WE’RE ALWAYS LEARNING
God doesn’t disappoint. We do, but He doesn’t. We fully intended to be better communicators. “Every 3 months we’re gonna put out a super informative newsletter, and every couple of weeks we’re gonna update our blog!” we ambitiously claimed before landing here. Now in our 11th month of being in country, we’re learning… Learning not only that we’ve dropped the communication ball and have possibly disappointed many who wish to hear from us, but that right now our lives are really not as eventful as we once thought they’d be.
With that in mind, we still want to highlight a few things since our last newsletter. Our 2018 started off with God richly blessing us with the arrival of Brooke Wittmer and Brooke Schelkle! They came bearing gifts of every type of Chic-Fil-A sauce we could think of! 18lbs to be exact! Praise God for these amazing chicas and their huge hearts. Our times of worship, work and play were so encouraging! We took them to Las Terrenas, determined to shed some light on their understanding of the world of trafficking and forced prostitution here in the DR. What we learned (completely different from being there in the past), was that this typical hotspot was a ghost town. With a vision team on schedule to come to that very location at the end of March, we made the difficult decision to relocate where we’d be staying for the 5 days we’d have with that team. A week later we read a press release stating that the day before we had arrived in Las Terrenas, the Dominican Migration Agency performed a sweep for illegals, arresting 939 foreigners! With many trapped here in the sex trade being Haitian nationals, the uneventful trip we’d taken made perfect sense. And we are grateful. Girls were not out on the street. The sad truth however is that many of them were most likely deported back to a far more desperate situation. But we learned that this government is taking action in the areas where the exploitation is usually rampant and common.
February brought a ton of rain. It may have rained every day that month! Not to mention late January and early February had also been a season of sickness for our house. One by one, each of us came down with something. Like the rain, it seemed like it wasn’t going to end. Staying mostly indoors allowed us to hit Spanish class hard as well as plan for 3 back to back weeks of hosting. On March 21st, Heartland Community Church in Medina, OH brought an outstanding vision team sandwiched in between two family trips. With the family of Dave and Kara Short and with HCC, we spent time in Sosua, where we met two young ladies forced to work the strip at night. After learning their stories and beginning to build their trust, one of the HCC team members was blessed to lead one of them to faith in Jesus Christ!!! So amazing!!!
In the first week of April, we got to host Nate’s brother and his family! Obviously it’s exciting to see family, but it was really cool to see them selflessly give up their spring break to take a family mission trip! We took them into the village of Sabaneta, 10 minutes from where we live. They met a single mother who even though she’s dealt with an abusive past, has a strong faith in the Lord and is working hard to give her daughter every opportunity she can afford. Her current 40+ year old home is made of slat wood that has been ravaged by termites. Back in Ohio, Nate’s brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Kristel, have helped trailblaze a ministry through their CrossFit gym called F.U.E.L. (Fired Up at Every Level). It’s an incredible platform that they’re using to connect lost people to Jesus through their everyday life and passions. They’d recently been talking with the F.U.E.L. team about taking a big faith step and going on a mission trip. Before Matt and Kristel left to go back to the states, they decided they would share this mother’s story with their team and put before them the idea of coming and building her a new home! It’s hard to put into words how blessed we feel to be looking forward to this team in January!
Near the end of April one of our interns, Kara Dayton, became very sick with an amoeba. After talking through some options with her mom, who works as an RN back in Ohio, she decided to go back home for period of recovery. Over the past two months, Kara has been stateside working on finishing her last semester of school through Liberty University online. God has placed a passion inside of her to use the teaching degree that she will receive, back here in the DR. We couldn’t be more excited for her!
When we set out with a plan to have two long term interns move here with us, our goal in discipleship was to consistently point them towards Jesus and the desires He’s given them. We were always trusting that God would make clear what their next steps would be as those desires developed into pathways of ministry. Not really aiming to put a timeline on the process, we thought collaboratively that 2 years would be enough space to hear from God on what He has next for each of them. Recently Cortney Jones has also felt God speaking to her about how He will use her in the coming year. Through volunteering at school for special needs children run by Students International, Cortney has been given the responsibility of teaching physical education twice a week. Her intention moving forward is to continue serving at the school, along with another opportunity to help at the village preschool in Mata Gorda.
Needless to say, what we thought might take 2 years, God is proving to fulfill in one! Cortney and Kara are both making a move toward independence and serving God where He’s gifted them! As they end their internship with us, they’ll both be back in Ohio to share their story and raise support for what lies ahead. We’re asking that you pray for them with us, and if God’s leading you, jump on their support team!
Hopefully through all these ramblings you can see that all of us have been learning. We’ve learned a ton and still have a ton more to learn. I’ve been told before that the capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; but the willingness to learn is a choice. Our choice is to keep learning… To be better communicators, to understand sex trafficking hotspots, to network and expand our local connections (both ministerial and secular), and to trust in God’s perfect timing for the launching of a rescue program. Thank you all for your continued prayer and support!