August 19th, 2022 has come and gone. Our family has now passed up our three year anniversary of being on the field here in the Dominican Republic. A pretty significant moment for us, especially since it’s common communication in our missionary circles that most missionaries do not make it to three years on the field. So, we guess we can say we made it but truthfully, it certainly hasn’t been a smooth road.
However, a couple weekends ago we had a fun river experience, an outing with our church, in the Dominican Republic. Now if you were to look up rivers in the Dominican Republic through a source like Instagram, you can be sure to find images of people relaxing, having a good time and the beauty of water that looks crisp, cool and an iridescent shade of turquoise blue. For one person it can feel refreshing, for another- icy cool water temps can be a more accurate description.
None the less, the day was a day of new experiences and celebrating! On first arrival to park our vehicles, we were met with a group of men and burros (donkeys:) offering to take us to our destination. But you know the saying, “Follow the Leader”. Our pastor was leading the way by foot and his ways will always choose the more natural approach. He’s a country guy through and through, actually, it’s one of the great things we love about him.
So away we went! Our kids, our church family of Punto Central, we walked through our first crossing about 1/2-1.5 feet deep through a channel of mud, river rock and water. Then came a second crossing and finally we walked up a little hill and we made it to the river. There we enjoyed our time together in fellowship, food and baptisms! Pretty amazing how God moves too because as we originally planned for two baptisms, an onlooker shared that it was her time to be baptized as well, so we welcomed her right on in! God is good!
At the end of the day we ventured back to where we parked, mud spackled and all but also laughed all together in the realizations that when we arrived at the river, it was clear that we could have driven our vehicles straight there! But our pastors response in this, “Where would the fun be in that?”
It’s true though isn’t it? If everything in life was simple, easy and never challenging, how would we really learn and grow? For us, even after three years of now being on the field, we know these and many more lessons to come are WORTH living in because we do and have learned from them. In God’s Word and His timing, He will teach us through many moments of waiting and trusting by faith in Him.
"What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,..." Paul's words in Romans 9:30-32
The Jews certainly stumbled. They stumbled time and time again. They kept tripping over the stone that said serving God and receiving righteousness- this was something that can only be done on their own. But Paul reminds us, this work that we are in, is once again only achieved because of HIM and we have to remember that it’s all to God who should get the glory. Our faith in His son Jesus Christ is complete because He came and died for us all.
"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Romans 10:4
You can hear us say this often, “We’re Working Together Today for an Eternal Tomorrow” and Jesus said:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35
In this work, it’s going to take the efforts AND the differences of us all that we can serve our Father well but we have to remember that HE alone brings the eternal tomorrow. The journey to get there, it’s one where we want to always live out gratefulness to the truth He’s given us in His Word and Christ. The only two things we can go to in complete confidence when we need the answers and the example of how to serve others and carry ourselves well.
It’s then when others see us living out His truth, can we help each other to not stumble over the stumbling stone as well. We have to remember, it’s not less of me, more of Him. It has to be ALL Him, ALL the time. We need God. We need His son Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit. Each with a different role but in their unity we find- we need to love one another. Let us not lose our focus. We pray we remain on this journey together.