My Normal is Someone’s Crazy!
My regular day starts much like everyone else's - to the sound of the alarm clock! I get up, walk around the house and turn off the outside lights, plug in the fans, turn on the internet box, turn the house alarm system off and make cup of tea and read my bible. I like to have a little time alone before the activity of the day consumes me.
I then get my set of keys and unlock the doors and bars. every window and door has bars. I go for a walk around the outside of the house to make sure the guard dogs were not poisoned during the night. I check the cistern and make sure we will have water to shower and clean with that day. I check the pump that takes the water from ground level to the roof holding tank and make sure it is working properly, this is important because when the power goes off- which it does everyday at some point- there needs to be water. I then check to make sure the guard dogs have water and are fed. I also look around the yard for any fruit that may be ready to be picked- mangos, avocados, cherries, oranges or coconuts-it is nice to find a little blessing to start the day.
It is hard to believe that we have been living in the Dominican Republic for 12 years. We arrived with 3 small children and now two of them have returned to Canada for university. Most people think of beaches and resorts when they think of the Dominican but we are located in a small town where there is no tourism. We are one of the very few foreigners that live here. I like it that way, the real culture, in a normal community without the “vacation-here for pleasure” mind set that destroys so many communities and families close to the resorts.
Each day brings something new- the routine is there is no routine. You just never know what the day will bring. In the morning I home school my daughter. I am not a homeschool mom by choice- but there isn’t another option for her here- up to grade six she attended a Spanish school and was an honours student. But when we were in Canada on furlough she went to public school and they put her in an ESL class. So now we are working with her to bring her English up to grade level so she can complete her high school courses in English.
Our house has a steady stream of people coming and going each day as office staff arrive for instructions, pastors pass by with requests for prayer or materials for ministry. If it is Monday, Freddy the shoe shine boy, my daughter’s childhood friend, stops by for a meal and something to drink as he looks for work in the area.
Once lunch time comes everything stops from 12 to 2 pm. At first this drove me crazy to have this long break in the middle of the day. But now we enjoy the large mid day meal of rice, beans and chicken. It is normally very hot and humid so it is too hot to continue to work during these hours. Once the hottest time of the day has passed we spend the remainder of the day in one of many ways. Sometimes we visit pastors in their homes, or we check on the construction of the homes being built for needy families, or preparing for a conference or seminary that is coming up. Other times we prepare for a team to arrive from Canada.
But for me I love to plan ministry activities for the pastor’s wives and women pastors. Often times they live in very remote areas with very little resources and support. Each month there is something going on! I hold either bible study, a fun girls night with great food and games, or an outreach in their community. One pastor, Marianne, who pastors a little church in the hills outside Nagua, is a great example of the exceptional women of the Dominican Republic. Her church was holding services under a piece of tin outside her house. We came along side her and built a church building and she ran with this new ministry tool. She was holding retreats and activities in her community and it has been forever changed. We saw her one day in the market and she ran over to us-beaming with joy- 30 new people were coming to church now because of the miracle of the new building!!! She now attends our Bible Seminary and continues to reach her community for Christ! Simple tools put in the hands of pastors to help them complete their vision!
We often enjoy a Canadian supper of something that reminds us of home, pizza, tacos or pork chops and potatoes. In the evenings there is very little to do outside of ministry. We are usually visiting a local church or involved a unity service. When there isn’t one -you are at home. There is nothing open at night here outside of restaurants and bars. So we often spend time working on administration for the ministry, or creating family times. We can’t leave our home empty so we can not just decide to go out at any time. If we do need to go out we have to have an armed guard come to watch the house. Two days after arrived back from our furlough our daughter Courtney was outside with her friends, catching up after being away for two months. The we heard a shot right out side our house. We ran to see what was happening. We opened our gate to find our neighbour struggling to take a rifle from a older drunk man who had shot himself in the foot. The children of the neighbourhood had run and hid, except one little boy who was frozen in fear in the middle of the street. Parents came out, the man was taken to the hospital and we all returned to our homes realizing it was only God’s protection that a child was not harmed. So each day we gather together and pray as a family- for God’s continued provision and protection.
Some Relevant Statistics:
Approximately 30,000 children and adolescent are involved in the sex industry. Two thirds of those are girls. The main reason for entering prostitution is to support themselves, their children or their family.
Teenage pregnancy within the Dominican Republic is high with 13.3% of fifteen to nineteen year olds becoming mothers and 403 babies born to girls under fifteen in 2003. With little opportunities to earn money, girls enter prostitution.
According to a study by Dominican Today, out of 3,400 women, approximately 44% have been victims of domestic violence, with domestic violence defined as both physical and nonphysical abuse.