God’s goodness never ceases to amaze me. I stand in AWE of our great God and His wonderful works. There is a link to a song there if you are interested in listening as you read.
As we organized the newsletter (late because May was just too busy and honestly, overwhelmed by the past school year, it was difficult to know what to write in a newsletter) God brought SO MANY amazing memories of His great provision and strength to our minds. It was hard to know what to include and then what would be left out… so we included very little other than praise for God and what He is doing here.
This past week, seeing our new little 6 year old begin to understand that LETTERS make WORDS and WRITTEN WORDS have meaning was another AWEinspiring moment. We are made in God’s likeness… what DOES that mean? Our ability to communicate on a level deeper than sniffs and barks? Our ability to use WORDS to express our thoughts? Our ability to love beyond words? Nonetheless, watching little Diego learning about WORDS has brought “The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” to my mind again and again.
In the Beginning was the Word…
In Diego’s beginning here, he has many words he can say. But when the words are written, they hold no meaning for him. He is slowly learning that the sounds of the words he is saying are paired with letters… and he got 100% on his 4 word spelling test on Thursday. WOOHOO!
Pray for Diego. He is in class part-time simply because with only 1 teacher, she can’t teach him and the high schoolers at the same time. And so he comes part time. While he is here, the high school duo are working semi-independently on reading and writing. They have a video vocabulary tutor twice each week. They have a math tutor who comes in as he is free to do this. Their other lessons are all in the after lunch times when Diego has gone home. As Diego learns to do some things on his own, the teacher will be able to do more with the high school students in the mornings. We will be able to do some group activities. But until Diego understands that the planet really revolves around the sun and not him, things will be more structured and less spontaneous!
Thank you for your prayers. Please keep an eye and a prayer on the Atlantic Satellite during hurricane season. If you see something developing, please ask God to spare the little islanders who still are living with blue tarp roofs and no electricity. While most of PR has electricity, Dominica for example is still repairing their infrastructure. And many roofs have been unrepaired here due to lack of supplies and slowness of FEMA and insurance companies.
Thanks again for stopping by, for reading, for praying.
February began in the dark (still on generator) but by the night of the 6th we were running on real electricity again. Now we are in the stage of most Puerto Ricans… off again on again. The generator is still here and we use it weekly at least. But SO happy to have electricity flowing most of the time.
The lights came on in time for Sam and Marty Mosely and children to come stay with us for a week. Sam (Phelps) had worked here in 2002-2003 so she was familiar. They worked on a new sports room wall and other chores around the school.
We are excited to see hurricane repairs beginning… still working on estimates for the insurance company and hoping that our insurance pays for most of the fixes. The list is shrinking bit by bit and we look forward to a team of skilled workers coming in March.
We are not having the usual Spring Break teen/college groups this year. Too much to be done that is requiring skilled workers. If you happen to know an electrician, welder, carpenter, painter(s), landscaper/tree removal persons, floor tiler… bring them down! (But let us know so we can have things ready for that particular job and make sure we have beds and pillows ready. – Send an e-mail to email@example.com and you will get a quick reply… if the Internet is working… because well, that line has not been re-attached to the grid yet.)
This weekend, Sprint (who has supplied the Deaf community and CSCD with a generator and satellite internet service) brought us a party! How fun to gather with our friends and students and families and just relax. Chef Vivoni (Puerto Rican Star Chef) created a yummy rice dish that was not a paella even though made in a paella pan.
We had a lovely time relaxing on the freshly cleaned basketball court under the Sprint tents and with our own umbrellas and picnic tables. Even a few vehicles stuck in the mud did not dampen the joy of the day.
Continue to pray for the people of Puerto Rico as many are still without electrical service. This link will take you to the Authority of Electric Energy (AEE) website if you want to have a go at understanding what is happening. It’s in Spanish (FYI).
In English, THESE sites have some information:
https://pt.magicseaweed.com/news/five-months-after-hurricane-maria-puerto-rico-still-needs-help/10763/ (good article but I don’t KNOW this group or their financial policies so don’t donate unless you check them out and are in agreement with them.)
Thanks for reading along today and praying along daily for us.
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.
August 14 – first day of school!
We had one student. The other three were at appointments or simply had difficulties arriving in a timely fashion. Nonetheless, we were blessed by the Palmas Community Church as they brought backpacks for our students and their siblings. (picture on left below)
August 15 – second day of school!
Everyone was present! We kicked off the first day of full attendance with our Science emphasis focusing on the eclipse that will be happening on August 21. All week (well except for Day 4 which saw only one student again as the others were flooded away from the school) we have been talking about galaxies, sun, rotation, revolutions, stars, planets… It has been a fun week in the classroom. While speaking of creation and God’s workmanship, we visited the apartment kitchen above the classrooms to see the workmanship of new cupboards that took place during the summer (center photo above).
We have explored the age of the universe by reading the Bible, created models of the sun, earth and moon to walk through what is a solar eclipse and had a guest speaker who has an interest in astronomy. Our chapel is decorated as if we are walking in outer space (see backgrounds in the photos above and below)— heads in the stars and hopefully provoking the imagination of the endlessness of our universe as well as the endlessness of God’s love.
We created our own stars by making constellations of nails and then wrapping string around them in patterns or in arrays. We read articles about the solar system at readworks.org
We have downloaded various apps to our devices so that we can “view” constellations in daylight and watch as the moon moves closer and closer to the sun. Excitement is mounting as we await the eclipse on Monday at 2:11 our time. We have had some RAIN this week so homework assignments of “observe the stars” were incomplete but we are hopeful that Monday will bring sunshine and blue skies for the event we have been hoping to witness.
Friday afternoons are often a little messy here as students go home early and our adult handbell ringers arrive for practice. This Friday, the students asked questions they had been formulating all week – Aliens? Diamond planets? Blue stars? – which we looked up on the Internet and youtube. How wonderful to have access to those resources! We also had art class and drew very inaccurate representations of the solar system.
All in all, the school year was kicked off and celebrated well. We are thankful for the students we have and prayerful about the staff we need to be able to reach more Deaf children for Christ. The task is daunting as we meet Deaf adults and children with very limited understanding of signed and printed languages… there is the need to begin with the basics of WHO? WHAT? WHERE? before we can begin to speak of GOD and SALVATION. Pray with us for the continuing ministry among the Deaf here.
The semester is continuing on as all good semesters do. For science, we are learning about EXPERIMENTS. Many experiments FAIL – or do not produce the expected results. We packaged eggs and dropped them. 3 out of 4 resulted in scrambled eggs. Our winner, Juan (on the right above) succeeded in packaging his egg so that it was useful later.
In our Bible class, we are memorizing verses about WISDOM. Pray with us that our students will learn to depend on God and His wisdom above all other choices available to them. Pray with us that our students’ lives would not like scrambled eggs… but would be protected by God’s wisdom as they apply it to their lives.
April 7 2017 we had our first and only spring performance for the handbell choir. It’s been interesting getting our two younger boys to multi-task as required by musical instruments. Looking at the director. Looking at the music. Remember which hand is which color according to the color code we use to teach note reading. THEN remembering no matter who is in the audience, still watching and focusing on the director and the music. Serious skills required!
These two did well and so thoroughly enjoyed the snack box provided by the group we performed for. The other members of the bell choir were packing the bells and van while these younger guys were hanging out. The largest issue of the day was Edgar’s tie which had some smudges on it. Yep. Not acceptable to him. We’ll try to get those cleaned before they are needed the next time.
How many more coconuts would be able to be in this truck before the tires pop? As we drove, we passed cautiously lest the tailgate let go and the coconuts cascade out. Driving here is always a challenge. Praise God that day, there was no challenge other than passing safely on the highway.
Thanks for your prayers for our ministry!
Someone’s family member died. Someone’s car is not working. Someone has a medical appointment. Someone has an appointment for educational testing. But TWO students have been in school this week. Since these two are a little ahead of the others in their linguistic development, we have been taking the time to work on problem solving skills, musical literacy skills and handbells, Bible and life skills, and of course written language skills. It has been a nice quiet calm week. Of course tomorrow is Friday and God alone knows what Friday will hold for us!
Tomorrow night is social night and we are hopeful to have a full house of friends coming by for games and conversation. The Adult Bell Choir will be rehearsing and hopefully honing our skills.
And then there is the weekend. We have been under a rain cloud for several days now. We also have a team of workers who were hoping for some sunshine. Sorry. Today we sent them to the south side of the island. Tomorrow they may hit the north-west corner. Saturday they may WORK doing some odd jobs that have accumulated. If there is any break in the rain, maybe they will hike into the rainforest and enjoy the wetness there.
For now, we are thankful that God is sovereign and has given us a peaceful start to our semester. Pray for the broken car, the medical appointments, the educational opportunities, the understanding of our students in the face of these situation. Many times, they navigate without an interpreter. Many times, they come back with questions and want some help with figuring things out. Pray for our insights and wisdom into situations we do not understand!
See you next time!
Too often recently, I have heard a complaint that a governmental entity has not called for an interpreter for a Deaf person in need. Too often recently, I have seen video of such interactions. Too often recently, I have received a phone call from an agency asking WHY an interpreter was needed…
And so to have this at my fingertips, here is a PDF of a model letter for a Deaf person to give to an agency or office explaining the law and requesting an interpreter be called. I did not write this. It was given to me by someone who knows more about this than I do. Yet it is so needed. It is in Spanish.
Modelo Carta para Persona Sorda a Entidades
While I know each school week is 5 days, some feel so FULL! Last week was a full week! We are doing more “silent” reading this year – trying to get in at least 15 minutes of independent reading daily and it’s fun to watch the students examine the bookshelves and find hidden treasures. Also sweet to watch the more able to read students introduce books and love of reading to the ones who are not able to read on their own yet. Pray that literacy will be a skill they love and each student will exercise a passion for WORDS and sharing God’s Word!
We were excited to see Nathan and Deborah visiting from Canada! This lovely Deaf couple stopped by with their three hearing daughters. We always love seeing them and enjoyed some games and relaxing time together.
This year, we are making cursive writing a priority. Every afternoon before we dive into our learning logs, we do some structured writing. Betsy, our only teacher this year, has developed this framework for teaching cursive – using the data projector to shine guidelines onto the white board and then writing on them. The students love showing off their skills too though they still do better on paper than on the board.
Thanks for praying along with us for the ministry of our school and chapel. We look forward to next week when we will be practicing conversational skills and learning how fractions work.
Friday, June 3 was our monthly scheduled Social Night. We love having people over and sharing games, growing friendships and seeing some of our ‘once a month’ visitors.
This month, we celebrated two birthdays – Maria who is now 15 and Irma who is at an age we don’t advertise any longer – though if you look at the photo, you will see her age :-).
Irma was a student here between 1988- 1991 and is active in her local church. Her husband Valie volunteers with us daily helping by advising as well as in maintaining the property. Irma and Valie are cherished members of our ministry community and we were thankful to be able to celebrate her _0 birthday with her.
Maria is a present student in the school. Turning 15, celebrating her QUINCEANERA is a big deal. One of our staff drove to Orocovis to bring Maria and her sister and parents to the school for an overnight. We celebrated her birthday and another staff member drove them home the following morning.
The party times were sweet with cakes, games, friends, and conversation. We were super happy to see Chris Monahan, our CSCD Board President back with us after having been sidelined by a stroke in late April. He is doing well – improving with physical therapy and a patient family who help him.
Continue to pray for the summer activities around the school and throughout the ministry. We will be carrying out the basic office work that needs to happen, doing grounds work, and spending time in prayer and preparation for the school year that begins on August 8, 2016.
We are still praying for teachers who are familiar with the Deaf and who know ASL. In our planning meeting, we have discussed
- a 9 days every two weeks school schedule, the 10th day to be kept for taking our students to visit Deaf people in remote areas of the island with the intention of befriending, evangelizing, assisting in any way that is needed. We have also discussed
- further ministry with the Santos Family – what do the parents need and how can we encourage them spiritually, emotionally, and materially? We want to continue
- the ASL Silent Workshop teaching and outreach to interpreters and workers in Deaf ministries.
Pray with us for these ministries and for hands to grow the ministries so that more Deaf can be reached for Christ.