Summer is a busy time at Makarios! We have 7 different teams arriving in the Dominican Republic for group ministry trips, and our interns have been working hard serving our students and staff. We want to be in a continual state of prayer, relying on the Lord for strength and guidance in each and every endeavor that we may face. For the month of July, we would like to invite you to be praying for our specific group ministry teams arriving, as well as a few other things we believe would be great to be praying for. We are excited for all the Lord is doing in the DR and cannot wait to hear how these prayers will be answered.
"Rejoice in hope, patient in affliction, and persistent in prayer." Romans 12:12
DAN AND ROSEMARY KALLEMYN
We would like to introduce you to Dan and Rosemary Kallemyn. They are regular fixtures in the clinic at the Makarios School. They've served for many years in this capacity, either filling in for staff on furlough, or serving on medical mission trips. Both are registered nurses by profession, and their servant's hearts and willingness to jump in with a moment's notice have made them valuable Makarios partners in our mission to Love, Educate and Empower communities in the Dominican Republic. They spent this summer organizing and preparing the medical clinic for a brand new school year, and it's impeccable! We had a chance to sit down with them and chat about their experience with Makarios.
How many times have you been to Makarios in the Dominican Republic?
This was our sixth trip so far, and we have another one scheduled in October of this year. Most of those trips have been serving in the clinic, but the first couple were on medical mission teams.
How did you originally come to know about Makarios?
We were visiting our son's church, Faircreek Church in Ohio, and the pastor shared about a medical mission trip to Makarios. We had always wanted to do missions work, but could never manage it while we were still working. Now that we were retired, we jumped at the chance to find out more and talked to the pastor after service. A couple of conversations later and we were on the trip!
You've served with us regularly over the years...any thoughts on the growth you've seen?
Makarios is in a huge season of growth right now. When we first started coming down, Makarios was like that quaint little church in a small town. Everybody knew each other and it really felt like a family. Recently, there's been tremendous growth with the school expansion and the Family Empowerment ministry growing its programs and staff. It's comforting to know that it still feels like a family. The momentum really has traction and you can see the impact deepening in the communities we serve. That's allowing students and their families to become productive, followers of Christ...and that's been neat to watch.
Do you have any impactful stories you'd like to share?
So many really special things have happened, but recently a little boy from the community came in with some burns on his leg from a moto. He was probably six or seven years old and had a "Dominican Tattoo" (what they call leg burns from riding motos here) that had occurred a couple of days earlier. We examined his leg and by the looks of it, they were 2nd degree burns if not 3rd degree. It was a pretty nasty burn that hadn't been treated, so we washed it and bandaged him up. We had some antibiotics on hand and gave them to his mother with instructions for aftercare at home. That evening we were having dinner with one of our summer mission teams and we all prayed for him. A few days later, his leg was much better than we expected...much better! We can't say that God healed him for sure, but we also can't say that He didn't! We are thankful that we got play a part in helping this family.
What's one thing you miss about the DR when you head back home after trips here?
Relationships with the people. Since we've been down regularly over the last several years, we've been able to foster some really deep relationships with staff, students and their families. We've cherished watching them grow and develop over the years. It's hard to say goodbye each time, but we know we'll be back.
What would you say to another person, or couple, who is considering serving with Makarios in a similar fashion as you?
It's an excellent, rewarding opportunity to practice your skills and use your gifts. You get to see so many tangible results...and you get to see them quickly. Serving in a medical capacity, we have gotten to see progress happen over years. We love seeing the students and staff grow and change. Serving in any capacity with Makarios is such a rewarding experience and there are so many incredible things happening now, it just keeps getting better. It's really fun to see the entire organization working together so well and achieving so much. All you have to do is come down here one time to see firsthand why it's such a great opportunity. That's what we did, and we plan to keep it up as long as we can!
Dan and Rosemary have been such an incredible blessing to Makarios. We cherish their partnership and service over the years. They truly are part of what makes Makarios feel like a family. Please join us in praying for them; that their time at home would be restful and filling, and that they would feel our appreciation in so many ways.
Over the next year we are incredibly excited about what God has in store for Makarios. In 2017 we celebrated the Makarios School’s 10 year anniversary, and broke ground on the new school building that will bring additional classrooms to expand our efforts to Educate in the Dominican Republic. Stories like Hayley’s are reminders of the power of partnerships and relationships. After hearing about the impactful experiences of our partners over the years, we’ve added two new strategic positions in the US that will help us continue to establish partnerships that will fuel our anticipated growth.
We are proud to introduce you to Scott Denton and Brian Black, who have joined Makarios staff to build and maintain relationships through partnerships and development. Both Brian and Scott were introduced to Makarios as pastors of churches who partnered with us. They have seen the work we do on the ground in the DR through Ministry Trips, and they have been personally impacted by our staff and students. That experience led them to accept roles on the Makarios staff that will enable us to sustainably grow the ministry.
Scott Denton is joining the Makarios team as the new Director of Partnerships and Development. He and his family live in Missouri City, Texas and will be working to support Makarios from there, cultivating relationships in Texas and beyond. Scott has been to Makarios four times in the past 3 years, leading church groups and facilitating a teacher’s conference this past October to provide training for the Makarios staff. Scott has spent the last 20 years leading in both educational and ministry environments. As a public school teacher and administrator, he worked to improve educational systems and knows the value of empowering students and teachers to be their best. In ministry, Scott invested in relationships and provided the framework for spiritual growth, while leading hundreds of volunteers to engage in God’s mission locally and globally. Most recently, Scott stepped aside as a campus pastor for a large multi-campus church in Houston to begin his journey with Makarios full time. He holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Texas A&M University, a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Sam Houston State University and will complete his M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2018. He is married to his best friend, Amy, and they have 4 kids: Jacob, Emma Grace, Scottie and Zoey.
Brian Black is joining Makarios as the Regional Director of Partnerships and Development. Brian and his wife of 15 years, Sumitra, live in Round Rock, TX with their two daughters; Mackenzie and Sidney. Most recently, Brian was the Student Associate Pastor at The Fellowship Round Rock and had also served in several different capacities including Campus Pastor, and Connections Pastor during his four years there. Brian spent almost 20 years in the business world with most of that in Logistics in the Dallas area before moving to Round Rock in 2009. Brian grew up in the Dallas area as the son of a full-time Young Life staffer. Most of his childhood was set at a YL summer camp or ski trip in Colorado or at YL Club in many cities around the DFW area.
That foundation of faith is what matters most to Brian, and it’s propelled him from the business world into vocational ministry. Being uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between business and ministry, Brian hopes to continue establishing relationships that will allow God’s vision of Makarios to unfold. He looks forward to forging relationships with all of the Makarios staff and renewing those established on his first trip to the DR in the summer of 2017. Brian believes that God has great things in store for Makarios, and knows that as we all draw closer to Him, His favor will go before us into the next season.
The last few months we have learned that while we cannot always understand the why, we can't deny the presence of God in the mess. We gathered a few stories from during and after the flooding. You'll hear from two of our missionary teachers and their reflections of the flooding as it was happening. Then, Jack Horton shares a story that opened his eyes and heart, a story of hope from his recent Thanksgiving trip to the DR.
I sit on the edge of the musty, damp hospital cot, as she clings to my hand with all the strength left in her little body. She stares at me with wide eyes and I see the tears welling up in the corners. “Se valiente- be brave,” I tell her as they insert the IV. She is afraid; I see it in her eyes. I pray with her and smile, talking of the sun that has finally shown it’s long-awaited presence this morning, hoping to raise her failing spirits. I see the corners of her mouth turn up in a weak attempt at a smile.
And my heart fills with thoughts and emotions to which it’s hard to put words. I feel anger. Anger at the injustice of this whole situation. Where is her mother? Far away. Why? Who is looking after this one? An overburdened woman with a home bursting at the seams and a time-demanding job. How did we arrive at this moment? Lack of food. One second she was standing beside me, the little plastic bag of donated clothing in her hand, and then next, this wisp of a girl hit the pavement with a frightening thud.
I stroke her fragile hand and look out the rusty window at the sky, now shrouded once more with clouds and spewing forth its relentless rains, and I blink hard to keep back the tears. Have mercy, Lord, have mercy. I repeat over and over in my head.
People are suffering, homes are ravaged. It is hard not to feel despair as I slosh through the water-filled streets, taking in the disheartening view. I try to help pull out water-damaged items, heaping them into a massive bag of trash- ruined. I attempt in vain to rid some clothing of dirt, scrubbing it in the mirky water swirling about my feet. A sinking feeling of helplessness fills my stomach. And this is not my home. I have a warm dry place to return to, my things are all in tact. How must they feel? What can be done?
Slowly, I work the brush through her snarled hair, gently coaxing the curls into a pony tail. It’s the first time I’ve seen her looking clean and well-kept in a long while. She wraps her arms around my waist and I hug her back, my thoughts far away. This little one grieves my heart. This precious one in my arms- was expelled from Makarios last year for lack of attendance. No one was there to wake her in the morning and send her two minutes down the road to school. She seeks out my affection. My heart breaks. What will become of these girls? What will it take to break the cycle of brokenness?
His smile is contagious and his energy never runs out. Everyone knows him by a silly, but catchy nickname from a song. I love this kid. He throws his arms around me with a wide-eyed grin, and begins to chatter a hundred miles an hour. Just two days ago, his house was filled to the rim with floodwaters, forcing he and his sister to evacuate. The two have been staying ever since at the Mak house, while their father figures out what to do about their loss. For a while now, this boy has occupied a special corner of my heart. Just two years ago, he lost his mom. I feel it in the way he hugs me, yearning for that motherly touch. I see it in the way he is eager to show me what he knows, to make me proud. And who am I? Just a teacher he knows from school. Just someone who he sits with during bible class at church. This boy has already lost one of the most important people in his life and now, most of his earthly possessions. And yet, despite these unbelievable hardships, he has a hopeful spring in his step, a joyful lilt to his voice. He is special, I see it. And I wonder what plans the Lord has for this passionate little kid.
But for now, the realities of the past few days hang heavy. There is little to do but wait. Wait for the end of the rain. Wait for things to dry. And so we wait and offer these two what little we can- shelter, food, love. And I wish that it was more. How I wish I could make all things right again.
These are just a few of the many moments in the past three long days that have sent my heart and mind into a whirl. I am overwhelmed at the need. I am angry at the negligence. I am heartbroken at the loss.
Each situation presents a new why. Why are children unattended? Why is their so much damage and loss? Why are the rains ceasing to let up? Why can’t I do more?
But there are also moments of hope, like little flashes of light in the bleak darkness: -Seeing the church join forces to gather and distribute donations and food. -The fleeting glimpses of sunlight that have peeked their way through this day, bringing deep sighs of relief. -The blessing of the Mak house and the refuge it has provided to various displaced children. -The sweet pajama-clad moments of snuggling while I read the story of the great flood to some of the little bitties last night, reminding them of God’s promise to never again cover the earth in water.
I have to dwell on these moments. I have to give God thanks for them. I have to trust in His sovereignty. If I don’t, I will crumble; the despair will win. But, I know better. I know my God.
While I can’t understand the suffering, while there will always be a never-ending string of why’s, while the rain may not ease for a while, I know there is hope. Because my God is good. He is faithful. And He sees. Pray that I and all those around me would cling ever more to these truths.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
This past week has felt like it has been thing after thing. Need after need. And I am so thankful to be surrounded by our church body who has been constantly helping, giving advice and loving those affected. It is easy to get defeated in it all. To feel like I just don’t even know where to begin to help and to question every decision we make for it’s long term effects. But God has been constantly reminding me of His goodness in it all. In the wisdom of being still and letting Him fight. That there is beauty in the broken things. The song, “The Broken Beautiful” by Ellie Holcomb has been a necessary reminder of God’s promises and goodness.
“That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful”
God has done so much, and is still in control. And even when things seem to just be too broken and I want to doubt that God cares, I am reminded by the sweet moments. Some of the most beautiful moments that have happened in the past week, couldn’t have happened without the brokenness. And for that, I give thanks for each situation because God’s plans are more profound than what I can see myself.
While walking through Tamarindo Monday afternoon we stopped at the house of a Mak student and had the opportunity to walk through his house to see his backyard. What we saw instead were the remnants of his backyard. Much of it had recently been washed into the Camu by the flooding and there was only about 10 or 15 feet of land left between a descent into the river and his house. A good part of the yard was taken up by a palm tree, which was the child’s main concern…if the tree went it would likely take much of the backyard, and possibly house, with it as it uprooted the surrounding soil.
I was one of the last group members to walk through the student’s home, but when I came back to the front, his mom had just walked up and was speaking to a really confused group of high schoolers (it was everyone’s first time and they didn’t know much spanish at all…). Once Mrs. Majcher could come out to translate, I think the full weight of God’s faithfulness, love, and mercy hit everyone for the first time in the DR.
This woman was just going on and on about how she was just focused on God and His goodness. She spoke about how she trusted completely in His plan and mercy even as her house sat on the verge of collapse. She also spoke briefly on how thankful she was for what she had.
This, I’ll point out, is also something my mom picked up on as we were walking through the woman’s house earlier. My mom noticed that the woman had her nice little tea cups (not much by American standards) hung up and on display in her kitchen. She had her living room straightened and it hit my mom that she was just as proud of he home and the blessings she’s received from the Lord as we were, and those are the things she wanted to display for people.
Anyhow, it was cool to watch a bunch of DR first timers hit by the amount of faith that was present in that place. It’s so much more in your face. It was made more poignant by the fact that Darren’s sermon the day before had been about focus, and where you’re putting/placing your faith and thoughts during the storm. He referenced Matthew and Peter’s walking on the water and a personal story, but but it was just really cool to see that faith played out in the real world by someone who had literally, and would likely again soon, been through a terrible storm…not to mention all the other metaphorical “storms” I’m sure she was going through.
We had the opportunity to pray over her, her home and her family. Just cool to see faith lived out so brilliantly in the DR.
By Margaret and Doug Beck
One of the ways we can see how God is moving during short term trips is by hearing first hand from those who have stayed in the Mak House. We tell every team who comes to serve that we want to create an environment in the MAK House where they can encounter God in new and fresh ways. On the bookshelf in the main room of the MAK House, we proudly display our guest books from the past 11 years! Reading through those books gives us a beautiful display of what God has been doing in the Dominican Republic through Makarios. What an awesome privilege it is to serve alongside others from all over the United States. Such a beautiful representation of the body of Christ working together to make His Name great. I hope you’ll be encouraged as you read just a few excerpts taken from the Mak House guest book.
“We had a great time during our stay at the Mak House. We have felt totally blessed during our time here through the strengthening of our marriage, aligning our thoughts and dreams with one another, serving and being touched by God’s children in what had felt previously like another world… Thank You…”
“Thank you for everything this week. Your hospitality and servant hearts were a blessing to me and the whole team. Thanks for sharing your home, your stories, your gifts, and your passion for the people here with us. It was a joy to serve alongside you this week, and God used it to teach me so much…”
“Thank you so much for your sincere hospitality. The setting y’all set at the house made our group interactions feel like a family effort…”
“Thank you thank you for the work Makarios is doing for the Dominican people and thank you for letting me be a part of it. I know I will never look at the world, relationships, and poverty with
the same eyes…”
“Muchas Gracias for everything- from debriefing us and giving us helpful tips, to the great meals, to the wonderful fellowship, to allowing us to see and understand the greater vision of Makaios and to seeing God’s agape love in action…”
“Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality and fun-loving personalities. Our team is so thankful for the ways you have shared your lives with us and so openly and easily were so accepting and fun. God moved in crazy ways…and I can’t wait to see the crazy and unfathomable things God is going to do!”
“Thank you for your incredible generosity this week and for investing so much of your time and hearts into our group. Your marriage and your love for Jesus is so incredible to be around and to learn from. I appreciate your kindness and willingness to serve here for the sake of the gospel.”
“Thank you so much for letting us come and make the MakHouse our second home…”
“To everyone that gets the privilege to go on this amazing trip, we are all family here. No matter where we’ve come from or what we’ve been through, we have the Mak House, this place, and these kids who will keep us connected forever. There is so much love to be given and received…”
“Thank you for making the Mak House an oasis of peace for our group…”
“I have been so encouraged seeing the ministry Makarios has here. Not simply providing education for children in need, but serving them and meeting the deepest needs they have…And, not giving in a way that is most fun and instant gratification, but in a way that addresses the issues at hand...”
Makarios loves each and every person that has stayed at the MakHouse and are so encouraged by their stories and their experiences here. The Lord is doing big things in the Dominican Republic, and the Mak House is only one of the places where He is moving. We hope that reading through these excerpts have given you a peek into the works that God is doing through the ministry of Makarios and we pray that they encourage you as much as they encourage us.