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Hard Charge While Hiking Highest Peak

This week our courageous 9th graders embark on one of their milestone outdoor education trips: hiking the Caribbean’s highest peak — Pico Duarte!

We believe in the value of doing hard things, pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones and learning to work as a team, servant lead, and fall in love with the Creator through being outside in his creation.

The staff leaders of this particular trip asked several of us to write the kids notes of encouragement to be read to them on the trail. Dan LeMoine, our director of development, chaperoned this particular class on their outdoor education trip last year, and you’ll find his note to them below.

Please join us in prayer as these high schoolers are on the trail all this week, push themselves and their classmates to be revolutionary, perseverant, and courageous!

A note to our 9th grade Servant Leaders:

My wonderful 9th graders —

I am so incredibly proud of each one of you and I truly wish I was with you while you accomplish this very unique, brave, and amazing feat! Only a select few people in the world can say they’ve ever been at the HIGHEST POINT IN ALL OF THE CARIBBEAN (<–that’s so cool!). Soon you too will be one of the few.

The hike to Pico Duarte is not easy, as I’m sure you are already experiencing.

But, trust me (and your leaders) when we tell you that there is immense value in doing hard things.

These hard times will push you out of your comfort zone.
These hard moments will build character in you.
These hard moments will prepare you for other, even harder things you will inevitably face in your life.

Once you conquer Pico you will not only have a wonderful sense of accomplishment, but you will also have more courage, and more perseverance, and have forged stronger relationships with your brothers and sisters (classmates).

All of these will be helpful tools to conquer other challenges in your life — like standing up for the weak, getting into college, living a life which honors God, facing hard times like loosing a friend or family member, doing what is right in the face of persecution, or simply passing your next big exam!

I promise you — your Pico trip will be something you never forget and an experience you will rely on for years to come!

Here’s my encouragement and challenge to you as you make your way to the Peak.

  • When it’s hard and you don’t think you can go any further – think and rely on Jesus for endurance and perseverance.
  • When it’s easy and you’re resting – think about and praise Jesus for rest and for your classmates and leaders and guides.
  • When you’re tired and you get frustrated or upset – think on and pray to Jesus for patience.
  • When you’re legs don’t feel like they can go one step further – set your mind on Jesus and depend on him to help you keep moving.
  • When you’ve made it to the pico and have taken pictures with Juan Pablo Duarte – take in all of God’s created beauty. Look from left to right and look out as far as you can see, and remember that if you have accepted Jesus that Psalm 103:12 says “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
  • When you have returned back to La Cienega and are waiting for the bus to pick you up – PRAISE JESUS and soak up how amazing you’ve done!

God loves each and every one of you more than you can even begin to imagine. He loves you because He loves you because He loves you.

But our junk – our sin – has separated us from Him because He is so good and so pure and so holy. But God loves you so much that he sent his son Jesus to enter our world, get down and dirty with our struggles, and then be murdered to pay our sin-debt so that we can be back in a right relationship with God. That’s how much he loves you. (John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”)

Jesus did hard things – to the point where he willingly allowed himself to be mocked, beaten, tortured and murdered for you and me. Think about his strength and perseverance and courage as you hike. Remember what Paul said:

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 2:10)

I miss and love all of you – and I’m so proud! Bring back some good stories for me and don’t pick on Frankely too much! 😉

— Mr. Dan

The Rock School Partnership Spotlight

Partnership Spotlight: The Rock School

New partnerships are something to celebrate!  We’ve recently partnered with The Rock School, a Christian school in Gainesville, Florida.  This collaboration is special and we are thrilled to have them on our team.  Not only has The Rock School provided financial support by sponsoring one of our students for the entire year (they raised the money in only a few days), they have also been instrumental in the expansion of our study abroad program.  Last month, our School Director, Danae and Instructional Coach, Robyn, were able to travel to Florida to facilitate workshops for their teachers as they try to incorporate more Expeditionary Learning principles.  Coming together as a team to help each other learn and grow is what makes partnerships so incredible.

We spoke with Jim McKenzie, the principal of The Rock School, about our new partnership and their recent visit to Doulos.  Here’s his take on it:

Anytime you see God at work some place, it’s really encouraging. It draws me in and makes me want to be a part of it.

There’s a place for giving where you’re invested in something that’s long lasting. That’s how I look at Doulos—a chance to sew into a kid year after year that’s going to have a far-reaching impact.

I hope to send more kids over the years; the trip has changed their perspectives.

What we call poverty is different. A lack of material things is not the definition of poverty to the rest of the world. The people [in the Dominican Republic] are very happy and content. It’s a very eye-opening experience. 

I’m excited about the partnership between the schools and for the students from both schools to teach each other. I think Doulos can be just as much of a blessing if not more to our school than we are to Doulos.

There’s a connection. I feel like I’m connected to a people, not an organization. Doulos is not your campus, it’s not your mission statement; it’s the people who work there. We love the culture Doulos has created. We like and believe in the people who are there.

International Study Abroad Program

Feature article:  International Study Abroad Program!

The Doulos Study Abroad Program is growing!  Every year we select high school students to study for a semester in the US at one of our partner schools. While studying and living with an American host-family, our students have the opportunity to experience a new culture, practice their English, further their education, and immerse themselves in a new culture.

photo (3)We are currently partnered with two mission-minded schools in the US that have helped make these opportunities possible for our students: CVCA in Cuyahoga, Ohio (www.cvcroyals.com) and The Rock School in Gainesville, Florida (www.rocklions.com.)  We currently have an American student studying at Doulos through the study abroad program.  Lily Mathes is a high school sophomore from CVCA.  She plays soccer and lives with two other Doulos students and their family.12592290_1722042098031790_6785373132407691398_n

For this upcoming Fall semester, we’ve selected four high-achieving students: Alejandra, Michelle, Elisabeth and Jumel.  All student-applicants go through a thorough application process and interview with Doulos teachers and staff.  The students chosen possess skills that make them stand out and show promise that they will succeed in the study abroad program.  We are thrilled about the new adventure our students are about to embark on and we cannot wait to see how they thrive.

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There are multiple ways you can get involved in our study abroad program. You can pray for our students, the schools they attend, the families they are staying with, and students’ families back in the DR as they transition into a season without their child home with them.  If you live near one of our partner schools, you can host one of our students.  Another way you can support our students is financially . Each study abroad student is responsible for raising $3,000. If you feel led to support them financially DONATE HERE.  All support is greatly needed and appreciated.

For more information, contact Becky Zweber studyabroad@doulosdiscovery.org

Let’s Play!

A look at how Doulos Pre-K students learn through playIMG_6324

If you walk into a Pre-K classroom at Doulos, you will see a lot of movement. You will hear a lot of talking and noises. There might be a group of children building a tower so tall they stand on chairs to place blocks high above their heads. A pair of children might be dressed like shop keepers and purse-wearing grown-ups selling and buying produce. Two or three might work together building a 48 piece puzzle. Some work individually investigating bird feathers with magnifying glasses, or reading books from the classroom library.

IMG_6293These children are hard at play. But this doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning.  

Research shows that play is a fundamental force in early childhood development. Young children are naturally curious. When they engage in play, they are learning what people are like and how people think and solve problems. Through exploration, they can understand more about themselves and others. This kind of understanding leads to social and emotional development that sets them up for success for the rest of their lives.

IMG_6332At Doulos, we allow natural learning to occur through play and exploration. Last week, our Pre-K4 class began exploring dams. I (the teacher) gave a brief explanation that dams are like a wall that stops the water from flowing in a river, and forms a lake on one side. We went outside and turned on a hose to form a river in a downslope outside our classroom. Without further instruction, I provided the students with a wheelbarrow filled with large and small rocks, dirt, and a few 2×4 wooden blocks from the classroom.  Immediately, mild chaos ensued and the children excitedly gathered all of the materials and threw them in the river at random. Soon, some of them started lining the wooden blocks longways in the river, but of course, the water continued to pass around the sides of the blocks.

 

Another group of students started using the blocks further downstream and had a better idea of creating a barrier. As they continued their work, the second group commandeered blocks from the first group, and started making a good attempt at a dam, though it was still compromised with cracks and leaks. Shortly, the first group abandoned their faulty attempt and begin working with the other group.

When I asked for predictions about what the problem was, someone shouted, “we need MORE blocks!” And off they ran back into the classroom to get more blocks. When they returned with ALL of the blocks we had in the classroom, they continued to place the blocks haphazardly creating a ginormous dam with plenty of cracks remaining.IMG_6354

But at this point, we had 100% of the students engaged and working together to resolve the problem.

While they understood the dam needed more reinforcement, they weren’t sure how to keep the water from leaking through their cracks. One girl got the idea that we could use the rocks to close the cracks. But they found that even that wasn’t perfect.

Eventually, they realized they needed something smaller like dirt to block the cracks, but they had already thrown all of their dirt in the river. So they took the wheelbarrow to a place of soft soil, and began filling it up. Back and forth they went bringing soil to fill in their cracks.

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Well, eventually, they started over again and this time they got it!

After nearly one hour of total engagement and practically zero behavioral issues, the final product was, I’d say, a success!

That day we learned that building dams is hard.

We learned that working together is better than working alone.

We learned sharing is caring.

We learned how to communicate and use English and Spanish in a natural setting.

We learned about trial and error and problem-solving.

And, yes, we learned a little about science, too.

Being Excellent for Christ

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Christ is excellent in every way.  As Christians we are called to reflect Christ, and we too should work to be excellent at what we’ve been called to do. Reflecting His perfect glory and design in whatever our hands find to do.  We have high expectation for our students and staff at Doulos, because we desire to reflect Christ.

We find the importance of excellence throughout scripture.  In Daniel 6:3, we see that Daniel is “distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an EXCELLENT spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.”  This excellent spirit isn’t just for Daniel; it is for the entire body of Christ.  As Christ followers, we can break down this pursuit of excellence into three categories:  caring more, risking more, and expecting more.

Caring More

Excellence is the result of caring more than other people think is wise.  Jesus went above and beyond to care for others, even in the midst of controversy.  In Mark 3:1-6 when Jesus heals on the Sabbath, he did not care whether or not others thought his healing was wise.  He knew that caring for people was more important, even though it lead to the Pharisees’ plot to kill him.  Because we are called to be like Jesus, we must always strive to care more.

Risking More

Excellence is the result of risking more than other people think is safe.  The word “risk” can either excite us or terrify us, but by choosing to follow Jesus we are actively choosing to risk everything.  In Matthew 14:22-34 when Peter clings to safety in the boat, Jesus calls him to take a risk and trust that he’ll be safe if he gets out of the boat.  Peter obeys, takes the risk, and walks on water.

Expecting More

Excellence is the result of expecting more than other people think is possible.  When God told Noah he was going to flood the earth and instructed Noah to build an ark in Genesis 6, Noah did just as he was told.  Although rain had never flooded the earth before, Noah expected more than what most people thought was possible.  He did what God commanded him to do and his obedience saved many lives.

The world strives for excellence in order to obtain power or notoriety.  We strive to be excellent because Jesus was excellent.  We don’t conform to the world’s vision of excellence, nor do we conform to the world’s motivation for excellence.  The beautiful thing about striving for excellence and reflecting Christ is that although we will fail in our pursuit, we are able to operate from a place of freedom because he expects so much but accepts so little.  We must remember that it’s not about what we do, but more importantly it’s about who we do it for.

This post was originally given as a Monday morning devotional by our Executive Director, Mike Zweber. Thanks Mike!

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Partnership Spotlight: The Loftsgaarden Family

Jeff and Colleen Loftsgaarden

Our partners play a crucial role in carrying out our mission. They’re not just investing in a school or a ministry; they’re investing in change-makers for Jesus. Sometimes we may think that partnerships only benefit the ministry receiving support, but as Jeff and Colleen Loftsgaarden will tell you, being a partner changes the lives of everyone involved.

Jeff and Colleen Loftsgaarden are longtime partners of Doulos. They’ve been with us since the very beginning when Doulos was just an idea that started around a campfire with Chad and Krista Wallace, the founders of Doulos. That idea has turned into a lifelong investment for Jeff and Colleen, and has impacted many lives for the sake of the Gospel.

We sat down and spoke with the Loftsgaardens about what their partnership has meant to them and how it has evolved over the years. When talking about their partnership, they say one of the most rewarding things as a longtime partner is the ability to witness the development of Doulos throughout the years. When Jeff and Colleen jumped onboard with Chad and Krista’s vision, the campus consisted of a simple, vacant building. Since then, they’ve watched it grow to become an impressive campus with multiple buildings, soccer fields, a basketball court, an amphitheater, a garden, and hundreds of students. They’ve seen both the campus and the student body continually grow, and Colleen mentions she loves seeing the graduating senior class increase every year.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always..." Matthew 28:19-20
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always…” Matthew 28:19-20

Partnerships with Doulos can look differently and evolve over time. The Loftsgaarden’s partnership has done just that. Originally they supported the physical labor and construction of the campus and they now support Doulos financially. They’ve supported our students in their education, our Service Learning Teams, and now our staff. Jeff co-owns Spirit Mountain Coffee Plantation and provides unlimited Dominican coffee to our staff, which is a necessity we all greatly appreciate.

According to Jeff, it’s easy for he and Colleen to support a school with a “tremendous vision and a committed staff.” Knowing half of Doulos’ students are in our sponsorship program and the staff is dedicated and willing to raise their own support makes it easy to give. They believe in using what God has blessed them with to bless others, and in return “it’s changed [their] lives and it’s changed [their] church.”

Jeff and Colleen’s partnership reaches far beyond Doulos and the community of Jarabacoa. Their home church has been consistently involved in what’s going on at Doulos by sending down Service Learning Teams every year. Jeff says he’s seen the trips change the lives of many team members.

Their hope moving forward in their partnership is to continue supporting Doulos and make trips down to Doulos every year to continue serving and to see the continued growth of Doulos. They say they’ll be partners forever and we couldn’t be more grateful for their dedication and generosity.

We are blessed to count them on our ministry team, and honored to call them friends.

SEE PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Outdoor Education Showcase [PHOTOS]

OED MONTH HeaderWe recently wrapped up our Outdoor Education Month—one of the most exciting, interactive and adventurous months of education at Doulos Discovery School. empty classIt’s also a month in which many of our classrooms are empty (besides the occasional lizard that finds its way in) because our students are out in nature putting their learning to use; experiencing God’s creation in a hands-on, guided environments.

Matt Brown, our Expedition Specialist (and All-Around Swell Guy) gives us a sneak peek at what OED Month is all about.

[For those of you who just want to see photos of our precious students learning about God in His very creation, skip down to the PHOTO GALLERY at bottom.]

Here’s Matt Brown on some of the nitty gritty behind our Outdoor Education Month planning, prep, and production…

Outdoor education month is a very unique experience that we offer to our students. As the coordinator of all these trips, it can be easy to get caught up in the details—the planning, funding, food, substitute teachers, any number of things—and forget what a special opportunity it is to offer these experience to our students. Time and again we have been able to challenge, educate and grow deeper relationships with our students through exploring and challenging them in the great outdoors.

kids outsideHighlights & Celebrations

This year some of the highlights include further improving our execution of all of high school and middle school going on their respective outdoor education trips, students leading and taking ownership of their own outdoor trips, and reducing the stress on finding substitutes.
Proudly, we continue to increase our outdoor supplies and tools such as doubling the amount of backpacking packs we have, as well as utilizing walkie talkies to further communication on the trails and increase safety.
Introducing new trips such as whitewater rafting, service in the community, and student planned and lead trips has deepened bonds with students and helped develop tools to overcome fears and challenges.  It’s through applying these skills that aren’t easily learned to every day situations that we can teach them to persevere and be servant leaders, brave and so many other characteristics.
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Constant Improvement

We are always looking to improve on previous years’ trips and the specific educational content while outdoors is one of our main areas of focus, along with clearly outlining and planning for future Outdoor Education seasons. In doing this we can minimize the learning period for future student leaders, staff and expedition specialists as much as possible and continue to facilitate safe, fun, and educational outdoor ed experiences for our kids.
Another goal we have looking beyond continually improving our students’ experience and fostering a love for the outdoors, is on supply and gear. We take dozens of trips each year and have (proudly) stretched the use of our gear and need to continue to expand our supply. Our goal of sustainability and continuance of our rich outdoor experiences hinges on our ability to continue growing our inventory of high-performance outdoor good for our students.
[Dan: Matt has done and AMAZING job facilitating in-kind donations of outdoor gear that continues to build on and enrich our Outdoor Education and fieldwork elements of our educational model. If you feel compelled to help by donating or giving gear to this department of Doulos, please don’t hesitate to reach out.]

Outdoor Education Photo Showcase

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Seeing Our Mission In Action. Everyday. [Intern Interview]

“I saw [the Doulos] mission in action day by day as teachers mentored students in and out of school hours, as students engaged in after school service projects and small groups, and in those same students’ homes as they welcome in visitors in Christ’s love (and Dominican hospitality!)”

anginette-fullertonIn 2012, a recent high school grad named Anginette Fullerton joined us from Ohio to serve as a year-long intern as the Kindergarten Assistant before continuing her academic and missions career at Moody Bible Institute.

 

Anginette chose to deferred enrollment for a year and serve with us while taking online classes through MBI. By chance, Anginette, is an alumni of the same high school as our School Director, Danae LeMoine (Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy)—needless to say she holds a special place in our hearts as a fellow Ohioan!

 

Recently I got to follow up with Anginette and asked her to reflection on her time with Doulos and how her life and career have been impacted by her experience serving with us. Her answers are both humbling and inspiring. We are so proud to call her a Doulos Staff Alumni and have her in our tribe of raving fans and advocates of the work we are engaged in here.

 

Enter Anginette…

 

DL: What made your time at Doulos meaningful? How?
AF: The most meaningful aspect of working at Doulos was the relationships I built within the Doulos community. The staff at Doulos became my closest friends and family; I came to Jarabacoa lonely and scared, and left having a Columbian “Mom”, a home church, several best friends, and a network of friends and mentors who show me Jesus.

 

DL: How did your time impact your current career/life trajectory?
AF: God used my time at Doulos to whet my appetite for long-term missions. He taught me to trust Him with fundraising, food and living situations, with friends and community. He used my time at Doulos to ease my fears, and send my imagination running wild with hopes for future ministry with and for Himself.

 

DL: How would you describe Doulos’ mission and when did you see it come to life during your time here?
AF: Doulos’ mission is to equip servant leaders for Christ; I saw this mission in action day by day as teachers mentored students in and out of school hours, as students engaged in after school service projects and small groups, and in those same students homes as they welcome in visitors in Christ’s love (and Dominican hospitality!).

 

DL: What did you learn (about yourself, the Lord, Christian missions, etc.) from your time here? 
AF: In my time living in Jarabacoa and working at Doulos, I leaned how weak I am and how strong God is! At my weakest, most lonely, most unable-to-speak-Spanish-and-engage-with-culture moments, God proved Himself strong as He worked through me. Hallelujah!

Are you or someone you know interested in Job or Internship opportunities?
Get in touch or see our Internship Page for more info.