DR2015: Day One

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James, the brother of Jesus, begins his letter, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” This is a huge step for this former skeptic to declare with all that he is that Jesus is Lord, and Jesus is Christ, and he (James) is a servant to both God and Christ. Our study while here in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic this week is from James’ letter. The theme emblazoned on our team t-shirts is “This Changes Everything” which comes straight from this letter, and the way that seeing the risen Christ changed everything for James.

It’s particularly noteworthy that with al of this in mind, and we flew into a city in the DR called Santiago (which in Spanish is “St. James), named after this man, James (Jesus’ half brother). Santiago quite literally is the place this week that “everything changes” for us. Leaving behind some of the comforts of home, this team of 19 is seeking to simply be the Lord’s servants this week in all that’s ahead.

Our travel from Indianapolis started before 5a on Tuesday morning and ended when we arrived at the Caribbean mountain Academy well into the night. We had a little bit of a scare that one of our adult leaders, Andy Goodwin, would miss our connecting flight into the DR from Miami, as his incoming flight was delayed from pulling into its gate because of a mechanical problem with a plane in front of it. The crew had actually sealed the door and began to remove the jetway from the plane the rest of the team was on, which was the last flight into the DR for the day. Hope seemed bleak as they sealed the door of our flight and the jetway began to roll back. Then finally Andy was able to exit his flight, and as he made his way to our gate, the gate agent ushered him down the jetway making a way for him to get aboard, and at the very last second, the jetway was reattached and the door unsealed and Andy was able to join us to the sound of our cheers and excitement. It may seem like a little thing, but even in a little bit of a stressful situation Andy said that he had a peace about it, and so did most of us as well. Just one of the many ways we’ve felt the Lord’s provision and protection over this team seeing us safely here for the work ahead.

This morning begins with breakfast and orientation here at CMA, and then it’s off to Majaguita, to possibly start in on some bridge work. We’re excited for the day ahead as we all seek to be the Lord’s servants in whatever capacity He leads.

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Open Arms – Day Three

Today one of our students said, “I’ve learned this week that somebody would love to have my situation at home, even though there has been so much I thought was so bad.” It was an honest statement, one that didn’t come easy, and was truly a moment of vulnerability. Another student mentioned how much they often take for granted the simple pleasures and luxuries our lives are filled with, and as they’ve lived as a part of the community here in the group home at Open Arms this week, they’ve gained a great appreciation and respect for the girls here who so bravely face the challenges of each day with a smile and an eagerness to give and receive love, truly with “open arms.” Such have been just a few of the many ways our lives have been touched and will never be the same  because of this week. Most all the students on our team have expressed how much they’ve enjoyed getting to know the girls here at Open Arms, and cherish the relationships that have already been built in just three short days.

Today our theme was image; specifically how we see ourselves, and if we’re willing to really look deeply at our lives and try to see the way that God sees us. We talked about how we are created in God’s image from Genesis 1:27 and how we are God’s workmanship, his handiwork from Ephesians 2:10. We had the opportunity to lead an afternoon bible study for the Turning Point Academy students beginning with the same theme and were able to present the simple Gospel message through, of all things, a Reese’s cup. You’ll have to ask Jennifer Burnette sometime about her great object lesson involving the classic peanut butter candy. We’ve had a lot of time to hang out, play some games, do some crafty projects (thanks to Rhena Crane & Creative Memories), and play a little basketball this evening. It’s been really great to share a bit of life with the students of Open Arms and with the resident staff and Marty and Shiela Corey, and it’s been really awesome to see the love that is shared with the students here and is the foundation of all that Open Arms is about. It’s obvious that God is in this place and among the work that is being done here in the lives of the students. We’ve been honored to be able to come alongside the great things happening here to serve and be encouragers.

Dallas: We’re home!

We are home, what a great trip and great team!  Exhaustion has struck, but it’s a “fulfilling” exhausted. One of our teammates said she would be back next year–no matter where we went, and that she was not going to spend her spring break lying on the beach. She was going to work and give to the Lord. Wow, what an impact this trip had on her. Shane Claiborne said, “Being a Christian is about choosing Jesus & deciding to do something incredibly daring with your life.” This student has decided to do something very daring.

It took us all week, but we figured out why Satan wanted to stop this trip. The missionaries said that more important than the work we did was the encouragement we gave. They couldn’t believe we would spend time doing this for them. Satan didn’t want them encouraged; He wants them to quit. He wants them to feel worthless.One thing I know is that Satan works in generalities and God works in specifics. God wanted us to give specific encouragement through our work projects. Satan wanted these missionaries to feel discouragement overall and quit. It isn’t going to happen.

Mahatma Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  That is what we did this week. We became lost in service. Our team must understand that we don’t have to be part of a team to serve others. So carry on team, and serve where you are planted.

Rhena

Dallas: Day Six

Well our work here is complete.  Not all our work, but the physical work we had to do.  Neighbors have asked questions, we have made friends, and now it will be hard to leave.  In one short week, we became planted.  How did Jesus do it; moving on from place to place all the time?  Little Emily asked if we could start the week all over again. We wanted to say yes, but it is time to go.  It is time to move back into our everyday lives and plant ourselves back into our lives in Indiana.

Today we talked about living out loud. Jesus did it. Can we?  Can we live back in Indiana like we have here? It will be harder because we won’t be together as a group of 27 all the time. We will have to stand on our faith by ourselves sometimes. We will probably even be like Peter and deny Jesus but he will still love us and forgive us over and over. Why do we learn so slowly?

We had a big test in Obedience today.  It was one of our lessons from early in the week and most failed the test.  We thought we were ready but we learned otherwise.  We will have more tests and more failure.  But the big question at the beginning of the week was would we miss the miracle.  We have seen some and we have missed some.  We got busy in the work and we knew we would.  We don’t think we missed the “Man” though.  He was on every street corner and in every yard and assignment we did.  (Refer to Day 2)

Tomorrow is our fun day so you might not hear from us again until we are home.  Our work is not done though.  It has only just begun.  Please carry on with us.

Angie is making it very slowly.  She doesn’t want to bother us but we are so in tuned to her we want to know but we might leave here and not every really know the end of this story.  Please keep praying for Angie.  She has a long road “home”.

 

Dallas: Day Five

We can’t believe this week has gone so fast. The weather has been perfect for work but nowhere near warm. Then again, at least we haven’t seen snow like back in Indianapolis.

Today our lesson was about love. We came ready to show our love, but we are the ones experiencing their love. We have had meals made for us, donations and words of wisdom. They have trouble saying goodbye when we leave. Tears of gratitude have been shed and friendships made. We have even shared this blog with others.

But the important question is: have we loved like Jesus did? No, we haven’t even com close. We have not sacrificed everything, but we have started the process.  We are learning, a work in progress. Mother Theresa said, “True love is love that causes us pain that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray and ask for the courage to love.” We do have joy this week and our muscles do hurt, but we don’t think that is what Mother Theresa meant.

We have learned that we cannot love God without loving others. We have work to do!  It is so much easier to say than do, but we made a start.

Continue to pray for Angie.  We have no updates, but we know she is on a long road.  She needs us now.

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Dallas: Day Four

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What a day!  We can’t believe our days go so fast.  We can truly say we have put in a full day’s work. The missionaries we are working with are so touched. They are so humble and want to do things for us.. including homemade cinnamon rolls, brownies and errands. We feel so blessed being with them and learn from them, but that is how they are feeling also.

Our big lesson today was in obedience. Oh, what a hard lesson. Why is it always so hard to obey? We have been slow learners, but we are learning. Many of the students came for a fun spring break, but many did come out of obedience–obedience to a higher calling. We’re all learning what that looks like. In one neighborhood, one of the neighbors comes down every day to check our work. So far we are passing, but we think he is really looking for more. He wants to know why we are doing this but is afraid to ask. We just keep working and sharing.

We are learning that through obedience, we are investing our lives in something bigger than us. We are such a small part of God’s story but each small part must happen for everything to fit together. It’s just like a puzzle–and we have put together lots of puzzles down here (literally).

Keep praying for Angie.  She is now asking for strength to just make it through each hour.  It is hard for her but she is learning obedience also.

God bless you all.  We couldn’t be doing this without you.

–Spring Break Team

Day 3

Today was our first day of work and work we did.  Hope you enjoy the photos.  But we did so much more.  The healing has begun.  We installed a new faucet for a family and the wife cried.  The faucet was leaking terribly and they were embarrassed to tell us.  It didn’t take long for us to figure it out.  But we did so much more than just work.  In the words of the Pioneer Bible Translators, we helped with Bible Translation.  How did we do that?  Simple, we freed these missionaries up to do the work at hand.  Yes it really is all about the work.

But wait, there is more.  It is about humility also.  We want humility that demands an explanation.  If our work is only for our glory we haven’t achieved anything.  Our work is for the glory of God.  And boy are we having fun doing it.  We have learned funny songs, watched goats fight; chickens escape and yes work until we are almost too tired to move forward.  We have played with small children and been very blessed in the process.

Tomorrow is another day and another lesson.  Watch and wait with us as we expect what lies ahead.  We are beginning to understand why Satan was so afraid of this trip happening.

Also, we have a prayer request.  Please pray for Angie.  We can’t say more now but the request was to pray for her every hour of every day.  Angie needs God now in her hour of need and we have prayed down here for Angie.  Please join us.

-Spring Break Team

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Dallas: Day Two

What a Sunday–we planned a week of devotions back in January.  Our week is based on a life that demands an explanation… and that is exactly what we heard about in church this morning.  Was that an accident? Not at all! That was God going ahead and preparing for us.

We read from John 5:1-15, which is a story of the Healing at the Pool. The story is all about the work.  Who was doing the work? God was, just like he has worked and is ready for us here. We are coming behind and doing the physical. Will it all be easy? No. We have spent the day preparing for the work, and tomorrow it’s time to begin our work… to do what we have planned and prepared for months.

In our story, people were blind to the miracle and blind to the Man (Jesus). We are seeing the miracle step by step. We don’t want to miss any of it, but we will. Why? Because we will get busy in the work. Will we miss the Man? We pray not.

What we want is for the “healing” to provoke questions of those around us.  The Jews asked questions but missed the importance of the healing. We will be healing homes but as a result we pray to provoke questions. Tomorrow, we pray for a day that will require an explanation because of our actions, love, service, and compassion that do not make sense without Jesus.

-Spring Break Team