Enjoy a little peak into the first day of school this year! The Makarios family is excited to begin a new school year! Behold our 5th, 6th and 7th graders in their pristine Adonai uniforms (the partner school where we are sending these grades to while we work on getting our Dominican school code). We know you will be as captivated as we are by the cute characters we have been entrusted with this year.
Thank you to Richie Sparling, Outreach Coordinator, for capturing the photos and videos for this snapshot into Day 1, 2015.
If you are intersted in sponsoring one of the Makarios students still in need of a sponsor, click here.
by Rachel Sawyer
From my observation, teaching a bunch of 3 year olds is like herding kittens. Just when you manage to get them all in a huddle, or a line, one or two run off. Profe Gabrielle and Profe Gloria (along with our other Makarios teachers) need to be recommended for some sort of amazing prize, medal, reward, certificate. Something. They don't do what they do for the prize or the recognition, but a standing ovation might be nice every once and a while! Certainly they will have lots of jewels on their crowns in heaven! The patience level of teachers anywhere is something to be marvled at, but Makarios teachers take it up a notch.
It's the end of a school year and the children have made a lot of progress. Water is a big deal. Playing in water is a luxury that most don't have the opportunity to enjoy. So to celebrate the end of the year, the Pre K 3 class had a water day at the Makarios house. What a sight to behold . . .
They embraced the water with WILD abandon!
From the pool to the slip-n-slide to the popsicle treats, they had a BLAST!
Cuteness + el agua = Good times!
by Miranda Wauson
Pancho Mateo is a small batey that sits on the banks of the Camu river. Looking at a map of the Dominican Republic’s North Coast, you won’t find this ‘city’ of around 5,000. Bateys were initially started as camps and living quarters for Haitian sugar cane field workers. They eventually grew into communities of permanent residents, and in some cases came to include Dominicans, as is the case in Pancho Mateo. The village struggles with the same infrastructural difficulties that plague the Dominican Republic: unstable electricity and long blackouts, clean water shortages, and high unemployment.
In 2005, Makarios entered the village of Pancho Mateo, with the goal of impacting local kids through education and a message of hope in Christ. Classes were offered in a small house in the middle of the village, and a 12 year old boy named Francis “Cakito” Batista began to attend. That decision that would affect his life both as a youth and as an adult, leading him to eventually come on staff with Makarios full time. Now 22 years old, Cakito serves as Makarios chaplain and primary disciplinarian. Reflecting on the changes he has seen in Pancho Mateo over the years, he sees progress and hope.
“Education has made the neighborhood better,” he says. “There are more opportunities, and because of the efforts of Makarios parents feel more committed to their kids. There is someone holding them accountable.”
Cakito has dreams for the future of Pancho Mateo. “Right now there are a lot of people sitting around doing nothing. I want people to live believing there is hope. Especially teenagers, knowing they can go to university, have different jobs, have a career.”
Though Makarios eventually moved to a larger property across the river in Tamarindo, the ministry continues to serve the community of Pancho by employing teachers and serving more than 50 students enrolled in Colegio Makarios. Cakito is actively involved in his community, working with the New Life Christian Church, heading up a basketball league for local youth, and running a summer soccer camp. Each of his jobs provide ample opportunity to share a message of hope in the midst of suffering.
“Living so close together, there are conflicts. In spite of that, I am able to preach the gospel not just with words, but with actions. We feel like a family, and it’s evident when you walk down the street. People here love you and make you feel special, even though you are broken. You don’t have to be rich or important to be loved, you just have to be yourself.”
A Peek Into Makarios' Austin Office
Those sweet, smiling faces in the pictures that melt your heart- talk about daily motivation. In our Austin office, the walls are covered with beautiful reminders (thank you Esther Havens) of why we do what we do, and why we do it to the best of our ability. While our school is in the Dominican Republic along with our teachers, students, and staff members, a few of us work and live in Austin. We strive to invite as many people as possible into the ministry that is Makarios. The DR staff and the Austin staff may be miles apart, but we are family. We work together in casting vision, and in making that vision a reality.
In the Austin office, you will find people planning mission trips, booking flights, buying insurance for travelers, interviewing potential staff, launching fundraising campaigns, collaborating with interns, guiding missionaries who are fundraising, keeping finances in order, Skyping with DR staff leaders (sometimes a hilariously broken connection), recruiting teachers, and meeting with people who are interested in serving with Makarios. We get to offer churches an opportunity to serve towards something we deeply believe in, and be the bridge between communities in the United States and communities in the Dominican Republic. We are here in part to maintain those relationships and communicate the resource needs of the DR as well as the relational needs. It’s a life-giving and chaotic environment full of collaboration and respect. We encourage each other, pray over each other, serve each other, laugh together, and challenge one another to grow. It’s messy at times. Life usually is. Many issues come up that make us look around and realize that none of us have the answer. Praise God for those moments, where we recognize our desperation for God, and the urgency to lean into Him for all decisions. This desperation is a call to humility. Humility does not produce boundaries, but is a reminder that we serve a limitless God- humility allows us to dream big and set big goals. After all, we have seen Makarios flourish over the years by the grace of God, and because of people’s willingness to be obedient.
It is an honor to serve an organization that cares so intentionally for people. To know that our kids have opportunities they may never have had without a conviction followed by obedience. Lives are being changed, education offered, and we are all invited to be part of it!
“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Yet, some of us read the word ‘go’ and our hearts drop. We don’t feel encouraged, but we should. We feel like we are lacking in purpose- but we shouldn’t. We ask ourselves: what do we do when we’re not ‘called to the nations’ right now?
Two things have been made very clear since joining the Makarios family:
1. No job is too small. We are all parts of the same body, working together interdependently. This is true both in the office, and in the broader organization. If dishes need to be washed, we wash them. If a card needs to be mailed, we mail it. If a fundraising campaign needs to be launched, we will launch it. Any and all of these tasks can become the responsibility of an intern, a trip planner, or the executive director himself. This mentality becomes essential in cultivating a culture of service. Every task we complete, is in the service of someone whether they are sitting next to us or across the ocean. In the Austin office, we have the privilege of knowing that on the receiving end of our work, there are missionaries in the Dominican Republic who are able to better focus on what they have been called to do. It’s not a lack of purpose, it’s just a different one.
2. You have to be where you are. We have to look around and recognize that while we are serving people through our work, there’s a reason we are not serving alongside our DR staff. We have community here, and the second we think about all the things we could be doing abroad, is the second we cease to be present. We look around for who to serve and how to love. Sometimes that means making friends with the homeless man walking into the office. Sometimes it means initiating “Taco Truck Tuesday” and inviting friends to support Maria in her taco stand. The important thing is not how far we extend geographically, but how far we extend relationally.
The truth is that whether any of us have been overseas before or not, we are working in this particular office for a reason. We have to accept peace in the fact that we have not been ‘called to the nations’ in this particular season of our lives. We are, however, called to Jesus.
No matter where we are, our mission is clear: we are to love, educate, and empower.
by Rachel Sawyer
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1 Corinthians 12:27
Spoon cannons were created, imitations were presented, balloons were tossed over the MAK house and caught with sheets, an amazing speaker brought the word, ministering happened, the Lord was worshipped in multiple languages, island excursions were filled with laughter, wrestling, water sliding, and sea creature shows, a vision was cast and mission statement revisited.
Once a year the Makarios staff enjoy a funfilled, action packed, worshipful time of fellowship at a staff retreat which refuels, renews and re-energizes us as we love, learn and serve the Lord together. This is an important part of healthy maintanence of the body of staff that are serving with Makarios. These times of silliness and seriousness of worshipping and waling (with laughter usually) are like a unifying glue that bind us together and helps us in part to remember why we are here when the times are tough.
The DNA of Makarios is the GOSPEL. And to that end, we love, encourage, pray and challenge one another. AND, sometimes people get thrown into the ocean. Lots of people - of the male species.
We had such a great time together and we missed our staff that were not with us (shout out to the Majcher family who is in the states training and fundraising!) Though Laurie Majchercita did make an appearance.
Retreat allows us to worship together, pray together, play together, enjoy together and to see and appreciate all the different gifts that the Lord has given us as a staff. It helps us to remember that we aren't just body parts, but that we are part of the body of Christ that the Lord has assembled for this time. HE is good.
Guest Blog by Jacob Jordan
This past January, I had the opportunity to partner with Makarios in a week long mission trip in which
we sought to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support to the families of Montellano, Dominican
Republic (DR). While we served Makarios in many ways, leading a Vacation Bible School at the local church
and providing physical labor at the Makarios School, this was not what impacted me most. What impacted me
most was the servants’ hearts in which the Makarios staff served their communities.
When I first signed up to go on this trip, I expected to encounter an impoverished people in need of
physical and spiritual healing. What I did not expect to find was a group of people so full of God’s love that they
had no choice but to pour it out onto those around them. From day 1, it was clear that the staff of Makarios was
a group of men and women who truly sought to serve the Lord with all of their being. Their impact was evident
not just within their communities but within myself as well. As I witnessed their genuine unabashed love of
Jesus wash over the people, it became clear to me that my own heart was not in the right place. So often, I had
viewed my work for God as an obligation, something to be done out of duty or burden. This attitude had
pervaded its way into every corner of life, from school work to relationships with friends and family. Using the
Makarios staff, the Lord quickly convicted me of this and softened my heart to the needs of those around me,
making it a true joy to serve.
One example in particular that I can remember in which a Makarios staff member acted out of love was
during our Vacation Bible School camp in the village of Tamarindo. Before camp had started, we were asked to
walk the streets with a Mak staff member and invite families out to the camp. I, along with a couple others,
joined camp coordinator Tomy Alcantara. We continued from house to house inviting children to church until we
reached a man selling supplies out of small shop. Tomy engaged with the man for several minutes before we
left the building. Afterwards, I asked him what he had said. He told me that the Lord had blessed him with a
great opportunity to serve. The man he spoke with leads a small boys’ soccer team and had been looking for a
spiritual leader to lead the boys in truth and guidance. Tomy immediately jumped onto the opportunity, and
agreed to meet with them at their next practice. That day Tomy showed me that one man’s willingness to live in
submission to God can bring truth and love to whole team of boys, the impact of which will never be fully
While the people of Makarios are in need of grace themselves, it is clear to me that they have been
made new in the image of God, washed clean by the blood of Christ, and given their entire beings to the
service of Christ’s kingdom. The love they work with is contagious and continues to affect both myself and the
Dominican community in untold ways. I pray that Makarios continues to find hope and strength in Jesus, relying
on Him when the task ahead seems too much and praising His name when He unveils the fruit of our labor. It is
through Christ that all things are possible.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a
clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and
if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have,
and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13: 1-3
Recently, we had to say good-bye to one of our close friends and co-worker, Chelsea Frazier, as she is going on to focus on her new family of 3 (#davystrong) and other endeavors that the Lord is calling her to. Her dedication and work ethic is as inspiring as her faith and passion for Jesus. We are thankful and blessed by the work and energy she put into this ministry.
Chelsea, you mean so much to us and have blessed all of our lives immensely. Here are some words from the Mak family.
by Rachel Sawyer
Poverty is a robber of the basics: clean water, basic hygiene, hydration, etc. But God is the GIVER of life and truth, and He is a most excellent Provider. Once a year, Makarios welcomes a medical mission team that provides check-ups and care for Makarios students and their families as well as the staff and their families. At the end of October, a medical team of 6 from Maryland and Ohio, consisting of 2 providers, 2 nurses, and 2 techs, provided medical care in the form of well child checks and also identified other issues that needed to be treated (fungal infections, stomach problems, pneumonia.
This post is not just about people receiving the health care that they need but can't afford (which is a HUGE blessing!), but it is also about using the gifts that God gives us to glorify Him, AND about the spiritual return when spiritual investments are made! The last medical team captured the heart of these truths best in their own words:
Provider Julia Circle, who has served with Makarios on a medical mission team multiple times, says "God has blessed us all with our special and specific gifts. We all make the human body of Christ with all its required pieces (gifts) for a healthy life. Using our gifts, in whatever capacity, is the ultimate fulfillment of God's plan for our lives."
Providing health care to those who otherwise would not receive it is a privilege and goes beyond medical provision. Provider Jessica Wohl recalls that "I felt like I was able to help medically while connecting spiritually. It was an opportunity I hope to experience again and will most definitely never forget."
Once our teams hit the rocky, dusty ground in the D.R. in the communities where Makarios serves, they are met by genuineness and authenticity by our Dominican and Haitian families. Brittany Logan speaks about one of her most memorable moments saying "We were visiting Chichigua, and there was a lady that was so happy to see us and invited us in her home, and then invited us to church."
"A captivating moment I had was walking in Pancho Mateo. The people were so welcoming and gracious. There was a sense of pride as Francis (Cackito) showed us Makarios' first location and the village where he grew up. He spoke with such passion and love that it was a moment where I felt I was a part of something great. The children were also tiny blessings: holding hands, skipping and giggling with them through Pancho Mateo was another special moment," Jessica Wohl recalls the sense of divine purpose as part of the bigger picture she experienced during her moments serving with Makarios.
Amanda Mitchum reflects on what she took away from her time serving as part of a medical mission team, "One of the biggest things I will take with me from my trip to the DR is how appreciative a majority of the people we were able to treat were. It felt so refreshing to be surrounded by people who were grateful, caring, and respectful. If we could all learn to be nice to one another and to appreciate the people we are surrounded by, the world would be a much better place. Something that sounds so simple could have such a huge impact."
The medical team saw 240 patients in 4 days. And the need is always greater than the time and resources allow.
In the face of such overwhelming need, it could be easy to feel discouraged, but Nurse Dan Kallemyn thinks of it this way, "I guess the one big thing about ministering in a medical capacity is the need. It really reminds me of the story of the boy who was throwing starfish that had washed up on the shore back into the ocean - helping one at a time. It was important for me to keep that in mind throughout the week."
Perhaps one of the greatest blessings for those who return to serve again and again is the ability to see areas of impact over the long haul. "Each time I travel to the school, I feel God has a new lesson for me to learn. Each year my relationship with Him and the community grows. One blessing has been that each year I have become more comfortable in caring in a human capacity and not just as a medical provider. Luke 9:6 says "So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere." This year was a blessing and encouraging that I felt the "good news" was being told back to me . . . I could feel God's presence growing."
The Makarios staff, students and families would like to offer a huge high five to this last medical team that blessed our communities! Furthermore, we are utterly greatful to know that others can see the presence of God increasing in Makarios' areas of influence - thanks be to God who is the one that makes this happen and for the fact that He allows us to partner with Him in what He is doing!
If you would like to be a part of what the Lord is doing through meeting medical needs in our communities, there are several ways that you can help: fund a medical mission trip, come on a medical mission trip and/or give to the medical fund! Also, in the not so distant future Makarios will need a new Director of Health. If you know anyone who would be interested in serving in this capacity, please share this link with them and have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staying Healthy at Makarios:
Working in a one-room clinic in a school on the north coast in a poor area of the Dominican Republic is a big change from doing pediatric emergency medicine in a large urban hospital. I had been working in the ER for over 11 years when we were called to work full-time with Makarios. I had also done some adult ER and Family Practice before that. I am a Physician Assistant (PA-C) and my training makes me a great fit for this job. My family and I took our first medical trip to Makarios in 2007 and came back once a year, every year, until we came on full-time. We have been here for almost 2 years now. I would like to share a little about my work with Makarios.
My main responsibility is to provide health care to the students at the Makarios School (there are currently 140 kids). I also provide care to their families, the staff at the school and their families, and the clinic is open to walk-ins from the surrounding community. A normal day involves giving ADHD medication to one of our students, seeing acutely sick and injured kids, and walk in patients from the community. I also take phone calls and emails from other missionaries and ex-pats in the area. Sometimes I need to take patients to get labs and x-rays. Other times I need to go to the hospital to visit patients or even take people to the hospital. One of the students has HIV so I need to make sure he gets his medication and regular visits to an HIV clinic.
No two days are the same. In the clinic, I see normal illnesses that we see in the United States (ear infections, fevers, rashes, pneumonia, wheezing, lacerations, abscesses) but I also have to be aware of tropical diseases that are not in the States, for example: Dengue Fever, intestinal parasites, and most recently Chikungunya. I have some basic tests such as quick strep, urine pregnancy, urine dips, and blood sugars that I can do at the clinic but all other lab tests need to be done at a local lab. I spend time looking up medications that have been prescribed to my patients by other health care providers that we don’t have in the United States but are used in Latin and South America (all in Spanish, which is a challenge).
All of the care and medication that I provide is free of charge to everyone. I keep track of all of the heights and weights of the students to make sure they are growing. A lot of our students have been malnourished in the past and some are still struggling with being malnourished. Many patients that I see also have anemia. It is challenging to keep patients healthy if they aren’t getting the vitamins and nutrients that their bodies need and this makes them more susceptible to disease and chronic health issues. At the school we provide the students with both breakfast and lunch along with a multivitamin every day so this helps with their overall health. I also do some health education at the school where I emphasize good hand washing, staying hydrated, educate on how germs are spread, and making healthy choices.
As part of our ministry, we have teams come to the DR that range from five to six people up to forty-five people. With all of these people there are a fair amount of injuries and illness that I am responsible to provide care for. I also prepare the schedule and charts for medical and dental teams that visits once a year each. In the future my hope is to have a medical team visit every six months. If you would like to be involved in one of those trips please let us know. We also have a medical fund that people can give to so that we are able to purchase the needed tests and medications, please consider this opportunity. Click here to donate to the medical fund.
This job is challenging yet rewarding. My mission is to promote health to all that we serve. Not just physical health, but mental, emotional, intellectual, and most importantly spiritual health.
Darren Young, PA-C, MPAS
Makarios International Director of Health
by Darren Young, Makarios Director of Health
The other day, I bought a coffin for a patient who had died. I had never done this before, however, I was
able to serve the family by providing emotional support and praying with them. I know I serve Christ and
not man, but it’s hard when something like this happens. At only 52 years of age, this man was the
father of an extremely poor Haitian family living in the Dominican Republic. We have four of his six kids
in school at Makarios. This is why I serve.
As a medical missionary, I really admire the life of missionary doctor David Livingstone. He spent his life
in Africa, treating all sorts of diseases while preaching the good news of the gospel - his main purpose.
He is a true example of sacrifice and service for the greater cause. Yet, this is what he had to say
about his life:
“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa…Is that a
sacrifice which brings its own blest reward? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a
thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or
danger…All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for
us. I never made a sacrifice.”
How many Christians today could say that serving is a privilege? When my family left for the
Dominican Republic, people praised our “sacrifice” in leaving behind the comforts of the American
lifestyle. But I now know it truly is a privilege to be able to serve, and I try to have an eternal
perspective on our work.
It is easy to let our desires rule us or to lose focus of our priorities. Often, you may think, “I’m too busy
to serve,” or, “I don’t feel like serving.” It’s not about our feelings; it’s about being obedient to what our
Lord has called us to do. It is so easy to be involved in the business of our schedules that we forget
why we are doing what we are doing. Ask God what he wants you to do in the lives of others. Part of
service is figuring out what people truly need and being prepared to serve in a way that you may not
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing
that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Certainly our Father in heaven has a well-defined plan for each of His children, and the extent to which
that plan is found and followed determines how you will attain completeness and true greatness.
It truly is a privilege to serve. Remember the words of David Livingstone: “I never made a sacrifice.”
How Can I SERVE?
in your path. Make this an intentional habit that becomes part of your life. (Galatians 6:10)
Want to partner in the privilege of serving by providing resources to meet medical and health needs for our community? Click here to donate to the Makarios Medical Fund.