Merry Christmas ( a day late!) and Happy New Year to all. Monchy and I enjoyed watching Magdalena complete her Advent flannel graph calendar and make a birthday cake for Baby Jesus on Christmas morning. It was fun to watch her count down the days until Baby Jesus was born! And we celebrate this birth STILL, remembering how humbly our Savior arrived in this world and how humbly He lived. It reminds me to stay simple, which is not always easy in December.
One simple pleasure that I have is watching Magdalena in the campos. As I’ve previously shared, Madi often goes along to El Cercado with me and Tio (Uncle) Elias. While I work in the clinic, the two of them visit family in La Guama and traipse through the mountains. This past month Madi has enjoyed picking avocados and oranges on her great grandmother’s land. She also eats huge plates of rice and beans at her great-aunt’s house, learns how to harvest black beans, has her hair braided or put into darling ponytails, watches sugar cane be chopped down, and hikes through the land with Elias. Every night I pray together with Magdalena. She has just started saying her own prayers and up to now she has thanked Jesus for Tio Elias with every single prayer. I am incredibly grateful for our super supportive family here who pour into my daughter’s life and give her opportunities that are priceless. When I drop off Elias and Madi in La Guama, I watch them hike up the dirt road to Tia’s house and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving that she can have these marvelous times making memories.
Monch and I celebrated our 4th Anniversary earlier this month with a quick trip to Bayahibe. I never take the beautiful ocean and beaches in the DR for granted and it was incredible to sit in the mornings and watch the boats float by on the stunning Caribbean Sea.
We also went to the annual “Prospectos Firmado” baseball game in San Juan this past week. 7 years ago I took pictures of Monch and I at this very same game (see below!!!) It’s funny to think that 7 years later here we are again! I have to laugh at the hijinks that happen during this game, which is more of a social occasion than a serious game. It’s the baseball players from San Juan who have signed with major league teams versus signed players from Bani or Santo Domingo. There are at least 15 signed players in San Juan, with 3 of them (Jean Segura, Gerson Bautista, and Fernando Romero) playing at a Major League level and the others making their way up through the Minor League system. Here is a picture of us 7 years ago, and then this week, including Magdalena and Monchy with Fernando Romero (pitcher for the Twins).
I was also able to finish the biannual Amway report for the Child Nutrition Program. We are proud to report that over 90% of the children in the program have gained weight, height and head circumference over the last 6 months. We also were happy to see that our attendance percentages were much improved with only 7.8% of our children missing a monthly appointment. With improved attendance comes improved educational opportunities for the caregivers, which helps our outcomes tremendously. Although working with statistics isn’t easy for me, I look forward to seeing how our numbers compare and contrast and I was quite pleased with our numbers for this report.
And it’s time to look forward to January, which begins the busy surgical (and barrio!) season. We’ve been in the midst of preparation and promotion, preparing the patients and the pharmacy and the clinic for the upcoming onslaught of teams. That leads me to some news which I’ve been reticent to share publicly, knowing how emotional it has been for me.
I find it incredibly difficult and also exciting to write the following words; Monchy, Magdalena, and I will be ending our time of service with Solid Rock in the Dominican Republic and moving back to Pennsylvania in June.
While I love what I am doing here, it has become increasingly clear to me that God is bringing us to PA to support our family there and dig some roots in Pennsylvania. I’ll be honest and say that this was certainly not what I thought was going to happen next year but I also have a peace about our decision.
With this peace comes great emotion. San Juan is our home. I have been a part of this ministry for 9 years (as of December 22!) and grown into this position as it is today. It’s so hard to think about leaving it and I have no words to think of how it will be to say goodbye to our Dominican family here. It’s also exciting to think of Magdalena (and Monchy and I!) growing in relationships with stateside family. Please pray for us as we continue in this next 6 months and transition. My goal is to be intentional with our time here and leave WELL, meaning that we continue with good communication in our ministry as we seek and train others, continue to grow relationships and share Jesus Christ, and honestly do a good job in my work and not “fade” as the emotions continue to grow and the departure nears.
I guess I knew somehow that my heart would always belong in two places but I also can’t believe how sad it feels to know that I will be leaving one and how exhilarating it feels to know I’ll be arriving at another. I wonder if that is how Jesus felt on earth with us. We covet your prayers and I look forward to seeing many of you again on US soil in June 2019.
I cannot thank you enough for the amazing opportunity you have afforded us and the continuous prayer, emotional and financial support. As stated above, we are still serving in San Juan currently and will serve until June 2019. I greatly appreciate your continued support during the rest of our time here and really hope to stay in contact longterm as well. Until June, we look forward to the teams arriving and our opportunities to continue to dive into life here in San Juan de la Maguana. I have never ever taken this life, this beauty, this opportunity to serve and be served for granted and I plan on soaking in and sucking the juice out of these precious moments. Lately I’ve finished my nightly prayers with Magdalena with the Lord’s Prayer. I have ended it with “For yours is the Kingdom and the power and glory forever, Amen”. I’ve had to remind myself that This Life,( MY life), is for HIS KINGDOM, not mine. The power and glory forever goes to HIM. May His power and glory be demonstrated every single day through us, despite us, and because of us as we seek to Follow Him More.
May the Baby in the Manger FILL YOUR HEART today and always.