Our apologies for the overdue blog post. I sat down and tried to write this blog many times this spring, eventually becoming frustrated with myself for not having the proper words to sum up all that has been going on. This time of COVID19, quarantine/social distancing and travel restrictions has brought more anxiety to the surface than any other period of my life thus far (maybe you can relate?). We are so appreciative of those who have reached out to us and asked how we are doing. Like the rest of the world the Dominican Republic has been practicing social distancing and other precautions since mid March. They also have implemented a curfew. At first it was from 5 pm to 6 am but has now relaxed a bit to 7 pm to 5 am. When all of this began to go down it was unsettling to hear the ramifications of big changes: international borders closing, groups canceling left and right, fear sinking in about if/when should we leave the DR and head home. Would there even be flights to take? If we go, how long until we can come back? How will this impact a delicate economy like the tourism dependent one where we work and serve? How will the children in our campos be impacted?
All at once I remembered a conversation I had in 2008 with my dear friend Mai and Dr. Angel. We were driving down a mountain side with multiple children on our laps, dust filling the air as we tried to beat the clock and get to the Sisters of Charity in time (they have a specific closing hour and we try to respect that as best we can). Mai and I were on the brink of tears as we held tighly to children, supporting necks and trying our best to soothe scared little faces. We knew these kids. We recognized their faces. These weren't the outlier or stranger or even desperate families who came from miles away. These were local kids who had been relatively healthy in the months prior. Why was this happening now? Though not a scientific statistic backed by data, I can tell you without a doubt the clinic that day and in the weeks following had some of the highest numbers of severely malnourished children that I've seen yet. In an attempt to understand what was going on, we asked Dr. Angel, "What just happened? Why so many people? Why so many sick children?". He shared several possible reasons but the one he believed to be the root cause was the difficult economy due to the economical state of the United States and other developed nations. He began to explain complex international economics and how they may be applied to the situations of the children we were holding through a snowball like effect. I must admit, at some point my eyes glazed over as my brain and heart just couldn't process anymore. The anxiety I felt during that conversation 12 years ago came rushing back to me as I watched President Danilo of the Dominican Republic announce that all borders would be closed by land, air and sea due to the COVID19 pandemic. Will these beneficial but drastic measures cause similar (or worse) outcomes for our area?
And just like that - our ministry was put on hold. Schools were closed for the remainder of the year, mobile medical clinics are not allowed to resume and airports have not yet opened. For months now I have flip flopped between praying and dwelling on the possibilities. With all of these unknowns, nothing is certain. The effects remain yet to be seen. But too much dwelling or discussion about all of the potential outcomes just ramps up the anxieties and tears. Instead I have had to actively choose hope. Our good, good Father will be there with us no matter what the outcomes may be. He was there in 2008 and He is here in 2020.
Initially, Adam and I made the decision to stay in the DR and hunker down, self quarantining and doing our best to "flatten the curve" from where we were. We spent April enjoying family time. We planted a small garden and built a very humble fire pit (turns out construction isn't my gifting, haha). Somehow isolated life with 4 little ones seemed busier than our regular schedules!
In the beginning of May things changed abruptly. Adam's foot developed another ulcer due to some pesky bone formation (opposite foot this time). It appeared to be getting worse and we decided it was best to return to the States sooner rather than later, especially given the uncertainty of international relations. We had to make a quick decision about returning to the States as the only available flight for 3 weeks was set to depart in 48 hours (leaving from a city 6 hours away!). We packed up the essentials and prepared to say goodbye to people we love dearly not knowing when we would be allowed to come back home again. We have been in Michigan for about a month now, currently awaiting results of an MRI to determine next steps for the foot ulcer. There is a possibility of minor surgery to remove the problematic portion of bone. Please pray for this special intention! Pray for health, wisdom and a resolution to this ongoing concern.
Please also keep our kids in your prayers. Thus far they are champions and doing well, but I think often about their little hearts. Emily asks for San Juan the most, wanting to see her friends and go home to "her house". Ben earned his yellow belt before COVID hit, lost two teeth and learned how to ride a bike. Nico still loves baseball more than anything else in the world and has a heart of gold. Cami is a very happy baby, a complete joy to be around... at least when she's not hungry. And we all miss our dog (we adopted a small terrier -- that we thought was a mini doodle -- which is a story for another day!).
Thank you for your love, support and prayers! We have been so blessed by your commitment to our family and in turn to the villages that are along the Haiti - Dominican border. <3
We are Catholic lay missionaries serving along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
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