Friday, July 10, 2015

Life Lately--June Edition

I feel like June was such a blur. With the end of school came so much busyness, yet so much joy. Bible School began on Wednesday nights. We are doing a science-y theme and Margaret and I get to play scientists and do an object-type lesson each week with the kiddos. 
We are spending our evenings with the cross country team....Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are full of practice, quick dinners, and lots of family time because of it. I love this sport and summer workouts may be my favorite part of the whole season.
We celebrated with our precious friends the one-year-old birthday of Liam. We've loved Liam since before he was born and he added such a precious and unique aspect as the first baby born into our friend group. He has no idea yet just how loved he is by so many!
This year's cross country time has been "improved upon" by the addition of morning strength and conditioning at Velocity. about hard!
This precious kiddo and her mama visited for a couple days this month and we went to see Frozen on Ice!!!! (More on that in a couple of days). I love spending time with family and it was special to be with just the Barnes girls for a couple days.
Morgan came with us to Frozen on Ice.
We prepped for TWO mission trips. Baltimore was incredible and the Dominican Republic was laborers. Read about them here and here.
We celebrated our June friends' birthdays (shout out Micah, Michael, and Andi) by the pool and tried to savor the time we had together as friends, with some of us scattering all over the globe in the month of July.
 Baltimore trip happened.
Between the two mission trips, we took Live It local and did ministry at our nursing home. In July, we will host block parties, and do several other Live It Locally missions projects.

We had to purchase a battery and alternator for my car. God is so good in the easy times and in the hard times, and financially, we have been so blessed with "just enough" our entire marriage. I will never forget to be grateful for every dollar.
And I ended the month by packing and heading out to the Dominican, which, you've heard all about!

July should be full of lots of school-doing and getting back to normal, if that is even a possibility. 

Can't want to share so much more with you over the next few weeks! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Live It -- DR

If you didn't read yesterday's post, go now. It is the beauty of the culture, the life changing parts. It is the story of my journey and how I felt truly convicted by the efforts of the precious laborers at the center. is the nitty gritty of what we did day in and day out.

I could write for weeks answering the question, "but what did you DO?" or the question "Tell me about what you guys did down there." So, I'm going to try and give you the shorter and sweeter version.

First of all, my public service announcement: Our church, Calvary, partnered with an organization, Revision, for this trip. The fact that the details and scheduling and all of the administrative "stuff" was taken care of by Revision was a precious blessing. Dad, Tyler, and Travis were able to go on this trip as laborers and not as administrators, which I know blessed them as well as impacted our team positively to have the staff of our church working hand in hand with the laypeople.

We arrived in the Dominican on Friday afternoon. We ate some delicious airport pizza and headed to the "camp". Logistical meetings, unpacking, settling in and swimming wrapped up our Friday night. The place we stayed was here. Lets be a little honest--corporate pictures tend to over glamorize a location :). But, it was no worse than some camps I've stayed in in the US...and it was approximately 10,000 times nicer than many of the "homes" (and I use that term loosely) that we visited this week. On the bus from the airport to the house, one of our translators, Caesar, quizzed me on my Spanish. We're talking 3-4 hours. It was intense, but turned out to be SUCH a blessing to get a refresher in the language. The amount of the language that I remembered and that I was able to use to communicate was a gift from the Lord.

Each morning, we met downstairs in an open-air common room and ate breakfast at 7. We had private devotions at 7:30 and then a communal worship time at 8 before heading off for our daily activities. It was so special to see many members of our group step up and lead in ways that may have pushed their comfort zones. Kelly, Jamie, Kaylee, Nicole, and Andi all led morning devotions. Mom and I led kids club time, Margaret did a women's devotion, Tyler, Travis, and Stephanie led some devotions on Sunday in the community, Chase and Morgan gave their testimonies, and dad preached with a translator. Others stepped out of their comfort zones and shared stories one on one, prayed with community members or familia groups, and simply grew in their own faith by doing these things. 

Group devo time:

Saturday was sort of a ministry prep day. We started on some construction (yall...that was sooooo hard! The dirt was very similar to red clay. All of the tools were hand tools. The blocks were 15" cement blocks, and the mortar was rocky/shelly from the beach sand they added.). It was neat to me to hear Joey Carter say that everything they were doing was similar in methodology to what we did in the US and that the building we were building was going to be structurally sound.
We saw the church and the center and set up for kids club, women's ministry, and our outreach for the following day. A fun thing that happened that day was the ability to help set up for a Dominican wedding that was taking place at the church that afternoon!

Saturday evening was our organizational meeting. We were placed into "familia" groups of 4-5 people that would rotate together between service activities--kids club, women's ministry, construction, and home visits. Each group would have an opportunity to do each activity at least one time.

Sunday was a interesting day, to say the least. Because they have church at night in this particular community, our schedule was --visit a beach with some of the church leaders/staff, lunch/shower, family outreach in the community, church. The day went that way for 90% of our group. However, Morgan and Travis stepped on poisonous sea urchins at the beach. Randomly (or divinely), the proprietor of the camp we were at had a son who had experience removing urchin quills from people (WHAT?!)  Essentially, Dominican surgery took place for FOUR hours on Sunday afternoon. Morgan, Travis, mom, and I (Yall-I was their translator so that the four translators could be at the outreach) missed the Sunday afternoon outreach, but arrived at the church literally minutes before the service started. Did I mention that God is so good? and on a personal note, that was the hottest and worst day for temperature. You all know that I have a heat sensitivity and had been praying that the Lord would protect me...and I missed the worst day out in the sun because I (of all people) was translating for our group and the local "medic". Church was a precious time of bilingual worship. People were crammed in the building and spilling out the sides, listening on a speaker that was set outside the door.

We could see on this first day how God was working in our group. Stephanie had prayed for God to stretch her--she ended up having to lead the kids portion of the outreach because mom was with us. I had prayed that God would use my talents and protect me from the heat--there I was translating in the "shade" (ish). Only women showed up to the adult part of the outreach and so Margaret was able to give her testimony and share with them while Travis was with us back at the camp.

He knew the plans He had for us....

M, T, and W morning were set up the same, with rotations from kids club, construction, women's ministry, and home visits so I will talk about each of the events rather than each day.

Kids club was an adventure! We had around 100 kids each day--different kids, as the Compassion center wanted to be able to minister to all age groups, so Monday was young, Tuesday was like 8-9 year olds, Wednesday was a little older, and on Thursday, we had a sports camp for the teens.

We did a Bible School - type thing where we did the sports/armor of God theme, just like in Baltimore. We sang some Spanish songs with the kids (Alelu, Gloria a Dios--Hallelujah, Praise ye the Lord; Yo Tengo Gozo--I've got the joy; etc), we introduced the topic and our translators did an EXCELLENT job helping us to tell the Bible Story. I've already told you about Caesar, but Josef and Eunice were our kids club translators. They were so great. I just love their servant hearts and their willingness to labor for Jesus. I saw many children open their eyes to Jesus. It's about planting, watering, and growing seeds. We are so grateful to be able to have any part in the sharing of the gospel with these Compassion children and pray that they share the Good News with their siblings and friends who may not have been so fortunate to attend.
It's so hard to be picky with my pictures. Just know, there are 400 on my facebook page and over 200 on Revision's facebook page. Go find us!!!

The Women's ministry times were exhausting and yet the most invigorating times for me. We had planned t-shirt crafts and Calvary, several school staffs, and friends had blessed us abundantly with t-shirts. We had over 100 ready for our tote bag day and thousands of strips ready for our accessory day. Yall. We used every single piece of t-shirt. Not exaggerating. God multiplied and prepared for these women in such a way that we could not even be aware. Praise the Lord for Eunice and her, while exhausted, heart to translate for us.

Over 70 women came each day to participate in a craft (we could NOT have done this had the sacrificing men and teens in our familia groups not been willing to keep sometimes 30 newborn-1 year olds in two tiny rooms with no air and a language barrier. Let's go ahead and praise Jesus for the small blessing of nursery workers everywhere. Graciously, Josef translated for these workers). We got to love on, talk to, and just be intentional with these women. Margaret shared one day and I shared the other, but more than our devotion time--the time we could pour into these desperate, hard working, lonely, exhausted women meant the world to them and me. It was chaotic and it was a fantastically simple, yet amazing time.

Construction was Joey's area of expertise and Caesar was our translator most days. He also went on some home visits (when Nancy had to be out of town one day). Because of my and mom's administrative responsibilities, we were only able to do construction one day. I already mentioned that it was difficult, but Mackenzie says it was also a lot of fun! (Ha!) We built the walls for a new Compassion International center. They are building as they raise money for the center...and have been praying for it to come to fruition for ten years. Finally, ground is broken and some walls are up. I pray funds come quickly and the Lord provides a completed center for them to use.

Home visits were very similar to what you would do here in the states as visits...however, I never heard of a group being refused entry or a conversation. We got to pray with several community members and just love on people who needed it. Nancy primarily translated for the home visits and her heart of urgency for every person she meets to hear and believe the gospel was perfect for home visit ministry. I didn't take pictures inside people's homes, but here is some of the scenery we saw along the way:

On Wednesday afternoon, we got to play tourist. I was intrigued to see parts of Santa Domingo and how the city center is so much like the states (but a few decades ago). Christopher Columbus landed the Santa Maria on the DR and they are proud of this culture and history. We got to tour and see so much. You guys know I am a nerd, so this day was refreshing for me. That night we went out to eat as a team and took some pictures with the beautiful lighthouse and water behind us. We also went souvenir shopping on this afternoon. Mackenzie was intrigued by the cereal isle in the grocery store--corn flakes for miles .

Thursday was my second favorite part of the trip. We did a sports camp Thursday morning, then hung out with our new friends (ladies, kids, families), then had their mid-week worship service. The sports camp was geared toward middle- and high- school students (my heart!).

I got to be at the basketball court and even held my own (defensively). I was so proud to watch Mackenzie and Morgan on this day. They interacted with the teens, talked to them about how Christ is so much more important then basketball. Mack shared some of her story on the basketball court and Morgan shared in church that night. They make me so proud to see where they are in their walks with the Lord.

I spotted this lady in the congregation wearing one of her t-shirt hair bow creations. I had to sneak a picture :)

This evening, we also had to say goodbye to many of our new friends and see you later to them. We said see you later to our translators early the next morning, along with revision staff.

Please visit Revision US' facebook page or website for information on their organization and more pictures. They are desperate for your support--prayerfully and financially. Visit my facebook album for so many more photos of the trip. And visit Calvary's website to see how we are taking Live It principles and bringing them back home to Williamston.

This trip was stretching. It was difficult. I missed my hubby and the comforts of home. Yet, I didn't want to leave. This trip was everything I imagined and so much more. This trip was laborers...not just the kind I shared yesterday, but 24 hard working precious laborers from Calvary who bonded and grew together and worked HARD for the gospel of Christ. Not just these laborers, but four translators who desperately want their country and their community to come to know Jesus. Not just these four, but a staff of ReVision, Inc both in the US and DR who work tirelessly with communities to better their tangible lives as well as their spiritual. Laborers who gathered together for one week to make a difference in the Los Asises community. God is so good.

I ask that you pray for each and every one of these laborers. Pray that God will continue to stretch individuals and bless ministries. Pray that God would see the seed through to fruition and growth and that lives, communities, and a nation (or two) would be changed for the Glory of God. Pray desperately...the time is nigh.