Refreshed and ready
It has been whirlwind of a month. We DID make it to the Dominican Republic! Thank you for all of your prayers! We had a great day of travel with zero complications and all the travel blessings imaginable. The night before our flight we specifically prayed for our connecting flight to be close to our first flight's gate so that we would be able to get lunch during our tight layover. Boy did God ever deliver on that one! Our flight from Detroit to Atlanta came in at gate 32 and our next flight to Santo Domingo was leaving from gate 33. If you travel with connections often, you know how RARE this is! We were awestruck and thankful at this little sign of God's hand over our travels. It was also one of the first tangible answers to prayer for Ben, his eyes lit up when he realized that our prayer had been answered so directly!
Once we got into Santo Domingo we were greeted by Kailey, Dr. Angel and Robinson. SO many tears of happiness and tight "squeezer hugs", as the kids like to call them. It was a truely joyful moment! We packed up and made our way to San Juan where our family rents a home. Over the last year our housing has shifted a lot due to our prolonged time in the States. So when we finally arrived in San Juan it was the FIRST time that Adam and the kids had seen the new house. Kailey was gracious enough to move all of our belongings into the new place when we were still in the States (with help from Courtney, shoutout to you amiga!). But Kailey took it even a step further and UNPACKED the basics so that when we opened the door for the first time it truly felt like home. Our living room was all there, the kitchen was set up and our beds were ready for us to fall into them. This was a HUGE labor of love that still makes me tear up when I think about it. The new place is a second story apartment right in front of a park (for those of you who have been to the DR, it is 2 doors down from Dr. Angel's house, in front of the same park). Neighborhoods in the DR often have a very urban feel to them with homes very close to one another which restricts air flow (we still joke about a previous rental house where our living room window was the recipient of a local business' hot air exhaust, haha!). Having the open space of the park right in front of the house makes for nice breezes and a good view of the neighborhood. Like all Dominican houses, it isn't without it's quirks. A big section of tile in the living room had to be replaced and we will likely have to replace more in the future. Perhaps the best part of this house is that Ben and Emily are finally in their own room! They each have their own bed in the room next to ours. I'm not sure who was more excited about them having their own space, the kids or us (spoiler alert: Me. Definitely me. I was the most excited by far!). We brought a few things from the States like familiar bed sheets and blankets to make it feel like home. Within a few nights they were completely transitioned into their own room!
Over the course of the following weeks we settled back into life in the Dominican. We re-connected with friends, colleagues and co-workers. We got caught up to speed on each of the projects that we are concurrently operating (preschool, med clinics, volunteer program, etc.) and prepared for the Aquinas College group to come work with us. We were surprised by a visit from Carl, the owner of the Mission House that we rent for our volunteers. He is a YWAM missionary who lived in the area for many years. It was a blessing to spend several days visiting with him. Once AQ arrived we were going nonstop. As a team we worked in the preschool and mobile medical clinics (over 150 patients and 300 children received care thanks to the group!). It was a pleasure to have them working with us!
In the interest of transparency, we don't want to paint a completely rose-colored-lens picture either. There were also challenges to our visit. We saw firsthand how our time away had made it hard on our co-workers and how we had dropped the ball repeatedly by not being present over the last 11 months. We love the work of BBOH/FUMSIL and the people in the communities where we operate. So the idea that we've hindered or hurt the program(s) isn't an easy one to swallow. But, once we know better we can do better. And thanks be to God we are in a position to DO better, to roll up our sleeves and get to work. So, back to work we go, more dedicated and motivated than before to "stumble toward heaven" (shoutout to Padre Dan!) and bring as many people with us as we can.
--For the success of the upcoming Clinic of Hope Gala in Grand Rapids, MI. Funds raised will allow us to build a permanent clinic in a desperate region. A few prayers for our nervous jitters about public speaking would be great too! More info about the event here.
--For BBOH and FUMSIL leadership, that we remain grounded by the call of God to work in this area of the world and are guided by the Holy Spirit as we plan the details.
-- In thanksgiving for all that God has provided for our family: safe housing and the ability to serve thanks to our committed sponsorship team.
So close I can taste it
Well folks.... we had a flight itinerary and a concrete plan for when we would be returning to the Dominican Republic. Our flight schedule had us departing Detroit last week at 6 am (waking up at 3:30 am!) and arriving in Santo Domingo at 1:17 pm. The day before our arrival Kailey and Dr. Angel had driven our vehicle to the capital to be at the airport to pick up our little family circus. Ya'll... I was EXCITED. Just hours away from landing on Dominican soil... the feelings were something comparable to the first day of school jitters mixed with the excitement of Christmas morning, topped off with a sprinkle of anxiety about traveling with 3 small kids. So many things all rolled into one.
And then 1:00 AM hit. Our sweet, sparkly eyed Emily woke up out of a deep sleep sicker than I have ever seen her. Everything she had eaten that day came back up and then some. Adam is still in one of the various stages of shock. The human body is amazing. That's all I can really say.
So we called Delta Airlines in the middle of the night, explained the situation and they were more than accommodating, waiving some of the fees/restrictions. #deltaforthewin
We will now be leaving for the Dominican Republic TOMORROW MORNING. As I type this, all three of the kids are tucked into bed sound asleep. All of our bags are packed and loaded into the vehicles. It almost feels too good to be true.
Please continue to wrap our family in prayer over the coming weeks! We will be updating soon with how the adventure (and God's grace!) unfolds. Thank you for your support!
-For our transition back to the DR, smooth travels, calm children and content hearts as we re-establish life in a place that we love dearly but haven't been to in almost a year.
-That we may keep our eyes focused on Christ and on the mission that He has placed on our hearts. That we may accept the things that have changed while we were gone and for the grace to move forward as a unified team.
-That God would provide a solution to our need for childcare in the Dominican, providing someone trustworthy who can love on our kids while we are at work.
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