Feliz año nuevo! Salud! Cheers to the new year! We sure are glad that we survived Christmas. When 4 out of 5 us became ill from the flu, during those days it certainly was a little scary because our daughter wasn’t able to take anything. Medicine or liquids. But praise God! We all got through it and eventually a week later, we finally celebrated Christmas!

So here we are. 2020 is here, our Christmas break with Project Manaña is over and as of today- we have now lived in the Dominican Republic for 5 months! We can’t believe it. We give thanks and love always to so many that continue to support our family in the work we are involved in with Project Manana! We had our first mission team for the year (from our hometown Cincinnati) and we press forward to so much work ahead! One thing that we heard from God years ago was to come alongside Project Manaña to help them lighten the heavy workload because the workers are few and we are grateful to share that this is certainly being done. We truly love our staff and we are praying that God continues to call others to join us.

Starting a new job has never been my favorite thing to do. Feeling inadequate, not being able to answer questions, having to explain that you’re “training”….ugggghhh, it’s just a tad discomforting. Especially for where I am in my life now. It’s one thing when you’re young, it makes sense! Now add on top of that, not knowing a different language well, living in a sometimes tiny space with 5 yr old twins, not having water from time to time, getting bit from mosquitoes that now have left scars and getting the “sweaty moments” while driving (like driving down a road, weaving in & out of parked cars only to find out the road dead ends & now I have to do it all again in reverse-it was awesome) we can definitely get moments of discouragement. Here’s the thing though- we ALL can!

There are so many of us that are following after God and serving for Him. Whether as a global missionary in a different country or a local missionary in helping those in your own backyard. Sweaty moments are REAL! In this world, we are not promised a life of ease and comfort. Life will get tough and sometimes down right exhausting. I know I’ve shared this before, but it is a favorite…

“I have told you these things, so that IN ME you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -Jesus

John 16:33

We HAVE to pray to Him, we HAVE to continually reach out to Him. In my prayer, I asked Him to remind me that He was with me. Next, I stumbled upon something I didn’t understand. Then coincidentally it led me to something I needed to see, which then led me to search and study something specific in scripture. In the Bible, (always, always WE HAVE TO BE IN GODS WORD) He gave me the clarity of what I didn’t know and also added a gift of encouragement. (But of course He did, He’s our heavenly Father and loves us) Which, there always tends to be a level of surprise when this happens to me and I should know better by now but again, I can tend to doubt. My encouragement though…we are not weak, we have to remember…WE ARE HUMAN.

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’ I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”

Colossians 4:17-18

Wow. I ended up being led to Colossians by the Holy Spirit (if you’re a believer, remember, He’s within you and He WILL guide you). Chapter 4 is like a group photograph that the apostle Paul shares. Grouped together are all the people who helped him during his ministry while in chains. Now I’m no prisoner by any means (Praise the Lord for that! There are others in service for Him that can & are in chains) but being in another country away from many that I love dearly, His word reminded me that I’m not alone. It’s one thing to go through hardships alone, yes we have our relationship with God. But God knew Adam needed Eve. Moses needed help in Exodus 17. His hands grew tired and Aaron and Hur held up his hands for him. In Numbers 11, Moses even cried out that he’d rather die, yet God brought some comfort when He took some of the burden off of him and placed it on others.

Being a little nervous in my new shared office space at our school in San Pablo, these women of Project Manaña showed kindness and grace. We also have known each other for the last 6 years that I’ve come down for womens conferences. I love them, their serving hearts.

God knows we can’t help to grow His Kingdom alone because WE ARE HUMAN. He brought our family alongside Project Manaña and Project Manaña comes alongside us. He continues to grow us all in our faith and He continues to remind us of His love & faithfulness to “complete the ministry we have received”. And in successful moments with our ministry, we can still have hardships in “chains”. We NEED to bring alongside support in the “work” together! This is why we also have our amazing prayer and financial partners. Because as we work, at times I feel like what I’m teaching still needs to be taught to me. I work for His work and He continues to work in me.

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Ephesians 4:16

We will continue the work here and we hope that you continue the work that He is calling you to do wherever you are! And if you’re still unsure what that is, keep praying to Him, He’ll show you the way. Just be obedient to His directions. With Project Manaña we have a theme for the year. For our mission teams that come in and 2 communities we serve- we will reflect on footprints…

Whose footprints are you following? What footprints are you leaving behind?

A great quote from our lead pastor, friend & brother in Christ at our sending church Center Pointe Christian…

“If we make it about us, then we’re parking in the closest spot, attending the most convenient service, serving just enough to feel engaged, and giving just enough to feel good. But if it’s about the people God is calling us to reach, we’ll park a mile away; attend a different service, serve joyfully, and give generously.”

Shawn Spradling

That was us before but now we choose Him. We grew from the body of our Center Pointe church, reaching all the way to the Dominican Republic. Here, we will Love God radically, Serve others compassionately, and Lead people to Jesus.

Ephesians 5:1-2 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

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