On July 29th, we will hit the six months mark of living in the Dominican Republic.
It has been amazing to see how our family has changed and grown. Both girls are speaking Spanish rather fluently. Watching the ways in which they are overcoming insecurities and challenges has been quite inspiring to me. We are seeing an increase in their self-confidence and a maturity in the way that they see the world. Some of the things that they have seen and experienced have been very difficult for 12 and 14 year old children. They have definitely learned that the world is not always fair, but that it can be quite beautiful.
They have been working hard on developing a plan to care for the animals in this area and figure out a way to control the pet population. They found a veterinarian at one of the universities in Santo Domingo that is willing to come to our community with a few of the vet students and neuter/spay 15 dogs. They have opted to spay 15 female dogs. They decided that the females are the ones that have the puppies so that is a good place to start. Mo and I have been very impressed with their tenacity toward this project.
The girls also teach English to a small group of girls in our neighborhood. Right now, they are working on colors, names of animals, and some adjectives. I know that seems a bit random but I love that they are “developing their own curriculum”. It seems to be working.
Mo has such a special way of touching the lives of the people in this area. He has made several very good friends, and makes a point to spend quality time just sitting and chatting with them each day. He has inspired me so many times to just sit and talk even if the language is difficult. He is continually working with someone in the neighborhood on some sort of project or another. He is still “preaching” a 10-15 minute sermon every Sunday at the church. He has been talking to several of our neighbors about getting a couples’ bible study started. We are very excited to get this going.
Mo inspires me in so many ways. I have stated it numerous times but he has such a servant’s heart. It is so easy for him to just serve and give of himself. Where I have a difficult time trusting people, he trusts to a fault. Luckily, God gave us each other to balance that out.
Our entire family has fallen completely in love with the family across the street, Fernando (the barber), Alexandria, Fernelli, Jeffrey, and Rue. They have been so kind and accepting to us. Most nights, we just sit on their porch and talk to them. They are very understanding of my challenges with the Spanish language. They will speak slowly and help me to understand words that I don’t know, and correct me when I say things incorrectly.
It hasn’t been easy for any of us to adjust to a different culture. There are things that we absolutely LOVE about this culture and its people, they are things that drive us absolutely bonkers, and there are still things that we don’t understand at all. God has been so good to our family and has really given us the strength to trudge through the hard times. There have been times that we have just “broke”. We have zero privacy. People are constantly walking into our yard, and peeping in windows and doors. They are constantly calling our names. We actually have people look in our bedroom windows when we are sleeping or just taking an afternoon rest. Because it is hot and we don’t have air conditioning, we cannot close our windows or doors because we need the air. This has been one of the hardest challenges on us. Please don’t take this as complaining. We understand that we are here to serve this community. We just need a little privacy every once and a while. The mission team coming in a few days will be building a fence for us and the new missionaries that are here.
Luckily, we have several missionary friends that have listened to our concerns and have/have had the same challenges. We have been told over and over and over…MAKE SURE THAT YOU TAKE TIME AWAY FROM YOUR COMMUNITY! So, a few weeks ago, we took 3 days and went to the beach. It was so nice to be in a place where we could just be! We came back refreshed and not grumpy anymore! We HAVE to make ourselves get away so that can be more effective for the ones that we serve.
God has suddenly started opening up many doors for us. The girls and I have been helping to organize the Children’s Ministry at the church. There have been about 10 girls in the community that have come forward to offer their gifts to teach small groups. I really want to reserve a post just to share this ministry with you. We are super excited to see how God is going to use this ministry for the children (and future) of this community.
As with my previous post, we have the chicken house done and have 3 chickens that are laying eggs. We still don’t know where this project will lead. It may just be a way to provide eggs for our family and for us to share with our neighbors. The children of the Dominican Republic are so low on protein so we are really hoping that this grows. My hope is to educate people on how to raise chickens for eggs and the kids are getting more protein in their diets.
Our church sent two new missionaries to our community on Tuesday. Their names are Kristi and Keely. Kristi is 24 and Keely is 25. They will be teaching at the school that my church helped build here in the area. One of our jobs is to be a host family to these ladies. We are excited to have them here and want to be available for them. Mo has, of course, taken on his daddy role immediately! I can already see how having these ladies here will be a valuable asset to the community and our family, especially my daughters. What a wonderful example of following God’s guidance in your life!
We have a HUGE mission group coming on Saturday so we have been quite busy preparing for them. There will be a total of 55 people including translators, cooks, and leaders. We have lots of projects planned, a kids’ club for the kids in the community, a baseball ministry for the boys, a crafts ministry for the girls, and a teacher workshop. LOTS of stuff going on!!!
One of the projects that we will be working on is a goat corral. A lady in our church felt God lay it on her heart to help to start a goat ministry in this area to help widows provide food and financial support for their families. This is another subject that I would like to reserve for an individual post in the future. Needless to say, the girls and I are super excited because our family will be getting 2 goats of our own so that we can learn how to raise dairy goats. We cannot wait to get started!
Lately, I have been struggling with a few of my own challenges and unbeliefs. I can feel Him right beside me trying to smooth over those rough places of my heart. Throughout all of the challenges, fears, and difficulties, God has been so good to us. He has given us strength that could only come from Him. He continues to guide our family into leaps of faith. We are learning to lean on him more than ever. He has comforted our hearts in many difficult situations. We KNOW that He has exactly where He wants us! He has been so faithful!
Lastly, we would like to thank all of you for all of the support that you have given our family. We also would like to thank each of you that has helped support us financially each month, or with one time donations. As you know, we are Faith-based Missionaries, which means that we have faith that God will provide financially for us monthly and for the work that we are doing here in the DR. You cannot imagine how much your donations, kind words, prayers, and support mean to us! It definitely makes it easier to deal with the heat and challenges of living in a third world culture! Thank you!!!!