Merry Christmas Friends and Family!!
As we reflect on this past year for our family, God’s hand of guidance and care is truly undeniable!
It’s hard to believe that a year ago we were still looking forward to our last trimester of Spanish School! The transition from one foreign country to another and the process of learning how to best love and serve a community that we don’t know in a context we don’t understand has been a pruning process. Like our neighbor’s tree (below), the pruning left us looking and feeling awkward, fruitless, and exposed at times. But every good gardener knows it’s for the better. Our roots have grown deeper into the goodness and faithfulness of God and we’ve deepened in our love and dependence on one another as a family.
A couple weeks ago, my sister and her family visited. I didn’t recognize how much I missed and enjoyed being with our extended family until we were all under the same roof again. It was almost as if our collective family blood pressure went down as we just enjoyed being with them, showed them our life and work here, and relaxed a bit. We also just celebrated Isaac’s birthday and were reminded that in this culture, when you invite a kid to a birthday party, the whole family comes hungry for a proper meal! Culture-wise the Dominicans have us whooped when it comes to community.
4 adults and 6 kids in our apartment ! It was awesome having my sister's family here !
Isaac's 6th Birthday Party - Rock Painting!
Last night Erin and I had the opportunity to present the Christmas message to the 12 ladies learning and working with Vida Plena. Something I’ve learned from these ladies is that life is full of uncertainty and that words of truth and love need to be spoken freely and regularly.
Given the communication and cultural chasms that exist between us, I’m forced to simplify. On the drive home I was disappointed with myself in how simple I had to make the message in order to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications. I essentially told them that God steps off His throne to pursue, rescue, and love them. I left out a million important points!
But in reflection this morning, I’m grateful for my communication handicap. I’m naturally bent towards over-complicating things. I read this 18th-century German hymn this morning that reminded me to keep things simple:
Christ receives sinful men,
Spread this word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o’er and o’er again;
Christ receives sinful men.
Make the message clear and plain;
Christ receives sinful men
I asked Erin to describe this year in a word, and hers was the same as mine: gratitude. We are so grateful that God has made a way for us to be here and serve this community. It’s hands-down the most difficult thing we’ve done, but also the richest. We’re so grateful for all of you and the essential part you play in this story.