by Rachel Sawyer
There are four distinct communities that Makarios serves in: Chichigua, Pancho Mateo, Tamarindo and Los Ciruelos. Each of these communities has a special place in the hearts of Makarianos, one represents the inspiration, one is the site of the first Makarios school, one is the current neighborhood of the school, and the other is the location of lodging for our groups. Today, we are going to look a little closer into the two fruity ones: Tamarindo (a sweet and tangy fruit) and Los Ciruelos ("the plum trees".)
Tamarindo is the neighborhood immediately surrounding the current Mak school. With many houses peeking in just feet from the school and all around the perimeter, Tamarindo is a maze of closely linked houses just on the edge of Montellano. The majority of the students that currently attend Colegio Makarios are from Tamarindo. Interestingly enough, Tamarindo was not initially part of the scope of neighborhoods that Makarios planned on working in. However, when the availability of land coupled with the availability of an already established building foundation, which is the most expensive part of any building project, happened, Tamarindo came into focus front and center, and is now truly the hub of many Makarios functions.
Colegio Makarios clearly has the cutest neighbors (and in this case, students) ever! The window from the back of their house is inches from the Makarios fence line. Not all of our neighbors in Tamarindo are quite this close, but atleast a handful of them are reach - out - and - touch distance. Photo Credit: Rachel Sawyer
Los Ciruelos was also not originally a part of the picture of Makarios because the neighborhood is comprised of mostly middle class Dominicans who already had other options for schooling. However, when affordable land was found in this bustling little neighborhood, Makarios expanded its reach to Los Ciruelos, bringing in hundreds of people throughout the year to serve alongside Makarios, staying in the MAK house. Along with the MAK house host couple, these visitors, while only here for a week at a time, have been instrumental in loving on and providing activities and bible teaching for the kids of Los Ciruelos. Almost every group spends their "down time" playing with neighborhood kids, and providing a Mak.comm (Mak community) experience with bible stories, skits, crafts, etc.
The size of Mak house is matched in heart by the size of the relationships that past and present staff have built and continue to build within the community of Los Ciruelos. Every single host couple that has done life in the Mak house and in the community of Los Ciruelos has intentionally poured into relationships in this neighborhood. One of these relationships that has been a constant thread in the life of the Mak house hosts has resulted in the "adoption" of a particular community member, not in terms of legality, but in terms of love, discipleship, accountability and shepherding a heart for Christ in the life of someone special, a Makariana Extraordinaire. If you've met S, you know that her English is fabulous (thanks to a former Mak house couple that taught her!), her personality full of vigor and her heart tender for the Lord beats strong.
All of our communities are as special as the people living in them. We are privileged to love and serve in such gracious, hospitable places. Come on a trip to serve with Makarios and you will see for yourself how blessed we are to love, educate and empower in these communities!
By Briana Sadowski, Cedarville University group member, guest post
We’re on the way back, and for me this time on the plane is always one of
reflecting on all that I saw, heard, and learned here in another country. First of all,
it’s important to mention that not all countries in one region are the same. There
can be a tendency to think that – for example – cultures are the same in all of
Central America, a region not too large. However, each country and people has
their own culture. This I learned since my first trip to the Dominican Republic.
When someone asks me how to describe the people and place of the Dominican
Republic, I always answer with the same word: community. The idea of
community is not as common in more individualistic countries. I mean, we have
neighborhoods – a concept of living close to other families.
But what does community mean? The Dominican people know how to define it
well. For them, community means three things: sharing generously, living
together (physically and figuratively), and loving others.
First: sharing generously. It is so clear from the moment one arrives at a
community that all the members share what they have. If someone is sick,
another comes to prepare them food. If one child goes to a neighbor’s house, this
neighbor treats him as one of their own children. Even when someone is selling
goods or services (this happened to me as well), they give without thinking twice
about the cost. One woman that braids hair on the beaches for a living offered to
braid mine. I responded that the braids were indeed beautiful but that I hadn’t
brought money that day for anything, so I could not. Without even hesitating, she
answered me saying that she would prefer to do a favor for someone because
life is not all about money. So I sat down for a time with her, and as she braided
my hair we talked about her and her family. She did not have to offer me
anything, but she desired to show me love.
Next: living together. When we visited the communities, often we saw that they
were caring for each other all the time. We came to a house to help clean it out
with the man, and the neighbors not only came out and helped, but also were
making decisions for him. We would ask the neighbors questions and they would
respond in his place. Why? Because they all live life together, and know the
needs, preferences, and persons that they are living with.
Finally: loving others. Even though the community members literally have been
born and grown up in the same community (and therefore know each other quite
well), they open their doors so that other visitors or new guests can come in. I
think this part could be the most difficult to implement. They are very close to
each other, and have no obligation to allow or invite visitors, but they go ahead
and do so with love and care. They build and maintain relationships not only with
those within their own community but also with those outside that desire to get to
know them. This impacted me greatly because, being my second time visiting, I
saw that I could continue the relationships that I had the privilege to make with
those there, and I also had the chance to meet new people who with joy invited
me to share in their lives and begin to get to know them.
Dominicans have shown me a great picture of what a community looks like, and
although I do not live in towns built such as theirs, I too can invite others to enter
into my life, with the hope of maintaining relationships and sharing whether it be
materials, time, encouragement, etc. We have the power to create community
wherever we live!
"We have the power to create community wherever we live!
What have you observed about community where you are? If you've served with Makarios in the D.R. in the past and have a special take-away about what community looks like here, please comment!
Would you join us in praying for the various components of Makarios this month? Muchas Gracias!
"In the morning, O Lord, you will hear my voice: in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch." Psalm 5:3
Bella Lopez Martinez, Makarios Staff
It is a pleasure for me to be able to talk about what Makarios has been in my life.
And the answer to the question, "What has Makarios produced in your life?" is short and sweet: Blessing. But that would not be sufficient to leave it at that. Oh what God has done through Makarios! I knew of Makarios because my friend Marnelia was working there. She and I attend the same church and she was the one who introduced me to Makarios. At that time my husband nor I were working nor did we have a place to live. Someone lent us a room in their house for us and our two kids to live. I had no idea all that God had prepared for us.
I then decided to go to the Makarios School to ask if there was need for Christian people to work and to not make the story so long, they hired me as an assistant to the teachers. Then the following year they made me the head teacher of the classroom. It is in this moment that the big trials started. I had two miscarriages, I wasn't able to pay my bills at the hospital, but God had selected people to help me pay that debt. Then I broke my right hand and my knee also.
But Makarios was also with me in those moments. Though I have experienced hardships, I have also seen how the love of God has been there through all the people who were giving of themselves without complaint. I believe that without the help of God and without the help of these people who know how to love and help that I would not be in my 6th year of working with Makarios. Through the special people that God has here my husband works for Makarios and the blessing of Makarios has spanned the generations of my family. My family is verrrrrrrrrrry thankful to God for allowing us to be a part of this very special family. Makarios has taught me to not need to just understand God, but to obey God also.
I am working as an administrative assistant this year. My husband is a chaufferr for the school. My daughter is a student at Makarios. We are in charge of the worship at Makarios activities, but it isn't just what Makarios has given us physically, but spiritually we have learned by the example of the leaders who recognize God who is bigger than culture. We are a blessed family. We are a family that God has chosen to be a part of Makarios and we want to be a blessing to Makarios. God is faithful and good. My family is always praying for Makarios and for the people who support this ministry.
Makarios has incredible staff who love the Lord, the students and each other! If you have had the opportunity to interact with Makarios and have experienced the product of blessing as a result, would you send some encouragement and leave a comment? For more information on what Makarios is about, click here.
by Rachel Sawyer
A product as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary:
noun prod·uct \ˈprä-(ˌ)dəkt\
Simple Definition of product
What does it mean to be a <Product of Makarios>? We are not dealing with commodities, objects to be bought and sold. We are dealing with people, created in the image of God, His workmanship, crafted by His hand to walk in good works that He prepared ahead of time for each one to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). We aren't talking about a product, packaged for maximum appeal and marketed for maximum success, but a person, empowered by the knowledge of Christ's love for them, unleashed to their full potential, set forth for kingdom building - one household, family, community at a time.
What are we striving for that the process of being a part of Makarios would result in for our students and their families? How does the environment of Makarios shape the future for those we have been entrusted to for a season? These are some of the things that we intentionally strive for as a result:
As an organization dedicated to meeting the spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of impoverished people, we are continually striving to improve, evaluate and discern the imprint that we are leaving on those who serve with us and those we serve. With sincere and authentic hearts we commit to being intentional about creating an environment that produces servant hearted leaders that love the Lord, the world around them, and who ultimately hold the key to making an eternal difference in their spheres of influence. We ask for your prayers in this process.
Click here for more information about the mission and vision of Makarios.
by Wes Holloman, Associate Pastor - Sagemont Church, guest blogger
Life and ministry are so much more fun when you do it with others! I have seen that in my own life so many times! I love Walt Disney World, but experiencing it with my family makes it all the more MAGICAL. I love serving others, but there is NOTHING better than serving hand-in-hand with another person.
A few years ago, my family and I were privileged to have dinner with Jon and Rachel Sawyer and with some of our mutual friends. Rachel actually went to Baylor University with Kelli, my wife, and me (a LONG time ago), and we had a great time talking about old friends and fond memories of the “Good ‘ole Baylor Line.” Our conversation quickly switched to hearing their hearts for missions and for the people of the Dominican Republic. The stories of what the Lord was doing were just incredible. At that point, I knew partnering with Jon and Rachel was not just a thought, but this needed to become a reality.
After meeting with our missions team, Sagemont Church moved forward in making Makarios one of our major strategic mission partners. Of course, everything looks great on paper, but you never know what will happen in reality. We sent our first Sagemont Church student group, and I can’t BEGIN to tell you how the Lord used this mission trip to challenge and transform a group of students in the most incredible ways. Over the past several years, our church continues go back and partner with Makarios because of the life-changing experiences that happen when you serve on mission with those of the same mind and heart.
What has happened at our church because of our partnership with Makarios?
· Students have shared the Gospel for the first time.
· Students have been called to the ministry and to the mission field.
· Parents have seen total transformation in their kid’s lives (I was so privileged to go to the DR with my oldest daughter. She STILL talks about this mission trip and will be going back to the DR next month!).
· Students are stretched and taken out of their comfort zone to challenge and strengthen their relationship with Christ.
· We have made life-long friends with incredible people like Jon, Rachel, Doug and Margaret!
Being a partner with Makarios has absolutely changed our church family! You can accomplish so much more when you work with someone, and you can accomplish a hundred-fold when you partner with a team who want to accomplish the same goal…to tell others about the love and grace of Jesus! For this, Sagemont Church is forever grateful for Makarios and their leadership!
We can’t wait to see you all next month!
If you would like to walk hand-in-hand with Makarios by officially becoming one of our amazing partners, click here for more information. Partnering with us can also be sponsoring a child, a missionary kid, a teacher, a classroom, etc. or by giving to a particular area. We are thankful beyond measure for the many ways that churches, organizations and individuals come alongside us in meaningful and impactful ways!
Judie Hickey, guest blogger
How did this happen? In this month of Valentines and love, how did a beautiful, impoverished Caribbean island country grab part of my heart? How did I become a partner with the ministries and people of the Dominican Republic?
The first visit - It began innocently enough. Back in the late 1990s, my husband and I visited the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola to see our teacher daughter and to witness the work in which she was involved. Our visit didn’t take us to the beautiful tourist areas on the coast; instead, we got to experience a week of life in the town of Santiago. Little did we know that as the years went by the Dominican Republic would become more and more a part of our lives.
The School – In 2004, out of direction from the Lord and love for the people, a friend of our daughter began a mission program in some of the Dominican villages. (This program/organization was named Makarios which means “blessed” in ancient Greek.) She wanted to teach and demonstrate God’s love. Seeing a need for classroom education, nourishment, and health programs for the children of the country, the Makarios program expanded to a rudimentary school, which opened in 2007. When sponsorship funds were required for each child, the need reached our hearts and we partnered with Makarios to sponsor a precious little student. Surely the partnering would end here.
But no--- During several more visits to this island, the people of the DR have touched my heart. Despite possessing very little in earthly goods, Dominicans have reached out with friendliness. During our most recent stay on the island, we visited a small mountain village for a Christmas worship service. Even though we didn’t know the language, we found the service full of such joy, the music spirited, and the people ever so friendly. Following the service the people of this village shared heaping plates full of rice, beans and chicken with us. Such generosity, despite great poverty.
The children- Visiting the children in the towns or in the school makes one realize how precious the kiddos are. Imagine sitting alongside them in their classrooms, as I did, and seeing their proud faces as they read, sing, speak, and play. Their bright eyes sparkle; their hands reach out in affection; their smiles are infectious. Yes, there goes a little more of my heart.
Our family – In 2013, we saw our daughter, son-in-law, and three little grandchildren leave the U.S. to become missionaries in the Dominican Republic. It was with both joy and sadness to have them leave to serve the Lord in the Makarios ministry. Anyone who is a grandparent knows that part of his/her heart is with the grandkids. This family-connection touched us to be an even bigger partner in the Makarios ministry.
The word “partner” can be used as a noun or a verb. Let me use it in both ways. Makarios is a partner to us as we partner with the organization in student sponsorships, general giving, missionary support, and, of course, prayer. The portion of my heart that is part of the Dominican Republic is rejoicing in the Makarios partnership.
Desiring to dive into partnership that will leave a lasting and eternal impact? Click here for more information.
by Laura Simpson, guest blogger
In October of 2007, I was a brand new nurse with only 4 months experience living
and working in my hometown of Dayton, OH. This super fun, Jesus loving, PA I had
worked with for a couple of years had mentioned taking a medical mission vision
trip down to the Dominican Republic. He had gone to college and was friends with
the founder. I was fresh out of college, making actual money and always up for
international travel, so I told him I was in. To be honest, it wasn’t the thought of
going to a beautiful island, eating dinner on a gorgeous beach or even using the
skills my God had fashioned in me…what excited me the most was that of the 7 of us
that went, none of us went to the same church. While I participated in and loved
going on mission trips with my friends in youth group growing up (some of my most
treasured memories are trips/camps with my youth group…we were so fun)…there
was something so special about people saying yes to Jesus because the opportunity
presented itself…not because you knew all the people and all the details and
someone had gone before you to tell you what it was like, but simply because you
know God, you love God and you know that you know that you know…you are
always meant to love and serve people; it is an amazing way to love and serve God.
I had absolutely zero clue how this trip would go. The only thing I distinctly
remember from a meeting when Sharla was in town was that you can’t throw your
toilet paper in the toilet. It has to go in the trashcan beside it. No other options. Oh,
and always make sure you have toilet paper on you…it’s never a guarantee in public
places. I was subconsciously seriously concerned about the toilet paper thing.
The trip was amazing. It was rainy. We all thought we were going to die walking
back to our hotel at the end of the trip because it was so dark and sand is a blast to
hoof it in. I almost busted my tail on some wet tile. But, we saw the school, which
was one little building with two small classrooms inside. We walked through
Montellano, Pancho Mateo and Chichigua and I fell in love. We were muddy messes
by the time we were done. Something in me clicked and shifted forever. My heart
was swelling with each child I picked up, every hand old or young that I held. We
literally walked from house to house, being invited in, them coming out to greet us
and we helped teach them, remove stiches, clean and dress wounds, ect all out of
our backpacks. This, my friends is partnership. To come alongside, work together,
sharing what you know and helping without expectation of payback, but each doing
what they can.
I knew by day 3 that I wanted to come back. I had to pray about it before I talked to
Sharla. I needed to know that this wasn’t just a caught up in the moment high. When
talking about coming back for an extended period of time, I knew in my heart that
this is what God had for me at that time. At that time, there was no medical
personnel in the DR and I would actually be able to fill a role for a small amount of
time. Sharla was all for it and so was I. I now had to convince my job to let a new
nurse with very little earned time off to leave her job for a month to go serve in
another country. The Lord gave me some powerful and persuasive words. I went
over and over my speech to my boss. I entered her office with humility, but a bold
spirit to present the request. I was no more than one sentence in and she agreed.
Just like that. No pleading. No proving. This, my friends, is partnership. It’s when you
are willing to put in the work, praying, studying the word, saving money and
supplies…and believing with all your heart that God will do his part. You see,
whether or not my boss was going to allow me to go was not truly ever in her hands.
It was always in God’s. And even though He permitted it to be without me having to
put up a good case as to why this was going to be a catalyst for the future years to
change my life; He was pleased that I was willing.
My partnership with Makarios does not look like most. I wasn’t there from the
beginning, but I got to walk on roads of those that could see people like me coming a
few years later. Partnership. I have gone back twice a year since, sometimes with
medical teams, but mostly on my own. I have made friends with staff and in the
communities. I have always been welcomed in like family and we keep up even
years later. Partnership. This even allowed me to join Makarios as a few of us went
to Jimani after the earthquake to offer our love and skills in an orphanage turned
hospital in whatever ways we could and were sent with supplies from sponsors in
the States. Partnership. I’ve also seen children go to a safe school, being taught a
bilingual curriculum that sets them up for the future, and a meal they can count on.
They learn to love and respect each other. Partnership. But most of all, these lives
are changing the face of the Kingdom and more are being added all the time. These
are the training grounds for the rising leaders of their communities…and they are
our brothers in sisters in Christ whose very lives are sharing the gospel.
Partners come in various forms, with unique callings and specific gifts, and we couldn't be more grateful! Our partners are essential to loving, educating and empowering! Want to join in? Click here for more information on how to become a partner.
by Rachel Sawyer
Biblical partnership is about relationship in the shape of the cross, a relationship with a loving God on the vertical axis, and a mutual sharing with one another on the horizontal axis. Biblical partnership is about the fellowship of believers carrying a burden in the same direction, sharing the load, resources, time and effort while covering each other in prayer and keeping Christ at the center of it all. It is about fellowship, community, connection, cooperation, collaboration, togetherness, unity and the body of Christ all wrapped up into opportunities to live out the gospel, to leave the aroma of Christ and to spread the good news by operating in such a way that Jesus Christ is glorified.
Makarios, which means blessed, is in fact blessed to operate in the sweet spot of multiple, meaningful, impactful partnerships that lift up, encourage, support and challenge. These partnerships have been forged over time through relationships and the invitation to partake in what we acknowledge is the hand of God moving along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. In fact, He was doing a work long before Makarios and its partners came along, but in His grace and love HE has allowed us to partake in His work here. Partnership. Blessed, indeed.
Partnership in the context of Makarios is multi-generational, multi-cultural, individual, corporate, familial, all of which represent a beautiful picture of the body of Christ moving in unison to highlight the focal point of all that we do: pointing to the only ONE who can save, set free, empower, change, Christ Jesus.
Partnership comes in many forms, but the opportunity is all the same - to be a partaker in what the Lord is doing! Would you like to partake in the mission of Makarios? Click here for more information.
by Laurie Majcher, Makarios Principal
We have our PEC!!!!
Well, the exclamation points should give it away that you should be very excited about this!!!!! The PEC is a document that is the Makarios School on paper: past, present and future. We need it in order to pursue our accreditation so that our students can graduate with a high school diploma from the Makarios School.
When Mak first started we didn't think we would need to go through this process, but as we have since learned, it is necessary for the benefit of our students. There are still other requirements to consider and we are working on them. And other than a few minor errors (like having 3-year old kids listed as teachers), we are done with this crucial step in the process to being legit in the eyes of the Dominican Ministry of Education. Being legit. By the Dominican Ministry of Education.
'By the Dominican Ministry of Education' is a crucial part of the sentence. We ARE legit. Our students attend when they really don't have to. They abide by our rules generally. The parents trust us. Makarios has a good name in the communities where we serve. We are invited to events. (I was even on TV for a basketball court dedication in Pancho Mateo.)
There is a value for the work that is being done in the students' lives. Legit? Oh, we are legit, alright. But, having said all that, it will be nice to have our Dominican accreditation and truly be all legitimate in the eyes of the Dominican Ministry of Education.
Dominican Ministry of Education, we present to you our PEC!!(!!!)
This month the Dominican Ministry of Education will visit our school and give us suggestions for improvements so that we can proceed through the steps towards accreditation. How exciting if we could start 2016-2017 as an officially accredited, Dominican, private school. Please pray with us to this end. We will keep you posted on our 'legit' status.
This month we will be highlighting the various aspects of partnership, a key element in the mission of Makarios to love, educate and empower. Partnership, at its core, is about relationship, and Makarios strives to have a healthy, gospel reflective partnership that functions excellently within the parameters of the country in which we serve, the Dominican Republic. Establishing Colegio Makarios as a school recognized by the government of the Dominican Republic is one way that Makarios is striving to create sustainable partnership. In addition, partnership is an umbrella over every single area in which we work: groups, school, health, outreach, sponsorships, communities, etc. To find out more about how you can partner with Makarios, click here.