Tag Archives: ministry

What You Need is a Nice Warm Goal, eh?

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Goals!  I love goals! July is going to be all about goals. For example, I would like to try and make 100hrs preaching.  I have never, in my 4 years of being a pioneer, made it past 90.  I just want to see if it is possible.  Second goal, I want to start being creative again.  Art and craft supplies have been a luxury I have not felt necessary since I have moved to the D.R.  But I think it is time to spend a little time being creative again since it really does make life so much more interesting.  Third goal, I must have an adventure.  Now it’s true that pretty much every day here is adventure.  In fact, it is very much like a video game.  Ask anyone who has been to the DR.  It doesn’t matter if you are walking or driving, getting from point A to point B can be an obstacle course, and it would not be out of place to have the Mario brother’s video game music and sound effects playing in the background.  No, I mean a real adventure where I get to see new things and explore.  The middle of this month Nikki and I plan on going with Joseph and his brother who is visiting from the NY Bethel to Samana where we’ll be staying for a couple days with my friend Lauren.  I am sure that will qualify as an adventure.

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Another gorgeous sunset from the rooftop.

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`Rainbow!

This past month has been extremely busy with all kinds of activity.  The beginning of the month I had the pleasure of visiting Bethel with a few from the San Jose de Afuera (the campo) congregation.  There are two sisters, Kellen and Sabrina, who moved here from New York area to serve there.  Rosa, the sister I stayed with in NY is Kellen’s mom and she was here visiting, so of course Bethel was on the agenda.  Also at the last minute the special pioneer couple in the congregation, Johnathan and Nancy, decided to join us and we had a wonderful time at the branch.

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The beautiful Special Pioneer couple, Jonathan y Nancy.

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Left to right: Kellen, her mom Rosa and sabrina

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All the girls! Sitting outside the lobby at Bethel.

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Nancy trying to get mangoes from the tree.

Also, last week we had our C.O. visit from Ricardo and Waleska, a very sweet Dominican couple.  I am really loving the ASL congregation.  I feel like ASL is so different from everything else I have done and I am constantly having to change the way I think in order to become a better teacher.  During the C.O. visit I found a deaf call of my own!  The woman is very kind and hospitable.  She currently attends a deaf church here and so she actually knows ASL quite well, which is not very common.  She said I could visit her, so on Friday we covered the first lesson of Escuche a Dios.  I am so happy to have my own calls and to feel like I am actually being useful.  It is so true that Jehovah gives us exactly what we need when we need it.  Being in a place to see so much of the work being done with such positive results is a true blessing.

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El Salon Del Reino de Cienfuegos

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Dominican kids playing checkers made with bottle caps!

Teresa has left to the States for her annual visit and so I have the responsibility of keeping up with her Bible students.  And so that is definitely keeping me busy.  Yesterday I worked with Dana all day! We only did four studies; my call, Teresa’s student Sara, and two of Dana’s students.  We started at 9 and didn’t get home until nearly 7pm!  We traveled all over because being in ASL, our territory is quite large.  It includes not only all of Santiago, but many of the neighboring campo towns.  Last week I went with Joseph and Emi to Navarette to help them find their Chinese calls and to ask for deaf.  I was told about a few deaf who live in one of the barios, so I will try and visit again next month.  It takes about 40 minutes to get to Navarette and the guagua is 120 DOP for round trip (about $3USD)

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None other than our very own Teresa! Check out the Watchtower for her article.

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Out in the Campo walking the dusty, long road to Dana’s study.

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Emi, Sarah and Nikki in afternoon service.

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Afternoon service with these guys is a blast. It is amazing to be preaching in Chinese, Spanish, English and ASL. Really whatever happens to come our way!

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Sarah’s last night before she headed back to New York. A wonderful sister with a big heart and a true inspiration. Love you Sarah Bear!

Well basically I am loving ASL, my new living arrangements and generally being here in this crazy and interesting country.  Having said that, I am very much looking forward to October!  It is my parent’s 20th anniversary and so my aunt and her family will be meeting my parents and I in New York where we will take a cruise and then return to gallivant around the city and tour Bethel, the museums, etc.  I am particularly thrilled because I will have an autumn this year! And not just any autumn, a New York autumn! Saying that I love that time of year would simply be a gross understatement.  I ADORE autumn, with all its colorful leaves, spices, pumpkins, hot coco magnificence.  Last year I missed out because here in the DR the only marking of autumn is the greater possibility of a hurricane or tropical storm.  So this October I hope to overdose on everything that is fall and autumn.  We have such a wonderful creator who would give us such beauty and the capacity to appreciate it.

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Taking a shortcut home through the old airport where the grass grows tall.

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……Reflections……

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Sometimes I look at my life and I just can’t believe where I am and how I got here.  For those of you who know me, it is no secret that I tend to be a ‘glass half empty’ type of gal.  I loved to read the year book and dream of being in an exciting land trekking through rivers and villages to preach, having that one experience where  the person you walked 100 miles to meet tells you they have been praying for the truth.  However when it came down to it, it turned out that my fear would not allow me to even work toward such a goal.  To be honest, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all the support from my parents and congregation and a dear friend of mine with her zealous, energizer-bunny, optimistic personality.  She motivated me to make this goal and gave me the confidence that if I had the right motives and had a little faith, Jehovah would help me reach it.  And he has, every step of the way.  I am so thankful to my parents for sticking with me and helping me stick with my goal.

It is so funny how we say “Trust in Jehovah” so easily and just as easily forget to do it.  There is always a point where we feel it is time to take the control back, as if we gave Jehovah the chance to take care of us but he didn’t come through.  There have been so many times since the beginning of this whole adventure where this is exactly what I did.  However, with good council from trusted friends I would again ‘throw my burden on Jehovah’ and then watch in amazement how everything got worked out.

Case and point: Finding a roommate.  The beginning of this year I started to think of looking for a bigger place and maybe a roommate once the lease expired at my studio.  I have found it a bit of a struggle not being able to invite people over to my place because it is just so awkward to invite people to hang out in what is essentially my bedroom…I know people say it is no big deal, but I just feel way to uncomfortable, not to mention that I have only one chair and very few dishes.  So I thought it would be good to actually have a front room.  I started to ask if anyone was looking for a roommate and scouting out all the apartments.  But nothing was coming through, and I started to get a little stressed and discouraged.

Last week I happened to be on the English side of town and I decided to call every rent sign and find my new place that day.  I was praying the whole walk around town, saying that if I get a good deal that feels right on the English side I would move to the English congregation and wait to joint the sign.  (I had a small overwhelming meltdown where I thought there was no way I could join the ASL)  Well after 2 1/2 hours of walking around town I had nothing.  And I took that to mean that I was just supposed to renew my lease at the studio and stay there for another year.  I was a little unhappy with that outcome, but I decided I couldn’t wait for Jehovah any longer, it was time to make a decision.

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Monica and my new roomie, Dana

Of course I still kept it in my prayers, and a few days later I received an email from Dana, a sister from the ASL (she is the one who would accompany me to Clara Luz when I was commissioned to go by Big T) She mentioned that she was without a roommate and asked if I was still interested…..WAS I??? I went out in service with her this morning (Yay first day of track work!) and then she showed me the apartment.  It is a little far off from town, but that complex is beautiful and very safe, and it just felt right!  We get on great together and we will both be in the ASL so that’s a plus! It just goes to show we are expected to make ourselves available, put forth our best effort, but then we need to wait on Jehovah and he will always come through!

7 days to go!  I am so excited!  Today there are two sisters from NY coming to serve here for a year and they will be renting out my studio while I am in the states.   So I will stay at the Bells for next week and then CALI HERE I COME!  Alright, so this means for all of you out there interested in serving here there are many places to stay.  My studio will be open.  $150.00 includes a fully furnished studio, water, electricity, and even cable! The 2 bedroom next door to me will be open soon too.  It’s not furnished but it is a decent size. It is just under $300.00 including utilities.  My landlady also just built another studio downstairs, fully furnished, for about $175.00 .  And don’t forget if you are interested in staying just for a short time that both Marty and The Bells offer a Bed & Bath for $10 per person per night.

Well life is going pretty good right now, I must say.  I thank Jehovah for all these blessings and I am truly in debt to all who have made my adventure as wonderful as it is.  So, without further delay, on with the pictures!

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Awww!! English Congregation, you guys are all so cool!
(left to right: Jessica, Hanna, Rachel, Sarah, Madison with her dad behind, Janet, Amber, Brandon, Adela, Alexis and Esmirna)

Alexis and Janet wanted to stop by the Orphanage before they went back to California to say good bye to the kids they grew attached to.  It was a little sad to see them say good bye, they are such good kids.

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Watching the videos for kids in Spanish on Jw.org

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Yanira looking beautiful

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Yes, super adorable…..but all trouble.

 

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This came out strange…anyways
(Left to right: Esmalin, Me, Alexis, Yordaliza, Janet, Yizel, Yanira and Esteban.)

Back in Samana

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I love how I am always surprised when things don’t go as planned.  You would think calling for the bus times would be a simple task, but it really isn’t, at least not for Esalena.  After getting hung up on twice because the woman “no hablo Ingles” though I was speaking to her in Spanish, I got a little peeved.  When I finally got through to some one who spoke English, it wasn’t much better.  By the third question I got told “Oh my God, so long with the questions!”  Ya, well it would be all worth it at least if the the information I was  given was correct.  Wah, wah….

So there was a big group from the  English congregation going to the Capital to do a tour of Bethel.  I wanted to go with them since in order to get to Samana, you have to first go to the Capital and then catch a bus from there.  I figured that since I was in the area it would be a nice treat.  It turns out the bus was full, so I was going to have to meet up with them after taking Carribe Tours, the public bus.  I would have to take the 6 am bus because the Bethel tour was at 9:30 am.  But the Bells and I got invited to Marty’s for dinner, and I was going to take advantage of Marty’s beautiful full oven to bake some goodies for my trip.  We ended up staying really late singing Kingdom Melodies in all different languages, and enjoying the good company.

So, needless to say, I did not wake up at 5 am the next morning.  But it was ok, I decided that I would skip the Bethel tour, and just get to Samana earlier.  I was told the bus to Samana left at 12 pm, turns out no…not until 2:30… I arrived at 10:30, so I had a lot of free time on my hands.   I decided to try and catch the Bethel tour, but by the time I got there they were just finishing up. I got to hear a few words from Jose Pena, a wonderfully encouraging brother who is in charge of all the needgreating work in the country.  He urged everyone to make an appointment to come and talk with him if there was anything they wanted to discuss.  Any difficulties  and struggles he said he would love to make time to help in any way possible.  The branch really appreciates the needgreaters, and they take good care of us!

Jose Pena with the group

Jose Pena with the group

Afterwards, the group was going to the Mall next door to have lunch, so I tagged a long.  It was good to see everyone having a good time.  I had a little look around the mall but by that time it was time to go to back to Carribe Tours to catch my bus. 4 hours later and I’m in Samana and it’s GLORIOUS!!! It brought back so many memories, and it was beautiful as ever.  It is the cruise season, so they had all the booths up and it was all very festive.  I hopped on a moto with my suitcase and headed up to Lauren’s.

The view from Lauren's patio.

The view from Lauren’s patio.

 

Glorious weather for December!

Glorious weather for December!

Her roommate, Bailey is engaged to a brother I had met during my trip to Samana last year, Lovesky. (pronounced lo-ve-ski)  The three of us, Lauren, Bailey and I are all very similar.  They are both in the ASL too, so it has been fun.  Today we went out and did a few studies…easier said than done.  Samana is all hills, super steep hills.  I nearly died today, no joke.   But I love the ASL ministry here! Amazing people.

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Lauren’s neighbors are a family recently moved here from Canada.  We met three of the brothers when we went to Holly’s house for the ASL class.  It was Christmas day, so no one else showed up for the class.  We sat and talked instead.  The twins are hilarious and they are learning Spanish and ASL!  Smart kids.

Zavie, Cazzy and Dante

Zavie, Cazzy and Dante

 

Last night we were starving because everything was closed for Christmas.  But around 7 pm things started opening up again.  Turns out that Christmas day is when everyone comes out in their new fancy clothes, all done up to the 9’s hanging out on the Malecon aka Boardwalk.  Larren, Bailey, Lovesky and I all went out for pizza.  We had a good time.  The Christmas decorations here could give Martha Stewart a run for her money!

 

A roasting pig made of bottles and trash.

A roasting pig made of bottles and trash.

 

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A Christmas tree made of bottles.

Well I work all day tomorrow, but I get to go to the ASL meeting, so I am excited.  I gotta go now because its BEACH TIME!!! YAY!!!  I’ll be sure to post those pix with my next entry.  Also, I love all the emails, keep ’em coming!

And So it Goes…

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It has been a while since my last post and so much has been happening, I don’t know where to start!  Let me first say that IT’S COLD HERE!!!  I can’t believe how cold it gets at night and early in the morning here.  Of course, its winter, but it’s the Caribbean!  Marty brought me back an awesome, fluffy blanket from the states which I love soooooo much! THANK YOU MARTY!!!

The semester at New York Center has been coming to an end, so I was able to attend the graduation for some of my students.  That was an event, let me tell you! So, it was last Friday.  Aaron, Graham and I all went out in service with Teresa and had an awesome time.  It was my last day with Pocket as well (happy/sad).  So the plan was that Aaron and Graham were going back to their place with pocket and I would get ready and meet them there so we could take a taxi together to the graduation which started at 6pm.  Good plan.

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I go home intending to study my Watchtower.  Apparently the moment I sat on my bed I died!  All I remember was waking up at 6:00pm to the loudest rain of the season and no electricity!  I was totally freaking out by then because this graduation is mandatory for teachers, as well as being this massively formal to-do and I look like a train wreck that just woke up!  So I call Aaron, and sure enough, they had been waiting for me.  So I tell them to go without me, I’ll come late with Bella and Isabel.  Turns out that the Bells don’t want to go out in the flood (understandable) and Aaron and Graham can’t seem to figure out how to get themselves to the place.  By this point I’m all done up to the 9’s (YEah!!) and there was no way I was going through all that effort for nothing.  So I call a cab and venture out into the storm, an hour and a half late.

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When I arrived they had not even began reading the names, it was all performances and introductions and speeches.  Apparently is 3 hour event.  It was nice to see my students who had worked so hard get to be recognized for their work.  They were all happy to seem me as well as taken aback since I actually looked nice, not the usual frump-rushed, half dead, sack of potatoes they are used to seeing teach them English!

After the ceremony and the 20 years of taking pictures, we made our way to the Teacher’s After Party! Whoop!  It was at a nice restaurant, open bar, dancing and dancing, and more dancing!  Seriously, they started dancing as soon as we got there around 9:30 pm and were still dancing when I left around 2 am!  2 AM!!??? Yes, that was because, apparently, here in the Dominican Republic, you don’t eat food until you have danced for a good 5 HOURS!  Yep, no food was served until well after midnight.  I was very upset, and hungry.

Henry, a brother from my hall was also there, and two other sisters at my table.  We had a good time, laughed at all the teachers dancing, and tried to hear each other over the ridiculously loud music.  And on sister was kind enough to take us all home.  It was good getting to know them better, they really are sweet.  One sister, Ann is from Haiti and has moved here all on her own looking for work.  She speaks English, Creole, French, Spanish and now is learning Portuguese!  These Haitians are language geniuses, serious.

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The next morning, I had promised Kimberly I would go and make Cinnamon Rolls with her.  So rise and shine!  It was fun, they are a sweet family that are very hospitable.  After I had finished there, (eating the rolls was the best part!) I decided to go for a walk.  I was already half way to the Monument, so I decided to go have a look around.  I haven’t been there, believe it or not since I’ve been here!  It was a gorgeous day, not too hot with a delicious breeze.  I was quite happy on top of the world.

Aaron steppin’ up to the plate!

Then, on Sunday Arron, Graham and I went out in service with Teresa again, but this time we went to the orphanage! It was amazing working with the kids and teaching them from the ‘Escuche a Dios” folleto.  The orphanage is run by a evangelical family, but they are very open to the Witnesses helping.  The main reason for our visit is a young blind girl Teresa calls on.  It was very interesting to work in this setting.

I was working with Ysmeli

This kid, Esteban, was so active. So I convinced him to ‘teach Graham Spanish’ and Graham was able to have him work on the Listen to God brochure.

Teresa Being a boss!

Only by Jehovah…

Graham lookin’ a lil overwhelmed!

On the way home we stopped at Bravo! They have a pet shop on the second floor.  That was fun.  I managed to take a picture of the tarantula, but just barely escaped with my life!  I wanted to take a picture with the BIG PARROT, but Bella told me no… 😦 said it could eat my eyeballs out.  After watching it eat a man’s button off his shirt, I agreed.

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And last but not least, Monday was BEACH DAY!!!  Isabel has two young sisters from her home congregation in Madera staying with here for a couple months.  Janet and Alexis, 23 and 21 years old respectively.  They went with Bella, Gladys, Marty and me to the Beach.  It was absolutely beautiful, but in the afternoon it rained a little and got a little chilly.  But I the water was warm enough to swim, IN DECEMBER! So I’m not complaining.

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So hopefully you enjoy the pictures!  And I will try to update more often.  Lot’s of love to all my readers! I love your emails, keep them coming!

Clara Luz, Do You Remember When We Would Come and Visit You?

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This is my routine when I go on Clara Luz’s study every Friday with Teresa.  First I walk to where I can catch an “N” car and that takes me just a few blocks from the Kingdom hall where the Sign Language Group meets in Pekin.

Then Teresa and I drive to Clara Luz.  It’s a bit of a rough neighborhood, and not very clean.  We have to find the chairs, that are usually being used by the other kids.  We give Clara the most sturdy one and find a flat, clear area to conduct the study.

Clara luz’s House

This is Clara Luz’s house, though it’s not much of a house.  The shallow gutter that comes down from the alley there carries every kind of unsanitary fluid…I’ve seen so much flow down to the drain, it makes me cringe.

 

 

 

Just some pictures of us and Clara Luz.  She has be developing such a personality!  Sometimes when we are trying to teach a certain point, out of no where she just starts laughing and giggling and we have to give that point a rest.  I would love to know what’s got her tickled!

Friday Is ‘Hurricane’ Teresa Day

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Friday’s are my long day in service with Teresa and they are usually filled with equal parts encouraging experiences, wacky Teresa-isms, and new things learned.  Teresa has 30 years of experience living and serving in this country and has a wealth of knowledge she is always ready to share.  We start the day with our study with Clara Luz and that always gives you an experience worth relating.  During the study this time three of the local neighborhood boys decided to watch what was going on.  So we had them pull up a chair and explained the process of using the book to teach Clara Luz.  They were very impressed.

Something I have learned with Teresa is to always include anyone who is even the smallest bit interested and to take the time to teach them as well.  Preaching is ASL is not limited to only finding those who are deaf.  Clara was, as always, inspiring.  She seemed a little tired, but was able to prepare a comment for the meeting.

The next study we go on is with Sara who has been studying with Teresa for some time.  After stopping for lunch and a rest, we head back out for two more studies.  By the time we finish its 8:30pm and we are starving.  Instead of getting a real dinner like most normal people, we decided on a chocolate croissant at a little bakery on the way home.  So worth it!  Today I am planing to go to my first actual Sign Language meeting, so I will have more to share I’m sure.

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This is the common area in the missionary home where Teresa lives.

One thing that always hits me is when I look at what I’m doing.  I mean, who gets to work with a missionary every Friday?  What I have learned from Teresa is so invaluable, I am truly thankful to Jehovah.  We serve such a loving God, and this world wide brotherhood we should never take for granted.  Also, today’s day’s text is a wonderful reminder: [God’s] will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.—1 Tim. 2:4.

So, when we are out preaching or are busy in our daily activities, we should feel impelled to “exert ourselves in the ministry, not primarily because of a time limit, but because we want to honor God’s name and help people to come to know his will.”  You learn to appreciate these words so much more here because the opportunities to apply them are everywhere.  If you want to expand your ministry, COME!  There is a need in every language- Spanish, English, ASL, Chinese, Creole, Russian, Italian and French!  You can be sure wherever you serve you will be useful and have wonderful experiences to share.  Just a small recruitment speech…I’m done now.

Moving to the Dominican Republic to Serve Where the Need is Great

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Gladys teaching young Bible student to read.

Well I am finally back in my own place but still taking it easy.  Bella and Marty have been life savers and I appreciate them so much.  I’ve been feeling better these past couple days, but I wasn’t allowed out of the house because my immune system was pretty much shot.  Yesterday, however, after slowly spiraling myself into an overwhelmed mess with thoughts of all the things I had to do and get back on track with, I tried to sneak out of Bella’s while she was out.  Sure enough, soon as I rounded the corner of the street, there she was! I almost escaped!  She allowed me to go and sort some things out back home like empty the dishwater that was in the sink and take out the trash, but told me to come back for dinner at least, seeing as I had no food back at my place.

This morning I need to do laundry, clean house, organize service and meeting bags, make a schedule, etc.    But there is no electricity! I connect my router to my since-plug generator so my internet is still functioning, but no washing machine, arrggg….At least the weather cleared up, its back to all sun here on the island.  I think next month I need to do another beach run.  There is this resort that goes on sale for crazy cheap, like $12 a night, all inclusive that I am waiting for.  That would be a blast!

What I am really exited about is getting to go back out in service, especially with Teresa in the ASL.  I miss it sooo much! I’ve been practicing my Sign and Spanish while I was locked up so I’m ready to go!  Also the comments I’ve received from this blog are so encouraging, I makes me want to put more effort into keeping it updated. If you haven’t had a chance to read Aaron and Marty’s blog, then do so.  They had to head back to the states yesterday to sort out residency visas but should be back next month.  I’ll miss them!….well, at least Marty…

Well, on reflection of my decision to serve here in this country, I truly feel that it has drawn me so much closer to Jehovah.  It gets hard at times, and you begin to miss certain things when you realize you will never have them here, but it is all worth it when you go out in the ministry and find those interested ones.  For me, this whole adventure so far has been worth it just to meet Clara Luz.  You sacrifice so much, but you gain more.  It helps to read articles and experiences.  This one was helpful in encouraging you keep focused:

Joyfully Serving Where the Need Is Greater

  Moving to a country where there is a need for more Kingdom proclaimers is a big step. But remaining in a foreign field year after year often requires much effort and self-sacrifice. Many of our brothers and sisters have met these challenges with great fortitude and joy.

  Arthur and Roberta Gonzalez, for example, came from the United States to serve in Belize with their three-year-old son, Dalton, in 1989. “The biggest challenge,” admits Roberta, “was leaving a secure, well-paying job to live in a country where so many people are out of work.”

  “Yes,” confirms Arthur, “you have to trust in Jehovah. Reading in the Bible about Abraham, I’m amazed at how he went out from his home, family, and everything he knew. But Jehovah took good care of him. One challenge we faced was getting our ears tuned to Belize Creole. But we relied on Jehovah, and he took care of us.”

  Frank and Alice Cardoza came from California in 1991 to pioneer in Belize. “Reading the book of Acts,” says Frank, “made me want to be a missionary. But because we have four children, I knew we would never qualify for Gilead School. So when our youngest daughter finished her schooling, we saw the opportunity to move to another country. When we read in The Watchtower about Belize, we made up our minds.”

  “I agreed to try it for three years,” says Alice. “Now we’ve been here for 18 years, and I love it!”

  “We love people, and we love to work,” adds Frank, “so it’s easy for us to draw close to those who love Jehovah. Starting more studies than we could handle and seeing people respond to the truth has made these the best years of our life. We would not give up this privilege for all the money in the world.”

  Carl and Martha Simons moved from Texas to Belize in 1988. “Our two children were ten and eight years old when we moved,” says Martha. “In Belize we spent entire days preaching together with the congregation in villages in the bush. We also worked together on the construction of the Assembly Hall, and we always had a house full of brothers and sisters staying with us during the assemblies. We are grateful that we could raise our children here, because they associated with special pioneers and missionaries. Yes, there were times when we felt like getting on a plane and leaving—times without electricity, running water, batteries, and telephones. But if we had to do it again, with all the ups and downs, we would do it. Our lives have been enriched because of serving where the need is greater.”

When you read about ones who have made the sacrifice, even with all of their own obstacles and supposed barriers, it makes you want to look at your own circumstances.  Because if you are willing, determined and have love for Jehovah and people, he will find a way to bless your efforts.  I know I couldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for Jehovah’s help, and when I reflect on that I feel strengthened to opened you never even knew existed.