Ethan has started 6th grade. Miriam has started 3rd. We have started our 4th year of homeschooling. I remember the initial transition, the first year that we did it. It was not easy. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. We moved to the Dominican Republic in November, 2016, but we started our first homeschool year in August, so everything would not be brand new all at once. There were tears. We have come a long way. It is so routine now that the days of push back only come once in a while. We have found curriculums that work best for us. Homeschool keeps us busy. We stick to a schedule and try to have mostly everything finished up by mid afternoon. We push hard in our curriculum knowing that when the busy season eventually starts back up with Solid Rock, we can ease up if necessary. We are resourceful. The other day we used rotten tomatoes as soccer goal post markers for gym class. I hope that those are the things that Ethan and Miriam will look back on and remember. I want them to learn to be content and creative, using all of the resources that they have around them. I hope that the DR culture and experiences that they have had help teach them that.
It has been a time of celebration. Not only did we successfully kick off another new homeschool year, but Ethan and Miriam were baptized on Sunday, August 9. They both wanted to outwardly express the acceptance of Jesus into their hearts. It was beautiful day to watch both Ethan and Miriam and a handful of other children be baptized in the pond at the farm where we used to live, just South of our church. It was also beautiful watching those same children go through the stepping stones classes to learn about what salvation is, why we do baptism, and what belonging to a church community means.
In other news, Jason surprised me with a trip back to the Pine Creek Area of Pennsylvania without the kiddos. Ethan and Miriam already had a planned camping trip with Gram and Pap to Poe Valley State Park. I had planned to take advantage of a few quiet days at home to do some work that required quiet computer time. On Friday, Jason and the kids put a blindfold on me and led me to the back of the van to surprise me with a note about the planned trip and some borrowed bicycles. We have been here since Saturday and go home tomorrow. It is the first getaway that we have taken without kids (unless you count the mission trip to the DR in February, 2016) since Ethan was born. We already rode over 60 miles in the past few days on the bike trail. We have also laughed a lot. Yesterday, Jason laughed at me hysterically as I had to run into the lake at the non-swim section full of weeds and sticks to save Zane from drowning. We were tossing sticks for him and he was doing great, but for some reason-he just started swimming straight up and down and was not moving anywhere. Maybe he would have figured it out, but I thought he was going to sink! Have you ever not been able to move your feet because you are stuck in the mud? It was so gross!
And all that work that I planned to do while I had extra quiet time? I am still getting it done. There is an internet connection here at the cabin and I brought my computer with me. Jason likes to sleep in, and I am an early riser. I finished revising a grant proposal for the home office yesterday. It was not a super difficult task, but it had been on my to-do list for longer than I would have liked. It just required time to think. Often, I do not get that opportunity in our small apartment because there is really no place to escape to for peace and quiet. I also recently finished our Amway grant proposal and submitted it. Please pray that Amway continues to support our Child Nutrition Program in big ways. By talking to Dr. Jazmin on a regular basis, I know that more and more hungry and malnourished children are showing up on our clinic steps in El Cercado. COVID-19 has created more economic hardships and food scarcity in some homes. I use the word some because I am not in the DR to estimate how many, but I know that it is happening based on all of the conversations that I have had with our Dominican staff and partners. Our Dominican partners have also told me that the clinic in San Juan is super busy. It is difficult to tell that the country is in the middle of a pandemic based on how many patients are showing up at the clinic. Those were the words that were relayed to me. I am glad that they are doing so well. Please pray for wisdom and for a shield of protection around both of our clinic sites as they serve the needs of the communities in very tangible ways.
I am looking forward to the Rice and Beans Challenge week starting this Sunday and I encourage you to read the devotional that goes along with the week. I had the blessing of organizing it and asking not only our staff, but also teammates to contribute. There are so many beautiful words that are written from the hearts that draw you close to God. I will also be hosting a Zoom call on Wednesday, August 26 @ 7 p.m. Pastor Enol will lead us with his devotional and we will have a time of updates about SRI and its programs including the CNP, the current state of the DR with COVID, and a time for questions and answers. Many of our fellow Dominicans will be on the call. Join us!
I have been asked to teach a 6-week English class to Dominicans via Zoom starting at the end of the month. I am looking forward to it as it will give me another way to connect to the culture and its people even though I am so far away. Do you know how many sounds the English vowel combinations make? Ouch! I always feel so terribly bad for English learners who need to learn phonetics and pronunciation of all those blends!
I have reached out to any team that is currently scheduled up until the end of January. If you have been a medical team leader before, you know that the planning emails arrive 6-9 months ahead of your scheduled team dates. We do not want to get too far ahead of things with all of the uncertainty with the pandemic, but we do plan on hosting teams again and feel that it is important to still connect early so that proper planning can take place.
Jason has been keeping his hands busy. As many of you know, he needs to have projects, or he goes stir crazy. We praise God that he has not had any problems finding ways to be useful and helpful to so many others during this Stateside time. From bathrooms to drywall to hardwood floors to fascia and soffit-these are the things that have kept him busy. He also spends a good amount of time maintaining our garden which really has been a marvelous project for us all to take on as a family. Homemade pizza made with homemade pizza sauce from garden fresh tomatoes—mmm mmm good.
I ask you to pray for the passport renewal process for Ethan and Miriam. We realized that their passports expire in May, 2021. After further investigation and conversations with the home office, we thought that now would be the ideal time to send them in for renewal. We sent them in on Thursday, August 6th. At the courthouse, they told us that it could be a several-month process. We know that there are delays because the passport offices were shut down with COVID, but I really hope that they do not take several months to come back. We want to be ready to head back to the DR when God tells us that it is time to head back there.
I have one last praise. I had asked you awhile back to pray for dentist appointments for both Miriam and Ethan. Miriam now has an expander in her mouth, making more room for her future teeth and preparing her mouth for future braces. Ethan will be getting braces on August 24th. We praise God that both can get the care that they need. Please continue to pray for the physical discomfort that these treatments bring.
We thank you all for your prayers and continued support through it all!!