asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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I’m a little teapot

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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


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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.

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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.

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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!


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Community Walk

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Lately, in our community, we have experienced numerous deaths of our young people.  Mostly, it’s the young men that have been in motorcycle accidents or dying in their sleep.  When someone dies here, the entire community grieves with the family for 9 days.  They set up a tarp near the house, bring in tons of chair, and serve food to everyone.  It speaks to how closely knit our community is.  They share their happiness and their sadness with one another.

On several occasions, we have discussed how God is using our youth to grow our community.  You can visibly see God’s hand at work!  More and more of our “jovenes” (the word used for the teen to 20-something group) are accepting Christ and living their life for Him.  It’s truly remarkable to experience!

Recently, a young 20-something year old man died in his sleep.  While visiting the family, a group of us were discussing how many young people had passed away or been injured lately.  Our assistant pastor, Jorge, said that it feel like satan was attacking our community. His words really sank in for me.  It’s true…satan was attacking the group that was being used the most by God right now.

Oh, you know...just a random horse coming through

Oh, you know…just a random horse coming through

Pastor Tomas planned a community walk in which we would all pray protection over our community.  I remember doing something similar to this in the states, in which our pastor asked us to go out on a planned night and pray over our neighborhood.  My family walked our neighborhood together, stopped in front of each house, and prayed for the family that lived there.

IMG_3310What we experienced on Saturday in this community was nothing short of awe-inspiring!  The entire community met at a specified point and walked from one end of the community to the other.  Along the way, we sang songs.  We had a “band” set up on a trailer with speakers and a mic system.  We were definitely heard throughout the community and into the heavens!

IMG_3302One of the main songs that we sang stated: “God gave us *insert something here, such as our homes, our spouses, our children, etc*.  They are gifts from God, and you cannot have them satan.  Go away!”  They let him know, in no uncertain terms, that he would not take these things from us and was not welcome here!

IMG_3317At each barrio, we stopped, and Pastor Tomas or Pastor Jorge prayed over that community. They prayed for each individual group in each community…the churches, the jovenes, the children, the men, the women, the elderly, the businesses, the homes, etc!  Our community was covered with a blanket of prayers and protection.

To see everyone come together in such a powerful way showed the love that they have for one another and our community.  The faith that this tiny community has can move mountains.  It definitely should scare satan enough to send him packing his bags and high tailing it out of here!IMG_3309*I challenge each of you to give the best present possible to your neighbors and community this Christmas season:  the give of prayer!  Walk your communities, and pray for each home, business, and family.  I dare ya! 😉

 


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Q & A: Part 2

Now for Part 2 of the Q & A.  If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments below.  We will periodically do these posts if there is enough interest.

Beth asked: “I see you with crispy cream donuts….do they have like american food places? And how do they drive? Can you watch our american channels on TV……I could go on and on”

Kay also asked: “What’s the food like there?”

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We live in the campo (aka country) that is about 1 hour outside of Santo Domingo, which is the capital of the Dominican Republic. The main dishes that most families eat here are rice & beans, and chicken.  Salami is also very popular here, and we typically eat salami sandwiches or salami and eggs for lunch.  However, when we are feeling the effects of living in a 3rd world country and need some semblance of our old life, we make a trip to the capital.  We do our grocery shopping and usually grab a bite to eat.  There are many American restaurants there, such as Wendy’s, MacDonald’s, Chili’s, Outback, Johnny Rockets, and many more.

Traffic is INSANE!!!  Seriously, there are very few traffic rules that are followed.  Basically, it’s all man for himself and can be quite frightening!  Most of the time, we say it’s like playing the game Frogger.  We have to avoid other cars, people, and motorcycles at all times.

As far as TV, some of our neighbors have satellite TV.  My family does not have any type of cable/satellite.  We do have a TV and one of those Apple TV device thingies.  With satellite TV, you can get many American channels.  Most are in Spanish but you can get English subtitles.  We have chosen, for now, not to spend the money on satellite TV.  If we want to watch a movie, we download it on iTunes.  Hulu does not stream here.  I hear that Netflix does now but does not have a large selection here.  Mo watches sports using frontrowsports.com.

 

Kristy asked: Are you able to see if our sponsor children are near you ?”
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Yes, all of the sponsor children live in this community.  For those that don’t know what this means, “sponsor children” are the children that attend the private school with which our church partners.  In order for many of the students to attend this school, they need to be sponsored because their families cannot afford the tuition.  Through an organization called Vision Trust, people living all over the world can sponsor the students here.  All gifts and supplies that are sent to these students must go through the Vision Trust organization.  However, if you want to know more about your sponsor child or want pictures, just message me.  Many people will ask us to set up Skype dates with their sponsor children.

Kristy also asked:  “What is your favorite thing about your new home?”

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When you say “home”, I think that you are talking about the country that I now live, not the actual block structure.  There is so much that I love about my new home.  Number 1, my neighbors are amazing with the biggest, most loving hearts that you will ever find!  Number 2, it is gorgeous here!  The picture above was taken from my back porch.  Number 3, they have siesta here from 12:00-2:00!  Seriously, U.S., you are missing the ball on this one!  This is the time of the day that most of the families return home, eat lunch, and rest before returning back to work/school.  LOVE that time of day!!!

 

Lara asked: I’d like to know some of your favorite recipes!”

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As I mentioned before, I am not much of a cook.  Many of the women here have TRIED to teach me how to make Dominican dishes such as Moro con guandules (rice and beans) and chicken.  I still can’t do it!  I do make one dish that my family and I enjoy.  First, you have to have this magic pot (because it rocks)!  Fill it will potatoes, carrots, onions, fresh cilantro, a special Dominican spice, chicken, and water.  Then cook it for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  It’s delish…and so easy!!!  I can do easy!

Of course…last, but not least…

Lexie asked: How does it feel to have an amazing daughter like me?”

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Gosh, Lex….there are just no words to describe the joy it is to have such a beautiful, talented, funny young lady as my daughter!


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A grateful heart

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Somedays I wake up and have such a grateful heart. I wish that I could say that happens every single day but, to be completely transparent, it doesn’t. Somedays, I wake up and stumble to the kitchen begging for coffee!  On the days that it does, I think about how overwhelming grateful (and undeserving) we are of God asking our family to come here to the DR to be His helpers to this beautiful area

 

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Then I think about ALL of you back in the States that do so much to support God’s plan here. Many of you have covered us in prayers, have given money, and have collected shoes, books, clothes, school supplies, toys, etc. for the community.

 

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We have been working on the library for the past few weeks. I get butterflies in my stomach and tears in my eyes when I think about seeing it completed, with books in it and the littles reading these books or getting to read books to them. It sometimes just overwhelms me with happiness!

All of this to say….THANK YOU! Thank you to every single person that has prayed for us. We feel them! We NEED them! Spiritual warfare is real, and satan has been attacking us from all angles lately.

Thank you to every single person that has supported our family or our church, New Vision Baptist Church,  financially.  Without these monetary donations, NONE of this could happen!

Thank you to every single person that has sent us gifts, care packages, or notes of support to let us know that SO many of you back in the States are thinking about us and loving us from afar.

Thank you to every single person that saw a need and decided to take action by starting a drive to collect needed items here.

We truly know that ALL of you are God’s hands and feet.  Your mission field in the States is an extension of ours here!

Last, but not least, we want to thank the pastors and staff at New Vision Baptist for ALL that you have done for our family.  So many of you have come to visit us, have prayed with us, listened to us, been a shoulder for me to cry on, and such a strong support system in so many ways.  There have been so many of you that have sent emails, FB messages, text messages, or notes of encouragement.  Thank you!

We would like to personally thank Daniel Koon, our missions’ pastor, for all of the HOURS that he has spent with us on Skype, whether it’s just to listen or pray, or to talk through plans for a project.  Most importantly, your wife, Lara, and you have helped us feel heard and valued.  Thank you, Daniel!


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Care packages

A Panera's bear claw from my sweet friend Regina!

A Panera’s bear claw from my sweet friend Regina!

I used to think that it was so sweet when groups/organizations would put together care packages for soldiers as a way of saying “Thank you” or “Someone is thinking about you”.  I would imagine the soldier, sitting in her camo in a desert somewhere with dust and loneliness covering her, opening the packages and a huge smile covering her face.

But I truly had no idea….

I had no idea how much it made the soldier’s HEART smile!

I had no idea how it filled that lonely place in her heart.

Although I am not a soldier, I now understand what a care package really means.  It means that some selfless person many miles away took a few minutes out of his/her very busy life to pour into her life.  For the sender, it may not seem like much to send a few items from the soldier’s home country that she can’t get her hands onto in her current country (or it cost a gabillion dollars)…but she so desperately misses these things!

Our medical mission team just left…

with them came this…

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Each one of my family members got a box filled with some of our favorite things or things that we can’t get here…as well as a bunch of cards from some of the kids at our church.

I don’t even know WHO to thank.  So I am just going to thank everyone that has ever sent us little goodies, gifts, or cards from “back home”.

Often people ask us what we need.  It’s really hard to ask for stuff that we want or need.  However, one of the members of the medical team put it into perspective for me.   She said,  “Please, let us know what you want.  By doing so, you bless us as well!”

One more lesson that DR living has taught me.

Thank you, sweet people!!!


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Put Down the Stone

“For us to decide what needs to change about another human being is so far above our pay grade.  God uses the love that we give to make whatever changes that He needs to make in that person” ~Glennon

Take a few minutes to watch this video….

…You can thank me later! ;O)