On a Sunday Afternoon…

You know you need a break when your 5 year old comes to you and says, “I think I need some time on my own”.  So why not help the little guy out.  Such was the case last saturday for Drew, following a week where both he and Amber battled sinus colds came to his mother and asked for some alone time.  Solution?

The Apartment is aliiiivvve with the sound of muuusssssiiiic!  Amber has been taking this new piano by storm.  She is for certain our focused determination machine.  While her brothers tackle sports, Amber enjoys the arts.  Now hey, she’s a speedy little irl and if there was a cross-country running team here I’m certain she would join.  Playing the piano though now takes centre stage for hobbies.  What we’d like to figure out however is find a way to help her express her emotions more openly.

                                  Mini Mozart!

Language Translator Alert!          Carter vaulted to a whole new level of bi-lingualism this weekend.  This morning as we entered church our good friend Luis Oscar approached and asked if I thought I knew enough Spanish to help him translate the sermon into English for our FM radio trasmission.  Following a blank stare and slightly blushing face I pointed to Carter and told Luis  Carter had become pretty capable linguistically.  Minutes later Carter and Luis were on their way to the pastor’s office where Carter translated the scriptures used in the service from Spanish to English.  Way to go buddy!

Did I mention he also turned 12 years old September 11th?  His buddies provided the necessary “party hat” (which he wore all day), and mom showed up with uber ymmuy, homemade chocolate cupcakes to share with the guys.

                                    Feliz Compleanos!

Ministry Update…        Everyone is finding opportunities to share a little bit of Jesus.  The kids have each reached out to new students in their classes as friends and ‘mini-mentors’.  Tracey continues to find teachable moments while she teaches.  She has also been developing more relationships with middle and high school girls.  One high school senior has grabbed her heart in particular.  Very sweet and receptive to down to earth conversations.  We’re praying for more opportunities to speak the truth of Jesus into her life and love on her 🙂  For myself, basketball season is under way and along my new assistant coach (Johnsa Phares – former Sheriff deputy from Texas), we’re spending three afternoons a week practicing and playing ball while drawing regular connections to scripture for life lessons.

The guys are passionate about basketball and winning.  Being competitive is not a struggle for me either.  For Johnsa and I however, our love for sport is the vehicle God is using to allow us the priviledge of spending uninterrupted time to share what has changed out lives…what motivates us…and what God is, can and will do in their lives when they follow Him as their Lord and saviour.

“Danilo is getting baptized?!”  Following church this morning we had our second baptistm service in 3 weeks.  Walking through the backdoor of our church to the baptism (aka  10 ft above ground pool on the cement pad which is our church backyard :), I looked to my left and saw Danilo, a 10th grade student I had taught bible to all last year.  Very cool to see him at church and then it struck me…he looked like he was going swimming with his bathing suit & dry-fit shirt.  Wait a Santiago minute…

“Danilo…are you getting baptized today?”.  “Sure am Mr.  I became a Christian last Sunday and asked the pastor shouldn’t I get baptized too?”

My heart jumped out of my chest as our family watch this young man who had been asking so many questions all last year now being baptized.  Two young teenagers from the church invited him to youth group and the Lord worked through them over the summer.  Danilo is a new creation in Christ now and his smile is evidence of it.

Please pray for Danilo.  His mother came to church with him this morning was very supportive.  He is learning so much and has a genuine heart for serving.  Pray for Alfredo & Carlos, two young men who have spent a great deal of time building their friendship and sharing Christ with Danilo.  What makes things more exciting is these guys didn’t do this out of “I have to”.  They did this out of “I want to”.

Please pray for Carter, Amber & Drew and for their testimonies to their friends, most of whom are discovering the real Jesus of the bible at a young age.  Also pray for Tracey and I to not only ask God for opportunities to care for students and share the truth of Christ, but to take each opportunity with excitement.

Spiritual condition of our students at Santiago Christian School is slowly becoming more evident…now in our 2nd year students trust us more and have been sharing more about their lives, their dreams and at times their hurts.  The heart of a child and/or teenager is always in a state of flux so what is exciting today may be forgotten tomorrow.

God has placed in front of us over 600 precious lives who represent a much larger mass of people and influence when you consider siblings, parents and extended family.  Daily small groups, chapels with some out-of-the-box creativity and retreats over the last 4 weeks provided so many face-to-face chats.

Pray for more and more doors to open.  Trust is hard to come by from some of the students.  They have seen alot of things that have created cynicism toward church and God in particular.  We’re in no way frustrated by this.  We expected it.  What we desparately want to see are these students catch the reality of what it means to love and follow a living God.  There is so much for them to discover.

Photo scavener hunt roup at the Hih School Retreat

Canadian Thanksgiving 2012!!  How do a bunch of displaced Canadians celebrate the harvest and be thankful?  Why…taking over tables at a local Cabarette beach restaurant, covering the table with Canadian flags, putting Canada stickers all over themselves, and wearing a goofy hat…that’s how 🙂

DONATIONS:         The roller-coaster ride known as fundraising is about to find it’s groove.  RCE (Resourcing Christian Education  http://www.rce-international.org/) has approved our application and the final paperwork is slated to be and sent electronically Monday morning!   This is a big sense of relief for us.   So much mental and emotional energy has been spent weaving through this little obstacle course the past year +.Fundraising Goals:  Our purpose in fundraising is different from some.  With both of us on staff at Santiago Christian School our basic needs for housing, food and clothing are provided for.  So our approach is centred on three areas:

1.  Ministry Opportunities:  YouthWorker training seminars at churches and area towns are provided free of charge.  Basic expenses like fuel, meals, and materials for attendees are where costs come into play.  Funds raised will be used to take care of these expenses and set aside for more of the same work.

Dominican Youth Workers Conference          March 23, 2013

  • Dream of 300+ volunteer Dominican & Haitian youthworkers from Santiago & the surrounding area with high quality training, resources, networking & food 🙂  We are bringing in a North American trainer (honourarium free but expenses needed), with Dominican & Haitian workers leading seminars, renting a large facility on a major route for easy access, providing free resources in Spanish & Creole, and offering an authentic Dominican lunch + refreshments throughout the day (many of these youthworkers live on less than $250 U.S. per month).
  • We are praying to raise enough funds to cover the costs of the event.  No one on the planning team locally will be receiving any honourariums (volunteer based) as the funding will go straight into subsidizing all aspects of the event.
  • More info coming soon!

Velocidad (Velocity) seminars for churches       As set up with local & area churches

  • Offered for free to churches.  Minimal expenses for copying materials, graphics development, gas and meals will need to be covered

2. Technology Upgrades:   Computers, etc. are available here in the Dominican however the  costs are eye-popping.  All technoloy shipped into the country is subject to an enormous tax on top of the high shipping costs (pay per pound).  We will be looking to raise enough funds to purchase a new laptop summer of 2013 to replace “BERTHA” (old MacBook) who is gaining a mind of her and certain keys have decided to ‘retire’.  Replacement bulbs for the LCD projector are also needed.

3.  Annual Visit Home:  We are blessed that Santiago Christian School will cover the cost of flights for Tracey and I annually.  Putting away pesos to buy the kids tickets is the one personal funding focus that we’ll have.

NOTE: As soon as we have the green light we will send a quick update and let you know how you can be involved.  Thank you to those who have been asking how you can help and also been so patient in the process.

Lee Family Update…          You’ll remember last week connected with you that tradgedy occurred within our school family as a father, missionary and pastor, Mr. Lee was killed in a drive-by-shooting while coming out of church one friday evening.  Following a beautiful funeral in his honour, the difficult decisions still lay ahead for his widow and three young children.

Mrs. Lee has chosen to remain here in Santiago rather than returning to Korea.  The boys have not missed a day of school from what I know and are receiving regular counseling from Ms. Oltoff, our elementary guidance counselor.  They are doing remarkably well as they manoever through the range of emotions and questions roaming through their minds.

Tracey recently had a chance to talk together with Mrs. Lee.   She is coping and naturally feeling overwhelmed.  But her parting words to Tracey as they were saying good-bye were beautiful and descriptive of her heart:

  “Mi Dios es Fuerte”         translated means       “My God is Strong”.

The Policia Nacional have taken the crime seriously which is a good sign (not always the case).  Reports came to us a week ago to say that they had in fact identified the shooter and tracked him down.  And while details are sketchy we do know now that this individual was wanted in 5 other murders locally and following a stand-off with the Policia Nacional, he was subsequently shot and died that day.  Not the end any of us had been hoping for, the Lee Family included.  Their prayers for this man to come to know Christ have been deep and genuine.  In a small token of consolation, they do not fear for their safety knowing he is unable to harm the family any longer.

Continue to prayer for Mrs. Lee and the significant number of pressure filled decisions she continues to filter through…for her and her children as they make sense of life without a husband and father…and for the Haitian people who Mr. Lee loved deeply and gave his life to serve God here in the Dominican Republic.

Moto of the DR

                                                                         Check out these hoof “beats”

 HIT PARADE  (New!!!!)          When something begins to become a natural part of your life, you just have to believe it is probably worth sharing.   Such is the case when it comes to our vehicle.  Maybe it is the colour (black).  Or perhaps the roof rack draws attention.  Then again a car filled with gringo’s does look a little out of place here in Santiago.  In the 14 months we have lived in the DR, we have been run into from in front, the side, and behind a grand total of 9 times.  Considering that 6 of those times our vehicle was completely stationary at a red light or waiting to turn (yes…our turn signal was on), we feel this is quite an accompishment!

On our recent Saturday stress relief trip for a couple hours at the beach, we returned to head home and discovered this (see picture below) had happened.  This, just 3 days after Carter and a friend of ours sat patiently waiting to turn a corner when we felt a ‘THUD’ from behind.  The SUV that bumped us quickly drove away.  Consolation?  His vehicle was black as well so no florescent paint transfer 🙂

14 months divided by 9 ‘love taps’ puts us on track for another….oh, one wreck every 6 weeks at the current pace.  That means….let me grab my calculator.  We should land somewhere in the neighbourhood of 7 more dings and dents by the end of the school year.  Fear not!  We’ll keep you posted 🙂


That’s all for now!  Drop us a line when you have time.  Keep praying for what God is doing and for our crew to be and do whatever He asks.

Until next time…Blessings!

Tim (for the Houck crew)