First of all – sorry for not blogging last week!
Second – I have now been in the Dominican Republic for 4 weeks, or, ONE MONTH! I really can’t believe it. Each day seems to pass at a normal (or many times slow) pace, but somehow they have built up.
Let me try and put into words some of the things I have been up to over the past two weeks. They won’t be in chronological order but at least you’ll hear some of my experiences.
I sang at church on Sunday! Singing in Spanish seems easier than speaking because it seems to flow better. But it was really fun and I’m glad I did it, and I definitely want to do it again while I’m here. Maybe not every single week, but I think it’s a cool way for me to be involved at church. I stay in the Spanish service because I think it’s a good way to continue learning the language, and that it’s good to stay with the women of Lily House. So I sit with my English Bible, my Spanish Bible, and my notebook on my lap and try to pick up on as much as I can. When I do understand (or think that I understand), I write things down, and Erica said one of the things she did when she first got here was to write down words in Spanish that she didn’t know and look them up later, so I might try and do that on Sunday.
Sunday morning, I got up at 5:18am because 5 of the women and I walked to the beach to do a devo. It was so amazing to sit on the beach, having to use our flashlights and phones to be able to read Psalm 40 together, and have it progressively get lighter, being able to see more of the ocean and take in the beauty that the Lord has created. We took turns reading verses and then shared what our favorite verse was and why, and I just really loved it. I don’t think it will be a weekly thing, but I definitely want to do it again before I leave.
Every night we have devo time in the house after the kids go to bed, and I’ve led our time in Spanish twice in the past 2 weeks! When I have time to prepare and I write things out, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be to share thoughts and start a discussion about passages. The first time, we talked about Jeremiah 17:5-8, which speaks about two different types of people: one who doesn’t trust in the Lord and is like a bush in the desert; and the other whose trust is in the Lord and is like a tree planted beside water. I shared how God is our living water and wants us to put our confidence in Him. One of the women, “V,” talked after about how it was just really something she needed to be reminded of that day, and it was awesome to be able to say, “That’s the Spirit at work!”
Two Sundays ago, I was able to have a spiritual conversation with one of the women, “Y.” She speaks English the best out of all the women in the program. She doesn’t live at the house anymore but she is still involved with making jewelry and she is also one of the women who works in the salon. So between her English and my Spanish, we got to talk about using our words differently now that we have Christ, and the challenge of letting our actions show Christ as well. I got to encourage her by saying that even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 11, I still need the Spirit to fill me every day and still have to ask for forgiveness when I use my words poorly.
Over at SCORE, there are now 12 girls and 1 guy in a program called GAP. They arrived about 2 weeks ago and will be here for a total of 9 months. Many of them have just finished high school and are here instead of doing their freshman year at college, and others are older and already have some college or have graduated. They have Spanish classes in the morning and Bible classes in the afternoon, and will also be helping out with various ministries while they are here. Basically they are taking the time to deepen their faith and see how the Lord might want to work through them in the future. It was been really great getting to know all of them and feeling like I have more community here. I went to their worship night on Sunday night because one of the things I definitely miss the most is worshiping in English – singing in Spanish is great, but sometimes I just have to put my iPod in and sing praise songs in English on the front porch of Lily House at night.
Tomorrow I’m going on an adventure! I’ve been invited to go hiking at a village past the capitol with some of the missionaries here, and I’m so excited about it. I’m taking my camera so hopefully I’ll be able to capture some pictures of beautiful Dominican scenery! We’re supposed to be hiking near/to a river and potentially swimming in it, so I really am so excited! I love being able to swim in the pool and the ocean, but I’m not gonna lie, I definitely miss Michigan lakes, so a river might give me more of a home-like feel.
On Monday morning at 4am, one of the young girls at the house had to go to the doctor because she was having trouble breathing, so that caused a bit of stress in the house because she wasn’t feeling well and a few of the women were up most of the night because of it. But, she is doing much, much better already and even went to her first day of school yesterday! Please continue to pray for her to feel better and for no other complications to arise.
Please pray also for one of the boys whose mother is in the program. He just has a lot of anger within him and doesn’t want to talk about it. We know that he has experienced a lot, as his father went to jail because he was abusive. Please pray for “A” and that we would be able to share Christ’s love with him, that he would accept Christ if he never has, and that he would experience the peace that the Spirit offers.
Other ways you can be praying:
- Continue to pray for my Spanish. It has gotten a lot easier to communicate, but there are still day-to-day frustrations of not being able to say what I want to say, and I still have to continue to trust that the Lord is working through my actions and not just my words. Last week, Erica asked the women to share things they had learned about me or witnessed in me, and it was so encouraging to hear that they have noticed my willingness to work and clean alongside them, that they have seen me reading the Word, and they appreciate the time I spend with their kids. One of them also said that I’m quiet but maybe that’s because I don’t know a lot of Spanish – and that night I ate dinner at the house and was singing in the kitchen and talking loudly so I think in some ways I’ve been able to share more of my personality with them! 🙂
- Pray for “V,” who has been at LH for 3 months now, and I am so amazed by the work the Lord has done in her life in that short amount of time. However, coming off the streets and into LH doesn’t mean that life becomes easy. There are still old habits to fight against and still issues outside of the house that have to be dealt with. For “V” one of those issues is that her ex-husband (an American who lives here now) still has their daughter. “V” has her other two children who are older at the house with her, but she really desires to have her other daughter with her as well. Pray for wisdom to know how to deal with her ex-husband – he does let her see her daughter, but often makes it difficult or changes plans which is difficult on our end.
- Pray for my attitude throughout the week, that when I am tired or frustrated that I take the time to re-focus and ask the Spirit to fill me. I know that I have nothing to offer the women and children if I am not being filled by the Spirit and allowing Christ to give me rest. Help me to continue spending time in the Word daily. Pray for wisdom to know when to set aside the time to pray, listen to sermons in English, and feed myself Truth so that I don’t believe the lies of the enemy.
- Pray for my friend Lauren “Chilolo” as she gets married this weekend! I am so glad we had the chance to get to know each other more last year as she discipled me. I am so excited for her and Brett as they start this new chapter of their lives together, and pray that the Lord will bless their marriage and give them wisdom to love each other as Christ loves us. Pray also as they are raising support to be able to go on staff full-time with Cru at Michigan State! I am so pumped they will be serving at MSU 🙂
I love you all and am so grateful for your support during my time here. I can feel your prayers and they encourage me and lift my spirits. I will try to update again next week on my day off!