Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

This morning it is FINALLY snowing in DC.
DC is known for snows 'late in the season,' meaning Jan, Feb, and even later. But, it seems to me a bit unusual for the first snow that actually sticks to the ground being in the last week of January....feels like we have been waiting forever. :)
The kids had today off for a teacher workday anyway so they didn't even get a extra day off--but, when they are playing in the snow, it doesn't seem to matter.
*** Don't forget if you click on the mosaic, it will enlarge the pictures.


David didn't shave while we were on the Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic. He said something about limited running water, the water always being cold, and "not having to." But I can tell you that by the time we got home, he was MORE than ready to shave. He held off until Monday morning (and work) to shave. So, we got one last picture of all this facial hair. David and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage this year and I had never seen this much hair on his face before-- probably never again!! :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Final Notes

Very sad to see this come to a close. Let’s be honest, it’s in the high 70’s and back home in DC it is in the 30’s…would you want it to end?

On a more serious note, it has been fantastic to have 3 generations of men in the mission field at the same time and working together (My father, me, and my son).

The team has gotten close and spent every day together, we have been able to spread the love of Christ and in just one short week we were able to:
- reach out to over 300 people with medical needs,
- engage, love, and share Jesus with hundreds of kids,
- see over a hundred families prayed for, and
- encourage and serve local leaders and missionaries who are on the frontlines daily.

Thats Old

We had a chance to do some filming down in the ‘Colonial District’ this afternoon, which was a special treat. We met several local shop owners and I saw firsthand how missionaries are appreciated by the Dominican people and also the depth of relationships that have been built by those serving to reach Dominican’s for Jesus.

It was wild to film in the courtyard of THE OLDEST CHURCH in the Western Hemisphere started by Diego Columbus---son of Christopher Columbus---who set the first stone of the cathedral in 1514. All of this history is so interesting and then I looked over my shoulder and see the Hard Rock Café only 100yards away on the opposite side of the courtyard.

The stark contract between the history and traditional was a perfect reflection of the entire country, ‘diametrically opposing opposites’. Extreme poverty on one side and on the other is the poorest of the poor.

Friday, January 23, 2009


One of the team members pointed out something written on the wall of many of the homes in the community we visited. “Territoio de Dios” …in English…”God is Here” or “God walks here”. This is a clear demonstration of the cultural influence in the community; but I love that you can see this on so many homes.

Would you write this on the side of your house?

In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 we are given instruction on how we should handle scripture and one of the instructions is to write it on your door frame. Without going too ‘Old Testament’ on you…how many of the 10 ways described in Deuteronomy do you live out?

The team has truly become like family and we have really come together as one in the body. It is nothing short of miraculous all the things that have happened over the last 6 days.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Extreme Makeover – DR Style!

I watched that show several times and some of the episodes are pretty moving. But today we went in and cleaned and painted the home for a woman who has given everything she has to the community and I will tell you that I was brought to tears.

Elmi has lived for the last 15 years in Sabana Perdida (The Lost Delta) which is a section of Northeast Santo Domingo that exists right beside the Rio Ozama. The Ozama River flooded terribly in November of 2007 and tens of thousands of homes were simply
washed away in the 30 foot high flooding.
This past year Hurricane Ivan pounded the shores again and water rose to the roof of her home. Still she stays because this is home and this is where she feels called to serve. Words cannot fully describe the conditions and environment.

Over the last year missionaries have brought supplies to Elmi and she has NEVER accepted any of it for her personal use. She gives everything away and today to see her face and feel her joy as we served her and were able to bless this amazing leader in the community…it was powerful!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You want me to do what? Go West!

Today we headed west of the capital city Santo Domingo to a rural compo – Norte de San Cristobal. We spent the day doing medical outreach and after our initial concerns about running out of medicine, we were able to see more people with less chaos in the same amount of time. God blessed this day on so many levels:

- Over 140 were seen by the physicians and given prescriptions…and I don’t think anyone got out of there without being prayed for.

- The neighbor open his garage to us and we had over 75 children at one point all piled into the garage coloring, laughing, playing, and seeing the love of Jesus.

- We were able to work with Pastora Daisy Mena and gave her DVD’s, CD’s, and other materials for her youth ministry as well as all kinds of sporting equipment.

At one point Colin got hit with a ball and so I took him for a walk. After several minutes I noticed more and more children following Colin and I. As we headed west down a road the kids pointed out an area with ‘shin high’ weeds. They told us it was their ‘baseball’ field, to which my ‘inside’ voice said, “You want me to do what? Play baseball in that!”. A few minutes later we broke out some tennis balls and bats. There so many kids wanting to play…I think it shows how God takes one bad thing and turns it around to His glory.

It also showed me how grateful these children were for a few tennis balls, a bat, and a very crude baseball field. Pastora Daisy has an incredible church that has some remarkable young men
 being mentored and who will change the face of that community over the next 10 years.

It Snowed in the Caribbean Today

How else does one describe white droplets in the sky? This morning while on the roof we saw “snow” according to our Dominican friend; what he was describing and seeing was actually fog but it gave us all a good laugh. Abner is a close friend and wonderful doctor who has an incredible story. This morning he gave us all a good chuckle to start the morning.

Don't worry about us...the day ended up sunny and low 80's!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God in the Little Things

Here in the Dominican Republic, serving the people is EASY. There are so many in need that you can't go more than a few feet to find something to do, say, pray about, or provide. It is miraculous in so many ways to be able to touch the people if only for a moment. A hug, a prayer, a smile, some medicine, a helping hand, any of these can touch in a profound way. Then, we get to allow God to potentially turn that moment into a touch for a lifetime or a at a minimum, the first step in an individual understanding His Love. I say all that, because I have been surprised at the things that emotionally 'shake me up' while we are with the people. I was expecting to be overwhelmed by the needs and the people. I was expecting God to work in me and the people we are serving with. I was expecting God to move me over what He would accomplish in my son while we were here. What I was not expecting, was to have the littlest details be the things that just brought me to my knees so to speak. To see how God is in EVERY little detail here is amazing!
As part of our daily planning, we divide up the items (sports equipment, bible stories for kids, toys, personal care items, bibles, medicines, etc) that we want to use in each of our days in ministry. I can't say that I pray specifically each morning about what and how to do this, we just cover each day and the efforts we will make with prayer. Yesterday, we decided to take 20 lollipops with us to give out at various times during the day. We interacted with SO many children; from the city streets to the baseball field, to the community center, to the Bible Study, there were well over 100. But, when we arrived at the orphanage (see post The Victory- La Victoria), amazingly, we had not passed out any lollipops. We pulled the lollipops out of the bag and shoved them in our pockets. I was definitely concerned that we would have a fearfully inadequate number and not be able to pass out a thing, or at the very least, have to leave out the older kids. We began playing with the girls, holding girls, hugging, passing out stickers, and taking a tour, I asked the director about how many girls were at the orphanage at that moment. She answered without skipping a beat that with girls at school or at other activities that there were 20 girls present at that moment. I was elated, overwhelmed, and in tears; I was a wreck. God is so good! He knew what we had and when it would be used. He had it planned far in advance of us. AMAZING!
You may be reading this and find it silly but I am in awe of God for moments such as these. God is in the midst of every aspect of our lives and nothing, including the number of lollipops in our pockets, is too little for Him to use for His glory.

Barrio or Bust!

First...let me give a shout out to Katie's Mom and wish her a Happy Birthday! Nice to hear you are following our adventure here in the DR. I made sure to grab a pic of Katie to post today just for you :-)

The doors opened around 10am and people came from all over to be seen by the physicians. At the end of the day:
- Over 135 Dominicans were seen and give medication,

- 15-20 nutritional consults,

- Handed out half a dozen bibles and many other materials for the children,

- And over 100 people were prayed with.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The shirt off my back…

Haven’t we all heard or used this cliché? Today I witnessed such poverty that I literally wanted to give children “the shirt off my back”. I wanted to empty my suitcase and come back to the states with nothing! The ‘poor’ in the United States are more likely to enjoy certain amenities than many of the middle class in Western Europe – things like air conditioning, red meat, etc. So when someone compares the ‘middle class of the US’ to a single room home in the fields of the DR…we are ridiculously wealthy.

After a hardy Dominican style lunch, we headed into one of the more remote villages where a small bible study has been started. One of our team members Carol Casco shared with mothers some general hygiene and health practices to help avoid sickness and disease. This led into Bible teaching, praise and worship, and then the children decided to bless our team with a song and sign language. People kept coming up and at one point there where close to 30 adults (mostly mothers) and just as many kids.

A few of the team members took the kids off onto the dirt roads and pulled out baseball bats and tennis balls. It was so fun watching Colin (10 years-old) engage with these kids and lead them in activities. After several hours of catch and miniature baseball games, it was time to head back to the mission house.

Another great day!

The Victory – La Victoria

When Dominican’s mention the town of La Victoria it is fraught with images of torture, pain and suffering because for decades the prison was the only thing there. Only 14 miles outside of the capital city (it was about a 45 minute commute) kind of like driving down I-66 in Virginia only with more potholes! La Victoria is still home to one of the countries larger prisons; however, Gregg & Mercy Tucker have created a way to be in the market place, have meaning and relevance, and be able to talk about Jesus.

We spent part of the morning at the “Communication Center – La Esperanza” which means The Hope. The Tucker’s helped establish this internet café which also is used to teach English and allow people to meet. This business is doing well and being sustained in the community in order to reach people with the message of Christ.

After spending time there, we walked the streets of La Victoria where we met so many children and then headed over to an orphanage. Mallory who started this tiny second floor orphanage took in 2 kids over a year ago and today has more than 20 girls between the ages of 5 and 15 living there! James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” When you see the crowed living conditions and yet such joy in these girls hearts and on their faces…you know they are experience the love of Christ. We spent time handing out toys and just loving on these young women. These kids just wanted to crawl up on your lap and be hugged. I can see how Jesus got angry when the disciples tried to push the children away and Jesus said, “Let them come to me for the Kingdom of God belong to these”. I find the next comment in the Bible VERY insightful and a glance into who Jesus was. The scriptures then says, “he placed his hands on each of them”. Children need to be loved and they feel that through the simple and gentle touch.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Arrival in Country

We gathered around 5am at Reagan National with the wind blowing and the temperature around 20 degrees. This team of people coming from the financial community, healthcare industry, and government has a unique make-up, to include a pregnant mother (6 months along) and a 10-year-old. Without taking anything away from each member of this team, we all come from different backgrounds and I think it demonstrates that God doesn’t call the equipped…He equips those who are called.

We landed in the capital city of Santo Domingo and I have to admit that the 80 degree weather has been awesome as we embark on this journey. Our first day was more administrative in nature but necessary preparation as we will have a packed week. We brought over a hundred pounds of sports equipment, pharmaceuticals, and teaching materials. Bud and Karen Simon (yes…my parents) who we will be working alongside gave us a run down on all the areas where we will be spending time this week.

Our hosts Greg and Melynda Burge have opened their home referred to locally as the “The Mission House.” Just hearing their story as how they and their 3 kids came to the Dominican Republic (DR) was powerful. They have a beautiful home and we spent time on the roof of the home team building just before the sunset.

The team took advantage of a relaxed evening of spending time with each other, the missionaries, and our hosts to continue to ‘gel’ as a team as we prepare to serve the people of this beautiful and yet impoverished country.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Never Say Diet Book Review

I occasionally review books for publishers as part of the book's release. I recently had the opportunity to review two books that I am thrilled to have received:

Title: Never Say Diet AND The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer
Author: Chantel Hobbs
Pages: 240 / 176
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (December 16, 2008)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Self-Help / Health / Diet
Edition: Paperback - Thanks are in order to the publisher for inviting me to review these books and providing a copy of each.

This time of year is full of resolutions about: weight loss, getting in shape, fitting into clothes, and resolving weight-related health issues.
I have in fact made a resolution for myself regarding getting in shape and weight loss following the delivery of my fourth child in April of this year. I didn't yet have any concrete plan on how I would accomplish my goals, just that it is essential to reclaim who I desire to be when I look in the mirror and try on clothes. No plan that is, until I read this book; I embraced this book immediately because I have never believed in dieting. I love food and have always believed that if I diet, I will eventually return to old habits.
So, Never Say Diet is a perfect fit for me. Chantel Hobbs has an easy to read writing style and she focuses not on what she calls the symptoms but what she identifies as the problem of weight loss and dieting. This book focuses on the lifestyle choices (physical, mental, and spiritual) we make every day. The author's message is designed in a '16-week plan' format which begins with emphasise on consistent exercise which is followed by an evaluation of eating habits. Chantel also ties in a spiritual perspective regarding the fact that God has given us each the power to accomplish what we set our minds and hearts to. Chantel includes tips, guidelines, food recommendations and exercise (with pictures you can understand) throughout the book. Chantel has the resume and results to back this book up! She has lost over 200 pounds and is a personal trainer, spinning instructor, and running coach. She is married and has four kids. She is what I would call a real woman, she has lived, learned, and wants to share her knowledge with others so that they too can have Victory in the area of health, wellness, and weight struggles.
The Never Say Diet Personal Trainer is a perfect companion to this book. It is broken into chapters that cover each week. Each chapter begins with a Bible Verse and Quote for the week, along with a space to record specific daily items; don't worry though, it is neither complicated or 'over-done.' I assure you that you will not find this recording process a burden but rather a fairly easy way to create accountability for yourself. Consistency is the name of the game in this program and Chantel has designed a great book and resource to help you remove your excuses.
Buy, Read, and Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mission Trip

Well, the days are counting down quickly, we are leaving early Sunday morning (Jan 18th) for our mission trip.
For those who aren't aware: David and I will be leading a team to the Dominican Republic (DR) for one of National Community Church’s A1:8 mission trips.
We are very busy getting everything prepared for the trip. We have spent this week getting items together to take to the people we will be working with, things like sports equipment, medications, toys, and household items. The entire team is also finalizing plans to be away from work, school, and "normal" life for a week.
We will work very diligently to keep you all informed of how our days are spent; our internet service in the DR may be limited but we hope to be able to blog at least every other day.
We would love to have prayer partners in each of you; please make it a priority to pray for us daily until we return.
Specific things that you can pray for are:
God’s preparation before us and that we be used in the best way possible for His Glory
Travel Protection- Jan 18-24
The team members: Chad, Katie, Carol, Dana, David, Colin, and Myself
The missionaries we will be working with: Bud and Karen
The people we will be ministering to: 3 medical mission days, 2 days of Vacation Bible School/Community Outreach, and 1 day of service to Dominican Ministry workers (painting and minor house repairs)
Health Protection for All, but particularly our Baby (I will be 26 weeks pregnant during the trip)
The kids we are leaving here: Colin is going with us but Connor and Sybella will be staying home and for part of the time will be in different places…the kids have been away from us before but not also separated from each other at the same time.

Thanks to each of you for your support and prayers!

Monday, January 12, 2009


On December 16th, I was "blog-tagged" by Anna; unfortunately, I didn't realize it until today. [Anna- I was subscribed to your RSS feed, so your Blog came directly into my inbox....but since Halloween, your RSS feeds are not working. :( Unfortunately that means I haven't been able to follow as closely as I normally would. Sorry it took me so long to keep the game going.]
For anyone who doesn't know about "blog-tagging," it is a game going around the blogosphere in which bloggers are sharing five things about themselves that relatively few people know, and then tagging five other bloggers to be "it." They in theory keep the game going by listing 5 things about themselves and tagging 5 other people.

Here goes:
1. I was born in Honolulu, HI.
2. My husband and I had a completely Long-Distance relationship. We didn't live in the same state until several weeks after we were married. (This year we will have been married 12 years....so it worked out ok for us.)
3. I have completed a Half-Marathon and have aspirations to complete a Marathon.
4. I ran in the Olympic Torch Relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics that were held in Salt Lake City. The pictures and the torch (my proof) are hanging on the wall at my house!
5. I love Sports, the Theater, Reading and lately, changing my hair style.

Now, it's your turn:
Jen- another very busy friend and mom
Karen- a relatively new blogger and missionary
Shauna- a faithful blogger and friend
Glenda- a new friend
Denise- a friend and chef

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pipes, Plumbing, and Play Toys Plyers

Wow...what a way to start the new year. So I get an urgent email and phone call on January 2nd telling me that our home in Seattle has mold! Needless to say I was slightly stressed. Turns out that both the renters and I drilled into the wall to hang things in the office. Both of us managed to hit the pipe coming down the inside of the wall. It wasn't until I removed the screw before moving that the problem manifested because the screw went in and plugged the hole.

Long story short...we have awesome renters and incredible friends. Jeremy was patient and cooperative in letting us get in there to fix the problems. And Gregg Johnson who runs a division of Regent Home Resources rocks! It is so wonderful to have someone you know you can trust to jump on an issue and fix the problem without over charging you. Gregg was fast, reliable, and just all around accomadating! Can't thank him enough for his efforts and taking care of something while we were 2500 miles away.

SO IF PIPES weren't bad enough...my daughter got her play toy "Squeeze the Plyers" stuck in the toilet. That wasn't the bad part :-) The bad part was the plumber who tried to 'snake' the toilet ended up 'blowing out' the side of the toilet...so we had to replace the ENTIRE TOILET!

I love life...this has been one of the busiest months for Sharon and I in a long time and we haven't killed each other because we are patient. I didn't say PERFECT...just patient.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Water Main Repairs

In December, we had some men working outside the front door on an area in the sidewalk. They were there a couple of days in a row, so I finally asked what was going on. They informed me that they were from the Fairfax Water Department and that there was a small leak in the water main that "feeds" about 16 houses in our neighborhood. They explained to me that the problem was small and it did not affect water flow or quality to my house but that they would need to repair it in order to prevent further damage to the pipes, sidewalk, etc. They were trying to determine the exact location of the leak and prevent themselves from having to destroy too much of the sidewalk.
Two days later (12/17), the workman showed up to complete the work (1 week earlier than I had been told). I immediately began to scramble around the house. Unfortunately, this was the exact day that I had planned to bake 9 dozen cookies and do 6 loads of laundry! Somehow, I managed to get 3 gallons of water in the fridge for future use, all the cookie dough prepared, 2 loads of laundry done, and a shower before the water was cut off!

Two hours later, this was the scene outside my kitchen window....apparently "small" leak does not equate to "small" repair. By Lunch time, the dirt pile was big enough to fill a dump truck!

To my Absolute amazement, the water leak was repaired in 12 hours (with the help of about 10 workers from the Fairfax Water Dept and some Bright lights) but it took 3 days to get the dirt put back and the ground/sidewalk functional. They now have gravel and plywood in place as my "new sidewalk" until the Spring; there is no way to re-brick now. In the cold/wet weather, the ground would settle and they would have to fix it in the Spring. So, they will just wait until then.
And yes, we got all 9 dozen cookies made even with the water turned off. I baked and Sybella sat on the kitchen counter looking out the window & watching the backhoe work.