27 de febrero!

February 27th is Dominican Independence Day. The Dominican Republic claimed its independence from Haiti in 1844.  This week, our middle school students celebrated with a “wax museum.” They wrote and memorized first person monologues to be given as classes and visitors came through to see them.

Then on Friday, the city celebrated with parades full of drums and flags! And kites! and costumes!

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Founding Fathers (School Wax Museum for Independence Day)

Founding Fathers (School Wax Museum for Independence Day)

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Dominican Independence

Dominican Independence

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family

My Students are My Biggest Challenge and Also My Greatest Love.

I definitely teared up when Victor gave this to me. He probably had to save for several weeks to earn the "points" to buy this.

I definitely teared up when Victor gave this to me. He probably had to save for several weeks to earn the “points” to buy this.

Never a dull moment with these girls! Full of humor and drama!

Never a dull moment with these girls! Full of humor and drama!

We made Verse pictures to decorate our door for February.

We made Verse pictures to decorate our door for February.

Last week, Darlin was baptized. So excited for him to continue to walk with Jesus in his life.

Last week, Darlin was baptized. So excited for him to continue to walk with Jesus in his life.

Ok, so “sometimes” might be an understatement …

My blog header says “sometimes” she watches baseball. I guess I watch it a lot more than that, but isn’t that what writing is about? understatement or exaggeration? Creative writing, right? Anyway, I wanted to share some of my  baseball excursions with you.

First of all, The Estrellas Orientales finished the regular season in 1st place, and made it to the final round of the playoffs. They started out strong with a 2-0 over the opposing Gigantes, but ended up losing the best of 9 series in 8 games. Throughout the season, I was able to attend almost every home game, thanks to the generosity of someone who gave me tickets for every game. Huge blessing! Then, I was also able to travel to all 5 stadiums in the Dominican league this year. That was a pretty cool feat to accomplish.

After the season ended, I knew I’d have to wait for spring training to hear any more about baseball, or so I thought. Someone told me about a baseball clinic happening at the stadium, so I walked over (about 5 minutes from my house) to see what was going on. Sure enough, there was a baseball clinic, sponsored by Robinson Cano and his foundation. There were also several major league players there: Cano himself, David Ortiz, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura, Carlos Santana, Edwin Encarnacion, and Eduardo Nunez to name a few. A friend of mine from the Estrellas was on the field, so I asked if I could go down. I spent my afternoon on the field, listening to MLB players talk to the kids about the importance of respect, diligence, and education, as well as watching them give tips on catching, hitting, and throwing. It was a dream-like experience, and I was even able to get my picture with a few of the players (namely a better picture with Cano and my first picture with Nelson Cruz!).

If you enjoy baseball, you’ll love these. If not, you might fall asleep.

A look into my Dominican baseball experience

The day at the baseball clinic

Reflecting on God in the Life of Moses… Bible Study

Scriptures:

Exodus 3:1-6, 11-15

Psalm 90

Exodus 33:12-16, 34:8-9

Our Relationship with God  God’s Relationship with Us

I heard someone say the other day, that God is a relational God. I know that, but they also said, “Just look at the Old Testament.” When I think of God being relational, I always connected it to Jesus and the New Testament, and his relationship, especially with the unlovable.

Now I find myself searching for relationship in the Old Testament, and clearly, I’ve been missing a lot! Maybe I’ve seen it before and forgotten, or maybe I’ve never noticed, or maybe God has opened my eyes and heart because I need it in my life right now. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for the truth of God’s desire for relationship, and the truth of His presence in my life.

Our Presence With God  God’s Presence with Us

In the conversations God has with Moses, Moses repeatedly reminds God that he can’t do it, and he needs God to go with him. And God says, My presence will go with you. Our God is not far away. He is present with us, leading us, correcting us, loving us. With his presence, we are not lonely. With his presence, we have direction. With his presence, we are chastised. With his presence we feel loved.

Our View of God  God’s Character

In Psalm 90, Moses clearly acknowledges God’s wrath and anger and His power. He confesses that God has indignation with the people. But in the same psalm, he asks for the satisfaction of God’s love and favor. Because Moses was in God’s presence, he knew God. Most of us would find it difficult to ask favor from someone who held wrath and anger, unless of course, we knew we were loved by that person. Moses knew that He was loved by God. He knew this because God was present with him in a relationship. In knowing God, we don’t ignore his anger and wrath; instead we rest in the truth that His love covers our sin, and that his indignation and wrath were satisfied in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Back in the swing of 2015

Thank you, Lord, for a smooth flight back to San Pedro!

I arrived Monday night, which gave me all of Tuesday to unpack, grocery shop, organize, lesson plan, and get ready to be back in the classroom on Wednesday. One day ended up being plenty of time, for which I’m grateful. I tend to spread small tasks out over long periods of time, so I was a little anxious about my poor planning.

As I expected, the students moped into the classroom, not wanting to be up at 7:30 in the morning, but also as expected, they had big tight hugs for me. It’s typical for our classes to have low attendance after a holiday break, and Wednesday was no exception. With several absent, I really didn’t want to begin a lot of new information. I did, however, introduce them to Apples to Apples.

Having several high and several low English learning levels, I decided to organize the game with teams of 2. Both 5th grade classes enjoyed the game, and afterward, we talked about what new words they’d learned through the game. I think I’d like to use it every couple weeks. It was a fun time.

Being back also means being back to baseball! I was able to go to the game last night with Kayla, my partner in crime, Patrice, a new short term team member, and Elissa, a Dominican friend I’ve made through Instagram and baseball. Being in the stadium again felt like home! So many more warm hugs and welcomes. The Estrellas won in extra innings, and I got a (blurry) picture with Robinson Cano.

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Through teaching and through baseball, I want to be a light that shines so that men will see my good works and glorify my Father who is in heaven. I’m human, so of course I adore the affirmation, but I’m also really praying a lot about letting all my relationships point to God. Won’t you pray with me and for me in that regard?

What is my story here?

My friend and I have been asked to head up a project. The project will be a cookbook SLASH anecdote book about life in the Dominican Republic.

It got me to thinking, well, first, that I don’t cook, but then, what would I tell someone? What stories do I have? What advice would I give?

It’s such a broad question. I said, at the dinner where this was presented, “I just don’t know that I have anything to contribute to this from my experiences.” Then my friend told me.

She said, “Melissa, the way you are able to interact at the baseball games, make friends, and meet people, that’s you. That’s your story.” Well, she said something like that, but the way I wrote it is how I heard her words. And I think it’s true. I don’t really have a lot of talents. But I really do like to meet people, have fun, make people laugh, and show them the love of Jesus. And I hope that’s what I’m doing at the baseball games.

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Through going to the games, I’ve made friends with people who sell food, people who serve food, players, fans, and even the President of the team. The players wave and smile at me, and the security guards watch out for me. Sometimes, players even drive us home.

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There’s something to be said about being fun and smiling. Don’t you want to be around fun, smiling people? I know I do. And for me, here in the D.R., I’ve found I feel safe, and I feel comfortable, and it’s because I’ve put myself out there to meet people. In doing that, I’ve made a community of friends who watch out for me.

I don’t know if that’s a talent, or what it is, but it’s my story, and it’s what I have to offer people about this country: Smile, show joy, be kind, and talk to people.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose…

When I was in the 8th grade, I transferred to a Christian school. I vividly remember reading an abridged version of Through Gates of Splendor in our English class. I think that’s the only thing I remember from actual classes. The story is written by Elisabeth Elliot, and is the true account of her husband and four other men who went to the jungles of Ecuador to reach a dangerous people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the story, the five men were violently killed. Elisabeth Elliot, with the help of Rachel Saint (the sister of another man who was killed), and Dayuma (a native of the tribe who had helped them translate and had become a believer), went back to this same tribe and reached many of them with the Gospel, including the man who had killed her husband.

The famous quote from this book is something Jim Elliot said, as states my title: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 

I think the power of his quote lives on because he lived and died by these words. He gave his life to gain something greater, the salvation of these people. And the salvation of many to follow.

God used this story to burden me for missions, to give what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose. 

Our Dominican pastor took a mission trip to Ecuador, and tonight he shared testimony of his trip. While on the trip, he and 2 American missionaries took a trip up to the place where these 5 missionaries were killed. As I was listening, I was thinking of how amazing it would be to visit that place. They had 2 Ecuadorians (?) with them. Through conversation they learned that one was a Christian and one was not.

(Pardon any inaccuracies in this story, as I listened to the whole thing in Spanish)

Somewhere along the trip, Douglas, one of the American missionaries, and William, one of the guides, were separated from the group. They conversed about why William was not a believer, and he confessed that there was pressure from his friends. After more discussion, Douglas called over Miguel (my pastor), and told Miguel that William said he was ready. He was ready to receive Christ. Miguel had the privilege of explaining the Gospel in Spanish, and then the other guide explained in their native tongue, and there, on that trip, William accepted Christ.

I just couldn’t get over how cool that would be, to be on that trip, and to lead a native to Christ, and on a trip to the place where the first missionaries had come, and had given their lives for these people. Wow.

On the return trip, they came across a temple, and someone asked if they wanted to see the grave site of Rachel Saint. Of course they did! Then, next to her grave was another fresh grave, no plaque had even been placed. Someone said, “This is the grave of Dayuma. She died in February.”

Then William explained that Dayuma was his grandma.

Wow.

Not only had Miguel been given the privilege of leading this young man to Christ, but this young man was the grandson of the very first person from this tribe to receive Christ. Wow! What a gift. What an experience.

I still have tears in my eyes thinking about who must’ve been praying for William. And then I think about how Miguel is from a completely different country and was only there  short time, but it was God’s timing. 

Here I am in a foreign country. Maybe God will use me to help someone know him. And I pray that those who are in the states, near my loved ones, will be the ones to witness salvation for those I love who don’t know Jesus. We are all part of the plan. We just have to listen and follow.

I’m praying for my loved ones to know Jesus. Now I am reminded also to pray for those who carry the Gospel to them.

(I’m sure the story was much more powerful when told in person by Miguel, but I still wanted to share!)