Insights into these Shoes' Soul

Welcome to our blog! You'll get glimpses into the fabric of our lives... find out what is happening in our family, learn what our latest adjustment is to life in the US, find out what is going on in our minds, see what makes us smile, and hear what makes us tick. You'll also get ministry updates! We hope these insights into our souls will make you smile, keep you informed and challenge you to pray for us.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

From Our House to Yours, Merry Christmas!

5 years. That’s how long the Shoemaker Family has been in the US. In some ways, we feel like we’ve just arrived. In other ways, it seems we’ve been here forever. In some ways our lives have stayed the same. In other ways our lives have changed dramatically.



Thank you for being a faithful friend and supporter through all the change, through all these years. You have been a vital partner in God’s ministry. We appreciate your steadfastness.


We lived in Haiti for 25 years.—that’s a long time to be away from one’s home culture. It’s a good thing we had come back to the states for many summers or we would feel like we just jumped out of a time warp. Think about it...we left in 1984 and returned in 2011. Political correctness, computers, cell phones, iPods, iPads, Kindles, technologies that we never even dreamed of, consumerism that is out of control, increased governmental controls, wow—it’s overwhelming to think of how our home culture has changed.


But I have to say that we’ve had fun “re-inventing” ourselves. Coming up with just bins of personal items (no furniture) gave us the opportunity to start our household over. We’ve settled into our home and really enjoy it. I love that the whole house is air conditioned, the laundry facilities are inside the house, there is space to have a home office and my crafts and sewing as well as enough room to host people inside our home (our home in Haiti was so small that all hosting we did was done outside in the yard; our kids’ rooms measured 8’ X 10’ providing only enough room for a bunk bed/dresser/desk unit and a shelf unit).


Our lifestyle changed overnight. No, we didn’t retire (a common misperception)! Yes, we are still missionaries and in 24/7 ministry...it just looks different now. Dan works in the office, is involved with guiding and growing RMI, vision casting, finance meetings as well as traveling quite a bit speaking and representing RMI in churches all over the US. I’m working at the RMI office as Director of Communication. Brochures, publications, writing, proofing, blogging and such occupy my time. A common thing that missionary wives miss the most when they come home is having house help. I’m right there with them!! I really do miss having help in the house and in the yard as well.



Dawn is #33.  This is a photo
that appeared in our local paper.
We also found ourselves in the “suburban shuffle”, driving Dawn to and from school. Her involvement in volleyball greatly increased that driving/travel. Turns out that she has a natural ability to play great volleyball! She’d never played it before her sophomore year when we arrived, but the coach at her school recognized her potential , took her under his wings and was a great mentor. Her junior year she was a starter on the varsity team who were undefeated and took the state 2A championship. Who knew?!


Dawn painting an
orphanage in Paraguay.
She feels God has called her to full time ministry as an overseas missionary and is now a junior at Trinity College of Florida (Billy Graham’s alma mater). Their volleyball team has benefited from 6’ tall Dawn’s ability to spike the ball and put points on the scoreboard. Of course being just north of Tampa, near beaches and the ocean and not all that far from home makes it easier on her. She is seriously financially challenged and is on a strict budget—a Ramen noodle every night budget (thanks to an Allstate commercial for that phrase). She is living and going to school by faith. Going to school full time, working part time at Merry Maids, living in an apartment with 3 other girls and being active in her church keeps her crazy busy. Pray for her as she struggles financially to finish her junior and senior year. She turned 21 this October!

During her freshman summer she went to Haiti as an intern for 6 weeks. Volleyball ministry with her high school coach in Ascunsion, Paraguay for 2 weeks was her overseas service her sophomore summer.  (In the picture she’s painting at an orphanage in Ascunsion.) This summer she has exciting plans too: summer school and working full time so she can get into her senior year and graduate. She’d prefer to go to an internship in Papua New Guinea, but time is short and graduating is a priority! Her heart is overseas!


Believe it or not, our first born is 24. Devon is living 40 minutes south of us with his cousin and a fellow Haiti missionary kid that he grew up with. He works as a supervisor in a designer warehouse, but his time is spent fishing (pier and deep sea), helping friends but mostly playing Ultimate Frisbee. He plays as much as possible and has been on a team in Tampa. He was the “model” for a photo shoot for Spin, a line of Ultimate clothing .
If you go to spinultimate.com, you’ll see him (this particular image!) on their website. Breaking his elbow and separating his Tommy John tendon slowed him down (just a little) in the fall, but he’s back at work & Ultimate now. He’s still an “adrenalin junky”. Recently he took Dawn skydiving! If it involves a “rush”, you’ll find Devon there.

Two special milestones were celebrated this year..Dan’s parents, Herb and Shirley, celebrated 50 years in ministry this month. They were honored at the recent RMI Board Meetings. What a legacy!

Dan passed a major milestone as well. In 1981 he first went to Haiti as a single missionary, which means that this year he celebrated 30 years in ministry!

A lot has happened in the past 5 years...a snake that fell from the sky, the loss of 2 pets in one month to cancer (Duke the Wal-Mart shopping dog & Munchkin, the calico cat), a knee operation, a shoulder operation, sushi lessons for Father’s Day, travels in the US & overseas, an earthquake, floods & hurricanes, a lot of ministry, Dawn going to college & her first apartment, Devon’s 21st birthday, Dawn’s 21st birthday, a bird that sounds like it walked out of Jurassic Park, a pair of really big shoes that I wanted for Valentines Day and much, much more.  All 4 of us are on Facebook—feel free to “friend” us. Now that will be up to the moment information (and more pictures). RMI’s blog is rminethaiti.blogspot.com, and they can be found on Facebook as well.

Thank you again for being a part of our family! You make it possible for us to continue to be in ministry.


P.S. The Christmas ornaments are from our personal tree.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mr. Duke

For the first time in 20 years, we are now dog-less.  Our beloved dog, Duke, died the day after Thanksgiving.  He had a very fast moving cancer; he was only sick for 3 weeks and died only 1 week after we got his diagnosis.   This picture was taken 3 days after his diagnosis, 4 days before he passed away – doesn’t look so sick does he?!  We were shocked and surprised since he was only 12 years old.  I asked the vet how we could possibly lose 2 pets in one month?!  Munchkin just died in October.  We miss him very much, more than we thought we would.  He joined our family at Thanksgiving time in 2001.  He was a well traveled dog.  Born in California, he flew with his owner, a missionary in northern Haiti, to Haiti and lived there until the owner had to leave and gave him to us.  To get to us, he traveled on a tiny 4 seater plane from far outback in northern Haiti to Port-au-Prince where Dan met him.  He and Duke then flew from Port to Cayes in a little bit bigger 17 seater plane.  He arrived with a smile a mile wide.  After 5 years with us there in Cayes, he flew with us in a DC-3 to the US.  Here are a couple of memories of that day that I posted to Facebook:  

A memory of Duke: The day we moved from Haiti, we flew directly from Cayes to Ft. Pierce, FL then drove with our 3 cats, Duke & all our stuff across the state to our home in Lehigh Acres. Devon was already in the US & met us in Ft. Pierce. He took Duke out of his crate & sat him in the passenger seat of his pickup. They drove 3 1/2 hrs. to the house that way. Duke thought he was king of the world; his smile was so wide it seemed to take over his face. When we stopped at McDonalds for a quick bite to eat, Devon went through the drive thru & ordered Duke his own hamburger.

Another memory of Duke that makes us laugh: The first night after flying all the way from Haiti and arriving in our new home (when we 1st moved here 5 1/2 yrs. ago), we put Duke outside on the lanai (screened in back porch) to sleep for the night. Dawn & I said good night to him and then turned & walked into the house, shutting the sliding glass door behind us. We turned around just in time to see that he was trotting along behind us with the intention of following us into the house. Remember, this dog had just flown from Haiti that day where he'd been his whole life. He'd never seen or experienced a glass door before. He did a "face plant" smack into the door at full trot. He stumbled back & the look on his very expressive face was priceless. He was completely surprised, perplexed, shocked, stunned & when he saw Dawn & I laughing uproariously at him, he was embarrassed. It took him a while to adjust to seeing us but not being able to get to us. After that we saw him occasionally stop & check to make sure the door was open before he proceeded to enter the house.

After being able and enjoying roaming free all over the mission center, he had difficulty being tied to a cable or fenced in.  He escaped a number of times from the cable which resulted in many frantic searches.  After we got the fence, he (and we did too) learned that the bottom of the fence is only just sitting on the ground, it is not anchored except at the poles.  So he dug under.  Several times.  Again resulting in many frantic searches.  We live 1 block from the busiest east-west road in our country, 6 lanes wide and across that road is a very busy Wal-Mart.  The first time he disappeared after dark, we searched for over an hour and finally gave up for the evening.  An hour later there was a knock at the door.  A uniformed officer asked us if we’d lost a dog.  When we replied yes, (nervously because we’d only been there 6 months and hadn’t yet bought his dog license!) she said that she thought she may have him in her van.  And there was Duke with his mile wide smile from his wonderful adventure.  She said that he’d been caught running up and down the grocery aisles at Wal-Mart.  Thank the Lord she was happy to return him without a fine.  That was not his first visit to Wal-Mart; he returned 2 or 3 more times.  He was so friendly and nice that inevitably someone would pet him, hang onto him and call us from the parking lot.  We’d go over and retrieve him and he’d have that mile wide smile on his face.    We spent a ton of money trying to keep him in that yard!

He especially loved it when Devon and Dawn came home.  He was all over them in an instant when they walked in the door.  Being a lab/most likely pit bull mix, he had the friendly, faithful, people loving qualities of both breeds.  His favorite place was sitting on your feet (if he could get to them) or sleeping at one of our bedsides.  When Devon spent the night at the house, he would let Duke sleep with him on the bed.  Believe it or not, he’d grab a corner of the comforter and suck on it.  We had to warn other overnight guests to keep their door shut during the night or else Duke would join them. [This picture with Devon was taken a few months after we arrived in 2006. The picture below was taken by our house sitter one time when she stayed at the house.  Duke climbed into the bed with her several times.]

In some ways he was like a typical cartoon dog…he dug all kinds of places in the yard to have a nice cool place to lay.  If we gave him a chew toy or a bone, he’d go straight away and bury it.  Every now and then we’d uncover a toy and play with him with it, but as soon as we turned our back, it was gone, back to the bowels of the earth never to be seen again!  We learned to give him bones on the lanai.  There he’d usually eat or gnaw on it.  We’ve been given wild boar bones for Duke once a year for 3 years, so we froze them and would give him one every few days.  He would literally dance in excitement when he saw one of those bones coming out of the freezer.  We did love him and he loved us.  Amazing how God has enabled some animals to be so responsive, loving, friendly and faithful to us humans.  Our lives are enriched because of them.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Sometimes it’s more tiring to get ready for an event than the event itself.  Between working at the RMI office and being on my own (i.e.: Dawn is away at college!), it took me days to thoroughly clean the house (it hadn’t been done since before my surgery) and get the house ready for the big day.  Our numbers were 16: Dan, me, Dawn, Devon, Amanda & Doug (2 friends of Devon’s), Wes (Devon’s roommate & childhood friend of Devon & Dawn), Andrew (Wes’s brother who came from Ocala), Dave, Rosie & Alyssa (Dan’s brother, sister-in-law & their daughter), Herb & Shirley (Dan’s parents), Ian & Myra (British friends of Mom & Dad) and Pat (our next door neighbor).   We had some traditional American dishes as well as an experimental turkey, real Haitian pumpkin soup, real Cuban flan, and real English trifle.  Yum!  We ate our fill and then some.  But first, you have to see Chef Devon in action.




Then 45 minutes later out comes a finished turkey!  Frying the turkey was definitely the center of attraction for the day since it was first time.  I’ll admit that I had my serious reservations about it!  But with the right equipment and a lot of online study of recipes as well as the do’s and don’ts, it actually worked.  Everyone enjoyed it [but more importantly it was fun and we didn’t blow up the house!] – it was spiced well, was moist and quicker than the oven.  My guess is that we’ll be repeating it. Dawn, Doug, Amanda, Wes and Andrew got put to work making the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and “pink stuff” (a family salad…well maybe it’s a dessert, no one can tell but it’s made with cottage cheese, cool whip, fruit cocktail and Jell-O powder) as well as other things.  My kitchen suddenly became too small with every bumping into each other. My mother-in-law proved that she loves me by making the gravy again – she makes a mean gravy!  All of us at the “older than 30” table ate way too much.  I know because that’s where I sat.  And I certainly ate too much!  In my own defense…the food was incredible!  Everyone did a great job. The 20something table not only ate their fill, they played volleyball for over 1 1/2 hour at the neighborhood sand court then came home, tore into the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen.  But they weren’t done yet.  After the dishes, they left (like a stampeding herd) to go out to a movie. 

They know how to make a holiday last and last.  The next day most of them went camping for 4 days on the Peace River (a peaceful river about an hour north of us where they go fossil hunting – in the river).  You can see the rest of the pictures HERE.

In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving, our Ft. Myers newspaper asked for Thanksgiving stories.  I sent one in and was happy to see that they chose to publish it in the Thanksgiving newspaper.  Here it is:

The head count for Thanksgiving around our house was usually somewhere from 90 to 100. The menu was as traditional as we could make it….5 turkeys, stuffing (lots and lots of stuffing!), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top and pumpkin pie. Our front yard was turned into an outdoor banquet hall…lights were strung, tables and chairs were brought in, tablecloths and decorations were set out. It took days, sometimes weeks to organize. Living in southwest Haiti for 25 years, we enjoyed the chance to celebrate American holidays when we could. We also wanted our 2 kids to learn about the various holidays and traditions of their home culture. For many years, every ex-patriot in the whole region was invited to come join us for American Thanksgiving. Canadians, German, Swiss, South African, Congolese, French, and Dutch joined us. Real Butterball turkeys were brought in from the US (as well as many other uniquely American foods). It was a huge potluck with very few leftovers!

We moved to Southwest Florida 5 ½ years ago and to be honest, I was a little relieved to have a smaller crowd for Thanksgiving. Having grown up in a household where hospitality was the order of the day, my kids have missed those large gatherings. Our last few Thanksgivings have included the kids’ roommates, brothers of roommates, and a girlfriend or two. Today I asked our older neighbor, who has no family, to join us. Last week, our 24 yr. old son called to tell me that not only were the usual extras coming, but 2 more friends of his who don’t have any family. (“And mom, we want to cook. Give us some dishes to make…some hard, interesting ones not something that comes out of a bag like a dumb salad!” No problem there. With 10 of the 20 people around the tables in their mid-20’s, you can bet I’ll be putting them all to work! ) So, our tradition of hospitality continues, and is clearly a value ingrained in my kids for which I am grateful.

Well, we didn’t have 100 people for Thanksgiving this year, but we found that 16 was just fine!  In fact the whole day was “mighty fine”.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2 surgeries

Yes, I did have my knee surgery on Oct. 25.  I passed my stress test the week before (hooray) and had the day surgery a few days later.  Everything went smoothly, textbook operation the doc said.  And a few hours later, I hobbled out of there.  When I got home from the surgery, the dog settled at the side of my bed to watch over me and the cats both climbed up to comfort me. Funny how they knew something significant had happened and that they needed to be with me.  Smudge evidently felt I was doing fine enough for him to not only go to sleep while guarding me but snored most of the time!  Dan took very good care of me, but I did test his husbandly resolve when I spilled an entire glass of Pepsi all over me and our bed.  Clean up took all day as he washed my clothes, the sheets and even the mattress pad.  The cats were quicker to get out of the way than I was!  I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that I’ve had no pain!  There is swelling, but that is going down. I can bear weight on it and walk!  I‘m using a cane just to be safe because I don’t feel like it’s stable yet.  I’m so excited to be doing this well!  Thank you all for your prayers.  It’s great to be back on my feet.

As I was going through the stress tests the week before, my mother was rushed to the hospital near her home in Greenville, SC with a perforated stomach.  One sister, Bea, lives with her, another sister, Carrie, lives nearby and my 3rd sister, Marti, lives about 1 1/2 hours away in Columbia, SC.  All 3 were able to be there as she underwent emergency surgery to fix her stomach and deal with the infection.  It was a close call; she was in ICU for a week.  They were able to get all the infection and she’s been recovering very well.  My sisters took turns being with her around the clock as best they could, putting everything on hold (jobs, husbands, kids, etc.).  We all took each day at a time, not sure if I’d have to scrap my own surgery plans to head to Greenville to be there.  As it became clear that she was responding to the antibiotics and treatments and on the mend, they gave me the freedom have my surgery.  I know it’s has been and continues to be a sacrifice for them to be there and I appreciate them handling things so well!  My mom is now in a rehab center working on getting back her strength and to get where she is able to care for herself before she goes home. [The picture is from the summer of 2009 when she came down to visit us.]
videoAfter my surgery, the doc gave me clearance to go to Tampa to Dawn’s Regional Volleyball Playoffs.  They won 3 of their 5 games.  The 2 they lost was to the same team, who happen to be the national champions!  But they made them work for those wins.  We had fun being there and seeing her play some of her best ball ever.  She was smoking hot, hitting hard and putting quite a number of points on the scoreboard.  The team that they lost to recognized her talent and played their games to keep the ball away from her.  She was honored by receiving an All Region Player, 1st team award (which is voted on by all the coaches from the region).  This puts her in the running to receive an All American award next week at the National Tournament!  [She painted my toenails for me in between games – it’s wonderful having a daughter!]  Here’s a short clip, watch # 33!
And I can’t fail to mention that DAWN IS NOW  21  YEARS OLD!!
We are so proud of her!  To think that on Oct. 24, 1990 she was 6 lbs. and on Oct. 24, 2011 she is 6 ft. tall.  Amazing.  I remember that day like it was yesterday….Here’s what I put on Facebook on Oct. 24: Dan & I were ecstatic with the fact that our itty bitty, 6 lb. 13 oz. baby was a GIRL! Born at 6:40 a.m. in a rural Haitian maternity clinic with only bare, 30+ yr. old, essential equipment and a huge leak in it's roof. 3 weeks of solid rain had left 2 inches of water in the delivery room...I was the only one who was dry! The day dawned clear and bright a short time later. We named her Dawn Faith, a name we'd had picked out for 4 years! Our dearest, closest friend & co-worker, Jules, told us she'd been born on a very, very good day. I asked him why was this day was so good and he responded, "Because it's MY birthday too."!
Can you imagine the excitement there was when the 1st white baby in 10 years was born at the maternity clinic?! It was a very, very small building...the outer room was the labor/recovery room & the inner room was the delivery room. That's it, 2 rooms. Once word got out that Dawn had been born, it seemed that the whole village descended on the recovery room. Not allowed inside, they crowded around every window to peer in at the little white baby & her mom. There were dozens of people poking their heads in the open windows. No phones at that time, but by the time we got home 5 hours later, "tell-a-Haitian" had made sure that everyone in a 10 mile radius knew of her birth!  Here she is with Jules when we left Haiti when she was 15.
Happy 21st Birthday Dawn!!

And last but not least…
Visitors are a regular occurrence in our house, but not usually this kind.  This lovely, baby red rat snake literally fell in from heaven Halloween night.  When I opened the screen door to let the dog out for his nightly constitutional, this 14” fella fell from on top of the screen door, down my arm and onto the screen door spring.  There were no lights on and I thought a lizard had fallen on me….until I saw in the dim light that it was much, much longer than a lizard and it was moving and curling up on the spring!  I called Dan, turned on the light, checked to see if it had a rattle at the end of it and if I had been bitten (I was thinking of a pygmy rattlesnake).  Dan grabbed some bar-b-que tongs and put it in a cage.  After we figured out that it was a harmless red rat snake, we wondered if it was Nemo’s baby.  Nemo was a much, much bigger red rat snake that we had for about 3 years until it escaped a year ago.  It’s the spittin’ image of Nemo!  It’s now sitting safe and sound AND secure in the cage on my kitchen counter.  I deserve the “Mother of the Year” award!  I’m saving it for my son.  He wants to raise it.  I say more power to you, just do it at YOUR house this time.  You see, Nemo was Devon’s snake and it lived at my house for the entire time Devon had it.  Your house, Devon, your house! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Travel, ER trips, flying couches and what? …Surgery?!

Fall around the Shoemaker house has been eventful.  It involved quite a bit of travel for Dan as he attended the “Rebuilding Haiti” conference in NYC, translated for a Haitian Sister Church pastor in NJ, spoke at a new Sister Church in central NJ, interviewed a prospective missionary couple in Penn, was in Haiti on 3 separate occasions, attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in Jacksonville, FL, visited 2 Sister Churches in that area, and represented RMI at Trinity College of Florida’s missions conference. (I think that’s the total…there’ve been so many, I lose track of him sometimes!  I need to put a GPS tracker on him!)
Devon joined us in watching
 one of Dawn's games
I (Debbie) joined Dan for the Jacksonville trip and part of the NJ trip.  We also managed to get in one of Dawn’s volleyball tournaments and a occasional game here and there.  We’re having volleyball withdrawal!  It’s been hard to not be there to cheer her team on.  Her skills are improving  (as a middle) and her coach is using her in other positions, making her a more versatile player.  In one recent game she completed 23 out of 28 hits – a great percentage!  Her freshman year roommate is now playing for another Christian college who is in the same division as Trinity.  After playing against each other her former roommate told her that her team was in awe of Dawn and afraid of her.  She said the the girls were saying that Dawn made it all look so easy and effortless.  In that same tournament she was playing well and hitting hard, so hard that she caught one girl in the chest, sitting her back on her rear.  I’m of 2 minds about that…as a parent I feel for that girl, but as a parent, I have to scream and shout for Dawn and giggle a bit, too.  She hits so fast sometimes that in other games her hits caught 2 other girls in the chest as well.
In August I spent a week in Tampa helping Dawn get settled into an apt. with 3 other roommates.  That was the same week that volleyball started up as well as classes.  She was excited to finally have her first apt.  She was able to work her classes so that she’s going full-time but all of her classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays she works.  In July she started working for Merry Maids there in Tampa.  They were willing to keep her on part-time during the school year.  She earns just barely enough to keep her in the apartment, pay for gas, internet and food.  She is living by faith…her continuing in school was in jeopardy up until the last minute when a private loan was approved.  It’s really hard to see her struggling financially.  She feels God is calling her into full-time, overseas ministry yet she is having to go into debt with school loans.  Oh how we wish we could help her! Please pray for God’s provision for her for the coming semester and her senior year.  Let us know if you feel God leading you to help her finish at Trinity.  We are very proud of her for how she is handling it all—school, work, volleyball, new apt. & roommates, it’s amazing how she does it all.
Devon continues to live and work in the Naples area.  His big outside activity is Ultimate Frisbee.  He tried out and made it on a league team in Tampa despite breaking his elbow and separating his Tommy John tendon on his left arm in tryouts.  He was in rehab for quite a while until he got the doc’s approval to return to work.  Evidently he is a very good Ultimate player!  Yep, that’s him.  He was part of a photo shoot for Spin, a line of Ultimate clothing & accessories.  Okay, can’t help but brag – isn’t he hot?!
We are thankful that God continues to protect, guide and use both of the kids!  Even when Devon’s little car hits a full-sized couch on the Interstate at midnight as he was coming back from team practice in Tampa.  It had just fallen off a truck right in front of him.  Going 80 mph he didn’t want to swerve too much (which would have resulted in rolling the car), but he did swerve enough so that the car took the hit on the driver’s side.  The couch was obliterated. The car’s front & side fender, hood, headlight and radiator sustained damage, but Devon and his roommate, Wes, were uninjured.  It happened a couple of exits away from our house, so not trusting the car enough, they “limped” to our house to spend the night.
The next a.m. had it’s own little excitement, though.  We all got up early to attend to the car, get everyone to work, etc.  As we were getting in our car to leave, Wes had a seizure!
Phone pictures didn’t quite capture the moment!  Another day spent in the ER!  We were glad to be there for him since his parents are in Haiti.  And we were so thankful that it hadn’t happened while they were on the road, or when he was by himself.  Docs can’t say why it happened, though!

Our next ER visit was with Dan in August.  He seemed to show signs of a stroke so we went in as a precaution.  He was fast tracked into the ER, but after extensive testing they concluded that it wasn’t a stroke, but they didn’t know what it was.  (He’s been fine since.)
My turn came in September. After a week with Dan in NJ, I flew back to Ft. Myers by myself while he stayed to continue his trip, conferences, speaking engagements, etc.  The day I got up to leave, my right knee was swollen and couldn’t bend and I couldn’t put weight on it.  Thanks to wheelchair service and after a very long day, I made it home.  My in-laws, Herb and Shirley, came up from Naples to take me to the ER the next day.  That trip wasn’t quite so fast.  Hours later, the only instructions were to see an orthopedic surgeon.  So….I did and an MRI and many doc. visits later, the conclusion is a torn meniscus, which will require surgery.  Yep, surgery.  I’m making my way through all the pre-surgery testing and Oct. 25 is the scheduled date.  The doc. says, “30 minute procedure, a couple of days of rest, then you’re good to go”!  He was trying to reassure me, but I’m still not reassured…nothing can be that easy!! 
Many, many thanks to my wonderful in-laws for coming up from Naples several times to get me to the MRI and doc. visits.  And many thanks to our house sitter, Brynne, who stayed an extra week to continue housesitting until Dan came home.  She cared for the house, the animals and me.  What a tremendous help!
I’m now out of the wheelchair (I was in it for a month-ick!) and off the cane for the most part as the inflammation goes down, but I know I’ll end up back on the cane for a while after the surgery.  Definitely not looking forward to surgery – I just want to get it over with so I can get on with life.  In anticipation of being “laid” up a while, I’ve already decorated for Thanksgiving (we don’t do Halloween!!!). 
In October we lost our sweet Munchkin.  She was 78 cats years (15+ human years) old.  A tumor in her belly took over and turned out to be fatal.  She was so sweet and purred right up until the very end.  Her favorite place to hang out was my lap or on my back while I was sleeping.  She was a part of our family from her birth and lived with us 10 years in Haiti and 5 1/2 years in the US.  We miss her so much!
We had a visit from a special gal, Mary Langford (Lafayette, LA), who came for meetings at RMI.  She has decided to work with RMI as a volunteer Ladies Ministry Coordinator.  It’s an exciting development for RMI’s ministry with women in Haiti.  We anticipate another weekend & meetings at RMI with David & Cindy Uttley.  David and Dan grew up in Haiti together.  In fact, his family lived in the house we lived in when we were in Haiti.  He has produced several promotional videos for RMI as well as taken many photos for our promotional materials.  He’s an amazing photographer!  See a sample of his pictures here.  Here is the RMI Sister Church Partnership video he did!
The excitement around our house doesn’t end!  Dawn turns 21 this month.  To celebrate she’s having several parties…a girls spa day with several friends, a pool party for all of her friends, and a family party with us in November.  Her employer is even giving her a cake.  Not hardly possible to imagine where she was born….on a very rainy day, at dawn, in a rural, rustic maternity clinic in Haiti, only 6 lbs. 13 oz. to being a 6 ft. tall beautiful blond.  We love you Dawn!!
Stay tuned.  Our household doesn’t stay quiet for long.  Surgery updates will follow.  Hopefully the ER visits are done for the year!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A big Thank you from Dawn!!

group1

2011 Paraguay Volleyball Team

Nicole, Dawn, Kendra, Courtney, Anysia

I’m back! I just want to say this trip wouldn't have been possible without all your prayer and financial support! I really feel privileged that you are a part of my support team. Thank you so much.

villageI knew when I went that the team would be playing volleyball and that volleyball would be the ticket to get into schools. It turned out to be that and much more. They estimated that we were able to directly minister to over 4400 kids in the 2 weeks that we were there! We teamed up with Sue Givens, a missionary at a Christian school in Asuncion. Her intern, Perla, and several drama teams from the school joined us for every presentation. There was much more hands on ministry than I’d expected (which I was glad about)! At each presentation the drama team led in singing,

For the presentation at the Indian village we had to carry in the posts to set up the net. They were anchored with concrete blocks and tied off to cars on either side to provide tension for the net.

performed a skit, shared a devotional and then 2 or 3 girls from the team shared their testimonies. I was surprised that we were able to openly and clearly share our testimonies. Besides the singing, drama and testimonies, we spent quite a bit of time in coaching and teaching the kids volleyball skills.

defuseWe gave presentations to public schools, Christian schools and in an Indian village out in the country. Since volleyball is the 2nd most popular sport, everyone was hungry to hear us out and learn what we were teaching. We were able to worship with several different Paraguayan churches…several small ones and one that is the largest in the country and seats 10,000 people.

Kids at the orphanage after they got their new mattresses

We spent time at an orphanage and fell in love with the kids. We painted the building, loved on the kids and raised enough money for 15 new beds, mattresses and pillows. One little boy hugged his pillow with glee as he told us that this was his very first pillow.

painting at the orphanage croppedBelieve it or not, I prayed that God would teach me patience and humility on this trip. And guess what? Coaching a bunch of non-English speaking kids is very humbling and tests your patience for sure.

I saw many different kinds of ministries in action: sport ministry, ministry in public and private schools, an orphanage ministry, church planting, a medical/clinic ministry and a sustainable peanut farm ministry. Talking to a missionary nurse sparked an interest to get some basic medical knowledge before going to the mission field. I'm excited to see what God will do in that area.

Painting at the orphanage

Dawn & some of the christian high school girls croppedMy biggest low point would be having really bad stage fright when I gave my testimony. I would forget my points and start shaking but I hope God used it to bring someone to Him. My highpoint would definitely be the worship at the churches we went to. It was awesome. But it is hard to pick one high point out of so many.

Girls from a Christian high school 

dramateam croppedAnother high point for me was playing soccer with the college and career group at Sue’s church the very last night. I want to play more soccer now! I enjoyed getting to know the Paraguayan culture and food, but I enjoyed being involved in ministry even more.

The drama teams from the Christian school we teamed up with

I praise God that the trip went great, but especially that God used the team to touch lives. Thank you again for being a big part in making it happen!

With love & appreciation,

Dawn  

P.S. I really covet your prayers... I still haven’t been able to find a job! And I’m very concerned about my financial situation for my upcoming junior year at Trinity. I strongly feel God’s call on my life to serve as a missionary and want to finish my studies here. If you wish to help, you can contact me at definitelydawn@hotmail.com.

Day 15 - Final entry from Dawn’s Paraguay trip

On Monday, May 30, our last few hours in Paraguay were spent in the airport. However, we weren’t in the airport for too long. Without us knowing, our departure time had been changed. We were checking bags and getting tickets and were being rushed but we didn’t know why. Our original departure time was 6:55am but the new time was 6:10. At 6am, we were going through customs, and after, we went through security rather quickly- the quickest any of us have ever gone through security. We made it on the plane and didn’t leave until around 6:25am to head to Peru. In the Peru airport, we enjoyed free samples of chocolate covered candies as we had done on our journey to Paraguay and ate some of the banana bread muffins Anysia and Kendra made on Sunday night. Also, Kendra, Anysia, and Courtney made a quick stop to the perfume shop and sprayed themselves with a fragrance before arriving at our gate.

When we got to our gate, we had to go through security since we were about to enter the US. It marked the first time for most of us to be frisked head to toe!  Then, we were finally on our way home… or at least to Miami. We experienced some turbulence which consequently affected the movies we were watching or trying to watch on the plane. We arrived in Miami around 5:30pm and had to wait a bit to collect all of our luggage. We loaded up the cars and then went back into the airport for some food at Chili’s**. Then, we finally were on the road home to meet anxiously awaiting family!

The trip was so great and several of the girls are excited for next year and are already talking about how to make next year’s trip better! We couldn’t have done it without Sue and her school and everyone else that helped us!

**Bonus note….When Dawn called from the Miami airport, I realized that Dan had just landed there at the Miami airport too.  He was with a Haitian Sister Church pastor and his wife.  They had just come in from Lafayette, Louisiana where Dan had been translating for them for the past week.  They were able to connect at the Chili’s there at the airport and have a quick meal together before the team had to get in the van to come home.  Dan had to spend the night with the pastor to make sure he got on the plane the next day before he could come home.  We couldn’t have planned it better if we’d tried!  It was fun for them to meet for supper, a special surprise for Dawn.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 13 & 14

Day 13

Today, we went to the Asentimiento (spelling?) or the neighborhood built upon the trash dump as mentioned in the previous blog.  It was so cold in the morning, but it  eventually warmed up.  We were involved with “Hora de Feliz” (meaning Hour of Happiness in Spanish), a program put on every week by poor neighborhood in Asuncionthe Methodist Church above which we have been staying and which is affiliated with Nuevo Horizonte school.  Several of the students that we have been working with (they did the presentations) this past week are a part of this church and came out with us.  Together, we walked a few blocks down to an area which had a volleyball court and net already set up.  When we first arrived, we began picking up some trash around the park area…I guess you could call it a park.  There were glass pieces all around the edges of the court from broken liquor bottles.  So sad!  The students and the girls then split up into groups and went walking through the neighborhood inviting kids to come to “Hora de Feliz.”  When we had finished, we returned to the volleyball court and had a children’s service.  Not as many kids came out as expected because there had been Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses also in the community at the same time we were.  But all went well!  We sang about 5 or 6 songs, had a lesson, some skits, and then played some volleyball.  One of the skits performed was the Lifehouse drama which the students had been doing all week.  They were one person short, so the lovely Dawn got to be in it as “the other woman” who steals the guy from the girl at the beginning.  Funny thing…Dawn is around 6′ and the guy was like 5′.  The irony was hilarious!  At the the end of the presentation, everyone got into a big circle and all of the kids were given balloons as little treats to play with.  They loved them!

We headed back to the school, took some pictures, and said some good-byes.  Now was the time for a little packing and lunch.  Afterwards, we packed up the rest of our stuff and cleaned the apartment we had been staying at.  We had some time to kill, so we filled out some mission trip evaluation forms for Sue, journaled a bit, and rested.  Around 3pm, the adolescent students of the trip (mainly kids of middle school and 9th grade) were scheduled for a youth group type service.  However, many of them are a part of the marching band for school and had to miss the service due to practice, so service was delayed.  We played volleyball with some of the kids first and then around 4pm, we had service. The service started off with one of the girls giving a description of one of the girls and then the students had to guess who it was.  The lucky people who were described were Nicole and Kendra.  Next, the pastor challenged the girls to remember the students names.   A whole section of about 12-15 students stood up and gave their names; we then had to repeat all of them.  I’m happy to say that the girls were successful!  We had a worship time, praise report time, a testimony given by Courtney, and then a short message given based on David.  The pastor spoke on 1 Samuel 16:1-13* and talked about having dreams.  God doesn’t necessarily call the most popular, the most attractive, or someone of the “right” age, but He calls someone with the right heart just like David.  David was chosen at 16, but he was not used right away; he had to learn some things first.  God had given him the anointing of king, but it didn’t come without struggles.  The pastor summed it all up and challenged the students to evaluate their dreams and decide if they were worth fighting for.  He then made them aware that there will be obstacles, but those trials will make them stronger and experienced.  Afterwards, the students played volleyball with the girls to fellowship.

We then had dinner, our last meal at Sue’s house.  At 7pm, there was a youth service for people of high school and young adult ages.  We first played a game where we passed two volleyballs and when the music stopped, the two people holding a ball had to say one word describing why they were at church and/or how they feel at church.  If you were caught repeating a word, you had to go to the front of the room and do an unknown action.  One boy was caught and had to do 10 jumping jacks.  Among the people who  ended up with the ball were Dawn and Courtney.  Dawn said relief, and Courtney said freedom.  It was a fun game of Hot Potato and a great ice breaker.  We had a time of worship, and Anysia and Kendra gave their testimonies following it.  They did an amazing job.  I know they touched some hearts!  Sue got up and gave the message about 10 things we can learn from sports and being on team; this had been the subject of the devotions we had been doing with her throughout the latter half of the trip.  Again, everyone played volleyball after, but it eventually turned into a volleyball game and a soccer game going on simultaneously.  For the record, Dawn would like everyone to know that she scored a goal!!!  It was awesome!  We then left for Tom and Sara’s apartment to sleep and call it a night!

Day 14

This morning, we got up to go to church service at CFA (Centro Familiar de Adoracion), an Assemblies of God church in San Lorenzo. When we were driving up to it, we saw how massive it was.  There is a school on the church campus, but it was still big nonetheless!  We sat in the front middle section of the church, were greeted, and then were given these headset things which would translate the service for us.  A pretty cool ministry!  The girls appreciated it!  (But, Heather, don’ worry, Courtney didn’t use it!)  We had arrived kind of early, so a few browsed the book store that the church had.  Service began at 10AM with a very energetic worship time.  Boy, was it a lively service!!  All of the girls loved it despite the language barrier!  There was no denying that the presence of God was in that building!  After worship and prayer, all of the first time visitors were greeted and asked to come to the front of the church to be prayed for.  All of them were then ushered into a side room where they were given information about the church and about salvation.  The girls had gone up and went into the room but then were told they didn’t need to be in there because they were missionaries from America.  We went back into service and sang Happy Birthday to the Pastor; his birthday is June 1st.  He was told that there was a group from Florida, and he asked us to stand up in the service.  He had actually asked the group from Miami to stand up, but we knew it was us.

The pastor preached mainly on Romans 8:15-25* and talked about faith requiring action and not living under the bondages of slavery.  He was very animated and a great speaker!  At the end of the service, he called up a medical mission team from Oral Roberts University that has been there for the past few weeks and prayed for them.  We were surprised to see other Americans there and found out that they are also leaving tomorrow.  Who knows, maybe they’ll be on our flight tomorrow.  Afterwards, we met with the pastor and found out that he had lived in Miami for a bit and learned English there; he also knows of Pastor Dan Betzer.  He said that he was headed up to Springfield in June for a missions conference, so he would be in the States soon.  It was really great to meet him, and we thanked him for an amazing service!

It was now lunch time, so we headed to God’s Pan, the first restaurant we had ever eaten at in Paraguay.  We had definitely come full circle.  Next, we went to Salemma, a grocery store, to buy whatever else we wanted to bring back with us. The main mission of the trip, though, was to buy dulce de leche. :)

We got back to Tom and Sara’s and signed all of the volleyballs that we had brought.  We are giving them to the schools and orphanage that we have visited during our two weeks here.  Next, some packing, cleaning, laundry, and preparing for dinner.  Tonight, we are having a family dinner with Sara’s family to say good-bye.  Tomorrow, our flight leaves at 6:55AM so we will finish packing, cleaning, and doing laundry tonight, and we will be going to bed as soon as possible.  But we have the feeling that bed time is going to come pretty late tonight.  Oh well!  We have all day to sleep on the plane tomorrow!  Everyone is anxious to come home, to see family, and to check their Facebooks!

They come home today, Monday, May 30!!

A post trip dessert is taking place in Cape Coral Tuesday evening, 7 p.m.  The girls will share about their experiences and show some pictures.  If you are interested in joining us, please call Debbie at 239-209-7634, ASAP!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 12

[From the team’s blog…]

Today, we went to two different schools, both of which we walked to.  One was a Baptist school and the other a public school.  We did two presentations at the public school, and one at the Baptist school.  At the public school, we taught them the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”  They were a very rowdy group of kids that we got to play with and attempt to control.  Also, at this particular school, Tom´s engineering skills were tested a bit as he tried to set up the volleyball net around a tree, but he succeeded in putting it up.

Tom and Sara's apt.For lunch, Tom and Sara made tacos for all of the administration and staff who have helped us this past week.  It was interesting to have one side of the table using their hands to eat (the Americans) and the other side of the table eating tacos with a fork and knife.  One of the best parts of the meal was the Taco Bell mild sauce packets!  Anysia had never had it before and made the comment, ”I didn’t think the first time I would have Taco Bell sauce would be in Paraguay where they don´t even have Taco Bells.”  One of the group´s lunch rituals has been to eat apples and dulce de leche.  The Paraguayans are disgusted by the thought of this but, nevertheless, we got some of them to try it.  And guess what?  They loved it!  They definitely asked us for more!

After lunch, Sue gave the girls a tour of a neighborhood built upon a trash dump, and  this is where Saturday´s morning presentation will be.  She was preparing us for what we would see…all of the poverty.

We then headed to La Hermosa, the Baptist school.  We all loved the Christian atmosphere there.  It was really nice to watch and listen to the students say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing their National Anthem.  The girls actually got to demonstrate a little 2 on 2 play and found out that the kids really liked to watch them do the volleyball roll.  When each class got the chance to play, it was so fun to chant for each grade and get involved with the kids!

For the third and final presentation of the day, we headed back to the public school.  There, Kendra and Courtney shared their testimonies along with 2 of the kids from Nuevo Horizonte.

view from Tom & Sara's apt.For dinner, we went to Sue´s house and wrapped up the devotionals she had been taking us through.  We also reminisced about how the trip has gone and all that we’ve done.  Shortly after, the girls, Tom, and Sara headed to the movies.  We were supposed to go to a Spanish Christian concert; however, the lead singer was sick, and the band got stuck in Texas due to tornados.  So, we saw Pirates of the Caribbean in 3D.  The movie was in English with Spanish subtitles.  We actually got in our theater just in time for the previews to start, so we got stuck in about the 4th row near the front.  Needless to say, tall, volleyball girls were a bit uncomfortable, but they still enjoyed the movie!  It was a nice break!  We then went to our third ice cream shop of the trip, a restaurant called 4D.  Boy, was it delicious!  Afterwards, it was time to head back for some much needed sleep.  The only problem with the night…the temperature dropped significantly, and we were all freezing.  Other than that, we were ready for our last day of presentations.

** The top photo is Tom and Sara’s apartment.  The bottom photo is one of the view’s from their apartment.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 11

[From the team’s blog….]

IMG_0773Today, we visited two schools, doing 5 sessions.  The first school was a very poor school and the second was a 4-story building.  All of the presentations went as they have been with skits, songs, a message, and volleyball, but the most touching one of them was the third one.  It consisted of students from 7th-12th grades.  When the ministry team did the “Everything” by Lifehouse skit, the majority of the students were glued in.  There was at least one girl crying for sure and a few others on the verge of tears.  When the Pastor was talking to them afterwards, he had their undivided attention!  It was amazing to feel such a strong presence of God here!  God definitely had His hand in our presentations!

After the presentations, we headed straight to the orphanage. The kids were so excited to see us. They did not expect to see us tonight. As soon as one kid saw us, they all came running. The girls began playing games with them, such as tic tac toe and hangman, and sang a few songs, too. Then around 6 pm, the delivery truck showed up with the mattresses.  The kids and the orphanage parents had no idea that we were delivering these gifts!  They all were completely stunned and all clapped when they saw what was in the truck!  We quickly took pictures and then placed all the beds and pillows in each room.  When we were taking out the old mattresses, it was so exciting to watch them being replaced!  They were quite disgusting and one of the boys didn’t even have an actual pillow…he had a blanket stuffed into a pillow case.  All of them were so grateful!!!  It was awesome to see their smiles!  Afterwards, we got to hang out with the kids and make them an American breakfast for dinner–pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  Boy did they love it, especially the bacon!  For the next couple of hours, we loved on the kids and enjoyed being with all of them for the last time until next year.  They wanted us to sign their walls, notebooks, etc. along with taking a bunch of pictures with us.  It was a sad time of saying goodbye, and it will for sure hit us when we get back to the States!  Nevertheless, the opportunity to be with these children while on this trip has touched every single one of our hearts and the memories with them will never be forgotten!

3 more days – keep up the prayers for Dawn and the team!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 8, 9 & 10–This is why we are so tired!

Did you know Paraguay Indian women playing volleyballthat volleyball was invented in 1895?  In 1900 the first official volleyball was produced.  And in 1912 it made its way to Paraguay.  That means Paraguayan volleyball is 99 years old!  It is played year round.  Paraguay has national men and women’s team that actively participate in international competitions!  It is the nation’s 2nd most popular sport after soccer.  So interest is very high in what Dawn & her team are doing.  [Note: the pictures are of various volleyball venues in Paraguay…indigenous Indians in a rural village, a game at a school and in a city park – they are NOT pictures of the team’s experience.  Unfortunately due to the slow internet connection those pictures probably will not be posted until they return.]  They’ve had a very heavy schedule.  Here is the updates, in their entirety from the team’s blog for Day 8, 9 and 10:

Day 8

It rained all day today, which put a damper on our presentations, but it was still a God-ordained day! When it rains here in Paraguay, many students and teachers don´t come to school because the roads are too dangerous and there can be flooding. So, the students who come basically get a free day when it rains.

Since we couldn't play volleyball, the students from Sue´s school did their presentation and skits inside in a crowded room. Also, Nicole, Dawn, and Courtney gave their testimonies to the kids. We had a morning and afternoon presentation, and during the afternoon one, Courtney gave her testimony in Spanish. It was a great day of sharing God! The director there is a Catholic and has a Mormon, a Jehovah´s Witness, other Catholics, and some Protestants on her staff. Some of the teachers did not show up to our first presentation because of the evangelical aspect we were bringing. The director, in a way, reprimanded them in front of the students saying, ¨We all serve one God!¨ She loved having us there and really wants her students to know God and to learn values. She even told Sue that if she had any videos or other materials, she´d like to borrow them. The door is wide open there for evangelism!

At lunch, we had sandwiches, vegetables, fruit, and this amazing rice and chicken stir-fry dish. While eating at Sue´s house, we found out that one of her house helpers has a 14-year old son named Julio who attends the school. She told us that when he was 4, he woke up with a sore throat and a cold, but told his mom that he had to go to school because his friends would pray for him, and he would get better. Julio is the reason why his mom became a Christian. Within the past couple of years, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. With much faith, he said that he would not lose his hair, he would not vomit, and he would not get sick at all. And all of that has come true while he has been undergoing Chemotherapy. What a testimony! To us, he seemed completely healthy and normal! He hasn’t even missed a day of school due to sickness! Oh, and he feels called to be a pastor! With faith like his, God is going to use him powerfully!

Today was also Sara´s mom´s birthday. So, we went over to Tom and Sara´s apartment to prepare a whole bunch of food, and, in the process, cleaned what seemed to be a never ending load of dishes! We had barbequed meat, prepared Tom´s ¨almost famous¨ baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, mandioca, brownies, and ice cream! And we can´t forget the most important thing we had…Sonny´s sweet BBQ sauce. An American dish for sure! Sara´s family loves it when Tom is down to cook for them! In the down time we had in between cooking, we made banana bread. It is one of the best recipes we’ve ever had! (Naturally, while making brownies and banana bread, we, college students, most definitely ate some batter!) We also played another intriguing game of ¨Who am I¨(that 20 questions type game mentioned earlier). Another hilarious game for sure!

We went back to the school in shifts for the night. Nicole and Anysia had gotten back first, and then, Courtney, Dawn, and Kendra. The last three didn’t get back until around midnight, and unfortunately for them, the guard was no where to be found. So they made noise to get Nicole and Anysia´s attention. They came down in t-shirts and spandex, had towels wrapped on their heads from showering, and their toothbrushes and toothpaste in their mouths. It was quite a funny site! Those two girls took what the other ones had been carrying with them, and the three hopped the fence. Don´t worry, parents, no one was hurt in the process; it was only a hilarious circumstance! We finally went to bed around 1 AM giving us an ample amount of sleep… NOT. We had to get up at 5:45AM the next morning! Oh well, God will give us energy!

Day 9

Today, we had four presentations, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Like many of the other schools we have visited, we played in an outside courtyard area. It was a beautiful day outside, and the skits and presentations went rather well. However, the first two groups that we had were a little rambunctious (or however you spell it!) and had trouble paying attention, but all was well! Courtney gave her testimony in Spanish again (without a notebook for reference) three of the four times. One of the times, the kids were out of control and too anxious to play. Kendra and Courtney additionally jumped into one of the dances that Sue´s school has been doing at the presentations! It is to theParaguayans playing volleyball song “Momentum” by the group Rojo. It was so fun to watch the girls getting involved! The girls have also remarked that it has been awesome to watch another human video that the students do over and over again; it is to the song “Everything” by Lifehouse.

Click Here To Watch an Example of  The “Everything” Skit on YouTube.

Between each session, the kids had recess and time for the canteen. During this time, we got a little break and got to hang out more with the students from Sue´s school. Our girls also received gifts of fruit cups and candy from some of the girls at the school we were visiting. It was so sweet, and all 5 of the girls loved it!! Another thing about the school we visited was that the students were so loving! They were hugging all of us and holding our hands. The kids loved being loved and getting some attention! Oh, and every student kept asking the girls if they preferred Olympia or Cerro, two of the soccer clubs in Paraguay. Here, in Paraguay, students of all ages are very devout to a soccer club and are very competitive over it!

When we woke up this morning, Anysia was not feeling well at all and rested during the afternoon. At dinner, the house helpers at Sue´s house prayed with the team for her! They are members of the intercessory prayer team at the church, and it was so great to hear them pray with such passion! By faith, we all believe that Anysia will feel better! She even said after the prayer that she already felt better!

While the presentations were going on, Tom and Sara left to run some errands, one of which was to pick up the mattresses for the orphanage. Let me tell you, God definitely had His hand in it. When they got there, they explained why they were buying so many mattresses, and then 2 two things happened; 1) The store lowered the price, and 2) The store donated a bed! Because of the lower cost, Tom and Sara were able to buy pillows for the kids! How wonderful! Tom and the whole team were so excited and are still excited! We have not raised all of the funds for the mattresses, yet, so if you would like to donate, please let us know! You would be such a blessing to these kids in need!

The girls ended the night going to the church that they are living directly above. It was great! They had worship time, and the girls were so grateful that there was a projector that showed the words, even if it was in Spanish! Sue introduced the girls to the church, and during a time of sharing praise reports and testimonies, Dawn spoke from a passage in 2 Corinthians about facing trials. The person who spoke in the service was a lady who is a music and fine arts teacher at Sue´s school. The message really spoke to every girl. She focused on Deuteronomy 7:26* saying that we need to break everything that is abominable in the sight of God and that hinders us from completely surrendering to Him. God will bless our sacrifice! Sue translated quietly the whole time for the girls! What skill! She was definitely a blessing! Also, the pastor and his wife are so amazingly sweet. They are from New York and have been all over the world serving as missionaries! Afterwards, the girls discussed with each other the things that they no longer want in their lives and agreed to hold each other accountable! The group is most definitely becoming a close team!

*Deuteronomy 7:26 "Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction."

Day 10

Paraguayans playing volleyball 2Today, we got to spend all day at Sue´s school day, Nuevo Horizante. In total we did 6 presentations, three in the morning and three in the afternoon. The first groups of each session were Pre-K 4 through 2nd grade, the second was 3rd-6th, and the third ones were 7-10th. It was so fun to stay on location! We were able to hang out more with the group of students who have been doing the presentations with us! All the students have been encouraged to practice their English with us as we practice our Spanish with them! So, it´s been fun learning new words! They taught us a new word “Purete” which means something like “Cool.” It is so awesome getting to know these kids and playing some volleyball with them! As a thank you to them, we brought stuff to make S´mores and built a fire during one of our breaks! They loved it and exclaimed “Purete!”

During the presentations, all of the girls joined with the dance and Courtney gave her testimony. During the sessions with the older kids, the students had a worship time! It was so amazing! We found out that rocking out is universal!!! We were jumping all around and, because we stepped out of our boxes, the students stepped out of theirs and joined in the jumping and in the fun of praising God!

Another break that we had was filled with Sue giving us a tour of the school. The school started with Pre-K 4 and Kindergarten and those students now from those classes are now serving on the ministry team with us. The school started with 52 people and now it has expanded to over 600 students in the past 10 years. They have an early childhood center, a three-story school building, and are in the process of building a church and a multi-purpose building. They have been growing so much that there is not enough room for all the students who want to attend. Last year, they turned away 400 students. God is doing amazing things here and has definitely blessed all of the hard work that Sue and others have put into the school!

We had dinner and then headed to Sugar for ice cream. It was delicious! Most of us paired up and shared banana splits which were HUGE! We got to chose our own three flavors of it, too, which was a very hard decision- there were so many to choose from. This restaurant was definitely one of the nicest ones we’ve been to! After a little “Sugar” rush, we headed back to the school to get some needed sleep.

Pray for their strength during their last 4 days there!!!