Archive for August 7th, 2012


DR mission trip Day 2

However grumpy I wanted to feel on Saturday morning, God is gracious, and He let me experience joy through the look on my daughters’ faces.  They slept “well”, and they were so excited to see what was coming next.  Thank you Lord.

Rilyn Saturday morning

We left Santiago and the White’s house…

When we arrived at the Makarios house, we settled our things, and then split our group in half. One half of our group visited the village of Chichigua while the other group took a tour of the Makarios school, and then we would switch.
Chichigua is a Haitian batey (sugarcane village). There is no sugarcane produced there right now, hence the extreme poverty.  This village is where my “uncomfortableness” from the night before seemed to be foolishness.  They had nothing, but still had joy in their eyes.

This village is used to “gringos” walking around from Makarios and interacting with them.  The teachers from the Mak school all have relationships with the kids and parents.  They welcomed us into their village.  One of the first things we did was be invited into a home.  I didn’t take a picture out of respect, but the home was probably the size of your kitchen, with one mom and six kids living in it.  She had two beds with 2 sheets hanging down in the home for “walls”.  The mother was so nice standing there in her bra and skirt asking me about my girls.  I answered her as best as I could in my broken Spanish.  My girls memorized John 6:35 in Spanish, and I told them if they knew nothing at all to say, say their verse.  The Word does not return void.  (Isaiah 55:11)  I watched my girls recite the verse to Rachel, one of the children living in the house who is their age, and tears welled up again in my eyes.  Rachel and Ella became fast friends!

Ella and Rachel

After we walked around in the village, we went to a field in the back to play with the kids! Here is where Rilyn met Rebekah. A ten year old girl who became Rilyn’s friend.

play-the universal language
Rebekah, Ella, and Rilyn

Rilyn even got to paint her fingernails!

Later that evening, we took some time to process with the girls what they saw/experienced. Rilyn loved making new friends and commented how happy they (the villagers) were with how little they have.  Ella, though, started crying.

“I don’t know if I can be Rachel’s friend.”

When we pressed her further, she explained she was “pretending” to be her friend. Ella has always been our very honest child. Even though she couldn’t quite explain it into words, we believe she was expressing her uncomfortableness in Chichigua. She doesn’t know how to talk to Rachel, she knows she won’t see her again after we leave the DR, she doesn’t want to “play” with her in an unfamiliar area that is “dirty.”

Once Ella spoke, Rilyn said, “Oh Ella, don’t say those things!  That’s not nice!”  We assured Ella it was okay, and safe to say what she felt.  And we prayed that Jesus would give her a heart to want to be her friend.

But Ella’s comments had me thinking, wasn’t I pretending too?  Pretending to smile at the children, when all I wanted to do was cry at the sight of their living conditions?  Pretending that I wasn’t worried about my girls getting cut by glass scraps on the ground, sharp tin edges, or loose nails?  Pretending to enjoy myself there, when all I could think was, “I hope the villagers don’t think, “Here comes more white people on a “mission” to save us.””

The truth is we are just as depraved as they are.

Their depravity might be more easy to “see”, because physically they are very depraved, but we are all by nature, children of wrath.  Ephesians 2:1-3  “1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful naturea and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

But those in Christ have good news!  Ephesians 2:4-5   4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Back to Ella’s comments.  As adults, we understand that we will be acting different on a mission trip because we came to the DR to act different.  Serve, be uncomfortable, feel desperation.    These things in America that are harder to come by.  (The challenge is can we act different when we are back at home?)  Ella didn’t want to show anyone she was uncomfortable (at least not yet!), so she “pretended”.  I know for me, I need to practice, and preach to my kids, it’s okay to not be okay.

From the Gospel Coalition (this is just a snippet, I encourage you to read the rest of the article!):

“When you understand that your significance, security, and identity are all anchored in Christ, you don’t have to win—you’re free to lose. And nothing in this broken world can beat a person who isn’t afraid to lose! You’ll be free to say crazy, risky, counterintuitive stuff like, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”!

Now you can spend your life giving up your place for others instead of guarding it from others—because your identity is in Christ, not your place.

Now you can spend your life going to the back instead of getting to the front—because your identity is in Christ, not your position.

Now you can spend your life giving, not taking—because your identity is in Christ, not your possessions.”

*to read about Day 1, click here.  To read about Day 3, click here*


DR mission trip Day 1

We (James, me, and the two girls) left on a Friday morning to start our journey to the Dominican Republic.  The traveling went so smoothly, and I could feel prayers coming from all directions! (To see more of my pictures from the Dominican, please click here to my photography blog!)

I started praying that all our bags would be checked on for free about 3 weeks prior to us leaving.  And sad to say, because I was praying with my kids, my faith waivered, not wanting them to see God not answer, and so a few days prior, I started praying that some of our bags would be free, or that they wouldn’t be that expensive.  Between the 3 families, we had 17 bags to check in, many of the bags filled with supplies such as rice and beans, school supplies, and clothes.  But my God is BIG, and in His grace, He chose to bless us even in my waivering faith.  All 17 bags were checked on for free!!  When that happened, I felt God’s presence with His big arms around me saying, “I’ve got this.  Go in peace.”

Here we are at the Santiago airport, about 9 p.m. with all our bags.  We went with a total of 35 people from the Austin Stone church, and all 73 checked bags arrived!!

From the airport, we drove 30 minutes to a host family’s house. Yes, they have a big house to house 35 people!

the kids in front of the White’s House

By the time we got settled in the White house, it was late. And when I say “settled”, what I really mean is “unsettled”, because it was definitely shock and awe for me. There was girls rooms and guys rooms which meant I needed to take care of Rilyn and Ella. There wasn’t enough bunk beds for them, so they got mats on the floor, in the middle of the chaos.  James shot a glance at me amongst the 35 people trying to get in line for 3 showers, and he said he saw the tears welling up in my eyes. “This is what I signed up for Julie”, I told myself.  No air conditioning, no cool breeze through the windows, just stale air blowing about from the fans.  We were told “no throwing toilet paper in the toilet” and “don’t drink the sink/shower water.”  These things are semi-easy to remember for an adult, but for kids?  (More on that later.)  I was sweating from head to toe, but there was no way I was going to get a shower that night.  I closed my eyes, and made the girls shut theirs, even though it was hot, muggy, loud, and the lights were on, with people buzzing about.  I admit, I started rethinking why I brought my girls.  Why did I subject them to this “uncomfortableness?”  I was not going to be dreaming happy thoughts that night…

I had to get some sleep.  But sleep did not come.  Saturday morning came slowly.  It was time to drive 2 hours to the Makarios house where we would stay for the remainder of our trip.
*to read about day 2, click here*

My photography business!

August 2012