Thoughts

Krista and I have been talking a lot lately about what we would like to share on our blog lately but we really haven’t thought of exactly what to talk about. It’s not because there isn’t much going on because as many of know there is always a lot going on here. So often I have talked about different programs we have going on and have talked about work teams… etc. but we don’t always want to talk about those things.

The only thing I wanted to share today was about how we are doing. Honestly, God has truly blessed our ministry and the our first 13 months here. Krista and I feel settled for really the first time. There have been different “speed bumps” that slowed us down along the way., but we feel like we understand what we are doing, as a whole, even if daily life throws us so curve balls. People are starting to really respect us and we have started to form some good relationships. We have goals for the year and we are taking steps to attain those goals. I really feel like this is going to be an incredible year for us and JDV and we are praying for big BIG things.

All that being said, there are still challenges and there are still times when we really, truly, miss our past lives and the friends and family we haven’t seen in over a year. What we don’t do is allow those thoughts to outweigh the good we feel is happening. Good perspective is a game changer and we know that.

This may be short but I wanted to share these brief thoughts with you. We’re just trying to live everyday one day at a time.

We thank God everyday for all of our supporters who make our life here possible. We hope that we get a chance to see when we go on furlough in April. I pray God bless you all for blessing us.

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Solar Power

This week we installed our first solar panels here at JDV. Special thanks to the donors who helped make it possible. Many of you have probably heard me talk about it before but power in Jamaica costs quite a bit more than it does in the states. We would much rather use the money to employ someone than to pay for power. So we are hoping to add more an more panels throughout the year. It is very easy, and very cost effective thanks to a very nice company out of Kingston. We can actually get these panels cheaper than we can find them in the states! Check out a quick video I recorded for more details.

If you want to help us install more panels here at JDV please email me at benbeukema@gmail.com

Ben

DSC_6079

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Is it really 2013 already???

I think it’s true what they say… “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Although I think that time flies no matter what.

It’s hard to believe that it is 2013. Saturday will mark 1 year that Krista and I have been here in Jamaica. When I stop and think about it, sometimes it seems like we have been here for years and sometimes it seems like just yesterday we were just living life in Knoxville. Every January CCCD has a large annual meeting to talk about what has happened over the last year in all of CCCD, and because of this meeting I have had to put together a report of all that has happened here in the past year. Our primary goal of the first year here was to develop relationships. Those relationships will help us move forward with our ministry here. We have focused on that but so much else has happened as well. We have had 18 teams here doing a variety of work. I have preached at church a number of times, which is something that I thought I would never do. We have worked to support the people here by providing more work and increasing production on both the farm as well as the factory. We have seen people come and go. There has been transitions of titles and positions and through it all we have felt God leading us. Throughout this entire year we have felt God preparing us for future work here. We know that God has called us to be here for more than 2 years. If we were only going to stay here for 2 years we would be half way done already! I feel like our work is just beginning.

For more about our personal ministry as a whole, check out our latest newsletter for a month by month recount of what happened.

click here for the December 2012 Newsletter

Coming up in 2013

JDV will host, at this point, 22 teams. That is the most teams in a number of years. Teams bring work, workers, and funds to move forward. We will be working on the new CRC building primarily with more road work to do as well.

Krista and I will be heading home in April and early May. We will be using that time to visit both Tennessee as well as Michigan. We are looking forward to seeing all of our family and friends and to worship with our home church, Faith Promise, again. We, unfortunately, will be trying to raise some more support to help keep us down here. We have lost a number of large donors and know that we really need to add some more support to help us as we minister here.

Much of what I have been doing is focus on the business side of JDV. My hope is to increase business enough this year to employ the 3 main workers here 5 days a week and to add 2 more part time jobs. If the farm can continue to be profitable we should be able to easily do that. My goal for 2014, that’s right 2014, is to have JDV self-supported by all of the different businesses we have here.

We will be adding solar power later this month. We hope to cut our electricity bills in half by the end of the year. We have been conserving our power but due to fees our bills continue to rise. Power costs 3-5 times what it does in the states and we would much rather use that money to support the work we are doing here at JDV.

We want, and need, to put a roof on our new conference and retreat center. That building means a lot for the future of JDV. We have the material money raised at this point but with our roof team dropping we are needing to raise additional funds to have a company here in Jamaica put the roof on.

Krista will have her own classroom this semester focusing on reading. It’s a big job but she is excited to have her own classroom and not to be substitute teaching again.

Throughout all that is happening we plan to support the church and Pastor Damian even more than we have last year. The church needs to be the cornerstone of what we do here and anything we can do we know we need to.

Please pray over this year. I truly believe that God wants big things to happen if we would only put our trust and faith in him. I’m excited for the new year and can’t wait to see what God has planned.

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Merry Christmas

Christmas Card

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One Semester, Many Blessings

Greetings everyone! It seems like I (Krista) haven’t written a post in so long. It’s been a great fall (though it doesn’t actually feel like fall, as I’m currently wearing shorts and a t-shirt!). The school year didn’t start out quite like I planned, but it has turned into a great blessing.

I had initially planned on beginning to teach a reading lab class in my new classroom this fall. However, the need for a substitute arose for a teacher who would be gone for three months, so I put my plans on hold and took over her classes this fall. Her (high school) classes included different levels of health, communications, social studies, language, and reading. I hadn’t taught some of these subjects before, so the students were very patient and gracious with me as I fumbled through certain topics such as the history of Jamaica’s national symbols and the difference between such and such STD from such and such STD. Needless to say, I learned a lot myself! 🙂

While it wasn’t what I had planned for this semester, the time I had to develop relationships with these students and the other high school teachers was priceless. Now, I will get to invite them into my reading class next semester with a relational foundation and rapport. And I think I finally know all 50-some of their names (and sign names)! Next semester I’ll have to tackle learning all of the little ones’ names, since they’ll be coming to the reading lab, too. 🙂 I am looking forward to helping out with the Christmas production this Friday and to finding out which teacher is my “Cheerie” (like a Secret Santa).

I have also kept busy taking a couple classes of my own this semester. One of my classes was about teaching strategies for English Language Learners, and the other was about research in education. I have always enjoyed learning and felt that God wanted me to continue my professional development while here in Jamaica. I have already learned so much that I can apply to my classroom and teaching strategies. Next semester I will be implementing a research project that I designed this fall on deaf literacy and writing skills. The goal is to employ some new strategies to help the students become better writers. It’s exciting that what I am learning can benefit my students right away!

God is so good and faithful. And He is my daily strength, for sure. I am so thankful for the opportunity He has given me to teach at Knockpatrick and for using me there. Hopefully next week I can post some pictures of the Christmas program!

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Sunday Mornings…

Hello Friends! I hope that you are all doing well. I want to start sharing some more post about some of the things going on here at JDV. I figured what better way to share than with pictures. This first post will walk you through what a normal Sunday looks like for me.

Every other Sunday I responsible for driving to town (Mandeville) and picking up a group of deaf in the center of town.

 

Here is a video clip from the drive. Normally there isn’t much traffic on a Sunday morning.

– There is a car coming from the opposite direction at the end of the movie… Don’t jump!

Once I get to the center of town people pile in. You’ll be surprise how many people you can fit into a vehicle.

 

I drop off the deaf at church and then head to pick up Donovan, our night watchman, and his family.

 

Donovan’s Kids…

 

First thing that the kids do is head to the playground that a team brought from the states.

This past Sunday I got to help help Krista in Sunday school. Maybe it’s me but the kids are adorable.

Krista doing her thing!

Craft Time!

The main church service.

After church is finished I bring all the deaf and our night watchman back to the place where I picked them up. I’m not always excited to get up and drive on Sunday’s but I love being able to help bring people to church.

 

 

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Raise the Roof fundraiser

Hey Everyone! Here is a really cool post about a fundraiser a church in North Carolina did to help us get a roof on our CRC building. We still short of what is needed but we are making progress and getting closer each day. Thanks Williamson Chapel!!!

Jamaica ‘Raise the Roof’ Project

Greetings and a word of admonition for all of the Partners of CCCD and the Jamaica Deaf Village. While many of you have been at this a lot longer, we at Williamson’s Chapel UMC in Mooresville, NC began our partnership with CCCD 5, almost 6 years ago now. Our immediate focus was in helping with the construction of the CRC building which many of you have also taken an active part in constructing. As you all know, the progress on that building had to be put on ‘hold’ in the past year while the $35,000 to put on the roof was secured. Half of that amount was already raised by CCCD, and in an effort to help move that process forward, we at WCUMC decided to try and help raise a little of that money right here at home.

One of our team members conceived the idea of tying our church’s Centennial Celebration to our passion for this project. Due to time constraints & weather, we did not get as many participants as we had hoped. However, the good news is that three weeks ago, 5 members of our church got together pledging to play at least ‘100  holes’ of golf in one day as a “Raise the Roof” benefit. We secured individual pledges from church members, families & friends for a specific amount for each hole played. (i.e. $.50/hole, $1.00/hole). Letters were sent out via e-mail asking for support, both of prayer and money. All of the proceeds, of course, will be going directly to the cost of the CRC roof. Three of our guys ended up playing 50 holes each, while 2 gals played 25 holes each. Total: 200 holes of golf played in one day. The great news is that we are going to be sending a check in the amount of around $5000.00 to CCCD!

If  your church group has been a part of helping build the CRC at the Jamaican Deaf Village, why don’t you come up with a creative way of helping us ‘Raise the Roof’. If 5 of us could do this much, I can only imagine what would happen if everyone did a little. We can’t wait to see how God will work to help us get this goal accomplished. Go for it and be sure to let us know how well you do!!

Blessings,

Nancy & Harry Gekas

Michael York

Williamson’s Chapel UMC, Mooresville, NC

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Hurricane Sandy

Hello friends! As I write this most of the clouds have pasted and the sun is beginning to shine. God has protected this place for sure. I felt a peace about the storm yesterday as more and more people message that they were praying for us. I took a walk around campus this morning and everyone is doing well and there wasn’t any real damage to any of the buildings or homes here. The only damage we had was to a water catchment that we use to give water to the cows and it was very old.

Thank you for your prayers! I really do believe that God protected this place. Lots of other areas were without power for more than a day and we had power for much of the day yesterday and the longest time that it was off was only 2 hours. Please continue to pray for the island as 70% of Jamaica was still without power this morning. The Kingston campus is also without power this morning.

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Sandy, Sandy, Let me be!

Hey Friends,

I wanted to get this out before power goes out here. Right now as I write this it is very much the calm before the storm. It has rained on and off today but really hasn’t rained much. If you have been watching the weather in the last couple of days you will see that we have a tropical storm, Sandy, coming right towards us. By the time it reaches us it should be a category 1 storm. We feel prepared here. Everything is buttoned down, we have food, and we have water. We are going to wait out the storm. We should be seeing rain this evening with the bulk of the weather coming tomorrow. I am very thankful not to have a team here. There is one in Kingston and I pray that they will make it through and things will be up and running again for their departure Saturday.

Please keep us in prayer here. We don’t have the budget to be able to fix damage here and a huge hit on our farm will be hard to recover from. I know that we are in God’s hands and we trust him.

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Quick Trip

Hey everyone! Krista here. I just had the awesome opportunity to go home (to Michigan) for a week. One of my dearest friends was getting married, and I wasn’t going to miss that wedding! It was such a beautiful wedding, and I was so glad to be able to support her by being there. It was to nice being able to see both my and Ben’s families again, most of whom I hadn’t seen since January. It was particularly special to be able to meet our new niece, Annelise, and our new nephew, Isaac. They were both born this past summer, so it was such a treat to get to hold these little blessings. I was also home over my birthday, so that was fun, too (except for the fact that my husband wasn’t there)! Besides spending time with friends and family, I also had the chance to go to CCCD’s grand opening of their new office in Zeeland, MI (our home town)! This was an exciting evening. I was able to reconnect with past team members and supporters and to meet some new folks who are interested in the ministry. The mission and vision of CCCD was shared, and opportunities for partnering and giving were explained (including the Raise the Roof Project, which you can read about in our previous post). It was a blessing to be a part of this night, and it reminded me why we are doing what we are doing! Both my parents and Ben’s parents were able to attend with me. What a blessing to have parents who are so supportive and encouraging! I also enjoyed signing a worship song at my parents’ church on Sunday. I was encouraged by the church’s response and interest in the sign language and in what Ben and I are doing! It would be awesome to bring a team from my parents’ church in the future. 🙂 What a wonderful trip. BUT, I was happy to come back to my Jamaica home. God has been so faithful in allowing this to become our home in our minds and hearts, and it’s great to be back! CCCD Knockpatrick is beginning its Fall Break in a couple days, so that will give me a chance to get caught up on life this week! Next week a team from Knox Life Church in Knoxville will be joining us here at JDV, so we are gearing up for that and are excited to see some friends of ours on that team. God bless you all, and I hope you enjoy this beautiful fall season!

 

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