Here’s to 2019!

PictureOn our flight into Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We are so excited to be back in the Dominican Republic.  We arrived back on Dec 9, 2018.   Our first few days were spent getting re-acquainted with town and seeing old friends.  The kids had a few teary moments as the reality of living here in the DR became tangible.  Please continue to pray for their little hearts, that they can re-establish stability after the craziness of the last 12 months.  Thankfully, after a few holiday parties with friends and visits to their favorite park, they have become more settled into life here in the Dominican Republic.  

Our medical coordinator, Kailey, arrived the next week and we hit the ground running with meetings and preparations for the new medical clinic in Rosa la Piedra/Calimete region.  One of the most important meetings was with the Bishop of our Diocese, Monsignor Jose Grullon.  He is a very kind man with a great sense of humor.  I always go into meetings like this one super nervous but then I am put at ease by his gentleness and ability to make us smile.  With Bishop Grullon’s blessing we are moving forward with the new medical clinic! We are BLOWN AWAY by the support for this project.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to hear our hearts for this area, donated to the cause and encouraged us to push forward.  The fundraising event in Grand Rapids in November was hugely successful.  In the end, we’ve raised roughly $20,000 for the clinic so far!  With this first installment of funds we are preparing the land, laying the foundation and raising some walls.  We are reaching out to other organizations and researching grant opportunities to find a matching grant to cover the remaining funds needed.  If anyone has any leads on grants or private donors who would be interested in this type of thing, please reach out to us! 

On December 20 we celebrated Christmas with our preschool in El Chivo.  This was a joy and super fun occasion for our family.  Ben and Emily loved being in the school and we enjoyed seeing everyone again.  Starting next month (Jan 7), Jessica will be teaching in El Chivo and helping with the transition to a Montessori-style preschool curriculum. We are blessed to have Olivia who will be here for 2 weeks and Katelyn who will be here for 3 weeks to help us with the kids.  This will be particularly helpful as Jessica will be at the preschool most days while Kailey and Adam will be at the construction site frequently.  Eventually, our vision is for Ben to accompany Jess at the school several days a week so that he can practice Spanish.  

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very different from years past.  We obviously missed being with family but also tried to make the best of it.  On Christmas Day we invited other missionaries in San Juan de la Maguana to come over to watch the Polar Express.  It was special to feel so warmly received by the other missionaries here.  Their presence in our lives has helped our family’s transition tremendously.  

On January 5 we begin one of our busiest seasons with volunteers.  Please keep us in your prayers!  We have Rockhurst University in January, then the St. Catherine of Sienna Academy.  In February and March we will host St. Mary in Pinckney, Aquinas College and St. Mary Student Parish of Univ. of MI.

During this time of volunteer programs, construction and family transitions we invite you to follow our Facebook page (click here to see it!) so that you can see photos and updates in real time. We will continue to update the blog monthly as well. 

We are grateful for the support team that has joined us on this journey which allows our service in the Dominican Republic to be possible.  You have stood by our side as we struggled in the States over the last 12 months and have been such a source of encouragement.  Thank you so very much!  We sincerely could not do this without you! 

Prayer intentions: 
-For our family as we re-establish stability for our children, for our new homeschooling journey, and for even more transition in January when Jessica begins helping in El Chivo preschool. 
-In thanksgiving for two friends who are coming in January to help us with the kids!! And that God would send the perfect person to continue helping us for the following months. 
-For favor and blessings on the new construction project, especially for the ability to complete the budget and therefore build the WHOLE clinic at the same time. 
-For greater patience and understanding of ourselves, our children and one another as we continue to walk this journey of mission. 


Christmas Day 2018


The site of the future Medical Clinic in Rosa la Piedra


Dr. Angel and one of the teachers passing out Christmas gifts at the El Chivo party


Meeting with Bishop Jose Grullon, Dr. Angel Valdez, Kailey Stutzky (our medical coordinator) & Jessica Carlile