An Answer to Prayer…you

There are many experiences and lessons a person learns when you enter into life in another country and culture.  One of those things is discovering the compassionate heartf of your friends.

Recently I asked you to pray for our little Dominican church and the danger related to a crumbling retaining wall.  That wall being the stability for both the little school and new kitchen which are part of the outreach ministry to the local barrio around our church.

Retaining wall left as dirt with not support.  School and kitchen at risk.

Retaining wall left as dirt with not support. School and kitchen at risk.

 

Retaining walls in this climate and soil are often built with a mixture of concrete mix, re-bar (which most cannot afford)…so the majority of walls use rocks as internal supports.

 

 

Neighbour sitting patiently & keeping an eye on things.

Neighbour sitting patiently & keeping an eye on things.

 

The 40 + year old wall that supports our church and protects neighbouring homes decided it was time to say bye-bye.  A sweet older lady in the home moved her bedroom to the other side of the house…understandably.

 

 

Construction began as donations came in.  Through what you gave we were able to not only rebuild the wall but re-enforce it multiple ways.   Concrete, re-bar, new columns it didn’t have before, and plenty of large rocks to re-enforce the re-enforcement.

Pretty sure our neighbour began to breathe a sigh of relief.

Construction begins.  Forming a thick base and deep pillars anchors the  wall.

Construction begins.

 

 

The wall is anchored with a concrete, re-bar re-enforced base.

 

 

 

 

Top down view from the kitchen.

Top down view from the kitchen.

 

 

From the kitchen you can see how close to the edge things are.

 

 

 

Drum roll please……

The finished product is a beautiful sight.

"Upon this rock"...the word and work of God will stand.

“Upon this rock”…the word and work of God will stand.

 

 

The wall was completed just before the rainy season kicked in this past week or so.  It’s pretty awesome!

 

 

 

Newly added corner wrap around.

Newly added corner wrap around.

 

 

A new wrap around was added in to connect with the aging wall on the south side of the church/school.  We are pumped (i.e. teenager term for very, very excited :), to be able to swing the construction and connect it in to the existing re-enforcement.

 

 

 

And, while what I’m writing to you may seem and sound a bit dramatic I simply want you to know important this relatively small in size construction work was in relation to the bigger picture.  I love our little church and the community it reaches out to.  I probably will only be able to communicate mine, as well as the churches thankfulness to you in a limited way through words.

For your prayers, your generous gifts and your willingness to be part of helping people you’ve never met and may never meet, please accept a heartfelt thank you from us to you…

Thank You!

                                                  Thank You!

 

Thank You!!

Thank You!!

Thank You !!!

                      Thank You !!!

As a result of all God has enabled to be done through you, the school facility is not only secured with a new and re-enforced wall, we are excitedly expecting our 5th mission team to arrive June 12th.

Their “mission”should they choose to accept it (sorry…couldn’t resist) – begin the next phase of building on the school which will also house a church congregation for the deaf & Sunday school classes.

Keep praying my friends.  The fun never stops around here.

Blessings from the Houck crew.

On This Rock

Love the words Jesus spoke to Peter.

“…on this rock I will build my church…”  (Matthew 16:18)

Easter is an amazing time to bring all of this into perspective.

A lot of people have talked about how Jesus would establish his church using Peter. Peter’s name is Greek for “rock”.  The most likely meaning of this verse actually points to Christ praising Peter for looking to Him as the “rock”.  And it was, is and will also be on that “rock” (Jesus), that God’s church, and kingdom, will be established. Why all the talk about rock?  Amazing what sticks in ones mind when construction is happening all around them.

Santiago Christian School is in the midst of moving the gymnasium and building a new gorgeous outdoor playground (“Megan’s Playground”), in honour of Amber’s former teacher who passed away tragically in a car accident last year.  Now, how you build is a whole other story altogether.  Not sure what the actual safety guidelines are here in the DR but I’m pretty sure they are just a tad less restrictive than North American standards.

Things That Make You Go, Huh?

Who needs amusement park rides when this is free!

Who needs amusement park rides when this is free!

Primera Iglesia (PI), our awesome little Dominican church, is also in the midst of building. Building something very special.  Over the past two years Grace Church out of Grand Forks, North Dakota has been developing a sweet relationship with PI.  So much so that 4th mission team came in February and the 5th team is arriving in about 7 weeks (mid-June).

Their heart, as always, is to help their Dominican brothers and sisters  do what they currently are not able to do for themselves.  Some of what I am saying and will say is probably repetitive from earlier posts but please don’t block me out.  Outside of the deep emotional scaring that may cause 🙂 it is truly the most beautiful relationship to watch develop.

Over the past two years this sister-churches relationship has worked together to:

  • Waterproof the church roof.
  • Run and reset the electrical throughout the school building.
  • Help design and build from scratch a fully functioning kitchen on to the church/school.
  • Repaint the outside of the facility.
  • Donate an electric water cooler for the school kids to use.
  • Purchased x6 beautiful new sewing machines that are now being used by the church as a skill developing ministry reaching in to the poverty ravaged barrio next to us.  Church ladies are teaching local girls & moms how to sew which is giving them a trade and they are actually making “toilet seat covers” to sell…and they’re selling 🙂
  • Purchased all of the building materials and paid the wages of the employed local Dominican & Haitian workers as contractors and key builders.
Sewing machines at work...and no, even though it was hot this is not a 'sweat shop' :)

Sewing machines at work.  And no, even though it was hot this is not a ‘sweat shop’ 🙂

Team member Diane Morken lovin' every minute of this.

Team member Darlene Morken lovin’ every minute of this.

 

If it is not a John Deere I ain't touchin it!

If it is not a John Deere I ain’t touchin it!  (Team Member Daniel)

Running electrical into the  new kitchen.

Running electrical into the new kitchen.

We pray...God provides...an experienced Electrical Engineer with a huge heart for serving Christ.

We pray…God provides…an experienced Electrical Engineer with a huge heart for serving Christ (Team Member Rick Stomberg)

Team hangin with our church

Team hangin with our church

WHO is this all for? The beautiful people from our barrio who need and deserve the love of Jesus being shown through sharing the truth of the gospel, a Christian based school fortheir kids who might not otherwise get an education, and families who want a better life.

Inside our barrio.

Inside our barrio.

This little cutie is all the motivation we need :)

This little cutie is all the motivation we need 🙂

BUGS That Make You Go AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

We weren't the only ones on job.  Check out the "Wolf Spider" who joined us.

We weren’t the only ones on job. Check out the “Wolf Spider” who joined us.  Same size as a Tarantula and as harmless as a fly.  Still scares the doo-doo out of you when you see it.

Stick bug!

Stick bug!

 

Ants, ants everywhere!

Ants, ants everywhere!

MOTO’s of the DR

"Plastic Haulin Moto" (collectors roam neighbourhoods and sell whatever plastic containers they can find to earn a living)

“Plastic Haulin Moto” (collectors roam neighbourhoods and sell whatever plastic containers they can find to earn a living)

 

THANX FOR THE AMAZING SUPPORT & Still NEED YOUR PRAYERS

Some of you have heard and seen pictures of the scary moments for our church.  The retaining wall that supports the school and new kitchen gave way and because of donations from many of you, the work of missionary friends Barry & Sonia Burnett (who have helped build over 30 churches in the DR), things are on the mend.

Please keep praying for support and completion of the project as our little church also has little funds to make this happen.  The rainy season is coming and we are praying/working to get this fixed before the big waters arrive.

Retaining Wall construction

New concrete supports

 

Thinking the neighbour appreciates the project.  She actually moved out her bedroom and to the other side of the house.

Thinking the neighbour appreciates the project. She actually moved out her bedroom and to the other side of the house.

View from the kitchen

View from the kitchen

HOUCK FAMILY ANNOUNCEMENT

Nope…not that kind of announcement.  Three kids is plenty fine me.  Love’m all but not sure the world would be ready for another Houck 🙂

Tracey and I have given our notice to Santiago Christian School that we will not be returning next school year and instead will move back to North America.  Final plans of where we’ll be living and what we will be doing are in the works and we will update you next blog.

It’s hard to even think about leaving the friends we’ve made and the churches we’ve been so blessed to work with during our time here.  And, without over or under spiritualizing the decision, we knew it was time.

Proverbs 19:21 says this:

“Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

What is God’s purpose in all of this?  Well….we have a few pretty cool ideas of what we think this is going to look like, and just like any great story, we will spill the beans in the next chapter of the Houck Family Adventure.

 

Drew jumpin in on the work crew

Drew jumpin in on the work crew

Amber the budding artist

Amber the budding artist

Mom & Carter overseeing "sewing lessons" for the youngins

Mom & Carter overseeing “sewing lessons” for the youngins

Giving "Jenny" a hard time as she tackles the new sewing machines...fyi...she's from the barrio and worked her way to becoming a nurse.

Giving “Jenny” a hard time as she tackles the new sewing machines…fyi…she’s from the barrio and worked her way to becoming a nurse, still lives in the area, helps run the family business in the barrio and volunteers ridiculous hours at the church to help other families have the life God intended for them.

Blessings, Love & Prayers

From the Houck Crew

Wanna “snow” what’s new in the DR?

New year brings a whole new lease on life my friends.  It’s like being let out of a tight space and away you go!  That’s how we’re feeling as well.  While it is winter here (10-12 C/60-70 F early in the morning), we still get a chuckle over hearing phrases like “Have you noticed how cold it is this winter?”…and “It was so cold last night I had to turn my ceiling fan off”.

Some of these realities we live in can send your mind in circles.  Others are just fun.

My guess is, very few of you have had to deal with this kind of intense decision making throughout the winter you’ve experienced to date.  Doubt you will be praying for us on this one 🙂

I MISS SNOW!          The words we’ve heard annually with this year being no exception come from out own goof troop.  Most of their Dominican friends think they’re nuts but also have a tinge of envy wondering what a winter with snow would really be like.  Pretty much on a daily basis you will hear one of our kids comment on how much they miss the snow and snow storms that lock you into the house and…sorry…my old brain just sent shivers through my body thinking of the flip side reality…snowblowing, shoveling, scraping windshields, icy water in the boots.  Probably time to help our youngin’s appreciate the current blessing they live in.

Speaking of the youngin’s…here they are, in all their glory on a sick day no less when, for the first time in our family, all three kids & mother were home ill with sinus and throat problems.  Looks like a rough day.

The strange things kids do when they're locked in an apartment...sick

The strange things kids do when they’re locked in an apartment…sick

GIVING BACK          Like any normal family we had a great time with our kids during their Christmas programs and all of the fun activities they were involved in.  Another event that took place over holidays was so beautiful, I just have to share it.

Our little Dominican church of about 60-70 people hosted a Christmas Celebration for the neighbourhood where many of the families live in what’s known as “the hole”.  Basically, you have thin passage ways to walk with apartment style houses stacked two, three and sometimes four levels high.  Income for these families is extremely limited so theft, prostitution and pretty much any other underground occupation you can think of exists there.

The people though…are awesome.  We love them to pieces.  So when our school provided 50 boxes of food, Cedarville College out of the U.S. offered lunch kits and students from our school bought Christmas gifts for every child who attends the barrio school in our church…what opened up was an amazing night where the rich and poor, believers in Jesus & those who could care less…gathered in a little church building and experienced the love of our Lord in a very special way.

Our little DR church filled with local families receiving gifts of food for the holidays...Many of these families live on less than $100 a month.

Our little DR church filled with local families receiving gifts of food for the holidays…Many of these families live on less than $100 a month.

A sweet little princess receiving a Christmas gift and lunch kit

A sweet little princess receiving a Christmas gift and lunch kit

HELPING THE HELPER          Aurelia is one of the caring women who works long hours to take care of the hundreds of students on our Santiago Christian School campus each day.   The incredible irony of this is that while cleaning up after us, she goes home each night to her own house with a dirt floor.

Not gonna happen anymore!  The staff and students got together with this crazy idea to host a “Jeans Day” on campus where everyone pays some RD$ to be able to where jeans to school…tell that one to North American kids:).  “Jean Days” usually raised money for classes to take trips, etc.  We raised enough RD$ to buy re-bar, concrete mix, sand, etc. and on one fun Saturday, a bunch of us went to help her family pour a new concrete floor in her house.

If ever someone deserves this kind of “Random Act of Kindness”, Aurelia did.  Her family saw a bunch of wacky gringo’s living the love of Jesus in an equally wacky way.

Prepping for concrete

Prepping for concrete

Aurelia shading herself with a paper plate.  What a doll :)

Aurelia shading herself with a bucket 🙂

THE FARQUHAR’s HAVE LANDED!          Any time we have the chance to receive a visit from friends and/or family we’re pretty stoked.  Over the holidays our awesome friends Brad & Lynette Farquhar dared to bring their family for a visit 🙂  So fun!  The kids hung out, shared stories along with their love for reading and apparently mutual adoration for “Lord of the Rings” and we trekked to all sort of cool places on the island.

Thanx so, so much Brad & Lynette for making this holiday season a very special one.  You rock!

Hangin with the Farquhars (minus Annie taking the pic).

Hangin with the Farquhars (minus Annie taking the pic).

The shadow children!

Dominican 2013 040

DISCIPLESHIP CATCHING ON          The beauty of watching students begin to “catch” the realness of Jesus and just how deeply His truth can impact their lives captures your heart .  Many of our students have a religious background though knowing a saviour is still a bizarre and sometimes foreign concept for them.

Through the prayer and dedication of some of my volunteers like Melissa S., Steve M., Angie K., Steve N., Sarah, Ally, Matt, Beth, Kellie, Vera, Leah, Jenn & Becky, Megan B. and of course Tracey…we are seeing students digging deeper and deeper.  The truth that discipleship doesn’t happen overnight is embedding itself in the ministry and the opportunities are opening up.

This past week our athletic director spend time with an alumnus and it was obvious that the hand of God was on both him and the young man he met with.  Please pray that this becomes the new “normal”.  So many hearts & lives can be touched.

SPIDER WOMAN!!!!          On a cold, damp January morning, heroic P.E. teacher Tracey Houck, aka “Spider Woman”, faces almost impossible odds to rescue “llaves” (keys) from certain peril.  Motivated by her successful victories over the endless encounters with gymnasium tarantula’s this local super hero sheds all resemblance of fear to scale the dividing well between her and the “llaves”.  Mere seconds elapse and then…freedom!!  Today we pay homage to this selfless hero.

Spider Woman lives!

Spider Woman lives!

GRACE BAPTIST MISSION TEAM           February 22-March 1st we’ll be hosting our fourth mission team from Grace Baptist in North Dakota.  The passion and work they have put into their mission here is something special.  A team of 11 adults will arrive in the wee hours of the morning and spend a full week doing electrical & painting in the new kitchen at Primera Iglesia (church) they have fully funded through long-distance fundraising to build.

Sewing is also on the agenda for this trip. The church has purchased a number of brand new sewing machines for a sweat deal and will teach local ladies how to use these particular machines then give them to the church.

Do you remember that earlier picture of families from the barrio near our church at the Christmas event?  Do you remember what many of them feel the have to do to earn a living?  Grace wants to make a small dent in that and help change some lives by providing both training and the actual machines so some of our godly church ladies can teach girls & ladies in the barrio how to sew, giving them a trade, and share the truth of Jesus throughout.  So very cool!  I cannot wait to update you next time on this.

One of the machines Grace Baptist is bringing with them in February

One of the machines Grace Baptist is bringing with them in February

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO, HUH?          So, what happens to the “rich guy” who decides not to pay his electric bill because he doesn’t feel like it?  Apparently this!

Don't pay your bills?  Receive a concrete electric pole in the middle of your driveway.

Don’t pay your bills? Receive a concrete electric pole in the middle of your driveway.

MOTO’s OF THE DR

Fully functioning construction truck...sweet ride!

Fully functioning construction truck…sweet ride!

What stinks for the driver is a winfall for the neighbours as a truck hauling corn losses it's load on a local bridge.

What stinks for the driver is a winfall for the neighbours as a truck hauling corn loses it’s load on a local bridge.

PRAISE & PRAYER

  • Thanking God for health after a 4 week stretch of nasty sinus headaches, coughing and Tracey losing her voice (for a couple days).
  • Stoked about the “God Conversations” happening around campus.
  • Pray for me (Tim) as I attempt to answer questions students are giving me “secretly” on scratch paper.  So much searching amongst so much fear of being seen as weak.
  • Pray for Tracey as she continues to morph elementary P.E. classes into spiritual and life lesson times.  I wish all of you could hear how amazed staff are at her ability to turn chaos into Jesus moments.
  • Pray for the GRACE BAPTIST Mission Team arriving February 22nd – safety, effectiveness, cross-cultural understanding, and enabling local ministry.

Love & Miss ya’ll!

Until next time…Blessings from the Houck Family Adventure in the DR.

Friends in Ministry

Hello all!

Great to connect with ya’ll once again.  On this American Thanksgiving weekend we were originally planning on spending time with some beautiful orphans in Haiti.  With the Haitian border less than 100 kms to our east this trip is becoming a Houck Family tradition.  Sadly, this week fees for crossing into and out of Haiti have doubled.  Thus, we need to save up a little extra dollars and hope to cross for a couple days around New Years.

Have to admit, I’m bummed 😦  The whole crew was going to work alongside some super fun boys and girls harvesting peanuts.  The peanuts would then be eaten and mostly sold to help raise funds for the orphanages.

Crossing from the DR into Ouanaminthe, Haiti we use.

Crossing from the DR into Ouanaminthe,         Haiti we use.

The friends and orphans we connected with in Haiti are one of the special ministry friends we hold close to our hearts.  Tracey and I both spend significant time working with one segment of Dominican society through Santiago Christian School. However, there are some very godly and courageous people who are diving into the deep end of need on the island.

So, in the spirit of friendship, why would we be selfish and hold on to these ministry do-gooders all to ourselves 🙂

Please check out these links and add them to your prayers!

BONNE TERRE (Ouanaminthe, Haiti)                                                       http://bonneterrehaiti.org/

Bonne Terre

Jen Wride is a fellow Canadian 🙂 who has found her passion in serving and caring for the sweet and needy children of Haiti.  An agronomist by trade, Jen is working to help two orphanages (one boys, one girls), become self-sufficient.  She has raised funds to purchase multiple acres of land which the kids help develop supporting business and food for the table.  It’s pretty awesome!

The Haitian government estimates that 80% of all Haitian orphans are not actually orphans.  Sadly, families either cannot afford to feed their children, or, in worst case scenario’s the opportunity to earn extra money through adoptions gets tempting.

Jen and the orphanages she works with work directly with children who are verified orphans and in deep need of Jesus, help and education. It is one of the most authentic groups I’ve met.  Beautiful ministry through authentic means.

NEW HOPE Girls Academy (La Vega, Dominican Republic)http://newhopegirls.wordpress.com/

New Hope logo

We’ve told you about New Hope before.  Vidal & Joy Reyes (founders) pour their lives into young at-risk girls living below the line of poverty.  Mission teams we host here in Santiago always ask to spend at least a day with the New Hope girls and check out the ladies workshop where mother’s have the chance to earn a living.  Very, very cool stuff.

CAMINITO de JESUS  (Santiago, Dominican Republic)http://www.pathwaytojesusschool.com/

Caminito de Jesus logo

Caminito de Jesus (“Pathway to Jesus”) is a school with over 250 children founded by Shelley Hernandez.  A former teacher at Santiago Christian School, Shelley was burdened by the needs of our local barrio.  God took her passion for education and to bring the love of Jesus together and whalla!

Caminito de Jesus (Pathway to Jesus) School in our barriol iterally 400 yards from our own and reaches in the lives of economically challenged families.  To give you perspective, students pay RD$600 per month for tuition.  In Canadian, that is $12.50 monthly.  Large numbers of families cannot afford the tuition and receive North American sponsorship.

STREET VENDORS of the DR

Hard Workin Street Vendors usually have the best produce

Hard Workin Street Vendors usually have the best produce

FAMILY UPDATE

TRACEY jumps into her P.E. classes each day like its the first day.  For some, teaching is a blessing or a burden.  When it comes to Tracey, there is no such thing as a “burden” for Tracey and her students.  It’s genuine love, prayer, and investing into their lives that brings a smile to her face…not to mention the kids faces 🙂

Gotta love Parachute games...

Gotta love Parachute games…

Amber continues to blow our minds as she comes out of her shell and explodes into colour.  Our once shy little girl is fast becoming a threat to the humour, social animalism, and compassionate heartbeat her brothers. Bring a bird with a broken wing home, and God’s gifting of empathy kicks in for real.

Amber showing off her Amelia Earhart Project

Amber showing off her Amelia Earhart Project

Drew’s grip on reality is, well…loose 🙂  1st grade is the ride of a lifetime for this dude. For the third year in a row, he “loves his teacher”. He loves reading his bible (knows the stories better than his dad for sure), and prays for his teacher and friends regularly.

Drew & his buddy Bryan at Family Day 2013

Drew & his buddy Bryan at Family Day 2013

Carter and Dad took some time out away from the goof troop recently and snagged a frozen Lemonade.  Love this kid.  He continues to grow up like a redwood tree.  He’s climbed the basketball ladder and is starting point guard this year.  He’s also a veracious reader.  The big guy has become my devotional evaluation tool…he reads them, gives me his honest take, and I toss another one his way.  Awesome stuff.

Frozen lemonade does this to a person

Frozen lemonade does this to a person

Canadian YouthWorker’s Convention (Youth Specialties Canada)

So thankful for the opportunity to share at the Canadian National YouthWorkers Convention in Vancouver early November.  Incredible time to network with ministry veterans like Marv Penner, Sid Koop and Sociologist James Penner who just released nationwide research about Young Adult faith development.  Brought back a truck load resources to put to use here in the 3rd World.

Youth Specialties Canada sponsors CYWC

Youth Specialties Canada sponsors CYWC

MOTO of the DR time!!!

Mobile Ice Cream vendor...open air, plastic chair, chauffer...what else can a guy as for.

Mobile Ice Cream vendor…open air, plastic chair, chauffer…what else can a guy as for.

FEED THE NEED Food Drive 2013

FEED The NEED attempting to raise 12,000 lbs in donations

FEED The NEED is attempting to raise          12,000 lbs in donations this year.

Annually our school attempts to raise enough food to feed 600 families over the Christmas holidays.  Donations of food and money from our student families go directly to those in need.  100% of it.  Please pray for all of this to come in my friends!!

SCS Students collecting for the food drive.

SCS Students collecting for the food drive.

Prayer & Praise

  • Fast and furious 1st half of the school year is still a good one with so many God sightings.
  • Health has been a challenge a times.  Please pray for better “immune” systems 🙂
  • Number of children accepted Jesus at school last week.  Pray we follow up well.
  • Big decisions coming – Christmas season brings with it the need to decide on our future.  SCS requires a commitment in January for the following year.  We are asking you, our family and friends, to pray with us to figure out what God is asking of us.

Blessings our friends and until next time…give’m heaven!

Tim for the Houck Crew.

Mucho Calor

Hello friends and family!  This month’s post is being brought to you by Tracey (along with the letter T and the number 43).  September heated up around here in both temperatures and activities.  Even the locals have been commenting, “Mucho calor” (very hot), so we know it is a little warmer than normal.

JESUS WEEK

One of the activities that heated up in September included the Spiritual Emphasis Week or “Jesus Week” held September 9-13 on campus for PreK to 8th Grade.  Our special treat was having Todd and Kim Erickson (Tracey’s brother and sister-in-law) here as our guest speakers.  They shared in daily chapels and spoke in numerous classrooms.  Rex, Todd’s loyal companion, even made guest appearances.  We also had our One Chapel with the entire school to wrap up the week on Friday.

Jesus Week 2Jesus Week 3

The theme was “Rhythm:  A Time for Everything”, and Todd and Kim used the life of Joseph to teach about following God with hope in all seasons of life.  They had a great week of ministry here, and we are so thankful that they could come down here to serve!

photoFamily - Todd and Kim

IN THE BEGINNING

The week after “Jesus Week”, we launched a new ministry that will meet Thursday evenings on campus for Middle School and High School students.  The MS has taken the name, “ROOTZ” (Reaching Out Of The Zone) and the HS is “Thursday Night Live” or TNL. Please pray for direction and passion for this new venture.  We want to be able to share the Truth of Jesus with these students and help them understand what it means to follow Him.  (The pics below show MS Ninja Night and HS Futsal Night)YM Ninja Night YM Futsal Night

KITCHEN CONSTRUCTION IS HEATING UP!

It is exciting to see the progress each week on the construction of the kitchen at Primera Iglesia (our church).  If you are not sure what is happening, go back and read the last post of Matthew Morken’s bike ride and the fundraising for a project that will be an amazing opportunity for reaching families in the barrio near our church.  Check out the pictures of the construction as well as the new coats of paint in the classrooms to start the school year.  These were the classrooms the Grace Baptist mission team wired the electricity for in February.

2013-09-01 11.07.182013-09-01 11.07.57

Primera Iglesia - kitchen 1 Primera Iglesia - kitchen 2 Primera Iglesia - kitchen 3 Primera Iglesia - kitchen 4

A HUELGA FIRES UP

This past Monday morning began as usual on our way to school, except the normal schedule was interruped as the neighborhood around the school decided it was time to stage a huelga (strike) over the poor road conditions.  They block the roads, burn tires and protest.  Therefore, school was cancelled for two days, and our own children could not contain their excitement (as they were hoping for a 3rd day off).  These are kind of like our unofficial “snow days”.

Huelga 2Huelga 1

HOME FIRES

As far as family matters, we celebrated Carter’s 13th birthday this month … yikes, a teenager!  Paintball (not to be mistaken for a huelga) and ice cream cake were the two priorities for him.  He is also playing basketball and really enjoying that.  Amber and Drew have become “Running Club” junkies.  They are participating in this weekly activity, and running their little hearts out!  As Dad and Mom, we are running around as well … just not in running club.

Family - paintball birthdayFamily - beach

MOTOS OF THE DR

Moto - Lawnmower

Only took Tim 2 years to finally catch this picture

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO “HUH?”

Here are a couple pictures to end the post.  One of a good place to purchase your fuel if your self-esteem is low.  The other is of the 3 live tarantulas the maintenance guys caught on the gym stage and in the equipment store room.

Huh 1Huh 2

We are thankful for each and every opportunity that God “heats up” for us here.  Feel free to “fire” us an email or message to keep in contact.  We are thankful for your prayers, and want to wish all the Canadians a “Happy Thanksgiving” for this next weekend!  Hasta luego, amigos!

Purpose, Community and a Place to Belong

“Welcome Back”…to School

First day of School!

First day of School!

August 19th brought the beginning of our 3rd year here in Santiago.  Carter, Amber and Drew are back to 6am mornings, open air classes and their parents…um, Tracey and I…are praying for them to be examples of Jesus on campus.  Over 650 students are on campus this year.  That means hundreds of students and their families God is asking us to reach out to.

Look out Santiago…here we come!  🙂

Let the Houck Family Adventure Year #3 begin!

Let the Houck Family Adventure Year #3 begin!  And, no…we didn’t buy a dog 🙂  The kids were trying to “dognap” it though.

 

Comfy Moto of the DR

Comfy Moto of the DR

Comfy Moto of the DR

Drew, Tracey and I hauled mattresses we borrowed for our missions team this summer back to missionary friends.  Drew…well, this ingenious little dude discovered there’s more than one place to catch a nap!

 

Riding For The Dominican…

Riding for the Dominican  fundraising trip Matthew Morken road

Riding for the Dominican fundraising trip Matthew Morken road

Grace Baptist Church out of Grand Forks, North Dakota is diving in head first to what is becoming an incredible relationship with Primera Iglesia Bautista Central de Santiago (Central 1st Baptist Church of Santigo).

Three (3) teams have traveled to the DR so far and another three (3) are being planned for January thru June of 2014.  Why so many teams? Why so much investment by one group of people into another group of people they barely know?

What started as a shot in the dark prayer and email a couple years ago has turned into a full, fledged commitment of Jesus follower’s to give personally, physically, financially and sacrifically to hundreds (I may be guessing low here) of men, women and children.

Our church, Primera Iglesia is pouring itself into it’s community through services, discipleship, and children’s ministry.  Our pastor, an american trained medical doctor uses his office for study, counseling and medical exams.  A second church has been planted on the other side of Santiago in an area that is unchurched and economically struggling.  Just blocks away from Primera Iglesia is one of the poorest neighbourhoods (“Barrio”) known as the “Hole” to some where everything and anything is fair game if it puts food on your table that night.

If I seem passionate about this…I am.  What God is doing through building relationships spanning continents and oceans energizes life and work.  Through a visionary approach to supporting mission, Grace Baptist teams lead by youth pastor Matthew Morken, have lead Vacation Bible School for over 100 under-priviledged kids (I might add…only 14 scraps the last day :); began Building a kitchen on to the existing small church facility with hopes of hosting a Feeding Program for kids attending the churches outreach school; and supporting the School Primera Iglesia started to educate kids from Barrio.  So far close to 80 children are being reached and the vision is 200 Children!

Matthew Morken Riding over 400 Miles raising funds for a kitchen that will be used to feed hundreds.

Matthew Morken Riding over 400 Miles raising funds for a kitchen that will be used to feed hundreds.

Here is what Matthew Morken did in response to God’s challenging him to make a difference in another persons, in this case group of peoples lives.

“Ever since returning from the Dominican I have been wanting to get that kitchen done so the school can bless its attendees.  I did find it interesting that the school needed $4,200 and the route I’m riding is about 420 miles.  That is where I got the numbers for this fund raiser.  420 miles at $10 a mile.”

And…HE DID IT! 

Over 400 miles and all the funds raised!  God’s timing and support is absolutely amazing.  As early as this coming week the funds will begin funneling here to the DR, all the physical supplies will be purchased, local men hired to complete the construction.  Pray this kitchen can be completed quickly and that students who attend the school with get a hot, nourishing lunch daily.

Please, please check out Matthew’s Blog and Facebook page about the trip and passion for investing into the beautiful people of the DR.

http://rideforthedominican.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/arideforthedominican#!/arideforthedominican

 

Pizza Moto of the DR

Vamanos! (Let's Go) Pizza Delivery MOTO

Vamanos! (Let’s Go) Pizza Delivery MOTO

 

Constanza…a piece of Heaven

The end of the first week of school brought an opportunity to head to our “happy place” here in the DR.  Quiet rest and family time in the midst of the 100 mile pace this time of year brings with ministry and work.

Carter rockin' it on Horseback

Carter rockin’ it on Horseback

Amber in a Brazilian hammock with her favourite new kitty :)

Amber in a Brazilian hammock with her favourite new kitty 🙂

Drew with new buddy "Negrita" the Chihuahua

Drew with new buddy “Negrita” the Chihuahua

Flowers for a Beautiful Bride, Amazing Mother and Special Wife

Flowers for a Beautiful Bride, Amazing Mother and Special Wife

God Sightings and Prayer Requests

  • Multiple students (4-6) prayed to receive Jesus as their saviour this past week at our school (Santiago Christian School).  Pray for their discipleship.
  • Tracey is being asked by a young dominican female woman and I’ve been asked by a young dominican male student if we would mentor them.  Such a crazy and humbling opportunity.  Please pray for faithfulness and wisdom.
  • Truck Repairs – it was my dad who said a “Car is the biggest waste of money you’ll ever spend on a necessity in your life”.  Dad…you weren’t joking 🙂  Our Isuzu Rodeo came down with a mechanical case of about everything a car can need repaired this past week.  We’re thanking God for safety when we didn’t know and for a trustworthy mechanic who cuts no corners.  Please pray we can navigate the challenges that come with this.
  • Carter, Amber, Drew, Tracey and Myself – pray as we enter our 3rd week of school…for the kids who are now in 8th grade, 4th grade, and 1st grade…for Tracey as she tackles P.E. classes for 200+ students within a heart to share Jesus.  For myself as I teach and lead the Spiritual Life on campus.

Until next month…blessings all!

Tim for the Houck Crew