Category: Real Life Story

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
Monthly 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!

Something About Mountains

Doulos Staff Member, Tim Pack, has blogged about his experience accompanying the 9th Graders to the Caribbean’s highest peak. Source: www.packspen.com

Siri awakened me Monday morning at 3:14 to a groggy beginning of an anticipated adventure.
The coming series of new experiences and discoveries was inaugurated by the discovery that we had no water, so there would be no shower. Oh well, I thought, to hike to the top of the Caribbean’s highest peak, I should think that body odor will likely be my lot for the next five days anyway.

With my backpack stuffed and ready, I rendezvoused with my fellow adventurers at school and prepared for our nighttime bus ride to the Dominican Republic’s famous peak. In the restroom just before we left I noticed a rather large wild-eyed tree frog eyeing me from the opposite wall—just before he leaped on me and made me scream like a girl.

15 hours later I was standing alone, drenched, muddied and exhausted in a cold puddle in the fog and rain wondering if I’d make it to the day’s destination before it was night, and if the symptoms I was experiencing made me a candidate for exposure. Thinking I just had to be close, I was dismayed to be contradicted by the sign that indicated 4.7 km to go. Fatigue, blisters, and the grace of God were my three companions as I soldiered on, reproaching myself that I had let a little miscommunication separate me from the group behind me and the group already there.

When at last I spied lights in the deepening dusk, I knew the joy of a weary traveler finding a port in the storm. My relief was altered a bit by the discovery that the entire contents of my backpack were sodden and dripping. There seemed to be no place to hang anything to dry, so a few selected garments and sleeping gear were hung in the damp communal area and some by the fire. I found them later as wet as ever under mounds of soaked clothing placed over my items by later arrivals. I slept a little, despite the cold, the hard floor and the occasional braying of the pack-mules.

On the following day (Tuesday), with everyone rested, we were eager to ascend the remaining 500 meters and 5 km to the summit. On many other days I suppose one could have seen a spectacular panorama seated by that bust of Juan Pablo Duarte. But we could see little more than he could, perched on an island of rock that appeared to float in a sea of cloud. Yet, undaunted we returned to La Compartición where the sun had been shining and our clothes were left drying. It was raining when we got back and it kept on falling into the late afternoon.

Having already traversed 28km, my feet were angry and not eager to pack up on Day 3 (Wednesday) and hike a rugged trail for 18.5 more km to Valle del Tertero. There we found a quiet wide valley, the forecasted rain held off and we looked forward to a rest-day for Day 4 (Thursday).

Day 5 (Friday) and our weary, battered feet and our rented bus brought us back to Jarabacoa with a renewed sense of it’s value and importance.

And as I reflect now on the experience of these five days, I wonder at the impulse we have to climb mountains. What is it that motivates us to persecute ourselves in this way? What makes a man give up his comfort and buffet himself for nothing more than the glory of enduring the struggle, the joy of hard-forged relationships, breathtaking scenes and pulsating rainbows? Can encouraging and helpful staff and students carrying each others’ loads (literally) somehow make it worth it? Can the laughter of a tight-knit group leaping from rocks in the sun into a cold river balance it out? If not, perhaps, a crystal clear view of the Milky Way galaxy stretched from horizon to horizon across the center of a serenely beautiful valley, interrupted only by streaking meteors, answered by choruses of gleeful screams and shouts of praise?

Would it be considered worth it all if some of those young students overcame fears with courage? What if they showed unexpected patience, acceptance and kindness to one another? What if some responded to the God who made all this wonder by the words of His mouth and trusted his Son? Isn’t life itself a series of challenging difficulties? Who better to guide us up this mountain and take us to the summit?

What a grand time we had!

Heart Too Big

“We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children
that makes the heart too big for the body.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, yes! We get it! Here at Doulos our hearts are overflowing because God has entrusted us not just with the education of our students, but more importantly their tender hearts. Discipleship is woven into the fabric of what we do at Doulos – into the academics, the events and the activities – people walking alongside people in pursuit of Christ is evident all around. There is the powerful combination of love + intention at Doulos, combined with the LOVE of Christ that is threaded throughout, which has the power to transform a country from the inside out. If you’ve been here, you’ve seen the glimmer and sparkle of kids thriving in a creative, challenging, loving environments that both grounds their feet and lights a fire in their minds. It is invigorating to delight in the beauty and happiness of children!

We would love for your heart to swell outside of its bodily boundary by partnering with us through sponsorship! It is an amazing way to participate and delight in children we pray will grow spiritually, academically, physically and mentally for the glory of the Kingdom of God!

For more information about sponsoring a student, email rachel.sawyer@doulosdiscovery.org or you can go directly to the give link and sign up now! Everyone can help someone!

Servant Leadership

We lead using power, authority, and influence to love and serve others because Jesus first loved and served us.

— Mark 10:45

The past six weeks of school we have been focusing on our Servant Leader code of character. This code reflects someone who leads “using power, authority, and influence to love and serve others because Jesus first loved and served us.” We kicked off the school year with a chapel talk from our school director Bob Phelps on the story of The Good Samaritan from Luke 10:30-36. This man had compassion and acted upon it. He did not let the cost of time or money prevent him from helping and caring for this traveler.

Servant leader: Someone who puts other people’s needs before their own comfort to bring healing or to help them flourish.

So how have we been applying this concept? We have been striving for our students to cultivate a culture of putting others’ needs before our own. We watched our students go out into the community during Doulos Service week and put their education on hold to lend a hand to students at other schools. They got their hands dirty and spent hours.

Every Revolution, our teachers choose a student from each grade level they feel lives out our code of character in every day life. They are then recognized for their representation of that character trait. Friends of Franciso Mata, an 11th grader, noted that he is always willing to lend a hand in the classroom and often stays after to help the teacher clean up. Jemima, a kindergartner, serves her teacher by following instructions and encouraging her classmates to follow suit. Hanna Abad, a first grader, shows her classmates how to serve with a happy heart and shows God’s love in her actions.

The following list of students from each grade were selected by their teachers as exemplary in the character trait of “Servant Leadership”

12 – Ysmayar Castillo
11 – Frandi Peralta (Francisco Mata)
10 – Mayelin Tiburcio
9 – Brian Abreu
8 – Frayluis Almonte
7 – Robert Castillo
6 – David Ovalle
5 – Sebastian Uribe Pina
4 – Angel David Matos Acosta
3 – Jailynne Fernandez
2 – Debora Ortiz
1 – Hanna Lara Abad
K – Jemima