The student handbell choir performed EIGHT times in the past three weeks!
Our NEW Adult Deaf Handbell Choir also performed TWICE in the past week.
Our school Christmas party was lovely – the children signed songs, the bells rang, the parents cried at appropriate times, the food was massive in quantity and in flavor, no one hurried away and the cleanup happened.
We thank God for each of you and your prayers for our ministry to the Deaf here in Luquillo. Look forward to seeing you again in January 2016! Happy Holidays (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Epiphany/Kings’ Day) !!
We have such a busy schedule for the next two weeks:
Tuesday (8 Dec) and Wednesday (9 Dec) the handbell choir will be performing for some organizations who have been very helpful to our school.
Sunday (13 December) the combined efforts of our NEW ADULT Handbell Choir and our student handbell choir will be performing in Bible Baptist Church of Luquillo at 10 a.m.
Wednesday (16 December) the students on bells and guitars will be performing at the Palmas Community Church in Humacao in the evenings (7 p.m. I think)
And our Christmas celebration party will be 18 December at some time before 3 p.m.
With all of these dates and busy events in front of us, it would be easy to forget that Christmas is a time to think more carefully about God and enjoy the peace that He can give us. To help each of us keep our focus on GOD (and not on receiving gift and playing bells), we have just completed “40” days of thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving through American Thanksgiving) during which time, we talked daily about things we are thankful for. One of the students wasn’t sure that AIR was something we needed to give thanks for… but she soon decided that it could be on the list,
During this Advent season, we are doing 15 school days of meditating on God’s character and how God changes our lives. The theme “adORN your life with ORNaments pleasing to God” has translated into ASL as “Decorate your life for God’s glory”. As we decorate the chapel Christmas tree with Bible verses written on cards placed inside clear Christmas ornament balls, we each write our own observation about the verses and place them onto decorations that each has made – a wreath, a wee Christmas tree, a light box, a poster.
We are ending the month of August 2015 and the students are still smiling 🙂 As you can see from the photos above, we have 5 students at this time. We are working on place value and trying to improve memory (hence the bottle of glue pouring into a brain cavity).
Five students – and days often feel overwhelming as each of these students could use a full-time tutor. Each has special needs in addition to requiring that their coursework be presented in visual means. So much out of the classroom time goes into preparing powerpoint and worksheets and captioning pictures and developing specific for THIS child activities to help them learn.
Christie Hoeksema just joined us last week. She is proving to be a valuable resource – (1) because she is fresh and new and has energy! and (2) because she can use technology to make worksheets, flashcards, and materials that are time consuming and (3) because she is Deaf herself and can offer insights when all of the Hearies are rather at a loss for WHAT? is being signed to us by our low language learners.
Thanks for praying along with us this school year.
Larimar and Mizael joined Betsy this year at St Croix Deaf Camp. The three of them traveled to STX on July 6 (because their July 5th flight was canceled). They spent 4 wonderful days with the Deaf camp of STX making new friends and loving every minute of it.
Betsy praises God for the opportunity for the team of three to go. The CSCD students were able to share their faith in private conversations and in Wednesday morning devotional time before the camp day began.
The students loved the whole adventure – from billiards to jumping off the cruise ship pier to eating termites under the supervision of Discovery Grove nature trail staff. They are already asking if they can return next summer. Pray with us as we pray for the Deaf of St Croix – that maybe next summer at Deaf camp, we will see some Deaf adults and have more opportunities to share God’s amazing love.
Pictured above is a group of young men and women from Hanover PA who came to serve with us November 2 – 8. Having them was a blessing as they came with three teachers who were able to substitute for Betsy so that she was able to attend a conference for educators of the Deaf.
In addition to cleaning, they painted a dorm room, scraped ceilings and enjoyed several inches of rain. The team was predominantly teens and their leaders were ever present faithful servants during the week. It was a joy to get to know them and to see how God used them in the lives of our staff and students.
Our next work team is not scheduled until March 2015. There will be lots for them to do!
Since we were having visitors from everywhere who had come a few days early to go on a Deaf Freedom Cruise leaving October 25, we had an open house and invited lots of Deaf from the island as well.
Here you see Juan – our youngest student at this time at 8 years old – and his Deaf distant cousin who was one of the first students here back in 1960. (to see any photos in a larger format, click on the pictures)
The string of people are students from the past lined up by date of departure. It was great to see them and to know that these folks are doing well in their adult lives thanks to the staff of missionaries who helped them along the way.
(Below left) The students did a little story telling prompted by Peppy – a Deaf visitor who was helping them to learn a Number Story in ASL.
(center) A Sprint representative whose name I never did catch shared some news from Sprint introduced several other famous deaf people like the iDeaf News guys.
(right) Super Deafy shared his story and moderated a time of celebrating success stories and encouraging my students to be all that they can be. Look for his movie – No Ordinary Hero! Let me know if you see it because we want to but it’s not around here.
We had lunch together. Some of the former students gathered in a classroom and shared stories. More visitors came. Our students showed them around and answered questions. It was great fun.
Even though we are a small ministry this year, we can see that God is using us for His glory. Our resident maintenance man and part-time cook pretty much ran the lunch program on Friday. Rosa, our dorm counselor, was all over the place keeping track of the 8 year old and helping with this and that. Betsy, our principal and teacher, was fielding questions, helping taxi drivers locate the school, delegating students to groups of visitors for tours and running her feet off.
We praise God for this little spot of time we had and pray that as our guests came and went they will have seen God’s hand at work here.
The students prepared short poems about God’s faithfulness. Enjoy this compilation.
Running with the dogs is a great after lunch exercise for the kids and Delilah.
Orocovis Outreach Continues
God’s Amazing Intervention – In 2010, we had a student named Selena from the mountain town of Orocovis for one semester. She was an amazing young learner and we were heart-broken to not have her return, though we were thankful she was returned to her family and removed from foster care.
A year passed without knowing anything about her whereabouts until David Mitchell of PRDM from the south side of Puerto Rico mentioned that the Orocovis family had been taken to their office. We were so excited to visit them and re-establish contact.
At that first visit in July 2011, we invited the family to Luquillo for a night. Teodoro, the Deaf father of the entirely Deaf family, recognized the school grounds from years when he came to summer camp. He motioned to our principal that he would love to have his daughters come to school here. And so for two years we visited them in the mountains and invited them to the school for events and tried to figure out how to get the girls into school.
In January, we issued a full scholarship to Maria (photo top left #1), the youngest of Teodoro’s daughters – complete with transportation. The family was excited to hear this news (photo on left below). The scholarship letter was submitted to her school and they accepted her transfer without question. Maria has been with us for 5 months now and she is as bright as her older sister. This scholarship was only possible because of people like you who have made contributions to our general fund.
There have been some ups and downs as with any 12 year old but Maria is generally content, cheerful and showing the possession of an amazing brain. In April during a Sunday evening church service in Aibonito, she mentioned that she had not yet accepted Christ as Saviour. As the pastor announced a time of personal prayer, a companion asked Maria if she would like to accept Christ as Saviour RIGHT THEN. Maria said, “I don’t know what to pray.” Her companion said, “Watch this“ and prayed a brief prayer including:
Thank you God for sending Jesus, Your Son, to die for my sins.
Thank you God that Jesus did not stay dead but rose from the dead.
Please wash away my sins with Jesus blood.
Please come and help me to live for you.
Maria took up the prayer herself and to those around her, her confession of sin, request for God’s forgiveness and victory over sin were clear and Biblically accurate. She has since, told others of her prayer and decision. Pray with us for this young lady. Pray for also for her older sister Yajaira (15) who is eligible to join us in August. Our present residence counselor, Rosa Soto, has plans to leave at the end of December 2014 and we are praying that God will provide a residential worker who would be able to take over of the dorm so that Maria (and Juan and Francis and Yajaira) can remain in school with us.
“I will sing to the LORD,
for He has triumphed gloriously!
Pray that God will lead new students
through our gates and would lead us to
their homes. We know there are Deaf youth in the area –
pray that we would be able to locate them for education,
for discipling, to befriend and lead them to Christ and
into fellowship with other Believers.
‘Gather the people to me,
that I may let them hear my words,
so that they may learn
to fear me all the days
that they live on the earth,
and that they may teach
their children so.’
Mizael and Joella still enjoy shooting off air rockets.
#4, on a Saturday, we visited Cueva Ventana in the Camuy area. Had fun trying to spell CAVE with our bodies.
We had a busy month in March with three work teams who came and gave us a fresh coat of BLUE paint. Our last paint job was 4 years ago and with the humidity and moisture of our rainy climate, we were growing lots mildew on the outside of the buildings. We also had several walls that had been retouched creating a patchwork of blues around our school.
Usually when we have THREE teen groups asking to come to work in the same month, we turn down two of the three. This year, we decided to have them all come to give their energies toward washing walls and painting them a brighter, cheerier shade of BLUE.
Tasks like these are normally expensive. The first trip to scout prices brought us back to the nearest store – Sherwin Williams Paints. There, the manager of the store gave us a 30% “quantity discount, and an additional 10% off (we suppose it was his employee discount) and THEN at the last moment an additional 10% off! Our final bill of just under $1500.00 was reduced to just a bit over $700. We had to return for a second purchase of paint and only got the 30% discount L but we are still praising God for the thousand dollars saved in the purchase of paint for the school. AND the team who came with 18 painters for 6 hours made a donation of $1000.00 to the Paint Our School fund.
Thanks to ALL who helped with the paint choice, the moving of pails and ladders, the power washing, the painting and the cleanup. Oh, and we are not quite done with this job so if you have a day or two… put on your paint clothes and come over to visit!
#6 – cute little owl baby FOUND on a coconut tree at dawn on Easter Sunday. We think his mama came back and showed him the way home that same evening. Nothing has been seen of him since.
This is our new logo designed for us by Christie Hoeksema this week during her visit. We like that she was able to keep the cross, Bible and hands that were part of our ESD logo for so many years. We look forward to having our new logo in place on letterhead and shirts and a new sign that will be coming for the school front.
Christie is a graphic artist and web designer. She does great work and we are so delighted to have had her visit (Feb 14 – March 8, 2014). In addition to all that she has done in designing our logo and taking some great pictures around the school, she plans to help with updating the website and giving us some additional volunteer hours.
Being deaf herself, Christie was able to leap right into getting to know the students without the language barrier that many people face when they visit. Knowing her has been a blessing to all of us but we are so thankful for her presence as a Christian Deaf business woman and her role model for our students.
If you are interested in any graphic artwork or website design, please feel free to contact Christie through her website link.
We gave the buildings a face lift! New BLUE!
With the help of work teams from Whitby Ontario Canada, and two Christian schools in Florida, the majority of our two main buildings are done. Trim and the chapel and shop are in need of the next attentions.