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 Makarios mission is to love, educate, and empower. Our work is driven by our vision to see communities serve Jesus Christ, while working to end generational poverty. While our mission and vision guide us forward, it can be hard to see the big picture. Having values written down is not the hard part; the challenge comes when we hold ourselves accountable to aligning our behavior and the values we have committed to. Our values are the stepping stones to the vision that is set before us.
This month, we looked inward and asked: who amongst us is living out the Makarios values? Each one of our program directors recognized one person on staff who is living out a specific value on a daily basis.
Adrienne from the makarios School
Relationship (n.) the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.
Relationship is a value of Makarios. We initiate, build, and grow healthy and empowering relationships. Enter many of the Makarios staff, but today I will mention Adrienne Christian. Adrienne works with the school and Family Empowerment and Group Ministry in the summer. Adrienne is the one spending the night in Chichigua with one of the missionary youth because her relationship is intentional with Chichigua and with Myah. Adrienne is the one who inspires people from Makarios to lead workshops to bless the school, Quisqueya, she worked with prior to Makarios in the south of the island—because she is committed to Makarios and Quisqueya.
Adrienne is passionate for the relationship that reading and writing has on the educational development of a child. This is not usually just a sterile process. With many of our kids an interruption in their emotional development has impeded their academic development. It takes relationship to melt those walls.
It is not only the students that benefit from the talents of Adrienne—our school has been revolutionized by Adrienne's knowledge and ability to share it with the teachers. Our school as a whole has been able to focus on how to creatively include aspects of reading and writing into the classroom. It is Adrienne's relationship with the staff that allows her bring some very different ideas to our educational table and be heard by the staff.
The greatest relationship that Adrienne shares in is her relationship with her Creator God. Like the definition states there is definitely a connection, there is regard for each other and Adrienne behaves in a manner that considers her Lord. Even the verse she has chosen for the closing of her email speaks to the priority of relationship in her life.
1 Peter 4:10-11
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Adrienne is a talented gift from the Lord to the ministry of Makarios and her embodiment of relationship is beautiful to see. She loves the Lord and serves Him faithfully which is turned into sweet blessings for the Mak staff, students, school, and beyond.
Laurie Majcher, Principal of Makarios School
Bernabe from family Empowerment
The person that has embodied our value of humility within Family Empowerment is Bernabe.
He was my mentor before coming to work for Makarios, and was the director of a Compassion Project for 10 years. Yet, he was willing to work as a team and come under my leadership with respect.
He is spiritually mature and is a role model for our team.
Benjamin Nunez, Director of Family Empowerment
Lucia from Group Ministry
For the Group Ministry, we chose Lucia as an example of integrity. She is in charge of cleaning the Mak House and preparing rooms for the teams that come to serve at Makarios and is a huge blessing to our ministry. We absolutely could not do what we do without her. Lucia embodies integrity in the way she does her job because she does things with excellence all the time. She works extremely hard, often stays later than expected and goes above and beyond her duties in caring for our teams and expecting nothing in return. Oftentimes she can be spotted standing on the kitchen countertop dusting the window ledges with a paintbrush in an effort to make sure the house is as clean as it can be. When teams are at the house, she makes 20 to 40 beds every day and takes the time to match colored sheets and pillowcases for each guest, again showing her attention to detail in ministering to our teams.
She also shows integrity in her daily life outside of work. She faithfully serves at her church and others around her. Lucia is a seamstress and loves to sew and make clothing etc. Recently someone donated some fabric for her to use. Instead of making something for herself or for her home, she took the material and made several dresses for young girls in Haiti that she knew were in need. Her integrity can also be seen in her family. She and her husband, Joel have raised 5 children, and they all live their lives with integrity, honor and faith in the Lord. They are respectful, trustworthy and great examples to everyone around them.
We love Lucia for many reasons, but integrity is one of her most apparent assets. Without her, the Group Ministry would not be the same!
Doug & Margaret Beck, Directors of Group Ministry
You celebrated with us in December when a few of our teachers reached their goal of graduating from University! We have been so encouraged by their determination, and the grace they displayed as they balanced school, teaching, and taking care of their families.
We thought we would follow up with two of our teachers and hear from them as they reminisce on the experience of University, the people that made it possible, and all that has happened since!
On graduation day I felt so happy and thankful because I was able to achieve my goal and dream to become a teacher.
God showed me His love, faithfulness, and that He is my hope and refuge during University.
Since graduation, my life is much calmer. I have time to dedicate to my family. My plans now are to continue studying because I would love to be a teacher for Gestation de Centro (an education service center). I would like to take special classes to help students who struggle with reading- this is a great passion of mine.
God showed me His faithful during University because it was really difficult to attend with a newborn baby. God helped with with this and showed me His provision through my mother, who was a great help to me. She cared for my baby when I needed to attend class or study. I thank God every day for my mother who allowed me to achieve my hope and dream of being a certified teacher.
Every day I give thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to serve as a teacher in a school as special as Makarios. I am here with the purpose to give the best of myself to my students, to education with love and to share the good news of Jesus Christ to my students and their families.
Graduation day made me feel completely happy. I felt that it was a huge step in preparing me to be the teacher I want to be.
Throughout my time in University, God taught me patience the power of hope. He showed me time and time again that He would provide a way for me to attend and He helped me through so much. This made me even more thankful for all that He has done for me.
I am much less busy now that University is over. I have time to spend with my family and in the community my mother lives in.
God helped me by not only providing for the materials and money to attend University, but he also gave me protection. Every Saturday I would leave my home at 6 am and walk to the main highway (about a mile) in the dark. He protected me during these times.
Now I hope to practice all of the things I learned in University on a daily basis in my classroom. My hope is to eventually teach social studies in the upper grade levels.
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.