Houses for the Poor

Many of you know that we are working in a village called Villa Paraiso. It was built by the Samaritan Foundation here in Sosua. The homes are given to some of the poorest in the area and for us Americans this would be beyond poor in the USA. Villa Paraiso is a village built for Dominicans while some of the previous projects were geared for Haitians in the area.

Los Algadones is a village named after the cottons, there is a large piece of machinery still rusting in its place that was once used for the cotton industry.

Los Algadones Villa

Original houses in Los Algadones

 

Inside of house

 

Inside of house 2

Basic living

 

Old houses in Los Algadones

Shacks not worthy of living in

 

As you can see the living conditions can be worse than what we would allow a lawnmower to park in. Dirt floors rusty and holey roofs. Rotting wood for structures with plenty of insects throughout.

Here is the new section of that village:

New houses in Los Algadones

These houses are still very basic compared to the standard North American living. These houses have 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom with toilet and area for showering, but no running water. It has a room for living and kitchen area and most bring in water via buckets from water taps on the sidewalk. A nice smooth cement floor and a roof to keep out the rain, these houses are a huge upgrade and because they do not pay any rent, they are able to spend that money on food or other necessities.  One way to look at the type of living is that of tent camping in the U.S., cooking over open fire or propane stoves, dirt or mud everywhere, mosquitoes, flies and roosters (well, I guess maybe not the roosters 🙂

We have had the blessing of eating with a couple of families in their humble homes and are welcomed with open arms. Very few have luxuries or even a vehicle, but I find that there are many who are at peace and are praising God for everything they have. So the next time you find yourself complaining about a scratch on your car or the size of your house, take a moment and thank God for what you do have. I know that I have been humbled by what people will live with or without here.

Find yourself at the mercies of a loving Father who has given you much or little, yet use all that He has given you for His glory!

Samuel’s Broken Arm

Yes, Samuel has broken an arm, not serious – gracias a Dios.

Here are copies of the bills:

Bill for Hospital and X-rays

Bill for Hospital and X-rays

Doctor bill

Doctor's Bill

Two more dents into our already dented wallet. $2,527 for the hospital and d$1,500 for the doctor! Boy am I glad this wasn’t in US Dollars, which would probably what you would spend for the emergency room, doctor and x-rays in the states. Overall this was about $110 USD, which is way cheaper than any part of a visit in the U.S.

The crack is in the upper portion of the humerus, yet he didn’t find it very funny. It isn’t all the way across the bone, so it should heal quickly.

Here is the happy boy now:

Samuel with broken arm

Samuel broke his arm

Thank you for the continued prayers for our family!

God bless – Dios te bendiga!

Christmas Gift Ideas

Well, this isn’t our normal post, but one that is sort of commercial in nature. We have owned www.NorthwestGifts.com for around 12 years now, but no longer is it a direct source of income. However, our friend Daniel Szczesniak is now running that and our other website www.UrnsNW.com

So, if you are looking for Christmas gifts, Golf giftsfloral wreaths or a number of gift ideas please check out what is offered at Northwest Gifts. Sales will benefit our family as well as Daniel’s.

Five Dollar Coupon

Priceless

Making the move to a 3rd world country and not having health insurance (even beforehand) and not even sure how skilled or what kind of care you can get is interesting to say the least. We have already had to go to the pharmacy a couple of times, first for Heather’s eyes which had something like pink eye and then Silas scratched mosquito bites with dirty fingers and it got infected and now Jessica to the hospital.

First off we believe things are fine (to put you at ease, especially Bonnie) But for Jessica to find a lump at the age of 38 which was the age her grandmother passed away from breast cancer, was a bit nerve racking. The thought of fighting that kind of battle here was not something high on my list.  We have already heard enough about cancer deaths here, but I know that we have a great God that can heal and restore all things.

The costs so far for this: $1050 for doctor, $1100 for mamogram, $858 for ultrasound. (Oh, did I forget to mention this is $RD – pesos to dollar is about 37 to 1.)

Doctor appointment in a foreign country: $30
Mamogram in a new facility: $30
Ultrasound in a 3rd world country: $23
Knowing you serve a great and awesome God and having family and friends praying: Priceless.

Beat that MasterCard!

After writing the above we returned to the doctor to get more information. They don’t believe it looks like cancer and they recommend it to be removed and studied. We are praying about this, but for now we are able to relax and praise God for mercies.

Believing in Christmas

Church family in Villa Paraiso

Iglesia Villa Paraiso

Island Light Ministries is planning a special Christmas service in the church in December. We hope that it will bring glory to God through praise, worship, testimony and more. Part of what we would like to do is have a gift package for each family along with a Christmas dinner at the church.

We are asking our church family to remember their  brothers and sisters who have little to nothing and that even the smallest thing can mean a lot to them. Even $5 can go a long way to provide gifts for these families here. Please ask God what it is that you can do to bless your family here in the Dominican Republic.

Continue to pray for this church as the Lord moves you to. He is doing great things here with His people!

God is Moving

God is moving and we are trying to keep up! When God moves in an area and you are one of His servants, be ready. Be ready to run and see all He does.

I believe God has put me into similar shoes as those of Gideon. Everything that I am involved with is greater than I am yet God has called me to do these things. The awesome part is, like Gideon, I really don’t do anything substantial I just have to obey Him and follow His lead. God goes before and conquers the enemies. We go not as a huge army, but small, not just with swords, but with the unconventional weapon of love, not with fear, but with His word and knowing God has a plan and the ability to make His plan happen. We get to see the impossible, the unbelievable and we, as His children get to have the benefits of living in His family. I love serving a living God!

As Jesus says in John 4:37-38 

37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

You see, we don’t have to be the ones sowing to be part of the reaping and sometimes when we sow, we do not always see the harvest. We get to play a part of God’s plan of salvation in lives either way.

All of this to bring up a recent celebration in heaven. A man named Jeremiah and his wife came to church last Wednesday. Jeremiah was sick and towards the end of service Lewis asked him and his wife to come up and we prayed for him. He was healed physically and then both him and his wife gave their lives to the Lord. I am not even sure what I did exactly. All I know is when Lewis explained the news to another he mentioned something I did, however, since it was in Spanish I don’t know what it was that I did.

Like Gideon, if I just keep obeying God it will be obvious who is doing the work. God doesn’t stay still, He keeps on moving.

Keep praying for your brothers and sisters here in Villa Paraiso in the Dominican Republic.

Watching

One of the residents of Villa Paraiso is a young man with his wife and 2 kids. This young man is always willing to talk (a lot in English) and makes his presence around the church and is a neighbor of a lady we visit a lot. This young man is not a believer, when asked about things he says he is “watching”.

How many of us have watchers, those who are wondering about Christians, about Jesus, about the church and who watch us? They are looking for evidence in our walk, do we really believe what we say we believe? This young man offered us some food today, he made some great spaghetti and rice. He is currently jobless and here that means no job and no unemployment benefits.

Also, I know that there is that time when I will have to challenge him on his “watching” to see if he will be walking. I don’t believe that just my walk, but also my words will bring to him the good news, the Gospel, the truth of Christ which can free him from sin.

I respect this young man in his honesty, he isn’t pretending to be a Christian. He isn’t pretending to know all. He is honestly watching us. I believe God has a plan for this young man’s life, so if this touches you, please pray for him. His name is Manuel. Pray for salvation and for a job.

Oliveria Family Newsletter

We have put out our first family newsletter. We have it available in a print quality PDF if you would like to print it for your church body, the one attached on the site is for screen quality only.

Thank you for all your support and a thank you to the anonymous giver of the much needed boost for this month.

I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter and I will be asking the kids to add their own columns in the next month’s issue.

Oliveria newsletter October 2010

Oliveria Newsletter

Oliveria Family Newsletter

When it Rains, it Pours

For the weather here that is definitely true. It seems that every time it rains we get a downpour that makes it hard to see when driving. This happens probably every other day and a few times today as some storms pass from the north.

Most of our readers can relate to this in their lives as well. From finances to health everything seems to hit at once. Today I would ask that you lift us up in prayer for a few things. I must have a bug of some sort and I am a bit drained right now. Also, we are currently out of cash and a little short in the account to pay rent and the remaining deposit amount that we were allowed to pay this coming month. We just had the back brakes repaired a little sooner than planned since we lost all the brake fluid when a wheel cylinder leaked.

Our guagua is fixed!

We are still questioning the house we are in, it took us a while to find one in a safe location that would work with us and the price was comparable to everything else we found. Now we hear the house next door is $700 month which is $550 less than this house. I am assuming that we get the higher rates as “gringos” because the person next door is currently a Dominican. We don’t want to be foolish with the money God provides, but we also don’t want to be foolish about protecting the family. Until we speak Spanish more fluently and understand more about the culture it may not be the wisest thing to live just anywhere.

We are also setting up with Agape Flights to be able to receive mail and packages from home. We are needing some of the school books we left behind because we had already filled too many bags for the flight. Health insurance is another item on our list of needs that we would like to get soon, the price is much more affordable than the U.S. but I don’t have a quote yet for the whole family.

So please pray with us as week ask God for wisdom in all these decisions and for the finances we need to live here. I believe God has us here and I don’t think it was just to come for a few months to only return home (which we don’t have anymore :~)

Passing out food in a village

What is Normal?

It is funny how we can grow up in a culture and not realize that there are other ways of doing things. We don’t think twice when we get in a car and only get in if there are enough seats to sit in. We expect and even demand personal space especially when traveling. We do things the way we were taught by our parents or schools. Sometimes we don’t even know why we do things the way we do.

For an example, here in the Dominican Republic there seems to always be room for one more.

17 in a 9 passenger van

We have been transporting a family and some of their neighbors from another village to our church in Villa Paraiso. They will pile in and if I think I am picking up a family of 5 I always end up with a full load. In the picture above you can’t even see the 2 kids behind the back seat or one (or 2) hiding behind me and the 2 in the front passenger seat.

All this to say – Why are we doing what we do in our Spiritual walk? 

I have found myself over the last few years questioning everything we do. Why do you pray with your eyes closed? Why do we go to church? Why do we say what we say (as in our christian vocabulary)? AND Does it really say that in the Bible?

I believe we should question. Not question God, but question our beliefs. Question what man has taught you! Why do we do what we do? Is it because of tradition? And if so, is that tradition harmful to your walk? Does your beliefs keep you from fully trusting God?

So driving in the USA and having laws saying to have a seat belt on every person is not bad, it does not bring harm, in fact it may save your life. But believing God is always waiting for you to fail and thus you cannot enter heaven, like many of the religions seem to teach in between the lines, that can keep you from really trusting Him. God, our loving father who sent His own son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, and that was while you were still a sinner deserving death, is not waiting for you to fail, but is waiting for YOU to come to Him.

So next time you see something done differently and are thinking it is wrong, try questioning why you do it the way you do.

Proverbs 16:25  “There is a way which seems straight before a man, but its end is the ways of death.”