asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


2 Comments

Stilling the storm

My last post was about our New Normal .  I talked about some of the daily struggles and troubles that we have living in our third world community.  As much as there are so many wonderful and lovely things about our community, some days are more challenging than others.

The reason that I wanted to post about that is so that I could share this!  One morning, when we had gone days without power, and my frustration level was high and my patience was low, God spoke deep into my heart during my quiet time. I wanted to share this immediately but then life happened.  So, here it is:

I was reading Psalm 107:28-31

“28Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.
29He stilled the storm to a whisper;
The waves of the sea were hushed.”

As I read it, I realized that it stated the “He brought them out of their distress.” It did not say that He brought them out of their troubles.  Just the change in those two words were a game changer for me in that moment.  Because God hears our cries, He wants to help us.  However, in our troubles is where He grows us most!  So, He loves us enough to keep us in those places but comforts us through it!!!

I will be the first to admit that I lean more towards  pessimism than optimism.  I am naturally (unfortunately) a “glass is half-empty” kind of gal.  I am not one that immediately sees the best in people.  My admiration, respect, and trust is earned, not immediately given.  If I feel that your “outsides are not matching your insides”, I will immediately not trust you or pursue a relationship with you. I KNOW…I KNOW..I am supposed to think differently, but, for now, this is how I am wired.

The point to all of this is: Peace does not come naturally for me.  The “broken crazy” place in my mind is a storm of many emotions. These emotions can get me in trouble.  If left unchecked, they can seep out in unhealthy ways.  However, ifwhen… I call out to my Father, He will bring me out of this distress. When I am like a helium balloon floating around in the abyss, He ties me to His wrist, and He quiets the storms of my mind to a whisper. Then, and only then, can I hear Him in order for Him to grow me.

“30There were glad when it grew calm,
and He guided them to their desired haven.
31Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love,
And His wonderful deeds for men.”

In verse 30, I love how it is showing their joy.  And, oh my goodness, isn’t haven such a peaceful sounding place?

Lastly, but most importantly, they gave Him thanks for His unfailing love! Let us always remember to give thanks to the one who brings us out of the storm and places us on our desired haven.

When we first moved here and were trying to learn how to live with limited electricity, our neighbor said to us, “Con luces de calle, Gloria a Dios!  Sin luces de calle, Gloria a Dios!”  which roughly translates to “With city power, Glory to God! Without city power, Glory to God!”

Regardless of the challenges in our lives, we always need to cry out to God and be thankful for His unfailing love.  In that, even this natural pessimist can have peace and contentment!

 

 

 


3 Comments

New Normal

utility-poles

Living in a third world country, you learn patience, perseverance, and flexibility. Our first year here was just one big lesson in those three characteristics over and over and over. Learning how to live with inconsistent electricity, water, and internet took major adjustment for all of us.  There were many tears, frustrations, and sleepless hot nights.  Through the grace and mercy of God, we made it through that first year, and living with these inconsistency became normal.

Fast forward four years to now…

Since July, there have been new challenges with our electricity and internet, so we have been trying to adjust to a new normal.  One that has challenged and stretched us more than before.

Let me explain our power system here. When I say “city power”, this is the electricity that comes through the electric lines from the capital city. We have an inverter and batteries that provide electricity to us when “city power” is not on. However, the batteries only provide electricity for up to 4 hours…or 6 hours if we unplug our refrigerator. As you can imagine, we are super conservative with our electricity when living by battery power.

Mo thinks that we are getting more city power than before…when it comes on. Our electric lines are old, and there are more people living in our community than when they were initially installed. Because there are longer periods of time that our community is getting power, that means more work for the old lines. Plus, the power station in our community is old and not able to keep up with the additional work placed on the lines.  Something always seems to be breaking there also. Once the power comes in, blows something along the line or something at the power stations, we go without power for 2-5 days at a time while it is getting fixed. We rarely go a full week without something breaking. Few people pay an electric bill here, and most have spliced into the lines to hook up power to their homes.  Thus, the electric company doesn’t have extra money to replace the lines or whatever is broken or needs upgrading at the power station.

As for the internet, something is broken there as well. Our internet literally comes on for about 10 seconds, then goes out for 5-10 seconds.  All of my extremely patient friends can vouch for me on this one.  Trying to Skype, FaceTime, or have a phone call with us looks something like…say a few sentences, freeze, wait, and then repeat yourself. We also lose internet for short periods each day as well. It is frustrating at best!  The hardest part is that my daughters do school online. That means it can take a few days to get assignments submitted, and almost impossible for them to have their verbal testing with their teachers.  I am so thankful for understanding teachers and patient daughters.

A few weeks ago, we all just kind of broke. Months of struggling (on top of numerous other stresses that I won’t go into) finally just did us in. We were empty and had no more fight left in us at the moment.  Yes, God is our strength and our perseverance.  However, we also need to know when it is time for some good old-fashioned self-care!  Luckily, we were able to go away for the night, get hot showers with water pressure, solid electricity, and my girls were able to submit assignments through consistent internet. That is exactly what we needed to fill us back up.

Here we are.. working through and living in our new normal. We don’t have a happy heart every single day, but we are definitely working on it.  We are leaning into Him right now…I mean, we are leaning…and leaning…and leaning! Goodness, keep those prayers coming!

 


Leave a comment

Marriage Retreat

We recently held a marriage retreat in our community.  We had a total of 13 couples attend.  It was an amazing experience.  We spent Saturday and Sunday learning about God’s will for our marriage, ways that we can connect and invest in our marriage, how to deal with strife, and, basically, laughing, singing, and playing.

For lunch on Saturday, we had a picnic.

IMG_0638

For dinner that night, we had a romantic candlelit dinner.

IMG_0679

We played lots of games that required the couples to work together, and learned lots of ways to love on one another in order to put deposits in each other’s love bank.  It was beautiful to watch the couples come together to show that their marriage was important and worth investing the time to make it better.

IMG_0659

Pastor Tomas and Sonia, Pastor Jorge and Arelis, and Mo and I spoke on various topics such as: having Christ centered marriage, the top 5 needs of men and the top 5 needs of women, how to be intentional and make daily connections with your spouse, and how to deal with strife in your marriage. We all learned so much about one another. It was eye opening to see how marriages here have similar challenges as marriages in the US.  IMG_0702

I would also like to give a huge shoutout to Kristi, Jack, and all the jovens for all of their handwork of cooking, babysitting, and serving our couples during the retreat.  We couldn’t have done all of this without them.IMG_0740

 

Often times, we are asked, “How can I help with what you are doing?”

We have an “Ask” now.

All of the couples that attended this retreat have an opportunity to attend a marriage retreat in Punta Cana in October that will be held by missionary friends of ours.  They hold this retreat each year with a different topic to be discussed.  Mo and I were privileged enough to attend last year and were able to share that information in our marriage retreat.  It is a 3 day/2 night retreat held at an all-inclusive resort.

It is a rare opportunity for the couples in our community to be able to get away from the responsibilities of home and work to focus exclusively on one another.  It is a rare opportunity for the couples to be able to stay in an all-inclusive resort as well.  It is a rare opportunity for them to learn from and share with others outside of our community on what they can do to improve their marriages.

The “Ask”

In order for these couples to attend, we need sponsors.  The cost of the retreat is $275.  Each couple must pay $75 and provide their own transportation to and from Punta Cana.  We need individuals, couples, or groups to sponsor a couple for $200.  You will receive a picture of the couple that you are sponsoring so that you can pray for them and their marriage. You will truly be providing a opportunity of a lifetime for these couples.  You will be providing a opportunity for them to focus solely on one another without responsibilities to distract them.  You will be improving our community…one couple at a time!

If you or your small group would be willing to sponsor a couple, please message me at tamaraludlam@gmail.com.  (Please put “Couples Sponsorship” in the subject line.) We need these sponsorship as soon as possible so that we can begin paying deposits.  Deposits are due next week, with the remaining balance to be paid to the resort by October 1st.  The date of the retreat is October 7-9.  Your donation will be tax deductible as well.  Thank you in advance for your partnership!


Leave a comment

I’m a little teapot

IMG_0402.jpg

First, I ask that everyone please pray for France and the families of the victims of the horrible attack yesterday.

Second, with all the chaos and pain in the world right now, I would like to share something positive and show the kindness that exists.

A few months back, I commented on a picture that one of my FB friends had posted. I have never met this person personally but “knew” her through a missionary group. She lives in China. Her post was a picture of a little teapot and a description. I love a good cup of tea and thought this looked precious, so I commented something similar to that. Almost immediately, she messaged me and asked for a shipping address because she wanted to send me a set. (For those of you that have asked, we don’t have an address so everything has to be sent to our church)

This simple, selfless act of kindness has touched my heart in more ways than she can imagine. This little teapot put the biggest smile on my face and my heart.

Why do I share this? Maybe…we could ALL be a little teapot to a stranger today! Maybe a simple, selfless act of kindness can put a smile on someone else’s face and heart today.

This is what God asked of His children…

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

Matthew 25:40


Leave a comment

Pushing our birdies out of the nest

baby bird kicked out of nest

Motherhood is truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. My daughters fill my heart with love.  I honestly never thought that I would say that about my teenage daughters.  I can remember how they always wanted to be with me when they were little.  My husband would say, “They are both Momma’s Girls.  I want them to be Daddy’s girls”. I would laugh and say, “Please give this to me.  Soon they will be teenage girls.  Teenage girls and mommas don’t mix”!  However, here we are…and we still, not only love each other, but really like one another!

Today is the first Mother’s Day without my daughters.  BOTH of my little cherubs are in a different country than I am. Although my heart is filled with a bit of sadness, it is also filled with knowing…knowing what is coming in the next season of our lives.

I can remember, when they were babies, and seeing other mommas sending their kids off to Kindergarten, and thinking…”Nope, I could never do that. Those mommas are so brave”!

But, I did and it was one of the hardest things in my life that I ever did!

I can remember, when they were primary school aged, and seeing other mommas sending their babies off to middle school, and thinking…”Nope, I could never do that. Those mommas are so brave”!

But, I did and it was one of the hardest things in my life that I ever did!

I can remember, when they were middle school aged, and seeing other mommas seeing their babies walk across the stage to graduate high school, and thinking…”Nope, I can’t do that.  Those mommas are so brave”!

Yet, here I am…in that season of our lives.  I am looking down the path to graduating high schoolers.  I feel like I am spending every day filling them with knowledge to send them off into this world.  “Did I tell you this?” “Did I tell you that?”  “Do you know how much you are loved?”…and so on and so on…

This year, I had to put BOTH of my babies on planes several times to send them to another country for end-of-the-year high school tests. They were scared.  My husband and I were scared. My babies had lots of trepidation and hesitation. This was the time…the season…that we were dreading.  We had to push our babies out of the nest for their own good.  We had to push them beyond what they thought that they could do without parents there to catch them.

But, we did and it was one of the hardest things in my life that we ever did!

Thanks to wonderful in-laws, we have gotten several messages this week telling us how much they are enjoying spending time with our daughters, and that we have pretty awesome kiddos! Those words are music to this momma’s heart.

The point that I am making in all of this is to say…”Mommas of college kids, graduating college kids, getting married kids, having babies kids, and so on…I am watching you!  I am watching your bravery, and I am pulling from that.”  Just the same as I hope those mommas of those babies are watching me and pulling from my bravery!

Motherhood is the greatest blessing that God have ever given us.  It comes with enormous responsibility with the MOST AMAZING rewards!  God equips us along the way.  He helps us to take baby steps forward…

…as He prepares our hearts, give us strength, and helps us not to be fearful to take the next steps…

…even if it means having the courage to push those birdies out of the nest!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10


4 Comments

Dogs of the DR

Written by Lexie Ludlam

Photos by Lauren Ludlam

Lauren and I have been dog lovers our whole lives. When we first visited the DR, our hearts melted for all the strays. We felt God tugging on our hearts to give a voice to the voiceless.

12027386_979567918797348_6868597955238088857_o.jpg

Toby

When we first started our ministry, it was small. We fostered lots of puppies, but we didn’t really work with the big dogs. While walking around giving food to dogs, we met Mama Bear.

12748082_979567795464027_3564273924505446589_o.jpg

Mama Bear

Mama Bear was a sweet, homeless dog that lived in La Represa. Every time she went into heat, she got pregnant. She didn’t have the nutrition or proper care to keep these puppies alive, so many of them died. Mama Bear was sick. We feared if she had another litter that she wouldn’t make it. She is one of the sweetest dogs we have ever met. When we called her name, she would come running over to us whimpering for love. We knew we had to do something.

12496354_979568092130664_6894024965245704449_o

Her baby bears

Mama Bear and her puppy, Jerry, were in the first picture for our Instagram account @dogsofthedr. Her story inspired us to start helping older dogs. We would go around the community giving dog food and parasite medicine to strays.

12496334_979567892130684_8355795573841146902_o.jpg

Little Jerry

Then one day, we got a donation to fix Mama Bear and two other dogs. We were overjoyed! We couldn’t be more thankful! So we loaded Mama Bear and two other mama dogs into our car and got them fixed. This was a big breakthrough for us! We wanted to fix the female dogs in the community for so long. The dog population is overwhelming, and many of them are strays who end up dying. 12764419_979567752130698_7861228490936112124_o.jpg

Now, our ministry is to foster dogs and to spay them. We want to reduce the dog population so that every pooch can have a forever home. To help raise money for this program, we designed Dogs of the DR t-shirts.

 

12744684_979574505463356_3814644861950118797_n

T-shirt design

T-shirts are $15.00 each (+ $5 for the first shirt for shipping and $2 for each additional shirt). They are printed on gray shirts and are fairly true to fit. If you would like to purchase one, you can send money by clicking on the donate button. When you go to donate, there will be a note section. In this note section, write your shirt size, address, and how many t-shirts you want. Thank you so much!

Also, we are still in search of a forever home for Mariposa (pictured below). The home that we originally thought would work didn’t because the people couldn’t take a dog at this time.  Mariposa is one of the most loving dogs that you will meet.  Her original owner was an elderly lady that had to move out of the community with a family member.  She was unable to take Mariposa with her.  At that point, Mariposa was homeless.  We have taken her in on a temporary basis but my dad says that we need to get rid of her.  We have 6 dogs already.

We really want her to have a forever family.  Would you like to adopt her?  If we are able to raise enough money, we can help with air travel if you live outside of the DR.

12719262_979568035464003_2995362812926846776_o-2.jpg

Mariposa

 

 

 

 

 

 


1 Comment

Coson Bay

IMG_1763.JPG

As most of you know, in order for us to get a true day off, we have to leave our community. We often take that opportunity to relax and explore this beautiful island.  One of our most favorite areas to visit is the Las Terrenas/Coson/Samana area.

From January to March, the whales migrate through the warm Caribbean waters of Samana.  There are many companies that offer whale watching tours in which one can see the calving and mating rituals of the humpback whales.  This is a MUST SEE!  We took a group two years ago and were lucky enough to see a mom and baby breach for us, and two males fighting for a female’s attention.

IMG_8856

Whale breaching

Normally, we rent a house in Las Terrenas, which is about a 30 minute car ride outside of Samana.  We like Las Terrenas because it is a small beach town with numerous shops and restaurants.  You can pretty much walk anywhere you want to go.  There are many beaches in the area that are clean and relaxing.  Various excursions are available such as renting 4 wheelers, visiting the Limon waterfalls, zip lining, scuba diving, surf schools, kite surfing, and more.

This year, we decided to visit Playa Coson, which is a 10 minute car ride outside of Las Terrenas. We stayed at the Coson Bay Hotel and Residences.  Were we ever so thankful that we did!

This place is a wonderfully hidden secret!  Seriously, I almost want to keep it to myself to maintain its peace and tranquility. 

Coson Bay Hotel  property sits on approximately 4 acres and offers 42 condominiums.  There are 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms and a penthouse available.  The average cost per night is $250 during high season and $190 during low season. The property offers a large relaxing pool, beachside seating and beverage service, a restaurant and bar, a gym, and a game room. The staff can also assist in scheduling spa services and tours, such as the ones named above.  The accommodations are clean and modern.  Coson Bay is 100% family friendly and safe.  The staff is AMAZING!  We got the opportunity to sit down and talk with Roberto, the general manager, and Carolina, the front desk manager.  The pride that both take in the property is refreshing. The mission of the Coson Bay Hotel is to satisfy the clients, the property, and the staff.  You could definitely tell that the staff loved and took pride and ownership in their work.

IMG_1765

Roberto and Carolina

Each condominium offers a full kitchen, dining room, living room, and patio.  Each bedroom has its own full bathroom.  This gives you the option of cooking your own meals.  If you prefer to let someone else do the cooking, the property offers a open air restaurant facing the ocean.  Their brick oven pizza is cooked on the premises and is the most delicious pizza that I have ever eaten.  We stayed three nights and ate pizza every night!

There is a large pool that overlooks the water, with the ocean just steps away. If you prefer to relax on the beach, there are plenty of seating options.  Lounge chairs to relax and get a tan, or to nap under the shade of a palm tree. This is a great place for surfers to catch some waves while their family can relax on the beach and watch. There is truly something for everyone!

coson bay

If you are looking for the excitement and fiesta style atmosphere of an all-inclusive resort, Coson Bay Hotel is not for you.  However, if you are looking for complete peace, tranquility, a place to relax and truly checkout of the hustle and bustle of your daily life, this place is exactly what you are looking for!

If you are sick of the cold weather and need a long weekend getaway, we are able to offer you a 20% discount on all rooms.  Use the code LUDLAM20 when making reservations!