Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Last Group of 2013...Course Trends from Austin!

Only two weeks after we returned from Guatemala we welcomed our next team to the D.R.  They were our friends from Course Trends, a company in Austin that sent us the team last year that was instrumental in our recovery from the flood in November 2012.  This year 11 men made the trip, including friends we had met last year.  We were excited to see them again and meet new friends as well.

Our New Sidewalk!
Again, the guys proved to be hard workers and a huge blessing to the Makarios community, as we had them engage in three main projects throughout the week.  First, they helped us construct a new sidewalk on the school grounds to replace the previous gravel walkway.  Saying that there was a lot of shoveling involved is an understatement.

Second, they built some much needed improvements at the home of a local elderly woman and her two nieces.  This sweet family has been friends with Makarios for the past several years.  Shelves in the kitchen, repairing the girls’ beds, and a safety handrail on the front porch were all huge upgrades for this family.

She's so excited to have a handrail.
There's a steep slope into her home
You can't imagine how much better this looks!
The community was excited to have curbs!
Lastly, the team joined in on an exciting project out in front of the school.  A new drainage system was built to help channel dirty wastewater from the school down to the river.  The guys definitely got their hands dirty helping the city workers and local residents dig drainage ditches and mix concrete for the curbs that were built. There are fairly open sewers that run through this area that people walk over and empty into the streets.  So, this project not only benefits our students who daily walk through these areas, but the entire surrounding community as well.  The families who live on the same street as the Mak school now have a reliable drainage system that should make the entire area cleaner, safer and definitely more pleasant to walk through.  The hope is also that this will provide better drainage to prevent flooding in the future.  There is even talk of the city paving these roads in the near future which would be a further blessing!
The team and community worked hard together!

After a lot of shoveling, drilling, mixing concrete, swinging pick axes and more shoveling, the week wrapped up with a futbol game in Chichigua.  Despite a definite home field advantage from the locals, the guys from Course Trends faired pretty well- actually taking the lead at one point.  Eventually, we succumbed to the mad, bare-footed soccer skills of the Chichiguans, but not before a brave effort.  It was a great way to end the trip.
After a friendly competitive game of futbol with the guys from Chichigua (a neighboring village)

Once again, we thoroughly enjoyed and were blessed by the Course Trends team and are thankful for their hard work and partnership in our ministry.  It’s humbling to have folks who want to come and share in what God is doing here in this part of the D.R.

Thanks for joining us in the journey.

We are blessed!

The Becks

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spanish Classes, Volcanoes, and Boa Constrictors!

We just returned to the D.R. after a three month hiatus from the island.  We were able to visit family and friends in a whirl-wind tour of the southern U.S. and then headed to Antigua, Guatemala for language school.  Antigua is a cool little city just south of the capital in southern Guatemala.  There’s a mix of Spanish culture, indigenous Mayan peoples and ex-patriots from literally all over the world.  The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with quaint garden villas, local shops and ancient ruins and surrounded by gorgeous views of the mountains and volcanoes of the area.  Antigua is known for its fine and affordable Spanish schools so we choose to study there.
Our Teachers

Margaret and I took classes in the mornings and afternoons with 1-on-1 instructors who only spoke Spanish.  We were able to go at our own pace and concentrate on areas that needed the most attention.  In all, we spent eight weeks in language school while we were in Antigua.  We took six hours of classes a day and studied in between our classes and during the afternoons and evenings.  In all, I figure we logged about 400 hours of class/study time each during our two-month stay- something that would take a year or longer to do in the D.R. because of our job responsibilities and new way of life.  We still have a long way to go to be where we want to be language-wise, but we now have a solid foundation to build on as we serve the Lord with Makarios in the D.R. 

When we were not studying or in class, we got to break away and see some of the sights of the surrounding area. Our itinerary included: visiting a fellow missionary living in Antigua, hiking active volcanoes, touring ancient Mayan ruins, zip lining adventures, meeting the president of Guatemala, walking along a black volcanic-sand beach, riding in “chicken buses”, feeling a couple of earthquake tremors and encountering one big boa constrictor.
This was a view from outside our host home.
The school is a few doors down on the left.
Our friend, and missionary
in Antigua- Randy

These are the ruins where my
Great Aunt Margaret visited in the 1940's!

Diego was our first host who
became a good friend- We LOVED Diego

Our Host Family...We LOVED them!
We made many new friends and thoroughly enjoyed our time of study in Guatemala, but even more so, we were ready and excited to return to our home here in the D.R. to minister alongside our friends at Makarios for the sake of the Gospel.  We are truly blessed by God to be able to do what we do- thank you to everyone who has supported us in so many ways as we follow where God leads us!

Thanks for joining us on our journey...

The Becks 

We never got tired of our view!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Group #6- Austin Stone Community Church

Austin Stone brought a team of 18 who swept in just at the perfect time to bat “clean up!”  After a full summer of soccer camp, summer school, recess, taking Makarios kids to the beach, working on projects around the school…this group came in and worked like crazy to get the school ready for the new school year.  

Walking in Pancho Mateo- one of the
villages that Makarios serves
Playing in Chichigua- one of the
villages that Makarios serves

After overcoming many of the “normal” obstacles that we face on a daily basis (no power, no water, etc) they were flexible and persevered through challenges and their accomplishments were a testimony to their hard work. They built a trash cage, organized the office after a remodeling project, moved the library to a new location, helped teachers prepare their classrooms, painted desks, and completed some of the other unfinished projects from the summer.  They were led well by Wes and Kyle and were a hard working team who served with joy.

Here are some pictures that capture the joy of our village visits!  We play soccer, basketball, paint nails, give piggyback rides (known here as caballito rides), let the kids braid our hair, and just have some good old fashioned fun...loving on kids!

Trash Cage in Progress

Trash Cage Complete

On the last night of the trip, the leaders of the group asked if we could take communion and invite all Makarios staff.    As we sat on the roof under a star-lit sky, surrounded by group members and fellow staff members- Americans, Dominicans and Haitians-I couldn’t help but think that this was a perfect ending to a perfect year.  We were breaking bread together as we celebrated what the Lord had done among us in this place.  Such a powerful moment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Each team that came this summer was such a blessing to us personally and to the ministry.  We are humbled and grateful for the amazing teams that the Lord assembled this summer to come and serve alongside us.  We feel like we have made some lifelong friends- literally from coast to coast- from Texas to Canada, Florida to Washington.  We are blessed.

Love from the DR,

Margaret and Doug

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Group #5 Colonial Baptist Church from North Carolina and Austin Ridge Church from Texas

This past week, we hosted a combined group from Colonial Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC and Austin Ridge from Texas. This group accomplished quite a bit for their size.  They were small in numbers, but not in their undertakings.  They organized countless shoes, supplies, constructed cabinets, helped put up a ceiling in our office, played with kids at recess, and helped with the week long soccer tournament.  What a tremendous help this team was to our staff and school.
The Soccer Team at the Beach!

Along with our time at the school, we also spent an afternoon in Chichigua, which is a Haitian batey where many of the Makarios students live. We sat with the men, women and children while making bracelets and sharing smiles and light hearted conversation.  One of the group members spoke Spanish, and used this gift to carry on meaningful conversations, which was a tremendous blessing to all.

The Children Making Bracelets and hearing about the Gospel
 On Wednesday, we invited the Makarios students as well as their friends in the neighborhood to come make a bracelet and hear more about Jesus.  In the afternoon, we walked through the village near the school and invited every kid we saw to join us in our activity.  Over sixty five energetic boys and girls filled the cafeteria after school.  We used different colored beads to explain the gospel and the plan of salvation while also teaching them a few basic English words.    It was the last day of summer school, so they were quite boisterous and FULL of energy.  It was a great time of organized chaos, especially knowing that God’s Word doesn’t return void.

On a personal note, we were thankful to have a veterinarian, Jackie, as one of the team members.  We have tried very hard not to acquire any “pets” while living in the DR.  In the short time we’ve been here, we have eagerly gotten rid of a rooster, 4 puppies and 2 rabbits (and one unwanted cow!)  However, after our best attempts at getting rid of a little kitten that showed up at the Mak House we were not successful- she just kept coming back.  So, we now have a new kitten called, “Kita.”  Previous to knowing Kita, we were not very fond of cats, however, Kita has a spunky little personality and has warmed her way into our hearts.  Jackie came at the perfect time because we had her less than a week when Jackie arrived, so she was a huge blessing in helping us learn how to care for a small kitten.   You just never know when, where or how your gifts will be used...Thank You, Jackie!  (Kita "thanks" you, too!)
Soccer Teams Praying before Championship Game
Loving on some kids!

The teams who have come throughout the summer not only bless the Makarios kids, but they are a blessing to us, too!  Thank You, Austin Ridge and Colonial Baptist!

Love from the DR,

The Becks

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Group #4- Miami Vineyard and Austin Stone Youth

What another amazing week! God continues to bless us beyond what we could ever ask or imagine!  We had the Austin Stone Youth and Miami Vineyard visit Makarios last week and it was a joy to see God at work among His people! ...And boy were they a fun group who knew how to work hard.

We welcomed this group with a great sense of relief because we had an eventful week leading up to their visit.  The week before they came, our power lines were cut so we didn’t have power for one whole week!  Take one minute and imagine what that might be like.  No fans to keep us cool, no light after 8pm except the lights from flashlights and lanterns (but we couldn’t recharge our lanterns, so once they went out they went out!), no food in the fridge, etc.  But we (Doug, the interns, and I) learned that we are pretty resilient because we really did get along just fine and made the most of what had been given to us.  Bible Study and eating dinner by candlelight was a daily routine.  We learned that electricity is a privilege.

Fortunately, power returned to the house on the day they arrived, so that was an added blessing.  These two groups followed the same routine as the previous groups and worked as unto the Lord.  Scott and Chelsea Frazier and Gwen Mercado led their groups with such servant leadership. It was a beautiful example of the body of Christ at work- two different churches, from two different denominations, from two different states coming together to worship, serve and glorify the Lord.  
Nothing like Dominican baseball in the summertime!
They worked hard helping Cakito and Kelvin at soccer camp, as well as helping us finish up the maintenance shed and completing the paint on the remainder of the wall.  It’s amazing what a difference it made!  From grey cinderblock walls to yellow and cream- it looks so fresh and clean.

One day during recreo (or recess) the students were transformed into princesses and superheros. 

But, check out the Texas Longhorn Mascot
in the background intimidating the princesses!

It was such a hit that this became a part of recreo for the rest of the week. The kids loved putting on costumes and assuming the appropriate role.  It was a joy to watch them play around in the school yard with their newly acquired personality!

Once again, we were blessed beyond belief.  We made lifelong friends who we were sad to see go.  However, we are hopeful we will see them again in the DR.  This trip was life changing for so many…here’s a  post on Facebook from one of the girls who was on the trip.  

"I was so blessed to work with Makarios International this past week.  It was by far the best experience of my life, and being able to minister to the Dominican Republic changed my life forever..."

Thanks for joining us on the journey!
The Becks

Here's a few pics of Miami Vineyard.  

They let some of the best hairdressers on the Island do their hair!

They also gave great piggyback rides which the kids LOVE!

More pictures of the team hard at work...

Austin Stone Group Shot

Miami Vineyard at the Airport

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Team #3- Austin Stone Family Trip


The family group from Austin Stone arrived on the scene on June 28.  It was a totally different dynamic having kids in the home and as group members and we LOVED it!  Nine kids and eleven adults called the Mak House "home" for eight days.  It filled our hearts with joy to see all the kids pile into one guagua (aka: van) as we traveled from place to place.

It was such a blessing having kids in the house- the neighborhood kids loved having playmates their own age, and the American staff kids (all 7 of them) came over every day to play, too.  Each day when the team would arrive home, there would be kids waiting for them at the gate of the Mak house to play.  Some days, the kids would wait as long as an hour for the team to get home. 

It was also nice to have our own personal handyman on the trip.  He fixed the handle on the oven and the oven door, repaired our trash bin outside, made a cage for the rabbits, etc.  We also had our pile of wood organized by some group members as well as getting other things done around the house.  Actually, it was a huge help to have some mom and dads around.  Mom and Dads make everything better and know how to do everything.

This group worked around the clock- they didn't stop.  They made the most of rain delays and in fact, I think that they welcomed the rain because it brought cooler weather AND gave them a chance to swing a sledge hammer and knock out some countertops in the old kitchen.  Men and women alike tackled the renovation of demolishing the concrete countertops.  They also sanded and painted the wall around the school, played at recess, participated in a soccer camp, and they ministered to the neighborhood kids by doing something we call "Mak.Com" which stands for Makarios Community.  The neighborhood kids came over for a Bible Lesson, English Class, and a craft.  I was so impressed by all of the children who were on this team.  They worked so hard and played non-stop with the kids at the school and in our neighborhood.  It was refreshing to see the language "barrier" not be a barrier at all.  They jumped right in and played and loved without any hesitation.  It was awesome! 

After serving, praying, worshipping, and playing alongside each other for 8 days, they left the DR with lifelong friendships.  Thank you Austin Stone Family Group for blessing us and Makarios.

The Becks