It is hard to believe that it is the middle of July! I am currently writing this this blog without the background noises of Miriam and Ethan. On Sunday afternoon, Jason and I dropped them off at Camp Eder, a Church of the Brethren camp, outside of Gettysburg, PA. They were so excited to go this year and we quickly realized that they have a little community of friends there that they have come to know over the past few summers.
We have been stateside since June 21 and have been busy visiting friends and family, updating partners, completing ministry tasks, enjoying Pennsylvania native foods, and checking things off the summer bucket list. The summer bucket list included a drive west to Wisconsin to visit family and friends along the way. Ethan and Miriam thoroughly enjoyed playing with cousins and being spoiled by their aunt and uncle.
We will return to the DR on July 30 and will jump right back into on-the-ground team interactions and English home school.
As we prepared Ethan and Miriam’s things for a week at camp, we knew that we would need to borrow sleeping bags. There were some available at gram and pap’s house, but they have the older, heavier style. Therefore, we decided to ask to borrow by using our share-ads email communication through Buffalo Valley COB. Within a few days, we had several people offer up their lightweight sleeping bags for Ethan and Miriam to use during their week at Camp Eder. Awesomeness! End of story, right? Wrong!
On the way home from Wisconsin last week, we stopped at Wal Mart to purchase the last couple of items that they would need for camp. Jason realized that they had their sleeping bags at a low cost while the kids and I were shopping the clearance PJs to put together an outfit for the wacky PJ day. He came and asked, “Hey. Do you think we should just purchase 2 sleeping bags so that the kids have them each year for summer camp?” After some thought I responded, “No. I don’t think we need them.” Maybe I overthought the conversation too much, but later in the evening, I couldn’t help to analyze it a bit. We already had sleeping bags in hand for Miriam and Ethan to use at camp, yet we felt the tension to want to buy our own. We can’t take them with us to the DR because they would have no purpose there. Did we really need them? Nope.
I feel like we struggle with this tension a bit more when we are in the United States. A lot of it simply comes from the culture. In the DR, we see poverty. We see those that have very little. The US culture is a culture that encourages independence and self-reliance… a culture where more is considered better. But…. as followers of Jesus, we need to counter this culture. We need to push back against this tension. God doesn’t desire us to be independent. He created us to be in relationship with Him and in relationship with one other. This takes community. It takes giving. It takes receiving. It takes sharing. It takes humility.
Asking people to partner with us and support our family in the Dominican Republic has always been one of the most challenging parts of serving internationally for us. It means that we have to be vulnerable. It means that we have to be humble. It means that we have to be dependent. We have to depend on God to see us through financially. We have to trust that He is going to provide for us through His generous people. We have to completely trust His plan and we confess that it is not always easy. Sometimes we feel the “sleeping bag” tension and want to revert back to finding a way to be independent. But it does not work that way.. it simply doesn’t. We have to ask.
So humbly and with grateful hearts, we ask you to consider supporting our family while serving at Solid Rock International. We are currently in a season of finding partners to help us meet our monthly budget. This budget covers our housing, utilities, health insurance, food, basic needs, and school tuition and supplies for Miriam and Ethan. Would you consider committing to $30 a month to help us meet our budget? We would be grateful for any contribution that you can give.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I will leave you with a few extra pictures of cousin time!