asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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That time when God said, “Be still and shut up”….

IMG_8008I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but I have been very quiet lately.  No Facebook, no Instagram, and no blog posts.

“Be still and know that I am God”  Psalm 46:10

For quite some time now, I have been vaguely hearing God ask me to “Be Still”.  In fact, we ask our mission teams to come up with one word that describes their trip, or a word that God is speaking to them.  With the last two teams, my word has been “Still”.  I wasn’t exactly sure what He meant because I couldn’t quite hear Him over all of the hullabaloo of my world.  Yes, my current culture is much, much louder than my passport culture.  However, that wasn’t the noise that was preventing me from hearing His voice.  It was too much scrolling, not enough quietude…too much talking, not enough listening…too much doing, not enough being.

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For many years, I have been wanting to do a silent retreat.  I have asked numerous friends to do one with me.  Each time, my lady friends laugh and say, “I don’t think that I could be quiet for that long.”  It’s true…when women get together, we just want to talk and talk, and then talk some more.  It’s one of our favorite things.  We have a love for words that men just can’t seem to understand.

I mentioned all of this to my best missionary friend here, and she thought that it was a fabulous idea.  She had been hearing God telling her to “Be Still” also.  So, we marked a weekend off on our calendars, made a plan, and met up for this interestingly, strange weekend of quiet.  To prepare for that weekend, I decided that it would be good to cut off social media to begin to quiet my mind.

Also, in complete transparency, we decided on 24 hours of silence.  I mean, we were at the beach without husbands, kids, or ministry pulling on us.  We couldn’t NOT talk at all…

We met on Friday at our little resort around lunchtime.  During lunch, we came up with our rules and schedule.  After lunch, there was no talking until lunchtime the next day.IMG_8010

During this time, we could pray and journal.  We agreed to no music (because that was more noise) and no books (because that was still words).  We stayed in the same room, and went for a walk early Saturday morning.  We ate dinner and breakfast together, and even sat beside each other in our lounge chairs on the beach.  ALL of this was done without talking.  FYI, eating with someone without talking is very difficult and awkward!

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We were both happily surprised at all that we were able to experience with God.  Once we cut out all of the distractions and commotion and sat quietly with Him, God spoke into our hearts.  In that short 24 hours period, He healed some wounds, spoke many truths, and showed us how He was molding us closer to His image.  Life is not perfect, and neither are we!  I am so thankful for that truth.  God loves His broken people because they know that they need Him.  I am thankful to be one of those broken people!

He showed me how He has provided for us here in the DR in so many ways. One of those ways was simply being able to go away with a friend that loves God, lives and understands this crazy life we are living, and loves so many of the things that I love. This friendship is so special to me.  I am in complete awe that God cares so much for me that He would send me a friend here in the DR to love.  That seems like such a minute detail in His grande plan. It was important to Him because it was important to me. I fell more in love with Him that weekend!IMG_7993IMG_7994After sitting in silence and coming back together to share what God had spoken to us, we did a craft.  Then we just filled the rest of the time with words.  Neither of us was ready for our time to come to an end, but life was calling.

I still haven’t ventured back into the Facebook or Instagram world yet.  I am sure that I will eventually because I miss seeing all of the people that I love.  I just don’t feel like it’s time yet.

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 Could you do a silent retreat?  We are considering doing another one in the Spring.  If you are interested in attending, let me know!



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Las Terrenas and Samana

We often get questions about places to visit and stay while visiting the Dominican Republic.  Although we haven’t traveled the island as much as we would like, due to time and money, we have tried to visit different areas when possible.  I hope to start writing about these experiences more so that others can see the beautiful sites to see here in the DR.  This island truly has some breathtaking scenery!

Last year in February, the K’s, our friends, Julia and Jo, and my family went whale watching in Samana.  Each year between 3-5 thousand humpback whales migrate and mate through the waters of Samana during the months of January-March.  If you ever come here during those months, this is a DON’T MISS opportunity. There are several different boat tour companies available.  We used Whale Samana and were very pleased. We were fortunate enough to see a momma and baby whale breach, which was very exciting.  It just so happened that, during this time, Lexie was studying whales in her homeschooling.  She was able to take much that she learned and actually see it in person.  She loved sharing with us the things that she had learned.  It was a good education for all of us.

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We didn’t actually stay in Samana.  We stayed about 45 minutes away in Las Terrenas.  I love this community and think that it would be fun to live there someday.  It seems like a quaint little beach town.  There is a heavy European population so there are many restaurants from which to choose.

After searching on VRBO, I found a little casita within a short 5 minute walk to the beach.  After contacting the owner directly, he offered us an amazing discount so that we could afford to stay there.  It was large enough to accommodate 12 people, and also included a large den and kitchen with an outdoor living area and dining area.  We also had our own private pool. IMG_8812

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Las Terrenas breakfast

We enjoyed Las Terrenas so much that we returned this year with the K’s and Mo’s family.  The little casita from the year before was not available.  I did, however, find another one on VRBO –>HERE .  This owner also gave us a super good deal since we were missionaries.  It turned out to be PERFECT for our crew.  If you ever stay in Las Terrenas and have a large group, this one is very accommodating.  Each room has air conditioning and there are actually 3 separate little casitas, 2 with bedrooms and bathrooms and one with the kitchen and living room.  It also has an outdoor living room and outdoor dining area, and a private pool.  The manager was very helpful, and we had a lady that came to clean everyday.  You can also pay extra and have your own private chef to cook your meals if you prefer.  There are several grocery stores near by so we bought food and cook for ourselves.  We will definitely stay here again.IMG_4773

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Seriously, it was a little slice of paradise nestled within a 5 minute walk to the beach and about a 5 minute drive to restaurants and shopping.  Not sure why it’s called the little banana though…

We took this picture during our visit in 2014:Las Terrenas 2014

We tried to get a similar one this year:

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We are super sad that the 2016 picture will not include the K’s as they are both returning to the states this year.  However, we are excited to start new adventures with the new interns moving here when the K’s leave.  The K’s can definitely not be replaced, and they are truly like family in our hearts.  God is showing us how to open our hearts to welcome others into our lives though, because the fleshly part of me wants to cry and pout about them leaving.

After staying at these two place the past two years, we fell in love with the outdoor couches and living spaces.  We are currently working to finish our own little outdoor space also.  Although it isn’t finished, we have already gotten so much use out of it!IMG_5602

Las Terrenas is about 3 hours from the Santo Domingo airport, and definitely worth the extra ride time.  If you are looking to get away to a place that isn’t super touristy with a taste of a local beach town, this is perfect.  The beach is beautiful and not overcrowded.


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Our Sweet Ribo

Our Sweet Ribo

As many that follow us on Facebook know, our sweet Ribo passed away yesterday.  We are so very sad and are already missing her so much.

Many have asked what happened.  We can only speculate as to that answer.  We think that she ate some leaves that were poisonous on Sunday.  On Monday, she started getting sick so we began medicating her, taking precautions because she was pregnant.  She seemed to be getting better.  Then, on Wednesday, I walked into the goat house to see that she had miscarried.  It went downhill from there.  On Wednesday night, she still hadn’t passed her afterbirth.  A vet was suppose to show up at 8:30 on Thursday morning but never showed up.  Luckily, Mo and Lauren went to the city and found a vet to come out here.  He did everything that he could to help her pass her afterbirth, then told us to wait.  On Friday morning, our sweet Ribo couldn’t fight any longer and passed away.

As sad as I was, I became infuriated as well.  In the states, we would have had a vet at our house as soon as she started feeling sick. We would have had a vet to help IF she had the miscarriage.  She wouldn’t have gone over 24 hours without passing her afterbirth WITHOUT HELP.  It’s so easy for me, an American, to think these things.  The fact of the matter is…we don’t live in the US.   We live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere where we don’t have the same luxuries available to us.  THIS is the place that God wanted this goat project to happen.  His plan is always better than mine, even when I don’t quite understand it or WHY.

This goat project is so important to us.  God placed this on our friend Arden’s heart several years ago, so that it might provide nutrition and/or financial support to widows in our community.  We started with two momma goats, and both of them are now dead.  It’s easy to feel like a failure.  It’s easy to feel discouraged.  We have absolutely fallen in love with these goats, and we truly believe in this project.

These two momma goats have given us 3 nanny goats and 1 buck.  These are the legacies of those momma goats to continue this project.  Next week, the buck and one of the nannies will be going to our first widow to continue this project.  The buck will be used to impregnate all the nanny goats in October.  Please pray for the widow that will be receiving these sweet babies.  Please pray that God gives her the wisdom to carry on this project.  Please pray that God’s purpose in this project comes to fruition.

I also have a selfish request.  Could you please pray for Lauren and I as we let go of these babies, and hand them over to the widow?  We are really struggling with letting them go, especially since we just lost our sweet Ribo and her quadruplets.

Ribo and her girls

Ribo and her girls

The nanny babies

Baby Grace

Baby Finn- our resident buck!

Finn the stud!


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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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In my apartment in the city…

After splaying my fleshly, human self out all over the interwebs in my last blog (see here—>A Simple Question), I felt very vulnerable and exposed.  I feel that way every. single. time that I am open and honest publicly about my struggles.  I don’t want to appear to be unhappy with our decision to move here…or ungrateful…or judged for not being a “good enough Christian” for not being able to “lean on God more” or “trust in God more”…or…ummm…uhhh….weak….

God started speaking to me in ways that I never expected.  The first time was from something that I read:

“God does not require that you fix yourself and then come to Him.  The exact opposite is true.  Come now, come quickly, and come broken and horrifyingly messy.”

Well, goodness gracious…I was definitely horrifyingly messy!  Even though I am a Christian, it does not mean that I am not still broken and messy.  To me, it just means that I know where to get my strength…over and over again!

Next was during church.  Because I cannot understand much of what is being said during church, I read my bible.  Prior to this particular service, I was feeling very sad.  When I opened my bible, I saw a post-it note on the front page that I don’t remember writing and don’t remember ever noticing it any of the other times that I opened my bible:  IMG_7049

He knows what we need and was showing me what He needed to tell me.  As I read the passages above, I continued to search for more scriptures.  His word continued to fill my heart and give me relief from my hurt.

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Then, I left for Spanish school in which I was staying in a very small apartment for two weeks while studying.  During that time, He was healing me without me even realizing it.  In my last post, I wrote about struggling with:

My loss of freedom– The first week, I spent the majority of that time alone in my apartment unless I was in class.  I had tons of freedom to walk around the city alone, have a latte or ice cream in the afternoon, watch what I wanted on TV (even though I rarely watched it), etc.  I felt free.  My steps began to lighten…as well as my mood.  Don’t misunderstand me…I love my family to the moon and back.  It was just nice to be alone with myself…and begin to connect with that person again.

Missing my female support system–  During this time, Mo brought one of my friends from the community to stay the night with me.  She and I walked around the city, sat in the park, laughed, and talked.  (Somehow, we understand one another, even with my broken Spanish.)  

We had friends from the states vacationing in the Northern part of the island.  They messaged us and said “We want to come see you!”, and they rented a car and did just that!  We loved having them here and sharing our community with them.  Most importantly, I loved having a friend from the states to talk to in English.   Thanks, Darcy and Don!!! You will never realize how much I needed your visit!

Another friend that moved to Santo Domingo this summer met me for dinner one night.  I cannot even describe how much this young lady filled my soul!  We sat and talked for almost 4 hours!  Thanks, Julia!

One night Lexie stayed with me.  It was so nice to have that time alone with her.  One night Mo stayed with me.  We haven’t had 24 hours alone since before we moved here!  It was soooo overdue!!!  Thank you, Kristi and Keely for watching our monkeys for us!

Being spiritually fed – I spent a lot of time studying, praying, and journalling.  God knew how much I needed this time to reconnect with Him and myself.  I watched a few sermons and read many devotionals online.  There were times of sadness and happiness.  There were times where I felt God gently showing hard places on my heart that need work.  We (God and I) are working on those things.  It may take awhile but my heart and soul are on the mend.  broken_heart

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”-  Psalm 37:4

All of this to say…God heard my cries!  Because I sought Him and refused to isolate any longer, He gave me the desires of my heart.  Often we think that our desires are material or tangible things, like cars, houses, a better job, a spouse, a baby.  However, sometimes those desires…

…are just ways to heal a hurting heart…

…and that all happened in my apartment in the city!


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Because sometimes you just have to laugh!

NOT a picture of the DR

NOT a picture of the DR

I realize in my last post that I stated the this post would be about our chickens…who just so happen to be the most amazing chickens in all of the Dominican Republic.  However, I’m a big fat liar pants!  This post is not about our chickens because someone can’t seem to finish her hen house…and this someone will not write that post until she has a picture of the finished product.  Moving right along…

Yesterday was a TOUGH Dominican day for me!  I have mentioned several times how this crazy language is kicking my booty.  I am able to carry on very general conversations with people until I hit my limit…my limit in vocabulary words, my limit in understanding, my limit in patience with myself!

Yesterday, my neighbors’ son mocked me in front of a group of teenagers when I tried to speak with him.  Then…they all laughed at ME!!!  I felt like I was in middle school again.  I wanted to punch him in his face and say “Take that back!”…except…remember, my vocabulary is limited and I don’t know how to say that in Spanish!  Then again…what kind of missionary would that make me?  Well…Jesus did get angry and turn over a whole bunch of people’s tables full of stuff that they worked long and hard to make and were just trying to make a living.  Yeah, yeah…I know…THAT was TOTALLY different…but still!

Anyway, I was frustrated and angry and hurt and felt like a big dummy!  So, I did what any red-blooded American would do (and also one that use to be a teacher).  I signed up for language school in Santo Domingo.  Knowledge is power people!!!

Then…I went to bed because tomorrow HAS to be a better day!

I woke up this morning to CITY POWER!!!

Now for those that have not visited here and don’t know what the mess that I am talking about…City Power is what comes into your house in the states.  However, in the states, it ALWAYS comes on…unless someone hits a power pole or storms have knocked some stuff over.  Here in the DR, especially in the campo (the country), we only get City Power for about 8-10 hours a day (usually 6-7 hours while we are sleeping and 2-3 hours in the daytime).  In the meantime, we function on battery power.  When City Power is on, it charges these batteries.  You can see how important City Power is for us to function in life here.  No City Power, then the batteries run dead…then we have no electricity at all.

City Power was on this morning so Mo made us lattes which showed me that God REALLY does love me and wants me to be happy!  Then the power went off for about 10 minutes, then it came back on for about 10 minutes, then off, and back on…you get the picture.  When it goes off, we have to run around and turn stuff off and reset the internet…blah, blah, blah.

We have this running joke that there are two guys that work in Santo Domingo named Jorge and Pedro.  They like to mess with everyone by flipping the light switch off and on.  We said the conversation goes something like this:

Jorge:  Hey Pedro, watch this…(flips switch on, waits a few minutes, then flips the switch off, then back on)

Pedro:  Hahahaha…Jorge, you have to wait until they get everything plugged in.  Now…(flips switch off)

Jorge: I love my job!!!

For some reason, we were all busting up laughing at this as we were gratefully drinking our lattes with fans blowing at full speed on us!

And the whole time…we don’t even care!  We are just so grateful to have City Power….

Because sometimes…you just have to laugh…


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3 Months In…

BY MO

Hola, Todos & Todas,

Today is a monumental day for our family.  It is the end of our 3rd month in our wonderful journey.  I can not begin to write down the many experiences that we have been through, and the lessons learned.  We have had many back in the U.S. of A and many here in the DR help us with our challenges.  To you all, we say THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!  God is teaching us so much.  His grace is nothing short of awe inspiring.

Before we moved here, our goal was to raise our kids in a godly home and to work toward our retirement at a rapid fire pace…work, work, work, save, save, save.  Oh yeah…and spend when there was a toy that we JUST HAD TO HAVE!  You all know the one…THE OBJECT (new car, new computer, new running shoes, new phone that was going to make me feel better)!  Also, and my bride will attest to this, my affinity (or addiction) to managing time!  I wore a watch and was acutely aware of the exact time and day at all times.  My watch was actually 5 minutes fast so that I could be early to places.

I mention the above because they were not on my list of things to do once we got to the DR.  I wanted to come to represent my church and “DO”!  I was going to work, work, work and manage all kinds of stuff.  Well…I believe we are representing our church and our community back home in a respectful way, but none of the things have worked out the way “I” planned.  Guess what?  It’s OK…not only OK, but great and freeing!  You see, I was so caught up in getting things and working on my goals that I lost sight of God’s purpose for us all.

As Christians and human beings in general, God put us on Earth to love one another and to live in community.  You would think that after sacrificing His son for our sins that we would all get that.  Our society with it’s fast pace and “get it done in a timely manner” attitude warped me and my perspective.

Today, I am pleased to say that I do not wear a watch.  I don’t even have a “wristband tan” anymore.  A lot of times I do not even know what day it is.  Living simpler has changed my family’s perspective on what we perceive as “needs vs. wants’ are. We need to love one another.  We need to lift up one another.  As Pastor Brady and Phillip stated in such a moving message this last Sunday, we need to forgive and give grace!

Tomorrow starts month number 4…and I can’t wait.  My wife and children have grown so much.  Don’t get me wrong…we still have challenges!  For example, my daughters just went screaming through the yard trying to get a frog out of Stickbug’s mouth (our FOURTH dog…but an outside dog), City power did not come on much today, Tamara has numerous infected mosquitos bites all over her legs, and I about chopped my leg off with a machete today…

Needless to say…WE LOVE IT HERE!!!