Judie Hickey, guest blogger
How did this happen? In this month of Valentines and love, how did a beautiful, impoverished Caribbean island country grab part of my heart? How did I become a partner with the ministries and people of the Dominican Republic?
The first visit - It began innocently enough. Back in the late 1990s, my husband and I visited the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola to see our teacher daughter and to witness the work in which she was involved. Our visit didn’t take us to the beautiful tourist areas on the coast; instead, we got to experience a week of life in the town of Santiago. Little did we know that as the years went by the Dominican Republic would become more and more a part of our lives.
The School – In 2004, out of direction from the Lord and love for the people, a friend of our daughter began a mission program in some of the Dominican villages. (This program/organization was named Makarios which means “blessed” in ancient Greek.) She wanted to teach and demonstrate God’s love. Seeing a need for classroom education, nourishment, and health programs for the children of the country, the Makarios program expanded to a rudimentary school, which opened in 2007. When sponsorship funds were required for each child, the need reached our hearts and we partnered with Makarios to sponsor a precious little student. Surely the partnering would end here.
But no--- During several more visits to this island, the people of the DR have touched my heart. Despite possessing very little in earthly goods, Dominicans have reached out with friendliness. During our most recent stay on the island, we visited a small mountain village for a Christmas worship service. Even though we didn’t know the language, we found the service full of such joy, the music spirited, and the people ever so friendly. Following the service the people of this village shared heaping plates full of rice, beans and chicken with us. Such generosity, despite great poverty.
The children- Visiting the children in the towns or in the school makes one realize how precious the kiddos are. Imagine sitting alongside them in their classrooms, as I did, and seeing their proud faces as they read, sing, speak, and play. Their bright eyes sparkle; their hands reach out in affection; their smiles are infectious. Yes, there goes a little more of my heart.
Our family – In 2013, we saw our daughter, son-in-law, and three little grandchildren leave the U.S. to become missionaries in the Dominican Republic. It was with both joy and sadness to have them leave to serve the Lord in the Makarios ministry. Anyone who is a grandparent knows that part of his/her heart is with the grandkids. This family-connection touched us to be an even bigger partner in the Makarios ministry.
The word “partner” can be used as a noun or a verb. Let me use it in both ways. Makarios is a partner to us as we partner with the organization in student sponsorships, general giving, missionary support, and, of course, prayer. The portion of my heart that is part of the Dominican Republic is rejoicing in the Makarios partnership.
Desiring to dive into partnership that will leave a lasting and eternal impact? Click here for more information.
by Laura Simpson, guest blogger
In October of 2007, I was a brand new nurse with only 4 months experience living
and working in my hometown of Dayton, OH. This super fun, Jesus loving, PA I had
worked with for a couple of years had mentioned taking a medical mission vision
trip down to the Dominican Republic. He had gone to college and was friends with
the founder. I was fresh out of college, making actual money and always up for
international travel, so I told him I was in. To be honest, it wasn’t the thought of
going to a beautiful island, eating dinner on a gorgeous beach or even using the
skills my God had fashioned in me…what excited me the most was that of the 7 of us
that went, none of us went to the same church. While I participated in and loved
going on mission trips with my friends in youth group growing up (some of my most
treasured memories are trips/camps with my youth group…we were so fun)…there
was something so special about people saying yes to Jesus because the opportunity
presented itself…not because you knew all the people and all the details and
someone had gone before you to tell you what it was like, but simply because you
know God, you love God and you know that you know that you know…you are
always meant to love and serve people; it is an amazing way to love and serve God.
I had absolutely zero clue how this trip would go. The only thing I distinctly
remember from a meeting when Sharla was in town was that you can’t throw your
toilet paper in the toilet. It has to go in the trashcan beside it. No other options. Oh,
and always make sure you have toilet paper on you…it’s never a guarantee in public
places. I was subconsciously seriously concerned about the toilet paper thing.
The trip was amazing. It was rainy. We all thought we were going to die walking
back to our hotel at the end of the trip because it was so dark and sand is a blast to
hoof it in. I almost busted my tail on some wet tile. But, we saw the school, which
was one little building with two small classrooms inside. We walked through
Montellano, Pancho Mateo and Chichigua and I fell in love. We were muddy messes
by the time we were done. Something in me clicked and shifted forever. My heart
was swelling with each child I picked up, every hand old or young that I held. We
literally walked from house to house, being invited in, them coming out to greet us
and we helped teach them, remove stiches, clean and dress wounds, ect all out of
our backpacks. This, my friends is partnership. To come alongside, work together,
sharing what you know and helping without expectation of payback, but each doing
what they can.
I knew by day 3 that I wanted to come back. I had to pray about it before I talked to
Sharla. I needed to know that this wasn’t just a caught up in the moment high. When
talking about coming back for an extended period of time, I knew in my heart that
this is what God had for me at that time. At that time, there was no medical
personnel in the DR and I would actually be able to fill a role for a small amount of
time. Sharla was all for it and so was I. I now had to convince my job to let a new
nurse with very little earned time off to leave her job for a month to go serve in
another country. The Lord gave me some powerful and persuasive words. I went
over and over my speech to my boss. I entered her office with humility, but a bold
spirit to present the request. I was no more than one sentence in and she agreed.
Just like that. No pleading. No proving. This, my friends, is partnership. It’s when you
are willing to put in the work, praying, studying the word, saving money and
supplies…and believing with all your heart that God will do his part. You see,
whether or not my boss was going to allow me to go was not truly ever in her hands.
It was always in God’s. And even though He permitted it to be without me having to
put up a good case as to why this was going to be a catalyst for the future years to
change my life; He was pleased that I was willing.
My partnership with Makarios does not look like most. I wasn’t there from the
beginning, but I got to walk on roads of those that could see people like me coming a
few years later. Partnership. I have gone back twice a year since, sometimes with
medical teams, but mostly on my own. I have made friends with staff and in the
communities. I have always been welcomed in like family and we keep up even
years later. Partnership. This even allowed me to join Makarios as a few of us went
to Jimani after the earthquake to offer our love and skills in an orphanage turned
hospital in whatever ways we could and were sent with supplies from sponsors in
the States. Partnership. I’ve also seen children go to a safe school, being taught a
bilingual curriculum that sets them up for the future, and a meal they can count on.
They learn to love and respect each other. Partnership. But most of all, these lives
are changing the face of the Kingdom and more are being added all the time. These
are the training grounds for the rising leaders of their communities…and they are
our brothers in sisters in Christ whose very lives are sharing the gospel.
Partners come in various forms, with unique callings and specific gifts, and we couldn't be more grateful! Our partners are essential to loving, educating and empowering! Want to join in? Click here for more information on how to become a partner.
by Rachel Sawyer
Biblical partnership is about relationship in the shape of the cross, a relationship with a loving God on the vertical axis, and a mutual sharing with one another on the horizontal axis. Biblical partnership is about the fellowship of believers carrying a burden in the same direction, sharing the load, resources, time and effort while covering each other in prayer and keeping Christ at the center of it all. It is about fellowship, community, connection, cooperation, collaboration, togetherness, unity and the body of Christ all wrapped up into opportunities to live out the gospel, to leave the aroma of Christ and to spread the good news by operating in such a way that Jesus Christ is glorified.
Makarios, which means blessed, is in fact blessed to operate in the sweet spot of multiple, meaningful, impactful partnerships that lift up, encourage, support and challenge. These partnerships have been forged over time through relationships and the invitation to partake in what we acknowledge is the hand of God moving along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. In fact, He was doing a work long before Makarios and its partners came along, but in His grace and love HE has allowed us to partake in His work here. Partnership. Blessed, indeed.
Partnership in the context of Makarios is multi-generational, multi-cultural, individual, corporate, familial, all of which represent a beautiful picture of the body of Christ moving in unison to highlight the focal point of all that we do: pointing to the only ONE who can save, set free, empower, change, Christ Jesus.
Partnership comes in many forms, but the opportunity is all the same - to be a partaker in what the Lord is doing! Would you like to partake in the mission of Makarios? Click here for more information.
by Laurie Majcher, Makarios Principal
We have our PEC!!!!
Well, the exclamation points should give it away that you should be very excited about this!!!!! The PEC is a document that is the Makarios School on paper: past, present and future. We need it in order to pursue our accreditation so that our students can graduate with a high school diploma from the Makarios School.
When Mak first started we didn't think we would need to go through this process, but as we have since learned, it is necessary for the benefit of our students. There are still other requirements to consider and we are working on them. And other than a few minor errors (like having 3-year old kids listed as teachers), we are done with this crucial step in the process to being legit in the eyes of the Dominican Ministry of Education. Being legit. By the Dominican Ministry of Education.
'By the Dominican Ministry of Education' is a crucial part of the sentence. We ARE legit. Our students attend when they really don't have to. They abide by our rules generally. The parents trust us. Makarios has a good name in the communities where we serve. We are invited to events. (I was even on TV for a basketball court dedication in Pancho Mateo.)
There is a value for the work that is being done in the students' lives. Legit? Oh, we are legit, alright. But, having said all that, it will be nice to have our Dominican accreditation and truly be all legitimate in the eyes of the Dominican Ministry of Education.
Dominican Ministry of Education, we present to you our PEC!!(!!!)
This month the Dominican Ministry of Education will visit our school and give us suggestions for improvements so that we can proceed through the steps towards accreditation. How exciting if we could start 2016-2017 as an officially accredited, Dominican, private school. Please pray with us to this end. We will keep you posted on our 'legit' status.
This month we will be highlighting the various aspects of partnership, a key element in the mission of Makarios to love, educate and empower. Partnership, at its core, is about relationship, and Makarios strives to have a healthy, gospel reflective partnership that functions excellently within the parameters of the country in which we serve, the Dominican Republic. Establishing Colegio Makarios as a school recognized by the government of the Dominican Republic is one way that Makarios is striving to create sustainable partnership. In addition, partnership is an umbrella over every single area in which we work: groups, school, health, outreach, sponsorships, communities, etc. To find out more about how you can partner with Makarios, click here.
by Richie Sparling, Outreach Coordinator
Imagine you worked for a ministry and someone handed you the reigns of "outreach" and asked you to design and lead what that looks like in the community(ies) in which the ministry serves. What questions would you ask to start the ball rolling? How would you distinguish and target the various groups of people living in that community? What programs would you establish to meet the needs of the various people groups? How would you define spiritual formation? What would your vision statement be like?
None of these questions have simple answers. Yet, is this not exactly the call Christ gave to each christian when he said in Matthew 28 "Go, into all the world and MAKE disciples of all nations"? Perhaps many of you reading this passage before focused on the "GO". However the real emphasis in this sentence is on the word "MAKE". In fact the "GO" is an assumed "go" probably better interpreted as: "while you are going". In other words, this great command is not meant only for missionaries and preachers who leave their home to go to another area of the world, but for all men and women who are called by His name to follow in His footsteps and make disciples.
So how are you answering this call in your life; in the community in which you live? We are asking some of these same questions as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ here on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. What process does someone go through in order to become a mature believer? Well, first they need exposure to the gospel. Then they need an invitation to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. Once they have committed their life to Christ they need encouragement, teaching from God's word, involvement in a local church for continued growth, and perseverance. Then, Lord willing, they themselves will become a disciple-maker leading others to a knowledge of the saving grace that is found only in Christ.
This is no easy process. There are snares and pitfalls along the way. There is a powerful enemy who desires to distract and destroy. BUT, we have a powerful God through whom all things are possible. Even the worst of sinners can find forgiveness for their sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. We know that we are not alone in this journey and when the job of making disciples seems too overwhelming, we can turn to the One who does the REAL work knowing that our struggle is not in vain because we serve a mighty and wonderful God.
Pray for God's work to be done here on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, and pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers into the fields because there is much work to do! Then answer the call for yourself, in your neighborhood, at your place of work, and even in your own home.
by Sarah Jane Ferrell, visiting group member
I didn’t want to go to the Dominican Republic. The trip, centered around volunteer work at a primary school, would have been perfect for a Spanish speaking, self proclaimed “kid person” who loved to travel. Unfortunately, I was none of those things. Lacking excitement, I stuffed a week’s worth of clothing into a carryon bag. The objective of the journey was service, but my mind was clouded by selfishness. As my friends bounced in their airplane seats, I sipped my tiny cup of water apprehensively. My passport received its very first stamp, but the experience was hasty, not at all magical like the movies make it out to be. No longer in los Estados Unidos, all familiarity was lost. I didn’t want to be in the Dominican Republic. As we left the airport, our van made its way through crowded streets. We passed speeding motorcycles that cared nothing about traffic laws and dance clubs blaring music in a language I didn’t understand. A hand reached through our window, hoping for a few pesos from us gringos. The November wind whipped through our hair, and I remained silent.
I spent my Thanksgiving in the Dominican Republic. Peeling, chopping, and stirring, my feet became sore from hours spent in the kitchen. That night, our team dined with several Dominican dwelling Americans who worked with the Makarios organization. More than 40 of us feasted upon the meal, much of it made up of ingredients we had lugged in our suitcases across the airports. The American staff and their children were immensely blessed just by this small taste of home. It was truly gratifying to see that the simple meal we had prepared meant so much to them. “It was more than I could have ever asked for,” said young Jenna, the daughter of the school’s doctor who had been missing Thanksgiving back in the States. “...today was honestly the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had,” I quickly scribbled in the travel journal before bed. “…This Thanksgiving, I’m extremely thankful.”
I don’t know when everything changed, but somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the Dominican Republic. Each hand I held and each caballito ride I gave chipped away at my childish selfishness, bringing me to the realization that I was in this place for a reason. The D.R. was a beautiful land filled with beautiful people who, despite lacking education, taught me more about loving others than any American citizen ever had. All my life, true poverty had been a faroff cry, a dismal story heard but soon forgotten. In la Republica Dominicana, however, I met it face to face, no longer ignorant of the way the majority of our world lives. The faces belonged to children with bright smiles and big hearts. They resided in shacks on trashlittered streets, unrolled tin cans serving as the roofs over their heads. They had next to nothing, but they were richer in joy than I had ever been. My red eyes blinked back an impending flood of tears as I hugged those faces for the last time. I didn’t want to leave the Dominican Republic.
Short term trips are often life changers. To learn more about how to participate in one, click here.
by Rachel Sawyer
Presenting a little Christmas cheer from the Colegio Makarios Christmas program last week:
13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2: 13, 14
It's been almost a month since generosity lit up those pallets, we gathered and dined, laughed and reminisced, and walked away with full hearts. Enjoy this slideshow from the evening and thank you to everyone who came and honored what the Lord is doing through Makarios!
by Rachel Sawyer
How the purchase of light bulbs created the glowy goodness of a GALA filled with gracious givers . . .
And how those gracious givers raised more than $20,000 for the new Makarios school building to be built, a building that will ultimately allow Makarios to impact more children, more families, more lives.
And how the purchase of a light bulb, the giving of a gift, can change a life OR MANY. Cakito's story is an example of how generous giving combined with the love of Christ changed a life, and how that changed life is daily sharing Christ to be a LIGHT for others. A Makarios staff invested in him when he was a kid, and now he spends his days investing in others.
Yes, the investment of a light bulb is an investment into a life and that investment is powered by gracious giving. Simply put, gracious giving, whether in time, resources, skills, prayers, finances, is a powerful tool, the shiny - est of flickers, because it has the ability to iluminate hope in dark places.
The pallets at the MAK GALA began the evening hole-y, empty and dull. They ended the evening in brilliant splendor; complete, full and radiant. Each purchase of a light bulb represented an item needed for the new building: row of light bulbs purchased = new foundation: check, 6 light bulbs for plumbing: check, 2 rows of bulbs for the electrical: check. In less than 30 minutes, the pallets were transformed from dull to delightful. Even though the light bulbs purchased represented items needed for the new building, the ultimate hope is that what each light bulb TRULY represent is a LIFE transformed. One hundred light bulbs = one hundred lives transformed: check!
Thank you ~ Muchas GRACIAS to all who lovingly, kindly and generously invested in the work of Makarios by purchasing a light bulb, lighting up the pallets and providing for a bright future for our students. We are grateful to be powered by gracious giving!
It's not too late to be a part of the gracious giving! Click here for the potential to provide light, transform lives and offer hope! Also, stay tuned for a photo review of the GALA!
by Polly Blosser, guest blogger, Makarios Medical Team 2015
We arrive to a wonderful two bedroom, air conditioned room with two patios, two pools, all the food we want, and a beautiful beach. The staff is friendly, and they try to accommodate our every wish. They will even take us to a bigger resort to spend the day if we would like. All of this to enjoy for the entire week, but something is still missing...
My heart yearns for the week before. The week where we stood in the heat all day, treating the families of Makarios. There was no air, no pools, not many luxuries, but I felt so blessed. To see the pure joy in the children's faces because we were there, there to spend time with them, there to hold their hands, there to love them. They didn't possess all the material things that make people " happy", yet they were some of the most content people I had ever met. They didn't ask for money, they didn't want gifts. They just wanted us to be their friends.
The relationships we saw, and even formed, were so genuine. Everyone truly loved one another, just as Christ wants. The Holy Spirit was very present, and we could feel it moving among us. Angels rejoiced five times, as 5 people made decisions for Christ. A pastor, an optometrist, 4 primary care givers, 5 nurses, 3 pilots, and a water specialist developed relationships that will last into eternity, all because God put us all in the same place that week. We went from what felt like the awkwardness of a junior high dance to openly sharing our highs and lows like we had always known one another. All because God had a plan.
"Boy become kings, girls will be queens"- the powerful words of Audio Adrenaline play over in my mind. We may think these children who have little are "the least of these" but they are the ones who have it all. They have Jesus, and they have blessed us more than we could ever bless them. Makarios, I am in love, and although my heart hurts, it is because I know God has a plan to return someday, so those relationships continue to thrive! Until then, keep your eyes focused on Him, and always remember what a blessing you are!
The medical team of 2015 was more than a team of health care providers offering their expertise . . . (in fact, part of the team had other professions and they spent the week running electrical wires, plumbing and performing other non-health care tasks!) They were a team of God loving, people loving, gospel sharing, friend making, servant hearted individuals who made a difference in the kingdom, not just last week, but every day that the Lord blesses them with, because that's who they are.
Medical teams visit and provide care for our students and their families once a year. Are you a health care provider interested in sharing your gifts on the mission field? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.