CICS

CICS

Deaf Ministry of El Salvador

Newsletter May 2017

Thy mercies, O Lord, are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23

Here at CICS we’ve started a new school term, with the same students as last year and some new staff.

Roberto and Ruth Ramirez have two sons – Roberto Jr. is 14, and Dorian is 9. They live in Casa Twila, the little house past the shop. Roberto works as the Maintenance Man and Dorm Father, overseeing Miguel in the afternoons, and Ruth teaches the youngest three students, 9 yr. old Miguel, 9 yr. old Jairo, and 7 yr. old Antony, although the last two have not been coming to school regularly.

Myra Berrios is teaching the four teenage girls – 18 yr. old Maria, 16 yr. old Teresa, 15 yr. old Beatriz, and 13 yr. old Paola. Myra worked here at CICS as a cook five years ago, so she already knew sign language and she loves to tease everybody and make strawberry shakes for us in the afternoons when it’s so hot. I fear the strawberries will soon be gone, but then she’ll probably make mango shakes instead.

Eliazar Rodriguez is the third new teacher, and his class consists of 16 yr. old Eduardo and 10 yr. old Joel. Eliazar often gets teased about having to duck through doorways because of his height, but his energy and example will hopefully help motivate Eduardo to do better at his studies.

Veronica Rosales is cooking again this year, and she does a fabulous job of it! Her choco-bananas (bananas frozen on popsicle sticks and dipped in chocolate coating) are always a favorite with the students, and 4 yr. old Dwight Aguilar loves to help her measure flour when she makes bread or cinnamon rolls. She often takes time to work outside as well, weeding or watering the flowerbeds.

Bethany Thompson is again working as the Dorm Mother, helping Beatriz study her words and other homework, teaching her to sew a dress of her own, and listening to her stories of what happens at her house over the weekends.

David Glick is teaching English to the hearing students at the church school again this year. Nata picks him up every Monday morning, along with Beatriz and Miguel, and he has classes Monday and Tuesday afternoons, and then buses home on Wednesday.  It’s good to have him around – he worked as Dorm Father for the second half of last year, in addition to his classes, so it feels like he’s part of the staff here.

Also here at CICS is Darin Hershberger, working with Open Hands Ministry. He’s using CICS as his home base between visits to different countries. From February 23 to March 23, he was in Mexico and Haiti, and this weekend he’s planning to go to Guatemala. While he’s here at CICS, he helps Roberto with maintenance work and joins heartily in all our games after supper, sometimes counting his cards in Creole (the language spoken in Haiti). He worked here as a Dorm Father several years ago, so he knows a good bit of sign language as well.

School commenced on February 8th, and we had classes for a week and a half, but on the week of the 20th, there was a ministers’ conference here in El Salvador, so we didn’t have school.

Nata Aguilar, the director, was in the States from March 8th to March 22nd, and the day after he returned, our water pump broke. We had no water from 7pm Thursday night until 11:30 the next morning. Since water is fairly essential, Nata took his truck over to the church to fill and haul back a couple of barrels. Becky and the children, and Myra, Eliazar, and Darin went along to use the rarely-used shower stalls in the bathrooms at church.

We also had two visitors from the States, Heather Sensenig and Janessa Martin. They sewed curtains for Myra’s classroom and bedroom and played with the children at recess and after lunch. Miguel and Antony especially soaked up the attention, showing off and misbehaving even more than usual. Their teacher, Ruth, says that they don’t obey or pay attention well in school, and they are very behind for their age, easily forgetting what they’ve been taught the previous year. Miguel’s homework one day was a page of math problems, addition and subtraction, using the numbers one through seven. Veronica tried to help him by giving him seven toothpicks and telling him to physically add or subtract, and then count up the rest for the correct answer. Visualized in that way, he was able to figure out each problem, but more often than not, he would just try to guess, or sign, “I don’t know, I don’t know!” So Ruth is a little frustrated, reluctant to move forward until Miguel has mastered the basics.

Spike Ball, and Trashcan (or Twelve) with Skip-Bo cards are the new favorite games to play after supper here, and we’ve also been playing Skip-Bo and Dutch Blitz. When trying to explain to Joel how to play Spoons, Myra told him he needed 4 cards of the same number, so he was trying to get four of the number 4 and didn’t pay attention when everybody grabbed for the spoons. It took several rounds to get him to understand that he had to have four cards of any number and that he needed to watch for when someone grabbed a spoon.

Myra has been teaching her girl students about pronouns and conjugating verbs. The concept has been difficult for them to grasp but will greatly improve their reading and writing abilities. When signing, there is not much distinction made in the way you say, I run, He runs, We run, etc, but when reading or writing, there is a very necessary and important distinction, and if they can learn this, they will be able to read and write much more fluently. As it is, they struggle to read their Bibles, and when they write notes, we struggle to understand what they’ve written.

This past week, we’ve had an outbreak of colds and sore throats. Sniffles and sneezes all around. But praise God for our usual good health! Thank you all for your prayers and support. May God bless you!

Newsletter October 2016

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the owner of this ministry.

In one of our devotional times as staff, we were reminded by 1 Corinthians 15:58 that we should be steadfast, or constant, in the work of the Lord, because it is not in vain. Many times the devil wants to make us discouraged, but we have the promise that someday we will see the fruit of our effort in serving God.

In the last months we have had some difficulties among the students in their relationships with others. Many times we have had to help them choose right, and thank God, His Spirit keeps working, breaking lives, and although we do not always see great changes and we are not sure if they understand everything, we trust that God can complete the work of transformation in their lives.

We have had the blessing of visitors since the beginning of the year. Thanks to everyone for your help and encouragement for us and the students.

Anita Byler and Marla Graber, thank you for the curtains you made for the classrooms and church house.

Ivan Glick and Shawn Lapp did a good job chopping down the weeds and putting gravel on the lane.

Leandra Dueck and Regina Reiff, thanks for your help in cleaning beans and with the activities with the schoolchildren.
Lavelle Beiler, Jonathan Peachey, Matt King, Steven Glick, Darren Stoltzfus, thank you for your wonderful work in cleaning up the back part of the property, tearing down the old buildings and cutting down trees.

May God bless each one for your great effort and all the work you accomplished!

We also had the privilege of having the parents of the students here, to report to them how their children are doing in their studies and conduct. It was good for the parents to see what their children have accomplished and also the needs they have, and see how they can help them.

We have also had a visit from ISNA, the government agency responsible for the children’s welfare in El Salvador, (Equivalent to Social Services in the USA). It is strange, but they have visited us three times this year and they always have observations to share with us, some simple and some that have us a bit concerned. We ask for your prayers, because they want to come next month to give us some teaching on a certain law.

We are approaching the end of another school year and there is much work to do. Pray that we can continue putting forth effort in serving the Lord.

Paty Vásquez

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I want to tell you a bit about my experience working at CICS. At first when I came here I didn’t know anything about sign language, but I was very interested in learning since I was to be one of the teachers. I had a challenge ahead of me. I began to teach new students who didn’t know any sign language either, so we learned together. The other teachers and students have been a great help in learning sign language and now it is a language in which I can converse with the deaf people.

It is a blessing to help in this ministry. Most of all, the purpose is to teach the children the stories of Jesus and how He can be our personal Saviour.

I thank God that we have sign language, so that the deaf, as well as the hearing, can communicate and learn more about Him.

May God bless you!

Newsletter June 2016

Greetings again from CICS. Just a few lines to let you know what has happened in recent months.

IMG_0231We ended the 2015 school year and at the closing program the students acted out the story of the Biblical character, Naaman. Our desire was that all those in attendance could learn of God’s great power. It was a joint effort of both the students and teachers that turned out well.

Mauricio, who was a student since he was eight years old, graduated this past year. He will be greatly missed as he was a model student. I think none of his teachers had complaints about him. We are glad that he is a young man that loves the Lord and is faithful in attending services at the local Mennonite Church and hope to see more of him.

Sadly, because of bad conduct, two of our students were suspended from school and didn’t finish out the year, namely Silvia and Carlos.

Silvia struggled with wanting to take her own way and after talking with her mom, we decided it was better to have her terminate before the school year ended.

Carlos decided that a life of freedom would be best and left the Strong Tower Children’s Home. At sixteen he feels old enough to IMG_0444live on his own; things haven’t really worked out for him and he has lived with some of his former classmates but does not want to be responsible in helping out with anything, so his stays have been short-lived.

IMG_0258Also three of our volunteer staff terminated at the end of 2015: Matthias Beachy, Melody Eash and Lidia Alfaro. Their respective service was: four, three, and one year. We appreciate their effort and dedication and desire the Lord’s blessings on their lives; may He add His reward for the service.

This brings us into the 2016 school year.

We thank God for the opportunity of another year. Classes started on February 8 with 9 students; 8 have been part of the school, before, and one new girl. 3 more students were expected to attend, but unfortunately their parents decided not to send them. Hopefully by next year their parents will see the value of their children receiving an education.
We have 6 volunteer staff for this year. Four served already last year (Veronica, Elmer, Samuel and Paty) to those were added two young ladies, (Liz Jara and Bethany Thompson)

There are three different classes being taught this year:

IMG_3188The teacher of the first class is Liz Jara. It consists of two students: Maria who is 17 years old, but is attending school for the first time, and Antony, a 7 year old. This is a big age difference, but they are almost on the same academic level. Antony studied last year, but unfortunately he missed a lot of classes and that delayed his learning. Maria is in her first year at school, but is eager to learn, attends school every day and is very attentive in class; it seems as if she wants to learn everything she missed out on, in previous years.

Paty Vasquez is the teacher of the second class and this is her second year teaching at the Deaf 20160223_092037School. Her students are: Joel, Jairo and Miguel, and they are between eight and ten years old. These boys keep their teacher hopping. They are all high energy and need lots of love, discipline, correction, and teaching.

And for the third class, the teacher is Samuel Stoltzfus and his students are: Teresa, Paola, Beatriz and Eduardo. Teresa is at a more advanced level, then Beatriz and Paola are on the same level, and Eduardo is the less advanced of the class. That gives you an idea of how much effort the teacher puts into preparing classes that are relevant for the different levels of learning; but he does very well and, although the IMG_0245students say he is very strict, I think they’re learning a lot.

IMG_2267Bethany Thompson is the Dorm Mother and this is her first year at the school, which means that she is learning Spanish and expanding her Sign Language abilities. She is responsible for Beatriz’s care in the afternoon and helps her develop life skills.

Veronica is again back in the kitchen this year and has the big job of feeding many hungry people.

Elmer is again in charge of maintenance and in the afternoon is responsible for Miguel, helping him learn different skills.

Thanks to each of you for your prayers and financial support, it is a great blessing to have what we need for each day. May God reward you greatly!

Antony

IMG_0217Antony is a second cousin to José Eduardo, our first student here at CICS. His deafness is genetic since he has a deaf grandpa. His mom had asked to send him to school last year, but we felt that he was very young and still needed to be with his mom. He is now five years old.

In contrast to many of the deaf that come here, he is extremely quiet and needs motivation to play and do any type of exercise.

Anthony is very sociable, enjoying greeting other people and shaking hands. He explains with great IMG_5309detail anything that happens.

He is also very intelligent and since he started so young, we hope that he will learn quickly and be able to reach an academic level normal for his age.

We ask your prayers for him.

Elmer Montano

IMG - 5When I began studying at CICS, I was thirteen years old. I was very rebellious and disobedient and many times needed to be corrected by my teachers. As the years went by, I began to understand that it was necessary to change and with God’s help, I have changed. I studied at CICS until I was eighteen years old.

After leaving CICS, I began to look for construction work in Aguilares (which is where I live). I had a very difficult time finding work, but eventually I found some jobs, but the bosses repeatedly fired me.

I always liked visiting CICS even after I left, to see the other deaf, and I wanted to someday work with them. So it happened that IMG_0257after Darin (a young man who worked at CICS a few years ago) left, I took his place, taking care of the deaf boys that stayed at school throughout the week. At first it was Carlos, José, Kevin, and Miguel. Now that José and Kevin left, I only take care of Carlos and Miguel. It’s now my third year working here.

My work consists of getting up early each morning with the boys to do some routine chorese, taking care of the animals, cleaning and maintenance of CICS, sending them to school in the mornings and then continuing to help them develop vocational abilities in the afternoons. My favorite part about my work is talking with them in the evenings, giving advice and praying with them.
I desire that God would bless the school here and that I could do my best with my work for the glory of God.

Newsletter July 2015

IMG_5118What’s been happening at CICS?

Well, at the end of March, the 24-26 specifically, the staff had the privilege of attending IMG_5147a Central American teachers’ meeting in Nicaragua. It was a time of learning, sharing, and meeting others, along with a bit of adventure.

Our family enjoyed a time together as a family. After that came a week of Easter vacation. Each worker had their different activities. After the break, everyone was ready to continue with normal work.

IMG_5695In April, a few of Samuel’s siblings visited. They came planning to install a new plaything for the children–a trampoline! We are grateful to the boys for their work. The children and adults alike have enjoyed it very much. Although there have been a few minor accidents, it continues to be the biggest attraction for the IMG_6156children at recess time.

We also enjoyed a visit from some of our former staff, namely, Caleb and Sandra Mast. They were here a few days, and it was good to remember times gone by and see changes that life brings, including a new addition to their family, baby Desmond. We say thanks for the invitation to eat at Pollo Campero. It was a good time of making memories.

IMG_2837The month of May was full of activities. We had Rebeca Glick here for a week to teach some of the deaf girls how to make rugs out of pieces of material. It was beneficial in opening their minds a bit to something else that they can make with their hands. We thank Rebeca for her work.

Matthias’ brother came all the way from Africa to visit. Also there was a group of youth from a Spanish class that came and visited for a day. We are grateful for their help in different jobs.IMG_0146

There was a group of youth from a university that brought piñatas, ice cream, fruit, cookies, cake, and drinks for the children. It was a fun day with lots to eat. We say thanks.

We had our first spelling competition on May 15. It is always interesting to see how much the children have learned. It is also a IMG_0169challenge for the teachers.

We planned some sewing classes for some of the girls. Already some of them have finished their first projects and are ready to start with something bigger–making their owIMG_1101n dresses! We want the girls to be able to discover skills and learn things that will be useful in their lives.

In the midst of all these activities, I had a gallbladder surgery. We thank God that everything went well. I only need time to recover and regain energy.

This is what has been happening in our small place at CICS.

-Becky Aguilar

Newletter April 2015

IMG_2274Greetings to all our friends and co-laborers in this ministry! We trust that God is filling your lives with blessings as He has ours.

The last trimester of last year, the students went on an outing and visited a children’s museum called Tin-Marin. I believe that everyone enjoyed it immensely, children and adults alike.

At the last spelling competition of last year, we had some surprises. Some of the students, who hadn’t won anything before, put forth lots of effort and won some prizes.

We had a nice closing program, with lots of visitors. It was also a farewell for two of our students, Ana and Kevin. Please pray for them, as they are not living right, that they would remember and live what they have learned in school.

In September, we had a staff outing–a good time of recreation and sharing.

By the second week in November, all the staff had left the school grounds and gone back to their homes for school vacation. Two of them left, not planning to return: Andrea Hershberger and Maria Eva, who has been working here for many years.

During vacation time, Natanael made three trips to the USA on business. On one of his trips, he enjoyed a family reunion with his brothers, who hadn’t been together for almost twenty-five years.

In January, the CICS facilities were used to host the Bible Institute for our El Salvadoran youth. We were occupied helping in the kitchen and teaching sign language. Zulma, one of the deaf youth, also helped in the kitchen. Elmer was helping with different stuff and Veronica attended some of the classes. A bunch of the deaf also attended the evening services.

instituto

The staff began to arrive the first of February in time for a new school year in 2015. By the tenth, everyone had arrived. There are two new workers this year: Lidia Alfaro, of Costa Rica, came as cook, and Paty Vásquez, of El Salvador, is here as a teacher. The students began school on February 12. We have two new students for this year: Antony, who is six years old, and Roman, who is eleven years old. In the next newsletter we will tell you some more about them. We are in the process of finding the new normal for this year, so please pray for us:

  • for direction and wisdom in this school year
  • for spiritual protection of the staff and students
  • for health and physical strength for blessing and direction in some new projects

Ana

Note: Ana is part of a family of six deaf children. She is a sister to Verónica, a volunteer,  and Teresa, another student…

IMG_2968_revI remember the first time that I met Ana. She seemed like a very pretty girl, with intelligence and a lot of energy. She always had a beautiful smile, which made me want to try to get acquainted and be her friend. But to my surprise, she rejected me immediately and always tried to do different things to openly show that she didn’t like me–things like disrespecting me, hitting me, or pushing me. It wasn’t easy, but with the support and advice of Nata and Becky, I was finally able to get close to her and she accepted me.

IMG_3014

Ana, Verónica, Teresa

Over the years, I have discovered that Ana has a very strong character and a heart that wants to do what is right. However, she fights against her human nature that wants to lead her astray, and which often does. She has a very brilliant mind and is very intelligent, to the point where academics are very easy for her. I would say she pretty much learns by herself–she doesn’t need much explanation in order to learn something new. Year after year, she wins first place in the spelling competition, although some years her little sister Teresa has won, which has not been easy for Ana to accept.

In these last few years, Ana has struggled with submitting to authority, influencing and making groups between the rest of the deaf children, and leaving her house under false pretenses in order to go to places that wouldn’t be allowed.
IMG_4222She confesses to fighting a lot against the Tempter in doing what is right. She has expressed her desire to be faithful to God, even though she knows it isn’t easy.

Let’s pray for Ana, that she could remain firm in her decision to be faithful to God. Pray also that God could provide a place to work for her. That is another big decision she needs to make next year, since she won’t be coming back to school.
Through faith, I see Ana completely decided to serve Christ, being a useful instrument for the glory of God, teaching other deaf children what she has learned. I think she would be a good teacher!

I am happy to have had the privilege of teaching her these years, and I leave the rest up to the Lord.

Maria Eva

Andrea Hershberger

Some journeys lead us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny. – C.S. Lewis

IMG_6249_revIt has certainly been an adventure! I had no idea what the journey would be like when I arrived in El Salvador just over a year ago. I knew very little of either language I would need to communicate, the people I would be working with, or the culture I would be living in. Yet, it didn’t take long until the kids had wrapped themselves all the way around my heart and I knew I was where I belonged.

Some things I’ve learned since coming here…

  1. There is beauty in every culture and language. I have found it fascinating to watch people communicate in IMG_1556_revtheir native language, each understanding the other perfectly and responding accordingly. Cultures were created to be unique in their own place, yet people from other places can learn to live with and appreciate each other for who they are and where they’ve come from.
  2. Children are important. Children are the next generation. What you are doing today in the life of a child is building or tearing down the next generation. Live wisely.
  3. God uses every circumstance to teach us something. You are where you are for a reason. In being here, God showed me my passion. My passion is to work with trauma children. These children have no choice as to what situation they were born into, yet they must forgive their abusers to be able to live a fulfilling life. I want to help them decide to rise above the challenges, learn to forgive, and go on to be builders in the lives of the people around them.

My time here at CICS is coming to a close. Please pray for me as I continue to follow God’s dreams for my life. Thank you for supporting the mission we have here.

Andrea Hershberger