I would like to start off by saying thank you to all of you that prayed us through the process of returning to the Dominican Republic. Everything came together in a way that assured me that you all were covering us in prayer. Our passports arrived with our visa stamps. Zane’s vet certification for international travel was cleared quickly. My family did an awesome job at organizing and packing up our apartment even though I was not a whole lot of help with one arm in a sling. Our flight was uneventful, and we arrived in the country on the same day as the thresher that Jason was expecting. The thresher and my family made it to San Juan on the same day that we flew into Santo Domingo. After so many obstacles that prevented us from returning to the DR for the past 11 months, touching down here felt marvelous.
Coming off strict pandemic restrictions in Pennsylvania, being here has felt somewhat surreal. We decided that in order to transition back, we were not going to be able to hide out in our house and not see anybody. We needed to be able to connect with friends and church family here. I am incredibly grateful that Jason and I were able to receive the vaccine before arriving, because it makes visiting others feel more comfortable. They are vaccinating at a rapid rate here in the DR as well. We have been able to connect with so many over the past 3 weeks. We have received visitors in our home and have gone and visited in their homes. I have eaten so much Dominican food! We have been attending worship services on a Sunday morning. Typically, there would be more opportunity to attend church activities, but with pandemic restrictions and curfews here, the church is currently only holding 1 service a week. I foresee the restrictions and curfews changing after holy week.
I have been able to visit our clinic in El Cercado twice since we arrived. With being gone for 11 months, I am doing a lot of listening and observing. Our staff and partners have done an amazing job at maintaining and fulfilling the ministry during our time of working remotely and I want to make sure that they continue to feel empowered to do that. I have had conversations with all the nurses and doctors in our clinic in San Juan. Their service to the population of San Juan area has been constant and unchanging. I am so grateful for their commitment to the clinic, God, and His ministry.
Our family has helped our Solid Rock staff prepare kits each week for community visits. It is a fun and easy way for Ethan and Miriam to get involved and feel like they are also part of the ministry. Last week, Jason went with our staff to do the visits. This week, I was able to go. We alternate so that one of us stays back with the kids to complete our homeschool day. Watching our ministry assistants care for the communities and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ is inspiring. I love listening to the way that they present God’s love and God’s plan for salvation.
Tyler and Jeff are also in San Juan now. We had a full staff meeting the other day where we shared the possibility of when North American teams will resume, what it may look like when they do resume, and how grateful we are for all of them and the work that they do. In many ways, it does not feel like we have not all been in the same country working together over the past year. The banter feels the same. The way that we all just jump right in and work together feels the same. The desire for all of us to serve one another feels the same. It is something so unique that there really are not sufficient words to explain it.
In addition to working with the programmed ministry events, we have had other opportunities to serve. Jason has been helping Euclides with the construction of his home whenever possible. His family needs to move out of the house that they are currently renting. Jason has also been working on getting all our vehicles operating properly again. There were dead batteries and nonfunctioning air conditions among other problems. Unfortunately, we did arrive too late for the harvest of habichuelas (red beans) to test the thresher, but Jason has had a lot of conversations with farmers and he believes that he will have other opportunities to test it soon on other crops(corn, black beans, etc.).
Our home continues to be a place to deepen relationships and serve as well. All the neighborhood kids are soo exciting that their bicycle repairman (Jason) is back. We also loan out our bicycles, scooters, and baseball equipment so that all the kids can play together. There is usually a baseball game everyday around 4 p.m. (after the hottest part of the day passes) and a bike ride to follow. We hosted a firepit in the street the other night where we fed all the neighbors homemade pizza and smores. My kitchen turned into a cooking school very quickly as both Miguel’s mom (Ethan’s amigo) and Elizabeth’s mom (Miriams amiga) wanted lessons on how to make the pizza.
The opportunities to serve here are endless. I do not forget, however, how God also used us in Pennsylvania for the time that we were there. I know that he had a purpose for our time there and I do not regret being able to deepen relationships with our Pennsylvania family and friends. I usually have awe moments when I attend a worship service and I hear so many different languages worshipping God. I know that we are all connected in Christ and it does not matter what countries we are in.
I mentioned above that we have continued with our homeschool. The kids did get a week break as we were packing up in PA and unpacking here in San Juan. Miriam has jumped right back into her ballet classes here. She is super excited because we arrived in time for her to prepare for a show in June. I was glad because she was extremely disheartened in Pennsylvania when they started doing costume measuring for the show that they were going to prepare for there, but I knew that she would not be able to participate there because of our plans to return to here. Ethan will be resuming drum lessons here as well. We already found a private teacher, a youth from the church, that is willing to work with him. I continue with my physical therapy exercises every day. I have been out of my sling for 2 weeks and I have gained a tremendous amount of range of motion back. I have been meeting with a therapist online about once a week to check in and get new exercises for progression. Jason got into reading over the months that we were in Pennsylvania so when he is not busy with his hands, he will sit down and relax with a book. We have also continued to connect with our small group Bible study from BVCOB on Wednesday evenings. Zane! Zane has been so funny to watch because he exhausts himself watching every person that walks by and tries to keep up with the neighborhood kids.
We are so grateful for all of you that continue to pray for us, support us, and encourage us. Blessings!
- Pray for us as we continue to transition. As much as I love this culture, it can feel exhausting. It is hard to catch “quiet” moments in this house. There are always a lot of unexpected visitors stopping by. Our brains (well everyone’s brain except for Ethan’s) also are a little bit slower in producing Spanish. My understanding has not left me at all, but sometimes I feel myself searching the depths of my brain to find the correct vocabulary word to respond with.
- Continued prayers for our residency process. Now that we have entered the country with our visas, our files have been submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to complete the rest of the residency process.
- For continued ministry opportunities.
- For our family and friends in the States that must adjust to not having us physically in the US anymore.
- For my family as we approach the 1-year anniversary of my brother’s passing.