¡Feliz Navidad, mis amigos! Merry Christmas, my friends!
I hope that you are finding time to calm your (probably) very busy heart this Christmas season and rest in the joy and peace that comes with the knowledge that God chose to enter into our broken world with the intention of drawing us closer to Him. I find it amazing that He chose to come so humbly, so quietly, and so peacefully although He deserved a far grander entrance, far more recognition, and far less ridicule and shame. What a powerful lesson about life as a missionary and how we should serve and love our communities.
December in Monte Plata has been wonderfully cool(er) and also much busier than the first part of the school year. It has been so interesting to experience this holiday season with a light breeze, highs in the 80s, and 70% humidity. I laugh when I see Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and snowmen on display. It just seems so out-of-place! What does not seem out-of-place, however, is the nativity scene that is set up in one of the parks in the middle of town. It is a beautiful reminder of the true meaning of the season and I’m thankful that in this country we are free to talk about Christ’s birth and to represent it publicly without restrictions.
We are still lacking house parents for our two boys homes at Casa Monte Plata. Please continue praying for two Dominican Christian couples to feel called to join us in our ministry here. For now, Alex Wines, a North American missionary who works in our Child Sponsorship office, is serving as a house-dad for our 6 littlest boys. Please pray for strength, energy, patience, and wisdom as he raises these young boys on his own. Although he is doing a wonderful job, we know that it is best for our children to be raised by a Dominican couple who can provide a culturally-relevant example of a Christian marriage and family for them. Please pray for James and Rebekah Holt, the North American directors of Casa Monte Plata, as they continue to meet with pastors and churches all over the country, presenting our needs and asking for help. Please pray for me as I am over at Casa Monte Plata almost every day, helping to plan activities to keep the kids productively busy, cooking, cleaning, tutoring, and just being an extra set of eyes. The four of us missionaries often say that we are running on empty, or at least it seems like that. We desperately need more help. However, we know that we are not, in fact, empty. Thank the Lord for the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that fills us and enables us to keep serving every day.
This Thursday, we have our big Christmas party at school. All of our children will receive a gift that has been provided by a sponsoring church in America. They will also receive a large lunch complete with chicken, fruit, and maybe even apples, which are a big deal here for our kids. Our kids will also do Christmas presentations with their classes (songs, dramas, etc.). I am so excited to say that because of a very generous donor, I have the opportunity to spend the Christmas holiday with my family in Arizona! After the party, I will drive to Santo Domingo to spend the night with a missionary family there who lives close to the airport. I will be flying out on Friday, the 20th, and will be with my family for 8 days before I return to Monte Plata on the 29th. I am overwhelmingly excited to see my family and friends. The last time my entire family was together was in May at my sister’s graduation in Chicago, so it will be wonderful to be together at home this Christmas. However, I am also very nervous about the reverse culture-shock I’m sure I will experience. For example, we haven’t had water in our house for almost a week. Just taking a shower in my parents’ house will seem strange! I know I will be overwhelmed with all of the options and comforts that America provides. I have also been told that I will undoubtedly get sick as my stomach adjusts to American food again. Please pray for me to be encouraged as well as an encouragement to my supporters, my family, and my friends.
Thank you for your continued prayers, emotional and financial support, and encouragement as I have adjusted to life in Monte Plata and begun to serve here. What a wonderful privilege it is to bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ here. I am so thankful that He chose to join us here on Earth to bring light and life. He truly shines in the darkness when we choose to turn our gaze towards the light!
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5