Friday, January 29, 2010


Every couple of Fridays, at the end of the day, all of the staff and students of Doulos are invited to go to the amphitheater for an event they call Revolution. This is a student-led event where they sing, play games, and do silly or crazy things. I have posted some pictures for you to see what it looks like.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On the move...

This past weekend, I stayed with a friend from the school. The family I have been staying with was out of town, so Ciara offered to let me stay with her. It was nice to get out of the house I have been in a see a little different setting.

Today, I am on the move again. Only this time, it's a move towards the more permanent. I will be moving in with 3 girls- sharing a house not too far from school. However, this house doesn't have any furniture in it. The other girls are getting most of the big stuff, so I will need to buy very little. Until everything is ready, I am staying with 2 other girls from the school. Amanda and Melanie have graciously opened up their house for me for the next few nights.

It gives me a feeling of comfort to know that I am one step closer to finally getting settled in my new home, finally getting acquainted with my new town, and finally getting to know some more people a little deeper.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mail me!

Here in the DR, I am actually able to receive mail. We get mail delivered here from the US every 2 weeks. A missions organization called Missionary Flights International delivers mail here from their base in Florida. Any mail sent to me would be sent to Florida and then delivered by plane to the DR.

I would love to hear from you. Letters and cards only require a regular, first class, US stamp. Packages can be sent to Florida via the post office, FedEx, UPS, etc. However, I would like to ask anyone sending packages to include $1.50 per pound (personal check is preferred) to help cover the costs to send it from Florida to the DR (which I have to pay in order to receive it). (Please remove items from their boxes or packages before shipping.)

The address is:

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

I hope to hear from you soon!!

Some pics of Doulos

I know I haven't been posting any pics from the DR. Sorry about that. Here are a few pics from the school and a pic of the cemetery in town. They don't bury people underground and people are only buried for a short time. They have to rent the space for so many years and then vacate it for someone else to rent. I believe the bodies are then cremated.

Anyway, I will try to post more pics as I take them. You can also sign up to recieve my picture of the week email, which will have pics that are not posted on this blog. If you would like to sign up, just send me an email at or or leave me a message here.

This is the 5th grade class that I have been working with. Sometimes they are sweethearts and sometimes they are little devils, but I like them!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Things I've learned...

I have been in the DR for over 2 weeks now. There are several things I have learned during these two weeks.
  • The electricity is not very stable. Frequently, the power goes out for no reason whatsoever and stays off for 5 minutes or 5 hours. The water does the same thing.
  • Holidays are movable. A holiday that falls on a day in the middle of the week has a good chance of being moved to a Monday or a Friday in order to have a long weekend.
  • A man named Duarte was the one who liberated the country and is considered the national hero. He is bigger here than Washington is in the USA. Lots of things are named after him. His holiday, Duarte Day, is January 26. This year, it was moved to January 25 so that there could be a long weekend.
  • The primary mode of transportation here is motorcycle. There are more motos here than cars. They even use motos as taxis. After motos, the primary way to get from place to place is walking.
  • Gas is expensive here. It is currently about $5 per gallon.
  • Many things here are measured in English measurements- pounds, gallons, etc. However, some things are measured in the metric system- kilometers, etc. Good luck figuring out what is measured with which.
  • Prices of items in a grocery store are similar to prices in the USA and some things are cheaper. Imported items from the USA tend to be more, but they are still WAY CHEAPER than prices in Venezuela.
  • There is a prejudice in the DR against Haitians. Many Dominicans do not like Haitians and consider them to be a lower class of people. However, since the earthquake, many Dominicans have shown a desire to help Haiti with needed supplies and materials.
  • The Spanish here is slightly different than the Spanish I learned. Some basic words (vocabulary) are different. For example, passion fruit in Venezuela is called parchita and in the DR is called chinola. At times, I struggle to understand Dominican Spanish.

Friday, January 15, 2010

First hugs

I officially began working on Tuesday, starting with the 5th grade class. When I started there, the kids were a little nervous (I think). The teacher, Ciara, said they were really well-behaved on Tuesday and Wednesday- more so than usual. Well, yesterday and today, they have begun showing their true colors. They are now used to me. They are also starting to like me.

Yesterday, I got my first hugs from the kids. Many of the girls (and a few of the boys) came up to give me hugs yesterday and today. I really like to see that they are no longer nervous with me being there and are responding to me in the same way they respond to Ciara and other teachers that they have.

Today, I also met the mom of one of the students and she has invited me to come out to her house. I told her I am not sure when I can (since I am still not living in town- but up in the mountains), but that I would love to go to her house for a visit. I will keep you updated when this actually happens.

Because I'm just so sweet...

AAAHHHHH!!! I am so itchy. The mosquitos here love me. My feet and legs are all bitten up. It doesn't matter if I am wearing long pants- they bite right through. My feet are the worse. There are several bites on each foot. Why do they like me so much?? I guess it's just because I'm so sweet!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti

As you probably already know, there was a major earthquake in Haiti yesterday- just outside the capital city of Port au Prince- which registered at a 7.0 in magnitude. Here in the Dominican Republic, we were able to feel the earthquake. I was out to dinner with my host family when the quake struck. The ground began shaking slowly, then picked up in intensity. We immediately got out from under the wooden structure, out into the open, where we watched the ceiling fans and lights sway back and forth. The shaking lasted for about a minute. There was no damage in our area and everyone here (including me) is safe, but the devistation in Haiti is enormous. Please keep them in your prayers.

Let the work begin!

I have officially begun working! I have been observing and working with the students in the 5th grade classroom. Of the 18 students in this class, I am monitoring 7 of them for various thing- ADD, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Language difficulties, and even one possible Asperger's Syndrome.

The kids seem to like me so far and Ciara, the 5th grade teacher, loves having me in her classroom.

I now also have a desk in the Administrative Office of the school. I have been told that I am not a full time teacher, but a part time teacher and part time administrator. Not only will I be in the classroom working with the children, but I will also be developing the entire program and getting everything in writing for the ACSI Accreditation process.

There is a lot to do. I have only been working now for 2 days and I already feel behind in my work.


On Monday, I had my official orientation as a new staff member of Doulos Discovery School. This orientation lasted all day and thoroughly discussed every aspect of the school and everything I needed to know before working. I also got a campus tour and even a little insight on some of the future development of the school. I still have not yet seen where I will be located on campus (they aren’t exactly sure yet), but I should be able to get into the classroom tomorrow. I will begin with observations and working with the 5th grade class. Ciara, the 5th grade teacher, is excited that I will be working with her class first. I was also asked by the first grade teacher if I could check on a student of hers, who seems to be behind the rest of the students in her class.

Besides working with the students, I will be developing the special education program with proper documentation for the accreditation process that the school is working on.
I haven’t officially started working yet, and I already have quite a bit of work to do.

Iglesia Comunidad La Vid

Here in the DR, if you are Christian that is not Catholic, then you are considered Evangelico. And if you attend a church that is not Catholic, then it is most likely charismatic in nature. There are varying degrees or levels of charismatic behavior in the churches. Iglesia La Vid is not overly charismatic, but it still has that level of energy that allows you to know that you are definitely in Latin America.

It is a small church- less than 100 people. Services are outside, on a covered patio. The children (there were quite a few) remained in the service through the worship time and then left to go to their classes just before preaching began. Everything was in Spanish, but the sermon was translated into English due to several people in attendance not knowing Spanish. Service lasted for about 2 hours, but it did not feel very long. Overall, it was a wonderful time of worship and hearing from the Word with my new neighbors.

Saturday Night Bingo

Saturday evening, I accompanied my host family on a visit to their neighbor’s house. These neighbors live in the capital city of Santo Domingo and have a vacation home here in Jarabacoa. They come out for the weekends.

At this home were the 2 gentlemen who own it, along with several members of their family, all older- mostly women. We were given some hot tea that they were brewing and after sitting to talk for a while, we were invited to play Bingo with them. When we sat down to play, we were informed that they were playing for money. One of the men paid our poker chips- 10 pesos per chip, 10 chips total.

These ladies were very serious about this game. They wanted to make sure that everyone paid for their games and the chips were carefully counted at the start of each game. They also wanted to make sure that nobody was cheating. Every number had to be checked when someone called Bingo.

In the middle of the game, we lost power for about 5 minutes, but this did not stop them from playing. They just brought out candles and kept going.

We played with them for about an hour and a half before calling it a night and heading back home. What an interesting neighborhood visit we had.

Monday, January 11, 2010

First trip around town

On Saturday, we went into town to go grocery shopping. We left the car in front of the grocery store and walked around town to go to the fruit market, then the vegetable market, then returned to the grocery store before stopping at the meat market. A lot can be learned about a culture and a society by visiting the local markets.

On our way to the fruit market, we stopped and got some ice cream. 2 cups of ice cream and 1 large slushy cost a total of $ 100 (100 pesos- yes, they use the $ to indicate pesos, but RD$ 36 = US$ 1) making our ice cream stop less than 3 dollars for all three of us. Not too bad.

In the vegetable market, we were not allowed to choose our own produce. We told the worker what we wanted and he got it for us. After carrying all of our fruits and veggies back to the car, we went to the grocery store.

The store was small, but had a lot of products. Many products were items typically found in the United States. I had a lot of fun looking at the prices. Prices were a lot cheaper than they were in Venezuela. I was able to find things like Macaroni & Cheese (US $1), pancake mix (less than US $2 for a box), and even lactose free milk (less than US $2). While I have not yet had to go shopping on my own, this helped me a lot to figure out how I can go shopping and how much it will cost when I do begin.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Accreditation committees

Today was an in-service workshop for all staff members. Classes do not begin until Monday. Part of the workshop today was the formation of committees for the development of the plan for getting the school accredited with the Association of Christian Schools International. This is going to be a long process. I am on the committee that involves student services- particularly for those with special needs. This is going to be a long process. If anyone has any experience working with obtaining accreditation, please let me know!

Staff Mini-Retreat

Today (Thursday) we had a mini-retreat for all the staff that is in town. A few people are still returning from the United States, but most of the staff came. This was my first opportunity to meet the people with whom I will be working over the next several months. It was a bit overwhelming trying to meet and remember names of so many people.
The retreat took place at the house where I am staying. Everyone arrived at the same time in 2 taxi vans. We began with a time of worship and hearing a message from The Word. We then had a time of personal reflection and time alone with God. Everyone was instructed to go outside and walk through the steps of this reflection in the stillness and silence of the hills and mountains around the house. Thankfully, the rain subsided in time for this and then began again right after lunch.
After lunch, we had a time of fellowship and games. This was a great time to get to know some people. I will hopefully meet the rest of the staff tomorrow.

Can't see the mountains...

I woke up today to a blanket of dense fog covering the mountains and the valley. I can only see about 100 feet out in either direction. It gives the feel of a mystery novel- not quite knowing what is out there. I love it.

Evenings in Jarabacoa

Evenings and early mornings can get a little chilly. The temperature got down to about 50ºF last night. Now I know what those of you in the heart of winter are thinking…. I WISH we had 50ºF right now. The thing with it getting to 50º is that if it is 50 outside, it is also 50º inside. There is actually one room of the house that an outside room- it has bars but no screens or windows. This room is connected directly to the house with no way of closing it off. So, whatever the temperature is like outside, it is like that inside as well. Who would have thought that my sweatshirt would become a necessity in the tropics???

First look at Doulos

I had my first look at Doulos Discovery School. It was amazing seeing the buildings and school grounds in person- the ones I had only seen in pictures before. I did not get to see the whole school yet- just a glimpse. However, I am looking forward to seeing the rest, meeting the staff, and seeing the kids.

Picture of the Week

For all of you who want to get an even better look as to what I am seeing while here in the DR, I will be starting a Picture of the Week emailing. Every week, I will email out a picture taken that week and an explanation or the story behind that picture, as well as an update about what is happening here in Jarabacoa. These pictures WILL NOT APPEAR ON THIS BLOG. They will be exclusively for those on the mailing list. If you would like to receive the Picture of the Week each week, please leave me a message with your email address or email me at or

Travel and arrival

The long wait is finally over. I have arrived in the Dominican Republic. My travelling went very well. All flights were on time, except for the last one, which was delayed due to a broken headlight. During my time in the airport, God teamed me up with a new friend. Her name is Kathy.

Kathy is from Ohio. She was on the flight from Cleveland before my flight, traveling to Chicago just like me. I met her while boarding the plane in Chicago. She is a full time missionary in Bolivia. We spent the layover in Miami talking and getting to know each other.

She is from Ohio and is supported by Parkside Church. She knows several people from Hudson Community Chapel. She also knows a few people who are teaching at Doulos- the school I’m working with here in the DR. She has been in Bolivia for the past 8 years in the same location that some friends of mine in Oklahoma go to a few times each year.

What are the “chances” that this was just “coincidence”? Highly unlikely. God is great! He put us together for a reason. I plan on keeping in touch with her and we hope to get together again in Ohio this summer.

I arrived in the DR and was picked up by Krista- the director of Doulos Discovery School. I am staying with her and her family until my housing situation is arranged. She has a beautiful house. She lives away from town in a very secluded area. It is quiet and peaceful here. Mango trees and citrus trees are dotted around the property. Palm trees rustling in the breeze. What a place to live!

A funny thing happened on the way to the airport…

Well, it was time to go to the airport. The massive amounts of snow were not going to stop me. My sister and Dad drove me to the airport. God gave us a break from the snow overnight, so the roads were not too bad. However, a rain/sleet/snow mixture was falling in the morning. We scraped the ice off the car windows, went slow, and made it just fine. Almost.

On the way there, the driver’s side windshield wiper picked up some ice and was not cleaning the windshield. Not a good thing when driving 50mph on the freeway. My sister rolled down her window to try to knock the ice off the wiper. She grabbed the wiper in mid wipe and all of a sudden, the wiper flew off the car, out of her hand, and went bouncing down the highway! She just stared in shock. We couldn’t believe that just happened. What do we do now? Dirty window. No wiper. On the highway.

We got off the highway and pulled into a parking lot, where she took off the passenger wiper and tried to attach it to the driver’s side wiper. No luck. However, we were only a few exits from the airport. After cleaning off the windshield with a glove, we were back in the car and back on the highway. It started to get bad again just as we arrived at the airport.

We arrived at the airport on time. Actually, with time to spare- since there were no crowds there. There was no line to check in and only a few people in line for security. Where were all the people? I’m not sure. Checking in took 1 minute and security screening took 3 minutes. After more goodbyes to my family, I am off on another adventure with Christ!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Attempting to Escape

Well, the time has finally come. I leave tomorrow for the DR. Maybe.

We have had intense snowfall for the past several days. The roads are treacherous- highways are as bad as side streets. The snow just keeps coming- with no signs of stopping.

It will be really nice to escape the snow and head to the Caribbean. However, I have to be able to make it to the airport and fly out of Cleveland. I trust that God will keep me safe and that I will arrive in the DR in his perfect timing.