“Whelmed” would technically be considered the past tense of “whelm” – which is, in fact, a verb on it’s own (see http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-whe1.htm if you’re curious at all about it’s origins). And I suppose in some ways I am using it in the past tense, to describe my past 2 weeks; but I’m also using it in my own way to describe how I feel at the moment I’m writing this blog. I’m not using it to say that I’m neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed. What I’m trying to convey is that although I might feel a bit like I’m sinking in the midst of everything happening, I’m utterly overcome by the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord.
Let me finally share about some of the things that happened during Women’s Mission Week! It already seems like so long ago even though it was just two weeks, so I’m glad I journaled (<–why has no one ever told me that this isn’t a real word?!) about what I did – plus I have pictures.
On Wednesday, the first full day of ministry, I had the opportunity to go with two groups to the village Honduras to minister to women in the church and community there. We did devotionals, crafts, singing, stretching, games, provided lunch, and left behind bags of rice and beans to be distributed as needed by the pastor. It was great watching how excited the women from the States were to share testimonies and crafts with the women and kids there.
Wednesday night was graduation for Lily House, which I already mentioned, but I’ll just say again that I feel super blessed to work with these women – both the women in the program and the team. We got to honor each women for the length of time she has been in the program, and five of the women have reached the 1 year mark! And two have reached the 2 year mark! It was just so exciting to see all of them dressed up, encouraging to hear a testimony from “M” and a challenge to the other ladies from “N” and “ME,” and to have most of the women at the conference gather around the women and pray for them.
Thursday I went with two groups to a hospital in the morning, where we visited about 6 rooms in a children’s ward. One of the groups were dressed up as clowns and they brought many smiles to the faces of the children and their family members. Afterwards, we visited a leprosy village. It felt a lot like visiting a nursing home in the States because most of the people were older. Some of them were in wheelchairs or on crutches because of either loss of limbs or limited use/strength in them…but I would say in general it was not as bad as I thought it might be. We threw a birthday party to celebrate everyone’s birthday, which basically meant we gave them lots of candy and played with balloons. We sang a song, shared a testimony, shared the Gospel, and just tried to love on them as much as we could. I say down next to one older lady who had problems with her eyes, and I started asking her questions in Spanish about how she was, whether she liked the candy, if she had family, how long she had lived there, and it was just a blessing to be able to communicate simple things with her and understand at least most of what she said.
Friday was our “Women at the Well” day, where most of the groups went to the house or hometown of one of the LH women to spend time with women in their community. I went to the home of “G” and with the women and children who gathered, one woman shared her testimony, one woman shared a devotional, “G” shared part of her testimony, and we had a time of prayer for any woman who wanted to share a request. The woman who shared the devotional told a story about a man who carried a pole with a jar on each end to collect water every day. One jar was brand new, but the other was old and cracked. By the time he walked back to his house, the old jar had lost all its water on the journey. Finally after a long time, the old jar said to the water-bearer, “I’m sorry that I can’t carry water for you. You shouldn’t use me anymore because I can’t fulfill my purpose.” The water-bearer simply smiled and said, “Look at all the flowers that grow on your side of the path. Because of your imperfections, you are able to water the ground and make beautiful things grow.” Just like we often question God because we feel inadequate or useless or wish we could do more, He has a plan and a purpose set out before us, even when we can’t or don’t look closely enough to see the ways He is working in our lives. This definitely encouraged me, and even now, I had forgotten about it until I began to write this post, and it was a great reminder for me as I start another week here in the DR. After our time sharing with the women in “G’s” community, we were able to bless her by taking her to Jumbo (the big grocery store here) and let her purchase items that she wanted/needed. I was very proud of how she spent the money wisely, even having some leftover.
Friday night, Jaime offered to take pictures for me during the evening session because to be honest, I had been feeling a bit disconnected from ministry throughout the entire week, as a lot of my focus was on my “job” as photographer. I haven’t taken nearly as many pictures since I’ve been in the DR as I thought I would, but experiencing things through a lens is often times very different than experiencing it without a camera in my hands. I am grateful that I was entrusted with the task of taking photos during the week…I truly enjoyed it. I had the opportunity to visit places that I probably wouldn’t have ever gone to during my time here. But I’m also grateful for the chance I got to fully worship with singing because I wasn’t taking pictures. So thank you to Jaime for being God’s vessel that night by serving me so I could connect with Him – and here’s one of the pictures she took that night that I really love.
I feel like this post is already super long, but bear with me if you wish as I attempt to share a bit more. I just want to say that sometimes, I still feel inadequate. And PRAISE THE LORD FOR THAT. Because I am inadequate…if I’m not walking in the Spirit, if I’m not relying on the Lord, if I’m not spending time with Jesus and allowing Him to do the work through me. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to boast in my weaknesses, but I have to remain confident in the Truth that when I do so, Christ’s strength is displayed and God gets the glory. I have failed at this since being here. I have put pressure on myself and gotten frustrated and upset with myself when I felt like I didn’t do a task well or right; I have allowed Self to be at the forefront instead of the Lord. But praise be to God because He has revealed Truth to me when I was believing lies; He has answered desperate prayers, sometimes before I am finished praying them; He somehow continues to break through to my heart even when I don’t notice it happening. I know I have to be more intentional about spending time processing through the things He is teaching me and examining my heart. I want to be faithful to go where He calls me and do what He calls me to do…and I can only do that if I am spending time with Him through the Word and prayer.
Today I helped out with a group as they did ministry at Lily House. It was a group of about 12 couples, and they blessed the kids with two puppet shows, helping with English class, playing games and blowing bubbles, and leading a time of music with both the kids and the moms. We also had a time for testimonies where one couple shared their story and then 2 of the LH women shared theirs. I was really blessed to see how passionate these people were about truly sharing Christ’s love with every baby, child, and woman they touched or spoke with. I even met one couple who have been to Chrysalis! They recognized my Chrysalis cross immediately. I had the opportunity to share the story of how I ended up in the DR with many of them, and to be honest, it was a really great reminder to myself of what God has done in my life to bring me where I am. It reminded me of the hope I have for my future – because if I continue to trust that God is going to lead me, I know that despite trials and persecution and inadequacy, His desire and His path for me will lead me to be more like His Son. After dinner tonight, I said goodbye to the group, and they asked if they could pray for me. I had just been stressed out about what this week might hold, and again God chose to encourage me before I found myself too deep in worry or pity or whatever emotion might have surfaced.
Okay, this has felt very long-winded and a bit scatter-brained, especially since it might be after 1am as I finish writing this, so I’ll just close with a few prayer requests.
- Please pray for the group of 7 women who arrive tomorrow, who I will be spending the remainder of the week with. Much of their ministry while here will be done with LH and so I will be helping to lead them and serve with them throughout that. Pray for servant hearts, flexibility, opportunities to share the Gospel, and specifically that I will walk in the Spirit and rely on Christ’s strength.
- Pray for a retreat we are having on Friday afternoon for women we have met during street ministry over the past few weeks. This is an opportunity for us to love on them and share the Gospel with them. Some of the women currently in the program were affected by testimonies shared during previous retreats, so pray that those with open hearts would attend and that the LH women would be willing and unafraid to share about how Christ has changed their lives.
- Pray for Margaret, the DR intern director, who is flying home tomorrow (sad face for us) to spend time with family and friends (happy face for her). Pray that she would get some well deserved rest and return in 3-4 months refreshed and ready to continuing serving the Lord here.
- Pray for me as I continue the discernment process for whether I will be returning to the DR after the first of the year. Pray that the Lord’s voice would be clear in the midst of business, lies, emotions, and my own voice.
Thank you to everyone here in the DR who has shown me Christ through word and deed over the past two weeks, and a thank you to everyone back home or wherever you might be who have been praying for me and encouraging me despite the physical distance between us.