asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


2 Comments

Cops, Sweat, and Tears

IMG_5499I have mentioned numerous times how interesting it is driving here, especially stopping at red lights.  Another “fun fact” about driving in the capital and being American is that the cops LOVE to pull you over for no real reason.  Often, as my friend, Ashley, commenting on THIS POST, they want a “donation”.

Seriously, in the beginning, we would get pulled over almost every single time that we would drive into Santo Domingo.  It was so frustrating!

I had a friend tell me that we should take a picture of the police officer with his name badge clearly visible the next time that it happened.  She said that they would typically back off then.

One day, Mo and I had gone into the capital for a few errands and a quick “day date”.  When we turned left at a light with about 20 others cars, the cops pointed us out and told us to pull over.  We literally had done nothing and were in the middle of the pack.

We pulled over, the cop asked us for our paperwork, and began to make up a reason that he pulled us over.  I had had enough!  I pulled out my cell phone and started taking pictures.  The cop immediately got defensive and told me to delete the photo.  Mo was driving so he was in the middle of all of this.  At that time, I didn’t speak a lot of Spanish but was attempting to “give him a piece of my mind” in Spanish and in English.  I was telling him that “we were sick of being pulled over when we did nothing at all and that all he wanted was money.”  I told him that “we were going to report him.”

Of course, he understood NONE of what I was saying because, truth be told, it was mostly said in English with some Spanish thrown in here and there.  The cop starting saying “Why is she so angry at me?” and “Tell her to delete that picture.”

Remember, Mo was right in the middle of all of this and was paralyzed with fear!  He seriously thought we were going to Dominican jail, and he was about to becoming someone’s “Mrs”.

He looked at me with pleading eyes and said, “Tamara, I really think we should just give him some money and get out of here before we go to jail!”

About this time, I put my face in my hands and start crying!  The cop is suddenly like, “Ok, hey, here’s your paperwork.  I don’t know what I have done to upset her so badly but why don’t you guys just get out of here?”

He leaves, we drive off, and Mo turns to me and says, “What the mess is wrong with you?  You never cry.  What got you so upset?”

I just looked at him, smiled, and said,

“I wasn’t really crying.  I just wanted him to leave us alone.”

Moral of the story:

A crying woman translates the same in all languages! (Hehe!)

 


2 Comments

A Wall of Warriors

warriorOne thing that I hope everyone knows about me is that I am real.  What you see on social media will be the same thing that you see in my “real life”.  You won’t hear spiritual platitudes coming from my mouth.  I won’t say things just to placate you.  That is both a blessing and a curse.

The reason that I am saying this is because I need all of you to know that.  I hope to show as much of the good, bad, and ugly of me that is socially acceptable.  (Let’s all face it…only your closest of friends see it all!) My hope is that by being honest and vulnerable that you can see God at work.  My hope is that through my own personal struggles and angst that you can see God working in and through me.  My hope is that this gives you hope and points you to the one that seeks your heart!

Yesterday, I posted a plea for prayer on FB.  Over the past month, we have been getting attacked from all sides in ways that we have not made public.  The same thing happened when we were entering the mission field.  We have been a bit shocked that it is happening as we are leaving the field to enter a season of rest and healing. We feel that we aren’t much of a threat right now and couldn’t understand why we were under siege.

Hermanas en Cristo has been doing the War Room bible study, and our recent Women’s Retreat’s theme was “This is War!”, with our focus on becoming Prayer Warriors.  For anyone that has not read Priscilla Shirer’s book, Fervent, she talks about how satan attacks us in all areas of our life to distract us so that we will lose our focus on God. He uses problems in our marriage, our relationships and our finances to distract us.  He wants to take away our passion and our energy so we won’t have the strength to fight.  He uses others to remind us of who we were in our past. Once he distracts and weakens us, then he goes in for the kill.

That is where I was yesterday…distracted and depleted!

How can we fight against that?  Through prayer and scripture!!!

I heard God say, “Ask for help!  Surround your family with a Wall of Prayer Warriors!”.

I needed to “practice what I preach”.

As I reached out on FB, I was nervous for laying it out there for all to see.  I was weak, vulnerable, and sinking! I was nervous about being judged for “being weak in my faith” (<—don’t get me started on that! That is for another day, another post).

We were overwhelmed by love and support! We received so many private messages and words of encouragement, and so many people began praying for us. It did feel like we had a Wall of Prayer Warriors all around us.  It gave us strength to refocus on Him.

There are going to be times in our lives where we don’t have strength to fight alone.  God is always with us and always faithful.  I believe that is why He also provides us with Prayer Warriors to surround us and protect us as we refocus on Him.  God also uses these times to grow and mold us.  He will never let our pain occur in vain.  He always uses that for His good.  God is teaching me to be vulnerable, bold, and to live without fear of judgment. He is teaching me not to listen to what others say about who I am, but to believe who He says I am.  He is showing me that I am not the sum of all of my past mistakes and failures. I hope that my moments of weakness can serve as a testament for Him.  I hope that you can see that no one is perfect in their walk with Christ.  Yes, I definitely hope that you do not see a “perfect Christian”, but that you see a broken person that NEEDS Jesus! I hope that you can see the new story that God is beginning to weave into our lives. I hope to continue to focus and rest in Him.  I hope that you can see that He will always turn something beautiful from the ashes to glorify His name!


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


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!


Leave a comment

When God speaks through peppermint mocha lattes…

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

invisible personThose close to me know that I struggle with invisibility…and now the whole interwebs know as well.  It’s a nagging childhood wound that doesn’t seem to want to go away.  It’s definitely a scar that satan uses to pull me down…to tell me that I don’t matter…and I am not good enough.

Today has been a really rough day for me.  For a few months now, we’ve been going nonstop, entertaining teams and guests, working our ministries, and dealing with numerous illnesses.  Seriously, I feel like this whacked out little peacock:

IMG_6485

Can you say ragged?

I know how important self-care is here on the mission field but have been too busy to slow down.  Satan knows this.  When I get rundown and tired, he wants to isolate me so that he can bully me with his mean ole words. He is such a jerk face!

However, tonight, I didn’t let that happen.  I immediately messaged the people in my life that I  love and trust.  I told them,

“Pray for me!  I am struggling with invisibility tonight and am wallowing in a huge pool of pity!”  

Each one of them sent crazy encouraging words to me, along with lots of prayers.Starbucks_Peppermint_Mocha

Earlier in the day, I had posted on Facebook how I needed someone to bring me a Starbucks peppermint mocha latte STAT…

…because that would cure my pity party and make me visible again. I am quite certain of this!

Right in the middle of the crisis in my mind, I got a message from a childhood friend that said, “I work at Starbucks and I want to send you all the things to make a peppermint mocha anytime that you want to!”

TEARS!!!

It felt like God spoke straight through her to say,

“I see you there, Tamara!  You are not invisible to me!”

God really does love me…

And He kicked satan’s butt with kind words from friends…

…and a Starbucks peppermint mocha!

You go, God!!!


4 Comments

Punta Cana

IMG_6464We have been planning a vacation for our family, which includes the K’s, for several months now.  We knew that it would be the last time that we would all be able to get away as a family before Keely returned to the states in July.  We had all been setting aside our money and had planned to go the last week of May.

God had an even greater plan for us though!

About a month before our trip, I had lunch with a missionary friend named Jodi.  She asked me if we got an invitation from CHN for the missionary retreat in Punta Cana.  I told her that I knew nothing about it.  She said, “Let me see if I can get you an invitation”.  Long story short, she was able to get us one, and they gave one to the K’s too!

Get this…IT WAS THE EXACT WEEK that we had planned our trip.

IMG_6467

Worship was in this room each night. All of those people in the front in the dark shirts were our angels. Can you see their wings?

Let me explain what the CHN Getaway is, to the best of my knowledge.  CHN (CHRISTIAN HOSPITALITY NETWORK) is a group of angels that God sent down to earth to provide a respite to those who are working on the mission field.  Each year, these angels gather at a 4-or-5 star resort and invite all the missionaries from far and wide.  They give them 4 days and 3 nights to relax, rest, and rejuvenate.  During that time, they bring other angels that have names like “Counselor”, “Hair stylist”, “Photographer”, “Chiropractor”, “Masseuse”, “Pastor”, “Worship leader”, “Handmaiden”, “Helper”, and “Babysitter”.  Let’s also not forget all of the angels that stayed back in the States to help coordinate all of this, and those that donate money to make all of this possible.  All of these angels come together, in one form or another, to love and serve all the missionaries! Each night, we are able to worship in ENGLISH!  This year, the members of DALLAS BAY BAPTIST CHURCH came to sponsor and serve at this retreat.

Did I mention…that ALL OF THIS WAS FREE to us?!

IMG_6477 We stayed at the MELIA TROPICAL CARIBE RESORT. It was a beautiful resort with tons of restaurant options and a huge pool right by the beach.  It was so wonderful to sleep in air conditioning, watch cable TV, and shower with water pressure and hot water!  The staff at the Melia was very helpful, and many were able to speak English.  There was a gym available, as well as a spa with a steam room, sauna, and hot tub.  The  food was wonderful.  We loved all of the options available: Thai, Japanese, Italian, American, Dominican, Mexican, and French, as well as several buffets with numerous options. IMG_6503

The main goal of these Getaways is to pour into the missionaries.  Our team had not truly had time away from the community since February.  My family took a two day getaway recently to get logistics together for the Surf Camp in June, which was a working getaway.  The K’s, on the other hand, had not gotten away at all since February, and were running on what little reserve that they had left.  This trip could not have come at a better time.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”  Matthew 25:35

That was us…and so many other missionaries that joined us this week.  We all came thirsty and were given ‘a cold drink of water”.  We were filled to overflowing, so that we are now able to return to our work and fill others with our overflow! All because of these angels that came to show us God’s love!  “Thank you” does not begin to show our gratitude for the love that each of these individuals gave to us!  We left feeling loved and appreciated…and relaxed and rejuvenated!

IMG_6475 God calls us to be His hands and feet here on earth

In Matthew 9, we see Jesus helping others and performing miracles. This was His way of showing us SINCERE LOVE.  His living example taught us how to go out and offer that to others. The Kingdom of God needs more “workers”, and God needs us to be His hands and feet more today than ever before. IMG_6474

For our retreat, the Chik-Fil-A company donated money to hire the team of masseuse at the resort to give daily foot massages.  There were also volunteers that were called “Handmaidens” that gave daily hand massages, while loving on and praying over us.  Seriously, these people have amazing hearts!  I love the imagery of this as well…The hands and feet of Jesus massaging the hands and feet of His children!

If anyone would like to get involved with CHN, click here for their website –>The Christian Hospitality Network.  The work that they are doing, their vision, and their love is truly a blessing for those of us on the mission field.

IMG_6546

That crazy, stressed out peacock at the top looks a little worse for the wear.  I am fearful that we looked a whole lot bit like him when we arrived at the resort.  Now, that fella on the bottom…the one with the beautiful, relaxed feathers…I am certain that we looked a whole lot more like him when we left!

 It’s much easier (and less scary looking) when we are serving our community if we look like the bottom fella than the top one!

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

And He does…because God is faithful to His promises!


Leave a comment

Getting a mammogram Part 1

IMG_6154Occasionally, when we go to the Capital, we will get a pedicure or get a shampoo and blow dry.  It’s a little luxury that we allot for ourselves, a way for us to experience a little of our past lives in the States.  To get a pedicure that includes that most fabulous foot massage ever is only 500 pesos…the equivalent to about $11 US.  A shampoo and blow dry is only 250 pesos…the equivalent to about $5.50 US.

IMG_6222

I was just thinking the other day how this country has that figured out.  Every woman feels better when she is able to pamper herself occasionally.  These prices are affordable for most all social economic groups, which I think is genius!  In the states, we pay 3 or 4 X the cost for these same services.

Do you know what they don’t have figured out?  Health care for women.  I know that most could agree that the US struggles in this area as well.  I haven’t had a mammogram since I moved here 2.5 years ago, and am at high risk for breast cancer due to family history.  I knew it was time to be responsible and get this done.  I am sure that I could have found a doctor in the Capital that would charge a little more and possibly offered a better service.  However, I wanted to understand what my girlfriends had to experience in order to get health care.

As I was talking to my dear friend, Morena, she stated that she was needing to get a mammogram too.  We decided to go together to do this….because, clearly:Friends mamo pic

She knew of a clinic in a community about 20 minutes away that offers mammograms, and it only cost 1000 pesos, which is equivalent to a little over $22 US.  I was blown away by this!  In the US, I think that I still had to pay over $200 AFTER my insurance had paid a large amount of it!IMG_6448

We made a plan to leave early on Thursday morning to beat the crowd.  Unfortunately, they don’t take appointments.  It’s a “first come, first serve” basis.  We left at 7:30 because the clinic opens at 8:00.  When we got there, we only had to wait for about 5 people to fill out their paperwork ahead of us.  Maybe I should stop for a second and explain that this clinic offers numerous services, like echocardiograms, sonograms, dental care, and braces, as well as mammograms.  Yes, that all makes sense!  Now, if they could only offer veterinarian care for my goats, and mechanical care for my truck, I could totally get into this.  One stop shopping, baby!IMG_6447

Once we got up to the front desk, the lady said “We only do mammograms on Fridays from 9:00-12:00”.  Ok, then…

Morena decides that she is going to call that afternoon to make sure they are doing mammograms the following day and to try to get an appointment.  They “don’t take appointments but are doing mammograms tomorrow”, they say.

We left today at 8:00 because the clinic starts taking patients at 9:00 for mammograms.  When we get to the front desk, the lady says, “La doctora no viene”, which means “The doctor did not come.”  That’s all…no other explanation!  She did tell us that we could come back tomorrow…that they are going to do mammograms on Saturday…

I don’t even know what to think about all of this.  I think about all the times that I have complained about having to wait 15-30 minutes for my doctor in the States…in a plush, air conditioned, carpeted waiting area with magazines and television.  If the doctor “no viene”, I got a phone call.  When you have an appointment, then they have your number to call you.  That luxury does not exist for this clinic.  It’s so hard for me to wrap my brain around it.  These ladies have to pay a lot of money just to get to the clinic…only to be turned away…and return again…and possibly again, but they do it because they need health care.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.~~ 2 Timothy 1:7

Not one time did I see anyone get angry or share a cross word.  These women teach me everyday how to be strong in spirit, trust in the Lord, and show His love even in difficult situations.  I have so much more to learn from them!

I am not able to go tomorrow or next week, so we are going to try again in 2 weeks.  Cross your fingers, throw salt over your shoulder, and pray that we will be seen and that “la doctora viene”!