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

Relationship Energy

Relationship Energy

A thread that runs deep and wide, pulling on every other thread, woven into the raw fiber of Doulos, is relationship. If you’ve ever stepped foot on the Doulos campus, you know that it is teeming with energy, but WHERE does that energy come from?

Ms. Bryan on Monday mornings (she loves Mondays …well, it seems that she actually loves ALL the days!)?

Mr. Stomprud with his quirky sense of humor?

It could quite possibly be Ms. Rosalina, who is the hub of all knowledge and hospitality at the helm in the office?

Or is it the first and second graders on the front row of the amphitheater all-a-flutter with excitement that creates that energy?

Could it be Mr. Griffin with his endless supply of high fives and machukas or Mr. Phelps with his extreme positivity powering the school?

Or maybe that energy is created by Mr. Alfonso and his break dance moves?

What about that 10th grade class with their big personalities or those seniors that are like horses pointed towards the barn at the downhill slope of their final year at Doulos?

What about Ms. Carolina and Ms. Ann who are able to make learning as appealing as lollipops and who are expert kitten herders?

Mr. Cesar Valdez with his consistent leadership, meek and humble spirit and tireless efforts could quietly produce a lot of energy?

What about Ms. Mer and her artsy ways and sweet voice of worship?

Ms. Rosmery and her crew of helpers who make lining up exciting?

Mr. Lowe with his stapler ceremony and spinning wheel for presentations could certainly be a major part of the source?

How could I forget that service learning team on campus, all bright eyed and bushy tailed as they serve alongside us or that sponsor who is on the ground in the D.R. visiting with their student?

What about all of the unseen people, working diligently and quietly whose presence is not always known but who make everything else run smoothly – the Susannas, Marlenes, Leos, Joses, Eladios, Yesenias, Merediths, Joyces, Kylies, Jonathans, Danias.

Clearly, I could go on and on and mention everyone on campus because every single person and area contributes to this special ant hill of creative learning and Jesus loving. Like most places, there is a wide array of personalities and giftings, but the thread of relationship binds all of this place called DOULOS together and creates the unique and special blend of energy that is experienced on our campus. You could say that Doulos is powered by relationship. Ultimately, it is because of Jesus and our relationship with Him that we do what we do and how we love like we love. All of the love that radiates out of a bunch of wildly different yet singularly focused on Jesus people is hugely powerful!

If you are reading this and are, have been or will be connected with us in the future, thank you for being an impactful part of relationship.

Joy to the World!

The highest experience of well-being is joy. It is deep, exhilarating happiness independent of circumstance. It’s what the heavenly messenger said was coming to the earth in a poor man’s manger.

“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” -Luke 2:10b

Joy is sometimes depicted in the Bible as a calf released from it’s stall, kicking up it’s heels. We see it in the giddy exclamations of leaping lame, seeing blind men, hearing deaf, and in the shouts of the mute. An astonishing reversal, and amazing change-of-fortune is the stuff of this kind of joy!

Everyone likes a “rags-to-riches” story. It’s a theme of classic literature, a topic for many self-help books and motivational speakers, and the reason why people continue to buy lottery tickets. Regardless of political systems, it is an economic fact-of-life that every generation will have its poor.

Jesus said “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.”– Mark 14:7

Many efforts are mounted to eliminate poverty, and there is a great difference-of-opinion regarding how best to achieve this noble end. The Bible has a lot to say about being generous and helping the poor. Helping those less fortunate has always been seen as a sign of righteousness and personal character.

The Bible, however, contains many interesting “paradoxical” opposites that sometimes confound our understanding. By way of example, according to scripture we must win by surrendering, be humble to be exalted, live by dying and be first by being last. Jesus also said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matt. 5:3)

In this “The Sermon on the Mount” Jesus calls mourners happy, the hungry, full, the persecuted as rulers, and the poor as,… rich?

Inaugurating his ministry in His hometown, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 and said about himself that he had come with a message of Good News—specifically for the brokenhearted, the captive, the mourners, the despairing,… and the poor.

When we have plenty and all is well, we may take our ease, luxuriate, lean on those resources, guard them warily and try to build them up. We can then become self-sufficient and have an exaggerated sense of our own importance, becoming out-of-touch with real need. We can close and harden our hearts to those who still experience it. Perhaps this is why Jesus said:

“it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matt. 19:23)

The poor, by contrast are under no such delusions wrought by “the deceitfulness of wealth” (Mt.13:22, Mk. 4:19)
Philip Yancey, in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, said,

“…When the poor have the gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threat or scolding. The poor can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything…”

In this wonderful season of Advent, we recognize our need and anticipate together the extravagant way God is meeting that need. Be blessed. Know that you are when you believe God and trust His promises. Joy to the World!

Speaking of Hope

a message from our Executive Director

When I Think of Hope . . .
Regrets, Suffering and Hope are not usually tied together in a single sentence. Children, Christmas and Hope seem like a better combination – especially this time of year. Yet this biblical author pens these words in the midst of pain:

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

–Lamentations 3:20-24

 

When everyone is singing Christmas carols and acting like nothing is wrong, sometimes it can push me to the edge; the edge of sadness, frustration, even despair. Why? Like many people, I bear the scars from a wounded past. In turn, that has affected the ones I love. If I focus on the past, feeling the regret of time and opportunity lost, I can be brought pretty low.

As I read from Lamentations, I am reminded that the Lord is my single hope and holds my life in His hands. I can entrust Him with my pain, my regrets, and my loved ones. In His hands, all things will be made whole and new. He is a better lover of my loved ones and the caretaker of my soul.

As a child, I hoped for amazing toys but got underwear instead. As an adult, I give my hurts and desires to God. In return, I receive peace, hope and a changed character (James 1 – “Consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials…”)

My hope for you is that you’ll will believe and entrust God with your burdens. Then together in peace, we can wait with hope. We know that God’s goodness will break forth and renew us again.

Merry Christmas,

 

Bob Phelps

Executive Director

 

Literally and/or figuratively, have you ever been in darkness so thick that there was no trace of light? A veil of inky blackness that consumes your sight, whose depth of darkness leaves you squinting for the slightest break of pattern in the blackness so as to be able to focus . . . but to no avail?

Darkness is the absence of light. Darkness can not define itself, it needs light to do that. The second that the smallest amount of light interacts with it, it is no longer dark. At daybreak, the darkness does not turn itself off, but is pressed in upon by the light – thus no more darkness. Light triumphs over darkness and not vice versa.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” –John 1:5

Recently, a group of Doulos staff (& company) visited a remote part of the island, 7,000 feet above sea level in a hidden away spot thriving with blankets of flowers and tucked in by forests of pine and cedar trees. This refreshing spot is untouched by human hands for the most part, dappled with a few small cabins, where the sounds of sheep bleating, turkeys gobbling and fresh air wafting through the mountainside is the music of tranquility.

Away from electricity and high up in the clouds, the air is cold (for a tropical island) and solar powered lights, a cozy fire in the fire place and the moon are the only source of light once the sun drifts away. When the fire burns out, and the lights lose their juice, it is very, very dark. The darkest dark I have ever physically experienced. Though I’m a grown woman, the extreme darkness was overwhelming for me, and I began to anticipate, hunger for, deeply yearn for the light. When I opened my eyes to dawn each morning, I became giddy in my spirit. LIGHT!

It was there in that place where the truth and message of Jesus, the light of the world, met me in a fresh way on the brink of this advent season.  We are in the season of celebrating Jesus’ birth of putting on human flesh so that He could walk among us, die on behalf of us, and save us from our sinful selves by receiving Him as Savior.  Jesus is the LIGHT, and when we accept and receive him, He is in us. The LIGHT is in us. We have the LIGHT because we have HIM.

This season of anticipation and hope has little to do with great deals, cyber sales, gatherings, good food, Santa, elves, reindeers,  or “home,” – though those are all fun things. It has everything to do with the fact that we were in total darkness, consumed by the inky blackness of sin, self and flesh, and then the Light of the World was born unto the earth, offering those who would receive Him the gift of eternal life.   There is not a single fact more hope filled than this!

Is there someone in your midst who may be living in darkness, someone who is yearning for LIGHT? Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, if you have Jesus, you can shine His light that is in you and point them to Him.

Are you living in such comfort that you’ve ceased yearning for Jesus?  Let us not be consumed by the things of this world, but remain steadfast, focused and plugged into the hope that we have that is Christ Jesus. I pray more than anything else that you would be giddy with Joy because of the LIGHT that you have received and that you can now offer to others!

Doulos Alumni Spotlight

Doulos Impacts. We believe this statement rings true of the students who graduate from our school and continue their education—wherever they go. The best way we can demonstrate the merit of this statement is through the lives of our alumni and their post-graduation stories. We wanted to share the stories of some of these graduates to understand the enduring influence Doulos has had on their lives as well as the difference they plan to make for their country.

Darina Herrera is a 2015 Doulos graduate and a second-year student at Cedarville University in Ohio. Darina is one of our alumni who is applying the tools she learned at Doulos to change lives and impact her home country. She is currently studying Special Education and Specialist Intervention because of the huge need she saw in Jarabacoa, She is extremely excited to come back to the Dominican Republic and help bridge this gap.

When asked how Doulos prepared her for life outside of high school, she noted that expeditionary learning trains students to think as explorers and to see the adventure aspect of learning. “It is such a positive way of living, if you face your challenges with that mindset” said Darina. She also noted that thinking this way helped her transition moving to another country away from the familiarity of the Dominican Republic.

Darina had the opportunity to work as a PreK3 assistant for a year after graduation. This experience widened her eyes to see the work that goes on behind the scenes and outside of the classroom. “I watched how much work and thought is put into the lessons, I overlooked this as a student. I also noticed how much the teachers cared for the students individually and as a class.” This experience made her appreciate the teachers she had and the care they placed on providing a quality education for Darina and her peers.

Darina’s family would not have otherwise been able to afford a high quality education for their five children and are a great example of the kind of family that Doulos empowers through sponsorship. When talking about sponsorship, she noted, “You may be sponsoring only one kid but you will be impacting more lives than that.” We also believe Darina will be impacting the lives of the Dominican Republic through special education for years to come!

 

 

 

 

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

Purposeful Adventuring

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