This summer has been a busy summer for our family. Even though we are still here in the DR, this was our summer of goodbyes. We have said goodbye to close family friends we served with here that returned to the States, said goodbye to our house of the last two years, said goodbye to our dog Sunshine who we had for almost 14 years, and not only said goodbye to the school I served at the last few years, but also to being a classroom Computer Science teacher where I've ministered to students the last 14 years. Goodbyes are hard, but without them, you don't get to the new beginnings that God has in store.
After all the goodbyes, we have now found ourselves with exciting new beginnings.
A new home: God has blessed us by helping us find a new house in a safe neighborhood only minutes away from the community center in Pontezuela where we are serving. Major differences for us have been that every night people are out walking and kids are riding bikes. Our kids have gotten to talk and ride bikes with some of the neighborhood kids already, and we've met more neighbors on our nightly walks then we ever got to meet in our other neighborhood. While electricity and water isn't as consistent as in our other home, we've been able to figure out how to call water trucks when our cistern is low (pic below) and our electric inverter for emergency power definitely gets it's work out here. We are so thankful for this house we get to call home.
New ministries: While we have been involved with Jubilee Community Center and our church ICM the last two years, we now have the opportunity to focus more of our time into working more closely with them and helping the Haitian immigrants here in the DR. Diana and I have had the privilege of launching a Micro-finance ministry where we approve small $300 business loans and help mentor people in the community in starting or growing their businesses. We launched last month and currently have 4 people in the program.
Over the last year, we have helped build a laptop computer lab for the community, and in September will begin offering basic computer skills courses to people in the community. Simply learning how to type and use Microsoft Office can provide skills needed for someone to get a better paying job.
Last semester, Diana and Avery had the opportunity to get together twice a week with girls in the community who were making handicrafts to sell. They plan to get involved in working with, loving and mentoring these girls again as the school year here gets started.
We are also praying through and exploring some other ministry opportunities such as teaching in the prisons. I was able to visit two different prisons over the last two weeks. I had the opportunity to participate in a graduation ceremony for prisoners who had completed Biblical courses, and in a Bible Bowl type competition between two prisons. I was struck by how open and receptive these prisoners were in their classes.
New School: We decided to move the kids to an online school this year. Julian (9th grade), Logan (7th Grade) and Avery (4th grade) are attending Acellus Academy, an online K-12 school out of Kansas City. They love the freedom of getting up and being done by 11am each day and having the afternoon free to hang out and serve at the community center. Logan has enjoyed playing basketball, and Avery has enjoyed soccer, so we are hoping to enroll them in sports beginning in September. The hardest part for them has been losing some of their friends that returned home to the states (a normal part of missionary life), and not having the consistent everyday friendships that in person school provides. Please pray for good, meaningful friendships for the kids.
New Way To Pay The Bills: When Adam left SCS, we stepped out in faith trusting that the Lord would provide for our needs if he was calling us to stay here. We are so thankful for how many of you reached out with monthly and one time gifts. The Lord was also faithful in providing Diana and I the opportunity to find part time contract jobs as adjunct teachers working for online schools in the States...Diana teaching Spanish and me teaching AP Computer Science. These jobs will allow us to work in the morning and have the afternoons free for serving here. Our pay does depend on student enrollment in these classes, and we won't know how many students we will get yet, but we are trusting that between your faithful support and these part time positions that we will have enough. Please be in prayer for enough student enrollments over the next few weeks. Also, we would love for you to prayerfully consider joining our financial support team by clicking here.
big changes are coming....
Big changes are coming for the Clay family. As most of you know, I (Adam) have spent the last 2 years serving as STEM Coordinator at Santiago Christian School while we all have been investing a lot of our free time serving the Haitian immigrant community with Jubilee Community Center. Over the last year, we have felt the Lord leading us to invest more of our time at Jubilee, so as of the end of this month, I will be leaving my position at Santiago Christian School so that we can invest more fully to helping make disciples and break the cycle of poverty among the Haitian immigrants and refugees living in Pontezuela.
Breaking the Cycle of Poverty-"Teach a man to fish"
You have heard the saying "Give a man to fish, and you will feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime." We've spent the last two years being part of the daily kids feeding program, providing bags of food, etc. but as we have worked in the community, one of the biggest things we are feeling lead to do is to not just meet needs, but walk alongside people to help equip them to provide for themselves.
Diana and Avery have spent the last several months meeting twice a week with teenage girls from the community who are making necklaces/jewelry to sell. Through this time, they are able to build relationships with these girls with a focus on making disciples while helping them develop a marketable skill.
Adam, Logan and Julian have been working to help get a computer lab set up for the community center with the plan of introducing classes where young men and women can get marketable skills like photo and video editing, office programs, web design, etc.
Our biggest focus, however, will be on a Micro-loan/Business mentoring program...a program we are launching this week in the community that gives small loans of up to $250 to people in the community and mentors them to help them start their own businesses. Our prayer is that as we walk one on one with people to help them form business plans, budgeting, etc. we would be able to share the love of Christ and make disciples as we help them break the cycle of poverty through their new business.
What does this mean for us?
It means several big changes are coming this month. The biggest for our family is that we will be having to move to a new home. The current home we live in is part of Santiago Christian School housing. Finding a good house here is not easy, but the Lord was faithful in providing a home very close to the community center where we will be serving. We can actually see the community center from the corner of our neighborhood. We start our move on June 23rd.
The next huge change is that we are having to find a new way to support ourselves and stay in country. As many of you know, we didn't do alot of support raising before coming to Santiago as the school paid most of what we needed to live. We have had some very faithful supporters over the last two years which has helped provide us about $600 per month in additional support to help supplement what we made at SCS. Since Adam is leaving Santiago Christian, we will be losing all of that income and health insurance. We are trusting for the Lord to provide for us as we transition to His new calling for us.
While we are losing income, our expenses are going up.
How can you help partner with us?
Pray for our transition: Our family transitioned 2 years ago, and now we are transitioning again. We will be in a new house, new ministries, and the kids will be in new schools.
Pray for Pontezuela: Pray for the people in Pontezuela that God would be made evident among them, and that the cycle of poverty that many are caught in would be broken
Since most of our salary was provided by SCS, our current support level is only $600 per month. Diana and I have found part time positions working for Sevenstar Academy, a Virtual Christian High School out of Dallas which will help replace some of this lost income, but we still need your help to be able to stay longterm in the Dominican Republic.
Working part time, we only need to raise about $2500 more per month. Please prayerfully consider partnering with us. A monthly or one time gift of $25 or $50 can go along way to helping meet our living, housing and ministry needs as we serve here in the DR.
The school year has started back up here in the Dominican Republic, and it definitely looks different. The DR has decided that all schools must be online for the foreseeable future. That means that Logan, Julian and Avery are at home with Diana, while I'm up at Santiago Christian School preparing and teaching online classes. Logan and Avery continue at SCS while Julian is taking classes with Acellus Academy.
While they are at home, we are thankful they do have opportunities to continue to pursue their interests. Logan will continue to do Robotics virtually this year, while Julian will continue to be part of the Crossover Dance Team at Santiago Christian School as well as pick up guitar lessons again. Avery will be also be doing choir with Eagle Singers again this year.
While at home and online was not how we planned to spend our 2nd year overseas, we are still excited about what God's plans are for us this year.
Learning to Serve In A Different Way
The Dominican Republic has a curfew in place at 7pm during the week and 5pm on weekends. This has really shifted the opportunities we have had to serve while here. We spent the last year serving in a poor refugee community called Pontezuela as part of the feeding program where we helped serve meals to children. We loved serving there, but everything changed in March when Covid-19 put a hold on that.
We had to learn to shift, and many of you have joined with us over the next 6 months where just through your donations, we were able to provide enough food to feed over 400 families for a week. We are so thankful for allowing God to use you to partner with us during this time to bring hope to the people here.
Back At The Community Center
As the DR continues to open more, we are able to start shifting again. While we will continue to make bags of food for families, we were thrilled to be able to go back to the Community Center yesterday to serve in the feeding program again. It looked very different, with the meals being served outside, starting a little earlier so we can be home before the 7pm curfew, and everyone wearing masks, but it was awesome to see all the familiar faces(even behind masks) that we had missed so much.
A New Computer Lab For The Community
The next step we are working on with the Community Center in Pontezuela is to set up a computer lab. The Community Center not only hosts a feeding program, but they are also a school for the community, opening doors to children who don't have the opportunity to go to school elsewhere.
It also serves as a place where different job skills classes such as english can take place for the members of the community. With a computer lab, we hope to begin offer basic typing ,office software training and even computer programming classes to help give the people skills they need to get better jobs and break the cycle of poverty. (the pics below are of the school and the Pontezuela community)
If you felt lead, please consider donating to help us start the Computer Lab in Pontezuela. Even a donation of $25 can go along way to helping build the computer lab. You can donate by clicking here
starting year 2 - our new normal
Our last blog entry was March 19th. If you go back and read it, it is very clear that we had no idea what was going to happen across our planet, and how life would change for everyone over the next four months.
Just like in the rest of the world, life changed here in the Dominican Republic. By the end of March, the country entered a state of emergency, and we were under curfew from 5pm-6am every day. Even during the day, you were only supposed to go out to the grocery stores or pharmacies. Videos began emerging of the police trucks driving around the city after curfew and loading up anybody they could find for a night in jail. Trucks with large speakers would drive through the streets announcing that "The Coronavirus is here, and everyone needs to stay inside".
For several weeks, our days consisted of the kids finishing school online, and maybe getting out for a walk around the block. There was a favorite river spot we had in the mountains about an hour away, we were able to go to once, but by the second week of April, the government has closed down even leaving the city. We have no yard, but fortunately there is a small grassy, wooded area about a block away we would take the kids too.
At the same time, the ministries we were plugged into also stopped. The feeding program in the Pontezuela community where we served came to an end, I was no longer on campus at Santiago Christian, and even the small group we hosted in our home stopped. After several weeks of pretty much being trapped inside, we began really asking God why he had us here. Did he really call us to stay in the Dominican Republic just to sit in our home?
As the Dominican Republic shut down, with only gas stations, pharmacies, take out restaurants and grocery stores open we began to hear of so many people losing their jobs. Reports of Haitian and Venezuelan refugees who couldn't feed their families and were being kicked out of their home began to emerge. These people relied on day labor(house cleaning, construction, yard work, street vending) and only earned a few dollars a day. The Dominican government put together a program to help feed their citizens that needed it, but it was hard to get, and many like the refugees did not even qualify.
The next few weeks, God began to provide through you guys the funds to help begin making food bags. Over the next 6 weeks, we made and help hand out enough to feed over 300 families. The local, small grocery store we shopped at recognized us when we walked in as the people buying tons of food each week and would get their workers to pitch in helping us get all the food. By the end, their workers were even helping us sort and make the bags of food we would deliver. In such a hard time for the country, we were able to not only feed families, but bless a local business and allow them to participate in what God was doing. For those that partnered with us during this time, I want to say thank you for allowing God to use you to impact those around Him.
For about 6 weeks, until the beginning of June, this was our life: school, walks around the block, and making and delivering bags. While we still felt trapped in our house, having to be off the streets by 5pm, we at least felt we knew why God had called us to stay.
At the beginning of June, things slowly started opening up. Borders were still closed, but businesses could open. Curfew was changed to 7pm during the week. It's weird, but those two extra hours made a huge difference(we could actually order dinner instead of always having to cook at home) The kids got their first haircut in months, we had our gardener come and cut our small overgrown grassy area. We still were making bags of food, but were excited by the fact that alot of people who were struggling were slowly able to go back to work. We even got to go back to taking daytrips back to the beautiful mountains and waterfalls again. Our sights were set on hoping to be able to visit the US if borders would open. On July 1st, the State of Emergency ended, borders opened, and for the first time since March, there was no more curfew!!
As things opened up here, things seemed to be getting worse in Texas. We decided to head home anyways on July 8th and spent two weeks visiting family. While alot was closed, we did enjoy visiting some of our favorite eating spots like Rosas, Chik-fil-a, and OC Burgers. It was a rejuvenating time for us to see both my and Diana's family, including a trip to Washington DC and Virginia where we got to visit the Lincoln Memorial on the way to meeting our newest nephew. We were so thankful for the time we had back in the States.
Another State of Emergency and a Tropical Storm
Half way through our trip, we found out that the Dominican Republic was going to be entering another State of Emergency. We prayed that we would not get locked out of the country as we awaited what that meant. We returned on July 21st, the first day of a new curfew. We were so thankful our only difficulty was finding an approved driver that had the papers to drive after curfew that could pick us up from the airport at 2am.
We've been back here a week, and as I am writing this, we are in the middle of Tropical Storm Isaias. Even that, we are thankful, has been only mostly rain and some wind. Yesterday marked one year of living in the DR.
We now are eagerly awaiting and excited for what God has in store for us. So much has changed this year. Through the ups and downs and the unexpected, God has been faithful. We are so thankful for those who have walked with us and supported us through prayer, financially, friendship and love over this last year. You each mean so much to us, and we are thankful God has placed yall in our life as we continue to serve Him here in the DR.
Hello friends and family! It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything about our lives. The last few months have been, well, interesting, and hard at times, but we feel the Lord’s presence and guidance. In the good times, and the hard times, He is faithful! So much has happened, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it.
We’ve been living here in the DR for 8 months now. I still can’t believe we’ve been here for more than half a year already! Here’s what life looks like for us after 8 months of being here:
Our family has been plagued by much sickness since we’ve moved to the Dominican Republic. It’s been a constant battle! Everything from fevers, to infections, stomach problems, even parasites! I struggled with terrible asthma from December through February. But today, I am glad to report that we are all healthy. I’m sure it’s just our bodies adjusting to our new surroundings, but please continue to be in prayer for our health.
With the Coronavirus sweeping the entire world, things have definitely gotten a lot more interesting around here. The president of the Dominican Republic announced Tuesday that our country is in lockdown for 15 days. Only the essentials will be open, like hospitals, gas stations, and supermarkets. Flights are being cancelled. Cruise ships will not be allowed to dock. Schools are closed, including Santiago Christian School. So this means the kids are doing “distance learning/homeschooling” starting now through April 27th. We have plenty of food and water in the house, so we’ll be able to ride this out. My concern is for those that cannot go to work, and desperately need the steady income to buy food and pay rent. Please join us in praying for those who will go through financial hardship, those who will not be getting paid for the next few weeks, for those that count on the lunch at school for food, and for those that will be stuck at home more when home is not a safe place. Our hearts are heavy, but I am hopeful that the Lord will bring something good out of this chaos.
Our family has been learning how to navigate a new culture and a new country. Even though Adam and I know Spanish, understanding people has not been easy. Dominicans talk very fast, and often leave out important sounds. I don’t hear a lot of R’s or S’s. We’re also used to Mexican Spanish, which is different from Dominican Spanish. But we’ve been learning new words and phrases since moving here and even though it’s still hard to understand people at times, I’ve found that most people will slow down for us.
The children are learning Spanish little by little. They still can’t have a conversation with anyone, but they are learning the basics. I know they’ll continue to learn more and more as time goes by.
Avery and Logan have made some friends at school, which is a huge answer to prayer! Avery says she has “several best friends” and Logan has found a great group of boys he hangs out with every day. Their teachers have great things to say about how well they’ve transitioned, which is also an answer to prayer. This semester Avery joined the Art Club, which is her new passion. It’s something she can continue to do while we’re at home for the next few weeks. Logan joined the middle school Robotics team at SCS. It’s more challenging than elementary Robotics, but he was so ready. We were all disappointed that their last competition got cancelled, but we understand it’s the best thing to do under the circumstances.
Julian continues with homeschooling, only now for the past few days, his brother and sister have joined him. It’s been stressful, but I know soon, we’ll get the hang of it. We are trying to incorporate more ways of helping Julian be more independent. He’s doing more chores around the house. I’m helping him pay more attention to how much things cost so he’ll understand money and finances. The move to the DR has been good for him. He tries to talk to people using the little Spanish that he knows, and people usually respond by teaching him new Spanish words and phrases.
Julian joined the Xover (Crossover) Dance Group this semester. He’s never danced before, but since he loves music, I knew he would enjoy being a part of it. We are hoping he can continue after the quarantine but until then, he can practice at home. Julian has also been taking guitar lessons. He’s learned 3 worship songs so far! He’s been practicing with his guitar every single day, and he’s getting pretty good at it!
As many of you know, my brother and his family also moved here to the Dominican Republic at the same time we did. My brother and Adam work at the same school, so the kids have their dad and their uncle to watch over them. They also live 5 minutes down the road from us, which is very convenient, and we see each other often. Having them here has made this transition smoother. I think it’s incredible we get to walk this experience together alongside them.
Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, our desire has been to know how we can serve and understand the needs of the Pontezuela community. We want to thank you all for praying for us as we figure out what the Lord has for them and how we fit into their story. We are currently praying about ways to help them with both immediate needs as well as long term needs. Right now, we have committed to serving at ICM (Comunidad Multicultural) in their feeding program. This community center is in the heart of a Haitian refugee community. Their needs are many, and there are many opportunities to serve. Serving in the feeding program is something even the kids can do, so it’s perfect for our family. We have been building relationships, which is great, but not always easy. Coming from a different culture, country, socio-economic status, and language can get in the way of understanding one another. Please pray that we continue to make connections with the people here. The feeding program will continue to serve through the quarantine, because it’s such a huge need, and often the only meal they get. But it will look differently from now on, until things return to “normal”.
Please pray for the people of this community. Many have unstable jobs, or depend on selling food on the street to feed their family. Last night, we attended a leadership meeting where we discussed our concerns about the effect this virus and quarantine will have on the people in the community. There were many people who came to mind, like a 3 year old little girl being raised by her great-grandmother, and how this will affect them; or the family that lives in a one room house. These are real concerns, and real needs. With this virus spreading, and this quarantine in place, our prayers are that, as the body of Christ, we can continue to show love and support to those who desperately need it most. May we not turn a blind eye from the harsh realities of people's circumstances. This is the time to become the hands and feet of Jesus!
As far as helping with long term needs, we are currently praying about what that looks like. We have nothing to report yet, but I recognize the Lord is stirring something in our hearts and in the hearts of others as well. We are excited to see what the Lord is up to, and how we fit into that plan.
We’ve also started mentoring a few people from our church community. We have been meeting in our home every 2 weeks to eat, share, and pray. It’s been wonderful getting to know them! Our meetings will have to go virtual for the next few weeks, which is a new challenge, but it can be done. I am so thankful for technology!! Please pray for this amazing group. They are hungry for more of Jesus and have a true desire to walk in obedience to Him. Pray that we be faithful to encourage them, and to point them to Jesus.
Thank you all for your support! We love and need your prayers and encouraging words. Keep ‘em coming! Let us know how we can be praying for you as well.
If this is your first visit to our blog and want to know more about what we are doing, check out our main page here
One of the things we are going to try to do besides send out our facebook updates, is put together a monthly blog to show a little deeper about our life here in the DR than a facebook post might show. This will be our recap of August.
It's been one month since we arrived in the Dominican Republic. It seems like so much more time than that as so much has happened as we've begun the process of settling into our new home. We've had our share of trials and difficulties, but at the same time lots of blessings and joy.
The morning we left for Santiago, I had my carry-on suitcase stolen at the airport check in counter in San Antonio, Texas. Besides clothing, we lost several hundred dollars of electronics that we had packed in the carry-on for safe keeping. By the time I got on the plane to leave San Antonio, I knew I had to make a choice of whether to let this sour the beginning of our journey to the DR, or whether I would trust God and "consider it pure joy" when I faced this trial. I decided that a stolen suitcase wasn't going to rob my joy, so we set off with 8 suitcases, 3 carryon suitcases, 5 backpacks, 5 family members and our dog to our new home in the Dominican Republic.
The Trials Hit
The lost suitcase was just the beginning. We arrived to our car we had purchased breaking down 3 days after we arrived. Diana and Avery both came down with urinary track infections, and I was bitten by what we think was a poisonous spider which I'm still trying to heal from 3 weeks later. This was all in the first two weeks. Just yesterday, Avery woke up running a fever. You can say it's been an eventful month for us, but we have decided that our trials will not define our time here, and through these are spirits are high and each day we are thankful for this great country God has lead us to.
Whether it is ordering our drinking water from the colmados, heading to the local propane station to fill our car with propane gas, living with no central air or washing our dishes in cold water, there have been lots of changes. One of the biggest is probably the driving here. I actually compare it to driving in Mario Kart. I knew there was a reason I played so many hours growing up...I was developing a skill. Just like in Mario Kart, you try to get where you are going, and lanes and rules of the road don't really matter, just avoid the other cars by getting around them however you can...it's also ok to pull out in front of them trusting they will stop for you.
God has blessed us with two vehicles, a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe and a 2006 Ford Explorer. Both run on propane which is the cheaper fuel here.
The kids have gotten used to turning on our small hot water heater before shower times and turning on their room AC units before bedtime. Being a Caribbean nation, the weather is pretty hot, especially in August, so having AC to sleep with is a blessing. The kids have decided to all sleep in the same room, Avery's room, for the first month since electricity is so expensive so we only have to use one AC. We look forward to going to our bedrooms and turning on the AC at night to escape the heat of the day. Things are different, but we have begun to settle into our new normal.
Our New Normal
School has started for our family, and with that comes routine. I've been busy as STEM Coordinator for Santiago Christian School and heading up CREATE Robotics for the Dominican Republic. It's been good to make connections with schools from across the DR, and excited about what God has in store.
Logan and Avery started school at SCS last week which they are enjoying. Logan has joined the school soccer team and Avery will be joining choir. Julian is being homeschooled and will be starting guitar lessons and will be part of the keyboard club at SCS. Diana spends the mornings working for VIPKID before homeschooling Julian and getting our house put in order.
With school starting, we've really been able to settle into a good routine for our family.
Many who have followed our story know how God supernaturally connected us with Stanley Phillipe, a missionary from Haiti who has been called to pour into a Haitian refugee community in Santiago called Pontezuela. We knew when we left that God had called us to engage the needs of the city, and still feel this calling is in Pontezuela. We are taking the first few months to walk alongside Stanley and his church to hear where exactly God wants us to serve. There are so many needs, it would be easy to just jump in, but we truly want to seek God's purpose and direction for us and not just get busy serving. The church community built a community center where a school meets, english classes take place, a feeding program happens, as well as many other things. Our plan is to spend time in the community of Pontezuela praying and building relationships, asking God to make clear the doors he wants us to step through. It's a huge blessing to have the support and community of Stanley and Iglesia Multicultural as we seek God.
These are prayer requests God has answered already
We appreciate your prayers and love having you on the journey with us,
Adam, Diana, Julian, Logan, and Avery
**Below are some pics of our first month here**
Adam, Diana, Julian, Logan and Avery Clay. Our journey of following Jesus wherever he leads us. Currently serving in the Dominican Republic