Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo. The year 2007 was a good one. For the first time in years, we didn’t have a battery stolen out of our car. Power outages in our area were reduced to one time a week. And, this was by far our most active year yet in the Dominican Republic.
Ellen and I are with our families in Nebraska and will return to the Dominican Republic on December 31. Frankly when we arrived in Nebraska, we were both suffering from burnout. Our first stop when returning was the Nebraska Diocesan Convention. We were warmly greeted by Bishop Burnett and the delegates. Every year at the convention we are asked when we plan to retire. This year our response was: “We will serve until the Lord tells us our work is done. We heard and answered His call to the mission field, and we are confident He will tell us when its time to leave.”
On December 7 we celebrated our 12th Anniversary as missionaries in the Dominican Republic. As this year draws to an end, we would like to share with you the “scoop on what the Snows” have been up to during the last year :
- Visiting Tent Makers – Normally, we host 50 teams a year, but in 2007 Ellen coordinated over 60 visiting groups. By comparison, when we first arrived in the DR, the diocese was hosting 7 to 10 groups a year. The growth of this diocese in the last ten years has been incredible and these groups have played an essential role in its development. Here are some highlights: -- Ten field medical teams served nearly 10,000 people. We were blessed with three teams from Nebraska. The Nebraska youth teams included people from our home parish of St. Matthews, Lincoln. -- Bob provided 7 tours of the diocese to those who were considering mission opportunities in the DR. Each of the groups selected a project. --Ten groups provided summer Bible school programs and one group helped with summer camp in Jarabacoa. -- · We coordinated schedules for visitors attending the Diocesan Convention in February and the 110th Diocesan Anniversary Celebration in September. Teams built pews, painted churches and schools, laid block for new churches, planted gardens, and many, many other projects.
- Special Visitor – Our nephew Chad spent just over two months with us and was involved in several projects. He returned to Nebraska in early June to enter Nebraska Dental School.
- All Grown-up - This year Andy Spichcal, a young man I taught Sunday school to at St. Matthews, contacted us. He asked me to perform his beach wedding service. We were truly blessed because we also renewed our friendship with his parents Clark and Linda and sister Laura.
- A True Blessing – The Diocese ordained its first class of vocational deacons in February. Soon afterward, the Bishop asked me to serve as coordinator of our deacons. For me, it was an emotional moment and I was doubly blessed with the presence of Deacon Jim and Merry Rue Visger. Archdeacon Jim and I were in the first class of Nebraska vocational deacons and were ordained together on Nov. 8, 1985.
- Another Record Year – Ten years ago when I started the scholarship program there were 7 Episcopal schools and my goal was to obtain 150 scholarships. Last school year, 791 students in 23 Episcopal schools received help. In Nebraska that’s a small town. The only way you can change a third-world country is through education, and I want to thank those of you who supported a student or helped find sponsors.
- NOTE: This school year two new educational programs were added and the enrollment in our schools is increasing. A record 875 students have applied for scholarships. I am searching for approximately 150 additional sponsors. Scholarships are $250 a year. If you would like to participate in the scholarship program or if you would like to help find sponsors in your church community contact me at bobsnow_2000@yahoo. Sponsors receive a picture of the student, a short biography, and a thank you.
- New Title – In the spring Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin named me as his Canon to the Ordinary. My job description remains the same, but I was both surprised and honored.
Diocesan Highlights – Ellen and I are blessed to serve in diocese which continues to grow and provide new services to the needy.
Other Diocesan Highlights
- The Bishop Isaac Home for senior citizens living in poverty opened in the spring.
- The diocese consecrated three new church buildings, including what is now our largest church – San Marcos in Haina. Several church and school buildings are under construction.
- The “retired” Fr. Hipolito Fernandez opened a nutrition and education program in Santiago.
- On Easter Epiphany Church where Bob serves as deacon celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Epiphany is the mother of several other churches. Bob and Chad researched and created a power point presentation of pictures from the past.
- The Diocesan family gathered together in Santo Domingo to celebrate its 110th Anniversary. Over 4,000 attended the service. Bob was the Bishop’s Chaplin.
- The Bill Clinton Foundation provided funds to Clinica Esperanza to remodel an area for an AIDS clinic. The clinic provides AIDS screening, counseling, and medical services. Missionaries Drs. Michael and Anita Dohn have worked tirelessly with the Dominican clinic staff to establish one of the best programs in the area.
- Five new missionaries began serving Christ in the DR in 2007. The Rev. Dr. Michael and April Floyd are in Santo Domingo. Michael, who for 25 years taught at the Episcopal Seminary in Austin, is now a professor at our seminary. Dr. David Johnson, who formerly served in Pakistan, is establishing health education services in Barahona. Cathy Donahue is a physical therapist working at the Clinic and with the national rehabilitation association, and Kate Lemler, who is with the Episcopal Youth Service Corp, is currently working with the Dohns, but will also work at our senior citizens home. Nathan and Leigh Fleming, a young couple from Nebraska, served just over three months at our Senior Citizens home in Boca Chica.
- Thanks to a United Thank Offering grant, the diocese was able to construct apartments for married students or professors at our seminary. The Floyds were the first to move in, and another apartment will be completed in the near future. Additional apartments will be built as funds allow.
- A Miracle – Over two years ago the Western Louisiana Medical team identified a young women with a tumor which distorted her face. If left unattended, the tumor could have resulted in death. It was a struggle to obtain a visa to the United States, because her parents areHaitians without proper papers. Last spring a visa was obtained, and she traveled to Louisiana. The hospital, attending doctors, and the people of the diocese of Western Louisiana changed a young women’s life forever. What a very special gift.
Ways You Can Help
Every Christian is a missionary. Some are called to foreign mission service, others are called to support missionaries, or mission programs, still others are called to serve within their own church or community. Here are some ways you can support foreign mission.
- Health Education in Barahona – Dr. David Johnson is establishing a health education and support system in an extremely poor area in Barahona. Financial support has been extremely difficult to obtain and Dr. Johnson has been using his own mission funds to support the program. The needs are great and funds are urgently needed. Please consider supporting this essential program. Contact us for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Scholarships – We said it before, but I will say it again. We need 150 scholarship sponsors. For $250 a year you can provide a young Dominican with hope. Contact me at the same E-mail.
- Snow Mission – The only way we can continue our ministry in the DR is through the support of churches and individuals. Our financial support is dwindling, so if the Lord is calling you to support us, contributions should be sent to Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, Snow Mission, 109 No. 18th St., Omaha, Nebraska 68102. (Note: Some have thought that contributions to Colegio Kids, also supports our ministry. Colegio Kids supports only programs in San Pedro, and this is essential. To support our ministry, or other diocesan ministries, contributions need to be sent to our Snow Mission account.
- Other Needs – We simply can’t list all opportunities to participate in the DR ministry. Contact us for an extensive list on how you, your church, or a Sunday School class can support mission.
May the Lord bless your ministry as He has blessed ours. Questions? Need more information? Contact us at bobsnow_2000@ yahoo.com.