A First for Everything

Well, here’s a first. Today marks our first time to write a blog during a pandemic. Never thought we would make that kind of a statement. It seems so strange, considering how quickly our life as a missionary family in the Dominican Republic has changed but in some ways has stayed the same.

With our work (before COVID-19)- just a few weeks ago, we embraced our last team with Project Mañana, for an exploratory trip. Rick worked alongside our director Brian Berman, helping to show the vision of Project Mañana and Karen had the recent opportunity to spend time with children in the community, with this team a sponsor meeting their child for the first time and our Princess Project kicked off! A project that provides a 15th birthday party for girls in our program, a Quinceañara. At the end of the teams trip, we gathered together in prayer for their departure and the unknown of what was to come with the Coronavirus.

THESE MEN LEFT THE USA IN ONE STATE AND IN JUST 3 DAYS RETURNED TO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SITUATION.
PRAISE GOD THEY ARRIVED HOME SAFELY. 3/14/2020

the project mañana princess project – Karen had so much fun helping with hair & makeup

Project Mañana was moving right along before the virus and then everything suddenly felt as if it had to come to a screeching halt. The Project Mañana nutrition center and school was forced to close down, our office in the city of Santiago had to close, for our own children we started homeschool, and with teaching them, Rick and I now take turns to get a full Spanish class and time to work. But what can you do? Like we shared in one of our previous blogs, all you can do is just “Go with the Float”…flow. Our life for the last few years brought on different challenges but this situation brings a little more uncertainty….

Just three days after the teams departure, the President of the DR issued its quarantine. First it was 15 days, then they added on an extra 10 and yesterday, rumors began of another new quarantine that could last for 14 days straight with no allowance to leave at all. Hearing this rumor certainly brought on a slight level of tension to our “new normal” but that’s the reality of the virus. Within only hours so much can change. Of course we know, all over the world right now we are not alone with these emotions. Each day can bring random moments of rationalizing- “Should we even go out? Could it be chaotic at the stores? We could get sick, we could be hospitalized or even die from it?” For us in global missions we also add- “Even if wanting/needing a flight home, could we get one? What about all the people in our communities where we work- do they need anything?” It’s always just enough to get the heart rate going a little. But in our continuing journey of where God is leading us, there have and always continues to be answered prayers. We praise God for that. He is always in the trials. He’s never left us and He will never leave you too.

Some of our “New normal”- Homeschooling, social distancing…being behind bars most of the day;)

Right now our son Colin is learning about the famous Jackie Robinson for school. (For those of you that might not know) Jackie was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. So for fun, we watched the movie “42” with Colin. (Remember we’ve shared before- we LOVE movies.) One particular scene showed one of Robinsons hardest experiences. Being verbally attacked during a game, all because of the color of his skin. In a moment where he could have chosen to confront the abuser, in front of everyone to see, he instead took the high road and walked away. It still wasn’t easy…(WARNING-There is some profanity)

After the game, Jackie talked with his wife…

From the film 42

” ‘I don’t care if they like me. I didn’t come here to make friends. I don’t even care if they respect me. I know who I am. I’ve got enough respect for myself. I don’t want them to beat me.’ Then his wife said, ‘They’re never going to beat you.’ And Jackie replied, ‘They came close today.’ “

This scenario closely relates to our feelings working for the Lord and His kingdom. Whenever we come against trials in life (and there’s been all kinds of trials), experiencing opposition, we know and understand as believers, this opposition only comes from sin. Right now with COVID-19, it can certainly feel defeating. Sometimes our family has to make decisions to remain mindful of possible realities in our current situation. When the power goes off randomly, we make sure to conserve as much power as we can for our invertor, just in case it won’t come back on. When we have running city water, we clean as much as we can just in case the water turns off again. Who knows? It might not come back on at all. (Thankfully though, for now, this doesn’t happen everyday.)

And with the government, now our city has a police enforced curfew, but again, it could all change within hours or a few days. So we continue to pray for discernment. He’s guided us to see answers to our prayers and we remember how to block out all the noise. Any negative, any fears. We just have to choose to hear from the one true source that matters. God and God alone. It’s there that He strengthens us and fills our soul. He’s always reminding us that even with social distancing, church closing, ministry locations having to close down…the church can continue. We can take Harrison Fords line in the movie, “you can win this game for us. We need you. Everybody needs you.” Just think of God saying that to us. Love & Trust in Him. Love for others. We heard…

Matthew 22:21

“…so give back to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is Gods.” -Jesus

Galations 5:24-25

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since, we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” -the apostle, Paul.

We will continue to follow the law but if there are open paths, we will continue to serve as long as we can. In the very beginning we had to care for those in need. As our pastor here shared, “For many who can have their refrigerators full, there are still many here that don’t have anything at all.” So we set out and carefully provided food for some of the elderly and children in the community. In our ministry here, we have developed a stronger love than ever for the people here in the Dominican Republic and in a recent conversation with a fellow believer and friend from the states, she reminded us “God did create us.”

Genesis 1:27

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female he created them.”

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

In His creation of us from Him, He has given us the gift of creativity. We can use this gift to come up with new ways for ministry and just like a Jackie Robinson, we can be the first. The first church in this modern age, feeling almost defeated, to still manage and carry out Gods truth and love for the world. It can be scary, it can get hard but when we get to the other side, what a feeling that will be! Now again, for our family, we do have another challenge in the mix…

1 Corinthians 7:35

Discussing how it is somewhat easier remaining single than married in ministry.

” I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” – the apostle Paul

As we’ve mentioned in our last newsletter, we’ve had several friends, even fellow missionaries, that had to return to the states (which sadly for some, the choice was not in their control). We even hear from family back home asking us to return. More rationalizing then begins, “What is the best scenario for our kids? Is it better to be all together as a family in the states?” Right now, for our family, the answer is no. God is continuing to draw us here and so we have to stay. We have to remain obedient. Despite many things trying to divide our devotion to the Lord, He even continues to bring the church alongside our family. We are not only deeply grateful for those that continue to partner with our family together for Him, financially and in prayer. We also have several missionary friends that help us in encouragement and guidance as well.

thank you for helping us serve those in need in the name of jesus!

We believe this is where He wants us to serve and love others, for His name, His glory. At times it can feel like Satan can come close in defeating our work, but we know who we are. We are children of God and He already defeated Satan when He brought Jesus out of that grave! (Which by the way, that brings us so much joy for the upcoming Semana Santa, Holy Week. Back home “Easter”.)

So now we just ask that you pray. We all will continue to pray on Gods deliverance with this virus but here we’ll share a few specific needs for our family-

  • Pray for our continued ministry with Gods people here in the Dominican Republic. Those that we serve and those that we work with.
  • Pray for our protection.
  • Pray for our childrens education in this still developing country. 
  • Pray for the lost, the uplifting of our fellow believers and the children in our communities. 
  • Please pray for our family back in the states.

We would like to end this blog with encouragement. Try to look for the blessings that God has given you through everything. Let us continue as the church to remember our saving faith in Christ! God saved us, gave us His Son because of how much He loves us and He wants us to approach this situation with joy, peace, love, purity, holiness, virtue and kindness.

A. W. Tozer

“Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.”

Yesterday our family remembered that exactly 2 years ago, we adopted our twins from foster care. God made a way through a lot of trials to get to them and He made a way through a lot of trials to get us here to the DR. Listen, Jesus said “It is finished.” When He died and rose again, He saved us then and He will save us now. We just have to believe and put our faith and trust in Him. Live for Him now in that truth, put Him first and you can experience a personal relationship with Gods grace.

But God didn’t give us Jesus so that we could just take the free gift and then not share. He loves us all. Since Jesus sacrificed for us, we want to sacrifice for Him! So that’s what we’ll continue to do for Him here, where He’s Called to Serve. (And don’t forget to reach out to us if you want to know how you can start living for Him- we’re here for you too.)

Hebrews 13:16

” And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

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