It is hard to believe we have been living in the Dominican Republic for nearly a month now. While snow is still falling back home, we are slowly becoming accustom to our new environment, one filled with constant sounds of mopeds, music, and animals. We survived our first three weeks of mission teams, and couldn’t ask for a better start to our time here.
We were lovingly welcomed into a local church family in San Juan.
From the moment we arrived, we have been welcomed to our new home with open arms. Our first two weeks here, Rod and Sandy trained us, teaching us how to run the guesthouse smoothly and efficiently. While I never felt comfortable in the kitchen prior to moving to the Dominican, Sandy gave me the confidence I needed to serve the teams each week. Rod challenged Jon to grow as well, and now Jon is the guesthouse handyman.
The other American missionaries here have been the biggest blessing during this transition. Nicole has offered up much wisdom from her time living here, along with teaching us a lot about Dominican culture. The Buchers have showed us around the island, and have helped us gain confidence with our daily tasks. Everyone has been so gracious to us as we go through the growing pains of learning. Their patience and encouragement has kept us going during these first few weeks.
Being welcomed into this new position with open arms from the Solid Rock team, the Dominican team here, and the missions teams has been overwhelming. With Easter right around the corner, it has reminded me of how God welcomes us into His family – with open arms. Jesus died on the cross for us – with open arms. God did not withhold anything in order to bring us into his family. The price has already been paid. God accepts us right where we are, just as we are. It’s the perfect picture of love, grace and faithfulness.
I know what someone is thinking right now: “But I mess up, a lot! I need to get it together before I am part of God’s family.” Let me tell you about my pineapple upside cake. I chose this recipe last week for our team because it was literally the easiest recipe I could find. Despite it being straightforward, I botched it up….big time. I was distracted. I let fear and self-doubt creep into my thoughts while I was baking. I was depending on my own strength to get me through another meal-prep time. Because of those things, I took my mind off the reason I was here – to serve. Because of those things, I messed up. In the midst of my momentary “freak-out” moment, God brought a peace to my mind. Once I was reminded of God’s truth in my life, I was able to think clearly again. That’s when it hit me – the pineapple upside down cake would be transformed into pineapple crisp. The dessert would be redeemed, served, and eaten by the group. Surprisingly, everyone loved it and no one knew about the little mishap.
It’s a silly analogy, but bear with me. When I initially messed up the dessert, I thought the entire meal was ruined. I thought I was letting down the people who trained me, my team, and my husband. I was discouraged, embarrassed and felt like a failure. How many times do we feel those same ways in life when we mess up? Whether big or small, the mistake can feel catastrophic. In moments like these, however, I am reminded of 2 Cor. 12:9, which says “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” When we mess up, that simply gives God a platform to shine down with his grace. If we never make mistakes, we never get to experience his love and grace to the fullest potential. God doesn’t reject us when we mess up, but rather embraces us. He still accepts us with open arms.
This past month has been both exciting and exhausting. We have learned a lot, yet still have so much to learn. We will forever be grateful for the people who have surrounded us with love, support and prayer during this time. As we continue to grow in our new position, we ask for prayers of wisdom, patience, strength and guidance. Our prayer for you is that you remember God’s grace is sufficient, even when you mess up dessert.