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!

One Year

We did it. We recently reached the one-year mark of living in a foreign country. On May 21, 2012, our family stepped off a plane in Santo Domingo and pulled suitcases, strollers, backpacks, and babies past a sea of Dominican faces to make this tiny island our new home.

How do we describe this last year?

Full.

A year full of new experiences and new relationships.
A year full of power outages, good Dominican food, and lots of Spanish.
A year full of family changes – Noah started to talk and Leyton learned to walk.
A year full of muggy weather, mosquito bites, and various car problems.
A year full of days where we couldn’t wait for our heads to hit the pillow.
A year full of death and new life.
A year full of feeling lonely, inadequate, and frustrated.
A year full of painful growth.
A year full of “a-ha” moments that helped us continue another day.
A year full of learning that faith in God requires more than just lip service.
A year full of God’s faithfulness and goodness.

You know, this past year has been the longest and hardest one we’ve endured as a family. And next year is certain to bring even more challenges. When we’re in the midst of the difficulties, it’s so easy to lose perspective. It’s so easy to focus on the pain. But in the middle of the trouble – that’s when trusting the faithful One is so important.

So here we are, one year later – still learning to live by faith and not by sight.

Our desire is to give all the glory and honor that is due our Savior. He is so worthy!

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:2

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Perspective: “Looking unto Jesus…”

Wow.  Today marks one whole month of living in the Dominican Republic.  That went quickly.

Most people who know us would agree that Scott and I are fairly laid-back individuals.  But even with our happy-go-lucky personalities, the last few weeks of moving in and setting up and getting accustomed to the culture have not been all fun and games.  There have been enjoyable and exciting moments (like getting to know our neighbors and turning our house into a home).  But unfortunately, it has been easy for me to focus on little things to the point of frustration (like not being able to ask for something at the store or having to change my clothes multiple times a day because of my propensity to sweat buckets in the heat/humidity).  If I’m not careful, I find myself selfishly dwelling on the comforts and ease of living that I’ve left behind.  Then feelings of guilt creep in… and then depression… and a not-very-good cycle begins.

When I find that I’m getting frustrated with these little things, I ask myself some questions.  Why are we here?  Why are we living in a foreign culture, giving up the things and people and places that are familiar?  You know, it’s funny – when I honestly answer these questions, my perspective changes almost immediately and the frustrations of the moment seem to melt away.  There are many reasons we’ve decided to do life here, but the big (and simple) answer is this – we just want to make our Jesus famous.  I know I don’t have much to give Him, but what I do have is available for Him to use whenever and however He wants.  If that means a few adjustments to my lifestyle, then by His strength I’ll make those adaptations wholeheartedly.

“Looking UP.”  That’s how my college class advisor always signed off on his e-mails.  I remember the day I internalized that phrase. I was sitting in my dorm room at Cedarville, staring at those two words on my computer screen.  What would my life be if I were “looking up” at every moment?  My answer not only caused me to change some of my attitudes and actions in college, but it also played a role in why I am here in the DR.  This past month, I have been learning more fully what it means to change my perspective from me to Him.

Whew.  All of that to say this: running my race is so much easier when I’m looking up (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Now What?

Here it is.  Our first update from the Dominican.  I feel like I should insert something profound here, but I honestly don’t know what to say – except that the last couple of weeks have been such a whirlwind, and I’m not sure I know which way is up.  The insanity started back before we even boarded the first plane.  For awhile there, I was living on adrenaline.  If it weren’t for help from our families, a couple of well-placed “angels” on the flights, and an amazing welcoming team on this side, I am convinced we would not have physically, emotionally or mentally made this move.  There are so many cool stories I could tell already of God’s overflowing blessings and provision for our family – and we’ve only been here a week!

Two awesome bits of news – we have a house and a vehicle!  The SUV we found is especially a big deal.  Procuring a good vehicle is often a more difficult part of settling in here.  I’m also excited that I’ve already met a few of our neighbors – hope they don’t mind that I’ll be practicing my Spanish on them over the next few months.  🙂

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Our Backyard

So we’re here.  Finally.

Now what?

Next steps – officially move in to the house, start language study, and help out with ministry stuff whenever possible.  Looking forward to the months ahead!

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…