Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Saga of the Infected Leg

Thanksgiving took on new meaning for me this year.  I am thankful to the Lord for another wonderful day in this marvelous existence we call life.  A day with family and friends, a day with goals and wishes, and with the strength to reach forward to new challenges.

I wanted to thank the many that wished me well and prayed for me during my recent bout with a staph infection on a leg.  I tried to keep things low key, but there were so many friends that had questions about my condition, that I felt I needed to write something about it.

Time for a confession, I was definitely nervous about my infection last month.  This was really evident the second night  I was in the hospital and I couldn't get to sleep.  Earlier in the day my leg had been operated on.  The 3/4 inch deep hole in my leg, about an inch and a half in circumference did not look well.  This infection was on my shin, near the ankle, and the doctor made it a point to show me how clearly you could see the bone through that last thin layer of muscle in the hole.

Up until that night I had remained cheerful and optimistic. I had even joked to Elias, who produces our TV program, that in the worse case scenario we would have to change the program format from dealing with social issues, to instead, a children's program with me dressed as a one-legged pirate.  We had laughed about this, but later that night, it suddenly did not seem so funny.  I tossed and turned, and started getting worried. "Majority world" or "third world" medicine does not have a good reputation.  What if something terrible happened? Why did this happen to me?  I rebuked possible curses uttered against me.  I believe as Christians we need to do that every once in awhile.  I  am a firm believer in spiritual warfare.   I rebuked the spirit of fear, and depression.  We need to do that also as needed.  I examined myself spiritually, but that doesn't usually help very much because then I have to thrust myself on the mercy of God.  What I mean is that I am conscious that without God's promise to me of forgiveness and acceptance I really don't measure up to His standards.  I am a work in progress, forgiven, but still flawed.  If God wanted to find fault with me, he wouldn't have to look too hard.  Needless to say, I was definitely down in my spirit.  Debbie was spending the night in my room on a

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The difference between short and long term missions?

From time to time I see "full-time missionaries" come to the field who clearly were not prepared for the experience.  They may have had a wonderful experience with a 1 or 2 week missions team visit to a needy country, and inadvertently thought, "This is great, I want to continue this full-time".  The problem is that you cannot compare a short visit with the total commitment involved in giving a year or more of your life to missions work overseas.

Short Term missions team from Calvary Christian School ministers at La Vega Christian School
For example, when you are hosted by missionaries, you are usually housed in a safe furnished environment (even when not staying in a hotel), your meals and meal times are all arranged.  You are transported (you are not driving) to wherever you will be ministering or serving.  And you are surrounded by your wonderful friends from your local church.  I know I am generalizing some, but bear with me.  Church services have all been arranged ahead of time.  The cooks have been given

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Tribute to Missionary Evangelist Roy Porter

Missionary Evangelist Roy Porter 
A call the night of October 4, 2012, informed us that our long-time friend and ministry partner, Roy Porter had passed away.  I had been on the phone with him just a day earlier, going over plans and details of his upcoming visit in January, with the Liberty Ministries Evangelistic Team.
He was the one who first brought us to the Dominican Republic to help with translating needs for the Liberty Ministries Evangelistic team, in September,1991.  It was on that visit, my first trip to this country, that the Lord spoke to my heart that He wanted us here  in the D.R.. Within 10 months we had raised support and moved here with our five children. I shared some in an earlier blog  about this visit.
We had met Roy and his wife Jeanette a few years earlier in Columbia, SC, through a mutual acquaintance, Pastor Brad Morris. They had been given our names as Spanish-speaking ministry contacts in Columbia. We met together and became involved with them in reaching out to Hispanic prisoners. Later Pastor Roy came to our church and held

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Practices and "Free" Medical Clinics

In poor rural areas, where income is very low, often those who are sick will try home remedies, teas, and herbs, before considering a visit to a doctor.  If there is a pharmacy nearby, they will prescribe their own medicine as in this country you don't need a doctor's prescription for most medicines. Neighbors will volunteer the names of medicines that have helped them with similar ailments.  Antibiotics, steroids, viagra, are all sold across the counter without a prescription.  The danger though is that they will misdiagnose their problem and hurt themselves.  They usually continue this home remedy treatment until they can't stand the pain anymore

The Pharmacy for a clinic at a church.
and are forced to go into the big town where there is a public hospital. Now that I think about it, in the U.S. we have people that put off seeing a doctor, but not because they can't afford it (though I think this is happening also), but because they have a fear of doctors and hospitals.  La Vega, where we live is one of these towns with a big public hospital. Treatment is free, conditions are poor, and families are expected to spend the day and night with the patient to make sure  the prescribed medicines are bought, and that the patient is well taken care of. I won't write about the waiting lists for operations that are common.  Considering the resources on hand the medical community is doing the very best they can.

All this was said to help you understand the impact a visiting missions medical team can have on spotting potential problems early.   And how by their directing the patients to the proper care they need, they may head off worse health conditions. Sometimes though we are not able to use to the fullest advantage these team visits.

 For instance, I remember hosting a medical team that brought in medicine and doctors and volunteers to help with a free medical clinic in a rural area.  It went great except that it was almost a madhouse.  Every

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Property Ownership and Missions Giving

Why the issue of property ownership can affect missions giving?  Part I

     A missionary has to deal with the property issue every time they are involved with a construction project.  Why? Because as missionaries we are often responsible for missions monies directed towards the project.  We have a responsibility to protect the interests of the donors.  But even greater is the responsibility we have to the Lord and His kingdom.   This investment of missions funds, just like any donation to a church, demands accountability.  Often the missionary serves as a conduit to meet the needs.

Securing ministry properties is a must.  Recently, I had to talk to a local pastor who is running  a school for Haitian children. In our country the Haitian community is very marginalized.  Many are illegally in the country, or with lapsed legal papers.  Very few of their children are in the public school system.  They don't speak Spanish, they don't have legal birth certificates, they may not have the income for the public school
Debbie and Ryan Pauly Visit the Haitian School
uniforms.   That is why we have become involved in helping this school reach out to the Haitian children.   Without an education, their chances of breaking the poverty cycle is slim.

We have served as channels in one way or another to provide nearly $5000.00 US for this project.  The lastest expense was a hand dug well on the property.  Their building is made of what we would consider scrap lumber in the United States.   We donated some used student desks to help and some sports equipment. Funds paid for the floors, walls, bathrooms, and roof of the building.  The donors were thrilled that they could make a difference in these young lives.  As humble as the surroundings are, there is a sense of peace and joy in the school.  The children look happy. The pastor and his small staff are providing a good education to about 60 children, who would otherwise have no education.

The problem is that the school is functioning on a piece of property that belongs to the pastor's daughter.  We would love to help provide a better facility for this school.  But when approaching churches in the US for help, there is always the question of who owns the land.  There is a risk that one day the daughter will sell the

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the Origins of our Missionary Calling

 There is no space in this journal to tell all the factors leading to our becoming missionaries. To save time I will say that Debbie and I met at Southeastern University (then Southeastern Bible College), Lakeland Florida in 1976. We were both missions majors. Which means we both felt a call to missionary service before we came to college. We both felt a call to work with Hispanics, and in fact both worked together, starting the first semester there, in an outreach program to migrant workers. We had both lived

overseas previously to attending college, and so had some experience already in communicating cross-culturally. We both spoke Spanish; Debbie was more fluent then myself. What we lacked was ministry experience. After graduating from SEBC, we attended two semesters of Wycliffe Bible Translators' Institute of Linguistics. This was an intense program to prepare missionaries for working with unreached people groups (UPGs) with no written language, or no Bible in their language. At the end of our year there in Dallas, Texas, we decided that our call was to work with Spanish speaking peoples. We moved to New Jersey, near Debbie's family, and worked to provide for our growing family (2 kids by this time), and immediately tied in with a Hispanic church that was starting in the basement of a pastor's home (Canaan Christian Church in Jackson, NJ). We began working with children, organized a children's church, a Royal Ranger scouting program, taught children and youth in the Sunday School program, and even had the opportunity to preach every once in awhile. Meanwhile, I had a year of my educational benefits (the GI Bill) left, but these would run out soon. After seven years in New Jersey, we sold our home, packed up and moved to Columbia, SC to study at Columbia International University (then Columbia Bible College and Seminary). We were excited about this school as it had a tremendous missions emphasis. I worked on my Master's Degree there in Bible, and Debbie on hers in Education. It was 1985 then, and we had three children when we arrived there. After a year of studies there, we began a Spanish speaking fellowship called Fuente de Vida. We felt there was a great need for this ministry. The 1980 census showed that there were over 5,300 Hispanics in the greater Columbia area. Today this church has over a hundred hispanics attending. We pastored this church for seven years before moving to the Dominican Republic.

  So how did we get to the mission field? In 1990, an evangelist friend, Pastor Roy Porter, mentioned that he had been going into the Dominican Republic to
Pastor Roy Porter from Greenville, SC
The 2012 Liberty Ministries Team 
minister for a number of years. He mentioned an upcoming trip in September and Debbie's heart began to beat rapidly. She really wanted to accompany the team. By then we had five children, and it was no easy task for Debbie to find free time to get away for an afternoon, never mind a whole week. I volunteered to take care of the family while she accompanied this team from Liberty Ministries, SC. She had a wonderful time of ministry, and her fluent Spanish was an important contribution to the team. That trip had a profound impact on Debbie, who now felt sure that God wanted us in the Dominican Republic. Of course, I reminded her that as head of the home, it was a decision we needed to be agreed on, and not hers to make by herself. Evangelist Roy Porter made it easier for me to arrive at a decision, he paid my way and Debbie's way next year to accompany the team as translators. We actually took Ruthie our oldest daughter with us on this trip also. I had never experienced such a reception in ministry. Everywhere we went, people responded to the message. We saw hundreds of people come forward to express a commitment to the message of Jesus Christ in services. As we handed out Christian literature on sidewalks in towns, people received the tracts gratefully. We had people coming to our hotel asking if we had New Testaments. One day, Debbie and I took a walk to a local park in Barahona, where we had been ministering for three days. As we were sitting on a park bench, two young men came up to us with a question. "He says the world will end soon, what do you say?" I told him that the Bible teaches that no man knows the hour or

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Extreme Home Makeover in the Rails?

VIDEO TS mp4-YouTube sharing from Elias Castillo on Vimeo.

How did this all start?  Debbie shares in her own words::
I took Scott Steelman of Global Effect by Jennifer’s house in the Rails, to see the 2 beds we had bought for her family after the floods.  Josefina, her mom, was so thankful and sweet. On his way back from visiting Miguelina, Josefina pulled him aside and mentioned she didn’t have a stove. He called me that afternoon and asked if we could get her a stove maybe instead of painting the house. But I had my heart set on painting her house.
Jennifer, her mom, and 4 siblings
I asked the ministry team of 12 young people from Glad Tidings AG, Reading, PA to help us with an Extreme Home Makeover. They thought Ty was coming with the bus….(from the TV show).  But I said no, you will be doing the EHM. They loved the idea, and later on, told me it was the favorite part of their trip. The team filmed and edited the EHM video.We arrived around 9:20 a.m. on Wed. June 20, 2012. We took some photos and video footage, saw that Josefina had cleaned the house, and then sent her packing to her mom’s house. Then we applied base paint to the inside and outside of the house. The pastor had his crew of young people from the church, including Ranel, Anthony and Ezequiel, digging a trench to keep the water from flooding again. A team of girls picked up 12 big bags of trash. Elias came to plant moringa trees and some flowering shrubs. Then we 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ministry in the New Rieles Church Addition

The Rieles Project (Iglesia Centro De Vida A/D / Center of Life Church), is moving forward.  The new addition is almost complete.  The floors are finished, the kitchen is only missing the doors for the floor counters.  The counter tops are tiled, and beautiful custom made cabinets are in place above them.  The bathrooms are finished, toilets and sinks, and showers are in place and functioning.  The shower and bathroom walls are tiled and look great.  The water holding tank is on the roof for when there is no water, or electricity.  The water system for the kitchen and the bathrooms is finished, and we even have a faucet for a hose outside.  All the windows, doors,  and protective bars are in place for this addition.  The four classrooms are finished and freshly painted.  Just in time as the pastor of the Haitian church group that uses this building, has decided to start a day school here for Haitian children.  Classes have already started and more than 40 children are attending. This is in addition to the 70 or so children that are part of the after-school remedial program that have also moved into the new addition.  Chairs and tables for the classrooms are desperately needed, but for now the floor will do.
No chairs, but that doesn;t stop ministry from happening in the new classrooms.

Last week, Pastor Enrique Santiago from Hollywood, Florida and his team conducted the first Vacation Bible School in the new facility.  Over two hundred children attended.  It was a five day program that 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Elections in the Dominican Republic

So why are elections so heated in Latin America?  Yesterday was election day here in the Dominican Republic.  There were a number of candidates for president on the ballot. Like the U.S., the term for a president is 4 years, with a possibility of serving an additional four years if re-elected. Among these candidates was Danilo Medina, who is a member of the party which has been in power in this country the
Headline reads: Who will be the President?
last eight years (currently with President Leonel Fernandez). Danilo Medina was announced this morning as the winner, and new president, with 51.2 % of the votes.  His strongest opponent was former president Hipolito Mejia who represented the previous party that had been in power (who garnered 46.9% of the vote).  He served as president here in this nation (2004-2008). A great place to keep up with news in English about the Dominican Republic is

Back to the question of why elections are so heated here.  Many government positions are appointed.  That is not uncommon in the US, however, here the appointments may go down even to affecting who runs individual public schools, fire

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rains Continue as the Church nears Completion

Floor is in, but kitchen still needs some work!
We want to thank the many that have sent funds to help with the relief efforts and with the construction of the church addition.  We believe that within a month or two this project will be done and we will be in condition to give proper care to any flood affected families.  We will have a fully functioning soup kitchen, a dining area that can accommodate about 150 people, we will have two

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Flooding in the Rieles

Video UPDATE! Flooding continues to affect the Rieles Community:

The call came in this morning, the Rieles community area was flooding again.  Pastor Gemuel was calling to let us know that between four and five this morning many families awoke to two feet of water in their homes.  The waters were now receding and people were busy trying to salvage their belongings, and cleaning their

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Flooding and Frustration

The Rieles area has flooded again.  How much frustration can you put up with?  How much frustration can families in Los Rieles put up with?  It has been 5 years since tropical storms Olga and Noel hit this community.  See this link where our media team (Elias Castillo and myself) posted a video of the event. It is These families should have moved elsewhere.  They didn't because they couldn't afford anything else.  Only a very few moved away to a better area.

Yesterday at about 10PM we became aware that because of torrential rains, some of the church kids from the Rieles area had decided to spend the night in the new sanctuary.  However, after our van waded through hubcap deep waters to get to the church.   We had brought with us seven mattresses, some sheets and blankets, and some clothing.  We discovered that there were actually 21 families spending the night on the floor in the church.  Our Sunday school addition has not been finished yet and so there are still no bathrooms  working in the facility. No floors down yet either in the new kitchen and dining area, or for that matter in the four classrooms.  For a lack of $8000.00 US, we were not ready for this emergency. That was a little frustrating.  I had hoped that by now the project would be finished. The need was

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recruiting Missionaries for La Vega School

La Vega Christian School is celebrating 13 years of giving instruction, from pre-school through high school.  Today nearly 500 students are enrolled in our program.  From humble beginnings in a four bedroom house to a three story structure with 32 classrooms and a staff of 75, the school continues to expand.    This is the first year that Debbie has left the directorship (her new director is Ada

La Vega Christian School
Santana), while she concentrates on the Ruthie Martinez Children's Fund (RMCF).  RMCF is a program that provides aid and education scholarships to needy children. 

But I am getting sidetracked.  The purpose of this entry today is to recruit US volunteers to come and help us with our English program.  
Below is a video that is great to show anyone who is praying about working overseas as a missionary. 

Our school year is from August through early June. We offer a daily class of English for all grades, and intensive English classes in the afternoons.  One of the keys to making a good English program is to have missionary volunteers teaching these classes.  A key to good language learning is to hear the language spoken by a native speaker.  Every year the Lord touches someone's heart to

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Touch of Loneliness

The Cost of Missionary life (Some thoughts after Christmas)

A Winter Sunset in Texas
We attended a Caribbean missionary retreat (see earlier blog on the holidays) being held in Texas this past year.  It was nice being in the US for the Christmas holidays.  One day as I prepared to return to the DR I found myself in a meditative mood and jotted downs some thoughts about that very short visit, and the week with family.  I found myself wrestling with a little melancholy, and tried to be positive about it.     

The Plus side of the visit:
The best was to see our children and our four grandkids.  We just don’t seem to see enough of them. Pictures are just not quite

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Current News Updates from La Vega

The United For Him youth event ended the last weekend of February with over 2000 young people in attendance and 30 young people publicly asking Jesus to take control of their lives.  Every weekend was outstanding.  The Christian artists and musicians all shared testimonies and encouragement from their hearts.  It was amazing how many had come from very poor beginnings, and tremendously adverse situations.  They were truly a testimony of what Jesus can do with a life that is given to him.

Romy Ram, Nestor Ortega, and Ironman, three Urban musicians that ministered from the heart!

 On hand for that last night was the Calvary Academy Senior class from Lakewood, New Jersey.  They performed some exciting dramas, and their team leader David Murphy shared a challenging spiritual message.  They were with us for a week and ministered in different churches and public

Friday, February 24, 2012

Update on Unidos Por El Youth Event

Excitement continues to build at the "Unidos Por El" youth event ( see last years video about the event at ). Coming up is the fourth and final week of concerts.  Our thanks to those who have responded to our appeal for financial help.  We are now only $3,400.00 shy of meeting all event expenses.  This last Sunday we had 2000 young people out for the concerts.  The 

Monday, January 30, 2012

February - Reaching the Youth of La Vega

Please pray for this weekend and the next three weekends in February for the "United For Him" event.  We are asking the Lord for great weather, and a wonderful move of His Spirit among the young people attending. Please pray that all financial needs for the event will be met.
Elias Castillo
Elias Castillo
"Unidos Por El" (United For Him), is the youth event that your missionaries have been very involved with for the past four years.  In fact it is Mitch Martinez and Elias Castillo who are the executive producers of this faith venture.  It is a series of Youth Concerts every weekend in February, which have been organized to create a Christian alternative to the wild Carnival Festival which seems to envelope like a dark cloud the city of La Vega every year. . The spirit of partying, and promiscuity is promoted all weekend long.  Violence and vehicle accidents are par for this event.  Concerned that even children were being drawn into this event, we networked with area youth pastors and began coming together for a clean, spiritual, counterbalance for young people. From a couple of hundred young people, we have grown to over two thousand in these four years.  From Contemporary Christian music, to Christian Rap and Rock, there is something for every one in the family.  I am attaching a link to a video made at

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can a Missionary spend time at the Beach?

I hate to say it, but sometimes there are stereotypes about missionaries that don't match reality? The question of should a missionary enjoy a trip to the beach of course doesn't apply to missionaries working in landlocked countries (of course lakes and rivers have beaches too).  I hate to admit this to those of you who don't know where the Dominican Republic is, but yes we live on a beautiful Caribbean island.  The island was originally dubbed Hispaniola (Espanola) by Christopher Columbus, and was
discovered on his very first journey.  The Taino indians that inhabited this island, called it Quisqueya.  Today the island is split between two very different nations; French-speaking Haiti, and Spanish-speaking
Dominican Republic. The DR is the larger in land mass of the two.  Four fifths of this nation is

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Holiday Visits

It was difficult to stretch two weeks in the states into our schedule, but it had to be done.  Difficult because there was so much happening in La Vega, and so many things that had to be put on hold.  We are coordinating the construction of the addition for the Rieles Church, and also in the process of setting up for the 8 day "Unidos Por El Youth Eventl"  in February (this is a Carnaval Alternative for Youth).
We are also applying for a Christian TV channel in La Vega. In December, Debbie was following up the process of obtaining water pumps from the government for the wells we had dug in the Rieles.  We now have three pumps in place thanks to Elias Castillo's help last week.  She has also been gathering toys and gifts for poor children in the Rieles area to be distributed for Three Kings Day celebration (Observed January the 9th this year).  A
wonderful partnering church in Boca Grande (UMC) shipped us 400 lbs of gifts.

 It was wonderful to have an opportunity to be with our children and grandchildren during the Christmas season.  Every three years our mission strongly encourages us to