by Erin Fonner
(Erin Fonner and her family live in the U.S. and sponsor a Makarios child in the D.R.)
Those big brown eyes. That was what first captured me about Juan Carlos, a then
three year old boy whose photo had been posted to the Makarios website. He had
a big, happy smile and cute, curly hair – but my goodness, those eyes! Deep and
piercing, as if he were looking right into my soul, reaching all the way from the far
away island of the Dominican Republic, right into my living room in Austin, Texas, as
if to say, “Pick me.”
When I first heard about Makarios, I instantly resonated with their mission and
the way they approached their ministry. The Holy Spirit drew me to them with the
passion of a Brazilian World Cup fan – “I must be a part of this!” I thought, “Even if
it’s from the sidelines, I must show my support!“ To do that, I didn’t paint my face or
chant at the top of my lungs. I instead chose to sponsor a child.
My husband and I started sponsoring Juan Carlos two years ago, when our own son,
Carson, turned three. We did so for a couple of reasons. Not only do we want to be
a part of Makarios’ mission but we also want to invite our children to join us in the
joy of serving Christ. We intentionally chose a three year old boy so that our three
year old son could pray for him, relate to him as they grow up, get excited about the
toys and clothes we buy him, write to him, and eventually meet him one day. Next
year, when our oldest daughter turns three, we will look to sponsor a three year old
girl, and when our baby girl turns three, we will do the same.
While it’s neat to be able to send money each month, it’s so much more fun, and
more rewarding, to pour into our relationship with our sponsored child – both for
him and for us! Our son takes pride in picking out pajamas or a swimsuit or a small
toy to send to Juan Carlos. And he lights up when he gets a photo of him wearing
that swimsuit and holding a sign that says “Gracias.” One time, a Makarios teacher
traced Juan Carlos’ hand on a piece of paper and sent it to us. It was fun for Carson
to put his hand inside the print to see whose was bigger.
Carson is learning Spanish in school, and his relationship with Juan Carlos helps
reinforce how useful it is to learn another language. We haven’t made it to the DR
yet, though we desperately want to. Having young children makes travel difficult for
now, but our vision with Makarios is long term. Once our daughters grow up a bit,
we hope to visit Juan Carlos and our future sponsored children every other summer.
These trips are an essential component of fostering a faith that rises above culture
and translates into action, and we hope to be a blessing to the Dominicans in the
We pray that each of our kids grows to have a heart of compassion, a sense of
gratitude, a global perspective, and most of all a passionate relationship with Jesus.
We pray these same things for Juan Carlos. There’s a love and tenderness we feel
for him that transcends the miles between us. We are excited to watch him grow in
the years to come and eagerly await the day when we can look into those big brown
eyes and give him a big ‘ol hug.
To have your "PICK ME!" moment, please click here to see the children who are currently in need of sponsors.
By Rachel Sawyer
Some of you already have. You have carried kids on your hips and on your backs. You’re hair has been braided, perhaps, or the hat on your head grabbed in a game of cat and mouse. You’ve played Pato Pato Ganzo and laughed when two laps were run instead of one! You’ve shot baskets on basketball courts in the blazing sun (or maybe just sat and visited in that little strip of shade at Pancho Mateo). You’ve played soccer with guys in bare feet and kids running every which way in Chichigua. You’ve colored and you’ve painted nails and you’ve offered your hand to hold - or maybe even your hand was especially chosen by a wide eyed child in search of adoration. You have been adored and you’ve adored. You’ve shared bible stories, songs, and the love of Christ.
You’ve maybe gulped down tears - not pity tears - but tears about your own brokenness, and the Lord has turned your heart upside down on it’s head. You’ve maybe reconsidered your initial definition of blessing. Its taken on a multidimensional meaning that have less to do with stuff and more to do about such things that this life is actually made of - truly. You’ve thoughtfully questioned what your response should be to your one week in the D.R. How will you remember the hands you held here in your daily life in the U.S.? A question only you can answer.
But, on the chance that you are reading this, and you haven’t been here in the D.R. (maybe your contemplating a trip, are on your way soon or you just stumbled across this website somehow), we invite you to come closer. Come closer because when you do your life will be altered in the most beautiful of ways, and so will someone elses. Come closer and you will see the good and the bad and the broken and the beautiful (that’s all of us, right?). Come closer where hope and creativity and resourcefulness mix with broken systems, broken people and broken servants, all rallying for the life changing grace of redemption and relationship and restoration.
At Makarios, we know that we know that we know that the only ONE that can redeem and restore is Jesus Christ, and it is in relationship with Him that our lives are transformed and because of Him that we have any chance of offering hope to others even when we really can’t see how He is going to work in a situation.
So what does it look like when not worlds, but people, collide on the ground here? It looks like relationship - not in a fix the broken sense, but in the broken walking alongside the broken way. It’s about learning about another culture, listening and caring and loving.
Come closer because these relationships represent hope, and hope does not disappoint. Sometimes coming closer is a call to action, it could be a call to prayer, a call to sponsor, a call to partner, a call to share in the broken beautiful, which has the power to transcend the constraints of the time spent in one week.
Come closer because we can’t do this alone. We. Need. You. AND the power of relationships rooted in Christ Jesus. Come Closer.
Whether you have been here in the D.R. serving alongside us or not, it is with a deep sense of hope and excitement that we invite you to come closer in a tangible way. Please click here to see the faces of the children currently in need of sponsors and join us by entering into a beautiful relationship!
Makarios' first group of the summer, Grace Student Ministry, produced their own D.R. testimonial video about their time serving alongside Makarios and the insights that they gained. We know you will enjoy their take - aways from the trip. If you have been on a trip to serve alongside Makarios, what are some of your take-aways and how do you apply them back in the U.S?
Shortly after Grace Bible's group headed back to The States, a wonderful group from The Fellowship Round Rock arrived. They picked up right where Grace Bible left off, and did so with the glorification of The Lord in their hearts. This group got the unique opportunity to participate in Makarios' annual soccer camp which is possible thanks to our very own Cakito, and our stellar intern, Rhett. This church came to visit us last year, so we were very happy to see them again! Check out this video to see how they spent their week:
A few weeks ago, The Lord blessed us with a group from Dallas to come serve with us here in the Dominican Republic. Although they did not get the opportunity to interact with our awesome students (since summer school was not in session), they still maintained wonderful hearts of service. Grace Bible Student Ministry helped make improvements to the school and ran a VBS for the neighborhood kids around the Mak house. Watch their experience here:
His eyes sparkle with passionate intention. He praises God in two languages - if not three. Fervently he seeks the Lord, and compassionately he shares Him. He honorably serves the Lord in all that he does. Like a kindled fire reaching toward heaven, his life in word and deed points to the Creator - even, especially, without fail, in his own brokenness. His name is ________________ .
Many years ago he was sponsored by a couple that he has never met. I wonder how their hearts would rise toward heaven in praise if they could see him today - a young man in his twenties turning squabbles in the school yard into gateways to the gospel, a young man leading his young countrymen to the path of life? I wonder what dollar amount would they put on their investment . . . . $X a year for Xyears - no! Glory for all eternity!!!! This one decision altered his life forever, and therefore the lives of many others that he has influenced for the Kingdom of Heaven, who will rejoice on the streets of gold because he shared Jesus with them in a school yard on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic at a school called Makarios. The sponsored child now a man serving the Lord with all of his heart. That is what we hope for for every sponsored child, a life of surrender to the Lord cloaked with the hope of all eternity, rich in love.
Practically speaking, sponsoring a child at Makarios means that that child receives two meals a day, biblical teaching, the opportunity for dicipleship, vitamins, dental and medical checkups, etc. that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to receive. What’s not to love about that? The tangible things that sponsorship provides are a huge blessing to the students who receive them, but even greater than these are the intangible things that can’t be quantified or packaged so neatly. Spiritually speaking, the biblical foundation that a sponsored child receives has the potential to alter the course of not just one life, but many, for all eternity, as in the case of the one whose eyes reflect the heart of Christ mentioned above.
What do you say . . . would you like to impact a life on the other side of the ocean for the potential opportunity to see them on the other side of eternity?
To the Sponsors of . . . . .
To learn more about sponsoring a child, click http://www.makariosinternational.org/student.html
This is Brayan, one of our first grade students here at the Makarios School.
About four years ago, Brayan and his mom moved from a Haitian community to Pancho Mateo, one of the villages our school serves. His mom spends long hours walking to nearby towns selling fruits and vegetables from a basket she carries on her head. Unfortunately, this means Brayan spends a lot of time alone in his home without much supervision from anyone.
Having grown up in a community where Haitian Creole was spoken and having a mom who only speaks Creole, Brayan didn’t know any Spanish when he moved to Pancho Mateo. He had never been to school prior to Makarios and was never fully immersed in a Spanish speaking environment. When Brayan was first enrolled with Makarios two years ago, they worried he might not make it through the year due to his lack of Spanish and how much he was falling behind because of it. It is a requirement that our students speak Spanish because we are a Spanish instructing school. This is part of our goal to help them succeed in this society and to open doors for more opportunities for their future. Throughout his first year, his teachers worked with Brayan on his Spanish to ensure he could stay with Makarios and succeed at our school. One of our Creole speaking staff members would even help translate for his teacher at times.
Now Brayan is completely fluent in both Creole and Spanish and is finishing up his second year at Makarios. He has grown so much since he first joined Makarios and is having a great end to the school year. He loves to read and write and has enjoyed learning how to add this year in math class, as well as learn about the Bible in Bible class. He attends church regularly in Pancho Mateo on his own and loves to learn about the Word. He says he wants to be a pastor when he is older so he can talk about the Word with others and work for the kingdom. We pray that this desire only grows from here, that he will continue to walk with the Lord all his life, and that he will one day preach the Word like he says! Join us in praying these things over Brayan's life.
Since joining Makarios, Brayan now has daily structure, is surrounded by a community that loves him, is taught the Word, is disciplined in a biblical way, is receiving a quality education, and has teachers who care about him and pray for his future.
You too could be a part of the work God is doing through Makarios International. By sponsoring a student like Brayan you not only provide the means for them to attend the Makarios school and receive all the benefits it gives, but you have the opportunity to invest in a child’s life and come alongside us in providing them hope for a better future.
Many people ask what a student sponsorship does for our Makarios students. Others ask, does my donation do more than just cloth, feed and educate a child? It is easy to see the ways our students physical and educational needs are being met on a daily basis. But what about our students spiritual and emotional needs, how are they being met? Let me share what I see when I look around at the school.
I see the love of God displayed in many ways. I see hugs. Lots and lots of hugs given to each of the students every day from the staff. I see teachers encouraging their students in and out of the classroom. I see smiles from our students when they are praised. I see young lives being changed from the inside out all because someone cares about them. Really cares! Someone, a sponsor, teacher or staff member, who cares about who they are and who they can become not where they come from. I see kids striving to be better and working hard at school because someone cares, loves and encourages them!
And because of that love, I see children whose spiritual lives are changing forever. Young people that are choosing to live a life with God. Kids that are being taught from the Bible, what is true. Children that are choosing a path that is different than anyone else in their family. Children who are becoming change agents in their homes and communities. I see potential leaders in the community, leaders for Christ.
How can you measure what your student sponsorship provides for our students? By who they are. By who they are becoming. By how they are changing the world around them. By the way they are being built up emotionally and spiritually while at school. I see lives being changed when I look at our students.
Meet Valentina, one of our very bright fifth grade students at the Makarios School.
Valentina first joined us at the Makarios School when she was in second grade. We have been blessed with the opportunity to watch Valentina grow and transform over the past 4 years and would like to share a bit of her story with you.
Valentina lives with her great grandmother and little brother in Pancho Mateo, one of the nearby villages Makarios serves. It is not uncommon for our students to live with grandparents or other family members. Her mom works long hours in a beauty parlor and her dad is in the army and lives in another part of the country. Valentina’s mom is still a part of her life and she is able to stay with her frequently, but she only sees her dad around once a month.
Valentina has always been one of the best students in her class and has a very sweet demeanor. She spends a lot of time with three of the other fifth grade girls in her class. The four of them are inseparable! Unfortunately the four of them started getting into a little trouble this year and were having problems getting along with some of the younger girls. As the cattiness increased, Valentina’s attitude started changing and she was acting out more in class. One day the four of them were called into the office to have a talk with our Principal, Assistant principal, and school chaplain. They talked to the girls out of love and concern for where their behavior was leading. They reminded them the value of the blood of Christ and the sacrifice He made for them on the cross. They continued to share the Gospel with them and offered an opportunity to make a change in their lives. The girls listened, but didn’t say much.
A few days later, Valentina pulled our Assistant Principal aside in the cafeteria. She told him she had been thinking about what they talked about in the office and she wanted to accept Jesus into her life and the other three girls wanted to as well. He gathered the four of them and they went to talk more about this decision and prayed. All four of them decided to follow Jesus that day!
It was a very bold decision for them to make, especially for Valentina. "For her to have a life in Christ is not easy. A lot of the young women in their villages are not believers. She sees the opposite lifestyle around her. To accept Christ at such a young age is not normal where she lives.”- Francis Bautista, school Chaplain. But Valentina wanted her life to be different. We believe and pray God can use her as a light to other young women in Pancho Mateo. We would love for you to join us in praying for Valentina's walk with the Lord. That amongst the darkness and sin that is so present, she will continue to choose Jesus and follow Him the rest of her life.
(Below is a photo of Valentina reading the Bible with her friend Neifi, who also made the decision to accept Christ)
Every student has his or her own story, and for each one we give all the glory to God. We are thankful and blessed He allows us to be a part of His work here in the Dominican Republic and are thankful for all of the people He uses to complete that work.
You too could be a part of the work God is doing in the Dominican Republic. By sponsoring a student like Valentina you not only provide the means for them to attend Makarios and receive all the benefits the school gives, but you have the opportunity to invest in a child’s life and come alongside Makarios in sharing the gospel with them.
Our teachers work hard to engage their students by making learning fun. Everyday they prepare lessons that are educational and that teach about the love of God. This is our sweet Maternal, PreK 3, class singing along with their Profe Yomo. They make singing and doing motions super cute!
Many of our teachers are studying at the university to further their education. We currently have five teachers, including Yomo who is featured in the video, that are in need of more sponsors. PLEASE consider being a part of Makarios by becoming a sponsor to one of our amazing staff members. Email email@example.com if you are interested in sponsoring a teacher.