But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us…and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved … Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not…but as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant. The surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. – 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, 3:4-5, 4:7
Dear Family and Friends,
It was several years ago that God called me to mission work in the Dominican Republic. I had no idea how He was going to get me there or even if I wanted to go. But through His lovingkindness, for His glory and His kingdom purposes, He guided and led me to Monte Plata where I have lived and served for the past two school years. God brought me to Monte Plata first for His glory, and then to do some much-needed work in me. I arrived a perfectionist, a controller, and a hypocrite who preached living by faith but was always five steps ahead of God’s plan for me. He has put me through the fire here, has refined and sanctified His servant, and has revealed more of my stinking, ugly sin than I ever was willing to admit existed in my heart. He did that so that the aroma of Christ, and only the aroma of Christ would be spread in Monte Plata. This town did not need Kristin. This town needed, and needs, more of Christ. I am only a commissioned worker, and a poor one at that, who was blessed with the opportunity to spread the fragrance of Christ in this town for the past couple of years.
Our God writes His story on human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3). During my time in Monte Plata, I have seen this truth time and time again. I have seen Him change the heart of Mary* who began her time at our school notoriously infamous for her abusive, violent, disrespectful behavior but who now knows the Lord and allows Him to change her, strengthen her, and lead her each day as a 7th grade young woman. I have seen Him change the heart of Kim*, at whose Quinceañera (15th birthday) earlier this year I heard it said, “It is truly a miracle of God that Kim has made it to 8th grade. When she was young and came to live at Casa Monte Plata, none of us would have believed that she would make it this far.” She is now one of the most diligent and hardworking girls in her 8th grade class, which I had the privilege of teaching this year. I have seen Him do His life-changing work in countless at-risk children, from orphaned five-year-olds to abandoned first-graders to abused seventeen-year- olds. I have been blessed to watch these transformations and to have been supported by ministry partners like you who have also joined in His work here. Thank you for being part of this.
He who has prepared us for this very thing is God…So we are always of good courage… We walk by faith, not by sight. -2 Corinthians 5:5-7
As most of you know, it was by faith that I began a relationship with a Godly, hardworking man named Mick in September. It was in faith that we prayed, sought the Lord, and began to discern God’s will for our future. It was in faith that on March 3, Mick asked me to be his wife – faith not in each other or in our love for one another, but faith in God’s plan for our united lives and in His great love for us. It was in faith that I said “yes,” and we began the next part of our journey towards marriage together. We are overwhelmingly thankful for the way the Lord has orchestrated our love story and the way in which He continues to lead and guide us as we prepare to be married in November. I thank God for the Godly man He has brought into my life – a man I can trust, a man who will lead us and our family well, a man who desires to glorify, serve, and honor God before all else, and a man who loves me without reservation. He is God’s greatest earthly gift to me and I can’t wait to be his wife.
After our engagement, I knew that I would be return to Monte Plata with intentions to return to America at the end of my commitment with Kids Alive. While Mick and I believe and hope that God will call us to the mission field together one day, God has used Mick to call me back to America for now. My original plan was to leave Monte Plata in August. However, I learned in March that I have some medical needs that require attention in America this summer. Rather than temporarily leaving Monte Plata in June, waiting to see if I could return a few weeks later, only to leave again in August, I have made the decision in faith to end my time in Monte Plata in June. I will finish the school year, say my goodbyes, and then leave for America on June 5. This decision has not been an easy one. Many tears, many hours of prayer, and many long conversations of seeking advice and wisdom have led me to the conclusion that God’s plan for me this summer is to be in the States rather than in Monte Plata.
It is my greatest desire to leave Monte Plata in a God-glorifying, God-honoring way. I want to be used-up and poured-out for His purposes. I want to leave the children at Eva Russell School and Casa Monte Plata with a greater, more complete vision of who Jesus is and how much He loves them. I want to support, encourage, and strengthen our staff who will remain here long after I’m gone. I want to enable you all, those of you who have walked this journey with me as prayer and financial supporters, to stay connected to the Lord’s work in Monte Plata after I leave. The work did not begin at my arrival and it does not end with my departure. Children and staff here still need to know the love of Christ, and we can all continue to be a part of that. God wants us to continue to be a part of that.
In closing, I humbly ask for three things.
1. I ask that you pray for me in my transition. I will leave Monte Plata in June, fly to Kentucky to leave my belongings with Mick, then fly to Arizona for an undetermined amount of time for medical care. I will also spend time at a Debriefing and Renewal Retreat in September in Colorado (5 days of counseling, rest, and renewal designed for missionaries leaving their mission fields.) These transitions will be far from easy and your prayers for a smooth transition out of Monte Plata, grace in saying goodbyes and finishing strong, and a peaceful re-entrance back into American life are much appreciated. Please pray for my health, also.
2. I ask that you consider making a financial gift in one or more of the following ways:
- A gift to my missionary account that will enable me to attend the DAR retreat (registration and airfare), buy airfare back to the States, and continue my insurance and monthly stipend for 3 months as I adjust to life in America and look for a job
- A gift to the ministry in Monte Plata that can be used for our construction projects and ministry needs with the children
- A decision to sponsor a child in Monte Plata for $39/month until they finish with our program (We have preschoolers through 7th graders who don’t have a sponsor. Could you sponsor a 7th grader for their final year? Could you sponsor a younger child for several years as they grow?)
3. I ask that you remember the children of Monte Plata daily in your prayers. Pray for their safety, their health, their futures, their families, their homes, their education, their teachers, their neighborhoods, and their country. Most importantly, pray for their salvation – that they would come to know their loving Savior and the hope that can only be found in Him. I ask that you would pray for them long after I’ve left Monte Plata.
Here’s an example: …our school community needs prayer as we have had two students in the past two weeks lose a parent. First, a third grade boy “E” lost his father in a motorcycle accident two weeks ago. His father was intoxicated and crashed his motorcycle into a pole. E is now back at school. Please pray for him. Also, last night, the mother of one of our sixth grade students, “K,” and ex-wife of one of our school staff members, “H,” was shot and killed by her boyfriend just down the street from our school. H has custody of his two daughters, K and C. The entire family is in shock. This woman was a member of our church for several years before her divorce. Please pray for both sides of this grieving family.
I welcome your emails and covet your prayers as I begin the last leg of my Monte Plata journey.
Love and blessings in Christ,