Im discovering that it is really only when I go and do my talks in England that I really stop and reflect over the year, trying to see what the most important/exciting things have been. What the hard parts have been. What I believe God has been doing in the DR. What message is there that I can share with all of those in the UK who have been faithfully supporting me and praying for me - partnering with me in this crazy Kingdom stuff that I get to do.
SO...here a few of my thoughts...
Chorlo and I in October
Seeing God's provision through YOU, his people, has been amazing. Being able to help Chorlo with 2 brain surgeries - 2 BRAIN SURGERIES- is incredible. Being able to support 2 year groups of students as they go to high school - amazing- having dedicated people who give sacrificially from their hard earned paychecks, to help students they have never met to have a better future - inspiring and moving. Being able to help as many young people and children as possible for the naturalisation process - enabling them to have the rights to education and employment in the Dominican - life changing and overwhelming! I can't thank you all enough for everything that you have done to help me help them. ;)
There have been some sad losses along the way too - in May a young man, Esquor, passed away. He had been sick with heart and circulation problems for a long time. Eventually he needed dialysis, and then he passed away. He was only 30 years old. He used to help the mission teams when we were building in his village, he managed to give me a scar on my arm through his exuberant helpfulness...he swung a metal frame into me by mistake! His story is one that saddens me - if he had lived in a developed country there would have been so many other options for his health care that the ones available to him. Im pleased to say that Isachar (a very gifted and wonderful Dominican man) and I did have opportunities to pray with Esquor and share God's love with him. He knew where he was going.
As well as looking back though, I start to look forward and dream about what might take place in 2015. In the looking forward and dreaming, I am feeling slightly overwhelmed! I do know though that this time last year I would have felt overwhelmed at the things that have been accomplished over the past 12 months. I am always thankful that God does not reveal too much at a time! I often say that if I had known in 2009 when I went to the DR on 2 week mission trip that I would end up living there I would NEVER have gone for 2 weeks! Obviously, I am very glad that I did - but at the time it was certainly not what I had in mind for my future.
One BIG thing for this year is Nazareth house children's home. This is the home that Sister Mercedes runs and lives in, for disabled children. For 12 years they have been living in the one house. The owner is now trying to sell the house, which means Sister Mercedes has nowhere to live - with her 18 disabled children. The house is being sold for 240000 pounds! Please join me in praying HARD as we try to work together to come up with a solution. At the moment am looking at land with a view to building a purpose built facility for her - which is pretty exciting! Nothing is certain yet, but this is something I am pursuing. Please pray that God would guide and provide for Sister Mercedes - through whichever means is best - and that if that is involves me, which at the moment it seems too- that I will have faith and confidence in doing my part!
The last thing I want to share....this is getting long...sorry...
This is Laurison. He is a lovely man. Laurison is very, very thin and very poor. Laurison is a member of the village church in Esperanza, and he dances away during every service like no one else! He is a fantastic man and I really enjoy seeing him in the village.
One day I saw Laurison doing some gardening, and I took the photo above. The wall in the background is the side of the church. I watched him for a few minutes and then went over to him and asked "What are you doing Laurison?'
His response really hit me - he said 'My part.'
Profound. Laurison, aged 12387 years old, was doing His Part for his community and for God. He cant do everything that needs doing, but he can do his part.
How beautiful is that?
This was possibly one of the most inspiring moments for me this year - strange, because it was so so so simple. If Laurison can do his part, whilst shaking with hunger, what can we all accomplish when we all do our part?
I know a lot of you are doing your part, and Im not sharing this as a preach at anyone at all - Im sharing it because it inspired me so much to rise up and DO my part.
We all have different gifts, abilities and skills. We all live in different parts of the world and have different needs presented to us on a daily basis - maybe for many of you those needs arent so much the physical, but the emotional needs of lonely neighbours, work colleagues and school mates. Maybe there is someone nearby who really could use a friend, maybe there is a patch of land that you can go and garden for the community? I have no idea what it is for you, I just know that this world is hurting and if we all do our part it hurts just a little bit less ;)
Im back to the DR on Wednesday, having had 4 weeks in England to remind me what the COLD feels like.
Much Love and appreciation to all of you,