asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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Meet Rosa

IMG_0024This lady is amazing.  There is no way that words can explain all that encompasses what makes her HER. For that reason, I want to share two stories that she often shares.  To me, both show how God has worked in her life to form that blessing that she is.

Rosa was raised by Christian parents. When Rosa was a little girl, there was a time that her father was out of work and having great difficulty finding a job to provide for his family.  It was almost Christmas.  During this time, their main concern was simply having food to feed their large family.  Christmas gifts were not even a thought. Her aunt heard about their struggles and asked Rosa’s dad to come to her house around 10:00 on December 24th.  She remembers that he was gone for over 3 hours.  It took so long because her aunt and her aunt’s friends were busy cooking for Rosa’s family.  When he returned home, he had more food than she had ever seen.  Not only did he return with this delicious Christmas feast, he also had gifts for all of the kids.  She received a dress, shoes, and a baby doll.

She said this was the first time that she truly saw God’s work in action.  She decided from that point forward, she would follow Him and allow Him to be the guide in her life.

Fast forward many years…now she is married and has children.  Her husband had begun drinking a lot.  He was rarely home, and she spent many holidays and family functions without him because he was out in the streets drinking.  Christmas had always been her favorite time of year to share with family and friends.  Suddenly, she dreaded it and felt very lonely.  She would talk to her husband over and over and over without success.  He was not willing to hear her and change his ways.  She stayed with him but was often heartbroken.  One day, she decided that she would no longer nag her husband, and would fully hand him over to God. She began praying for him and asking God to make him stop drinking.  Almost immediately, he began having major problems and pains in his stomach when he would drink.  It got so bad that he finally had no choice but to quit drinking.  She gives all of the glory to God for hearing her pleas.

Although her marriage is not perfect and there are still struggles, she is committed to the promise that she made.

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She finds joy where many would find sorrow.  She finds beauty in most all things. She is steadfast in her love of the Lord.  She is honest and trustworthy.  Whenever I have been sad or struggling with anything in my life, she listens and shows compassion.  She will often leave my house, pray, and return with scripture that God has given her.

She has told me numerous times that I have taught her so much about the Bible.  This puzzles me because I cannot see how I had anything to offer her that she did not already have.  Seriously, she is one of the most solid person that I have ever had the blessing to know.

When I first announced to Hermanas en Cristo that we were leaving, I asked who would like to take over as the leader.  Everyone immediately pointed to Rosa, because we all knew that she was the most likely choice. They also voted to pay her an additional 10% on top of the sales of her own jewelry, as a salary.  That meant they all believed in her enough to reduce their own pay by 10%.  THAT is nothing more that God’s hand at work!

IMG_0025As I have been preparing to leave, we have been training for her to take over Hermanas en Cristo.  She is a natural leader and never knew it.  She didn’t seem to realize her awesomeness and capabilities.  It has been such a blessing to see her confidence grow.  It has been such a blessing to watch her nurture the spiritual growth of some of our newest Christians in the group.

She is also one of our scholarship recipients. She is studying English at the university.  Learning English has always been a dream of hers.  She wants to learn English so that she can become a translator.  Her goal right now is to visit the United States.  She wants to come meet so many of the people that have bought jewelry and supported the ladies of Hermanas en Cristo.  She is using the money from her jewelry sales to pay for her “papers” so that she can get a passport, then a visa.  She wants to hold a jewelry party in the states and practice speaking English with all of you!

Pray for her as she continues to lead Hermanas en Cristo.

Pray that she can get her “papers”, passport, and Visa!

Wouldn’t it be great if she could come to the states during Christmastime?  That time of year seems to have had so much significance in her life.  It would be great to help add one more wonderful memory for her to see how God works in such wonderful ways to “give us the desires of our heart!”


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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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One year ago today…

Today is our one year anniversary of living in the DR.  We have prepared a video to share the highlights of this past year.  Enjoy!


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Gifts

As we have written in other blog posts, many of our neighbors have given us chickens, as a way to say “thank you”.  Until now, they have been in our storage building at night (with a concrete floor), then transferred to a cramped little makeshift “house” during the day.  At that time, we only had 2 chickens.  Then another friend gave us another chicken.  At this point, we knew that it was time to build an actual coop for them.

It was time to make a plan.  I went to the most reliable source on the internet to make our chicken dreams come true…Pinterest!  (Talk about setting the bar WAY high!!!)

We decided that this would make a good project in which the girls could help for homeschooling.  We measured, and planned, and planned some more…and finally decided it was time to start!

The planning stage

The planning stage

It turned out to be a great Math lesson for them…and many other lessons for me.  I won’t lie and say that they enjoyed it.  It was definitely a “character building” event for all of us.  Mo, the girls, and I started with the base of the coop.

The base of the coop

The base of the coop

Very quickly, we realized that we weren’t quite skilled enough and needed help.  So we hired Chicho to finish that part of the plan.

The finished structure minus a little bit of chicken wire

The finished structure minus a little bit of chicken wire

Then the girls and I got to work on the hen house.  This was so exciting for us because this is where the eggs would be laid!

Lauren and Lexie hard at work

Lauren and Lexie hard at work

After a loooonnnggg day working, we had the base of the hen house.  We were so proud of this because we did it all by ourselves.  We just kept having to remind ourselves that it was only a hen house and did NOT have to be perfect.

The base of the hen house

The base of the hen house

While the girls and I were outside working on this structure, many of our neighbors dropped by to help.  Some gave us advice, others literally took tools out of hands to help, and none of them quite understood what we were making.  Most of them thought that we were making a table.  (After seeing the picture above, I understand how they could think that.)  I kept explaining that, as much as we appreciate the help, we needed to do this by ourselves.  I kept explaining how this was a project for the kids’ homeschooling…and we did not need any help.  I KEPT saying this over and over in my most broken Spanish…that did not translate well…and just came off as a little rude.  By the end of the day, I was just downright angry…and frustrated…and discouraged…and grumpy.  The girls were extremely grateful when I called it a day!

This is where I was taught a lesson…

That night, as I recalled the days’ events to Mo, I heard my own words.  I was able to see things from the perspective of my neighbors.  It probably seemed very strange to see females working with hammers, nails, and power tools.  They were curious, and just wanted to help.  That day, I continued to send the little girls in the neighborhood away because I was scared that someone would get hurt.  The only way that I knew how to use those power tools was because my dad taught me how to use them.  He didn’t shoo me away because he was afraid that I would get hurt.  He thought that it was important to share his gift with me.

The Sunday before, Mo was sick so he asked me to give his “sermon” at church.  The “sermon” was on sharing your gifts!!!  Wow, talking about needing to practice what you preach!  God really convicted my heart on this one!

I am happy to say that the hen house is still not finished because…now, when one of my neighbors comes by to see what I am doing…I invite them to help.  I share the little gift that my father passed on to me.  I am by no means an expert…and my work is not perfect.  However, it is giving something to my friends, as well as giving a lot to me.  There is so much that I would have missed if I would have continued to refuse help.

I would have missed this sweet little smile…

My neighbor, Rocielle

My neighbor, Rosielle

The amazement and seriousness of a little girl understanding how to use a leveler…

Rosalia

Rosalia

The laughter shared by two women while using power tools…

Alexandria

Alexandria

…and this precious shy boy feeling pretty special and proud of himself for hammering the nails

Noel

Noel

There have been a few more along the way but we didn’t get pictures.  Some neighbors have dropped by just to inquire about the coop.  They have voiced how they would like to raise chickens for eggs, how their chickens are getting killed by other animals, etc.  Mo and I have discussed how this may be one of those things that God puts in our path in which to help our neighbors.  (I laughingly thought to myself, “This is like that movie ‘Field of Dreams’…if you build it, they will come!”)

I love how, in everything that happens here, we can see God’s work.  He has such a subtle way of orchestrating His will and His plan into our lives.  I just love that about Him!

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”~1 Peter 4:11

*I want to share more photos of our chickens, the coop, and the progress of the hen house on the next blog post.  I am completely in love and obsessed with these crazy chickens!



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Love thy neighbor

IMG_5534About two weeks after moving here, Lexie and I came home to take the laundry inside because storm clouds were forming.  We went out to the line with our basket…and EVERY SINGLE STITCH OF CLOTHING WAS GONE!  We just stood there in disbelief.  We both said out loud…”Someone stole our clothes!”

We came inside and could say nothing at all at first.  Then Lexie said “What are you going to do, Mom?”  What could I do?  They were gone and that was that!  I said “Well, I guess someone needed our clothes more than we did.  We have more.  I just hope that they don’t continue doing it because we will run out of clothes fairly quickly”.

We walked back outside.  Out of the corner of my eye, something caught my attention.  It was my sweatshirt laying on my washing machine.  That caused me to stop and look inside of the machine.  There…laying NEATLY FOLDED…were all of our clothes.

Later I saw one of my neighbors.  She asked me if I found my clothes.  She saw the storm clouds and was worried that my clothes were going to get wet.  My heart was immediately convicted!  I was ashamed that my initial response was fear that someone had taken from me when they had actually given to me!

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This past weekend, we went to visit our missionary friends in the northern part of the DR.  We got a call from one of our neighbors asking where we were and did we have our dogs with us.  Our initial reaction was “Why are they asking that?  Is someone planning to break into our house?”  It left us a little unsettled.  Finally, I said “Well, if they break in, then they need our stuff more than we do.”  We continued with our weekend with little worry.  However, on the way home, doubt, worry, and fear shared my carseat with me for the last half of our ride.  I was a bit anxious to see what we were coming home to.

Wanna know what we came home to?IMG_5543

Neighbors welcoming us back.  Neighbors hugging and kissing us and asking if we enjoyed our time away.  Neighbors that had watered our plants for us.  Neighbors…loving on us!

Yeah, I can be such a smuck!!!

Since we lived in a very small neighborhood in the states, our neighbors watched out for one another.  We were very fortunate to have good neighbors.

Due to situations and events over the past couple of years (that had nothing to do with our neighbors), I am incredibly embarrassed to admit that I was becoming cynical and untrusting of others.

This community continues to reach out to my heart and whisper “It’s ok to come out.  We want to show you love again.”  In my pride and arrogance, I thought that God had brought us here so that WE could help this community…that WE could show them God’s love.  He is now teaching me that this community is helping us…that they are showing us God’s love.

My prayer is that our hearts and eyes continue to stay open.  God, please use us!  Please show us ways that WE can glorify YOU.  Please allow our actions to show your love to others in all that we do.  God, please help us to…

…LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR…

…because LOVE ALWAYS WINS!!!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandments than these.