Our Colorful New Home

We are so excited! The apartments on the Freedom campus are coming along – railings are going on the porches, tile is being put down, closets, kitchen cabinets, and counter tops are going in… (The Hilgemans have actually already moved – they say the quiet atmosphere is so relaxing!) Life will be so different once we move. I’m personally counting down the days til I get to flush toilet paper again!  More than anything, I’m praying this move will help us to more effectively minister to our sweet students and their families.

To keep things moving, missionaries are painting their own apartments. We were thinking it was going to take us quite awhile to finish painting, considering our three little munchkins. Guess what? Scott’s brother Ryan and his wife Erin decided to come for a visit. Perfect timing, right? We put them to work! And it was much more fun painting with company. Scott and I may have gone a little color crazy, but it was so fun picking all the paint and thinking about how we’ll decorate! Enjoy some pictures (click to enlarge)!

It’s a Girl!

sanda-0124Big news! Baby #3 is a girl! We are so excited for this new addition to our growing family!

Ang and baby are doing well as of now. At the last sonogram, the ultrasound technician said baby girl’s got a head full of hair! Ang’s blood pressure is continuing to rise slightly. She’s also taking even more iron supplements to try to get her iron level up before giving birth, but we’re keeping an eye on things as we get closer to having the baby. We’re still looking at an August 21st due date.

It won’t be long now! Bring on the diaper changes, sleepless nights, cuddles and coos!

Now to think of a name…

Home

“Are you excited, Noah? We’re going home in a few days!” Noah’s wide, cheesy grin indicated his enthusiasm as he quickly colored in another airplane on his countdown calendar. Soon, we’d be headed back to the States for an extended furlough full of raising support and adding another little minion to our family.

Finally! We’re going home!  Then I started thinking. Are we really headed home? No, not really. We’re just headed back to our precious families and to houses filled with memories of what home used to be for us.

Over the last four years, Noah has called four different houses in two different countries “home”. We haven’t lived in those places with any sense of permanence. We’ve held off hanging pictures and buying certain furniture because we knew we wouldn’t be settling there.

Even after three years in the Dominican, I still don’t know that I can call the DR “home”. There are amazing aspects to living in the Dominican. We’ve somewhat acclimated to DR life, but we aren’t Dominican. Can we ever really call this country full of beloved people “home”? The truth is, we’re living as strangers in a foreign country.

The past 14 days stateside have been strange, though, too. I keep forgetting that it’s OK to drink the tap water. It’s weird being able to throw the toilet paper in the toilet. (TMI? Sorry.) Vehicles (usually) follow traffic patterns. I don’t feel like I’m going to run a moto concho off the road at any moment. It feels odd to walk through the grass with bare feet. People aren’t as “friendly” here – you don’t walk into a room and say hello to every person within hearing distance. I’m beginning to feel a little like a stranger in my own country, too…

So where is home? It isn’t in the States, but it isn’t in the Dominican, either.

And then I remember something Paul declared several times throughout his writings. This world is not my home! I’m living as a foreigner and stranger on this earth. Neither the Dominican nor the US is my final destination. My true citizenship is in heaven! I’m so excited that someday I’ll be able to experience the place I truly call “home”.

Our New Home

Gabe and his family will be joining our team in a few months!
Gabe and his family will join our team in a few months!

Apartment construction has been in full swing for several months. It’s miraculous to see the building come to life. Two work teams joined us this February, enormously boosting the amount of labor done in a given day. The first team built up the entire first level of block, and the second team poured a ceiling and continued the walls on the second level. It’s neat to see the physical results of their efforts.

When we’re finally able to live on the Freedom land, life will change drastically for us missionaries. We’ll be able to more effectively minister to our students and their families. I remember when we lived in our first house here in San Pedro. The school-day process was long and hard. We were lugging school materials over to the truck, driving out to the bateyes, picking up our students, setting up the school rooms, tearing down after school, and dragging everything home. Every day. That set-up/tear-down process took about 3 hours! Thinking about simply walking across campus to start the school day makes me absolutely giddy. It will be so much easier to invest in the lives of our sweet kiddos and their parents.

Our family will be living on the second level (left-hand side) of this 8-unit apartment building. The work crew that left yesterday made this “real” for us – they were mostly working on our home. I’m excited for all the new memories our family will be able to enjoy together. (And while I’m sure we’ll have some sort of critter visit our apartment at some point, I’m hoping the ant infestations, cockroach friends, centipedes, lizards, and mice that we “enjoyed” at our first house will be minimal. Either way, God is good.)

So without further ado, check out our new home!

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Pouring the floor of our apartment
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We’ll have a deck off the back for laundry, etc.
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Leveling out the floor
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Hard workers!
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Our apartment walls going up
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Home Sweet Home

It’s Crunch Time!

Wow. In less than a month, the school year will be over. (That’s not gonna be emotional at all. Ahem.) Summer will begin, along with the race to get our classrooms ready for the 2014-2015 school year. Since we’re moving to a year-round school schedule, there isn’t going to be much of a break. Just two weeks of in-service and preparation before moving our classrooms from Batey Lima to the Freedom property! Yowza!

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School in progress – February 2014

This is an exciting time in the life of our ministry. Classrooms are going up, academic standards and objectives are being developed, first-year teachers are preparing (and preparing some more), and new enrollments are being added. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the craziness of it all. I quickly become overwhelmed when I think of all that must be done in the next 6 weeks. I’ve been trying to stay focused on the bigger picture and remember that this busy time is only for a season.

My two goals for the next couple of months:

1.) Remember that it’s “people over program”. As I work with Mery in preparation for her upcoming year in first grade, I don’t want to forget about her. Each meeting about lesson plans is another opportunity I have to develop our relationship. And as I spend these last weeks with my kindergartners, I want to find time to just be with them, showing them how valuable they are in the Lord’s eyes.

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2.) Allow God to be glorified through every aspect of this process. When big “life” stuff happens, I often run to my Jesus for strength and comfort. But when the little, everyday annoyances come knocking, I generally tend to let the frustration fester. I know I’ll be up late laminating and planning lessons. I know I’m going to be frustrated at the scarcity of time. Through the coming days, I want to keep my eyes fixed upward instead of on the circumstances around me.

With that said… It’s crunch time, people!

Packing Up and Moving Out

It’s official!  The plane tickets have been purchased.  Our belongings are slowly being sorted and packed away.  We are on our way to making the Dominican Republic our new home!  Thank God we have reached the point in our support raising where moving is a reality.  Come the afternoon of Monday, May 21, the four of us will be on Dominican soil for good.  While we’re not nearly 100% funded, we’ve never gone without our needs being met.  We trust that God will bring in the rest of our support over the next few months.

People are asking us how we are feeling.  There is no easy answer to that.  We’re excited about this “next chapter”.  We’re heartbroken to be leaving family and friends.  We’re relieved with each task we complete.  We’re nervous about adjusting to a new culture and way of living.  We’re eager to really build some relationships with people.  We’re dreading the exhaustion of the move with two little dudes.  We’re anxious about learning Spanish.  But we’re content in knowing that we are loved and cared for by One who is our source of strength and peace and joy.  Above all, we’re hopeful that Christ will use us as He wants.

With that said, we’re packing up and moving out!  Onward…

1000 Miles (And 3 Supporters) Closer

What a weekend.  We’re home again after a long trip to Virginia. Over the last 4 days, we drove about 22 hours and racked up 1000 miles.  Thankfully that just means we’re 1000 miles closer to moving to the DR.

Noah and Leyton had fun hanging out with some families who are currently supporting us and who were gracious enough to host us.

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Want to hear another reason we’re closer to making The Big Move?  We gained several new supporters over the weekend!  It is unbelievable how God continues to bring us the people and funds we need to continue on this journey.  None of this is by accident.  And none of this is from our efforts.  Again and again, God has shown us that His timing and His will are perfect.  This experience hasn’t always been easy or pleasant.  But we want for nothing.  And we praise Him for everything.

Next step – buying those one-way plane tickets!  Still praying for a May leave date.