We’ve been back in the states for about 5 weeks and there’s still so much to unpack- metaphorically that is. I wanted to share a few of my ‘souvenirs’ of some of the ways I’ve been impacted from the experience with you.
‘God, show me what you want me to see; open my eyes to your presence that surrounds.’ -This was our prayer for the week along with a challenge to get close to God so as to leave the DR closer to God than when we arrived.
And He did answer prayers and bring openness through the nearness of experiencing His presence more fully and deeply.
Through our devotions and teaching for the week, we were reminded of the importance of our orientation to the vast and majestic God of the Universe. Where are our hearts turned and upon what are our eyes fixed? A daily turning and opening up of our posture towards this loving Father is absolutely necessary for our realignment yet it’s all enabled by grace anyway of the one who pursues us first.
He showed me His abundance through the vibrant faith of his people. God is working in this beautiful country amidst a passionate people who live in visible and vocal daily dependence on God. The testimonies of His people that we heard tell of how they were following His voice even in the midst of intense suffering, and to places of difficulty. An American missionary woman, Dana, shared with us when we went to visit her school that she heard the call from God to start up this school for deaf children in her seventies; she said yes to God. The tear-jerking stories that she told us of children who were literally chained up, had absolutely nothing, little ones who’d been abused and outcast because of their disability – mute and deaf- were absolutely horrendous. BUT their story doesn’t end there. She went out, found them and brought them in to the refuge of this school. There are about 20 children receiving education because of this school. Additionally, God, who sees them, loves them and provides, is healing their lives. Isaiah 61 rang in my heart during this visit to the school, seeing the fruition of the mute speaking, in finding their voice so as to communicate and connect with other human beings. Love has no language barrier. Stories like this one were especially powerful for me.
I got to see students studying communication disorders and Spanish come alive as they leaned into their giftedness to be agents of restoration by breaking down communication barriers with deaf Spanish speaking children in order that they may know connection. These students were also gifts to our team as we relied on them to help facilitate communication with the children we visited throughout our time in the surrounding Hato Mayor area.
One big muscle that we were prepared to exercise in all aspects of the trip was flexibility. Man can lay plans but God ultimately works out His plans in our life and they are far superior to anything we could begin to facilitate. For example, part of our team had planned to put up a roof to expand church space, but when it was met with local resistance, spent more time showing God’s love to the children of the village. Flexibility was emphasized to us before and during the trip, especially as cultural norms more readily dictate this reality and the need to flex the flexibility muscle as plans continually change. There is a deeper level of surrender that happens in yielding to the will of a Sovereign God even and especially in the daily, details of life.
Living in continual surrender has made an imprint upon my heart, which brings greater peace and a deeper level of trust in a good God whose plans are good, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Since being back in the states, I’ve been able to practice this in tangible situations where what I want hasn’t happened, but I’ve been able to yield to those realities, trusting that God has greater purposes than what I can begin to comprehend and simply say yes to the Lord and move forward.