Saying Good-bye to a Wonderful Young Woman

You may have heard by now about the difficult events of this past week. We were surprised and pleased to hear this made the news in cities across Canada and in the United States. The city of Philadelphia in particular.

Somewhere between 10 – 11 pm last Tuesday evening (May 14th), one of the most gregarious teachers you would ever have the priviledge to meet, Ms. Megan Garven, died in a car accident.  Megan was special in many ways.  Specifically, she was Amber’s 3rd grade teacher and Carter’s YoungLife leader.

NBC Philadelphia News Cast Report:http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Accident-Kills-Philly-Born-Teacher-at-Dominican-School–207568191.html

Amber with Ms. Garven the afternoon of the accident

Amber with Ms. Garven for birthday ice cream the after school before the accident

Two passengers traveling with Megan, Audrey Hickman (1st grade teacher at SCS), and Gabriella Suriel (High School student – 11th grade) remain in the hospital as I write this and are recovering.  Audrey has a broken clavical, fractured pelvis and ribs and will be mostly immobile as she heals up.  Gabriella has a fractured vertabrae in her neck and remains in ICU under careful watch though is expected to heal.

They ladies were dropping friends off after enjoying some late evening ice cream following Fine Arts Night on our campus.  Megan, was the life of every party and passioante about two things…”Loving Jesus and Having Fun” 🙂  She was 24 years old.

I’d like to ask you to pray for Megan’s parents, Cam & Mary, and her three brothers.  Cam pastored 23 years in the same church and Mary has taught for many years and was an inspiration to Megan.  Her oldest brother is getting married in August, youngest brother graduates high school in a few weeks, and middle brother is wrapping up his 2nd year at the same college Megan attended.

Cam & Mary are so proud of their daughter and have no regrets of her coming to the DR to teach and live Jesus out loud.  Our loss is heaven’s gain.  The road ahead is going to be bumpy for many staff and students as they grieve but the legacy Megan created in her short time here is one we will remember for years to come.

Love you Megan!

"The World wants you to be a hero...but I want you to be a hero of God"   Megan's moto to class 3B

“The World wants you to be a hero…but I want you to be a hero of God”                                                                                                                                    Megan’s moto to class 3B

 

 

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Expect the Unexpected

It was the craziest experience.  One that I doubt I would have absorbed the way I did had I not been there in person.  We loaded 50 some rowdy 2nd graders on two buses and traveled to Primera Iglesia Bautista Central de Santiago (Central 1st Baptist Church of Santiago).  This is the same church where the Grace Mission team in February installed electricity through the church’s school.  FYI Grace Mission team…the kids sent out a huge cheer for you!!

Luggin them flip flops!

Luggin them flip flops!

We came loaded with 3 stuffed garbage bags filled with new flip flops.  The students actually brought in over 400 pair during the drive and we brought 100 new pairs to Primera Iglesia. Shouts, hoots, hollars and lots of jumping and clapping from our new friends filled the air.  But that wasn’t the crazy part.

Two different worlds meet

Two different world’s meet

What was crazy about this?

That some of the poorest children in the country were sitting with and beside some of the wealthiest kids in the country.

In the DR…that just doesn’t happen too often.  God brought two groups of kids together using something as simple as a pair of flip flops. It was beautiful, eye-opening, and for some students the first time each had met and spent time with other kids their own age from a completely different economic level.  We’re praying and working toward this becoming an everyday reality.  Diversity in the kingdom of Christ instead of economic division.                                                         Sweet!!

Oh, yeah…I’m pretty sure they were stoked to receive their new shoes 🙂

Didn’t See This One Coming!       These are priceless moments you just don’t forget.  Much like another recent event.  Our staff at Santiago Christian School (SCS) is what you would call a Mosaic.  A little of this and a little of that and whalla!  Students see Dominicans, Haitians, Americans & Canadians teaching & sharing Jesus with them and think, yep…that’s what they’re supposed to do.  Their contact with office staff is often limited to an “I need” basis.

Sandra is one of the backbones of our ministry here.  Born and raised in the DR she and her family are mainstays at SCS.  Students see her around.  Parents connect with her for various logistical questions.  Staff know she hands out the cheques 🙂  What many were not aware of though certainly are know is the rich and dramatic family legacy she comes from.

Sandra Perdomo sharing her life & testimony

Sandra sharing her life & testimony with 200 students.

Her 7 uncles along with her mother were imprisoned under suspicion of involvement in the assisination of the former DR Dictator “Trujillo” in 1961.  Her mother, while imprisoned heard her brothers being tortured and eventually 6 of them being killed.  The link below details some of the assisination story from a first-hand account of one man who went into hiding to save his own life.    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-13560512 Her mother, came to know and follow Jesus when Sandra was young.  Bible studies were held at her home and she quickly began hearing about and watching what a changed life in Jesus is all about.  After she married, she asked Jesus to be her Lord and it has transformed her life, marriage and work/ministry.  It’s a humbling priviledge to work alongside such a gracious and amazing woman. Things That Make You Go, Huh?

Siberian Husky Club of the DR?

Siberian Husky Club of the DR?

PRAYER’s rising around the campus!

I believe I shared with you earlier that one of our 11th grade students, Daniel Blanco is currently living in New York city waiting for a heart transplant.  He and his mother are living in an apartment lent to them by a very generous family.  After multiple ACL surgeries and pneumonia over the past couple of years Daniel’s body is already pretty weak.  His heart problems are nothing new however the severity of his need has elevated to fairly critical.

Daniel will be living in New York until a donor can be found.  He’ll then be there for approximately one more year after that to ensure his body accepts the new organ and that he is healthy enought to travel & return home.  Fundraisers like bake sales, “jean” days on campus (i.e. getting to wear jeans to school is a really, really big deal here), and even a number of students and staff running in a 10K race around the city of Santiago are ongoing.

So to add to this scenario, Daniel’s younger brother Jose (8th grade) found himself in the hospital 6 weeks ago after breaking his femur bone close to the hip joint.  He is recovering very well.  We’ve been taking middle school students to his apartment daily at lunch to visit and pray for him.  I’m guessing he’s not so pumped about the homework we bring him though 🙂

High School praying for Daniel - so awesome!
High School praying for Daniel – so awesome!

All of this has brought a new sense of urgency to the prayer life of our campus.  Kids who could have cared less about praying…and trust me, there are many of them…are asking questions and willing to take some “spiritual risks”.  We are able to talk even more openly about the perfect hand of God navigating us through life’s ups & downs, ultimately to himself.

“Pigging Out” in the DR

Don't knock it 'til you try it!

DEEP WATER Baptism Late March brought a chance to do something we rarely get to do…spend time with extended family.  Marv & Tana Janzen (Tracey’s sister) & their family trekked to the DR and it was awesome hanging out with them.   Beach time, traveling through the mountains and showing them some of life here in the DR was so fun.  We’re so thankful for the effort they made to come and the time we could spend.  The cousins picked up where they left off last summer.  And even though everyone is getting older & taller (well, the kids are at least), cousins will be cousins and the rukus was a kick. It was also a honour to be able to be part of our oldest nephew’s baptism.  Thomas, soon to graduate from high school in Brandon, Manitoba, and I (Tim) walked into the Caribbean ocean and after some brief reflection proceeded to baptize him.  Now, I have to tell you, Thomas is probably the beefiest (i.e. strong) dude I’ve ever baptized.  That mixed with the cool scenary and ocean waves make it an experience never to forget. Good on you Thomas!  We’re so proud of you and cannot wait to be at your graduation this June!  You rock!!

MOTO’s of the DR

Burned out car at Police Station

Burned out car at Police Station

MLB player or "don't ask"

MLB player or “don’t ask”

Pictures Say a Thousand Words…Here are a few family pics to give you an insider’s look into the “Houck Family Adventure” this past month.   As things go we are thanking the Lord for the fact that in the almost 2 years we’ve been here not one of us has needed to see a doctor or visit a hospital.  The odd stomach flu, viruses, colds (yep…we get them), and migranes flow through but nothing serious. Tracey & the kids are doing very well.  School year here wraps up June 5th and then another Grace Mission Team arrives from Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Roadside Shoppin

Roadside Shoppin

Sea Monster? of Las Terranas Beach

Sea Monster? of Las Terranas Beach

LEGO my GECKO (found in Amber & Drew's room)

LEGO my GECKO (in Amber & Drew’s room)

Rrrrrrrgh!  We're da "Houck Pirates of the Caribbean" matey's!

Rrrrrrrgh! We’re da “Houck Pirates of the Caribbean” matey’s!

Love ya’ll!  Blessings until next update 🙂