Monday, October 3, 2011

October update

Hello! Sorry for the long absense... we've been insanely busy! Here is a little update as to what has been going on lately!

Semester Abroad 2011

We are now entering our 5th week working alongside 13 students who have come from Indiana for a cross-cultural experience in the Dominican Republic. Running this program is the highlight of our year, we absolutely love this program! Weekly we put on activities to develop unity, build community, and make this an unforgettable experience. No experience is like the next; each year is different and presents different challenges, learning experiences, and blessings.

This year the unforgettable experience is already in the making. I have had the privilege and honor and of walking alongside a gal who comes from a life of sorrow, anger, pain, shame, and fear. We have journeyed these past 4 weeks through a rigorous path of healing and there is still more mountain climbing to come. But this experience has been an amazing path of grace, peace, love, forgiveness and healing.

Having those moments where God takes your breath away are the moments worth living for.

I am living in one of these moments. I am “unqualified” to help this gal walk through this healing process, but God is so much bigger than qualifications, her hurt and pain, and my qualification and training. He is using her desire to heal and my willingness to be there for her and to pray for her, to bring about the most beautiful and incredible redemption I have ever witnessed. And it’s simply God being God and us walking faithfully with Him and allowing Him control that is bringing this about.

I am physically watching God change this gal’s life forever. She will never be the same.

I am humbled at His great power and ability.

What else is going on?

·         We will begin traveling on Saturday with the semester students. We’ll be traveling for one week.

·         We have a new house mate, Mark. He was a semester student of ours from 2009 and he’ll be with us for 6 weeks as he helps out in the medical site.

·         Melody and Adam will be visiting in November! We’re super excited to see them and to share with them our life here.

·         I (Vicki) am going to start helping out with the worship team at church. I know that I’ll be playing the keyboard and maybe I’ll get to help with singing.

·         Josh will be graduating with his master’s degree in Discipleship ministries in December.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Farewell Party

Tonight is the despedida (farewell party) for our four fearless leaders (as I like to call them). Our directors, Lowell & Cheryl and pastoral care/ministry site supervisors, Nate & Maggie will be leaving us shortly to continue on their journey in ministry with SI in Nicaragua.  It's been a long time coming, but now that it's here I can't believe it. I have been practicing a song all week that I'm going to be sining at the party, and I haven't sung through it once without getting teary-eyed... hopefully I can make it through the whole thing tonight :)

This weekend we are taking our semester students on one of my favorite excursions. We're going to creek through the river from our town to a mountain community where our friend will meet us and cook us lunch! It should be a great time!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Semester Program 2011

We're kicked off! Josh and I just finished our few days of orientation with the semester students and we moved them into their homes today. The past few days have been spent waking up together and worshiping through music, Josh sharing a devotional, and spending alone time with God. And to break up the sitting and receiving information we gave them a scavenger hunt through town, played games to help understand cultural difference, had cake and met the host parents, and had dinner out in town at Pica Pollo (a road side Dominican dining place), and playee games at our house. It's been a busy but great last few days and we're enjoying a little (much needed) rest today!

Hope you are all well! Happy September!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Season of Change & Costa Rica Family Trip

One characteristic of life in missions here is change. People come and go all the time, year 'round. These past several months we've seen the face of SIDR change significantly as we've welcomed on many new staff members and have said farewell to many. One of the lastest staff to leave was Amy Green. She was a great friend and fellow missionette (AG version of Awana). She was the one who gave us our dobermans when we first moved here.

Our interns and volunteers left August 10th after a good debriefing and re-entry period at the beach.
We were so blessed with a great group of interns - it was hard to watch them go.

We're in the preparation stage for our next program - semester students. They arrive Aug 31st. and will be with us until mid-December. This is our favorite time of the year; getting to devote ourselves to a small team of people for 3 1/2 months. This year we have 13 students (12 girls and 1 guy...pray for him!)

Last bit of notice - we went on a vacation with Vicki's family to Costa Rica for 5 days. Vicki's parents, siblings and grandparents (mom's side) all were there. Below is a family photo and some pictures from a boat tour that we did with grandma, grandpa, mom and dad.

                                                                       Family Fun!

                                                                     Baby crocodiles

Land Crabs


Mangrove Trees

Not sure what type of tree this is... but don't touch it
Flying from Liberia to San Jose the boarding tickets they gave us were laminated tourist brochures... interesting

Monday, July 18, 2011

Egg in the Hole

Sunday evening is usually intern/volunteer Bible study, where everyone comes over to our house and we have a yummy dessert of some kind and of course the Bible study. However, we spent the entire day at the beach which we wrapped up by having an American meal experience (thanks to TGIFridays) and didn't get back to Jarabacoa until after 10pm. So we made a quick change to the plans and decided to have breakfast and Bible study Monday morning before the teams arrived. This morning I had for the very first time "Egg in the Hole".

These are my summer intern/volunteer buds!
Rachel making us Egg in the Hole... it was so good!

Angie cut all the holes out of the bread for this breakfast speciality.

Josh and I feel incredibly blessed - our group of interns/volunteers are amazing! We really believe in our daily investment in them and know that God has called us to work alongside college aged students; mentoring, discipling, and just experiencing life together. I can't believe they leave in three weeks. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Our summer staff

Summer 2011's Internship and Volunteer Program Participants

This summer we have three volunteers: Jeff, Myles, and Angie. Myles and Angie interned for us last summer and returned for this summer to seek out God's calling for them and to see if SI was a fit for them. Angie has been working in one of our women's social work centers and Myles has been heading up our media site. Jeff has been here since mid-January where he started as an intern and in May moved into the volunteer program and has been also seeking out God's plan for him and searching SI as a possible fit. He's been serving in out special education school.

We have 7 interns remaining (had 9 to begin with): Chris and Meaghan, they are from Louisanna and stayed for 6 weeks. Chris just began dental school and Meaghan is finishing up her senor year of college. One day they want to do dental missions. They are engaged to be married next year. They honored Josh and I by asking us to take them through pre-marital counseling.

Rachel - she's just graduated from Wheaton College and was a semester student of ours last fall. She has really connected with SI and the ministry here and is applying for full time staff.

Christine - she's from California and has been here since mid-January. She's been serving as an intern these past 6 months and also has felt a calling to serve with SI. She would like to work with special needs children and will be going back to the states to finish college.

Brittany - she's from California and has been serving in our women's sports ministry site. Brittany is a gifted muscian and has used her gifts to bless us and our teams every week. She's sweet and always smiling.

Kelly & Jesse - they are a dating couple from Long Beach, CA. Kelly is serving in our art site and Jesse in the men's sport site. Jesse is easy going, laid back, and loud (which is mean in the nicest way). Kelly is soft spoken, thoughtful, creative, and very go with the flow. They want to get married one day.

Ariana - she too is from California and is currently attending ASU. She's really fun and adds great personality to our team dynamic. She is working in one of our women's center's and is connecting well with the girls in that community.

Erin - she's from Colorado (went to school in CA) and just graduated from college. She's applying for medical schools as I type and is pursuing a career as a doctor. She's very joyful, constantly smiling, and has such a heart for serving others.

This picture is from the mountain restaurant - Aroma de Dios - it overlooks our town, Jarabacoa
Here is Chris and Meaghan - our Louisanna buds

Angie... she's from Bellevue which means we "get" each other :) She calls us mom and dad... something that started last year (can't remember why) but has continued ever since then. She's been living with us this summer as our little (or not so little) daughter... good times!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Living it Up!

So this past weekend Josh, I, and our interns/volunteers were all in need of a break. So we took Saturday to relax and reunited that evening for some gumbo fun. We have two interns (who are engaged by the way) who are from Louisianna and they made for us a traditional dish called gumbo. It was delicious! The following day, Sunday, we headed down the mountain to an excursion called 27 Waterfalls where we played in the river for 2 hours cliff jumping, watersliding down natural waterfalls, climbing up waterfalls, and goofing around with each other. It was perfect! Then we headed to our favorite beach, Cabarette, where we hung out until dinner. The water felt like bath water, the wind was in good form therefore allowing kite surfers and wind surfers alike to get good action on the ocean. It was so fun to watch all that talent on the water.

Josh and I feel refreshed and renewed and are having a wonderful time with our new team. Included in this team (of 61 people) is a woman who was a missionary in Mexico for 20 years. She has been such a light and source of wisdom, insight, and great stories.

Josh and I have been without our jeep for about 3 weeks now as our mechanic has been slow on repairing it. So we've become quite Dominican in these past several weeks as we've been carting our laundry in baskets, small matresses, 40 lbs bags of dog food, and groceries on the bag of our moto... we must be quite a site. We checked in on our jeep AGAIN today and it looks like we should have it by the end of the week... but who knows really, that's what he said every other time (sigh).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Forgotten God

Forgotten God

I have been reading the book “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan and have been intentionally wrestling and challenging myself with the things that he writes about. Grappling with these things has been so impactful and amazing to me that I really want to share them with you. If you haven’t read the book yourself I whole hardly recommend it.

“Reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit” – is the tag written below the title of the book. Francis Chan sheds light on American Christianity and its lost condition from the Holy Spirit. The book was not written from a denominational bent; merely just a man seeking what Jesus meant when he said to the disciples that it was better that he leave so the Spirit could come.

With Love

“Without Him [Holy Spirit], people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation.”

America breeds independent, individualistic, I-can-do-it-myself type people. Asking for help or relying on others is typically considered a weakness and not valued in our society. But that’s not how it was meant to be. We are to rely on the Holy Spirit for his guidance and assistance to accomplish greater things. Sure, as humans we can perform tasks and do things, but with God those actions are brought to a powerful level with larger impact.

“But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.”

What does that mean – live in the power of the Spirit? It means to allow the Spirit to fill you up, to trust in Him, and to give Him your life. You do this by reading the Bible, praising God, praying to God, investing your life completely in God. When you do this you will see a changed life. A supernatural life. A life fragrant with passion, joy, and purpose.

“We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.”

How many times… how many times have the words come out of my mouth “I did, all by myself”? How many years have I spent relying on myself, doing it all myself without consulting God, without asking him for help? The difference is unmistakable when I involved God in my life. The burdens aren’t as heavy, I experience 100 times more joy, and the outcome is better. I do not want to do it all by myself ever again.

“If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not?”

Ever since I read the story in Exodus about Moses having to wear a veil over his face because it was glowing after having spent time in the presence of God, I knew that I wanted that to be me. I wanted to glow. I wanted people to know that I had been spending time in the presence of God. To this day I still pray that. I know that I have fallen short of being a glowing light for God… many times. But as I read this it encourages me to push on and glow. I want to be different. I want people who don’t know the Lord personally to see that there is something different in me; and most importantly, I want them to want it.

This list isn’t exhaustive. But it’s a glimpse at the way that God is shaping, challenging, and stretching me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer is Here

Themes from the past several weeks:

Lots of rain (which means dirty water)
Lightning storms (gorgeous bright skies)
Booming Thunder (Lucy finds safe refuge in our closet during these)
New Interns/Volunteers (fun, great talks, desserts)
Summer Program (we're back in the swing of another great summer!)

The picture below is of our interns (minus one) for the summer. We're all doing great and having a great kick off to the summer.

The first day of each team is spent in orientation. We give them samples of Dominican coffee called "cafecito"

Below Josh is teaching them the Dominican greeting (for guys who know each other, they will rub each other's bellies)

Right now we have to volunteers living with us. Angie and Jeff. They're both wonderful people and we enjoy having them with us. Angie was an intern last summer for us and Jeff interned for us from January through April and now he's in the volunteer program through the beginning of August.

This year I am running an activity called "The Cross: Letting Go" where the purpose is for each participant to consider their own personal "race". We're all in a race for something and as Christians we are called to run the race for Christ and pursue Him with our total being. So the activity is centered around the race and realizing what extra baggage we're carrying around with us as we try and run the race. Then everyone has the oppertunity to nail these things (for example: greed, lust, pride, anger, hatred, lack of forgiveness, etc.) to the cross symbolizing their commitment to God that they are going to work hard at running the race without letting themselves get bogged down by that thing. And should they pick it back up again, once they realize it, they will hand it back over to God and continue running the race with endurance.

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

~Romans 6:12-14

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just What I Needed

Just what I needed... a little getaway.

1/4 pound of stress each week (x) 104 weeks = ... too much extra weight.

hadn't realized how much I had been putting on myself. I didn't see all the little extra things being that big of deal. It wasn't until we landed in DC and hopped in the back of Melody's mini-coup convertable (with the top down, wind blowing in my face) that I realized that this was just what I needed.

I needed a chance to be somewhere with zero responsibility, no one calling me, and no one who knew me. It was the breath of fresh air and R&R that we needed.

We stayed with Melody and Adam in their cute town house like 4 blocks behind the Capitol building (amazing location). We had some time for ourselves to get out and be tourists, and we had lots of time with them catching up, getting to see them in their environment, and we got to attend the fairwell party that Melody put on for Adam. It was wonderful to see Adam's family again and meet some of Mel & Adam's friends.

Our trip to DC happened to be on a very busy weekend. There were hundreds of tourist and kids on school field trips walking around. It was not only the Cherry Blossom Festival, but some kind of "Kite Festival" as well. There were all kinds of parades, tents, booths, carnival rides, and people.

To the clicking sound of many cameras getting their visual proof of being a visitor in DC, we stood at the feet of Thomas Jefferson. Behind him on each side of the walls were snippits of remarkable things that he had once said.

Here is where Jefferson stands - looking across the basin towards the White House.

We walked through the Franklin D. Roosevelt twice once as the sun was setting and the second with a bike tour we took. It's a very calm (and for the most part) quiet place where one can silently think, read quotes, and see importants moments through his presidency captured through art or staues.

Josh & Vicki's favorite type of food = Mexican food. Our dinner was amazing!

Eternal flame in Arlington Cemetary

On my top 3 three things to see, the White House was number one. It might sound silly, but I've wanted to see it for a long time, and with my own eyes.

World War II memorial.

Vietnam War Memorial.

Bike Tour! Adam, Mel, Josh and I took a bike tour after church on Sunday and had a really nice time. The sun finally decided to grace us with its presence. It was a 3.5 hour tour, covering 3-4 miles, and we visited 8 memorials.

Melody and her boys!

We're at the Jefferson Memorial but the Washington Monument is behind them.

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial at night

My favorite building - The Capitol Building. The morning/afternoon/evening when congress was in session debating the new budget, we were running, walking, or driving past the building. We even got to see with our own eyes the light in tower (which only shines when congress is in session). It was fun to be around the capitol on such a big day.

Josh and I took a tour of the Capitol Building and here is a glance at the rotunda. The center painting is George Washington sitting with 13 women... and I wasn't listening to why it is that way b/c I busy taking the photo... so you might have to wiki that.

Standing at the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument is radiant isn't it? And lit up next to that is the Capitol Building... my favorite!

Our trip was amazing. We had the best time and even with seeing a lot, I felt like it was quite relaxing. I returned to the DR feeling refreshed and renewed and ready to take on the rest of the year! The trip to DC was just what I needed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Life through a lens

Over the past month I've had several different oppertunities to practice with my camera in different settings. So I'll tell a little story with each photo which will capture a little bit more of my life here. The following two photos are of my co-worker and friend Caroline. She recently had her first baby, James, here in Santiago, DR. He was born in late January. Caroline used to work in one of our women's centers but has been taking a break to be a mommy.

We take our teams on an excursion while they are here. Salto Jimenoa is my favorite waterfall excursion, it never gets boring to me. I was just there on Saturday and practiced this particular shot with my camera. I think it's a success - the point was to get the water to look silky.

This little red flower here is actually a weed - and I've had several sprout in an empty flower bed in my back yard. They don't do much more than this... I think they offer a certain charm of their own.

Camera Duty! Because we currently don't have a full time staff memeber in our media site, I've been filling in there over the past 2 years when we need to have video/photo presentations prepared for our teams. Last week I spent quite a bit of time out at one of our pre-schools and got a chance to play with and help the kids in class. The little girl below told me that I was her "special friend" for the day and she wouldn't let me out of her sight. At snack time she unexpectedly shoved a chocolate muffin in my face... not my mouth. In class I listened to her confirm with her fellow classmates that eating glue is not good for them. She then followed this profound statement with telling her friends that she had chicken-goat for dinner the night before, which then sent her table of little munchkins into a fit of laughter. I love listening to little kids... they say the most awesome things!

This little boy attends the same pre-school with the little girl pictured above. He's sitting in the little pirate ship-sand box (donated to the school by friends of ours) contimplating where to sail next in his world of imagination. I had been sitting next to him listening to him spout off all the different places he would like to go. He was taking this choice very seriously.

This is our friend Eric, who just finished up the volunteer program. He lived with us for 2 months and has now returned back to the states where he is going to begin fundrasing as he will be returning for staff. He asked me to take some pictures of him for his prayer card. It was perfect for me because I needed some experience in taking these types of shots, and it worked out for him because it was free... and if I don't say so myself, it turned out quite good!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Home Remedies

Word of advice: if you tell a Dominican that you have "gripe" (Dominican Spanish for "sick") then it is 100% guaranteed that they will tell you what to eat or drink to cure it... and everyone has a different "definite" cure.

This morning I was at the height of my flu while talking with my friend Alberto (he works as a teacher at one of our schools). He immediately caught on that I was sick and told me that I needed to drink "te de cebolla" (onion tea). I gave him a look of disgust and verbalized my thoughts by saying I was trying to get healthier. He laughed and told me that I needed to try it and that he would make for me if I would drink it. I figured I didn't really have anything to lose, so off he went to find the necessary ingredients: onion, sour orange leaves, and cinnamon. I was happily surprised that it tasted wonderful (although a tad sweet from the heaping amounts of sugar Josh added to it). With pleasure I drank the full glass of onion tea, which, if nothing else, made my throat feel much better.

It's days like these when I just love being in the Dominican Republic!

Here are some pictures that I took a few days ago... remember my new year's resolution of taking more pictures? Well these aren't anything special, they're more my experimental pics... but I had a lot of fun!