Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love letters

Last week at WyldLife Club, the kids heard the message of the love of Jesus, how He died for them because He loves them, and how He wants them to love Him as well.  Rachel, one of my co-leaders, did a great job giving this message, centered around the passage of Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him, that really spoke to the hearts of the kids.  At the end of her talk, she passed out pieces of paper and asked the kids, if they wanted to, to write a small note to Jesus.  I want to share with you some of those little love letters to Jesus that they wrote:

• I love you.

• We do so many sins and you keep on forgiving us. It’s just not fair that you had to die for our shame.

• K-I love too I want to feed your sheep I want to do it help me Jesus.

• YES, I love you. I love Jesus Thanks!

• I love U! I Love U! Jesus. –L

• I love Jesus back with all my heart, soul, and my mind.

• Lord I just want you to forgive me and love me back. I’ve always loved you and you know.

• I actually try very very hard to remember and follow God… But I absolutely do LOVE the LORD a lot! Also, I need help, for friends and relationships, I need HELP! Love:K

• Dear Jesus: I love you & I want to go in your way I want to be accepted like your daughter teach me how to go in your way. I love U! Amen. Thanks for everything!

• Dear Jesus I want to tell you I love U back. Thanks for dying for us. I just want to tell you that I really apreshiate that you gave me a life. Thanks for EVERY thing Att: C

• I love Jesus, and I want to be a better Christian in my actions and behavior. I love you and I will follow you. ~MTB girl
• C: Yes I will follow you I will try to do the correct things thanks for dying on the cross.

• Yes Jesus I love you back I know I’m not perfect and I fall some times but doesn’t matter what happens know that I love you.

• Jesus Thank you for blessing me and letting me be here tonight. RL

• Hi

• Jesus I am writing this to you to ask you for forgiving for all bad thing I have made.

• Dear Jesus, Yes, I do love you even though you haven’t answered all my prayers. I love you a lot I love how you love me knowing what I have done. –K

• Dear Jesus thank you so much for saving me, thank you for dying on the cross for me. I pray that you would guide me and help me through these next years.

• Dear Jesus, I love you, you died for me and for my sins. I’m sorry for not saying I love you. Sincerty, L

• Dear God, I’m going through some hard stuff in my life but I want you to know that I love you and thank you for watching over me. Love, S

• I will follow & I believe ur there 4 me.

• Yes I love you.

• I love you & you love me we are a happy family I LOVE YOU!

• Jesus, I love you and I want to follow you and want YOU to take control of my life.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Easter leap into another culture

Today, for Easter service, I decided to try a different church near my house instead of going to the one I have been attending.  The Baptist church is just two blocks from my house.  I had no idea what time it started, but since I know that a lot of the churches start at 10am, I thought perhaps this one did too.  As I was walking there, I didn't see anyone walking toward the church.  Well, perhaps it doesn't start at 10, I thought.  When I got there, there were definitely people there.  As I approached, I asked a man standing outside what time it started.  He told me it started at 8am and ended at 12pm.  Wow!  Long service.  As I entered I made a very big observation....

This was a Haitian church service!!  Everyone in the church was Haitian and the service was done in a combination of French and Creole!!!  Wow!  The church was packed full.  I entered and went to stand in the back, but a very nice gentleman gave me his seat.  At times, I understood a few French words from my lessons (I have been taking French lessons now once/ week for about  the past 2 months).  At one point, they were introducing visitors (I know this because the man who gave me his seat told me this in Spanish).  Then, someone went up front and said in English, "We have an American with us today.  I don't know her name, but will she please stand up and introduce herself".  Yikes!!!  I do not know enough French yet to do a decent introduction, so I spoke in Spanish (which everyone there understood anyway- Haitians are very intelligent people-  they know 2 or 3 or more languages!)

The service involved a lot of singing- songs I did not know but enjoyed.  The sermon lasted only about 20 minutes and was centered around the passages of Isaiah 53 and Matthew 27.  The service was very good.

What a strange experience.  It has been a while since I stepped into a country where I was not able to understand the language.  Here I was 2 blocks from my house and it felt like I was in a different country- surrounded by people from a different culture than what I have grown acustomed to and speaking languages that I don't understand.  Yet, while I was there, I couldn't help marvel at the fact that even though these men and women are praying in a language that I don't understand, God understands them completely.  He created these other languages.  It doesn't matter which language you use- whether it is English, Spanish, French, Creole, or any other language- God created them all and He understands you!!  How amazing is that!!!

Happy Easter!!!  He is Risen!!!!!! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jehovah's Witnesses

Lately, I have been seeing quite a few Jehovah's Witnesses walking the streets of Jarabacoa, particularly American Jehovah's Witness "missionaries".  These Americans have moved here in order to target the English-speaking population of Jarabacoa and bring them the information of the JWs.  The funny part about this is that about 98% of the native English-speaking population here are Christian missionaries!

The JWs have started an English service at their hall and have been going around to find English-speaking people in town to invite to their services and share the literature.  One of them in particular has latched on to me.  I met C when she was driving through the neighborhood looking for houses that were for rent.  She stopped to ask me about a house she thought she had seen for rent (turns out it was my house- apparently right before I moved in).  We started talking and I found out she was a JW.  Ever since then, she has made it a point to stop frequently here at the house to give me literature and talk to me about the "Bible" and the "truth". 
Since her visits have become more frequent, I have started researching more about what the JWs actually believe and have discovered how much they truly are a cult.  Let me outline just a few of the beliefs of the JWs that is in contradiction to Christianity.

  • They believe that there is only one God in one person- there is no Trinity.
  • They believe that Jesus was the first creation of God- that He was created, was the first angel, was named Michael, and that Michael (Jesus) helped in the creation of the rest of the universe.
  • They believe that Michael became Jesus when he was born on Earth, that he died on a torchure stake, and that he rose spiritually but not physically.
  • They believe that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force and not a member of the Trinity (no trinity).
  • They believe that a person must do good works in order to be in favor with Jehovah (God).
  • They believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven.  These specially chosen people will inherit immortal life and live in heaven with Jehovah (God).
  • They believe the rest of the JWs will inherit eternal life and will live on Earth paradise forever.
  • They participate in communion only one time per year and only those who have immortal life can partake.
  • Before a JW can be baptized, they must attend a certain number of classes to learn about the religion and answer questions before a panel of leaders.  These classes are held every day and the JW is encouraged to attend class 5 days a week.
  • The JW bible has been wrongly translated- changed in order to fit the beliefs of the JWs. 
While Jehovah's Witnesses may use the same vocabulary as Christians use, they are not talking about the same thing.  They have been brainwashed by their constant studies to believe that only JWs will live forever.  They have had extensive training on how to speak to non-JWs and how to defend their faith.  Be careful if you encounter a JW.  While they may talk about Jesus and God and the Bible, THEY ARE NOT CHRISTIANS!

Friday, December 31, 2010

End of 2010

Wow, I cannot believe that 2010 has come to an end.  What a year it has been.  After moving to the Dominican Republic in January and spending most of the year working with Doulos Discovery School, I realize that God has plans bigger than any of us can ever imagine and that He truly is in control of all things. 

The last month of school before break went well and very quickly.  I then went back to Ohio to spend Christmas and New Years with my family.  As usual, this time is going by very quickly and I will soon be heading back to the DR.  I am looking forward to seeing Petra (she stayed in the DR with a family who remained there for Christmas).  There is also much to do in this next semester.  I am sure that God will be keeping me full of His work throughout the next 6 months.

I hope 2010 was a good year for you and that you embrace all that God will bring before you in 2011!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is spent with family.  However, my family is very far away this year.  I was blessed to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my Doulos family at a giant Thanksgiving Dinner.  Over 100 people- teachers, staff, and their families- went to the school for dinner. 

We had the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even a green bean casserole.  We also had a non-traditional roasted pig.  Everyone had to bring a dish with them (side dish or dessert).  The Dominicans brought typical Dominican food- rice, beans, yuca, etc. 

With such a variety of choices besides what I am used to for Thanksgiving and being separated away from my family, it didn't feel like Thanksgiving to me.  So, I decided to cook my own traditional Thanksgiving Dinner the next day- the same as I would have had if I was in my house in Ohio.

Since turkey is very expensive here and impossible to find in town (you have to drive into the city to buy it), I decided to make chicken instead.  Besides, I like chicken better than turkey anyway!  I made homemade stuffing just like we make at home.  My little chicken came out very good.

Now it was time to make the side dishes.  Mashed potatoes and corn are easy.  Sweet potatoes, however, are a little harder.  I went to the veggie market and bought a few sweet potatoes, or the closest thing they have to sweet potatoes.  When I bought them they were caked with dirt.  After I scrubbed them off, I discovered that the skins were bright purple!

When I cut them up, they were white on the inside.  Now, I know for most people- especially here- that wouldn't be a problem.  But for me, SWEET POTATOES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ORANGE!!  So, I cut them up and boiled them like mashed potatoes, but while they were boiling, I added red and yellow food coloring and turned them orange!

After it was all cooked, I was able to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner- Ohio style! (Notice the orange sweet potatoes on the right side- covered with marshmellows!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some things that have happened since the last time I posted...

I know, I am a horrible blogger.  I do not blog very often.  The reason for this is that most of what I want to say gets said in an weekly email that I mail out to everyone who has requested frequent updates about my ministry here in the Dominican Republic.  If you would like to receive these emails, please leave me a message here or at my email, include your email address and I will add you to the list.

A lot has happened since the last time I updated my blog.  I am going to attempt to tell some of it with pictures...

Every other Friday at Doulos, the school has an event called Revolution.  The students get out of class 40 minutes early and get to attend a fun assembly full of games, contests, music, dancing, and sometimes a Biblical life lesson.  As you can see, the staff get involved with Revolution just as much as the students do!

Every time it rains moderately or more, we lose water at our house.  The water is turned off by the city to keep the debris from the river from clogging the water filtration system.  When the water comes on, depending on how long it was off, our water can often be various colors of yellow or brown with a sometimes nasty smell.  This was our water one day- yellow brown and smelling like rotten eggs!  No, we do not drink this, but we do pour this into our water filter to drink.  We also have to wash our dishes, do laundry, and shower in this water.  Yuck!!

Our neighbor had gotten a new little puppy that quickly became a good friend of Petra's.  His name was Rocky.  While he doesn't look it in the picture, he was much smaller than Petra.  Unfortunately, he got out of his front gate and was hit by a car and died.  Even though Petra only knew him for about 3 weeks, I think she misses him.

Here in Jarabacoa, the cemetery does not bury people; they have above ground vault tombs that are stacked on top of each other.  When a person dies, the family "rents" the tomb for a certain period of time.  When that time is over, the dead person is removed or "evicted" and a new dead person is put there.  This coffin looks old, like the person died a long time ago.  However, they were still evicted from their "final" resting place and their coffin placed in the trash (the body was removed... I think!)

One of the major recent changes in my life here was the purchase of a vehicle- a 1999 Chevy Blazer.  This was a gift from God.  I had been needing a vehicle in order to do some of the ministry work I have been trying to do, and God provided this for me.  What a blessing it is to be able to get to places that I have not been able to get to independently.  I am now a part time taxi driver (pro bono) for various missionaries and have also put the vehicle to work in the various ministries I am working in.  God is Good!

Packages from home are always a welcome treat, especially when it includes homemade cookies from Mom!  Mail comes every other Wednesday for us.  It is always a lot of fun to get letters, cards, and packages.  As you can see, cookies can travel amazingly well!

Since I now have my car, I have begun working at Centro Especial Genesis.  This is the only Special Education school in this area.  While it is a special education school, they unfortunately do not have anyone working there who has actually been trained in special ed.  I will be working with some of the teachers, helping train them in how to best teach children with special needs.  I am also evaluating some of the students so that the teachers can know their strengths and weaknesses and know how best to teach them.

A part of WyldLife is a small group Bible study called Campaigners that meets every 2 weeks to dive deeper into the Bible and learn more about Jesus and how God wants us to live.  Rachel, my co-leader and I decided to have a fun get-together with our Campaigners group for dinner and tie dying in preparation for one of our WyldLife Club meetings.  The kids had a blast- most of them had never tie dyed before!  Even petra had a blast having new people around and amazingly she did not get tie dyed!!

This past week was a milestone in Petra's life.  She lost her first baby tooth.  Her new tooth is already starting to come in, but here is Petra showing off her new hole where a tooth used to be!

Every now and then, a group of people like to get out of town and head into the city for a little taste of home.  This past weekend, a group of 11 of us drove into Santiago to go to T.G.I.Fridays.  It was wonderful having a little American food from a real American restaurant.  The food titles on the menu were even in English!

After dinner at Friday's, we headed over to the bowling alley for a game of bowling.  Bowling is the same here as it is in the States, except for the occasional 3rd turn in a frame that you get when the lane doesn't reset!

This is about all for right now.  I will try to post more, but I cannot make any promises.  If you want weekly updates, sign up for the weekly "Picture of the Week" email.  You will not be disappointed!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My generous neighbor

One of my neighbors is a cute older lady named Blanquita.  She cooks lunch every Saturday and Sunday for her family, which sends wonderful aromas into our yard.  Today, I mentioned how wonderful her food smelled, and so she told me she was going to give me a little bit so I could try it, asking if I like traditional Domincan cooking.  Traditional Dominican food often contains rice, beans, and chicken.  I told her I do like it and that it is very gracious of her to offer to allow me to try her cooking.  A little while later, her house helper came over with a huge tray of chicken, rice, plantains, and salad.  My roommate Katie and I both had lunch and there is enough left over for 1 or both of us to have another meal!  How generous she was to give us so much of her wonderful food.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Recent Pictures

Here are a few pictures that I have taken over the past couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

This is our first family portrait.  Katie, Petra, and I.  Rossy, our other roommate, moved out a few weeks ago, so we have an extra bedroom in the house that we are hoping to fill.  For now, it is just the 2 1/2 of us!

Here is Petra (taken about a week ago).  She keeps growing despite the fact that I have told her to stop.  She is a little rascal.  She loves playing and she is facinated by people.  

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to tour the factory that makes the water filters that we use here.  This is the factory.  I was expected more of an American style factory.  This factory is located at the dead end of a dirt road behind a neighborhood in the middle of nowhere.  Everything is done either with simple machines or by hand. 

These are some of the kids hanging out by the pond at recess time.  The building to the left is our cafeteria and upstairs on that building is one of our teacher lounges.  Behind the pond is the basketball court.  Behind the cafeteria is the amphitheatre.  

The 6th and 7th graders as they prayed before leaving for their camping trip.  They had an awesome trip!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Petra Update

I have had a few people ask me for updates about Petra. 

We I first got her, she was so small.  She is still small, but she has been growing.  Her little legs are getting longer, yet her body size hasn't changed much in the nearly 3 weeks that she has been living with me. 

Since she was a street dog, I am trying to keep her away from all human food and get her accustomed to dog food.  At first, she ate it but I don't think she liked it very much (since she wouldn't eat very  much).  Now, she eats well.  I am hoping she will gain a little weight since she is so skinny. 

Housebreaking...  Petra has actually been doing well with housebreaking.  When I am home, I leave the back door open and she is able to go out whenever she wants- and she does.  She very rarely has an accident in the house when I am home.  When I am not home, she is left in the laundry room, but there are not usually any problems there either.  She has also made it overnight with no accidents for the past 2 nights, although she usually wakes me up at least one time in the middle of the night. 

I have also discovered that she is a little thief.  She likes to steal- shoes, clothes, rugs, books, whatever she can find!  She also loves to chew and will chew on whatever she steals! 

I took a video of her playing with one of her toys.  Click here to see it:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The newest addition to my family...

Meet Petra! 

She is an adorable little puppy that has found her way into my life.  Petra was a puppy of a street dog, living on the street. My roommate Katie and I were talk about how we have been seeing a couple of street puppies on our way to work in the morning, so we decided to go see where they were living.  When we found Petra, she was sitting in a garbage pile, trying to find something to eat.  She is young, probably born during the first week of August (according to the vet), with scars on her head from some cuts she got a while back.  We brought her home, cleaned her up, took her to the vet to get her first vaccine and de-worming, and gave her a new life.  At first she was scared and tried to leave, but once she realized she was in a safe place, she became comfortable and now is happily living as a house dog.  My roommates and I marveled at the similarities we saw between Petra’s life and our lives.  Before becoming Christians, we lived out in the world, filling up our lives with garbage and thinking we are happy.  Then Someone (Jesus) came along and rescued us from our life, cleaned us up, and took us to be with Him.  Sometimes, we try to get away and go back to our old life, but once we realize that we are safe and in a good place, we can take joy that we were rescued and life a truly happy life!