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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dominican Thoughts from Paige Roe

Hello to everyone in "the states"!

Today I finally had my first opportunity to work with the group. Some of you may know that I am allergic to latex, which made it hard for me to work in the church this week. The main work project was to paint the church.. Latex is in paint, so therefore, I could not be at the church working, and if I was, I had to be outside. So, while the others got to enjoy working in the church with the entire group Monday and Tuesday, I got to enjoy serving kids in a nutrition center and also help Lenae (our G.O team leader) with her office work. Even though I was away from the team, I still had an opportunity to serve God. While serving the kids in the nutrition center, I was amazed at how many kids didn't know their last name, and even some not even knowing their first because they only know their nickname. Seeing these kids get so excited for food and attention made me see a whole new world. The kids beg for attention while we are begging for the newest technology and Starbucks. Seeing these kids melted my heart. My love for kids became even stronger, even when I didn't think it could.

As I had mentioned earlier, after the nutrition center, I was with Lenae at her house while the team was at the church painting. Knowing that I couldn't help the team and feeling useless, it was honestly so hard to sit there in a comfortable chair and a cool house. But, at the same time, I feel as if I was called to be there to experience something different, that may effect my life in the future. I created a special bond with her that I will never forget. Romans chapter 8 verses 28- 30, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." This makes me feel as if God called me to be in a different place with Lenae for a time in my future, whether it be a full-time missionary or even just an intern.

This trip has opened my eyes a lot. I realize how beyond lucky I am to have a bug-free house, air conditioning, and warm showers. I never thought I would ever consider taking another trip out of the country (due to me being homesick), but now, I am thinking the opposite. The Dominican is an awesome place, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to be here to experience this.. Especially with my mom. Now that my mom has experienced this with me, she will be able to remind me how lucky I am when I take advantage of things. Even though I love this place, it makes me realize how important my family and also church family is.






Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dominican Thoughts from Reagan Wasileski

The experiences that I've had so far on this trip are really indescribable. It is hard to accurately delineate all the thoughts and emotions that we've experienced thus far in the places we've been, the people we've met, and the things we've done. Nevertheless, I will do my best to put into perspective how life changing it all is. For example, today our youth group traveled down to a community in Santiago known as "El Hoyo" (The Hole). When you hear the word "poverty" what image comes to mind? The image that invades my mind looks exactly like El Hoyo. Our trucks were parked at the top of a hill, and down below was a crowded array of small shacks, sewage rivers, pigs, and neglected children. Immediately upon entering the community, we were greeted by eager children with the biggest smiles you have ever seen. They were shouting "Americanos! Americanos!" and were asking to be held. One little girl, about 5 years old, climbed on my back and said to me "Te quiero ser mi mama." Which means "I want you to be my mom." I was at a total loss for words. I got a huge lump in my throat which made it impossible for me to articulate any thoughts whatsoever. I didn't tell anyone else for fear that I might start crying. We were only at El Hoyo for approximately 40 minutes, but in that time, we served food to some of the children at a nutrition center similar to a soup kitchen, and we talked briefly with one of the ministers about his experience with building a church in the middle of that sort of community and all of the struggles that came along with it. Before visiting "El Hoyo", I hadn't really witnessed poverty in the streets of Santiago. It hadn't really occurred to me the extremity of the situation and how bad things really were. I can honestly say that this trip has changed my heart in more ways than one and I really would encourage anyone to go on a mission trip to a third world country if the opportunity ever presents itself! :) Hasta Luego!



Dominican Republic thoughts by Maria Casas

Hello!!!
We just got back from a place called "El hoyo" ,  It is a place in the middle of Santiago with a lot of poor houses, which are made out of useless materials that they find in the streets. El hoyo was a garbage dump, then, people started building  houses with the trash and the population there started  growing and soon, the government could not do anything. It was shocking how the little kids run to you as soon as you get in there looking for your attention.
We also got to feed them and for most of the kids, it was their only meal of the day. Their smiles when they ate were huge.
Going there made me think a lot of how lucky we are for all the things we have and sometimes we complain anyways. Here, leaving around trash and most of them having one meal a day are very happy and the smallest thing in the world make them happy.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Dominican Thoughts from Bebe Faulhaber

Hola friends and family! :):)

I wish I had enough time to tell you about all the fun and new experiences all of us are having on this trip, but I'm sure you've heard all about today's events from Hannah earlier. To be honest, this is the first blog I have ever posted, and I must say I am pretty excited, so I hope you all enjoy!

Today was our first day of construction, and we've been working in the church. Rachel Murray and I were given the task of painting two bathrooms and a few other walls. After a couple coats of paint, by the end of the day we had completed the job. It felt really great to get to finish a project, and see all of the progress that is happening within the church.

After we cleaned up, had siesta round two, and an incredible dinner we got to go get ice-cream from Bon Helado, and have a couple hours of group fellowship. It's really incredible to see the different types of friendships being built and strengthened throughout this team. Kerlyn drove us back to the house, and we got to jam to some Dominican music in his "party bus."

When we got back to the house, I got the chance to share my favorite scripture and lead a devotion for the team. I read from Isaiah 49:15-23 (MSG), and then closed in prayer. Now I am currently relaxing with Rachel Murray in our host family's living room. I have picked up the habit of journaling every night, but it is harder to write out all of my thoughts than I had originally imagined. There is just so much to say, and my hand can only take so much writing.

One thing I love so far has been experiencing the different culture. All throughout the day, and even during the evening I love to hear and fall asleep to the music that is being played throughout the neighborhood. Speaking of the night, there is supposed to be a lunar eclipse around 3am, so hopefully I can crawl out of bed and sneak out onto the roof and catch a glimpse of it. Jim says no, but he isn't stopping me. (Shh, don't tell him I said that).

Well this turned out to be longer than I thought it would be, but so much is happening in this community, and I am so grateful that I was able to come on this trip. I am excited to see what the rest of the week has in store so us. I also want to say thanks again for everyone's love and support towards this trip. We have been so blessed. I hope all is well back in the states! :)


Bebe Faulhaber



Dominican Thoughts from Hannah Murray

Today we went to the church to do work. At the church, there was a number of things that needed to be done. First, I filled in cracks with cement. Second, we loaded cement blocks into a truck. The blocks needed to be taken to another work site that was in the process of being turned into new dorms. A couple other girls and I rode in the back of the truck and it was VERY interesting, to say the least. First of all, it was very bumpy and we got to go in the middle of the city and see a afferent side of things in Santiago. After we unloaded the block, we returned to the church. During this trip, a motorcycle came so close to us that we could literally touch his hand. He then proceeded to pop a wheely and go around us. If no one has mentioned this yet, I'll be the first: the driving is AWFUL. After this exciting adventure we had lunch (which was delicious) and then we went back to the church. The rest of the afternoon we painted the main room where they hold their services. I was able to interact with some of the teens that are a part of the youth group here. Although there is a language barrier, we are still able to talk and get to know them. Overall, the first day has been very uplifting and fun. Tonight, we are going to get ice cream and I am more than excited for that. I hope all is well in the states! And yes, I'm taking advantage of being able to say "in the states".



Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Dominican Thoughts" from Jonah Steele

Bienvenidos a la Republica Dominica! We had a safe landing in Miami, and the 8 hour layover was "heavenly." I can honestly say that airports are built to house Starbucks stores. Anyway, as we landed in Santiago, we could see a wonderful view of lights. We are close to the equator, so the sun comes up and down from 7 to 7. Being that close to the equator also means that the sun is bigger, like literally. Its the size of Colony Square Mall, but in the sky (Which is most likely photoshopped to be this blue.) Customs people can't smile, and TSA security guards are still scary. As soon as we landed, we could tell that the standard of living here isn't the same as what we are used to.

This morning, we went to church, which is next door, and sat (stood kind of) through a Spanish service. One of the coolest things about that was how some of the songs we sang were ones that we knew, but in Spanish. Isaias (el capitan) said in his sermon, "The church is a hospital for sick people, not a museum for saints." This mirrors North Terrace's goal of One More, and it was awesome to see the goals of two different churches across an ocean line up like that.

The thing that has struck me the most so far is how happy the people are. In our wonderful United States, we complain nonstop about things that do not have any real impact. Wifi, hot water, flushable toilets, and even not having the newest Apple device. The people here could complain about not having electricity, not having clean water, diseases, poverty, trash, rough roads, not having a house, not being able to send their kids to school, not being able to feed their families. But they smile. The contentedness that the Dominicans shows puts a lot of Americans to shame. The way we define "wealth" doesn't even apply here. The poorest among us have immeasurably more than the vast majority of this island. The people that we will see this week and the ones that we already have seen have an ability to take what they have and praise God for it. Isaias also preached about praising God in the high times and in the low times. The people here embody that. I think that as a group, we all have a lot to learn about what "wealth" looks like, in terms of our spiritual riches and our physical ones.

-J (of the Steele variety)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014 Dominican Republic Team

In just 2 days, these students and adults will be on their way to the Dominican Republic (plus a couple who couldn't make this picture).

In 2009, I first traveled to Santiago, Dominican Republic, on a short term mission trip.  I believe that giving students an opportunity to stretch, try, fail, succeed and experience new things is important to their faith.  I also believe that the Kingdom of God is bigger than what we often experience in our town, state or country.  God is doing some amazing things in corners of the world where Twitter and Facebook aren't recording it and where it doesn't make the cover of Christianity Today. We'll get a chance to see it.  

This going to be a great trip.  These students have worked very hard and have raised over $15,000 (so far) for their trip.  We will be doing some construction and children's ministry while there.

Over the next week, starting on Saturday, these students are going to have the opportunity to share their thoughts, experiences and feelings here in this online space.  I want them to share it while it's fresh.  A student will share each day and one day will feature two students.  Look for new posts as time allows!

And please pray for our crew!

JC

Friday, March 28, 2014

I can't dunk...

I can’t dunk a basketball.  

I’ve never had the thrill of being able to dunk a basketball.  Even in my younger, more athletic days… I’ve never been able to dunk a basketball.  Now, some of you will say, but Jim, “You’re tallish, youngish and athleticish… You’ve really never…”
True Dunking Greatness

I have never dunked a basketball on a regulation sized hoop.  I mean, who hasn’t dropped the rim down on one of these adjustable style rims… dropped it down to 7 feet like this one and dunked on that.  And for a few moments, we feel amazing. But we know that’s not reality.  

In real life, I am the epitome of “white men can’t jump.”  I have never dunked a basketball on a 10 foot rim.

Something dawned on me recently.  
I was talking to some students about the 10 commandments in the book of Exodus.  

I think when we think about the 10 commandments… “you shall not make an idol… you shall not steal… you shall not commit adultery…” I think when we think about those commandments, we think about them like dunking on a 10 foot rim.  We know that it’s really hard… and while most people can’t do it, there are a few people who can.  And those who can, are amazing.  Especially people who can do it with style. But we think, “If I work really, really hard and focus, maybe I can get there.”  

But most of us will never achieve that.  

The reality is: when we think about the 10 commandments… the rim isn’t 10 feet.  The rim is 100 feet!  

God commanded the people… “You shall not commit adultery.”  And we think, “No problem… I can do that.”  Then Jesus comes along and reminds us that… “If you look at a woman with lust, you’ve already committed adultery with her in your heart.”  (Matthew 5:28) Oops… 

God commanded the people… “You shall not murder.” And we think, “Okay, I’ve got this one. I haven’t killed anyone… ever”  Then Jesus comes along and reminds us that “if you are angry with your brother or sister, you are subject to judgement…” (Matthew 5:22)... Oops again... 

While we thought if we were really good, we could dunk on that rim.  Come to find out, it’s much, much higher than we thought.  And actually, that’s the idea.  God set the standard… the hoop… so high that only One could dunk on it.  

Listen to Paul in Romans 3:20… “Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law… rather through the law we come conscious of sin.”  The purpose of the law was to show us that we can’t achieve the goal… we can’t dunk… no matter how good or tall or athletic or skilled at kidding the commandments we are.  

Which is where Jesus comes in.  

Jesus is the only one who could dunk… who could achieve the goal… who could live the life.  

Listen to Paul just a few verses later in Romans 3:22 and following… This righteousness… is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.


Thankfully… while I can’t dunk… I know someone who can.  Through faith in Jesus, his death on the cross, his resurrection from the grave, I can be who God created me to be. 




Monday, January 13, 2014

The Tree and The Powercord


In the hundreds of times that I have read Genesis 1-3, I have often thought this thought.

(backstory first) God has created this vast and amazing garden... created the heavens, skies, animals, aardvarks, giraffes and mankind.  He placed them in a a perfect garden to care, with mankind, for mankind to keep it with one expectation: "Do not eat from the tree in the center of the garden" (Genesis 2).

The thought that I have thought is this: "Okay... One rule... one expectation: Don't eat of that tree. How hard could it be?  Pick another tree... and save us all some hassle."

But now, I have an 11-month old.

Myles is mobile enough to crawl, stand up and get into things.  Our living room is currently filled with all sorts of plastic toys (a ride-on-motorcycle, cars, balls and ball pit, stuffed animals galore).  All of these toys are his and for his enjoyment.  And if they weren't enough, we'd find more.  

What does Myles want?  The power cord for the laptops... the VCR... my cell phone... an extension cord... The very things that he can't have.

There is an irresistible pull of the things that we can't have.  I understand that better as a dad of an 11-month old than I did a year ago.  Not that power cords, VCRs and such are sin... but for Myles, those things could hurt him should he decide to chew on a power cord too long.  And despite the number of times that I take him or the things away from him, he continues to make a bee-line for those objects once placed in the room.

At this stage in Myles' development, he isn't ready for this thought yet.  But most of us reading this can handle it... Often we feel like God is keeping something from us (like I am taking those tasty power cords from Myles).  Maybe we should instead realize that God has something else incredible for us.  I have plenty of amazing, fun, plastic toys for Myles that can't hurt him that he could play with.

God's aim isn't to keep something from us... but to give something to us.  He wants to help us avoid pain, sorrow, scars and disappointment (all the things that sin brings) and give to us life, peace, joy and fulfillment (all the things that sin promises but can't provide).



So the next time you are tempted to chew on a tasty power cord (metaphorically speaking of course... going after something God has said "no" to), realize that God isn't trying to keep something great from you but to give you something far better in return.

JC