Is It Worth It?

Do you ever have those moments where you wonder, “Does my life actually have any kind of purpose? Is any of this even worth it?”

It’s probably not kosher for a missionary to admit, but over the last 9 years, I’ve asked myself, “What in the world am I doing?” more than I care to count. I’ve experienced a thousand and one occasions where I’ve absolutely wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits.

Yet at the end of the day, something – Someone – always pulls me back.

Tonight, it happened as I was sifting through months and months of old photos. I sat at my desk and reacquainted myself with a million precious memories from years gone by. And kind of like those weeks after childbirth, the painful remembrances started falling away, leaving these golden moments, split seconds of goodness forever frozen in time. Each photo roars back at me a resounding “YES!” It is absolutely worth it all!

I loved my bygone mornings of quickly chugging fresh coffee made by Marielis’ mom at our Cabeza bus stop
It was special to watch this little one share the Good News with this older gentlemen as she explained the gospel meaning of each of her colored beads on her bracelet
Talking to Reynabel about how to be a good gal at school – and watching the wheels turn as she considered whether or not it would be a good idea to obey. ūüôā

Praise the Lord! Despite each moment of weariness, disappointment, injustice, frustration, loneliness, confusion, sadness, and pain, He is worth it all!


Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We’re tossed and driven on, no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav’n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem ‚Äď just go to Him in pray’r.

Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
We’ll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
And we’ll all share the joys of heav’n ‚Äď a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

– Esther Kerr Rushtoi

Leo

One year ago today, I was in Lima looking for some of our students’ parents. As I walked amongst the rows of identical, green houses, I saw this little guy, sitting all alone in the dirt. He had no pants on, and he was filthy. I asked some kids running by if they knew his name. Leo, they told me. I knew nothing else about him, but I remember leaving the village thinking how wonderful it would be to see Leo at Freedom one day.

Guess what? This week, Krista delivered Leo’s very first sponsor letter to him right there in front of his house! He didn’t completely understand what was going on, but he paused and gave the tiniest of grins when he saw the picture of his sponsor family.

I’m excited to see how Leo’s little life will be impacted in the months and years to come. While he’s undoubtedly endured some hardship already in the few years he’s been alive, he’s also got a lot of people in his corner. Sponsors, missionaries, and teachers are already advocating for him in some special ways.

Maybe in another year or two, I can share his adorable, round face again. We’re praying this sweet man learns what it means to love God with all that He has.

April ’20 in Pictures

Has it been scientifically proven yet that time moves faster the older you get? Either way, April 2020 is in the books – just like that. Have these 30 photos of our month in quarantine!

February 2016 in pictures

Time is flying! A few pictures from our busy February.

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We had a sweet time with Scott’s brother Ryan and his wife Erin for a week!

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Third quarter parent-teacher conferences went well!

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Miss Emma with her kindergarten kids in Village Lima

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A group of 5 visited and worked with us mid-February

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A neighbor’s brush fire got out of control and ran rampant on Freedom property! Students moved classrooms as a safety precaution, but no one was injured.

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It’s always a pleasure to share life each year with this group from North Carolina

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Independence Day in the Dominican

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Students marched through the streets of Ramon Santana

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The construction crew has been working hard on classrooms and bathrooms on the second floor of the school building

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Yuleisy made Leyton a special birthday dinner of bollo and salami

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Scott continues teaching music class in 3-week blocks

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Our apartment is getting closer! We now have tiled floors and a porch railing!

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Master bedroom

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Sillies with Noah

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Leyton couldn’t be left out!

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February was Caleigh’s 5th month

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)!

January 2016 in pictures

Oh, how my heart has been aching to write. But alas, life is running a mile a minute. I’ve been¬†feeding sweet babygirl, playing momma to the boys, driving to¬†school¬†several times a week, emailing, making phone calls, cooking, planning, and washing (our clothes, our dishes, and our children). Life has been so beautifully and wonderfully full, and I’ve been¬†enjoying this fleeting season. It’s been impossible¬†to find time to splurge on writing. So for now, I’ll post some pictures of this¬†first month of 2016 and try to be more intentional about sharing life over the next 11 months.

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Freedom’s first Field Day was a success!

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Photo booth cuteness

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Sibling love

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Caleigh helped us pick out our new bathroom floor at the tile store

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Students wrote letters to their sponsors

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Mommy’s little helper

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January = Caleigh’s 4th month

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Noah loved the Carmel Christian team visit

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Counting practice in kindergarten

Table for Five, Please

Surprise, surprise! The Mitchener family is growing by one!

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We’re praising the Lord that our third little munchkin will arrive sometime in August. God’s timing is always perfect. We are already excited for all the adventures this new little life will surely bring¬†to our family.

It looks as if we will be heading back to the States for the birth. With Ang’s history of preeclampsia, we honestly feel most comfortable seeing the midwife who delivered Leyton. Our plan is to extend our August furlough a bit as Angela won’t be allowed to travel after being 8 months pregnant. Ang and the boys will leave for the States in early July, and Scott will join a couple weeks later.

We’ll head back for another checkup here in the DR in a few weeks to find out the gender and make sure baby is still developing properly. Prayers appreciated as we prepare for the arrival of Baby Mitchener #3!

An Eventful Christmas

What an excitement-filled Christmas! I cooked my first turkey, Noah gashed his head open, and Leyton threw his brand new train cars in the toilet after a tiny tiff with his brother.

We are so thankful¬†for the time to relax, laugh, and celebrate together. We’ve loved watching the boys come to a fuller understanding of what Christmas is truly about. (Well, Leyton is still learning. But we’ve all got room to grow, right?) Noah is starting to repeat the Christmas story. The other day, we headed to the Capital to pick up some packages from our family. Noah asked where we were going, and we told him that there was another¬†gift or two coming for him. He said, “Mom, we don’t need a LOT of presents.” Love my growing boys.

I still¬†don’t feel quite right not being in the same room enjoying the hours with friends and family, but I remember that God has so richly blessed me. He’s been teaching me lots about feelings and how they play into my walk with Him. As much as it’s not about the gifts, neither is it necessarily about the other comforts or¬†traditions or¬†“normal” that I¬†associate with Christmas. I’ve been contemplating on Luke 14:26 and Matthew 10:37 recently. To follow Christ means I have to be willing to give up those things (like family) that I hold so dear – even when it hurts, even when I don’t like it, even when I feel like I “deserve”¬†to have our parents and siblings close by. I’m thankful that He walks with me through the¬†hard times (and that He gave us Skype so everyone doesn’t seem¬†so¬†very far away.)

More than anything, I’m thankful that God¬†sent His precious Son to this world as a little babe. Talk about an eventful Christmas! What did that first night look like for Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds?¬†It’s incredible¬†to think that Christ¬†willingly laid down His throne to be born in a humble manger. Why? So that He could one day take a heavy trip to an old, rugged cross to pay a sin debt. For my boys. For my students. For my family. For me. What good news! What a Savior!

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Arisleyda

The reinforcements have arrived!

Meet Arisleyda, my new Dominican co-teacher.

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Arisleyda has been a part of the Freedom family for several weeks now. She has quite literally been an answer to prayer!

Already, she’s been a¬†huge help to me personally. I have learned that life in a kindergarten classroom is non-stop. I must be on my game at all times. Even though kindergarten is only half-day, I am absolutely exhausted each afternoon. To be able to share the teaching load¬†with someone else has been tremendous. Arisleyda¬†helps me remember the little details. She’s already giving ideas for¬†how¬†to teach certain concepts even better. And she is learning to¬†continually assess the kids as they start to gain understanding.

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Arisleyda has been a big¬†blessing not only to me, but also to¬†our kindergartners. Our students are¬†so starved for attention, and Arisleyda has jumped right in to invest her love and time¬†with these kids. She actively seeks out ways to pull in those children¬†that seem to “fall through the cracks”. She desires success for each one of them. It’s been encouraging to rejoice together when we see little “a-ha” moments.

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Today, Arisleyda was sick, but she still came to school. She didn’t show it to the kids. After teaching a mini-lesson on Spanish syllables, she walked over to me, sweating from her fever and asked if she could go find some medicine to help with her cold. She didn’t complain and still gave to the kids even when it was uncomfortable for her. I’m so excited to continue building a relationship with her as the year goes on.

Pray that God continues to help us work well together as we strive to give Jesus to our sweeties!

Flat tires, Moldy Mattresses, and Village Drama

We’ve been in the DR about 2 weeks now. It’s always a battle to get back into the groove, to have the right perspective. Things always seem to “go wrong” when we’re trying to get settled in again. My attitude can go from happy to grumpy in just seconds flat.

This time, it started off with a flat tire on our new car. Flat tires are a normal part of life here, and¬†I really shouldn’t have been surprised. We were gone for a month. Scott took care of it, and life went on. But when other frustrations¬†started piling¬†up, it was just too easy to add the flat tire to my “I have every right to be annoyed right now” list.

A couple of days ago, Scott blew another tire as he was returning from an early morning airport run. Thankfully, I was able to go rescue him. After we drove all over the city looking for an open tire place, we were able to get the car back on the road.

Our first day back, we spent several hours unpacking the myriad of supplies, clothes and randomness we bought in the States. After getting things somewhat organized, we fell into bed exhausted late that evening. I suddenly looked at Scott and asked him if he smelled something awful. I turned over and sniffed the mattress. Apparently, it had rained a ton while we were gone. Our bed had been absolutely soaked with rain water. It was a mildewy mess. Talk about trying to have a joyful attitude having traveled the entire day on 4ish hours of sleep. Blah!

We teachers recently had the opportunity to talk to parents in the villages about their children’s¬†first quarter grades. While our school was on vacation, one of the public school teachers spread some lies about us to parents. While we’re slowly gaining the trust and confidence of these precious people, it can be frustrating when we hit road bumps along the way.

As you pray for us, remember me – I want to learn to respond correctly when stressful or frustrating situations arise. I desperately want to grow in my ability to cast my anxieties on my Savior first instead of reacting negatively to the circumstances around me.