Living Life in the DR

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Big, Exciting News!

Big News!
No, I'm not pregnant - but we are expecting! Gabe and I, along with our girls, are excited to announce that we are currently in the middle of the adoption process down here in the Dominican Republic!! This is a dream that the Lord placed on our hearts over 6 years ago, shortly before we felt the call to join the Freedom Team and move to the DR. (If you want to read a little more about it, check out this blog post from 2014!) With the move to the DR, our dreams of adoption were put on the back burner. We spent the next year raising support, and the following 3 adjusting to our new life in a new culture. In January of 2018, I again felt a tug on my heart towards adoption. I didn't say anything to Gabe at the time. I prayed that if he was feeling the same, the Lord would also place that same tug on his heart. A few weeks later, Gabe told me that he was again feeling the call to adopt! So we began praying and seeking a direction. We weren't sure if it was possible for us to go through the process here, but the Lord opened up the doors. We officially started the process at the end of last year. We are 11 months in and as of a few weeks ago, we officially have a case #!
There's More!
I recently shared with a few of you about 2 little boys in our school - Estaylin and Eliangel. A little over 2 years ago, their father was killed in a farming accident. Just last month, their mother passed away from poor health. When we were given the news about their mother, Juliana, my heart just broke. Estaylin is in Ava's grade and I first met him when we came down on our vision trip in 2014!
When I heard the news about their mom, I immediately went looking for Gabe. Gabe and I both felt a tug on our hearts for these boys. We decided to talk with the president of Freedom, Jason Hilgeman. Before we could even bring it up, Jason approached Gabe and asked him what our thoughts would be of having these boys live with us for awhile. This would provide them with a stable home and the ability to still attend school at Freedom! After talking with the girls, we all decided that we would love to welcome them into our home! A few weeks later, the extended family of the boys agreed that it would be best for the boys to be in our home and they moved in! While at this moment it's a temporary living situation, we have fallen in love with these boys! Our desire and intent is to make them a permanent part of our family! There's a lot of paperwork and a few unknowns that go into that. But we know that God is in control and he already knows what our future family looks like! We hope that it will include these two boys - we are trusting God and are laying it at His feet!
Our current tribe!

  • Pray for patience for Gabe and I as we adjust to having 5 kids in the house
  • Prayers appreciated as we learn to raise boys :)
  • Please pray for the boys as they have been through a lot over the past several years
  • Prayers as they learn the rules of the house and are learning to fit into our family as well
  • Prayers for the adoption process as we continue to seek God's guidance in this process. Our hearts desires are to make these boys an official part of our family! 
With a growing family, our support also needs to grow with us. If you are interested in joining our team as a monthly partner and walking this journey with us, click the button below! 
Partner With Us!


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Around Freedom - August 2019

Summer Program

We just wrapped up our summer camp program! In the mornings, each grade had the opportunity to attend 2 weeks of English Enrichment. Grades 1-6 also attended an afternoon day camp that focused on the book of Colossians and the concept of  reconciliation. 


God provided us with the much-needed extra hands this summer! Over a 9 week span, we had around 380 people helping us out. We couldn't have run all our summer programs with out their help! Along with our English and camp programs, we also held VBS in several of the villages.  


Teams also play a huge role on the construction side as well! This summer, we had teams painting, laying block, welding, building cabinets, pouring concrete and more! The most exciting thing they helped us with this summer was getting our campground up and running!


We currently have 3 camp pods built and ready for use! Within the next several weeks, we will begin construction on our camp pavillion. This building will contain bathrooms and a common meeting center. This fall, we will hold our first overnight camp for our 4th - 6th graders!


Friday, June 14, 2019

Around Freedom - June '19

While the 2018-2019 school year has come to an end, the Freedom Campus is still bustling with sweet kiddos! 

This week, we hit the road running with our Summer Program. We welcomed our new 3 year olds to the campus along with our soon-to-be Kindergarten kiddos ~ let's just say there have been a few tears and gnashing of teeth (literally!). Each week this summer, we will host different grades for a morning of English Enrichment and for the older kids - an afternoon of camp! We are praising the Lord for the opportunity to interact with our kids in a more relaxed atmosphere and at the same time, continuing to pour the truth of God's Word into their hearts. 

Joining us this week are 3 separate teams totaling 63 people - we are loving all the extra hands! Summer always brings lots of teams and lots of visible changes to the campus. While some of the team members are spending time with our sweet little ones, others are putting their hands to work in many other ways around the campus.  und the campus.  

There are more classroom walls going up, painting is being done and a retaining wall is being built. Also, our first cabin pod is going up out in our campground area! How exciting it is to see the camp taking shape! We are excited to see how the Lord will use this as yet another tool to challenge and grow these kids in their faith!

Something that Jason mentioned to the teams the other night really struck me. It's easy to look around at the end of the day and see all that was accomplished on the construction side. We see buildings that are now bright and colorful with a fresh coat of paint, new classroom walls that have been laid, cabin floors....all things that weren't there at the beginning of the day. It's easy to look around and know that you've accomplished something.

It's harder to keep that perspective when you are dealing with the kids. Especially new 3 year olds that won't stop screaming and can't understand a word you're saying. At the end of the day, when you've been peed on, bitten and are just plain exhausted from sprinting after that kid that just won't sit still, it's easy to wonder what you're doing here - Am I really making a difference? 

The answer is a resounding yes! While you may leave at the end of the week not seeing much of a change in the child, you've contributed priceless hours of discipleship. Discipleship is a journey - a process. It doesn't happen over night. God calls us to be faithful with the opportunities He's gifted us - we let Him do the rest.

While we may never know the impact we've made in the life of one of these kids this side of heaven, one day we will be rewarded for our faithfulness - whether we've planted the seed, watered or nurtured. A verse I've been clinging to lately is Galatians 6:9. 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

So whether we are working with our hands and see the progress day to day, or we are being peed on all day by a screaming child, we cling to this verse. We know that everything is for the glory of God - whether we eat or drink!


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Building Match!

It's amazing to see how God orchestrates all the details (big and little). When we moved to the Dominican Republic in 2015, there were a total of 10 (adult) missionaries on the field. Today, we currently have 21 with 4 more arriving June 2nd! There's also a potential of 10 more joining us in the next year.  This wave of people comes just as we are tripling our preschool program this coming fall and also adding our camp program to the mix.

We are so excited that the Freedom family is growing but along with this growth, comes a need for more space! We will need a third apartment building to house our future missionaries, and you can play a part in helping us build it! 

The Lord has provided us with a $45,000 Matching Gift! 

Every dollar that's given, will be matched - bringing us to a grand total of $90,000!

This match will also help us start the building on our new mechanic building. Our mechanic is on his way! Daniel Schrock and his family will be joining the field team on June 2nd! 

We have been praying for a mechanic for a long time and we are praising God for his provision and perfect timing! A mechanic, along with a mechanic building will allow us to better maintain our growing fleet of school buses and other vehicles. 

If you are interested in donating and helping us meet our Match, simply click here! Be sure to include "Match It!" in the comments section once you have filled out the form. You have until June 15th!!

We are so grateful to have you all walking with us on this journey!


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Morning Display of God's Glory

I mentioned in my last post that my phone is full of pictures of they sky. This post is proof of that! During one of my morning runs last week, God blew me away with a gorgeous display of His glory! So thankful that the Lord chooses to speak to us and reveal Himself to us in so many ways. Creation will continually point and direct us back to the Creator if we allow ourselves to step back for a moment and truly soak in greatness of our God!

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~ Romans 1:20

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ~ John 1:3

Praise the LordPraise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, 
all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you 
shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lordfor at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever - he issued a decree that will never pass away. ~ Psalm 148: 1-6


Monday, April 29, 2019

Around Freedom - April

 Since January, we've had 12 weeks of teams, and it's amazing to step back and see the progress that has been made in the lives of our students. We recently started a 'tutoring' program in our English classes that allows team members to spend 30 minutes with 1 or 2 students. During this time, they practice their grammar and vocabulary. 

You can also see big changes on the construction side. We've had multiple classrooms go up, new porch railings installed in the missionary apartments, 2 new bathrooms completed in the school, final touches being made in our second apartment building and so much more! We are so thankful for all the working hands God has provided!

And so it begins.....

Excavation for our campground started today. We hope to have our first overnight camp in October! We are praying that camp will allow our students to step out of their normal routines and cause them to be challenged in their walk with the Lord.

Pray with us that even now, the Lord will begin to prepare their hearts, and that His name would be glorified! If you are interested in donating to our campground, please click the donate button below and write "Building Fund" in the comments box!


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Whether you eat or drink....

My phone is full of pictures of the sky! Gabe often chuckles when I slow down to snap a picture of the sunrise, sunset or just the blueness of the midday sky.  But I can't help it! It's always so beautiful! What an amazing display of the glory of God! All day long, the sky proclaims His handiwork. The sky was such a good reminder to me the other night. Everything was created to display His glory. Even us! It's easy to define certain parts of our day or lives as living for the glory of God - going to church, helping out a local ministry, giving our time to volunteer at Summer Bible School. We often compartmentalize our lives into two different categories - Spiritual and Non-Spiritual. But the Bible tells us something far different. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says

 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

We are called to glorify the Lord even in the mundane moments of our day - a trip to the grocery store, folding our third load of laundry, helping our kids with their homework - everything we do is supposed to be to the glory of God! Our marriages, our relationships with our children, the way we handle difficult situations - every moment in our day is an opportunity to display His glory. It's easy to miss these moments, but His mercies are new every morning! Lord, help our lives - every single second - to proclaim Your glory!


Monday, February 4, 2019

Let us not become weary....

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9

I’m not a teacher, but I know from speaking with many of them - and also subbing a few times - that there are days when it seems like we are fighting a losing battle. There are days when it’s not even 9:00 and already there are 15+ names on the board and three to four students standing in the corner. There are days (many actually) when students go straight off the bus to the office! These are the days when discipleship is hard. These are the days that often cause us to become weary and wonder what difference we are making. These are the days that we can often be tempted to throw our hands in the air and say “I quit!”

I’d like to introduce you to Anyeli. Anyeli came to Freedom at the beginning of her first grade year. There’s just something about that beautiful face and sweet smile that melts my heart every time. I’ve told countless people that I’d take her home in a heartbeat if I could! But behind that heart-melting smile is a bit of a stinker. An adorable, little stinker that often finds herself in the corner and even occasionally in the office.

A couple of Saturdays ago, my girls and I took Anyeli and few of their other friends to the beach. Anyeli's mother, Siomara, asked if she could join us. On the way to the beach, I asked her about Anyeli and school. She mentioned that Anyeli had been suspended earlier that week for too many office visits. (oh my weary heart!) But she didn't stop there. She continued to tell me what a difference she has seen in Anyeli's life since she has been at Freedom! She mentioned several times the change that has been so evident in her life!

As I was replaying our conversation in my mind today, it reminded me of this verse.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9

While the days may be long, and there may even be days that cause us to wonder what we are doing here, we must not grow weary! Discipleship doesn't happen over night - it’s a process! Anyeli's life is an example to that. There will be tough days - days when Anyeli is suspended for too many office visits - but when we allow ourselves to step back and look at the big picture, we see change being produced in her life. We see growth through the trials and hardships. We are seeing a change in Anyeli’s life!

When we get lost in the day to day trials and hardships, we can feel ourselves becoming weary. But when we allow ourselves to take a step back, when we truly look at what God has done though the lives of our kids and us as well, we are reminded that we will reap a harvest if we do not give up! Join us in praying for our kids! Pray for endurance and perseverance for the teachers. Pray for the discipleship that is going on every day! Discipleship doesn't happen over night. It's a journey.

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