Dennis and Dionne Newton

Dennis and Dionne Newton
Dennis & Dionne Newton

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Fruits of our Labor

 After last week's post I hope to paint a little prettier picture of senior missionary life! We have made it through another week and are still here, learning to work together and becoming a stronger unified couple. Missionary work truly is a labor of love. I'm not sure I have ever been busier than we have been on this mission. Maybe when all the kids were young and involved in numerous activities each and no one was old enough to drive... maybe? But this past week we were able to see some of our efforts come to fruition. Our kitchen project with Los Rosales, the school for children and adults with disabilities, had a celebration in honor of the the new cafeteria/kitchen that we were able to help fund. There were over 100 people in attendance, including some very important dignitaries and government officials as well as local and national media. The children who attend the school put on several performances to entertain the crowd and I was quite enamored with their enthusiasm and smiles. I am going to let the pictures do the talking for the most part this week!

Waiting for the festivities to begin.

Lejla, one of the main staff members at Los Rosales. She is
also our translator at the school and has been a great help!
She is very passionate about the work they do.

Mirna, the school's director. She is an amazing woman who
cares very much about her students and is continually working
to make their lives better!

The "stage"

All the children did an excellent job with their parts, including
these cute little jumping frogs!

So many smiles!

This young lady didn't want to leave the "stage" when her
performance was over!

Waltzing during a scene from their rendition of Sleeping Beauty

A very sinister Maleficent! I love the king in the background!

A kiss from her true love!
Supportive classmates!
The kitchen they have been using to
feed over 150 students twice each day
The eating area... they have been feeding
everyone in shifts throughout the day

The empty space for the new  kitchen... before we started.
The completed new kitchen! Thank you to Addiko Bank for
the generous donation to add to LDS Charities donation to
make this dream become a reality. 

The new seating area connected to the new kitchen. This space
was renovated by several other NGOs and volunteers. Denny
loves the flooring, although it is a laminate and he would
prefer it in real colored wood.

Everyone enjoyed the new space and delicious goodies. It will
certainly hold more than the 12 students that
the previous space did!

The sponsors wall! I loved the pallet as the canvas idea.

This gentlemen is the art teacher for the Art Vocational Training
Workshop. He was very relieved when we expressed our excitement
over the LDS Charities logo he painted for the wall. He teaches the
students how to do various art projects that are then sold in a shop
in the tourist section of Old Town Mostar near the famous bridge.

So honored to be part of this great project.
We have met so many wonderful people
and we can't wait to go back and eat once the
students are cooking!
As part of this project we were also able to have a new member of the church paint a mural in the entry way of the cafeteria/restaurant. The school staff wanted something simple that would be similar in style to something one of their students might paint of the famous Mostar Bridge. It was a little bit of a precarious job, but he got it done and everyone was happy with the results!

The blank canvas...
Ground support!

Almost done...the platform was only slightly more stable, but
he made it work!

He was just a little excited to be finished!

It certainly brightened up the entry way!
( if only that light fixture didn't block the picture!)

In addition to the celebration at Los Rosales, we were able to deliver new tablets to Mala Sirena, a center that also works with children with disabilities and helps prepare them for inclusion in the public schools. We spent about 4 hours doing training and exploring the various applications. The goal is to be able to give a voice to many students who are limited or non-verbal through the assisted and augmented communication applications on the tablets. In conjunction with their inclusive kindergarten they will also use the tablets for speech therapy, occupational therapy and educational purposes. They will be doing pre and post tablet use assessments to measure the outcomes for a group of students over the next few months and then we will work together to determine what will best meet the students' needs in the future. They are doing remarkable work in the community to assist children with special needs and working to bring about changes that will increase inclusion and create a better environment for everyone. It is amazing what determination and passion can make happen!

A gift from our friends at Mala Sirena.
We changed the language to Croatian on one tablet during
the training and left one in English for me! 

Alma, a special educator, working through a customization of
one of the apps. They all feel the tablets will be of great benefit
to many of their students who have a wide range of special needs.

I think it took us almost as long to get the tablets into the
protective cases as it did to go through all the applications!

While tablets are very commonplace in American
classrooms and therapy sessions, Mala Sirena
will be one of very few schools in Bosnia to use tablets
for speech therapy and education for children with special needs.

Edita, the speech therapist, is going to leave some of the English
apps on so she can learn better English with her students! 

The staff is very excited to get started working with the children.
The only issue is that there are a limited number of applications
in Croatian language. The good news is that there are several
excellent apps that can be customized using your own words, pictures
and sounds. The bad news is... they have to do all the customization!
But we all believe in the long run it will be worth the efforts.

We have several appointments scheduled in the upcoming weeks to meet with potential partners in search of our next projects. It is so hard to determine where to spend our budget. We just wish we could help everyone who is fighting for a worthy cause! There are so many unique challenges in Bosnia and Herzegovina that are not apparent on the surface, but once we began looking a little deeper, there truly is much need here. Although we sometimes feel that we are running in circles, we feel very blessed to be doing the Lord's work. I know it will strengthen us both individually and as a couple as we continue to seek after projects that will help make the burdens of others lighter. 

1 comment:

  1. This makes my heart smile, 20+ years ago I worked for our school district adapting augmentative equipment for students with special needs (my 47 yr. old daughter is severely disabled). One of my students lives in Salt Lake independently and attends college. You are the most wonderful people I have told you how comforted I was when you became Seth Hardy's senior couple. I have a love for you both that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it! I had lunch with Seth today and told him we should take a road trip to your homecoming and visit my family in Independence, MO. I would love to Thank You personally for all you've done! Sincerely Kathy Eddings