At the beginning of my brother’s funeral, the song, “The Dance” by Garth Brooks was sung as the opening tune by a talented singer. I feel confident that this piece is used at many funerals, as it is a song that focuses on making memories without focusing on an endpoint.
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I’d have to miss the dance.
As followers of Jesus, we know that our life is not left to chance, and that there is a God who has a purpose for everything. I am so thankful for that.
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
I can honestly say that I am glad that I didn’t know how long we would be spending time in the United States when we departed the DR in March to travel back for Michael’s passing. I am glad that I didn’t know the way it all would go. I am glad that I didn’t know that a global pandemic was going to shut down the world. I am glad that I didn’t know that we would have so many team cancelations. I am glad that I didn’t know that I would have to see pictures of our ministry assistants visiting communities without me. I am glad that I didn’t know that I would have to do all of my communication and ministry tasks from the US. I could have missed the pain, the internal mourning that a missionary experiences after being outside of his/her host country for a period of time. I could have missed the pain, missing my friends, my pillow, my sheets, and everything else in my home in the DR. I could have missed the pain, not being present for mango season. I could have missed the pain, longing for being at the guesthouse with teams, the devotions, the smiles, the feeling of working together for Jesus. But I’d have to miss the dance.
The dance was prepared for my family and I by God. So, while I am glad that I didn’t know how long we were going to be Stateside, I have found an inner peace to being here. I had to work through a lot of feelings to get there. Maybe I am not quite totally there yet. But, we are here and we have been blessed by the dance and the memories that we are making.
On August 26, I enjoyed hosting the Zoom devotional evening with some of our North American supporters, Pastor Enol, and some of our other Dominican staff. I was excited to hear that it looks like SRI is going to meet its fundraising goal of $20,000 this year for the Rice and Beans Challenge. Our Child Nutrition Program is such an important one, perhaps now, more than ever.
We are rocking through our homeschool curriculum and I continue to be grateful for a highly organized curriculum and all the resources that are out there. Because the kids are not currently doing dual schooling (Lucille Rupp in the DR and English homeschool), we have added in some extras to make our school time well rounded. I am not a music teacher nor an art teacher, but I have found easy ways to incorporate these into our weeks. Our music curriculum has us studying theme songs from movies. We recently studied the theme song from the Pink Panther. Now, every time we have music class, Ethan and Miriam ask to watch an old school Pink Panther episode. We recently visited a pick-your-own fruit orchard and were able to come home with a bounty of apples and pears. For several weeks, we had a “borrowed” black snake for a pet. Ethan really enjoyed caring for it. I was not quite as excited! My favorite part of the day is our morning devotion time where we read through and discuss an email devotional that has some challenging topics.
Ethan had been asking about joining a sports team. Obviously, there were so many cancellations with the coronavirus during the spring season that it was not an option at the time. We checked into AYSO for the fall, but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Through a church member, we were able to connect to a Little League fall baseball team. Ethan has never played organized baseball before, only street ball in the Dominican. I am enjoying watching hm gain some skill and learn more strategy about the game even if he does not want to take pointers from his mom. I guess all those years of playing traveling softball doesn’t qualify me as a baseball teacher.
Miriam has been participating in virtual ballet with her Dominican ballet school. I am glad that she can still connect with them, but it is a challenge to learn the moves via video. I have chatted with her Dominican teacher and she doesn’t think that she will be returning to in-person instruction until at least January. She is diabetic and is trying to be extra careful. This is a bonus for us because it means that Miriam is not missing studio time there. We have found a local studio in Mifflinburg that is doing in-person instruction so Miriam has started there. She is excited to get back into the studio.
Over Labor Day weekend, we went camping at Sinnemahoning State Park with Jason’s parents. We enjoyed some bike riding on the local trails, relaxing by the fire, and learning some local history. We were able to watch a historical video about a dam break in the early 1900s that killed 78 people. We also went to the site of the old dam ruins and were able to walk around the broken structure.
God has provided for us in big ways in the financial category while we are Stateside. We have wonderful supporters, but our monthly stipend does not stretch nearly as far on this side. We are also still paying our DR rent and utility bills. Jason continues to help my dad with drywall work and to take on other projects. We were able to get a second vehicle at the price of $100. It’s not a Lamborghini, but it gets from point A to point B and for that we are so grateful! The garden has provided us with lots of fresh food and has kept the grocery bill costs lower.
Four words: Minute to Win It.
Our dance will continue in the upcoming weeks as we look forward to visiting Grand Caverns in Virginia. We have a friend that is a tour guide there and he is going to give us a private tour. From Virginia, we head out to Indiana for an in-person North American staff meeting/retreat. When we all said our goodbyes to each other in March, we had no idea that we would not be seeing each other again for many months. Video call meetings are great, but they are not quite the same. On the way to Indiana, we plan to take a school field trip to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Because we are headed in that direction, it just feels right to take advantage of the opportunity. With schools just starting again, we are hopeful that it will not be too busy there. We also look forward to another camping trip in October to Sinnemahoning State Park. I am hopeful that the leaves will be mostly changed by the time we go. This will be our first fall foliage in 4 years.
We praise God that Ethan and Miriam’s passports have come back. We have now been pushing our attorney in the Dominican to get our visa process done. I have written about how incredibly painful and slow this process has been. I do not like to nag people, but it seems that I simply am going to have to do that in order to get anywhere. We were planning a fall trip to head to the DR to check in on our house and do some ministry related work. Dr. Canario has recommended that the missionary staff wait until November to travel at this point. While we were disappointed to hear this news, we understand his concern and will follow his recommendation. Our first team is currently scheduled for the first week in January.
- Please pray for our Dominican staff as they have been visiting communities about once a week. Pray that we continue to support them from afar in the best ways that we can.
- Pray for our visa process. I cannot stress enough how much we need prayers for this.
- Pray for our upcoming travel and in-person time with North American staff in Indiana. Pray that our time together would bring glory to God.
- Pray for Miriam and Ethan. We are making great memories together. However, they have also gone through a lament process during this season and sometimes they do not know how to express their emotion. We have had some episodes of intense anger come out. Help Jason and I as we parent through this.
- Pray for this world. Pray that God’s provision would fall upon those who need it. Pray that people would turn away from their selfish ways and would seek Him.
We deeply appreciate all your support and prayers.