clays on mission
Following Jesus wherever he leads...
Our last blog entry was March 19th. If you go back and read it, it is very clear that we had no idea what was going to happen across our planet, and how life would change for everyone over the next four months.
Just like in the rest of the world, life changed here in the Dominican Republic. By the end of March, the country entered a state of emergency, and we were under curfew from 5pm-6am every day. Even during the day, you were only supposed to go out to the grocery stores or pharmacies. Videos began emerging of the police trucks driving around the city after curfew and loading up anybody they could find for a night in jail. Trucks with large speakers would drive through the streets announcing that "The Coronavirus is here, and everyone needs to stay inside".
For several weeks, our days consisted of the kids finishing school online, and maybe getting out for a walk around the block. There was a favorite river spot we had in the mountains about an hour away, we were able to go to once, but by the second week of April, the government has closed down even leaving the city. We have no yard, but fortunately there is a small grassy, wooded area about a block away we would take the kids too.
At the same time, the ministries we were plugged into also stopped. The feeding program in the Pontezuela community where we served came to an end, I was no longer on campus at Santiago Christian, and even the small group we hosted in our home stopped. After several weeks of pretty much being trapped inside, we began really asking God why he had us here. Did he really call us to stay in the Dominican Republic just to sit in our home?
As the Dominican Republic shut down, with only gas stations, pharmacies, take out restaurants and grocery stores open we began to hear of so many people losing their jobs. Reports of Haitian and Venezuelan refugees who couldn't feed their families and were being kicked out of their home began to emerge. These people relied on day labor(house cleaning, construction, yard work, street vending) and only earned a few dollars a day. The Dominican government put together a program to help feed their citizens that needed it, but it was hard to get, and many like the refugees did not even qualify.
The next few weeks, God began to provide through you guys the funds to help begin making food bags. Over the next 6 weeks, we made and help hand out enough to feed over 300 families. The local, small grocery store we shopped at recognized us when we walked in as the people buying tons of food each week and would get their workers to pitch in helping us get all the food. By the end, their workers were even helping us sort and make the bags of food we would deliver. In such a hard time for the country, we were able to not only feed families, but bless a local business and allow them to participate in what God was doing. For those that partnered with us during this time, I want to say thank you for allowing God to use you to impact those around Him.
For about 6 weeks, until the beginning of June, this was our life: school, walks around the block, and making and delivering bags. While we still felt trapped in our house, having to be off the streets by 5pm, we at least felt we knew why God had called us to stay.
At the beginning of June, things slowly started opening up. Borders were still closed, but businesses could open. Curfew was changed to 7pm during the week. It's weird, but those two extra hours made a huge difference(we could actually order dinner instead of always having to cook at home) The kids got their first haircut in months, we had our gardener come and cut our small overgrown grassy area. We still were making bags of food, but were excited by the fact that alot of people who were struggling were slowly able to go back to work. We even got to go back to taking daytrips back to the beautiful mountains and waterfalls again. Our sights were set on hoping to be able to visit the US if borders would open. On July 1st, the State of Emergency ended, borders opened, and for the first time since March, there was no more curfew!!
As things opened up here, things seemed to be getting worse in Texas. We decided to head home anyways on July 8th and spent two weeks visiting family. While alot was closed, we did enjoy visiting some of our favorite eating spots like Rosas, Chik-fil-a, and OC Burgers. It was a rejuvenating time for us to see both my and Diana's family, including a trip to Washington DC and Virginia where we got to visit the Lincoln Memorial on the way to meeting our newest nephew. We were so thankful for the time we had back in the States.
Another State of Emergency and a Tropical Storm
Half way through our trip, we found out that the Dominican Republic was going to be entering another State of Emergency. We prayed that we would not get locked out of the country as we awaited what that meant. We returned on July 21st, the first day of a new curfew. We were so thankful our only difficulty was finding an approved driver that had the papers to drive after curfew that could pick us up from the airport at 2am.
We've been back here a week, and as I am writing this, we are in the middle of Tropical Storm Isaias. Even that, we are thankful, has been only mostly rain and some wind. Yesterday marked one year of living in the DR.
We now are eagerly awaiting and excited for what God has in store for us. So much has changed this year. Through the ups and downs and the unexpected, God has been faithful. We are so thankful for those who have walked with us and supported us through prayer, financially, friendship and love over this last year. You each mean so much to us, and we are thankful God has placed yall in our life as we continue to serve Him here in the DR.