After a long season of preparation, we have finally arrived in the Dominican Republic ! We’re simultaneously super-charged for the next challenge and fatigued from a second international transition following an intense year of learning Spanish. As parents, one of our initial desires is to help the kids feel at home. Considering that the school year ends soon, we decided not to put them in for the last few weeks. Instead we're trying to give them opportunities to stretch their legs, make friends, and have some fun. Last weekend, our friend and local pastor, Pascual, and his family took us to the top of a nearby "mountain". A fisherman had brought up the previous night's catch of crab and Red Snapper and his charcoal grill. We enjoyed family bliss for a couple hours while the kids ran around (Isaac too close to the cliff's edge) and Pascual and I ate pounds of grilled crab.
Caitlyn enjoying the view atop Montaña Redondo near Miches, DR
The economy disparity is real and palpable in this region. It’s a daily offensive for those of us living on one side of the tracks and working on the other. We live in a nicer neighborhood because it’s safer but daily encounter abject poverty and complete hopelessness. We're no longer students, but it feels like our education has intensified! As we think, plan, and pray about building the foundation of a job center and small business, practically that means developing relationships, talking to strangers, and conducting interviews with businesses, consumers, and the community members we hope to serve. One of those fledgling relationships is with a woman named Fátima.
The day Rod and I arrived at Fatima’s 1-room unfinished house with no plumbing or electricity, she seemed upbeat, almost cheerful. Today was a good day for her because she had followed a hen to her nest and collected 2 eggs for her family to eat. She has 4 young kids, no husband. As she chopped wood with a machete and boiled the eggs over an open fire, we chatted about how things are going. Thankfully, Fatima’s kids go to the 2nd Mile School in Bávaro (they walk 45 minutes under the hot sun to get there), and they're receiving some financial assistance as well. I watched her break the 2 boiled eggs in half and give the pieces to her kids. Fatima told us she wants to work. She has an idea about selling gasoline. This should be interesting, I thought. Their house is a mile or two from the closest gas station and she explained how every morning she watches young angry men pushing their motorcycles into town for gas. We’ve all been there …. She bets they’d pay a pretty penny for a few ounces of gas; enough to get them to the station and not be late for work again. She has another idea to buy bulk high-quality undergarments in the capital city and sell them at a good profit margin here in Bávaro where prices for higher-quality clothing is driven up by tourism. I think we’ll start with underwear. We'll call it a micro-loan/learning endeavor. There’s more coming with this story, stay tuned.
I’ll be the first to admit that I actually don’t understand prayer completely. I know, we're missionaries now and really should have all that figured out, right? In an overwhelmed state of trying to figure out how exactly we’re going to get started, who to talk with, first steps, etc., Erin and I decided one night to simply pray that God would physically bring the right people to us. We prayed that He would show us who to serve first. That next morning, three families rattled the gate at the 2nd Mile Office. All wanting help and work. I can’t say what will come of it, but He got my attention.
After having been here only 3 weeks and spending the lion’s share of that time just getting settled and figuring out how to function here, we feel God gently directing our steps as we try to understand the best way to support this community and build long-term spiritual and economy sustainability through business and commerce. These days I’m feeling like micro-loans may play a larger role in our work than I had originally envisioned. For those of you know me well, I like to be 10 steps ahead. But here I throw a party when one foot follows the other in the same direction! I ran across this verse from Zechariah 4 which encouraged me tremendously, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..”
Two young women from Monte Verde and Orlina (center). Orlina is working with them in a new process to lovingly understand and document their situations which will help us make informed decisions moving forward.
A very warm thanks to all of you who have helped us in countless ways to this point. Daily we are grateful for your love, prayers, and support.
I woke up around 2am one morning to feel the bed shaking quietly from Erin’s shoulders moving up and down. Sensitively leaning over to console her, I asked what’s wrong. She responded with “Do you know the landscaper’s name? “Marco”” she said laughing. I was confused. “I met his co-worker today.......His name is “Polo”” she told me bursting into laughing again. I love my wife !!
Isaac and Polo sharing some coconut water.