It’s such a privilege to be a part of God’s work here in the Dominican! Enjoy these pictures of our last few months at Freedom!
Our interns are the best. Hands down.
We often talk about how the word “intern” isn’t good enough to describe a person who spends a school year at Freedom.
Because of our interns, the ministry continues to function. Lesson plans are written. Construction projects are completed. Classrooms are managed, grades are taken, and academic concepts are taught.
But, you know, our interns are more than just people who fulfill important duties. They do more than make copies for teachers or take selfies with cute kiddos all day. By and large, our interns make themselves available to be used by the Lord in whatever capacity He asks of them. Obviously, that manifests itself into things like making play-dough and organizing papers. But it also means correcting little ones with patience. It means passing out hugs and kisses – sometimes to students who don’t know how to accept love and kindness. It means joining alongside parents and missionaries as we try to disciple students to live in a way that glorifies God.
We’re grateful that our interns carry a big part of the workload here. But even more than that, we’re thankful for their big hearts and for their willingness to look at things from an eternal perspective.
Being an intern at Freedom is hard. Sacrifices are made – difficult days are experienced. But I think most of our interns would say – even in the middle of the mess – that investing in these little lives is so completely worth it.
Thank you, Leah, Becca, Sanna, Amanda, Hannah, Kayla, and Nic – for being more than “just interns” this year! Thanks for investing in the eternal! We appreciate you more than you’ll ever know!
We recently mailed out January sponsor letters! Whew! While it’s always a lot of work to print the papers, pull kids from class, double check student work, stamp and stuff envelopes, and send 240ish letters off, I love looking through the cute messages and drawings that our students create for their sponsors. Lots of “I love you’s” and “Thank you’s” and “Please come visit me’s”. Relationships are growing!
A couple weeks ago, I pulled out our 3rd grader Estaylin so that he could finish up his sponsor letter. We sat in the hallway together and chatted while he worked. After he wrote his little note, I told him to turn over his paper so he could add some details to the drawing of his house and family.
Last year, Estaylin’s dad passed away in a tractor accident in the villages. Estaylin now lives with his mom and his little brother. As I looked down at his picture, I saw that he had drawn 4 little people.
I asked Estaylin who those stick figures represented. He started with the second one. “There’s my mom. And that’s me. And Eliangel.” My heart hurt as I realized the significance of that first little figure. It had to be his father – his older siblings don’t live in the house with them.
“That’s cool, Estaylin. And what about that one? Is that your dad?”
He quickly gave me a gruff response. “My dad died.”
“I know, buddy. I’m sure you miss him a lot. But I think it’s cool that you drew him here. It’s always good to remember him and the good times you had with him.”
He gave a brief nod. And with that, the exchange was over. I gave him a hug and sent him back to class.
While I don’t get to be with Estaylin every day, our teachers and staff do. I’m thankful that people who love the Lord are able to pour into his little life all week long. And in the midst of the pain that he’s probably still experiencing even months after his dad’s death, I’m praying that he sees the love of Jesus in the faces and the hugs and the words of those he interacts with.
The Lord is so good. He continues to provide individuals to keep things moving forward here.
Some people volunteer their time from the States.
Others have joined our ground team for the long haul.
Some sacrifice by giving financially.
And others spend a short time with us here – usually just a week.
We’ve been asked before, “What good could someone possibly do in a week?”
“No offense,” they say, “but isn’t it a ‘waste’ of money, time, and resources?”
In July, a group from Illinois came to stay with us for seven days. A lady named Angel joined her church for their first trek to the Dominican. Angel admitted that the whole time leading up to the trip, she questioned why she was coming and what she had to offer. Even as she sat on the airplane, she was unsure of why she was on her way. But the Lord had been impressing on her to just “show up”. So she did.
She didn’t have to wait long for God to reveal Himself to her.
Monday morning, Angel and the rest of her team stood in the breezeway and listened as our principal, Toni, called out the names of the 3-year-olds they’d be working with that day. Suddenly, Toni paused.
“Guys,” she said, “I’ve got one little man here who needs some extra love and one-on-one attention.”
Without skipping a beat, Angel said, “I’ll take him!” As she looked down at the slip of paper that Toni had handed to her, she read the name of the little guy she’d be interacting with for four hours.
His name was hers. And she knew that he was her “why.”
Later, Angel poignantly shared with us that each moment in the classroom with Angel was such a blessing for her. She was able to interact with him in a special way. And he seemed to respond to her as well. When she was willing to let go and just show up, God provided a unique opportunity for her to see Him in a bigger way.
Angel plans on being involved in little Angel’s life in the years to come. I like to think that their relationship will deepen as time goes by. I pray that as Angel grows up, he’ll come to know the love of His Savior. He doesn’t yet understand the impact of that week on his life. He doesn’t recognize how the Lord miraculously orchestrated circumstances so that the two of them would meet. But what an incredible way for Angel to start his first year at Freedom!
So when people ask me if I think it’s worth it to come for a week, I say, “Absolutely.”
In our context, at least, a week can be worth eternity.
This past week was difficult, but good. Lots of struggles – computer issues, physical exhaustion, daily interruptions, limited time with my family, feelings of stress from my messy house, and, well, I needn’t go on. You get the idea.
One morning, I “set up shop” in the upstairs portion of the multi-use. As I sat there waiting for my computer to boot up, I looked out the window. Jimena was standing there, broom in hand, whisking the dust off the sidewalk. Across the way, students were rhythmically repeating some chant after their teacher. Toni was in the breezeway, preparing team members to meet their pre-schoolers. The safari truck pulled up, and Martires began collecting empty water jugs to fill up. Becky’s happy voice echoed through the air as she reminded the 3-year-olds that it was time to put their “Heads down!” Hammers clanged in the distance as the construction crew started their day.
All of the sudden, I felt so very small. I forgot about my troubles for a moment and breathed up a prayer of thankfulness to the Lord for allowing me to be a small part of all that He’s doing here. Maybe those sights and sounds of our wonderful ground team working together were my “echoes of mercy and whispers of love” for the day.
We’d love for you to pray that our family continues to learn what it means to submit perfectly to Jesus – even when our days don’t go the way we expect. Fanny Crosby wrote about the delight, happiness, and rest that are available when we allow the Lord to fill us with His goodness. And I want that.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.