Friday, December 31, 2010

End of 2010

Wow, I cannot believe that 2010 has come to an end.  What a year it has been.  After moving to the Dominican Republic in January and spending most of the year working with Doulos Discovery School, I realize that God has plans bigger than any of us can ever imagine and that He truly is in control of all things. 

The last month of school before break went well and very quickly.  I then went back to Ohio to spend Christmas and New Years with my family.  As usual, this time is going by very quickly and I will soon be heading back to the DR.  I am looking forward to seeing Petra (she stayed in the DR with a family who remained there for Christmas).  There is also much to do in this next semester.  I am sure that God will be keeping me full of His work throughout the next 6 months.

I hope 2010 was a good year for you and that you embrace all that God will bring before you in 2011!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is spent with family.  However, my family is very far away this year.  I was blessed to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my Doulos family at a giant Thanksgiving Dinner.  Over 100 people- teachers, staff, and their families- went to the school for dinner. 

We had the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even a green bean casserole.  We also had a non-traditional roasted pig.  Everyone had to bring a dish with them (side dish or dessert).  The Dominicans brought typical Dominican food- rice, beans, yuca, etc. 

With such a variety of choices besides what I am used to for Thanksgiving and being separated away from my family, it didn't feel like Thanksgiving to me.  So, I decided to cook my own traditional Thanksgiving Dinner the next day- the same as I would have had if I was in my house in Ohio.

Since turkey is very expensive here and impossible to find in town (you have to drive into the city to buy it), I decided to make chicken instead.  Besides, I like chicken better than turkey anyway!  I made homemade stuffing just like we make at home.  My little chicken came out very good.

Now it was time to make the side dishes.  Mashed potatoes and corn are easy.  Sweet potatoes, however, are a little harder.  I went to the veggie market and bought a few sweet potatoes, or the closest thing they have to sweet potatoes.  When I bought them they were caked with dirt.  After I scrubbed them off, I discovered that the skins were bright purple!

When I cut them up, they were white on the inside.  Now, I know for most people- especially here- that wouldn't be a problem.  But for me, SWEET POTATOES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ORANGE!!  So, I cut them up and boiled them like mashed potatoes, but while they were boiling, I added red and yellow food coloring and turned them orange!

After it was all cooked, I was able to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner- Ohio style! (Notice the orange sweet potatoes on the right side- covered with marshmellows!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some things that have happened since the last time I posted...

I know, I am a horrible blogger.  I do not blog very often.  The reason for this is that most of what I want to say gets said in an weekly email that I mail out to everyone who has requested frequent updates about my ministry here in the Dominican Republic.  If you would like to receive these emails, please leave me a message here or at my email, include your email address and I will add you to the list.

A lot has happened since the last time I updated my blog.  I am going to attempt to tell some of it with pictures...

Every other Friday at Doulos, the school has an event called Revolution.  The students get out of class 40 minutes early and get to attend a fun assembly full of games, contests, music, dancing, and sometimes a Biblical life lesson.  As you can see, the staff get involved with Revolution just as much as the students do!

Every time it rains moderately or more, we lose water at our house.  The water is turned off by the city to keep the debris from the river from clogging the water filtration system.  When the water comes on, depending on how long it was off, our water can often be various colors of yellow or brown with a sometimes nasty smell.  This was our water one day- yellow brown and smelling like rotten eggs!  No, we do not drink this, but we do pour this into our water filter to drink.  We also have to wash our dishes, do laundry, and shower in this water.  Yuck!!

Our neighbor had gotten a new little puppy that quickly became a good friend of Petra's.  His name was Rocky.  While he doesn't look it in the picture, he was much smaller than Petra.  Unfortunately, he got out of his front gate and was hit by a car and died.  Even though Petra only knew him for about 3 weeks, I think she misses him.

Here in Jarabacoa, the cemetery does not bury people; they have above ground vault tombs that are stacked on top of each other.  When a person dies, the family "rents" the tomb for a certain period of time.  When that time is over, the dead person is removed or "evicted" and a new dead person is put there.  This coffin looks old, like the person died a long time ago.  However, they were still evicted from their "final" resting place and their coffin placed in the trash (the body was removed... I think!)

One of the major recent changes in my life here was the purchase of a vehicle- a 1999 Chevy Blazer.  This was a gift from God.  I had been needing a vehicle in order to do some of the ministry work I have been trying to do, and God provided this for me.  What a blessing it is to be able to get to places that I have not been able to get to independently.  I am now a part time taxi driver (pro bono) for various missionaries and have also put the vehicle to work in the various ministries I am working in.  God is Good!

Packages from home are always a welcome treat, especially when it includes homemade cookies from Mom!  Mail comes every other Wednesday for us.  It is always a lot of fun to get letters, cards, and packages.  As you can see, cookies can travel amazingly well!

Since I now have my car, I have begun working at Centro Especial Genesis.  This is the only Special Education school in this area.  While it is a special education school, they unfortunately do not have anyone working there who has actually been trained in special ed.  I will be working with some of the teachers, helping train them in how to best teach children with special needs.  I am also evaluating some of the students so that the teachers can know their strengths and weaknesses and know how best to teach them.

A part of WyldLife is a small group Bible study called Campaigners that meets every 2 weeks to dive deeper into the Bible and learn more about Jesus and how God wants us to live.  Rachel, my co-leader and I decided to have a fun get-together with our Campaigners group for dinner and tie dying in preparation for one of our WyldLife Club meetings.  The kids had a blast- most of them had never tie dyed before!  Even petra had a blast having new people around and amazingly she did not get tie dyed!!

This past week was a milestone in Petra's life.  She lost her first baby tooth.  Her new tooth is already starting to come in, but here is Petra showing off her new hole where a tooth used to be!

Every now and then, a group of people like to get out of town and head into the city for a little taste of home.  This past weekend, a group of 11 of us drove into Santiago to go to T.G.I.Fridays.  It was wonderful having a little American food from a real American restaurant.  The food titles on the menu were even in English!

After dinner at Friday's, we headed over to the bowling alley for a game of bowling.  Bowling is the same here as it is in the States, except for the occasional 3rd turn in a frame that you get when the lane doesn't reset!

This is about all for right now.  I will try to post more, but I cannot make any promises.  If you want weekly updates, sign up for the weekly "Picture of the Week" email.  You will not be disappointed!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My generous neighbor

One of my neighbors is a cute older lady named Blanquita.  She cooks lunch every Saturday and Sunday for her family, which sends wonderful aromas into our yard.  Today, I mentioned how wonderful her food smelled, and so she told me she was going to give me a little bit so I could try it, asking if I like traditional Domincan cooking.  Traditional Dominican food often contains rice, beans, and chicken.  I told her I do like it and that it is very gracious of her to offer to allow me to try her cooking.  A little while later, her house helper came over with a huge tray of chicken, rice, plantains, and salad.  My roommate Katie and I both had lunch and there is enough left over for 1 or both of us to have another meal!  How generous she was to give us so much of her wonderful food.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Recent Pictures

Here are a few pictures that I have taken over the past couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

This is our first family portrait.  Katie, Petra, and I.  Rossy, our other roommate, moved out a few weeks ago, so we have an extra bedroom in the house that we are hoping to fill.  For now, it is just the 2 1/2 of us!

Here is Petra (taken about a week ago).  She keeps growing despite the fact that I have told her to stop.  She is a little rascal.  She loves playing and she is facinated by people.  

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to tour the factory that makes the water filters that we use here.  This is the factory.  I was expected more of an American style factory.  This factory is located at the dead end of a dirt road behind a neighborhood in the middle of nowhere.  Everything is done either with simple machines or by hand. 

These are some of the kids hanging out by the pond at recess time.  The building to the left is our cafeteria and upstairs on that building is one of our teacher lounges.  Behind the pond is the basketball court.  Behind the cafeteria is the amphitheatre.  

The 6th and 7th graders as they prayed before leaving for their camping trip.  They had an awesome trip!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Petra Update

I have had a few people ask me for updates about Petra. 

We I first got her, she was so small.  She is still small, but she has been growing.  Her little legs are getting longer, yet her body size hasn't changed much in the nearly 3 weeks that she has been living with me. 

Since she was a street dog, I am trying to keep her away from all human food and get her accustomed to dog food.  At first, she ate it but I don't think she liked it very much (since she wouldn't eat very  much).  Now, she eats well.  I am hoping she will gain a little weight since she is so skinny. 

Housebreaking...  Petra has actually been doing well with housebreaking.  When I am home, I leave the back door open and she is able to go out whenever she wants- and she does.  She very rarely has an accident in the house when I am home.  When I am not home, she is left in the laundry room, but there are not usually any problems there either.  She has also made it overnight with no accidents for the past 2 nights, although she usually wakes me up at least one time in the middle of the night. 

I have also discovered that she is a little thief.  She likes to steal- shoes, clothes, rugs, books, whatever she can find!  She also loves to chew and will chew on whatever she steals! 

I took a video of her playing with one of her toys.  Click here to see it:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The newest addition to my family...

Meet Petra! 

She is an adorable little puppy that has found her way into my life.  Petra was a puppy of a street dog, living on the street. My roommate Katie and I were talk about how we have been seeing a couple of street puppies on our way to work in the morning, so we decided to go see where they were living.  When we found Petra, she was sitting in a garbage pile, trying to find something to eat.  She is young, probably born during the first week of August (according to the vet), with scars on her head from some cuts she got a while back.  We brought her home, cleaned her up, took her to the vet to get her first vaccine and de-worming, and gave her a new life.  At first she was scared and tried to leave, but once she realized she was in a safe place, she became comfortable and now is happily living as a house dog.  My roommates and I marveled at the similarities we saw between Petra’s life and our lives.  Before becoming Christians, we lived out in the world, filling up our lives with garbage and thinking we are happy.  Then Someone (Jesus) came along and rescued us from our life, cleaned us up, and took us to be with Him.  Sometimes, we try to get away and go back to our old life, but once we realize that we are safe and in a good place, we can take joy that we were rescued and life a truly happy life!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

WyldLife- the beginning of something BIG!

I want to tell you a little about a new ministry that I have just recently joined to impact the lives of children here in Jarabacoa. 
Young Life is a ministry that was founded in Texas as an outreach program to reach the kids who do not go to church and/or have no desire to go to church. The idea was to reach the kids where they were and get them to know Jesus. Adult leaders develop relationships with teenagers, get to know them and about them, have conversations with them, and really come to love them as a person created in the image of God. The teens are invited to go to a Club meeting, which is a youth group meeting held at someone’s house. The club time consists of songs, games, skits, and activities that allow them to have fun, laugh, and enjoy themselves. There is also a brief talk about Jesus, lasting for 10-15 minutes. Besides club meetings, the adult leaders are able to mentor and disciple some teens who truly have a desire to go deeper with their relationship with Christ.

Young Life works with high school students and has a division called Wyld Life that works with middle school students. This is the new ministry that I have signed up with.

I will be working with a small team of adults to reach into the lives of the middle school students in Jarabacoa. I am super excited about this ministry and the opportunities that God is going to give me to impact these kids for the Kingdom!

Now, if you are excited about this ministry like I am, you may be wondering how you can help.  Well, there are a few ways that God can use you to help with this ministry.
One way you can help is through your prayers. Pray for the middle school students who will be coming to the meetings. Pray for those who are not sure if they should go. Pray for the parents and for their permission to let their children attend. Pray for our leadership team (Tim, Laura, Rachel, Jessica, Natalie, and I) as we prepare all the activities and events for Club meetings and for our contact with the kids outside of the meeting times. Pray against the spiritual warfare that will try to combat the Work that God is doing here with middle schoolers.

Another way you can help is through donations of items that we need for club meetings. Each club meeting (every other Tuesday), will have a different theme. We need items that can go with these themes to help bring the students in and allow them to enjoy themselves while learning about Jesus.

The themes for this first half of the year are:

• Beach Party
• Banana Night
• Movie Night
• 70s Night/ Tie Dye
• Outer Space Night
• Christmas Party

We need items to go with the various themes, including silly hats and costumes, facepaint, and anything else that can be used to create the theme. There are a few items I know for sure that we need:

• Beach Party- Beach balls, leis (enough for 50 kids plus adults), beach accessories, grass skirts
• 70s Night/ Tie Dye- Tie dye materials (actual dye), White t-shirts for middle school students (adult sizes- all sizes, must be new and still in packaging or still have tags on), 70s hairdo wig, disco ball
• Outer Space Night- Facepaint (especially green), Alien costumes- facemasks, hats, gloves, etc.
• Christmas Club- Any type of Christmas items, decorations, candy, etc.

In addition, each week there will be a raffle as door prizes for students. Any donations of small/ medium items that can be used as door prizes are also greatly appreciated, especially if they are related to the theme of the Club.

All donation items can be sent to the following address:

Jyll Schenault
Doulos Discovery School
Unit 3017 - DDSDR
3170 Airmans Drive
Ft. Pierce, FL 34946

I would ask that you could please include $3.00 per pound for shipping from Florida to the Dominican Republic.

I want to thank you in advance for your help with this new and exciting ministry opportunity that God has brought my way. It is such a blessing to be used by God in new ways to reach his children and bring them into a relationship with Jesus.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricane Earl

Hurricane Earl was a Category 3 storm when he pounded Puerto Rico and was heading toward our island.  God protected us by turning the hurricane away, leaving us with some thick clouds and some light-moderate rainfall. 

Of course, this was the closest I have ever been to a hurricane- and I was excited.  Strange, I know... but if you know me, then you understand what I am saying.  I have always loved studying weather.  When I was younger, I had a desire to study meteorology and specialize in hurricane studies.  However, that education path was not possible for me (and God had other plans). 
Growing up in Ohio, I did not get to experience a hurricane, so I have been paying close attention to the tropics during this hurricane season, since I am now living there.  So far it has been an active tropical season, but nothing has headed this way. 

Quick update- Work and Home

School has been in session now for 3 weeks.  Things are going well.  My schedule still has not been set- so I continue to jump from class to class, trying to work with a variety of kids in preschool, 1st grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, and 8th grade.  I am also working at the school across the street, helping them get their special ed program started.  I have also been evaluating students again.  As you can see, my "not so set" schedule is pretty busy.

The house is doing well.  We have not had any recent ant attacks.  The bait powder seems to have worked.  We (my roommates and I) are starting to get settled in and the house is starting to feel like home. 

I would love for you to leave me a message or send me an email letting me know how things are going in your area of the world. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ant Attack update

Plan A seems to have worked.  I have not seen ants in my bathroom since I laid down the bait powder.  However, they have decided to move on to other parts of the house.  On Saturday, they were seen coming out of an electrical outlet in my roommate's bedroom.  When we took the cover plate off, we found they had made a next inside the outlet box.  They were also coming out from behind the tile in the kitchen and marching up the sidewalk outside of the house like a massive army. 

Any suggestions on how to completely eliminate these pests would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Killer Ants part 2- The Invasion Continues

On the way home from work yesterday, I decided to pick up a few items for these pesky invaders of my bathroom- namely Ant bait killer and Raid! And it is a good thing I did!

I arrived home to find that they were not just climbing out of the new hole they managed to find, but they were covering my entire bathtub, on the walls, climbing out of the bathtub, down the wall, across the floor, and out into my bedroom!! I decided that this was war- and the hour of attack had come. These ants chose the wrong person to mess with.

I began by fumigating the entire area of with Raid. I had to wait for a while for the air to clear before going back in to clean up the mini- carcasses and spraying anyone who survived the nuclear blast.

After cleaning up the little bodies (more like washing them down the drain), and scrubbing the entire bathroom down yet again (I just did that Saturday and Monday), I laid this ant bait powder in the main areas I’ve been seeing them come out or congregating. Now, I wait….. wait to see if they take the bait!

If this doesn’t work, then we will try plan B. What is plan B? I have no idea.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Killer Ants!!!

My bathroom, especially around the shower, is infected with killer ants. When I was cleaning out my bathroom on Saturday, I discovered 2 holes at the top of the shower with ants crawling out of them. When I put a wet cloth over them to clean them up, hundreds of ants came pouring out of the holes. As I tried to clean up the ants, more and more came out of the holes. While cleaning them up, one of them got on my hand and bit me. I swear it had piranha teeth! The more I tried to clean them up, the more I was getting bit. The landlord filled the holes with cement and this sufficed for the day. However, they have since found another hole to come out of... and they are hungry. I am now exploring other alternatives on how to get rid of these pesky invaders.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!

House Hunters International- Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

House Hunters International. If you haven't seen this show on the Home and Garden Network, you should check it out. They follow a person, couple, or family on their journey to find a new home, whether in the United States (House Hunters) or in a different country (HH International). The people searching for the new house are showing 3 different houses, have a chance to talk about what they liked and didn't like about each house, and then choose where they want to live. Last week, I felt like I was on one of the episodes.

Since arriving in the country just over a week ago, I began searching for a new place to live. I checked out several houses, thinking through the positives and comparing it with the negatives of each house. I finally decided on a house on Saturday morning.

Rossy, my new roommate, and I signed the contract on Saturday morning. We then cleaned the house from top to bottom all day Saturday. We were moved in by Saturday night. I spent the rest of the weekend organizing and unpacking.

While there is still a lot to do and a lot we still need to get (like a refridgerator!), I thought you might like to see what the house looks like. Here are some pics....

The front of my new house.
Living Room
My bedroom. I was given the master bedroom- with its private bathroom!
My bathroom.
Dining Room

We also have a laundry room, which will soon be the home to a washing machine and the refridgerator (no, they didn't leave any space in the kitchen for a fridge!). We also have a small yard in the back and a front porch. It is a nice house in a nice neighborhood- a little noiser than I would have liked, but I will get used to it.
If you want to see more, feel free to stop by for a visit!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A new look for a new year

Since it is the start of a new school year, I thought I would create a fresh start with my blog. So, it now has a new look. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up with it more so than I have in the past. Remind me if I start to get lazy and bug me as much as you need to so I will update it!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I have failed!!

I have failed you! I am such a bad blogger!!

Well, summer has come and gone and now I am back in Jarabacoa. However, since it has been ages since I have last blogged, allow me to give you a picture review of my summer...

Watching my nephew, Collin, play baseball.
Visiting my friend in Oklahoma while presenting in churches about my ministry.
I presented in several churches in Ohio and Oklahoma this summer.
Hanging out with my family in the swimming pool.
Playing with Roni, the family dog.
Taking my nephew hiking and exploring.
Celebrating my birthday (a little late- since I was away on the actual day) with my family.

It was a very full summer, full of work and some fun. Time passed very quickly. I am now back in Jarabacoa and looking forward to an exciting school year!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Math Madness

Last week, Doulos went crazy. It was Math Madness week. Students in grades 6-12 competed in contests, races, and a math bee (similar to a spelling bee, but with math problems instead- and air horns as buzzers!) to see who would be the winner. The students in the younger grades were each paired up with a team to cheer them on and each team was assigned a color. Throughout the week, you could see team spirit everywhere, from chalk writings on the sidewalk, to colorful posters on the walls, and even costumes and accessories on the kids! The activities concluded with a giant water balloon fight between the winning team and the staff.
Here are some of pictures of this week's madness!

Our MCs for the week- Mr. Plus and Mr. Minus

A wheelbarrow race to solve the math problem.

Every morning, there was an estimation station for the students to make their estimates on specific problems. This day, they were to estimate how many eggs the paper would hold before breaking and sending the eggs on some members of the school administration!

Second graders showing their purple spirit.
The teams are lined up, ready for the competition to begin.
The Math bee, held in the library.
First graders showing their green spirit.
A combination of Kindergarteners and 10th graders cheering for Orange.
Although a little hard to see due to water spots, the end of the week ended in a massive water balloon fight.