Good evening everyone! I hope the world finds you all in good spirits and health. We have a few bits of news, and after several weeks of partial radio silence I thought I’d send out a quick snippet and fill everyone in on what’s going on in our little corner of the Dominican Republic.
A Season of Mission Transition
First, the tougher news. Since I have already spoken with some of you, you may already know that after the first few months in-country Kristi and I were faced with making the difficult decision that we needed to part ways with the ministry we’ve supported for four years and with which we had planned on serving once here. Although we believe the organization does good work, it is simply not the right time and environment for us to be involved there. We appreciate the guidance leading up to and during the move and for all the projects, clinics, teams, and service opportunities we were a part of in our first few months. While all the reasoning does not bear recounting in a newsletter, the parting is amicable and they will continue to process our support for the time being, until we are established with a new provider. So at the moment, donations can still be made via the same means as in the past. We will pass along the full details for making support contributions once they are available.
But, onward and upward….
Over these past couple of weeks, we and our friends the Hartsfields have been exploring new communities and groups with which to work. There is no shortage of need here, and despite the specific challenges, we are steadfastly committed to following the call to serve and share with the people of this country. A local pastor friend introduced us to a mountain community known as Palo Alto, just North of Santiago. We’ve been regularly visiting the community, spending time getting to know the people and needs in the area – sharing meals and working alongside them. By taking the time to work side by side with the people in the community, we hope to establish lasting relationships…and as an added benefit, my Spanish is improving by leaps and bounds as we spend more time together. Although still very limited, I’m managing to communicate fairly well, all things considered. The Dominican family we have begun to primarily serve with lead a budding church plant in the area, a partnership with the Christian school where Kristi teaches to build a retreat center, and hold a number of responsibilities in serving the surrounding community.
The ultimate goal of establishing these relationships is to share our faith with the people of Palo Alto. One thing we’ve learned in our time here is that a common cultural mistake that U.S.-based ministries make when reaching out within the Dominican Republic is their approach to ministry. Often, well intentioned Americans come with plans for grandiose projects, advice, and money to pour into a people group without establishing the necessary foundational trust and dialogue. This can become a serious hindrance to their ability to share the faith, which was the original motivation for coming. By getting to know the people and the real needs of the community (both physical and spiritual), we hope to circumvent this and actually share in their lives. From all appearances, the approach seems sound as we establish trust and friendships within the community.
In addition to our work in Palo Alto, my friend Nick (Hartsfield) and I were able last week to accompany a fellow missionary who works with Kids Alive International (KAI) to some of their sites. KAI maintains a number of facilities throughout the country, serving as orphanages and schools. Timberland generously donated 2,000 pairs of shoes for distribution through Kids Alive, and we were able to participate in delivering some of them. We had a fantastic time fitting the children with new shoes – children whose existing shoes were often ill-fitting and riddled with holes and broken soles.
The KAI-based orphanages take in children who have been abandoned and/or come from broken or abusive homes, providing them with a healthy, safe environment and Christian education. We were able to see how their operations work, as well as meet many of the teachers, missionaries, and children. It was an exciting time, and the children were quite amused, both by my Spanish “skills” and by the opportunity to pull on my whiskers.
As we continue in this journey, we ask that you keep us in prayer for wisdom and direction as we proceed through the transition. We will continue to offer our services wherever needed, currently with a focus in Palo Alto. Pray for the people within the community to be receptive, and that we would be willing and able to minister to them in whatever manner God sees fit. We are excited to be used in some small way, and very appreciative of those who continue to provide support through financial giving, prayers, and with sound advice. If you are a Facebook user, please stop by our page and follow our activities there – or drop us a line here on the site through our contact form. We’d love to hear from YOU!