Category: Real Life Story

“Joining Jesus” in the Doulos Sponsorship Program

One Family’s Experience in Relationship Building

We began sponsoring Doulos students in 2013 when we moved to a church in Minnesota where there was a partnership with Doulos. I was first drawn to this partnership with a school in the DR simply because my second language is Spanish. Then, as I learned more about Doulos Discovery School, especially the mission, and met people who were directly involved in the school/ministry, I knew I wanted to “join Jesus” in what He was doing in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic.

There are so many ways we can join Jesus on His mission to restore all people to a right relationship with God. One way, of course, is being a good steward of the finances He has given us. In the U.S., we often find ourselves easily giving money to help feed and clothe the world. And we are called to do that. But we can’t stop there! Those are the basics – the ones that tug at our hearts because we don’t want to see anyone live without food, water, clothes, and shelter. It makes us feel good when we give in this way. But joining Jesus on His mission is more than that. It includes developing relationships and, within those relationships, encouraging one another in the Spirit.

Busch Family Sponsor Student, Andry (wearing red)

When we first started sponsoring Doulos students, I was not thinking about “developing relationships.” I simply loved the mission of the school—and that this was a long-term commitment to helping not only individuals, but, ultimately, an entire nation (one person at a time!). The school values of Christian discipleship, expeditionary learning, and mixed economic student body (along with the amazing dedication and passion of the school staff!) plant “seeds” in these Doulos kids – and their families – that God waters. The Doulos graduates that I know (and I have developed a relationship with) are rich in the fruit of the Spirit! They are blessings to the Dominican Republic and will continue to positively impact their country. (I should mention that we as a family – my husband, 2 kids, and I – decided to not only be sponsors of Doulos kids, but also to be missionaries working for a year on the Doulos campus. This gave us a great opportunity to really develop relationships with some of these kids and their families and to experience, first hand, the dedicated staff.)

So, though developing relationships was not my initial intention when we started sponsoring students, I have come to see the great value in them. We can encourage each other and build each other up as we join Jesus in His mission to restore this broken world. Sponsoring Doulos students is a part of this great mission!

Love from Minnesota!

Michelle, Randy, Benjamin, and Caroline Busch

Redemptive Impact

Intervening for a

Redemptive Impact

Doulos was blessed to receive a visit from Denise Weiss-Salinas, an Occupational Therapist who was able to observe and consult for the benefit of several of our developmentally delayed students. She spent time in the classroom and in a family home, shedding light on remedial strategies for improving our intervention understanding and efforts.

Much of what love means, is the willingness to intercede for the benefit of others. Helpless people can sometimes be hopeless people who need an advocate. In accordance with the mission statement of Doulos Discovery School, the ultimate purpose of our work here is “to impact the Dominican Republic”.

“Educating and equipping servant leaders through
Christian discipleship and expeditionary learning to
impact the Dominican Republic

But just what is the nature of that intended impact? It’s suggested by our desire to see Servant Leaders raised up. It’s explained in our desire to inculcate Christian values, teachings, and a Biblical worldview. But what is our desired outcome? What kind of impact do we hope and pray for? In a word: Redemptive. Change isn’t good merely for it’s own sake. Redemptive change is our goal! Just as, in Christ, God redemptively impacted a fallen world, we seek to intervene to improve what already works, to restore what was broken, to rebuild what’s been damaged, to give hope for despair.

Accordingly, we seek to lovingly intervene in dysfunctional systems and people. As the Redeemer did, we “put skin in the game” and interpose solely for the benefit of the loved one, and for the glory of God.

Low test scores, speech pathologies, and other perceptual impediments, can appear to be a permanent condition. But they are not always so! At times we can help parents discover that their child is only suffering from a learning delay that may be treated and resolved. Often the help that’s provided is as much for the benefit of giving hope to disappointed parents, as for the child. Families can be made aware of resources that hold the promise of redeeming a situation with their child that had appeared to be an insurmountable challenge.

We are grateful to Denise, who came in the company of her carpenter son, Hezekiah, whose energetic help was a redemptive work of it’s own on our campus!

Doulos Welcomes Our First Campus Brand Ambassador

Doulos Welcomes Our First Campus Brand Ambassador

Last semester at Doulos, we initiated our Brand Ambassador Program. The goal of this program is to have representatives on college campuses who believe in the mission of Doulos and who want to share what we are doing here with their peers in hopes that they, too, might capture our vision.

Michelle Howard, our very first brand ambassador, is a junior at Furman University. Michelle spent last summer with us as an intern during our summer camps. Michelle had the opportunity to support work teams, interact with Doulos students, and work closely with a mountain community we partner with called, Angosto. Michelle jumped on the opportunity to become our first brand ambassador because she believes in our mission. “I love Doulos, the kids and the staff there, and everything that Doulos stands for, and is about.”

As our brand ambassador, Michelle is responsible for being our voice on her campus. She speaks at various campus ministries, builds relationships, meets up with students to share more in-depth about what we are doing, and ultimately aids in our recruiting process on her campus. “I care about Doulos and believe in the school, and my desire is to take opportunities to share about what I care about.”

We are thankful for Michelle and her voice on Furman’s campus. We are excited about the opportunity to have Brand Ambassadors on other campuses across the country. What better way to hear about Doulos than from a peer who understands so well who we are? “I always go through the statistics about education in the DR because Doulos desires to create leaders who are smart, ambitious, and who love the Lord. I think that is really important.” Michelle has built enduring friendships with our Doulos students and staff, and has already made her way back to visit since last summer.

Are you a college student who has been impacted by what we are doing here at Doulos? If you are interested in more information about being a part of our Brand Ambassador team, please contact our Communications Director at kylie.dever@doulosdiscovery.org.

 

Study Abroad Produces Better Leaders

Study Abroad Produces Better Leaders

(left to right) Yasli Pañalo, DR, Addie Douglas, OH, Mayelin Calderon, DR, Tammy Griffin, Director, Brian Rodriguez, DR, Keyrol Balbuena, DR, and Maggie Gaddess, PA

Doulos Discovery School is excited about it’s Study Abroad program!

Participating students profit in many ways from their experience abroad. They often experience spiritual growth and a broadened worldview. Additionally, immersion in another culture helps to master the intricacies of the host language, be it English or Spanish. This is good preparation for our students who may apply for jobs, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

God uses this time to stretch and grow our students as a “next step” in their Christian discipleship.
They will gain new perspectives on what it takes to impact the Dominican Republic. Our visiting U.S. students will also gain new perspectives on their own country.

Presently, Doulos has two partner Christian schools in the U.S. with which students have the opportunity to study abroad. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) is located in Cuyahoga Valley, OH, and Athens Christian School is located in Athens, GA.

Every year Doulos receives 2-3 students and sends 3-4 to our partner schools.
It’s true that this is not many students, but it is an optimal number, given the size of our schools and the fact that Dominican families may have greater difficulty obtaining funding for their student.

To make these exchanges possible, our partner schools and donors invest in the lives of particular students.
This is a great way for donors to invest in missions in a really personal way. It brings the “mission field” to you!

In order to help our students be successful, we encourage you to partner with them in their vision for the future. Participate in what God is doing in and through these students. Perhaps you might pray for them? Pray for their continued health and safety and for their relationships with Christ. You may make contributions in a student’s name on our website at doulosministries.us.

We find that Study Abroad is mutually beneficial for all participating students. It’s a symbiotic relationship that can make our students more compassionate, more understanding, and more adaptable. Study Abroad produces better leaders.

Below, watch David, one of our Doulos Study Abroad students, sledding for the first time!

Cross-Cultural Relationship Building

Cross-Cultural Relationship Building

Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) has had reciprocal study abroad program with Doulos Discovery School since 2012, when Doulos Founder Krista Wallace invited us into a relationship with them. My daughter, Anginette Fullerton, was the first CVCA student to take her up on her offer. Anginette came immediately after High School graduation as an intern in Doulos’ Kindergarten class. Her time here dynamically changed her, and in turn, changed me too. I became a member of Doulos’ Board three years ago after falling in love with the ministry here through Anginette’s experience.

CVCA has also sent three work teams to Doulos in that time. Our goal for our team trip this year has been relationship building in a cross-cultural context. Some work teams at Doulos focus exclusively on building up the physical structures. Our focus has been building relationships between the students at CVCA and Doulos, between Americans and Dominicans, and between brothers and sisters in Christ. By focusing our hearts and minds intentionally on attitudes of openness, acceptance, trust, learning, and understanding, we hope to serve EACH OTHER both now and in the future.

Our team of included 6 girls (one of whom will stay as a study abroad student at Doulos this semester) and two adults. The girls started each day with students their own age, being welcomed into the community and learning in classrooms that are both very different and very similar to their own at CVCA. Then we focused on building relationships with the rest of the student community by volunteering in classrooms.

As a result, the buzz of conversations and bursts of laughter have increased exponentially as the days have passed. As leaders, Anginette, and I have enjoyed watching the relationships blossom before our eyes. The girls are sharing this cross-cultural experience and that has bonded them in friendships that would not have formed otherwise. God is here and I know that He has given us this Divine appointment to join Him in relationship-building at Doulos.

One of those Divine appointments was with a member of our team, Sha’Nautica Lott, and a little boy in Kindergarten, named Caleb. Sha’Nautica comes from a very difficult background herself. But her intelligence and promise captured the notice of one of CVCA’s board members. Through scholarships and that board member’s sponsorship, Sha’Nautica started attending CVCA this year. That same sponsor encouraged her to come to the Dominican Republic on our team. From the moment that Sha’Nautica noticed Caleb, she recognized a boy full of energy who just needed someone to come alongside him and encourage him to focus and obey. An instant friendship was formed. All week, Sha’Nautica and Caleb could be seen together, working in the classroom, playing on the playground, walking to lunch, meeting his parents. This precious little boy gave Sha’Nautica an opportunity to give back some of what she had been given through God’s grace.

Lives were changed on both sides, and because of her time with Caleb, Sha’Nautica now feels called to become a teacher. Education is a powerful thing, but the relationships formed across cultures, and generations, and countries, and miles, are what change us at our deepest core. Sha’Nautica’s relationship with Caleb will spark many more like it as she is now determined to go to college and prepare for what God is calling her to.

Doulos is a place where all of us can serve, and develop the promise of leadership here in the Dominican Republic and around the world.

Mindy Fullerton

Doulos Board Member and Director of Admissions at CVCA

Catalyst for Connection

Catalyst for Connection

Tomorrow I will turn 45 and it will be a good day, but do you know what would make it EVEN better?

Wait. This is a little awkward. We don’t know each other that well perhaps or maybe even not at all so it would be forward and quite presumptuous of me to make a gift suggestion or request. Don’t worry, I wasn’t thinking of putting a link to Amazon on here – que rudo! Honestly, I really don’t want to call attention to my birthday, but will you humor me for just a minute more? 

I have the privilege of being the Sponsorship Director at Doulos which means that I am a catalyst for connection, fitting students who need sponsors with a willing person who can provide the monthly tuition in all ($150 per month) or in part ($75 per month) for them to attend Doulos. Then, I get to witness impactful relationships unfold over the ocean and sometimes even here on the Doulos campus between students and their sponsors. It really is very exciting because our God is a god of connection. He is the ultimate CONNECTOR!

So . . . do you know what would make my birthday EVEN better tomorrow? Well, since you asked *wink*wink* . . . .

Last fall we did a sponsorship campaign, and many new sponsors came forward. However, there are still three students who need their first sponsor, and 24 students who need a shared sponsor ($75 a month). I would LOVE to see the number of students that need sponsors go down (and incidentally, my work load go up – Happy Birthday to me!) because that many new sponsors came forward 🙂 Sponsoring a student is as much a gift to the sponsor as it is to the student and their family, so this really isn’t about me at all, it’s about YOU.

Join in on the gift of relationship + an excellent education for someone who would otherwise not have this opportunity!

Student Sponsorship
Per Month
$75
100% Giving Model
Personal communication with child & family
High-quality Christian education
School materials
Sponsor A Student
Class Sponsorship
Per Month
$50
100% Giving Model
Regular updates from Doulos
Letters & videos from class
Provides materials for entire class
Visit class
Sponsor A Class

Of Sidewalks and Seedlings

Life wants to spring up everywhere. It is relentlessly persistent.

The seeds of possibility fall in the most unlikely places.

Should they fall upon soft soil, they will germinate and send down deep roots. Life will be established.

Should the seed fall in hardened places with scant possibilities, it will still try to bring forth life.

And it will often succeed,…for a time. Very soon, however, the lack of root will make itself apparent.

Simple lessons like these are everywhere: If you want something to grow prepare a place that’s suitable.

It’s not complicated. Make space. Remove the rocks. Soften the soil. The life will do the rest.

Giving thanks in an important way to humbly prepare one’s heart. Emptying selfishness and exulting in contentment brings a joy untapped by many of the so-called “prosperous.”

“Let every heart prepare Him room! Heaven and nature sings!”

“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”  —Jesus Christ

Sponsorship Paves a Road to a Diploma

“Our hope in sponsoring a Doulos student is that we can walk alongside our student over the years and celebrate together on graduation day!”

—Kathy P., current sponsor

Albert likes hanging out with his sponsors.
There is much to be said about the joy and sacrifice of sponsoring a student through Doulos, but today we are going to focus on the finish line, whether it is far away or on the horizon. For the Plankenhorn family, their sponsored student is currently in first grade, and he won’t graduate until 2029.

While 2029 may seem like a long way off, Albert will be wearing a cap and gown in the blink of an eye, and Lord willing, Kathy and Trevor and their family, will be in the audience smiling proudly, celebrating with giddy excitement at the achievement that they helped accomplish by saying “YES!” to sponsorship so many years prior.

Right now, the Plankenhorns have a macro-view of sponsorship at Doulos because they live, love, serve here, and they’ve had a great chance to get to know Albert and his family and invest in relationship with them. It may not always be the case that they have such a “close up” opportunity like they have right now. Knowing them, however, and their commitment to Albert, no amount of distance will prevent them from continuing on in encouraging and supporting Albert’s education. After all, they are already planning to celebrate together at the Graduation Ceremony 2029!

The Plankenhorns desire to follow in the footsteps of legendary sponsors who started investing in relationship with their student when they very young all the way until they received their diploma. Regardless of whether or not a sponsor started from the very beginning or came into the picture later with an older student, we are grateful that sponsorship is something that we can celebrate together! A big “MUCHAS GRACIAS” to all those who give towards sponsorship from all of us at Doulos!