The middle is the best part. Think about it! Take Cadbury Creme Eggs for an example. It’s the ooey-gooey, extra sugary (it’s like what, 500 grams of sugar?), real egg resemblance, and way that your tongue can slide right in and suck it out that makes it the perfect middle. Everyone knows that the best part of a Caramelo is the chewy caramel in the middle. And the Peanut Butter Cup? It would just be plain ‘ol chocolate if it was missing it’s middle. Marketing agencies have been using the middle of things for eons to market their products… How many licks does it take to get to the center of a…. (you fill it in.. I don’t want it stuck in my head all day!)
Our family lives in the middle. We live in the middle of two cultures. We live, serve, and spend most of our time in the Dominican Republic and we try to blend (mostly) into the culture, but it is impossible to fully blend with our US culture heritage. Ok.. the red hair and blonde hair make it hard too. When we are in the US, we try to blend (mostly.. ok- maybe it is more like sort-of) into the culture, but it is impossible to dismiss our DR cultural lessons and food cravings. I mean really US folks- you call that thing a pineapple? In reality- we don’t really “fit” 100% in either place- so we are in the middle.
I’ve read a lot of articles written by other international service workers about this middle space and it is a super common place for most of us to be. I’ve read about the negative effects of being in the middle space and I’ve read about the positive effects of being in the middle space.
I had an epiphany moment last week when the last summer team rolled out as I reflected on our busy weeks since we hit DR soil at the end of July. I really enjoy being in the middle. The middle IS the best part! It’s like living in the center of the extra-sugary Cadbury Creme Egg and absorbing one little sugar granual at a time. Our family gets to work beside, learn from, experience, and minister to Dominicans and Dominican culture. AWESOME PEOPLE!! Our family gets to work beside, learn from, experience, and minister to Americans and American culture. AWESOME PEOPLE! Just last week, I prayed over an older-Dominican lady who had a healing diabetic ulcer during a home-visit through our mobile clinic. Our ministry assistant nailed translating every single word of Pastor Enol’s mini-sermon/education session to the Dominican lady for the American nursing student that was there. Five minutes later I was asking that same nursing student about her faith journey. The following evening, Jason and I were asked to share our testimony to the whole group. Seriously- being in the middle- it has its challenges-but oh how I love the chewy caramel opportunities that it provides! It’s right where God wants us to be.
While we spent a tremendous amount of time at the guesthouse and out with the teams during the last 3 weeks of summer teams, we are now in a 5-week time of no teams. That may give you the idea that we are kicking back with our fruit smoothies and paper umbrella straws, but I assure you that it has been nothing like that! We have a list of projects that we want to tackle before the busy fall groups start again and we were all geared-up to start tackling that list on Monday when we dropped our kiddos off at their first day of Dominican school.
But… Jason started with a high fever, headache, body aches, and a rash on Monday at lunch time. These are all signs of Dengue fever which has been on the rise here recently. It is a virus carried by mosquitoes. On Tuesday, I took Jason directly to our clinic after dropping the kids at school and we got the appropriate lab-work and waited for instruction from Dr. Canario. Dr. Canario advised: rest, hydration, Tylenol, repeat labs, and a consult every day. Dengue affects the levels of platelets and white blood cell levels. Jason’s platelet levels started at 196 on Tuesday and dropped to 123 as of yesterday. We had labs drawn today, but are still awaiting the results (our clinic is closed today, so we had to use a different lab- boo!) Throughout the week, the kids continued their normal activity of DR school, English home school, soccer (new,exciting find for Ethan-he is loving it), ballet (Miriam), and music lessons (Ethan). I would drop the kids at school and take Jason directly to the clinic. I was sleep-deprived and exhausted from single-parenting it and playing nurse to Jason. We ran IVs for several days just to keep him hydrated. (I am exhausted just thinking about it.. thank God I finally got some Zzzzzs last night). Jason still has the IV in and I have been changing out bags of fluid at the house, but I feel like he may have finally turned the corner. He is eating lighter foods today and has not had high fever or terrible pain for about 16 hours (hence- why I got some shut-eye last night). I am hopeful that the labs will start to trend upward as he takes in more food and the virus wears off. He must get labs drawn until the platelets show that they are going back up. So our “week off” and first week of DR school did not go exactly how I pictured it would… Did I mention that Ethan got stung by a bee yesterday and that I accidentally left the lights on in the truck the other night when I took Ethan to soccer practice and had a dead battery? *Sigh* It was a rough week. But ya know what… had this happened 3 years ago when we first moved here… I probably would have freaked out and moved back to the US. Honestly, it is in times like these that I realize how much we have learned, how many resources we have here, and how many people from here and from the US care about us.
We are so blessed to be in the middle. Maybe God used this last week to teach us all something. Maybe it was Satan throwing punches. I don’t really know nor do I think that human beings can fully understand the purpose of some life circumstances from this side of heaven. But, I do know that we belong in the middle and that we have no desire to give up the blessings that we receive from serving here. Oh and for the record- Cadbury Creme Eggs are one of my FAVORITE candies… but I stopped receiving an Easter basket when my kids were born. For some reason- they started to get the baskets! Nobody really ever explained to me why..
I’ll leave you with a few prayer requests:
- For continued progress to a normal state of health for Jason
- For the school year for all of us as the kids go to DR school and Jason and I tag-team to facilitate their home-school curriculum.
- For the upcoming fall teams and the ministry work that they will participate in.
- For God to be glorified through our family.
Thanks for praying!