Posted by Shawn on April 18, 2012
We have heard a lot about change over the last few years. Sometimes when people promise change it is not what we want to hear and other times it is. Currently we have been seeing many changes and very quickly, but if God is orchestrating the change we know it is for good.
We have been praying for a while that God would reveal His plan for us hear after moving to the capital. We began to even question ourselves and ask “did we really hear from God?” We know we can learn from all things, our failures and successes, but when you believe you hear something from God and things don’t seem to be working the way you expect, it can make you wonder.
I know from the scriptures that many “great” men of God have had their times of “wondering.” You can read in the Psalms where David cries out to God wondering why things are going so bad, why his enemies seem to be conquering and why the enemy is getting away with mocking God. So I know I am not alone in my struggles of faith and understanding. God seems to let us make the step into the unknown to help us trust Him. I believe He lets us struggle in an area so that our eyes can be opened to another area of our lives that needs to be changed. I know for me, the last year plus has brought me to a realization to how I have taken for granted my wonderful wife and how I have missed so much of my children’s lives. I have a lot of work to do and I am asking God to help me make the changes in my thinking and my doing.
I love God and I am so thankful that He allows us to make mistakes and has the patience to put up with me.
Posted by Shawn on March 8, 2012
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
(Psalm 65 ESV)
I find that the more I praise God, the more I find peace through all things. We have all heard pastors talk about praising God in all circumstances and we find it easier said than done. However, if we start by praising God everyday in the good or the bad, we will find our strength in Him.
Can you give me a reason not to praise God? Is there something that He didn’t know that would happen in your life? We have no excuse, Jesus suffered so that we might have life!
Problems and Solutions
Posted by Shawn on February 22, 2012
One thing I really like to do is problem solve or fix things. I know that sometimes I might actually be creating problems too, but I am human right?
Since we have been here we haven’t had any bookshelves and being homeschoolers this can be an issue. We brought over many books and still had others bring more, but this has only caused me to get more in trouble with my wife for not having bookshelves ready.
Well, finally I am building some shelves, but I had some problems to solve. First, I have 2 saws – a circular saw and a reciprocating saw. Neither saw is really designed for building furniture. I also am short a router, sander, tablesaw, and so many basic tools that I am use to using to build furniture. Secondly, how do I make them unique, functional, and mobile? Third, very limited amount of money to spend on the project at hand.
Well here is a little solution I came up with: boxes. I am making small wood boxes to support the shelves. Now we could also use a coffee table and some end tables, so I am designing those with basically the same concept. The boxes can be stacked in different configurations. They can stack horizontal or vertical giving two different heights to a shelf. I found while making the shelves, that at 32 inches wide it didn’t quite look right to have a box at both ends, so I used one and used screws to help stabilize them.
Here are some pictures to show the process and concept:
First the problem – too many books, no shelves. (One part of the solution in the corner.)
The first one is 32″ wide and is ready for the books.
Here are examples of how they can be configured:
This one has a shorter shelf on top, it would look better if it was even shorter.
Concept coffee table using the same boxes:
So you might be asking how this fits in to being a missionary. Well, first we are still a family and we live in a house and still homeschool. There is a normal part of living no matter where you live. Secondly, how do we solve problems. Do we let things stop us or do we find solutions and move forward. One of the things I am learning on the field is to keep pressing on. There have been many challenges, but through Christ I know there are solutions and positive results of each of those challenges. I do believe what the Bible says in Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Harvest Connections – Connecting Missions
Posted by Shawn on February 16, 2012
While we were living in Sosua there was a group started to help bring together the different missions that operate in that area. The group is called Harvest Connections.
There are a couple of goals within this group, one being that each mission group knew about the others. This in turn can help them share resources, which this has already taken place in a couple on instances. Another goal was to help connect those wanting to serve in the area with the mission groups already working there.
Well, I volunteered to build the website at www.harvestconnections.org which is finally ready to show others. There are some further plans for the back end of the website to help the mission groups communicate needs to each other, and on the front end to help categorize in different ways.
Take a look and let me know if it has any errors or if you have an idea that might improve it.
Lord What Do I Do?
Posted by Shawn on February 15, 2012
Today we visited a small “feeding” center run by a local. I don’t know all of the details, but I hear the land is hers. There is a small block building used for church services and attached to that is a wood wall kitchen. They have a couple of tables and stacks of plastic chairs. Pretty minimal and rustic in many ways.
Yet, Veronica feeds some of the children in the batey.
She only does it about 3 times a week and by the looks of it some of these kids don’t eat that much in between time. You can tell from the attitude of some of the older kids that this place is like a “home”, somewhere safe, where they know they are loved.
This was our second time visiting, but this time it was even harder. My heart was breaking at the sites of the wounds, the malnutrition and the hurt that they were experiencing. There was one boy there whose skull was somewhat deformed and it didn’t appear to be debilitating, but he also had an open wound on his foot that the flies were attracted to. This infection, if not treated, can lead to something much worse.
When you see children in situations like this, what can you do?
Please pray for Veronica and the feeding center. Another couple have taken on the role of having a new kitchen built and are working on raising the funds. Pray also for the money needed for the food. Praise God someone has stepped up to do something and through this many children will hear the gospel and see the gospel worked out in practical ways!
Moving in the Dominican Republic
Posted by Shawn on February 3, 2012
Obviously it is quite the challenge to move to any foreign country. There are so many things that will be different making a transition difficult. We moved down to this country with mostly books and clothing (and a few kids.) Most of the houses in Sosua were foreign owned and were furnished or partly furnished like the last house we lived in there.
Moving across the country itself is a whole other adventure. First we tried to find a house on quick trips either by driving or by me taking a bus. That didn’t help too much except it helped me learn a few areas and meet the real estate agent that we eventually used. We finally just moved down a lived for a month in a vacant house used by missionaries that gave a place to sleep and eat during our house search.
We eventually settled on a 4th floor apartment with the 5th floor rooftop with extra bedroom. We thought this would be perfect (except all of the stairs) for our family and plans to use the extra room. We spent the next week waiting for “mañana” as the man in charge of the apartment was getting the papers ready. When we finally met with him, we had to walk away because of the contract. He wanted us to claim responsibility of the the taxes even though we “didn’t have to pay them.” We could not do this for 2 reasons, if we paid the taxes it was too much and if we didn’t we would be liars and damage our testimony.
After having that happen, we were put into a last minute cram, yet thankful God kept us from having been in a contract with a corrupt person. We also have our friend Miriam (March) who was a huge help in all of this as an interpreter and overall friend.
We then called the real estate agent I mentioned who quickly showed us another couple of houses, one of which we made an offer on. We then met the lawyer (many rentals are handled by lawyers here) who happened to be a Christian who goes to church with our missionary friends Kent and Janet Norell. Esperanza is here name and she has been a help and a blessing to us.
Signing the papers on the house led to the next adventures in houses in the D.R. First I try to get power, only to hit a roadblock because the power company says there are already two contracts with that address. Both Esperanza and Miriam made multiple calls to the power company to help get things straightened out. After a couple of weeks and us living in another temporary location, we finally moved in with no power on. Power in this country is different than in the states, were if the power is off, it is from a storm or maybe a traffic accident involving a drunk and telephone pole. Here, even in areas considered to be “24 hour” power, it can be off a few hours a week at best. Some areas are only on so many hours a week, usually in areas were no one actually has a meter or pays for the electricity. Being without power wasn’t a huge shock, but it has it’s challenges. We were thankful to have a neighbor who offered to let us use an extension cord to plug in our fridge, while we waited.
Back to dealing with the power…. I ended up finally going down and trying to get the power on. The next hurdle was the address. The papers for the house have the address the community gave it when being built, but since then it has a street address that is nothing like it. I had to make a couple trips back and forth to get the papers changed and then stamped in a correct manner. Now, I finally had that and was able to get the account set up. They told me someone was coming out that same day to turn on the power and put in the meter. Not surprising it didn’t happen. The next day while still waiting, the neighbor said we just need to keep going down the office or it won’t happen, so taking her advise and went down again and returned home after they said someone was on their way at that moment. After waiting over an hour, they showed up!!! The technicians explained they were late after having the ladder rack re-welded to their van. Needless to say, we had power on in about an hour after that!
Now we are in our own (rented) house and found some of the necessary furniture, minus some things I wanted to build. Praising God for guiding us through, for the friends and new friends who helped us and for the learning experiences we have had.
Now to get busy with our call…
Having only done our duty
Posted by Shawn on January 23, 2012
Reading in Luke 17, I found myself pondering this verse:
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” (Luke 17:10)
This may have been spoken towards the pharisees, but for me it made me think about my heart in servant-hood towards our Lord. Do I think to only go so far in my actions as to complete the “duty” set before me or do I work to go beyond what is asked of me? Do I go for it, in a wholehearted manner, as I would for myself? This definitely can be a challenge and I would have to answer “no”.
The Lord owes me nothing. He has already paid far beyond my worth. I was His enemy, I was dead. Without Him I was nothing. Why would I not give my all to Him who saved me? Is there anything I can do that could even come close to paying Him back? I can only do all He asks and do it with all that I am, anything less would be lacking of my worship of Him.
Lord forgive me for ever placing myself in a place higher than you. Forgive me for taking your place on the throne of my life. Help me to serve you better, to know you more and to love you greater than ever before.
Posted by Shawn on December 8, 2011
Our family has been preparing our new Christmas tree. This is the first artificial tree we have even owned, but that is the option here. It brings that little bit of holiday tradition and warmth into the home. This year Heather, Samuel, Josiah and Silas are all making the bead covered ornaments that Jessica had made a couple of years ago. We have Christmas music playing and we are all missing family and friends.
This will be our second Christmas away, but being over a year since we left and having both Joshua and Jeremy away, it makes it that much harder. What we all know is that God is working in us and through us and that it is a small sacrifice in the big picture. We have taken for granted how easy it was to get together with friends and family. So this year as you gather, be blessed and remember how great of a blessing it is to have your friends or family close. And for those of you who have lost loved ones near the holidays, may God bring you His peace.
So celebrate this season, not for the things, but for the blessings God has bestowed upon you – for your families, for your friends, for those who are away from home (thinking about all those serving in the military.) Don’t let the gift buying get in the way of the “gifts” you already have. (I don’t want to keep sounding cliche, since this is spoken every year, so I will stop with this now.)
May all of you have an amazing Christmas season with many fond memories. May God fill you with His joy, that can’t be lost or stolen!
Updates from the Dominican Republic
Posted by Shawn on November 13, 2011
This weekend we sent Heather, Samuel and Josiah back down to the capital to be part of King’s Kids again. We are seeing growth in their lives as they seek God and worship Him. They also practice the dances and dramas and are being taught by our brothers and sisters in Christ the things of the Lord.
Silas, however, is stuck with mom and dad at home. He doesn’t know what to do when the others are not around, but we hope to change this shortly when we move.
The boys at Niños de la Luz are enjoying the new home, just a few more things to finish, such as shelves for the kitchen. The house really changes the way they live together. The other building was more of separate dorms with a shared living area, this house is set up more like a normal house. We sent Jesse, who has been there for a few months helping, on his way to Buenos Aires. Watching the boys say goodbye made me not want to leave, but I believe God is calling us to move.
We were blessed this last week as Heather was baptized. Even though she was a few years ago, she felt that this was her walk and her faith and that she felt God tugging her heart to do so. This is a joyous time in a parents life whenever their children take ownership of their faith.
Please pray with us in these areas:
- Adjusting to the culture, the language, different foods, new customs, and difficult climate.
- Protection in travel, health, accidents, and dangerous situations.
- Our concern for their children’s health,home-schooling, friendships. Housing accommodations, differences in living standards, and lack of accustomed conveniences.
- Loneliness, homesickness, lack of accustomed fellowship with others
- Interpersonal relationships, dealing with one’s (and others’) prejudice, selfishness, depending on the faithfulness of others to meet one’s financial needs.
- Effectiveness in ministry, whatever the assignment.
- Functioning of the tools of ministry. (computers, cars, cell-phones everything seems to break too often here.)
- Lack of visible results; the “plowing, planting and watering” stages can go on for years! (Jeremiah preached for 23 years and no one listened. Jer 25:3)
- The people being ministered to, the national Christians, other missionaries.
- Need for encouragement, stability, wisdom, compassion, self-discipline, boldness, power, love, to be filled with the Spirit of God.
- The vehicle fundraiser – that we meet the goal for a reliable vehicle.
We miss all of our friends and family and hope to visit soon. This has been one of the biggest challenges of being here, not having brought our friends with us! We miss so much the times spent fellowshipping at church or in your homes or ours. Feel free to write us or call us anytime!