Hey Friends and Family!
This has been a busy, challenging, yet grace-filled and joyful month for the Porter family! We’ve really sensed God opening doors as we work towards providing job training and creation, micro-loans, and get more involved in the community of Bávaro, DR.
I hope with time to become better at describing what the communities of El Hoyo and Monte Verde are like. On one hand, there’s the persistent, palpable sense of hopelessness and desperation that accompanies the ever-present preoccupation of survival. In fact, I don’t think a day has passed without a request for $, food, diapers, or a job. But on the other hand, there is unmistakable beauty and dignity in this community as well.
Let me give you three examples of what I mean: You may remember Fátima who approached me asking if we could provide her with a loan to start a small gasoline distribution cart OR wholesale underwear business. Well, we started with undies! We traveled to the capital together, purchased wholesale PJs and undies that she’s been selling here at a ridiculously high profit margin! One week later, she had already made her first 2 months of repayment and traveled by bus back to the capital to purchase her next batch (which was now tailored to her customer's requests!). The best part is the pride and confidence I see in her eyes as she repays her loan. Word travels fast and I’ve had 8 similar micro-loan requests this week. So, with some help from HOPE International, a global non-profit micro-loan organization, we’re investigating scaling the program and building an associated curriculum for basics of entrepreneurship, finance, hygiene, and most importantly identity as child of God.
Fátima not wasting time...
Another example comes from when Rod and I had the opportunity to visit an informal community-driven “trade school” just outside Monte Verde. It’s held every Saturday morning in an elementary school. They have classes for pastry baking, furniture making, and the basics of electricity. They have very little supplies to work with but the joy and excitement with which they learned a new trade was obvious, what a gift it was for us to see them investing in each other that way. We hope to be partnering with and/or promoting this group some way in the future.
Learning to make Tres Leches !
The last example comes from when I accidentally hosted Monte Verde’s first talent show (story for another day). Artistic ability can be trained or refined, but there’s an element that is simply God-given. We sat there and watched 30-40 community members proudly display their talents in all types of art. It was exciting for them to have an audience and a blessing to us as we get to know the community and identify the various artistic skillsets that exist in Monte Verde.
This guy could sing !
With regard to our project to create a training program and dignified employment for women trapped in unjust situations, we’ve made a ton a progress this month. We initiated a formal market research campaign, interviewed gift shop owners, delivered sales pitches to hotel managers, remodeled a building as a training center, investigated products in demand locally, identified viable supply chains, and even wrote our first purchase agreement with MudLOVE. It’s really just the first few baby steps, but more than ever in my life I feel the hand of God guiding us.
Maybe the first Haitian MudLOVE Models? (A story in the making)
While I’m busy interviewing people, crunching numbers, traveling around the island gathering information, Erin (clearly the better half) has been teaching bible studies, putting on volleyball camps, and just loving the girls at the House of Hope. This is another example of how our kids have helped us become more involved and integrated in the community.
Erin and Elise teaching the basics of volleyball at the House of Hope. The heart scribbles are for their protection.
The way you stay in touch with us, pray for us, and support us in so many ways continues to humble us. It’s something we don’t take for granted; we’re so thankful for you all. Our prayer for you is the same as Paul’s for the church in Ephesus:
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the full measure of all the fullness of God”
Here are a few family pictures.