Saturday, February 10, 2018

Farewells can be Hard

The farewell ceremony at the end of the week is one of the most difficult parts. There were so many people from the community sharing their appreciation for us coming and supporting and encouraging them. For the team it’s bittersweet we will miss these people they’re great smiles they’re loving and Open Hearts and their friendship. At the same time as things wind down we look forward to getting a a warm shower and look great leap forward to being back home with our families. The people spoke of the many years we’ve been coming here and their appreciation and of course telling us that we are part of their family and welcome anytime.

A number of people shared poems they had written Thanking us and praising God. Each of the team members were able to speak briefly at the ceremony thanking people for their hospitality and sharing memories. Craig took the opportunity to share the gospel and explain that was the primary reason that we came.

As the ceremony wrapped up Pastor Juan, who is a new pastor at the old church but also has many other churches to support, asked us if we would participate in evangelism campaign the next time that we were in Sierra Prieta.  We are hopeful that this will be another way we can support the local churches the next time we are here.

During the farewell as well as leadership training they were a number of comments about the vision that the leader shared with us when we first came to Sierra Prieta 9 years ago. They had shared a vision to have a better education for their children, clean water to drink, a water system to bring water to each house, better community leadership, a community center and opportunities for Technical Training. As far as we can tell all of these specifics have been achieved and now they’re dreaming even bigger. We look forward to seeing what God continues to move this community. They thanked us for our part which we believe is really very small in the whole scheme of things.

Some sad news we received on arriving is that one of the special needs boys that team members had spent a lot of time with passed away. His name is Jose and he was confined to a wheelchair. We have some great memories of him being pushed around in that chair by Nathan while playing tag with the other kids. Dan and Andrew and Bob along with Bethany the FH nurse who helped our team, were able to speak with his mom, Fanny, and pray with her. He passed away suddenly in December immediately following a physical therapy session in Santo Domingo.                 

After leaving the community we went to the FH office. We were blessed to have reunions with old friends including Carlos Nunez who has traveled to Cornerstone to speak to us before. We were able to congratulate him on his marriage last summer. We also saw Dr. Francesca again as she had stopped in the community briefly, she was instrumental in helping us speak with the teenagers last year. And we were really blessed to see the Paden family they have become special to us over the years as Nathan has translated the previous two years for our team.

Another person that we got to spend some time with is Tom the country director for FH in the Dominican Republic. We had some excellent conversations with him about the progress in Sierra Prieta the development of things in FH here, and he asked us a number of questions about our church. It was an excellent time of interacting and seeing the vision that continues to grow through the FH organization.

Unfortunately overnight Bob was added to the stomach bug casualties thus far only Dan and Greg have avoided it but it seems to be a short one so we hope everyone is feeling well before we get on the plane Saturday afternoon.

We are anxious to return home to our families that were here the weather at home it’s not very hospitable. Thank you for all of your prayers we look forward to sharing more in person of the great experience we have each had here. God is surely working in a mighty way and we at Cornerstone are blessed to be a small part of it.

Friday, February 9, 2018


We awoke this morning to more scattered rain showers and a hearty meal of oatmeal.  The kitchen crew has been so hardworking and careful with our meals, making sure that Taber doesn’t get any gluten, Greg doesn’t get any corn, Holden isn’t getting peanuts, and everyone is well fed.  We have commented often that in past years we have expected to loose a few pounds while here.  But they feed us so well it’s more likely we would gain weight even with all the trenching we participated in this week.

Speaking of Hard work, we got to play volleyball at the school today.  It was included as part of the PE unit the kids have been working on and they are pretty good.  As we arrived at the school the sun broke through the clouds and blessed us with 2 hours of bright, hot, steamy sunshine to enjoy playing with them.  A number of the kids are those who we have known for years and even some of our sponsored kids.  It is something else to see the likes of Angelo, Juan Armando, Jairon, Daniella, Juan Francisco, Anna Rosa, and so many more.  We are encouraged to see them continue to grow and mature and have real hope to overcome poverty.

After lunch we had invited church and community leaders to join us for a training time.  The meeting started with 15 leaders from 3 different churches and a number of community organizations as well as some interested folks from the community.  By the time Greg wrapped up lessons in leadership from the book of Joshua, there were over 25 folks in attendance.  We were able to connect again with Pastor Juan from the church we originally stayed in. 

In our reminiscing, we were thinking back to the first time we met Silah and her 3 daughters and son.  The 2nd year Cornerstone sent a team to Sierra Prieta we renovated their home and were able to purchase new mattresses for them so they could get rid of the infested ones they were using.  The Chandler family has now been sponsoring Elva, one of the daughters for a number of years.  During Bob’s visit to their home this year Elva shared that she will graduate from High School in September and then plans to attend University and hopes to get a job in an office in the capital.  We probably wouldn’t have imagined that kids growing up in that home would have a chance to overcome the poverty and squalor of that home so many years ago.

Our internet got really squirley Thursday night but we should have regular exposure to Wi-Fi for the rest of the trip.  Thank you for all of your prayers and support.

Last night a stomach bug hit Taber and by this morning Holden and Andrew caught some too. Pray they feel better soon and that no one else catches it.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hump Dayyyyyy

Wednesday brings us to the middle of our time here and all of the sudden it seems like we’re leaving in no time at all.  The morning brought us to the far opposite end of the community from where we had been working.  As far as we can tell, there have now been supply pipes run to all of the houses in the community.  There are now 3 different water tanks fed by the same well and 3 different pumps.  These different mini-water towers supply water to all 200 homes in Sierra Prieta.  That will eliminate no less than an hour per day for each family.  The following chart will give you an idea of how much time is now freed up in Sierra Prieta to do things like, play with their kids, do homework, get a part-time job, learn a new trade, help a neighbor, grow a garden, you get the idea.  This will have a huge impact on the well-being of the people here.
Hours per day saved each household
1 hour
Number of Households
200 households
Hours per day Saved
200 hours per day
Hours per year saved
73,000 total hours per day
“Years of life” saved per year
8.3 years of time spent
Number of full-time jobs it would take to replace that amount of time
35 (full time 40 hr per week jobs)

After lunch we enjoyed some more Bible School with the kids.  Andrew taught about Jesus calming the sea.  It was a great time with lots of kids and lots of involvement.  Our translator Genesis got a bad cold and had to leave, but Yacaris, wife of one of the FH staff filled in and helped us pull off the VBS.

As the VBS wound down Bob, Greg, Holden and Taber left for the final sponsored child visits.  They had a great time connecting not only with the sponsored children but also their families.  Some of these relationships have been building for years.  And these kids are really growing up.
The evening was filled with a meeting for the teenagers.  

Along with the FH staff we spoke with the kids about sex.  Talking very frankly about not only the health and relationship impacts of sex but also the spiritual.  As a physician Bob shared along with Bethany who is a nurse.  We shared with them God’s plan for sex to be shared between one man and one woman in marriage.  There was a good and lively discussion.

Please pray for us as we spend some time playing sports with the kids tomorrow morning at the school.  We will have a training time for Church and community leaders tomorrow afternoon and then will show a movie for the community tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Picture Post

In the Swing of things

One of the purposes of joining into a Community to Community relationship with Sierra Prieta via Food for the Hungry, is to give hope and encouragement to the people here so that they can gain a better perspective on their value and dignity.  Reflecting on the attitudes expressed at the welcome ceremony it is evident that the relationship between these folks and Cornerstone with FH’s regular contact is having this effect.  It is really amazing when so many people express their gratitude and reveal the encouragement they gain from our visits.  This phenomena really blows our minds.  People we rarely see express their connection with the church and the team with great emotion.  We hope that those who have sent us and pray for us understand the value of this work.

The community center that we brand new last year is now used daily as a center for early childhood development with older preschoolers in the morning and younger ones in the afternoon.  40 kids are currently in the program with a teacher funded by the local school.  In addition the water tank is in place on the rear part of the building, eliminating the need for the community(and us) to have water carried in for washing and cleaning.  We actually now have flushing toilets, showers and water running in the sinks.  Those who have been coming for many years feel very spoiled. This place is a great source of pride for the community.

We spent the morning today digging trenches to the farthest ends of the communities.  Once part of the project is complete the entire community will no longer have to travel up to a mile carrying 5 gallon buckets on their heads for the totality of their water needs.  The heat and humidity kept us drinking lots of water and recoating in sunscreen as it sweated off. 

After lunch and some rain, Bob and Dan visited some of their sponsored children, while Andrew, Greg, Holden and Taber led VBS.  The VBS was a little smaller than in the past as there were a fe2w competing sports events going on in town.  But Holden told the story of the loaves and fishes with help for Genesis in translation. 

Just before dinner we walked together to make 3 more sponsored child visits, one for Dan and 2 for the Wilson Family. 

Tomorrow we will be working on the water system some more in the moring.  Then will have VBS and home visits in the afternoon.  At 6 in the evening we will be having a meeting with the teenagers.  This will be focused primarily on speaking to them about the dangers of sex before marriage and multiple partners as well as giving the kids chances to ask questions in a safe environment.

We greatly appreciate your prayers and look forward to sharing more with you all once we arrive home.  

I think we finally have the internet challenge overcome a bit.  I will submit a separate post with lots of pictures.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Better Later Than Never

After a bit of an adventure we arrived in Sierra Prieta Sunday evening.  It was delayed 8 hours as we had to wait for our baggage to arrive from Miami. It was just getting dark as we arrived, but it was a blessing to finally arrive.  During our delay we attended church on Sunday morning and then enjoyed some excellent Dominican food at a local restaurant. 

Once we settled into our accommodations for the week, at the community center, we were treated to be able to catch a quarter and a half of the Super Bowl.  Go Eagles! 

We were all blessed to see old friends and remember past times and introduce the rest of the team.  The folks were disappointed that we hadn’t arrived sooner but were very glad we made it.  The welcome ceremony had to be cancelled but we plan to meet with the community leaders Monday afternoon to hear more of what God has been doing here in our absence.

Monday morning brought a few adjustments. The planned building project hit a snag.  We were anticipating building a house for Wilmon and his family.  We met Wilmon 2 years ago, he has special needs and is one of the children Bethany with Food for the Hungry is working with to develop a physical therapy plan that his mom can continue when outside resources are not available.  The land that were to build on is in question.  FH has been working to clarify ownership of the ground before we invest in building house that may not end up going to the intended family.  They had hoped to have everything worked out before we arrived.

Instead of home building we are helping to take the water project we worked on last year even further.  At this time a number of homes have water spigots at their property lines to help alleviate the need to carry water for washing and cleaning. Monday morning we “helped” a large group of local men trench out a 3rd of a mile or so.  Though the week we will help extend the trenches and install pipe.

After a lunch break we helped with some more digging and saw the delivery of more pipe.  It's amazing the amount of ground covered in a single day by the men here (we were glad to be a small part).  We estimated that they picked and shoveled through we'll over 1/4 mile of rocky ground.

Late in the afternoon we enjoyed the rescheduled welcome ceremony. This year it was filled with many well wishes, songs from the kids of the preschool/ early childhood class that use the community center, speeches from various community members and prayers too.  They continue to say how encouraged they are by our presence. They are thankful for the commitment of our church to keep sending us.

We will work to get updates posted more timely as time and internet allow.

Everyone sends greetings to their family.