Tag Archives: ministry

Sanidad del Cielo

I don’t know how to start this post.


Over on the Cielo page, at the bottom, there’s a picture over several women sitting together under a huge stand of bamboo. Rosa is one of the women in that picture, and I referred to her as a sister.

Yesterday I received the latest newsletter from the director of Mission Emanuel. Included was a story about Rosa:

Rosa's storyI knew that Rosa had breast cancer. I did not know the extent until yesterday.

Wubby and I helped build that house in the picture. When I saw Rosa in June, she asked if I was coming back next January. I told her that I didn’t know, but I hoped so. I also told her that, whenever I came back, I’d be able to speak GOOD Spanish. She laughed, as if to say “Yeah. Right.”

There’s a group headed to Cielo in mid-October and I wish I was going with them. I feel helpless. I’d like to make something to send to her, but I don’t know what. Prayer shawls in the Caribbean? It’s too hot in October. January, when it’s beautiful, temps in the lower 80’s, the Dominicans wear sweaters and the Americanos don’t sweat. Much. So maybe a prayer shawl would be ok. I don’t know.

There was another story about another family. The youngest child, Brenda, is eight. She is sponsored by a friend of mine. Last January I got to spend time with my friend at Brenda’s house. She is adorable, spunky…and faces heart surgery.

This post is not about the condition of health care in the Dominican Republic, or in the US for that matter.

It’s about what one person can do to help another person, what one family can do to help another family.

The mission has established a fund to help defray the cost of major medical care for families in Cielo: Sanidad Del Cielo.

Healing from Heaven.

The first time I went to Cielo we dedicated a very small children’s medical clinic, in two rooms on the second (then, the top) floor of a small building that served as pre-school and church. Next month there will be another dedication for a children’s medical clinic. Ten-thousand square feet, located just beyond the bamboo stand, state of the art physical therapy, vaccinations, dental care.

I don’t have much of a voice with this blog, but with what little voice I do have I am asking. One person donating twenty bucks can’t make much of a difference. But a few hundred people, donating about twenty bucks a month over the last 15 years, have made a huge difference in the quality of life for families in Cielo.

Think about it.

Mission Emanuel
Sanidad Del Cielo
1220 E. Concord Street
Orlando, FL 32803

Right now the distance between Rosa and me feels like so much more than the 1500 miles between North Carlina and Santo Domingo.  And the distance between me and God feels insurmountable.

I’ve seen You calm the waters raging
in the rivers of my mind
Your spirit blows a breeze into my soul
And I’ve felt the fire that warms the heart
Knowing that it comes from You
Then I’ve let it turn as cold as a stone
Sometimes I feel like I’m as close as your shadow and
Sometimes I feel like I’m looking up
at You from the bottom of the

Grand Canyon, so small and so far
From the Grand Canyon, with a hole in my heart
And I’m a long way from where I know I need to be
When there’s a Grand Canyon between You and me

I’ve had the faith that gave me strength
for moving any mountainside
I’ve felt the solid ground beneath my feet
But I’ve had the bread of idleness while
drinking from a well of doubt
And it shakes the core of all I believe
Sometimes I feel like I’m as close as your shadow and
Sometimes I feel like I’m looking up
at you from the bottom of the

When there’s a Grand Canyon between You and me

Sometimes I feel like I’m as close as your shadow and
Sometimes I feel like I’m looking up
at you from the bottom of the

When there’s a Grand, Grand Canyon between You and me

Hopefully I can send something to Rosa next month that will help close the gap until January.

The distance between me and God? We’re working on that.


Invisible women / Amazing women

So, last week I was in Cielo, Bayona, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A lot of words to define a very small place. Since 2004 a group of women from the Winston-Salem area have traveled to Cielo every January to minister to Dominican women in this impoverished community. As part of this year’s weekly devotions for us Americans, I volunteered to speak to our women on El Roi, “The God who Sees”.

So I started thinking about how the women’s ministry of Mission Emanuel got started, about how the women were overlooked in all of the ongoing ministries up to that time. Then I started thinking about women in our own country who are overlooked, misunderstood, ignored. And, as it usually happens, I started writing.

This is what hit the paper.

She is an invisible woman.

She’s the waitress at the coffee shop where I have breakfast with my daughter on Saturday morning.

She’s the housekeeper who cleans my house while I’m at the club, or brings me clean towels and makes my bed when I travel.

She’s the business woman I see every weekday morning, juggling her cell phone and mascara, waiting for a green light.

She’s the homeless woman who sleeps under the bridge near my house.

She’s the woman I see in church every Sunday. She knows my name, and I know hers. We exchange pleasantries.

“How are you this morning?”

“How was your week?”

“I can’t believe how your kids have grown!”

She’s the woman I never invite to lunch, or to my house for dinner, or to “girl’s night out”.

She’s never a part of the gab sessions in the break room.

I assume she wants to be left alone.

She may even be one of my teammates on a mission trip.

I don’t see her. Do you see her?

El Roi sees her.

El Roi sees the waitress, working three jobs to earn enough money to keep a one bedroom apartment for her daughter and herself. You see, her husband left her for his personal assistant. If she doesn’t keep my coffee cup full and steaming, I complain to her manager, and I don’t leave her a tip.

El Roi sees the housekeeper, the woman who moved to America to escape an oppressive regime. You see, they murdered her husband. They won’t allow her to be seen in public without a burqua and a male relative to escort her. They ban her from attending school. I take her service for granted. No one has ever made her bed for her, or given her a towel.

El Roi sees the business woman, the pain behind her smile that she shares with no one, except her husband. You see, they can’t have children. They’ve tried everything. El Roi sees her as she watches me play with my daughter. I think her lifestyle is privileged and powerful, not seeing that she would trade it all for what I have, a child.

El Roi sees the homeless woman sleeping under the bridge. You see, she used to have a family like mine. El Roi knows she lost it all, chasing the high that only comes from crystal meth. When I see her on the sidewalk, I don’t make eye contact. Sometimes I cross to the other side of the street.

El Roi sees my sister in Christ. You see, she’s taking care of her parents, her husband, and her children, pushing herself to the breaking point. He knows that she’s afraid to ask me for help because she doesn’t want to appear weak in her faith. And I am afraid she’ll find out how weak my own faith really is.

El Roi sees the lonely woman, the excluded woman, the abandoned woman. You see, her smile hides her pain. El Roi sees a lifetime, her lifetime, of loneliness, of not being on the “A-list”, not being “one of the girls.”

Am I willing to look at her the way El Roi looks at her? Because when He looks at her, He sees. He knows. He understands. He loves. You see, she’s not invisible in His eyes.

Neither am I.

Neither are you.

Open your eyes and see.

Sometimes I am amazed at how words come to me. Other times I am frustrated by their absence.

These words came easily, perhaps because I’ve known, or been, most of those women at one time or another in my life. What surprised me was when one of the women in our group, a woman who has lived in the DR for many years, who speaks the language and has a powerful witness, asked if she could translate my words and share them with the women in Cielo. Sure, I said, wondering if these words would ring true for the Dominicans the way the did with Americans.

So she translated and shared.

And the Dominicans related just fine.

You see, rich or poor or somewhere in between, American or Dominican, young or not-so-young, each of us shares the same dreams, hopes, fears. I’ve walked in Dominican shoes, and some of the Dominicans have walked in American shoes, and they all fit.

We’ve all been invisible at one time or another, and we come into the light, shielding our eyes until we can adjust to each other’s brightness.

It’s then that we realize that God sees us, we see each other, and we’re all beautiful in the light of day.

Fun with teenagers

Gotta love these kids!

going to Cielo in my mind

A month or so ago I was really torn about writing anything political. I didn’t want to blog politics. But, the more I heard, the lies, distortions, denials…..as I watched the economic crisis unfold, and I watched President Bush push congress into spending 700+ billion dollars of taxpayer money to prop up an economy that had been destabilized by bad banking practices, encouraged by congressional entities and congress-critters, more Democrats that Republicans….watched the fight over a bad bail-out bill that gives the very critters who created this mess full access to MORE money to “fix” it…..argue if you want about whose fault this is. I think it’s a fair bet to say that if the chairman of the House Banking Committee was a Republican, he or she would have been speared, roasted over an open fire, and the bones of the carcass picked clean by Democrats eager to say it wasn’t their fault. Can you say “Enron to the nth degree????”

Didn’t think so.

Now that I have that off my chest…..

I just pulled out my pink sweater. I’m recalculating it using a great website, Knitting Fool and starting over. My first attempt was going to be too large, and I wanted to adjust the lace pattern a little. If you’re really into knitting, Knitting Fool has hundreds of stitch patterns, a sweater wheel (calculator for creating basic sweater patterns) and I’ve found it to be worth paying the extra $10/year to get more than the freebies.

And I’m sending my brain to Cielo. We’re meeting next week to discuss the January Women’s ministry trip, so I’m officially giving myself permission to get energized.

In light of all that, I’ve added a page to my blog called “Cielo” (DUH!) that explains the ministry.

Forgive me for being a bitter person clinging to my (water)guns and my religion faith and check it out.

diversionary tactics

I am tired.¬†Part of it is fibromyalgia, but there’s more to it than just the physical and mental tiredness that is fibro’s calling card.

Maybe weary is a better word. This political season has been worrisome and wearisome. The economic situation is worrisome and wearisome. It’s all we hear about and it’s a mess and it makes me so angry, and there really is no platform for people like me to express our frustrations other than here in blog-world, and I don’t wanna blog about it today.

So, here are some diversions I’ve been using.

I’ve been watching old movies. This morning I watched “Three Came Home” about allied civilians kept in Japanese prison camps during WWII. Good movie that poignantly expressed what is really important during a crisis: love, family, friendship, trust, character.

Then there was “A Face in the Crowd” starring our local TV hero, Andy Griffith. An excellent movie, but the parallels between Lonesome Rhodes and so many of our self-absorbed Hollywod elite entertainers and slimy politicians government officials was, well, frightening. Once the political season is over I plan to analyze that movie with college son. Sounds like fun.

And I had no idea that “In the Good Old Summertime” was “The Shop Around the Corner” is “You’ve Got Mail.”

I’m knitting another top-down sweater, and I made up the design myself. This one is pink, will have a sort of sweetheart neck, 3/4 length sleeves. The bottom of the sweater and the sleeves will have a simple lace pattern. It had to be a simple lace pattern; I’m having a hard time remembering and 8-stitch, 6-row pattern. A complicated pattern would be impossible. I’m making the sweater out of cheap yarn. If it turns out, I may splurge and get some pretty stuff from the fancy yarn store and make another one.

I’ve been trying to find a book to read but concentration being what it is (non-existent) I’m not having much luck there. StuffMart had John Adams in paperback so I might pick that up and give it a whirl.

Our student ministry at church is responsible for an annual prayer service during Advent. Last week I spent time planning out that service. Much fun! There’s drama, music, prayer. I wrote some of it, and edited other pieces to fit what we want, and picked out music. Then arranged music, something else I’ve never done before. Found a trial version of some software to use and used the bloody-nose method to figure out how to make it bend to my will! Help files are for sissies!!

Student ministry is also publishing a cookbook to raise funds for next summer’s trip to Cielo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Several of us are typing recipes. There’s some fun!

I toyed with moving the blog to another platform, but I’m really not in the proper frame of mind to learn another blogging method.

And for now, I’m planning (and dreaming a little) about being in Cielo myself in January.