Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Santo Domingo Tour: Flag & National Pantheon


 If you have been following our tour, we last saw Fort Ozama, a fortress built on the Ozama River where it meets the Caribbean Sea. I loved how the Dominican Flag looked at the top of the tower.

Look closely at the centre of the flag. Can you see the Bible? 

Did you know that the Dominican Republic is the only country in the world with a Bible on it's flag?

So why are we missionaries here?

I had a glimpse into the answer while looking at the ceiling of the National Pantheon, just down the street from Fort Ozama.

Our tour guide explained that the painting shows what happens at the end of this life. If you are good enough, you go up where good people are. If you are bad, you go down to that place where the bad people go. Sadly, this is a common view of what happens after death. Even after working for a year with a group of Grade 2 children in AWANA, almost all of them answered that they could get to heaven by being good. I wish that I would have spoken up and asked the tour guide why Jesus had to die if we could enter heaven by our own good works. We can never be perfect like Jesus. Only by believing in Him can we go heaven, a perfect place, to be with a perfect God.

Do you believe? 

Please pray that the Dominican children we work with will truly understand why Jesus died on the cross. Pray also for their education which is one of the poorest in Latin America and for our school that is trying to help. Pray for families which are often broken and for their daily needs to be met. And please pray for us as we work with them and try to show God's love to them.

Thank you!

Marcie Cooper

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Santo Domingo Trip: The Fort


My kids made it to the fort in Santo Domingo before I did--two of them anyways! I had just had a baby so did not go on the trip.

 Fort Ozama built in 1505 to protect from pirates and conquerors

There are lots of these protected watching/shooting spots.

 Strategically situated where the Ozama River meets the Carribean Sea

I had seen pictures and had driven by on the other side on the river but had never toured it myself. Finally, I took my own pictures!

 The Tower

 The cannons seen from the tower

The group in the top of the tower

I left the kids at home and joined our group of summer interns to experience the historical sites in the capital. They have been helping out with our summer program and Rachel, on the far left, has been staying with us. I can only hope that my kids will be as nice and as helpful as she is when they are teenagers!

For more history on the tower go to www.colonialzone-dr.com. Or come and visit. I'd be happy to take the tour again!

Have a great day!

Marcie Cooper

P.S. If you missed the beginning of the tour, we saw Columbus Park and the Primate Cathedral of the Americas as well as a pro-life monument. More still to come!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Santo Domingo Trip: Pro-Life Monument


Did you join me for a tour of the cathedral in my last blog? Just on the other side of it was my favourite part of our whole tour--a monument "to defend the human life, to the human not yet born." It is in honour of millions of babies aborted in the world and was constructed in 2006 by the Associate of Catholic Doctors in Santo Domingo.

Abortion is still illegal in the Dominican Republic and is not as prevalent as it is in the United States and Canada. The tour guide told us, "We believe that God made life and we don't take it away. We protect the unborn child." Amen!

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;    
your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

May this country continue to stay strong in protecting unborn human life.

Marcie Cooper

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Santo Domingo Trip: The Cathedral


How are you? It has been a while since I've been able to write. Last week-end, I visited the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo for the first time. I can't believe it took me this long to get there!

Our first stop was Parque Colón (Columbus Park) which has a statue of Christopher Columbus in the centre. We ate lunch in the shade under the tree on the right. It was hot in Santo Domingo!

Here is a closer view of the cathedral at the far end of the square. It  is the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Younger but is also called the Primate (First) Cathedral of the Americas. It was built in the early 1500's and, while it is debatable whether it is really the first church in the Americas, it is said to be the earliest church in the Americas that is still in use today.

The entrance on the opposite side is more detailed

but I was more impressed by the ceiling on the inside!

Francis Drake ransacked the cathedral in 1586 and destroyed the original contents. Here is how they look today:

The cathedral has fourteen chapels on the sides, a couple of which you can see behind the columns.

Many people have been buried in the chapels and in the cathedral's crypt. Dominicans claim that the remains of Christopher Columbus are in this Cathedral but they also acknowledge that they could have been moved to a much more modern lighthouse which they have constructed on the other side of the river.

There is also a monument in Spain that is believed to hold Columbus' bones but our enthusiastic tour guide was convinced that they are here in the Dominican Republic. He, along with Lonely Planet Dominican Republic, provided the facts for this message. I hope you've enjoyed it!

Marcie Cooper

Thursday, July 12, 2012

High School Graduation


After the First Grade Graduation and Eighth Grade Graduation it was finally time for the High School Graduation!

Her diploma and certificate for being the top of her class!

Our school does not have a high school but students can continue being sponsored and attend a private high school if they have good grades, attend church regularly, and are part of a Monday night youth club on our campus.  This year, we saw six of our sponsored students graduate. It is quite an accomplishment considering that only 12% of Dominicans complete high school.

The six graduates

(Don't the tassels look like they're on fire?)

It was encouraging to listen to their testimonies and hear their aspirations for the future. They will continue to study with the help of our Advanced Education Initiative and they may even become part of the 1% of the population that graduates from university. Above all, we hope that they will continue to serve God as they go on to a new stage of life.

Doesn't he look ready?

Marcie Cooper

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grade 1 Graduation


Last week I promised that I would write about first grade graduations. I had heard of preschool graduations and kindergarten graduations in Canada but never first grade graduations. Then, after spending nearly a year in the Dominican Republic, we witnessed this:

Aren't they cute? They are actually from the same class that just graduated from Grade 8 in June. Their sashes say, "Ya sé leer" which means "Now I know how to read." They have come a long way since then and more classes have followed in their footsteps. Most of the pictures below are from this year's ceremony.

Under the gowns, the little girls always wear white dresses.

They take pictures with parents

then parade into the church (yes, my little girl can read in Spanish!)

They take turns demonstrating their reading skills

and then receive their diplomas.

What a fun way to celebrate the accomplishment of learning to read! What do you think? How would it go over where you live?

Have a great day!

Marcie Cooper

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Independence Day


I was going to write about First Grade Graduations but got interrupted by an invitation to join some American friends celebrating Independence Day. There were hats made, games played, patriotic songs sung, and many hamburgers, hot dogs, and pies eaten. Thank you, Americans, for sharing your Fourth of July with us!

Your Canadian friend,

Marcie Cooper

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grade 8 Graduation


We are getting used to how graduations go here in the Dominican Republic but you might notice some differences from how they are in Canada or the United States. Take a look at some pictures from the Eighth Grade Graduation last week.

It all began with a band and flags leading the way in a parade.

Graduates (with their chosen parent, sibling, or friend) marched down the street to the church

as the band continued to play before rushing off to another event.

There were speeches and addresses like this one by my husband, Paul, who challenged the group with advice that the apostle Paul gave in 1 Timothy.

Of course, there were awards

and diplomas,

cake and decorations.

We are so proud of our students, especially in a country where many do not achieve this level of academics. Most will go on to attend local high schools and participate our weekly Youth Club. You just might see their faces again in another four years.

And I'll take you back a few years in my next post when I'll share about First Grade Graduations. See you then!

Marcie Cooper

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada Day

Hello and Happy Canada Day!

We had a simple family celebration since all of our Canadian friends have moved away but we especially enjoyed hearing "O Canada" sung by some of our favourite Americans!

We wished we could be in Canada this week but it was mostly because of this little cutie--my new nephew!

We feel even farther away from family right now although even if we were living in Canada we would not be close enough to meet him without a four hour flight. We love him and pray for him from far away.

And we celebrate the 145th birthday of our country with Canada shirts and cupcakes.

Happy Birthday Canada! We miss you!

Marcie Cooper