4 years!

On August 1st we celebrated 4 years since we moved to the Dominican Republic. In some ways it seems like way longer and in some ways it was way shorter. Time is funny like that. I think it makes it feel even weirder this year because we have been helping our friends, The Storments, who just moved here. Seeing them make adjustments has brought back so many memories.

A friend asked me the other day, “Has the Storments moving there caused you to see how much you’ve changed and how much more Dominican you’ve become?” The answer was an emphatic “yes!” Who we are now is so different than who we were 4 years ago.

We have learned and grown so much over the last 4 years. When we showed up Gibson was still 2 years old. People at our church always talk about how Gibson was just this little baby when we arrived. It is so true. He has lived the majority of his life in the Dominican Republic.  There is so much more I could say, but for now I will leave you with these cute pictures.

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Gibson “Then” (2 almost 3 years old)
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Gibson Now ( 6 almost 7 years old)
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Addie “Then” (4 Years old)

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Addie “NOW” (8 years old)
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Clarabelle “Then” (6 years old)

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Clarbelle “Now” (10 years old)

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Autry “Then” (7 Years Old)

 

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Autry “Now” (11 years Old)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clarabelle turns 10!

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I used be super good about blogging, but I am not anymore. But, I really do like to blog on our kid’s birthdays, to reflect on them and the person that God is growing them to be. Sometimes as my kids get older I think, how can they be this age? But, with Clarabelle I feel like she should be 10 already. She is very mature and wise for her age, and  a joy to be around. She is delightful company. Clarabelle has so many friends, talks with people wherever she goes, and is super creative. She creates and designs things out of nothing, and is constantly creating new things.  I am consistently amazed by her new creations. She started a youtube channel this year, and here is a link to one of her videos:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_vMVAfvzoQ

Claire also has a passion to tell her friends about Jesus, which has been such a blessing for me to see. After I have been visiting with a neighbor she will ask me, “Mommy did you share the gospel with them?”  She tells her friends about Jesus.  The other day Clarabelle told her friend, “It doesn’t matter how many good things you do, that won’t get you to heaven.”  Her friend got mad at her, and Clarabelle came home in tears and said to me, “It just makes me so sad, but I keep telling myself, the bible says that the world will hate me because of Jesus.” Of course at this point I started crying, so we decided that we would start a bible study for her and her friends and her during the summer.

This little girl brings our family so much joy, life, and creativity. She is also great at conversations, thinking of questions to ask that would never even cross my mind. I am thankful for her every single day.

This year was a hard birthday for my sweet girl. We woke up in the morning to find that someone had killed her dog and robbed a few things from our patio. This dog was Claire’s birthday present last year and really was her best friend. It was and still is so sad. We are all missing our puppy a lot, and my sweet girl is devastated. The sting of death on this earth hurts, we can see things dying and decaying everywhere we look, but we know that one day there will be no more death. Praise the Lord!

We were thankful for the many distractions a birthday can bring even if it was a rough day. Here are some pictures of her birthday party.

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.