While many people don’t understand it, or believe it, Puerto Rico DOES have a “winter” season. We don’t have snow but our temperatures do go down… on the average to the high 70Fs (21C) in Luquillo and to the low 40Fs (4.4 C) in the mountain areas. Some lovely quilters from New York state sent us three boxes of quilted blankets and throws and wall hangings. In the photo about, you will see how one student immediately adopted a blanket as her own. One former student took a quilted blanket home for his mother who hugged it and cried. Thank you quilters for your gifts of love!
The work to return the school campus to it’s pre-hurricanes (P2H) state of functioning is continuing. As God brings us workers (from left above) from various places like Calvary Chapel, independent families, and the local Internet installer, we are slowly beginning to get the grounds and infrastructure back to P2H normal.
A special group of workers has worked this past month to rebuild our sport/storage room as well as our awning at the dining room entrance. Additionally, some of the men in the group from Ontario Canada had some electrical savvy – they were able to work through the wires and restore power to parts of the dorm that were not powered up and were able to configure a solar backup for the school kitchen (not for every day purposes but in case of a power outage, we can now use the solar power system to run the fridges and freezer). Their inventiveness will save us many headaches from generator issues in coming years… assuming their power cord remains aloft.
Oh and the phone line to the school office is now working again! AND the CableTV company has restored the service to the TV in the school library – a donation of their service for educational purposes.
Mail is arriving as it had been P2H and our little corner of the world is fairly back to normal.
Please do not misunderstand me, the rest of the island (and our little part) still carries the scars and still has delays. Since the FEMA satellite link ended, it has taken a few weeks to get back online so our e-giving donors have not heard from us this month (yet). We will be working on that this coming week.
Trees remain broken and the ones that will grow new leaves are working on it. The DTOP guys are out there trying to get the traffic lights working to restore order – yesterday I was in Carolina and after a few blocks of non-functional traffic lights on the business roads, I was glad to get back to the autopista and take the bypass from all of the tangle.
Some stores have not re-opened and some have announced that they are not planning to reopen. OurSam’s Club is one of them. The two nearest Sam’s are both about an hour’s drive away so we will have to rethink the cost effectiveness of that choice. But, meanwhile, we have plenty of fresh produce again. Plenty of meat in the grocery stores. Plenty of options to enjoy choosing from. And the students have been enjoying choosing the Monday Make Your Meal Menu option that has been given to them this year.
Thank you for your prayers and for your assistance and your parcels and your partnership in our ministry.
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!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
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.
Oh I wish you could have seen the kids on Thursday, May 25. They were magnificent in their presentations of their science projects. I was excited and amazed by them. The two boys pictured above presented Plants and Colors respectively. Great stuff there.
The older two students presented their findings on Bows and Arrows and Bamboo Music. Very good work all around. The families enjoyed watching and learning along with their students. And Edgar, pictured below with his brand new glasses, could not keep his eyes off his awards and his science project. His smile and enthusiasm were priceless.
Pray for the students at home this summer. Pray for the bell choir as we prepare to leave on Thursday June 8 for our trip to Toronto Ontario. Maybe we will see YOU there?
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.
The Adult Handbell Choir Trio and our Upper School Handbell Duo are combining their efforts to raise money to fly to Toronto Ontario Canada to attend the 38th Annual World Mission to the Deaf missions conference.
We are super excited to be going together and have been practicing for weeks already. We are performing on April 7 at an afternoon meeting in Humacao PR and had our first FULLY attended rehearsal yesterday. The group is coming together so well. If you are interested in helping us on this trip north, please feel free to buy a t-shirt or send along your encouragements to us through e-mail or Facebook and of course letters by snail-mail are always appreciated as are your prayers.
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.
On June 11, 2016, I was offered and accepted to be a CSCD representative for the annual World Mission to the Deaf conference in Toronto, Canada.
World Mission to the Deaf is a Canada-based charity encouraging people to support Christian missionary service among the Deaf. They are currently supporting the Deaf in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and El Salvador. Together, we share praise, prayer, reports and encouraging messages.
They have shared wonderful reports of God’s work in each mission field. I am going to write a short summary for each:
A farm project that is run by a missionary couple named Doug and Val Clutton. They own a few acres filled with fruit trees and farm animals. They have hired Deaf workers to work on their farm, selling vegetables, mangos, quail eggs and pork products to generate income for them. They also support the various ministries of its mother organization such as their Deaf church, dorm for Deaf school, child sponsorship, Deaf pastors/churches and a Bible college. Please pray for them to continue to keep the Deaf community, and encourage others to learn more about God. Pray for Doug and Val for their tireless work to serve God!
A group of teachers are starting a new outreach to Guatemala which is located above the country border. They set up a workshop for the teachers and workers on Deaf education, as well as also offering tutoring. Meanwhile in their current Deaf school in El Salvador, they are doing well and are still busy as usual! It was wonderful, and blessing to see them using their full energy in helping the Deaf students as well as continuing to keep in touch with other Deaf communities outside their country. Please pray for them to continue to serve and spread the gospel about Jesus.
Now it was my turn to present about our CSCD school. God graciously gave me an opportunity to live in Puerto Rico for a year and serve with the Deaf students. I shared my experience as a teacher and the success stories of each student. We were amazed to see how much each student had grown within a year! Let me tell you a bit about each student.
Maria & Yajaira
Maria and Yajaira are sisters, and are part of our outreach ministry. They were raised with low level of education and language. We brought them to school to teach them how to write, read, learn basic life skills and share about God’s Word. They started to develop their deepest desire to learn because there was just so much information they wanted to know, especially regarding ASL. Their ASL and vocabulary had improved tremendously over the course of their studies. I remember when I teaching Maria math multiplication, last February. She at first hated doing the speed drills, which took her about 10 minutes to complete. But just a few months later, she got was excited about managing to complete in her speed drill in just 2 minutes. Yay for Maria! At the same time, Maria and Yajaira started to grow their faith in God, and even asked if they can be baptized. It was a wonderful opportunity to witness this event. Please pray for them to continue to walk in faith with Jesus, sharing the good news with their Santos family in the mountains.
Juan had just turned 10, but already he started to grow to nearly the same height as me! In math, just like Maria, he at first hated the multiplication drills, but soon enough beat the time limits a few month later. When I started to teach him division, he understood so quickly that he could easily finish all the speed drills with no problem. He also started to develop his own curiosity and storytelling skills. He was especially enthusiastic when talking about the animals he loved, the oceans, fish, and all the discoveries he found around the island. Please pray for him to find his own interest and hobbies. Pray also for him to understand more about God and develop his desire to serve Him.
Mizael & Larimar
Mizael and Larimar are two of our students who have been in school for a long time. They are always engaged in good discussion about their own interests, Larimar about animals and dogs, and Mizael on secret agents and FBI. They always ask very good questions because of their desire to learn. They participated the Puerto Rico Deaf speech competition, which focuses on the topic of their vision to improve Puerto Rico. Mizael’s was about putting a stop to fighting and bringing peace. Larimar’s was about strong family values. Both of their speeches are very much connected to their personal lives, as they want to share their real experiences in Puerto Rico. Larimar ended up winning 1st and Mizael 3rd in their age group. It was such a great achievement, and we are so proud of them! Please continue to pray for their independent growth and to keep Jesus in their hearts for rest of their lives.
At the same time, there was much personal growth in our staff as well. We shared and learned more about God,and looked deep into our hearts to see who we truly are and how we need to change ourselves to become a better servant of God. No matter what our age, we always have room to grow! A Iittle thing I’ve realized is that even though missionary work can be exhausting, there is always so much joy to be serving the Lord. Yes, there were some struggles among us but God has always helped us to overcome these, allowing us to grow in Christ, walking in his footsteps. We hope that we, as staff, can continue in our mission to nurture and guide other in Christ walk of life. Please pray for a smooth transition into the next year, which God is preparing for all staff members, whether staying for another term, or leaving for home or other service opportunities. Pray for God to give them strength and wisdom in all their missionary work.
I have concluded my presentation with a video of the students signing the song “Oh Happy Day”. The audience gave a great applause for the student’s work.
In closing, the conference went really well. It was very encouraging to meet new people and share our experiences of serving God, all over the island of Puerto Rico. It was exciting and I thank God for all the things He has done for us. We pray that we will continue to grow in our Deaf community, schools, churches and missions.
Together in Christ,
For more information about WMD, visit their website: wmdcanada.org