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Back to school in 2018

January 20th, 2018

We returned to the CLASSROOM on January 8 2018 after a 2 week Christmas+Holidays Break.

In November and December, we were using the back of the chapel as our classroom due to the absence of electricity and the FEMA generator powering the classroom and chapel. It was a lovely change for us (rather than working in the dark or running a smaller generator to get some lights in the classroom) but it’s good to be back in the classroom at last.

We were able to get things running more normally again by purchasing a solar energy system for the classroom building. We were only able to do that because of YOU who sent donations to help us in our time of need. As we are still without electricity from the street, we are SO thankful for solar energy and how it has enabled us to continue our work.

Our telephone landline and our internet cable are still coiled and dangling in front of the school dining room entrance which is in need of replacement or repairs (a carpenter will know what is needed there) so we are again thankful for the FEMA and SPRINT response of satellite internet for the Deaf community to have a communications alternative.

This semester so far has had a Home Ec focus as the students pitch in daily for Make Your Meals. Friday afternoons we have spent time with visitors practicing social skills, communication skills and hospitality skills (oh do I have some blogs to write!). It’s been a good return to learning and we look forward to more cooking and sharing.

Yesterday, we ate a salad made entirely by Edgar and had birthday cake made entirely by Larimar.  We also had spaghetti and we served it to our returned snow bird Philip and his new wife Norma Elena, our Deaf friends Lourdes and Chris, Deborah and her family visiting for the moment and our daily helpers Valie and Jerry. Edgar was surprised when he was asked to SERVE the cake, not just eat it.  WHAT ABOUT ME? he asked.  He was told, FIRST HELP LAST EAT.  He did. It is never too early to teach children that service with a smile is a good rule of life.

While we waited for our guest of honor to arrive and after lunch also, we played some card games. So interesting to watch as students and visitors play together. At one time, Edgar said, THAT LITTLE GIRL KNOWS SIGN LANGUAGE I said, “Yes, her mom is Deaf and so she talks to her mom.”

He looked at the mom. I said, “You and she are both Deaf.  Both talk with hands not with voice.” She smiled at him and said, “Yes I am Deaf. My children sign to me. You are Deaf, you sign too.”

All kinds of learning are happening.

Thanks for your prayers as we continue to generate power and as we continue to learn more about ourselves and our Almighty God!

ye faithful

December 24th, 2017

As I sit here in the school chapel, with two dogs snoozing on the platform and the generator purring around the corner, I am contemplating Christmas Eves of the past…

  • snowy ones as a kid in Pennsylvania
  • warm ones as I came to be at home here
  • packing and cleaning ones when I realized that Christmas DAY flights are a little cheaper
  • content ones as I learned to enjoy whatever place I was in and to be content
  • discontent ones as I wanted to be where I was not
  • sad ones as I became reminiscent over deaths during the past year and who was missing
  • happy ones as I enjoyed the antics of new little relatives or friends’ babies

Today, I am of mixed emotions. Our hurricanes of September still effect us today – hence the generator purring in the background.  My gift bag is packed and I am contentedly digesting the church’s Christmas lunch and mentally processing the  evening’s possible foods at the Christmas Eve party I will be attending.

I am a little on the melancholy side thinking of

  • Students who left in the past year, in the past month, who were not here on Friday for our end of the year luncheon,
  • Staff who left and relocated in the past year,
  • Huge blessings of YE FAITHFUL who have prayed for us through this year, these YEARS, these hurricane recovery times…
  • God’s wisdom, goodness, and infinite love and peace to hold up this ministry through the recent economic tough times and hurricane recovery times…

As I think of YE FAITHFUL – I know there are readers whose relationship to the school precedes mine and I’ve been around 33 years. I think of YE FAITHFUL who have prayed and cared for this ministry since 1957. I think of YE FAITHFUL who were praying for Deaf ministries before that! I think of YE FAITHFUL who have responded to hearing about a hurricane by sending supplies and money for more supplies and calling to volunteer your hands and sweat to work with us.

I think of YE new FAITHFUL who are praying TODAY about serving God and about when and about where. Here’s the challenge: we need YE new FAITHFUL for the next thing God is doing here.

  • We need teachers who will come and stay and teach Deaf adults Spanish literacy skills and disciple Deaf young people for our Saviour;
  • We need support workers who will maintain the grounds and vehicles and buildings so that the others can do the discipleship work;
  • We need YE new FAITHFUL to build a team that is united in the vision of seeing Deaf Youth and Adults grow in Christ.

As I think of the song, O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL… Well, is it YOU who God is calling to come here?  And what has kept you from responding? Is now the time to send that e-mail (emhoke@cscdluquillo.com) or make the contact (well, other means are so less reliable these days so stick to e-mail for now? or snail mail HC-01 Box 7111, Luquillo PR 00773).

I am SO thankful for YE FAITHFUL and praising God already for His work to bring in the YE new FAITHFUL who will carry this work into the next 60 years (because our first documents are dated 1957 so that was the first 60 years.) God is preparing this property for YE new FAITHFUL who will be coming.  Kind of like John the Baptizer preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry years. The preparations are happening, now, who is coming to carry on the work?

That’s my Christmas Eve 2017 pondering. Pray with us for YE new FAITHFUL ones and their coming.

Excited to see what God does with us, through us and around us in the coming weeks, I am your servant and the school director, Betsy Hoke

Now, we could use your hands…

December 11th, 2017

The island and infrastructure is beginning to recover. A small percentage has electricity.  We do not.  But we have a generator and hope for the day when those trucks come here and restore our lights.

What we really could use are small self sufficient teams of 6 or less WORKers.

  • We need to pressure wash and paint parts of the buildings.
  • We need to remove dead trees from the field and perimeter where we left them after the storm.
  • We need to do some indoor painting.
  • We need to put up new rain spouts.
  • We need to build a new wall and block in a door that blows out too often.
  • We need to do general maintenance on the grounds and buildings – repairing leaky places and revisiting the hot water solar heating units.

But we don’t have electricity yet.  So keep that in mind.

The dorms are your choice of (a) smelly and noisy from the generator but you’d have lights and fans or (b) dark and quiet with an extension cord to run some appliances.

The school kitchen has limited refrigeration space but you could share. And we have a propane gas stove for cooking (i.e. boiling water to add to dehydrated meals).

Contact Betsy at emhoke@cscdluquillo.com or cscdluquillo@gmail.com to arrange a date for your hard workers to come and lend a hand with us.

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!