A Mother’s Thoughts on Her Son’s 11th Birthday

I have recently been around a lot of new and young moms. I see them with their new little babies, and I remember the fear, anxiety, sleepless nights, overall stress and overwhelming joy of what it is to be a new mom. 

I also remember so so clearly my first months of being a mommy. I remember seeing my son for the first time. I remember my dear friends and family who anxiously stayed in the waiting room waiting for him to be born. I remember the first night in hospital not knowing what to do with our new baby. I remeber trying to figure out how to nurse and  feeling so overwhelmed as we drove home from the hospital that it was our job to take care of and keep this little person alive . I remember coming home to our house without heat, and basically living in our bedroom because there was a space heater.  I remember driving around and dreading coming to stop lights because he would cry every time the car would stop. I remember thinking I would never sleep again and also staring at him for hours on end, amazed that this precious little boy was ours. 

This precious baby boy turned 11 yesterday and I can barely believe all those precious memories happened 11 years ago. This birthday has me feeling all emotional and if truth be told a few years were shed.He is so incredibly smart and enjoys reading more than anyone I know.He is unbelievably generous and a loyal friend. He has an understanding of Scripture that I wish I had at his age.  I see in him our strengths and weaknesses, and strengths and weaknesses that are his alone. I am so thankful that the Lord entrusted us to guide and raise him. 

If I am honest I will say that I still feel the same fear and anxiety that I felt as a new mom, as I am still trying to figure out how to be a mom to this sweet little boy. I feel that I failing every step of the way and that some how I am going to totally mess him up. However our God is so much bigger than my fears and anxiety, and I am so thankful that I can rely on him to continue to grow and guide me. In the first years of his life God was so gracious to us and surrounded us with people to show us how to be parents. I know that the Lord will continue to be gracious to us as we continue to out figure out this parenting thing. Here are some scriptures I will continue to cling to because I know that I can only do this parenting thing through the strength that comes from our Heavenly Father :

James 1:4-5

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be iperfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, klet him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him

Deuteronomy 11: 18-19

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and fyou shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Praise the Lord that we are not in this alone but he does life with us and we can trust in him!

Here is a collage I made yesterday of our little boy growing although I couldn’t find pictures of his 5th and 6th birthdays. I did notice that on his first birthday that his is wearing a Seahawks shirt (5 out of 9 birthdays pictured the Seahawks our featured) ! 

Late night hospital visit

Sometimes we taken out of our comfort zone and we just have to go for it. I had an experience like this the other night that I want to share it with everyone. Just a disclaimer that I am writing this post not to make fun or to say my point of view is better. I just want to show the readers of our blog a different world, a world so different than the reality of the United States.  This is what happened to me through my eyes and I hope to be able to paint for you all picture of what I experienced.

I was fast asleep when the phone started ringing. I jumped out of bed, wide awake, I was pretty sure I knew who was calling.

“Hello” I answered the phone.

“Emilie, I am having lots of contractions, I need to go to the hospital to get checked out.”

“Ok, I’ll be right there.

My friend and neighbor, lets call her Anna, was 9 months pregnant. I had told her that if she went into labor in the middle of the night give me a call and I would take her to the hospital. Very few people in our neighborhood have a car, so the majority of people rely on their motorcycles and scooters. This can be very difficult when you have a late night emergency.

Back to our story, I looked at my phone  and it was 1:45am. I stumbled around my bedroom trying to locate clothes and shoes. It is amazing how when you are dead tired little things like getting dressed take twice as long. It took me probably 15 minutes to “Hurry” out the door in my sleep drunk state.

I pulled around the corner to pick up my friend and we were off to the hospital. The contractions weren’t super strong yet and were probably coming every 10 minutes. We headed off to the public hospital. One of the nice things about this country is healthcare is available to all. There is public health care and private health care. Private healthcare is only for those with insurance or those with money. All businesses are required to give their employees healthcare. However, in a country with over 50% unemployment and many people who work under the counter, this leaves a lot of people without insurance. Anna actually has a very basic private insurance (which entitles her to a small number of the lower end private hospitals), but opted for the public option. She told me that the one time she gave birth under insurance she was put in a room by herself, and felt forgotten about. With the public insurance you are always laboring with someone else so there is more attention from the staff.

We arrived at the public hospital around 2:00 am and I dropped her off at the emergency entrance, and she hobbled in, as I went to park the car. There was probably 3 cars total in the parking lot. I was surprised as I walked into the hospital to see so many people sleeping on the floors or whatever chairs they could find. The hospital doesn’t let family in the room with people over night, so family members sleep wherever they can find room. I asked a couple people where the pregnant lady went and I found my way to her.

I entered the room to where my friend was and sat down. There was a desk in the room and 4 beds. The doctor told her to go lay on a bed to get checked out, and asked for all her paper work. The doctor than starts to ask her about how many children she has,

“How many pregnancies?” the doctor asks

“Nine” Anna replies

“How many kids?”

“Seven”

“How many in the house now?”

“Six”

“How old are you?”

“Thirty-six”

The doctor than begins to tell her how irresponsible she is for having so many kids, and that she needs to stop right away. I was in shock listening to the way the doctor spoke to her. Not knowing any of her circumstances and talking to her with such an air of superiority. It made me feel so sad for her.

Even though this was the hospital she had gone to for all her prenatal care she had to give the doctor a huge stack of papers that showed she was pregnant, due date, etc. The doctor says to me, “While I am checking on her go put her in the computer,” then walks away.

I had no idea what she was talking about, like not even a clue. I walk into the hallway, there was no computer. There were 2 nurses asleep at a desk, so I wake them up, and ask, “Where is the computer where  I put her in?” They looked at me like I was stupid, and pointed over there. I walked “over there” and found a waiting room. I walked into what looked like a normal hospital waiting room. Except that all the lights where off, people where sleeping on all the chairs, and there were two guys in the corners in front of computers on Facebook. I walk up to them and say, “Uh I need to put my friend in the computer…”

Then he starts to ask me questions,

” First name?” he asks

“Anna” I respond

Last name?”

“Um…I don’t know”

“I need her identification.”

“Ok…just a second.” I reply and walk away.

I felt like a total dummy, taking someone to the hospital and not even knowing their last name. We live next door to each other, hang out a lot, I teach her kids, but, I guess we had never gotten around to last names. I walked back to the original room, grabbed her medical paperwork of the desk, and I went back to the computer to put her in. Her picture is in the computer and they ask me if its her, thankfully it is and I completele my task well.  As we finish they give me a piece of paper with tape on it to put on her wrist.

I went back to the room, taped this piece of paper around Anna’s arm. The doctor then sent me back to the computers with a list of the tests Anna needed to have done. I go back in the dark room and find the computer guys again. I go up to the guy I talked to last time, but he sends me to computer guy number 2. I give him the paper and he asks me a few more questions about Anna. Thankfully I knew all the answers to these questions. They order a urine test (completely normal), and they order a blood draw to see what blood type she is. Although she has a mountain of paper work of results from tests that have already been done, and she is in the computer. But, I guess they have to double check.

The tests all got done and then I am sent to go get the nurses to put in an I.V. I go out into the hallways, wake up the nurse’s again and tell them my friend needs an I.V. The one nurse hands a syringe to the other nurse out of her back pocket and we walk into the room. My friend then goes and sits in a chair in the middle of the room. The doctor than starts making fun of my friend with the nurses for how many kids she has. She asks me how many kids I have, “I say 4” and she says, “Well at least thats a normal number.

After the I.V. is in the doctor says its time to take her upstairs. I grab all her bags, Anna grabs her I.V. and we start walking. The only way I can describe how the hallways look like in the hospital is referencing a horror movie. I am a little used to it now, but the first time I came here I was seriously tramautized for like a week. We walk through the halls (mind you, my friend is 9 months pregnant and in labor), the lights are flickering on and off, the paint on the walls is chipping off, huge holes are in several walls, whole tiles are missing from the floors, and it is super hot. Their is a sign that says, “Sanitary Route,” and I kind of have to chuckle to myself. We get upstairs to a laboring room, where two women where sleeping on the bed. These two women are just there because a family member is in labor as well. I am the only one who seems phased by this. In these rooms there is a hospital bed. But, the hospital does not supply sheets, pillow, or any type of bedding. There is just a hospital bed with a plastic mattress and you are expected to bring everything else.

The intern isn’t in the room so the doctor says, I guess we will go down stairs. We then walk for awhile until we come to another part of the hospital. Anna is still having contractions and still holding her I.V. bag in her hand. Once we get downstairs, the doctor finds an intern, and the intern walks with us back upstairs. The two sleeping ladies are still in the room but on another bed. At this point the intern kicks them out.

Now that the intern is there and they say I can’t be in the room anymore. I ask Anna if she needs anything before I go, she says she would like some water. I leave to look for water. Unfortunately there is no water to be found anywhere. I ask around the hospital everyone tells me there is no place to get her water at this hour. I decide to get in the car because surely there is something open. I have seen a couple pharmacies that say open 24 hours. But, I learned that open 24hrs has different meaning here than in the states because they are all closed. I drive around the city looking for water, but none is to be found. At this point I give up and decide to head home. I finally got home at around 4:00am and crawl into bed.

I just wanted to record my story of an experience that is so foreign to anything that I have experienced to let people know a different perspective. This is what the public health care system looks like here. People with insurance go to the private hospitals and get much better care. But, sometimes its just good to reflect on how different the lives of people are all over the world.

Update: She did have her baby the following day… I forgot to say that 🙂

 

I LOVE BOOKS!

​I really really love books. I may even say I have a slight obsession when it comes to books. Truth be told, I LOVE children’s books. As we were packing to come to the Dominican Republic I had to get rid of a lot of books. Every single book that I put in the goodwill pile I felt a little piece of loss. I know this is weird, but I just really love everything that a book brings. I love the nostalgia of a book that was read when you were young. I love that a book takes you to a different place, and that there is so much to learn from stories. You can learn about places you will never visit, learn about things that happened long ago, you learn new words, and you even learn to better your grammar.

I have thankfully passed this love down to my children, mainly our oldest. I am pretty sure he reads more than any person alive. He read all the Lord of the Rings books in 2 days and then can turn around and tell you exactly what happened. I love that we can talk about books together. This is also one of the reasons I love homeschooling because the kids and I get to read books together.

One of the things that has been hard for me since coming to the Dominican Republic is seeing that in the poor communities, reading for enjoyment has become almost obsolete. Reading for knowledge is almost unattainable because books are super expensive. One thing I would love to show these children (second to the gospel of course) is the magic that can happen when you open a book. I want them to have access to books.

I believe flipping through books helps children learn to do things sequentially which helps form logical thinking. I believe opening a book, opens minds to things never even imagined. I also believe that books help children unplug from the technology that they are constantly bombarded with. For all these reasons I have decided to do a book fair through Usborne books. I have chosen several books that I would love to have. Although the majority of them are in English I hope to translate several of them. (especially the fiction ones)

I have chosen several books that would be a help to us and our ministry.  This is a way that people can help us in a tangible way with our Homework Help Program**.  Every time someone purchases a book for us we receive 50% to buy more books. You can also buy some of the amazing Usborne books for yourself and we will still get 50% to buy more books. It is a win win for everyone. I am sooooo excited about this opportunity and the chance to bring books to kids who have very rarely been able to enter into the joy of reading. If you would like to join in our book sale let me know and I will send you a link to the facebook event where we will be selling the books. My email is emiliepoor@gmail.com.

 

**Our main programed ministry here is a Homework Help Program. We invite children into our home to help them learn basic reading and math skills. Our main goal in this program is for kids to hear the gospel, but we also work really hard with them to learn basic education skills.

Hard Lessons learned from a Puppy

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Almost 9 years ago the Lord blessed Randy and I with a sweet little girl who has loved animals since the day she was born. When she was little our dog Jeeder was her best friend. We have so many pictures of her cuddled up next to that dog. She loves animals and makes friends with animals everywhere we go.
I have never been a animal person. Growing up my sister LOVED animals (still does) and I liked them, but could have easily done without. Since being married Randy and I had a couple dogs, but when it was time to get rid of them, I barely batted an eye. OUr  final dog Jeeder we got rid of shortly after Gibson was born. I had 4 kids under 5  at the time and the thought of taking care of a dog as well, put me over the edge. So, we found another home for our dog. He was a boxer and a really good dog, but it was time for him to go.
 Randy and I heard of some boxer puppies a couple months ago, and decided to get our animal lover a dog for her birthday (even though we said we never would). If you know Randy you know there is no love lost between him and dogs, but he does love  his little girl and that love won. We also thought that that out of all our kids,  she could be trusted to be responsible and take care of the dog.
We surprised her with a scavenger hunt and she found her new dog in a box in the back of the van. She was over the moon with excitement. She named her Pancake, and we made it clear that this puppy was fully her responsibility. Over the next couple weeks I saw her take full responsibility of her puppy, and it was beautiful to watch. She never once complained about taking it out to go potty, even in the middle of the night. She cleaned up its poop and pee without batting an eye. I was in awe as I watched her take responsibility for that little puppy.  My little extrovert, who feels everything with all her heart,  threw all her energy and love into that puppy.
I also noticed in me that I formed a love for the puppy, because I loved my little girl. I took care of the puppy, and spent hours reading all about taking care of puppies so that I could help her train the puppy properly. As the puppy got sick  I found myself staying up at night to take care of it (I have barely slept the last week). It’s last night I woke up every 30 minutes to an hour to feed it by a syringe.  I learned to love and care for that little puppy because of my love for our little girl. It is amazing that when we love someone, many times we show people by loving the things that they love.
Last night I knew the puppy was going to die soon. I even prayed, “Lord if she is going to die please take her quickly.” In these times its so easy to want to shelter our kids from hard things. It would be easier to say she went to a happy farm to live, she is in puppy heaven, etc. But, we decided to to take this opportunity to talk to her about death. Death is part of this world, and it is a lesson that we all have to learn at some point.
 There were lots of tears as I laid in  the bottom level of a bunk bed with 3 kiddos (one had already gone to sleep) as we prayed and we talked, but the sweetness of the moment will not soon be forgotten.  The kids woke up this morning to a dead puppy, but the childlike faith of our sweet girl has been a blessing to both Randy and I today.  She is sad, really sad.  There has been  a lot of tears in our house today. However, we have heard things like, ” Mommy, I am so glad that I know that God knew that this was going to happen to me, and that I at least got to have her for a couple weeks.”
She also told Randy this morning, “Daddy, even though she died it was still a really good birthday present.”
We have also seen the sweetness of her siblings as they took care of her today. Her older brother made a cross out of bamboo to mark the spot where the dog is buried. Her sister cleaned their whole room by herself this morning. The littlest brother keeps walking up to her and saying, ” I am so sorry, this has happened to you.”
We wish that we could take the pain away from her heart right now.  What parents wants to see their child sad. I hate it that our little girl who feels soooo deeply has to go through this loss. However, I am so glad that in these times we can learn more and more about Jesus. I am thankful that I can teach my little girl that God really does care about her pain and sadness. I am thankful that we can teach her that Jesus came to this world and conquered sin and death, and that in heaven for those who believe there will be no more death.
I am thankful that I have seen her little heart long for heaven as we talk about heaven, what it will be like and then she says, “Maybe someday in heaven, I’ll have another puppy.”

 

Lady Wisdom vs Lady Folly

Proverbs 9:1-6, 13-17

Wisdom has built her house;
    she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
    from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways,[a] and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
    and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
    reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction[b] to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
    teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
    and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
    if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

The Way of Folly

13 The woman Folly is loud;
    she is seductive[c] and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house;
    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15 calling to those who pass by,
    who are going straight on their way,
16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    And to him who lacks sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet,
    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18 But he does not know that the dead[d] are there,
    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

As I was reading through Proverbs 9 this morning I couldn’t believe the clear picture that came into my head. In Proverbs 9 we see a picture of Lady Wisdom working hard and calling to the simple to come join her at her feast. Then we see a picture of Lady Folly yelling loudly, sitting alongside the road, promising sweetness and pleasantry, that will lead to death.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the Dominican Republic which made me really think about what it means to be a Mom. What does it look like for me to be a mom to my kids here in El Higuero (our neighborhood), La Vega (our city),  Dominican Republic (our Country)?

Every day as our oldest walks down the straight path of our street, trying to seek wisdom, and lady folly is calling at him from all sides. There are the boys calling to him to play who always end up fighting. There are boys destroying property, throwing garbage on the ground, and kids who just decided not to go to school that day because they didn’t feel like it. I know to our son it looks like so much fun. It looks like so much fun to play the fool with the other boys in our neighborhood. But we are trying desperately to teach him wisdom. We are trying to teach him to keep on the straight path that leads to life.

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The Straight Path 

A short example is this:

Yesterday as we were preparing to go to church our son was outside in the street. A friend passed by and said, “Why would you go to church on Mother’s Day? That’s stupid.” Our son in that moment chose to shrug his shoulders and walk away. But,  I know that as fools mock it is so much easier to want to fight, to yell, to argue back, but this isn’t the way wisdom.

Playing with the boys who always fight, may be fun for awhile as you run around and climb trees. But, it is not so much fun when they disagree with you and you get punched in the face. Running around with boys who are constantly destroying things is fun, until they destroy your stuff. It is hard to be inside learning how to think, how to read, how to do math; seeing your friends barely go to school and never studying.  It is hard having parents who have rules. It is hard for him when he sees his friends running wild in the street from sun up to midnight, knowing that he has to be home when the street lights turn on. I know all of this is hard on our son. But, we as parents know that wisdom offers life and abundance. Folly in the end only offers sadness and destruction.

Our hearts desire is that all of our children learn to follow lady wisdom. We cry out to God that he will help us teach our children this valuable lesson.

What’s in a Name

About four years ago as we were going through the 501c3 process to register our ministry as a non-profit, we needed to come up with a name. We ultimately chose Galatians 5:1 Ministries. I remember I was studying Galatians at the time and was struck how Paul clearly lays out a Gospel of grace alone through faith alone in chapters 2-4 then exhorts the church in Galatia not to forget that they are not only saved by grace, but that we also now live in grace as sons of God through Christ Jesus. Galatians 5:1 seems to be the crux of the argument Paul is making. It’s the “so what” that Paul uses to transition from the theological to the practical.

Galatians 5:1
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Then, as a Christian living in ultra progressive Portland, Oregon the significance of this verse seemed a bit more ethereal. Sure, I have known those who put unbiblical rules on what it means to be a believer, rules that are not found anywhere on the pages of Holy Scripture, I even would have admitted to having some religious legalism in my past–I remember being dumbfounded as a high school student that my pastor called a friend of his “one of the most generous Christians he knows” even though the friend smoked cigarettes. That example of my legalism notwithstanding, I hadn’t ever seen anything that was so blatantly similar to the Scribes or Pharisees of Jesus’ time.

In our current context, the wonderful island that we are so lucky to call home is also home to more religious sects, cults, false teachers, and diabolic Pied Pipers than can be counted or retold by Wikipedia. One group of wolves in sheep’s clothing was in our neighborhood just yesterday, proclaiming their wretched gospel to anyone who would listen, actually everyone within half a mile was listening as only those whom God has blessed with deafness couldn’t hear the speakers stacked in the back of the screaming “prophet’s” pickup truck. Emilie just so happen to be at her friend’s house who she has been faithfully sharing Jesus with for the past year or so, when two women approached them warning them to cry out to God for repentance. Emilie humbly told them that she was a Christian and began to share with them what we do here in the neighborhood, when the supposed leader of the group told my precious wife that she has a demon inside of here and could not possibly be a Christian wearing what she was (see picture). What more, Emilie’s friend was told that she will never be allowed into God’s holy heaven until she rids herself of the red hair dye in her hair.

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It’s either really good luck on the part of the women or God’s providence that had me at home working on a lesson for my next English class (I’m betting the later rather than the former), because had I been there, there’s not a rebuke or damnation strong enough that I wouldn’t have used on these two blind guides. But Emilie, be it due to humility or that she was shell shocked, began to quietly tell these two whitewashed tombs what the Bible says about works based religion and how we are saved by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, but her words fell on ears that are ever hearing and never understanding. As they symbolically stomped the dust off their hypocritical feet (are you getting an sense of what I think about them?), Emilie began to share all the more with her friends that these people neither know the scriptures nor the God of said holy writ.

Through all this, both my personal progression in the depth of freedoms in Christ and being smack dab in the middle of a repeat of 16th century Catholic politics/religion that needs ‘a reforming, I think about Paul’s words to the church in Galatia in Galatians chapter 4:8-11
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.”
We are saved from absolute slavery to sin, that’s true but that doesn’t tell the whole tale. Even worse, we created the gods in which we then gave ourselves over to as slaves. But now that we are known by God we are no longer enslaved, neither to those so called gods, nor to sin–What a good Gospel we have the privilege to preach!–This slavery language can be a bit harsh, but the Bible pulls no punches and goes even further. While it is true that we have been freed from our former master of sin, we have been freed only to become slaves to righteousness and to God. This does not mean we are free to do what we please without concern, absolutely the opposite. This freedom means we have a new master. Our loving Heavenly Father (Romans 6).

This then brings me full circle back to Galatians 5:1 and how this verse shatters the idols I make for myself.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

How can Paul, who wrote both Romans and Galatians, say that we are saved to freedom and saved to slavery albeit with a new master, doesn’t that seem to be contradictory? This, the heart of the Gospel, is what is most veiled to those who have yet to believe. That is, if we want to be truly free we need to submit to being slaves to God. The world cannot understand this. In their search for self-fulfillment they go from one vice to another, bowing down to the god of their own imagination. But Paul’s point in Galatians 5 is not made to non-believers but to believers who, much like Israel in the wilderness, have been set free to follow our God and yet still desire the cakes and figs of slavery in Egypt. No, he says. NO! We must stand firm. Not submitting to a yoke of slavery, but submitting nonetheless.

The practical application of scripture is always less painful when you’re doing it to someone else; It’s so easy for me to denounce those false teachers from yesterday, and while that is needed, I am called to kill my flesh though the help of the Holy Spirit and to follow Jesus. I must search my eyes for logs, specks, dust, or even nanoparticles of sin by asking these hard questions first to myself and continuously of myself until He comes to save me from this world. How am I not standing firm? Am I really living in the freedom Christ has for me? Am I living in the works of the flesh as Paul goes on to describe in Galatians 5, or am I living according to the fruit of the Spirit listed in the same chapter? Am I crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires like those do who belong to Jesus (vs 24), or am simply becoming conceited (vs 25) in my own piety?

Where else can I end this but in the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians in chapter 6:15-16:
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

We are new creations. The old has gone the new has come. We must stand firm, fighting to put of the old man. When we live by this rule, peace and mercy will be upon us and we can and will be truly free!

Come Lord Jesus, come!

 

Changes (lots of pictures)

We have now called the Dominican Republic our home for 2 and a half years. I often think about all the changes our family has experienced over the last few years, some are big and some are small. Some are funny, and some have been hard learned. I thought today I would stop for a second and share a few.

First, is the way we dress.  When we came down here I had tried to by some nice clothes knowing that Dominicans tend to dress nicer than americans. What I quickly found was that my nicest clothes were basically rags. I had lots of pants and nice cotton shirts, and I lived in my rainbow flip flops. Normal clothes right? Not so much. I was consistently embarrassed by how casual I was compared to every one else.  I have had to do a complete wardrobe overhaul and I am still working on it. Thankfully second hand stores are on every corner and I have found a love of digging through piles until I find the perfect item, and almost everything here costs 2.00.  Now lets talk about high heels. I owned exactly ZERO high heels moving down here. I even returned a pair of heels to Nordstroms that I had worn once before we moved thinking I was never going to wear them. I now own 6! Who am I? I wear heals to church almost every Sunday, and even wear them for casual trips to the grocery store (What heals to the grocery store? Yes it is a thing).  I also wear jewelry of all sorts, almost every time I leave the house. Before moving here I think I had worn earrings 10 times in about 15 years, and every time it had to with being in a wedding. This change of clothing doesn’t just apply to me. The more drastic change is Randy. Randy dresses really nice almost every time he leaves the house. He brings all his clothes to the tailor to get them tailored to his exact size (It costs $1 an item). He will even tell me that I should probably go change every time I try and wear my flip flops out of the house.

Second, I have become accustomed to bugs. I especially noticed this when I didn’t jump up and try and kill the cockroach that ran across the floor this morning as I was reading my bible. I know that there will always be ants in my house. There will always be at least one line of ants crawling and creeping up the wall. It is normal to pick ants off my skin during the course of the day. I did spray some ant killer last weekend when they were starting to take over the kitchen. The first night we arrived 2.5 I saw lizards, cockroaches, frogs, and ants in our house and I was pretty freaked out. Now, I see those things as fairly normal.

Third, I am used to being sweaty. Being a sweaty is a part of life. I wear long sleeves and jeans when it is hot out because that is way more acceptable here then shorts and a tank top.

One of my favorite changes is that it is totally okay to stop by someone’s house uninvited. I love that that social norm has been done away with. I love that sometimes we will be eating dinner and a friend will stop by just because. I love that if I am by a friend’s house I can stop in and chat for a bit. I love the casualness of the culture, and I love that we found this as normal.

Here is list of changes that take less explaining; Randy and I both workout almost every day, we eat our biggest meal at lunch (which all Dominicans do), crazy driving barely makes us bat an eye, we are used to everyone singing and loudly at church, rain has become a welcomed relief, plantains are a normal part of our diet, power outages are normal, beautiful tropical beaches are 2 hours away. I am sure there a lot more but you get the idea.

There has also been more profound changes. Things like our family dynamic. Before becoming missionaries Randy was at work during the day doing his thing, and the kids and I were at home doing our thing.  Now we are all together all the time. Which means Randy is way more involved in parenting and we are more of a team. Randy and I have become closer because we are ministry partners. We work together, eat together, plan together, and sleep together. There are very few things that we ever do separate, we really are together all the time. I am so thankful for these things in that they bring a closeness to our family that is such an amazing blessings. This year we have also started homeschooling the kids again which has been such a blessing. I love having the kids with us and involved in our ministry.

Our support system has changed. It is amazing to see the people who reach out and encourage when you are far away, and the people who seek to know you. There is a group of people that have been so encouraging to us ever since we left. They have sought to know us and be there for us. I am so thankful for each of these people, but a lot of them are different then who I thought they would be when we left. We also have an amazing church body down here that has really embraced us and encouraged us in so many ways.

Our ideas of ministry have changed. We came down here with a certain idea of what we would do including Haitian schools and baseball. We have now decided that our ministry is our neighborhood and the people we live around. We play with kids and that includes baseball, invite people into our home, make cookies for birthdays, have started a program to helps kids with their homework, we sit on porches for hours, take people to the hospital when needed. The list goes on an on, but we have changed our perspective dramatically on what ministry looks like, and what it looks like to be intimately involved in the every day of the people’s lives around us. We are committed to be constantly looking for new ways to get to reach the people in our neighborhood for Christ.

One more is that I have become a lot more introverted. I used to be able to be with people non stop and feel completely filled when I came home. I have come to discover that I LOVE being at home. I still like to be around people, but I much more prefer the quietness of being at home. I am still trying to figure out now how to be an introvert next to a couple very extroverted children. “Mommy, will you take us to play?” is a question I am asked every day, even after working with kids all day long.

I was also impressed the other day in even how some things that used to be easy for us are now hard for us. For example, in the last month Randy has preached in Spanish twice. I was thinking about how for Randy teaching is one of the easiest things in this world. However, teaching in Spanish has made teaching super hard for him. Yikes!

Throughout the big changes and the small changes I am so thankful for the peace and security with have in the Lord. Sometimes it feels like the changes in our lives could be listed forever, but I am so thankful that we serve a God who endures forever.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalms 136:1

God has given us so much and throughout all the changes in our lives he continues to love us. Thank you Jesus!

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These are some of our favorite neighbors. I love hanging out on their porch.

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The kids and I made cookies for an event at our church. Not many people here bake, so although I am not a good baker, I have become super baker here. I just keep telling people the secret is butter. If you stop using margarine and use butter everything will taste better.

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Addie in her Easter dress. They don’t celebrate Easter here because they see it as a Catholic Holiday, but we still try and do little things to celebrate. As part of homeschooling we also did a full Passover meal. It was a lot of fun.

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This is Gordy. I forgot his birthday on Sunday. I felt so so bad, so we had a little impromptu party for him in the Sala de Tarea on Tuesday.

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Randy has recently built an aquaponics system. The basic idea is that we have huge buckets of fish that feed the rocks where plants grow. We planted seeds 6 days ago and we have REALLY big sprouts coming up. Addie and Gibson love watching the snail that crawls around the top.

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Our two sweet sweet girls

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This is Autry and his friend Estarlin. This kid comes with us to church every time we go. It has been a blessing to see.

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A birthday party for my friend at our home group.

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This little boy makes us smile every day!

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The whole family. I have realized that Randy is normally the one taking pictures so there are very few pictures with him in it. Here is us last Sunday before church at a place where the whole family can get a huge cookie for $2. We were also taking advantage of the air conditioning.

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A funny tradition is to get people wet on their birthday. All the neighbor kids were waiting for Randy with buckets of water when he came home from the bank on his birthday. Thankfully I knew what they were planning and I was able to give him some warning, so he left his wallet and cell phone in the car.

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Once a month we go to Santiago to go grocery shopping. We come back with bags and bags of groceries filled with oatmeal, rice, beans, olive oil and the like. Plus we have found its the only store we know of that sells kale. 🙂 The store also has a huge indoor playground and an awesome pet store, so the kids like going as well.

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Our kids are way more advanced educationally than any of the other kids in the neighborhood. Autry’s best friend Jitter doesn’t know how to read and barely knows math. Autry is so patient helping his friend with his homework, he helps him during our homework help program, and has been reading with him so he can learn how to read. I love seeing my boy grow up in to such a big hearted kid.