17 Pesos

If you talk to 10 missionary kids you’ll probably get 10 different views on life growing up. Some are jaded towards their parents and the people they do ministry to/with, some are happy they were able to get a larger perspective due to growing up outside of the US, some are fired up to be like their parents, some grow up to be believers, some to be atheists. I’m sure there isn’t a “best way” to parent missionary kids, but what we’re trying to do is to allow our children to be part of our ministry and not a casualty of it. We want them to work hard with us to help others. To be as much involved with what we’re doing as we are. It’s not easy, but we feel it’s needed. Taking this as an intro, today one of our kids made me one happy daddy and I want to share the story with the hope that it will inspire you to adopt our ministry/parenting aspirations.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, Emilie and the two younger kids go out to the Haitian school we work with so Emilie can teach the Haitian children English. Today, she took all four kids because Autry and Claire didn’t have school; it was the older two’s first time seeing the school filled with kids. They had a blast. 

Autry and Claire don’t get to be the experts very often when it comes to school these days. They both are completely immersed in Spanish while at school and neither speak a like of it, donde esta el bano notwithstanding. Math is in Spanish, art is in Spanish, even English is in Spanish. Today was different. Today they were the only white kids in the class, but that’s no different. Today they didn’t speak the language, though this time it was Creol they didn’t know rather than Spanish. Today was different because this time they were able to help teach the class instead of be learners in one. For our oldest, this was much welcomed. 

Today, my sweet and formerly little boy did something that made his daddy so very proud. As Emilie and the kids were at the store after teaching at the school, he told her that he didn’t have anymore of his colmado money. (A colmado is sort of like a mini-market, but they’re much smaller and are on every corner. Our kids will find spare change around the house and go buy cookies and candy from time to time.) Autry then told Emilie how, when they were leaving, he went up to the pastor of our little Haitian school/church and gave him all of his monetary wealth, all of his 17 pesos (around 40 cents). When asked why he gave away the money, Autry simply said, “I thought he could use it more than I can.” 

What a stud! Now, as a dad, I work really hard teaching my oldest how to be leader, how to take care of and protect his younger siblings, how to blindly follow my commands, and that how, because he’s the oldest, things aren’t always going to be fair. He often ends up having to work harder, he has to help his younger siblings, and he often incurs more of dad’s wrath than the others do because he’s often put in charge of the bunch. It’ll be the same when Gibson gets a little older. All this to say, hearing about what my boy did today makes all the hard work so worth it. Seeing that my boy, who’s had to leave all his friends and normal surroundings to follow his parents to a new country with a different culture and a different language, seeing him start to gain an empathy for other people makes me happier than I can express.

The point of me writing this isn’t to brag about my boy, though I am enjoying that, but I want to beg all you parents who claim Christ as savior to be involved with ministry in some capacity and to allow your children to help you in some way with that ministry. I admit that it might be hard to figure out how they can be involved. I don’t exactly know how a 4 year old can help a dad who disciples young men at work, but I know for that 4 year old, seeing his daddy willing to open his bible and teach will make this Christian life much more real than a stupid Vegetails movie ever could. Not everyone can do what we’ve decided to do, but we all are called to preach the Gospel and to defend the widow and care for the orphans. I urge you to take this calling seriously and to allow your children to walk alongside you. And I promise, getting a text from your wife that your son gave away 17 pesos, will be well worth the trouble of taking him with you!

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Thankfulness

We left Portland 7 1/2 weeks ago. Every time I think of how long we have been here it blows my mind. Part of me feels like we just got here, but on the other hand I feel like we have been here forever.  We are babies in the our missionary life and these first few weeks have been emotional. Emotional in a way that is hard to describe. Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by the newness of everything and other times I feel completely thankful and at peace with this amazing place the Lord has given us to live and to serve. Sometimes I feel completely lonely, missing desperately the comfort of friends and other times I am extremely thankful for the new people we are getting to know. The hardest thing about living here for sure, which goes without saying, is being so far from our family and friends.  Home groups started at our church this month and it is sad not to be a part of that.  I am writing this all just to let you in on what is going on in my head and so you have a better idea on how to keep us in your prayers. I think it is so important as missionaries to be known by the people in the states, and not only know the good stuff.

We are so blessed to be here, the Lord has given us amazing opportunities to serve here. I am LOVING being able to serve and teach at our Haitian school. I already love those little children so much and I look forward to going out there each week. Randy was able to preach at the church connected with the school this last Sunday. It was an amazing experience being a part of a Haitian church service. It was about 2 1/2 hours long, with Randy only preaching for about 30 minutes. The Haitian people love to sing and they love to pray. For me it has been probably 20 years since I have been in a church service where I understood absolutely nothing. But, I am so grateful we were able to be a part of it. For those of you not on facebook here are some pictures.

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We had to go out the night before and buy a shirt and tie for Randy because as you can see the Haitian men dress extremely formal for church.

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The kids were a little shell shocked by the length of the service, but they did great!

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We thought we were going to have to do a three part translation. Randy english into Spanish by Emilie and then into Creole by the pastor. Thankfully at the last minute they found someone to translate from English to Creole.

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THey asked me to introduce our family

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I was relived when Gibson fell asleep

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Emilie teaching at the Haitian school, it isn’t the best picture since it was taken from her phone by Gibson, but you get the point. 🙂

One thing that has really helped me to stay grounded has been keeping a thankfulness journal, I shared a little bit of it in the beginning but I want to make a regular practice of sharing the many things we have to be thankful for. Here are a few of the things, I won’t write them all because there is well over a 100.

Thank you for…

  • Amazon
  • helping the kids be so brave on their first day of school
  • for friends to celebrate GIbson’s birthday
  • ice cream when it’s hot
  • that Autry has no one who speaks English in his class so he will learn faster
  • drill bits to go through concrete so I can hang things on the wall
  • times of discouragement in learning Spanish because this will bring perseverance
  • 10 years of being married
  • screens to keep out bugs
  • Addie and Gibson play so well
  • talking to friends and family on the phone/skype
  • pretty curtains
  • how good Randy is at teaching
  • providing us with a Haitian school to work with and a Haitian pastor with incredible vision for the people of Haiti
  • providing sponsors for the Haitian children
  • football
  • a secure house
  • 3 meals a day
  • that I get to teach at the Haitian school
  • that I never have to know that my children are hungry and i don’t have the money to feed them
  • Claire’s amazing ability to make friends
  • that I caught the hot sauce before it fell on the ground
  • times of loneliness so we can press into you and know you more
  • that you are with us

It blows me away all the gifts the Lord has given us, I pray that even in the hardest of times I will be able to look back and give thanks always.

So much to do, so little time, so little resources

I feel that this is going to be the mantra of our life in the Dominican. ” So much to do, so little time, so little resources.”I feel that just about the housework, and that’s not even the beginning.  There is so much need here that it’s hard to know where to start. I feel so inadequate, but I am constantly praising the Lord that he is sovereign and he is fully adequate for all things that need to be done.

We have now been in the Dominican for 5 weeks. 5 weeks! How is that even possible? I can say that our home here is starting to feel like home.  Sometimes it is overwhelming for me even to comprehend that we are here in the Dominican Republic. The Lord brought us here, and we are so thankful. I feel like my Spanish is getting better all the time. I can understand what most people say, even though Dominican Spanish is still a little hard for me to understand. I can communicate what I need/want wherever I am, and I am no longer scared to enter into conversations with people, even if I only get about 80% of what they say.

Right now the most overwhelming thing to me is poverty and what to do about it. For the entirety of my life poverty has been an other world problem. There are poor people in the states, but there are also abundant resources for people in the states. Here people don’t have food, and that’s that. People don’t have food and they starve to death. THat is a fact of life.  It is hard to figure out when to help and where to help. I am constantly asking the Lord for wisdom and guidance in this area.

We have started to work with a Haitian school about 25 minutes from our house. It is really only about 8 miles, but with the roads it takes about 25-30 minutes to get there.  The pastor of the church has a vision of giving these children a Haitian education so that they can some day return to Haiti and help the people of Haiti. I am really excited to be a part of it. I will be teaching english there twice a week. Right now the goal is to find people to help us sponsor the kids who attend and sponsors for the teachers. Right now the teachers are working for free and they don’t even have electricity. Our goal is to be able find sponsors for the children so that the teachers can be paid, they can eat each day, and they can have adequate resources to run a school. We are really stepping out in faith with this, I am really excited about it.  But, the fact of the matter is that there is no money in teaching Haitian children. They don’t have any money to help pay for schooling. The pastor asked for 100 pesos ($2.50) a month, but most families couldn’t even afford that.  If the Lord lays it on your heart to help in anyway, please let us know.

There is so many blog posts I could write because I feel like every day is a new experience. Things like tropical storms where within 5 minutes the entire street is flooded and just getting into my car I get completely drenched and running out to collect all the laundry on the clothesline so it doesn’t get drenched. I have learned that here a horn is much more important than a blinker. I have learned the need to watch out for pot holes because if you hit one, you might soak the poor lady on the side of the street. I have also learned that cockroaches, ants, and lizards are part of life ( I have a lizard that lives within the electrical panel in my kitchen). I have also learned the benefits of having a “corner store” attached to your house; they have any basic you could every need rice, beans, juice, bread, eggs, soap, lightbulbs, shampoo… I have also starting to run the stoplights every once and awhile. I have become accustomed to three of my family members on a scooter to go to school. So much fun, and so much to do. 🙂

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Pictures of “Kinder B”. These are the older kids in the school.
You can really notice here that the lights arn’t on in the school.

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Here is “Kinder A”

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These are just pictures of Gibson that I found on the camera

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scooter ride

For those of you who missed it on facebook this is how the kids get to school.
Note: I did do Clare’s hair that day, but she decide to take out the bow holding back her bangs because the helmet didn’t fit over it.