Salados (Greetings) from the DR!

by Charlie Goeke, Vanguard Program Manager
We are into our second full day of being in our outreach sites and Vanguards are getting plenty of opportunities to learn, serve and experience life in the DR.
Photographer extraordinaire Axel exploring the Los Higos Education site.

Photographer extraordinaire Axel exploring the Los Higos Education site.

Seth, Axel and myself are on the media team which means that a big part of our role here is going around to the other outreach sites and documenting the work they are doing as well as learning from out Site leaders, Micheal and Mateo.  Each day we travel to 3 or 4 of the sites, take photos and video and get short glimpses of what the other Vanguards are up to.

Julianna talking with a child on during a walk around the community she is working with at the Women’s Social Work site.

In addition to spending our days in the outreach sites, we have had the opportunity go explore the area around the Students International (SI) Base via afternoon hikes, learn about Dominican culture from the SI staff, and study the Sermon on the mount (Matt. 5-7) during morning devotions.

During our initial team time last night, many shared about the challenges of the language barrier and being out of their comfort zone given the Dominican context.  It was very encouraging for me to hear as the leader as a big part of the build up to the trip and prayers for what the trip would look like for Vanguards were centered around the desire for this to be a trip that challenged assumptions, stretched Vanguards to see Christ in a new light, and experience poverty in a new light.
Sarah L. working with Special Education students as they have P.E.

Sarah L. working with Special Education students as they have P.E.

Arrived in the DR!

by Sarah Davis, Vanguard Coordinator

Vanguards are safe and sound at the Student’s International Jarabacoa base in the Dominican Republic – all of the logistics went off without a hitch! After HoneyRock gave them a huge sendoff, we arrived at the Burlet’s house Sunday evening. This morning, Evan and I drove them to O’Hare. Here are some quick snaps of that trip:



The pictures were taken in the U.S. of A. Hopefully the team can send us a pic in the DR! Tonight, they’re settling in and unpack at the base in Jarabacoa. Tomorrow, a day of cultural education. In the days that follow, Vanguards will work in their preassigned areas. Keep them in mind as they live and learn in Jarabacoa over the next few weeks!

A Day in the Barn

By David Hudson, Vanguard

While Vanguards are mid-air on their way to the Dominican Republic, we thought we would feature David’s “A Day in the Barn” post. Vanguards participate in “work rotations” throughout their time at HoneyRock. Here’s David, giving you a peak into the “barn” rotation…(stay tuned for a DR update later tonight!)

The past three days, Is, Joseph, and I spent our fifth week of work rotations out at the barn. Though our schedule changes a lot, this is what an average day looks like:

8:00 on Wednesday morning, January 27:
We layer up after morning devos and walk up the snowy road to the barn. Once we get inside, all of us start on the daily chores. Is heads out to the back barn by operations and feeds the horses five bales of hay, Joseph gets a start cleaning up the manure, and I get the horse’s meds ready. By 8:45 we’ve finished everything and head out to the tack house (where all the saddles and helmets are kept) to warm up.

Once inside, Is gets a fire started in the wood stove while Joseph, Jacleen (the barn MST), and I go over the schedule for the day on the whiteboard. Today we are going over the basics of teaching others riding lessons and our plans to teach three-person lessons the next day. We talk about the students we’ll be teaching, make up games we’ll have them play for practice, and review the three most important parts of a lesson: fun, safety, and effectiveness.

After we’ve finally warmed up, we head out into the pasture to catch our horses. This week we’ve all been assigned new horses that we’ll be working with for the next couple weeks, training them and practicing our riding with them. Once our horses are in their stalls we each grab a brush and comb and groom them. Also, we each grab a pick in order to clean out the ice and manure in their hooves (which smells). Finally, we bring out the horse’s saddles and get them ready for riding.

Coming back from lunch at 1:00, each of us gets ready to ride in the arena (a large rectangular, fenced-in area) and work on our skills. Today we practice trotting with our new horses–every horse is very different from the others, and can take a while to learn how to ride. We also practice riding two point, where the rider leans forward on the horse’s neck to balance and make it more comfortable to ride.

To finish off the day, we unsaddle our horses and release them back into the pasture. Once more we meet up in the tack house and finish off the day by writing a quick journal about what we’ve learned. Usually there are some great parallels between our work and our relationship with God. Now it’s 5:00 and we walk back to Chrouser for dinner.

¡Adios America!

by Seth, Vanguard

Enjoy that title, because it’s the extent of my knowledge of the Spanish language after 4 years of taking the class in high school (sorry mom).

This coming Sunday, the Vanguards say “toodles” to the good old US of A and “¡Hola!” to the Dominican Republic. Personally, I’m stoked out of my mind. While the DR trip was not a determining factor for my decision to attend Vanguard, it definitely gave me something to look forward to. As beautiful as the Northwoods are this time of year, it’ll be a pleasant change to spend some time in warmer weather.

Like many of my fellow Vanguards, this will be my first time traveling to the Central American region. I look forward to the warm and humid climate, to be able to smile and not worry about my lips cracking into a million pieces. The region we’re staying lies near the heart of the DR’s Central Range and boasts beautiful and towering mountains such as Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the DR. We will no doubt enjoy our time basking in God’s creation. But above all, I’m most excited about serving the people of Jarabacoa.

We’ve spent the past few weeks learning about the culture differences between North America and the Dominican. By being more culturally aware, we hope to be in a better position to help and learn from the native people of the DR. I believe one of the most important things one can do when preparing for a short term missions trip, is to come to the realization that outreach efforts are not a one-way street. Our main goal is not to “fix” a certain problem; it is to immerse ourselves into the DR’s culture and to gain a better perspective on what it means to truly serve others. We must also realize that our outreach efforts are a two-way street. We can learn just as much from the people we strive to help.

I’m very excited, the closer we draw to departure date, the more psyched I become. As we make final preparations I ask that you continue to pray for us; that are hearts and minds will be set on service and that our mindsets and intentions will be focused and pure. We’ll have three blog updates for you over the next two weeks while we’re in the DR!

Peace and Blessings to you all!

– Seth C.

Fundraising Update: We’re almost to $18,000! We have about $5,000 to go, and will be continuing to raise funds even after we return from the DR through various events. If you would like to help us reach our financial goal, please sent checks made out to “HoneyRock” with “DR Trip” in the memo line. Our address is 8660 Honey Rock Road, Three Lakes, WI 54562. Questions? Email

XC Worship

By Ben Wunder, Vanguard

Last Sunday evening, Benjamin led worship. Here, he reflects on that experience:

Salutem! Greetings! I know it’s a bit unorthodox, but I have a quiz for y’all. When it’s 11 below with a light snow, what can one possibly do outside as an act of worship? Oh and by the way, it’s 7 PM and completely dark with the exception of the moon. Archery? Paddle boarding? High ropes? Well, not quite. What actually occurred was an awesome (yes, Mom, I said the “A” word even though I didn’t correlate it with God…sorry 🙂 ) night with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ while cross country skiing! These brave souls gathered at HoneyRock’s Ski Shack at 7 to get fitted for skis, poles and boots, then listened intently as Evan instructed how to push, glide and fall.

Since I was leading worship that night, I chose to conduct a prayer-ski, much like a prayer walk. After I read a passage from Matthew 18:20, we were off! God was definitely watching over us, much like when the moon illuminated the entire trip. Evan and I chose four separate spots to stop and pray with partners. After praising God for his awesome (better, Mom?) works in creation, we laid everything down at His feet and prayed until we got too cold. Each time we stopped to pray, I suggested that we switch partners to ensure diversity and new material.

After returning to camp quite cold and tired, I couldn’t help but notice the level of relaxation on everyone’s faces. If they were feeling the same way I was, it was a sense of deep peace. There’s nothing better than witnessing the natural beauty of God’s handiwork while releasing pent-up energy and frustrations at the same time. This, along with showing others that worship isn’t just singing praises to the Almighty but can be expressed in many other ways, is what gives me my motivation. God put us on Earth for a very good reason, and exploring that reason while in his presence is the best we can do for now. Vale et gratias tibi!!

DR Fundraising Update!

by Dan Jones, Vanguard

Here’s our fundraising update from Dan, a member of our fundraising committee!

We are quickly coming up on our immersion trip to the Dominican Republic. Everyone is excited and ready to join Students International in their work there. It will be a new experience for the Vanguards – a life-changing trip and I am sure that God will be present.

We have raised roughly $16,000, which was a huge answer to prayer. We are still in need of about $7,000 to have our trip fully funded. To date, all of our support was raised by our support letters, which is a huge testament to our many loving friends and family. Once we return, we plan on hosting a few community events to try and reach our goal. This brings me to a good point – we’re still accepting donations! If you feel led, you can send a check to HoneyRock (8660 Honey Rock Road, Three Lakes, WI 54562). Make sure you put “DR trip” in the Memo Line!

As our trip is next week, we are in still in need for prayer on many fronts. Prayer for safety, open minds, a learning attitude and a humble heart are all on the list – that we don’t try and fix problems that we think the locals need help with. This will distract from our purpose of going which is to work alongside the long term missionaries that are working on site and aid them in their work.

Please continue to pray with us! Thanks,

Daniel Jones

I Chose You

Photos & Post by Sar

I had no idea that a loud, obnoxious and spazzy mule who is terrified of people would become one of my favorite creatures on this planet. But when Erin pointed out our similarities, I was immediately drawn to him. Burrito quickly became the legendary beast of the barn, but I saw more. He was captivating. However, the impossible mule didn’t seem safe at first.

I challenged that.

I started with standing by Burrito, literally and figuratively, until he became comfortable with my close proximity. Then, slowly progressing to actually petting him when I walked by his stall. I made my presence normal, constant, and gentle. I took a leap one day and entered his pen, and his response was to quickly get as far away from me as he possibly could. So I waited. I walked, I waited, I retreated, I pursued, I waited.

Finally, Burrito let me walk up to him on my own. I approached slowly, pet him, and in the days and weeks that passed with more encounters like this, I continued to show him that he was safe with me. Eventually, Burrito would walk right up to me and follow me around his pen – his entire behavior towards me had transformed, and I was enthralled. There’s something radically special about loving a fearful heart towards trust.

After a two month barn hiatus (Way too long. Never again.) I had the opportunity to go back. I took Burrito out into an empty pen, removed his halter and chucked it into the barn, and let him loose.

He still walked right up to me. He followed me, he chased me, he stood by me.

This is for you, Burrito: the mule that never stopped loving me.

Thank you for choosing me too.

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Thursday Nights

by Joseph Sawyer, Vanguard

Today, you’re hearing from Joseph! A big part of his Vanguard experience has been the weekly small group times. Here’s his take:

“Thursday is the last work rotation day of the week for the Vanguards. To cap off the work rotation week, Thursday nights we have small groups. The eight Vanguard guys meet with Logan and the four girls split up to meet with Maddie. Us guys do some activity whether it’s tubing, broom ball, rock climbing, etc… and then we dive into a topic and talk about it. After our activity and our discussions, we split into groups of three. We share stuff from how our week went, the stuff we’re dealing with, God sightings, anything. Then, after sharing we ask for prayer requests. We all pray for one another in groups of three. Small group is definitely my favorite part of the week because of the activity, asking and finding answers in the Bible, what it’s like to be a man of God, and guys being vulnerable with one another and gaining trust. This is a big reason this group of guys is so tight.”

An incredible part of this dedicated time is the openness and flexibility to talk through the questions and needs of the group as they arise. While our Vanguard Resident Assistants, Maddie and Logan, design plans to guide their time, it’s largely based on faith and life challenges that confront us during the week. This gathering carves out space and time to be with one another, ask questions, and be led to God by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

— Sarah, Vanguard Coordinator

Spiritual Disciplines

by Axel Barth, Vanguard

Yesterday the Vanguards talked about spiritual disciples/discipline. In small groups we discussed what words, ideas, thoughts, and connotations we associated with “spiritual discipline”. Within my group we related the term to prayer, and how the discipline of prayer is important to allow God to send us in the right direction. We also agreed that it’s significant for one to be disciplined in how they spend their time by honoring God through either reading scripture or serving others. We also thought it was vital for one to be disciplined in trying to remember/relate God to every aspect of their daily life.

After discussing our thoughts as a larger group, Sarah Davis described to us the extent in which spiritual disciplines may range. She and the other Vanguard leaders challenged us to adopt one of the five disciplines they offered: guidance, serving, study, simplicity, and prayer for the following epiphany season. I personally decided to adopt simplicity by writing a haiku everyday. By devoting time out of my day to write a haiku, I will be able to describe the simple objects in my everyday life and fully appreciate them. The haiku will also give me a tangible piece of evidence to help me follow this discipline.

Looking Back & Giving Thanks

by Julianna Burlet, Vanguard

Well folks, we did it! We survived our first work rotation with smiles on our faces! Friday morning we had a meeting to determine our work rotations, and with that came excitement for a new workspace, but also lots of time to look back fondly on our recently completed rotations and give tips to our fellow Vanguards stepping into our positions. We’ve got a bit of a work reprieve for now, as we have all of Thanksgiving week off to prepare for the holiday and spend time with our families once they arrive — we couldn’t be more excited!

Every morning of the work week here at HoneyRock, we have staff devos to begin the day, and we Vanguards also have times of midday and evening prayer together. While our families are here, we get to take these times into our own hands, which is both exciting and a little intimidating, as there are 43 family members that will be here — no small crowd! Each morning, two of us will be sharing about what The Lord has been teaching us during these past two months of Vanguard, and each evening two Vanguards will be sharing various passages and verses of scripture that hold a special meaning for them. During our midday prayer time we will continue reading through The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle.

Heading into Thanksgiving week, I personally am feeling nostalgic about various Thanksgivings spent down with family in Tennessee, Minnesota, and Illinois, and all of the fond memories that I have from eighteen years of spending this holiday with extended family. This year, I’m looking forward to seeing my family and being able to introduce them to my HoneyRock family! I feel so incredibly blessed to share this holiday with people who have watched me grow up (and raised me — thanks Mama and Papa B), and also the people who have molded me and helped me grow immensely these past two months.

Excitement is high around camp, and I think what we’re all most excited about — and at the same time scared for — is Thanksgiving dinner, which is being prepared and cooked by us Vanguards! We all know our turkey and stuffing will never be as good as our moms’, but we’re going to try our best!!!

We’ve been getting some snow which creates icy roads, so please keep our traveling families in your prayers this week! This was taken from just outside our room, behind Lower Loberg.


This Vanguard is over & out.