asurprisecalling

Following our calling to the Dominican Republic


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PRAISE REPORT!

Hey everyone!  I know that it has been a minute since I have posted.  I have so much that I want to share, and, eventually, will get all of that into words and onto the web.  For now, I have some AMAZING news to share!beadsAs most of you know, the Hermanas en Cristo program is very close to my heart.  Many of you, though, may not understand how the program works.  I would like to share that with you.

All of the ladies in the group are considered business owners.  The purpose in that is to create ownership in the group.  When they feel ownership, it also empowers them and helps build their self-worth.  In order to stop the cycle of poverty, HEC’s vision/purpose has been to empower and educate the women in our group, as we, FIRST, grow their faith!

That being said, the women receive 100% of the sales.  However, 100% does not go into their pocket because THEY ARE BUSINESS OWNERS.  By creating the system this way, they understand that running a business costs money.  There are 4 ways that they split their money: 30% for cost of doing business (supplies, shipping supplies, additional costs, etc), 10% for their employee, Rosa’s, salary, 10% for our university scholarship fund, and the remaining 50% to support their family.  I have numerous stories that I would love to share about the changes that have occurred in the women.  I have seen true transformations in the self-esteem of the women as they have grown their relationship with God and seen that they have worth as His child…and, also, as they have been able to support their families as business owners.

Now, with that being said, we have 2 women and 1 young adult in the group that are currently attending university. Whoop!  Whoop!

What many of you do not know is that my family has been supplementing the bottomline of the group for the past two years as we have been getting “up and running”.  Prior to moving back to the states, our sales only consisted of mission teams coming down 6 times a year and various sales that I was able to have online or when I came to the US for visits.

So….here is where the praise report comes in:  Due to sales from August, September, and October, HERMANAS EN CRISTO IS NOW FULLY SUPPORTING THEMSELVES!!!  Not only are they fully self-supporting now, THEY WILL SOON BE ABLE TO OFFER ANOTHER SCHOLARSHIP! This is absolutely God’s hand at work!  Can I just get a group “amen” on that one?!

As always, if you would ever like to partner with these ladies to provide additional scholarships, let us know!  The more women and young girls that are educated and empowered, the more change that they can make in their own community.  (It typically costs between $50-$75 a month for university tuition.)

MOST IMPORTANTLY, please continue to pray for the ladies in the group.  Specific prayers are:

  • More “non-believers” continue to join our group (We have 37 total women in the group at this time.  About 1/3 of the group are still non-believers AND they are spending time weekly and daily in the Word.  Praises!)
  • Our sales continue to rise to provide additional scholarships
  • Our Holiday sales just blow us away!!! (We are continually looking for more craft fairs to sell our jewelry.  We have also been blessed to get discounted or free booth rental space to reduce outgoing costs.  Please pray that we continue to receive that grace!)
  • We will be scheduling Home Parties soon.  Please pray that more and more ladies in the US will be willing to open their homes for these parties to help support these ladies.
  • We have several boutiques that will possibly begin selling our jewelry soon!  Please continue to pray that we are able to work that out in a way that is financially beneficial to all parties involved.
  • Hermanas en Cristo TRULY believes in ‘women supporting women”. That being said, we will also begin selling jewelry from another program in the DR that helps rehab and support women that have escaped the sex trade industry.  Pray that both groups are blessed in amazingly abundant ways as we support one another.
  • Pray for each and every woman in this group that they continue to fall deeper in love with Christ.  Pray that all of their marriages continue to strengthen so their family unit as a whole will continue to blossom.  Pray for each woman that their own hurts are healed and prayers are answered.
  • We are also currently working towards getting an intern that will help with marketing and social media information.  Pray that God sends exactly who we need for this.
  • Pray for Rosa as she continues to fight for and work hard for this group.  Pray that she is blessed in numerous ways!

 

 


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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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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!


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Waiting for God’s voice

listeningAs you know, we are studying the book of Esther in Hermanas en Cristo.  We continue to be in amazement and awe of how God used a 14 year old girl for such an important task.  What continues to come up in our weekly study is her character.

We have all agreed that she is patient, obedient, and wise beyond her years. In Chapter 7, THIS was truly her “time such as this” moment. We talked about how it was crucial that her words were perfect. If she said the wrong thing, it could be the death of her. If she spoke the correct words, she would save her Jewish people. We know one thing…

She did not speak before she had prayed about it AND waited for God’s voice.

I asked the women to share any experience they had had in which they prayed before speaking to someone about an important matter, or an experience in which that didn’t pray before speaking to someone. Also, what was the outcome?

One of the women told a story about how she needed to talk to her husband about something important so she prayed about it.  She, then, went to talk to him, and things went horrible wrong.  They ended up in a huge argument.  She was so confused so we went back to God and said “God, I prayed about this before talking to him.  Why did it end like this?”  She laughed and said that she heard God say,

“Yes, you prayed to me but you did not wait for my answer!”

Oh my goodness! What an wonderful example and reminder to us all!

We all need to let Esther be an example to us.  She prays, waits, and LISTENS to God before speaking.  She allowed God to prepare her mind and heart, while He also prepared the path, minds, and hearts of those in His great plan.  When He wants to use us for His purpose, He also wants us to know that it is in HIS strength, knowledge, and wisdom, not ours!

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear this!


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About last night…

Bible study groupLast night, our first night for our bible study, went really well.  (I talked about it –>HERE)

One of the ladies decided that she didn’t want to join, and sent her workbook back with one of the other ladies in the group.  This is one that I REALLY wanted to come.  When her book was handed back to me, my heart sank, and I immediately felt discouraged.  The first thought that went through my mind was “Who do I think I am trying to hold a bible study for women in Spanish?  Who am I to invite women that don’t go to church?”

Luckily, I immediately felt God saying “Don’t believe that!  Those are lies that satan wants you to believe so that you will give up.”  I know that we were being prayed for because I could feel those prayers surrounding us.  One of my prayer requests was to block satan’s lies from our (my) ears, and THAT is exactly what happened.

About that extra book…I had a name of a lady that I felt God was pushing me to invite.  Of course, that is EXACTLY who He wanted to come.  The moment I told the ladies that I had an extra book, and we needed to pray to whom it belonged, a couple of the ladies said her name!  So, after class, I went to her house and invited her.

We have English class at 6:00 every Tuesday.  We had two women show up around 5:30, and were curious as to what we were doing.  When we told them it was a bible study, they asked if they could join.  We had one extra book, from the lady that dropped out, so we gave it to them to share.  I told them that I would order another book for our February team to bring with them.

Next week, we will have 3 additional ladies joining our little bible study!  Yay, God!!!

For all you ladies that came on the June 2014 Mission Trip, you are going to LOVE this!  I was talking about using a prayer journal during the study to write down scripture, prayer requests, or things that God was saying to them.  Some of the ladies in the group made prayer journals with your team!  They began to talk about how they had been writing down their prayer requests, and how God had heard them!  One was talking about having all these medical tests run, and how they had ALL come back NEGATIVE!  Another was talking about how she had been praying for work in the community, then began to name how God had granted those request!  Praises all around!  I am getting more journals this weekend for the other ladies.

People, I am so excited!  I just know that God is going to do something wonderful through this.  In just one night, I learned so much from these women.  So many of them have such strong faith that it is contagious!  Please continue to pray for us, and please pray that the one lady changes her mind and returns.  I don’t mind getting her another book! :O)


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Experiencing God

For months, I have been feeling God pulling pushing me into leading a women’s bible study in our community.  This is something that I would not have felt worthy of doing even in the states…in English.  Now, God was asking me to do it here in the DR..in SPANISH!  Aye, mi Dios!!!  As I have stated before, my Spanish is not quite where I wish it were.  I often compare my Spanish to that of the other Domericans here, and I always fall short.  Of course, we all know…comparison My word for this year is Intention (which I will discuss more about this on another post).  One area that I really want to be intentional is my relationship with Christ and with other women.  A women’s bible study is the perfect place to practice this intentionality!  Although I prayed that God would just bypass me on leading this, He never did.  After finally surrendering, I prayed that He would calm my nerves and give me the courage to pursue this.  Once again, He did not fail me.  (Seriously, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I doubt!  When will I learn?)  My fear of not speaking Spanish well was holding me back.  But God knew better!  He replaced my fear with excitement and expectation.  Not expectation of the ladies that are attending, or even expectation of myself, but of the expectation that God is going to do something wonderful in this!

IMG_4323After praying and seeking counsel, I finally settled on the study by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Experiencing God.  It’s about learning what God’s will is for your life and doing it.  It is also about developing a deeper relationship with Him. This excites me because half of the women that are invited are not currently attending church.  I remember being that woman.  I was lost for so many years.  I remember friends inviting me to church and truly experiencing God’s love for the first time.  I remember finally understanding that it had nothing to do with religion and EVERYTHING to do with a relationship with Him.  I want this for these ladies!  I want them to know how much God truly does love them, and how He has a plan for their lives.

When I first knew which ladies that God wanted me to invited, I was SO nervous to ask them.  Because half of these women are not currently attending church, I had no idea what they would say to me.  Imagine my surprise when each woman immediately said “yes” with a smile!

Yesterday, when I was passing out the workbooks, one of my friends, that is part of the group, asked who else was coming.  As I was telling her, she said “But they don’t go to church”.  I smiled and said, “I know!  Are you still coming?”.  She got so excited and, with a huge smile on her face, said “Claro!”, which means “Of course!”

Here’s another cool thing…when ordering the books, I miscounted and ordered one extra.  Of course, we all know that there are no accidents.  I am not sure, yet, which lady this extra book belongs to, but am waiting for God to point her out!

Tonight is just a meet and greet, and develop a plan.  I am so crazy excited!  I am making coffee and cookies!!!  We will be meeting on Tuesdays at 4:30.  We are on Atlantic time, which is one hour ahead of Eastern time and two hours ahead of Central time.   Could you guys stop and pray the following for us at that time, please?:

1)  That God comes before us and opens minds and hearts to hear His word

2)  That God deafens our ears to satan’s nasty lies so that we will not be discouraged.

3)  That God breaks down any language barrier so that we can all learn from one another

4)  That God fills each of us with the courage to carry out His will for our lives

5)  That God shows us the lady to which this extra book belongs

Thank you!!!