Last weekend we had the honor of speaking at St. Mary in Pinckney as the official Diocese of Lansing Mission Appeal for 2018. Before the first mass, emotions were running high. Anxiety. Fear. I'm not a fan of public speaking to begin with.... throw in the fact that I was going to mention Papito AND explain how being a self-supported missionary works. I was a nervous wreck. #hotmess
It also happened to be Pentecost. AKA the perfect moment ever for us to talk. And the perfect day for me to be reminded that I'm not doing the speech, or anything else for that matter, by my merits alone. That in addition to the first two persons of the trinity I have the Holy Spirit to rely on if I would just remember to ask. This powerful person of the trinity that will assist with anything, big or small, by strengthening the gifts of the spirit and leading us. **Cue Taylor Swift's song "Jesus Take the Wheel"**
I know that God is with us. I know that Jesus is walking alongside us, or better yet carrying us, through this season of health issues and stress. But why-oh-why do I forget that fact precisely in the moments when I need to remember it the most? Here's to making a conscious effort to live more in the spirit and less in the worries, stress and frustrations of the flesh.
Today, three days AFTER the mission appeal, I am STILL blown away by the show of support for our family and for Building Bridges of Hope. The kind words, hugs and encouragement that followed each of the masses touched my heart in a way that, to be honest, I really needed. To know that people believe in us, recognize this calling, validate it and are praying that we continue to follow the Lord's leading.... WOW. It is precisely what this weary heart needed to hear. I feel more supported than ever before. And I feel empowered. In this season of what feel stagnant, God used each of your expressions of support as a confirmation that we are moving forward in right direction. That are worthy. That He will provide.
I always knew in my heart that we aren't meant to go it alone. We are made for community.
And I am so grateful that you are part of mine.
Last week we also had the blessing of visiting Beulahland Retreats in Beulah, Michigan (near Sleeping Bear Dunes). It is a small housing unit available to pastors and missionaries for retreats. The faithful family who built the apartment are pastors at a local church and felt God tell him to minister to Christian leaders, regardless of denomination. What a beautiful ministry! We are so grateful that they responded to the call and accepted our family as visitors. We truly appreciated the opportunity to rest, pray and take in the beauty of Michigan.
Adam and I went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes on our honeymoon so we knew that we wanted to take the kids there while we were so close by. It was just as beautiful as I remembered.
During the retreat God spoke to me about roots. He clearly said, "Stay rooted in Me" while I was admiring the beauty of the immense trees surrounding the retreat house. While I reflected on that phrase it became clear that I hadn't been focused on my roots. Lately, I've been distracted by all of the wind tossing our branches and leaves. I've literally felt uprooted and out of place, weakened by the storms of stress and anxiety. But to weather a storm any tree must have deep roots which keep it upright and strong regardless of the powerful wind above ground. What a beautiful reminder. We are rooted in Jesus, come what may, nothing will change that.
I also want to give a shoutout to Deb Read, a good friend of ours and a long-time supporter of the mission. She helped us design our family mission cards and recently gave them a facelift with our updated family photo. She also designed one for Kailey, our Medical Coordinator. THANK YOU DEB! We appreciate your time & talent!!
While we've been focused on healing, participated in the retreat and did the mission appeal at St. Mary, life has gone on as normal in the Dominican. Kailey is there, continuing to be a rockstar. We hope that you enjoy these pictures of the BBOH Ambassador group that worked with us last week (Shoutout to you Rhonda, Kathie, Karen and others that visited and worked tirelessly!!)
-Healing in Adam's feet, that we are all able to return to the DR on June 6.
-For Divine inspiration and guidance as we continue to fundraise for the Calimete Medical Center
-For our kiddos as we make a transition back to the DR, at this point they are very accustomed to life in MI and I anticipate some transition pains.
-For peace, strength and good health.
Trusting that God has our best interests at heart.
Well everyone... we're still in Michigan.
One of the toughest times of our lives has been over the last 6 months. Don’t get me wrong, we’re INCREDIBLY blessed. Many other families have much tougher times than we have experienced. It has not been tough based on the fact that we personally are struggling, but the fact that we have so many needs to attend to in the Dominican Republic that have fallen on Kailey, our INCREDIBLE Medical Coordinator. She not only has been coordinating all things medical, but also pulling triple duty as “director” of programs as well as "volunteer coordinator" in our absence. We truly are 1000000% blessed that God has put it on her heart to help this people group through BBOH & FUMSIL.
When God makes you lay down in green pastures to hear His still small voice, you often feel lazy, unproductive and worthless. We’re not though. It takes an INCREDIBLE amount of self discipline to cast our own ideas of what we expect or want for our lives to instead hear what God actually wants. Personally, as per my last blog post, you all know that I have struggled with this myself. As a husband, man, father and son, we place, sometimes albeit unfair expectations on ourselves. The drive, need and desire to hunt and gather for our families. It is sort of built into our DNA the same way Jessica packed the nursery with shredded newspaper and clumps of cotton and old hair....
Okay.... so maybe that’s a mama raccoon... but Jess nested in her own way and I think it’s normal for expecting mothers to "nest". Same is true for husbands/fathers taking care of their family. To deny this internal drive is very difficult and takes discipline. Listening to God’s still small voice takes an immense amount of energy. Most of the time I get it wrong. This time? I believe I got it right. We weren’t supposed to go back to the DR in February. I discussed this in my last post. However, new information has come out since then that has shaped my opinion further.
We found out that on April 20th, the Direction Of General Immigration in the Dominican Republic has changed some laws that affect us as long term missionaries. It’s still to be determined as to how it will affect us, but long story short, we may need a more formal visa or residency in order to stay in the DR for long periods of time. I won’t go into boring details about that. This does not affect others as much as ourselves in the country due to our large family and circumstances. We are in the process of investigating how as an NGO we can obtain missionary visas from the consulate and to be able to obtain them for our long term volunteers as well. God always provides when your working His mission. I believe this is part of why we are still here. The story on this is still unfolding and we'll be sure to update when we know more.
A quick update on my health. Things are much better. Right foot is completely healed while the left has a slight hole still which is also getting better. We hope to be back down in the DR by June. It really is a lesson in trusting the plan. We trust that God wants what’s best for us, we accept our circumstances on blind faith. As always keep us in your prayers!! We always need them!!
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