I know I have written about how I love our neighborhood, like I really really love it. Randy and I have committed ourselves to this neighborhood and the people who live here. We hang out with their kids, play with their kids, work with their kids on their homework, teach them how to read and do math, we let their kids terrorize our home, and we go and sit on their porches and talk. But, learning to do this can be difficult because truth be told we are different, Americans, outsiders.
I have realized lately more and more how difficult it is to always feel different. First of all it seems that I only understand about 85% of what is going on. This has to do with language difficulties, but it also has to do with cultural difficulties. I am sure I have offended them a 100 different ways with my american sensibilities. I still feel like I am breaking every social norm when I enter their house uninvited (which is par for the course in almost every dominican house), I feel intimidated joining in the conversation for fear that they won’t understand exactly what I want to stay, and really I am just different because I am the rich american that doesn’t really understand their Dominican ways. I can’t tell you how many times jokes are told and everyone starts laughing and I realize that I didn’t even realize a joke was being told. Then I feel like everyone is thinking, oh she really doesn’t speak Spanish that well.
I don’t know what its like to go without the things I want, I don’t know what its like to live in a house without running water, I don’t know what its like to not be able to give your kids the things that they really want…like a bike. All these things set me apart in a way that can be really hard. It is hard to not get whats going on, its hard to be different all the time, its hard at times to not be able to communicate everything I want to say, it is really hard not to understand. Sometimes all these differences make me want to stay in the safe confines of my house all day. It is easy to stay in your house with the people who love you and accept you for who you are. It is hard to put yourself out there, it is hard to feel rejected. It is hard to share the gospel with people, to put yourself out there even more and become the rich “Christian” american. But, I ask the Lord for strength every day because this is what he has called us to do. It is easy for me to share the gospel with their children, but to boldly proclaim the gospel with their parents is much harder. It is hard as well because when I do share the gospel they agree with everything I say.
Another way in which the Dominican Republic is different than what I am accustomed to is that they all say they believe in God. When I share the gospel with someone they agree with everything I say and they will even pray with you. For some it would look like everyone is a believer , but their lives do do not reflect Christ. SO, I pray that the Lord would allow his gospel to truly penetrate their heats. That his message of repentance, reconciliation, and salvation will really sink into their hearts.
This is how you can pray for me, that the Lord would give me the strength to love people even when its hard. Please pray that even when it all seems too overwhelming that I would seek to have genuine relationships with our neighbors. Most of all please pray that the gospel would sink in to their hearts and this would cause true repentance in their hearts and this would cause true repentance