hundred miles or minutes or hours depending on the need at the time.
  • support workers  – meal prep; dorm supervisor; maintenance worker –
  • STUDENTS – we will be down to TWO in person students in January and one remote student. We are prayerfully before the Throne of Grace awaiting God’s direction, praising Him for His blessings through this time of storms and the way He has provided for us to continue in spite of what seems at times to be insurmountable odds.

 

Someone asked, “are you actively recruiting students?” and our answer was NOT AT THIS TIME.  With only ONE teacher full time, and the special needs of our present students – their need for much time spent one on one, even just one teacher with 4 students has been short-staffed.  We are seeking God’s direction – are these our last 3 students? Does God have another plan for the ministry?

Philippians 4:19 

God shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

So many Deaf Adults have asked about literacy classes and we know that could lead into Bible classes, financial planning and budgeting classes, mathematics, child care, etc. We know if we begin on that track, we will need social workers and independent living support workers, nutrition counselors or medically informed people who would be able to help with teaching biology and addressing personal medical issues.

But before we can launch a NEW program, we need to have the workers to DO THAT and so we are praying for God to send people with hearts to serve 24/7; prepared to do what is needed to reach the Deaf of the east end of Puerto Rico or further- if we can accommodate Deaf adults in our dorms for short terms or longer terms, if God opens a way to do that, we want to be open and ready for His leading.

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

And with so many schools closing since the hurricanes, with so many people leaving the island, we anticipate the parents of Deaf children finding that their child is suddenly without an interpreter, without support in the public schools, and will consider bringing them to CSCD. We don’t want to turn away any child or their family.  We want to serve the community as God has called us to serve Him – joyfully and thankfully.

Pray with us for all of this.

Ephesians 3: 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

What do we NEED since the hurricanes?

October 29th, 2017

This is the NUMBER ONE QUESTION people are asking, right after HOW ARE YOU?

We are fine. The buildings are 90% fine.  Little things need repaired.  We will get to those in 2018 when we have electricity and when the hardware stores have had time to restock lumber and whatever else we may need. Insurance will cover much of the costs and we trust God to cover the rest.

students returned to classes in the dark on September 11 after Hurricane Irma and on September 26 after Hurricane Maria.

We had a 1 year old generator that took us through Hurricane Irma and into Hurricane Maria but running it 15 hours per day for a month finally made that generator less generous.  Nor could the females on staff generate enough pull to make Black Max run.

GOD KNEW.  That same week that Black Max the generator decided to not run no matter how much we pulled, the Second Union Church of Guaynabo PR came and delivered a gift and cash and a new yellow generator which ran delightfully!  New Yellow Generator runs the classroom though sometimes, the teacher opts for heat and quiet rather than lights, fans and generator hum.

(Valie, our local maintenance volunteer, has adopted Black Max for his home since we’ve been given a larger generator by FEMA.) My God SUPPLIES! (Phil 4:19)

NEED #1 was checked off the list when FEMA came and established a communication Hotspot for Deaf in the area.  They installed a (relatively) quiet diesel generator and they provide gas and maintenance for that. No more pulling.  No more spilling gasoline. No more using a flashlight in the dark to see if the tank is full enough!  And a satellite dish rigged up to provide Internet signal for videophone and video messaging (and of course we use it for the classroom and after work hours and weekends for our e-mail and blogging and entertainment purposes). One student’s mother is taking online classes – she is delighted to sit in the office with a fan and Internet as she does her homework.

Edgar, Tess and Betsy receive the yellow generator from Pastor Zoba and Don Julio of Second Union Church of Guaynabo after Hurricane Maria.

NEED #2 required dollars and sense – We have a generator for the classroom and need to buy gas and oil and take care of that. Pray for both of those.  Especially SENSE, since none of us are generator mechanics and it seems from previous experience that generators can be finicky about their oil.

NEED #3 – We have people sending parcels which arrive randomly but consistently. Most parcels are filled with GREAT STUFF  and we are so excited to open them – CANDLES! batteries D, AA, AAA; solar light products; canned foods (SPAM, ham, tuna, chicken); tortillas, crackers, rice cakes, jam, peanut butter, trail mix, granola bars (ok I said HEALTHY SNACKS… but please send one chocolate or sugar snack per box??), powdered milk.  THESE THINGS ARE STILL NEEDED.

Some people actually stop by and drop off boxes – today a couple brought bandaids, peanutbutter crackers, etc etc etc. WOW  Huge blessing to meet the givers!

One parcel packer sent school lunches – tacos in a box with black beans, cheese spread, tortillas, canned chicken 🙂  another sent a recipe and the things to make raisin bran muffins; another sent a birthday party in a box! how creative!

As special events, like a birthday, the parcel opener has been squirreling away things that can be wrapped and given as gifts. With Christmas coming and the stores and mail and banks being slow to deliver, I think we will be squirreling more things and opening our own “FREE” STORE for the families, students, etc to have selections from. YOUR THOUGHTFUL PARCEL COULD HELP A CHILD ENJOY CHRISTMAS or KINGS’ DAY.

NEED #4 Some have sent games and puzzles, coloring books, word search games, and others are already packing craft things that we can make for Christmas gifts.

NEED #5 We still use lots of candles around the school in the evenings. We have been instructed to CONSERVE and so we do.  Only the school fridges and freezer are running on the generated power. We use apartment lights sparingly and fans turn off as we leave rooms.

NEED #6 Candles are lovely but little Deaf boys like matches too much to allow candles to be safe. We made sure that solar lights donated by crisis relief teams made it to the homes of our little Deaf boys.  ALSO It’s hard to imagine Christmas without the pretty lights… so if any of you are into solar lighting, maybe you would locate and send some strings of lights that each of the students and staff could take home to decorate an outdoor tree or plant as part of their Christmas celebration.

If you have a question or thought on this, shoot an email to the school director at emhoke@cscdluquillo.com

If you want to make a donation

  • generator for the classroom fund
  • Solar Panels for the classroom building fund
  • General Needs fund
  • School lunches fund
  • Student tuition fund

Any other reason fund… here is a link to the e-giving page / DONATE link page  with instructions and addresses to send checks or the option to give online.

We have some work teams in the plans for the coming year – if you are interested and know WELDING, CARPENTRY, TREE STUMP REMOVAL, ELECTRICAL REPAIR, GROUNDS MAINTENANCE, PAINTING, please contact Betsy at emhoke@cscdluquillo.com

Thanks for your generosity in sending parcels.  Thanks for the prayers and love that accompanies them.  Thanks for your prayers and cards and letters and cash included to see us through  this period of bank closure.  My God SUPPLIES! above all I ever asked or thought!

Praise GOD from Whom ALL blessings FLOW!

Mail Run!

October 29th, 2017

Most schoolday mornings, I hear HOOT HOOT from the mail man and say RUN!

The kids love charging to the gate and carrying back the parcels that are coming in.
I have to tell you, YOU and your boxes are making these kids lives (and MINE) so much fun. And FUN seems to be a little lacking.  We are still in the shadow of the storm… trees are just beginning to grow leaves again. Stores are beginning to have meat again. Some people have electricity —intermittently as it shuts down again for another reason or fault in the line.

But a box arrives and WOW! LOOK! Beef jerky was once a foreign word and now it’s a great delicious surprise inside the larger box. Trail mix!! Who knew that would go over so well?  And we mix our own from the tins and jars you send when there is no “trail mix” in the box. A few nuts from New York.  Some dried apricots from Kansas.  M&Ms from Pennsylvania.  Cashews from Maryland. All tossed into the classroom container.  Then someone’s mother says, “Hey that looks good…” and a ziplock baggie of it is given to the family!

Batteries!  We still collect them – AA for some flashlights, AAA for others, D for the larger lanterns. When our collection overflows the confines we have delineated, we give the overflow to people in our churches, the students’ families, random visitors who mention the need.

I took several packages to church  one Sunday with baggies of Starburst candy. Imagine a child being more excited for the batteries than the candy!  One little girl held up the 4 pack of AA batteries and said, “Mommy look.  My flashlight stopped working last night and now I have new batteries for it!” Praise God for YOUR generosity in sending.

Stores are not stocking up on batteries.  They are sold out almost as soon as the boxes are opened. School lunches are most often dehydrated foods or rice and beans supplemented with canned meats or ‘refrigerate after opening’ meats.

Thanks for making the morning mail run so much fun! You brighten the lives of our students as you serve God with your creative parcel making.  We are trying to respond to each parcel received – the students are practicing HOW TO WRITE A LETTER and so is their teacher because while is it more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), we as receivers feel SO blessed and want to give you our thanks.

Student Author: Larimar

October 26th, 2017

Larimar wrote this in English class today as we were practicing the verbs JUGGLE, JOT, JUMP, JOIN, JOKE  and JEER:

In the morning, the man jumps up from the bed. He goes to the bathroom and he sees his face in the mirror and then he washes his face in the bathroom.

Next, he will have a new job and he will try to join the job as a writer. He will jot smartly.  And he will have a lot to juggle as a writer.

So one night, the writers told him, “Hey, we were writers so now you are the new writer?”

He said, “Yes, I am the new writer.”

Then the writers tried to joke with him about being the new writer. They said, “Will you come with s to go for beer?”

He said, “No. I am not going to drink beer and I am a Christian and I am the follower of God.”

So the writers laughed and jeered at him.  But he knew they are not good writers for the people.  He knew he will tell people about God’s love for them and that God is with you.

The End

after the storm

October 20th, 2017

it’s been a while.  but from the photo you can see that we are alive and well.  living without electricity is interesting.  41 days since it went off after hurricane Irma… and counting.

on Thursday October 19, FEMA brought us a large generator  and Sprint plans to set us up as comunication hub for the deaf community.  Wow.

let me post this while i can…from a wifi Hotspot in town.  in the country we are still in the dark many times!

survived Hurricane Irma

September 10th, 2017

Classes will resume Monday September 11,2017 without electricity. We have a small generator being used until we have consumed the food in the freezer.

The buildings are ok. The people are ok.

Pray for continued safety in cleaning the grounds of fallen objects.

Thanks for your prayers.

hurricane Irma closes CSCD for the week of 5 September

September 5th, 2017

Three weeks into the school year and we have a MAJOR HOLIDAY on our hands.  What was to be long weekend for Labor Day has become a longer break due to Hurricane Irma.

Predictions include 175 mph sustained winds and the word “catastrophe” is being used a lot. At least our students don’t KNOW the word CATASTROPHE yet.  (what a teachable moment we are having without them here – booo) They are looking forward to life without electricity so they can see the stars better! That made me smile when a student told me that!

Other predictions include not having electricity restored to the entire island for 4 to 8 months. We normally have 40 days without electricity.  Hopefully that will be the norm again this time.  Asking the parents, they all agree that school can happen in the cool of the dark classroom and that life without iPads can happen.

We hope to be in class again on Monday morning, September 11, 2017.  Betsy, our main teacher, is preparing lessons which rely on BOOKS and PAPER rather than electronic devices.

Thanks for your prayers.

Since some have asked, our link for donations for hurricane relief is HERE.  Or at the top right corner of this page where the word DONATE resides.  Our policy is to use your gifts first for repairs at the SCHOOL and if there are designated hurricane relief funds above those needs, we will pass those donations on to student families or neighbors of the school or other Deaf families in need of financial aid.  Sometimes, we will make the purchases for the families in need so that we can KNOW the money is being used for THAT purpose and not for other things.  You understand.  Anyway, if you want to help, that’s the easy way.  A little harder, you write a check and mail it.  Scroll down on that page for the mailing address.

Of course, you can always just send a letter.  The mail box is a huge encourager when the electronic mail box is inaccessible.

We hope to update you as soon as electricity is restored.  If that’s in a week or a month… then it will happen.  Of course, we can always go to an access point that HAS electricity even when our campus out in the country still is without that blessing.

Thanks for your prayers for our safety and for our students’ and friends’ safety as well.

 

Make your Meal Mondays!

August 31st, 2017

We have begun a “Make your Meal Monday” program to involve the students in learning to cook. Seems to be a hit so far.  Of course, it’s still early in the school year.  And the coming Monday is a holiday so we have a little break from that part of planning for a week.

This past week the students Made 18 eggs muffins – that link will take you to our recipe write-up.  You can put anything into those. We added a yellow pepper and two kinds of onions so that everyone had something to chop/cut/dice/handle.  The students all seemed to like them (see commentary at end of the recipe) though some said they don’t have those things at home.  We were talking about fast easy breakfast things they could make ahead and warm up when wanted.

The photo on the right shows how happy Delilah is to have her students back.  She rejoices everyday that they are here and mopes around every weekend day. Sweet lady dog.  Edgar has a special attachment to her and I am always happy to see him content.

Thanks for your prayers for our students, our ministry and the light that God is shining through each of us here. Pray that we will bless His name and give Him the praise and glory.