clays on mission
Following Jesus wherever he leads...
Hello friends and family! It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything about our lives. The last few months have been, well, interesting, and hard at times, but we feel the Lord’s presence and guidance. In the good times, and the hard times, He is faithful! So much has happened, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it.
We’ve been living here in the DR for 8 months now. I still can’t believe we’ve been here for more than half a year already! Here’s what life looks like for us after 8 months of being here:
Our family has been plagued by much sickness since we’ve moved to the Dominican Republic. It’s been a constant battle! Everything from fevers, to infections, stomach problems, even parasites! I struggled with terrible asthma from December through February. But today, I am glad to report that we are all healthy. I’m sure it’s just our bodies adjusting to our new surroundings, but please continue to be in prayer for our health.
With the Coronavirus sweeping the entire world, things have definitely gotten a lot more interesting around here. The president of the Dominican Republic announced Tuesday that our country is in lockdown for 15 days. Only the essentials will be open, like hospitals, gas stations, and supermarkets. Flights are being cancelled. Cruise ships will not be allowed to dock. Schools are closed, including Santiago Christian School. So this means the kids are doing “distance learning/homeschooling” starting now through April 27th. We have plenty of food and water in the house, so we’ll be able to ride this out. My concern is for those that cannot go to work, and desperately need the steady income to buy food and pay rent. Please join us in praying for those who will go through financial hardship, those who will not be getting paid for the next few weeks, for those that count on the lunch at school for food, and for those that will be stuck at home more when home is not a safe place. Our hearts are heavy, but I am hopeful that the Lord will bring something good out of this chaos.
Our family has been learning how to navigate a new culture and a new country. Even though Adam and I know Spanish, understanding people has not been easy. Dominicans talk very fast, and often leave out important sounds. I don’t hear a lot of R’s or S’s. We’re also used to Mexican Spanish, which is different from Dominican Spanish. But we’ve been learning new words and phrases since moving here and even though it’s still hard to understand people at times, I’ve found that most people will slow down for us.
The children are learning Spanish little by little. They still can’t have a conversation with anyone, but they are learning the basics. I know they’ll continue to learn more and more as time goes by.
Avery and Logan have made some friends at school, which is a huge answer to prayer! Avery says she has “several best friends” and Logan has found a great group of boys he hangs out with every day. Their teachers have great things to say about how well they’ve transitioned, which is also an answer to prayer. This semester Avery joined the Art Club, which is her new passion. It’s something she can continue to do while we’re at home for the next few weeks. Logan joined the middle school Robotics team at SCS. It’s more challenging than elementary Robotics, but he was so ready. We were all disappointed that their last competition got cancelled, but we understand it’s the best thing to do under the circumstances.
Julian continues with homeschooling, only now for the past few days, his brother and sister have joined him. It’s been stressful, but I know soon, we’ll get the hang of it. We are trying to incorporate more ways of helping Julian be more independent. He’s doing more chores around the house. I’m helping him pay more attention to how much things cost so he’ll understand money and finances. The move to the DR has been good for him. He tries to talk to people using the little Spanish that he knows, and people usually respond by teaching him new Spanish words and phrases.
Julian joined the Xover (Crossover) Dance Group this semester. He’s never danced before, but since he loves music, I knew he would enjoy being a part of it. We are hoping he can continue after the quarantine but until then, he can practice at home. Julian has also been taking guitar lessons. He’s learned 3 worship songs so far! He’s been practicing with his guitar every single day, and he’s getting pretty good at it!
As many of you know, my brother and his family also moved here to the Dominican Republic at the same time we did. My brother and Adam work at the same school, so the kids have their dad and their uncle to watch over them. They also live 5 minutes down the road from us, which is very convenient, and we see each other often. Having them here has made this transition smoother. I think it’s incredible we get to walk this experience together alongside them.
Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, our desire has been to know how we can serve and understand the needs of the Pontezuela community. We want to thank you all for praying for us as we figure out what the Lord has for them and how we fit into their story. We are currently praying about ways to help them with both immediate needs as well as long term needs. Right now, we have committed to serving at ICM (Comunidad Multicultural) in their feeding program. This community center is in the heart of a Haitian refugee community. Their needs are many, and there are many opportunities to serve. Serving in the feeding program is something even the kids can do, so it’s perfect for our family. We have been building relationships, which is great, but not always easy. Coming from a different culture, country, socio-economic status, and language can get in the way of understanding one another. Please pray that we continue to make connections with the people here. The feeding program will continue to serve through the quarantine, because it’s such a huge need, and often the only meal they get. But it will look differently from now on, until things return to “normal”.
Please pray for the people of this community. Many have unstable jobs, or depend on selling food on the street to feed their family. Last night, we attended a leadership meeting where we discussed our concerns about the effect this virus and quarantine will have on the people in the community. There were many people who came to mind, like a 3 year old little girl being raised by her great-grandmother, and how this will affect them; or the family that lives in a one room house. These are real concerns, and real needs. With this virus spreading, and this quarantine in place, our prayers are that, as the body of Christ, we can continue to show love and support to those who desperately need it most. May we not turn a blind eye from the harsh realities of people's circumstances. This is the time to become the hands and feet of Jesus!
As far as helping with long term needs, we are currently praying about what that looks like. We have nothing to report yet, but I recognize the Lord is stirring something in our hearts and in the hearts of others as well. We are excited to see what the Lord is up to, and how we fit into that plan.
We’ve also started mentoring a few people from our church community. We have been meeting in our home every 2 weeks to eat, share, and pray. It’s been wonderful getting to know them! Our meetings will have to go virtual for the next few weeks, which is a new challenge, but it can be done. I am so thankful for technology!! Please pray for this amazing group. They are hungry for more of Jesus and have a true desire to walk in obedience to Him. Pray that we be faithful to encourage them, and to point them to Jesus.
Thank you all for your support! We love and need your prayers and encouraging words. Keep ‘em coming! Let us know how we can be praying for you as well.