Purposeful Adventuring

Doulos Staff Member, Josh Griffin, has blogged about his experience accompanying Doulos 8th Graders to Valle del Tertero

I love what I do, and I love that working at Doulos also means I get to pour into kids’ lives!
I recently had the opportunity to go with the 8th grade class on their Outdoor Education trip for this semester. It helps that I’m very personally connected to this class – I was able to go on the trip not only as a Doulos employee, but also as a dad to my 8th grade daughter!

This class tackled a tough trail for 36 total kilometers of hiking. Two nights of camping, lots of soggy shoes (and one pair toasted too much while drying by the fire), and a few tears shed along the way. More importantly, though, were the jumps into the river, fears conquered, accomplishments gained, and relationships built. Imagine the opportunities for staff and parents to have small meaningful moments with 8th grade kids along the trail:
“Hey, tell me about your family.”
“I know this trail is really hard right now, but I believe in you and KNOW you can do this.”
“Wow, I’ve noticed what a great leader and encourager you are to your classmates – so cool!”

One of the many things I love about Doulos is the opportunity to teach a Christian worldview through all of these experiences. During the 3 days together, the students were able to share in multiple devotional and small group opportunities. Challenging hike? Pair that up with a devotional about looking beyond obstacles to see God’s ability to solve a problem for us. Perseverance, teamwork, and courage were all covered in devotional times. Then students were able to have small group discussions with their teachers, parents, and staff members and share their reflections from the week.

As a staff member, I love what I do. I love that this trip was just one of the many ways that I am given an opportunity to build up our students and share the love of Christ with them. Sometimes that’s best done on a tough trail or along an amazing mountain river. As a parent, I love knowing that my kids are receiving these opportunities and that they have an incredible team of staff members who love the same things I do about Doulos!

More than just your average field trip, this was a great adventure for some amazing 8th graders! Good job friends!

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

God Sponsors Us

Sponsorship is near and dear to my heart because I believe it is near and dear to God’s heart. Obviously, God loves children and He tells us to have faith like them, relentless and pure belief unclouded by adult practicality and cynicism. He tells us to love others as ourselves, to not show favoritism, to live humbly and to give generously, which is not dependent on our wealth or lack thereof. He adopts us, though dirty from sin, and makes a way for us to become clean through the blood of Jesus, so that not only can we approach Him, but also so that we can inherit the kingdom of God. In short, He sponsors us. He covers the costs. He invites us into the kingdom and provides for us a bright future with Him. God is the author of Sponsorship.

In the month of October, Doulos will launch a Sponsorship Campaign that we invite you to be a part of! The purpose of the campaign is to highlight the reason for sponsorship, the relationships that are cultivated due to it, the rewards that are reaped because of it, and the response that we hope to receive from others who are eager to enter into it. We invite you to follow along this month, and to prayerfully consider sponsoring one of our world changing students.

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!

Service Week 2017

Walls were painted. Art classes were given. Trash was collected. The cafe was stocked. Fences were painted. English was taught. Ministries around town were supported. The community was served and loved on. All by Doulos students and staff.

The very definition of the Greek word for doulos is “bond-servant”. Training and equipping servant leaders is at the core of all things DOULOS DISCOVERY SCHOOL. The students and staff worked hard, served hard and loved others through hearts of service. They stepped out of the classrooms and onto the Doulos campus and into the surrounding community, trading academics for service with the sweat of their brows.

At one of our partner schools, students spent two days loading piles of cement rock out of a newly finished second level. In a neighborhood school with 126 students and four teachers, a group of our students helped teach specials classes to relieve these overworked teachers. At yet another site, students spent hours raking leaves, doing yard work, and pulling weeds from baby trees that will be planted in seven years. Our 6th graders took on major paint projects all over our own campus, and our elementary students helped our staff clean and pick up trash.

Jesus came as a servant, humbling himself to the likeness of man and providing us the ultimate example of putting others above ourselves. The tasks that were completed during service week were important, but the greatest take-away from the week is bigger than that: we serve with joyful hearts in ALL THINGS because the one who bought us with the price of his own shed blood, Jesus Christ, put himself, the very King of Kings, way down low so that we could receive a full future with him in eternity. We serve because we love him, and we long to become more like him. Above all else: academics, sports, cross-cultural experience, etc., THIS is the most vital piece of cultivating hearts and minds that will transform this country.

We hope that through service week, our students gain a greater understanding of what means to lose our life in order to save it. We are also reminded that education at Doulos is a gift not to be taken for granted. Until next year!

It wasn’t always pretty.
It wasn’t always easy.
It wasn’t always glamorous.
But it was always worth it!

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