Caribbean Christmas… fruitcake?
Well, Christmas seems like a long time ago, so we thought we should catch you up on what’s been happening here since our last update. After the hustle and bustle of our first semester here, it was nice to have a few weeks to not think about grading, curriculum, and lesson planning. We also made it up to the north shore for a few days on the beach – which seemed at odds with our traditional Christmas celebrations, but we weren’t complaining! We spent Christmas Eve with some of our new local friends, two Dominican couples and their children. We ate rice and beans, fried chicken, fried plantains, and yes – a fruit cake that they brought! I guess some things are the same no matter where you are…
Unfortunately, not everyone celebrated that night. Shortly thereafter, we learned of a family a few miles from us whose house burned down that same night. Their children are involved in an after school ministry called Anija, and our friends there told us what happened and invited us to come help them rebuild. Kaden and Harley then spent a day helping to assemble cinder block walls, and it was a good case study in how careful you need to be when offering help. Anija provided funding for materials, but the family and friends were expected to do most the work. This prevents the recipients from feeling patronized and helps them become empowered as a part of the solution to their own problems. Likewise, Anija was careful not to provide the capital for rebuilding too quickly. When poor neighborhoods see money from outside sources pour in too rapidly, it can provide incentive for the neighbors to have ‘accidental’ electrical fires of their own in the expectation of getting a new house out of it. Such are the pitfalls of providing relief. If you’d like to learn more we highly recommend the book “When Helping Hurts” by Corbett and Fikkert.
The family of 6 who experienced this loss lives in a house approximately 20×25’ in size that is situated on land they do not own, typical of the outlying areas.
One item to celebrate involves our work with one of the seniors at Doulos. This young man has really impressed us as we’ve come to know him. He is a tireless worker and dedicated to making a better life for his family and country. He and his brother share a room and a bed in the servant’s quarters of a house a couple blocks from us, and his mother is a janitor at the school. A college in MN is very interested in him, but his hopes seemed dashed when his SAT scores came in quite low. We had never seen him so “down” as he was the day he got his scores. But in a couple of days he made arrangements with us for some tutoring over Christmas break and he signed up to take the test again Jan 22. He came to our house 3-4 nights a week all through the break and the first few weeks of January, and just last Friday he learned that he added 300+ points to his score – well over the threshold he needed to get in to the school and to secure needed financial aid! When Abby, who did 90% of the tutoring all those weeks, informed his mother at school on Friday, she was jumping up and down with tears in her eyes. She was grateful to Abby and praising God.
Thank you for helping us to be here for days like that!