Raul’s Gift

I’m not in the classroom every day. And, boy, do I miss it. Those rotten kids have a knack for weaseling their way into my heart. Teaching is so hard, but I miss knowing what’s really going on in our students’ lives.

I’m thankful for the work I have now, though. By helping with sponsorship, I’ve been able to peek into classrooms. And I feel like a proud grandma observing all her sweet grandchildren growing up so quickly.

A few weeks ago, I walked into Miss Mery’s classroom, excited to find our 1st grader, Raul. His sponsor family had sent down a small sack of goodies for him, and I was eager to pass along a hug and spend a moment catching up with him. I scanned the room full of brown, little faces until I finally locked eyes with Raul.

Immediately, I knew something was wrong.  When I called his name, Raul dropped his head and averted his eyes. Uh-oh, I thought. Somebody’s not having a good day. I put on my best smile and called his name again. He slowly stood up and begrudgingly shuffled towards the door to meet me.

Suddenly, someone yelled out in front of the entire class. “You want Raul?! He doesn’t deserve a gift! He went to the office for fighting this morning! In fact, why don’t you just keep him for the rest of the day? We don’t want him back in here.” By the time the barrage of hateful words had ceased, Raul was by my side, eyes glued ashamedly to the floor.

He doesn’t deserve a gift. I was angry that someone would make such a spiteful comment about Raul in front of his other peers. The “mama bear” in me wanted to protect him. But instead of saying what I really wanted to, I calmly replied, “Well, I’ll be sure to talk to him. It’ll be fine.”

He doesn’t deserve a gift. The words kept ringing through my mind as we silently walked out of the classroom. How am I going to smooth this over? I wondered. We looked for a spot to sit down.

There were some folding chairs in the breezeway. As we set them up on the sidewalk, I was at a loss for what to say. Maybe I can remind him how important and loved he is. Or maybe I’ll tell him just to ignore the mean comments. Perhaps we can talk about how to “rise above” the hatefulness and “be the better person.” 

But on a whim, I decided to take a different approach.

“Buddy, did their words back there hurt your feelings?” Raul barely nodded. “They weren’t saying nice things, were they? But you know what? One thing they said was actually true.”

Raul just looked straight ahead, not making eye contact, but still listening. “Remember how they said that you don’t deserve this gift? They’re actually right! Do you know what it means for somebody to give you a gift? A gift is something that’s especially for you without any expectation of payment. You don’t have to buy a gift, do you? A gift is something that’s free. And if you’ll listen for just a minute, I want to tell you about Someone who gave the biggest and best gift that’s ever been given….”

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Sometimes I feel a literal ache in my heart when I think of how these precious little babes are running headlong into an eternity without God. What will happen if their lives aren’t supernaturally intercepted? God’s great wrath, which is so heavily hanging over their heads, will have to be satisfied. There is a darkness waiting for them that I refuse to dwell on.

Pray with me, please. Pray that our teachers would seek out moments to share God’s great love-gift with their students. Pray that they would be so filled up with Jesus that His grace just spills out through their every word and action.

And pray that our students’ eyes would be opened to the truth. Pray that their working minds would fully understand and that their hearts would not delay in accepting the precious gift of eternal life that’s so freely waiting for them.

February 2017 in Pictures

Click the images below to read more about our exciting month of February!

January 2017 in Pictures

Another year has begun! Click on the images to check out some highlights from our first month of 2017.

November and December 2016 in Pictures

Another end to another year! How I pray that the Lord was glorified. I hope that our family looks to Him for strength and joy as 2017 begins.

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Our students visited the zoo this year for their field trip!

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Checking out the flamingos

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Our team enjoyed another Thanksgiving together as a group

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Thanksgiving getaway! A great time of fellowship for the weekend.

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We’ve been trying to battle a serious mold problem! Gross!

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We finally took our new desks and cabinets apart and painted all the areas where the pressed wood was exposed. Yeah, it’s humid here.

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Miss Rachel and Miss Emma planned a 100th Day of School party for their kindergarten cuties

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Silly Jesús with his 100 Days crown

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We had fun putting our tree up a little earlier than usual this year!

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Caleigh tested out our new LED lights for us

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Scott confirmed that he was NOT pregnant. He battled some scary abdominal pain for a few days!

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We thought for a moment that we may have had a case of appendicitis! Caleigh helped take care of Dad while he was on the mend.

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God is so good. Katie brought us dinner one evening while Scott was sick!

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Parent-teacher conferences in the villages!

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One of our families in  Cabeza de Toro made a Christmas tree out of green pop bottles!

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Our two-night Christmas program was a success!

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Noah helped his teacher Miss Mery pass out papers to the parents one evening at the program

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Our Freedom team! So thankful for these people!

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Staff Christmas party fun!

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A church back home sweetly sent our family an entire suitcase of goodies for Christmas!

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So blessed!

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We loved spending some time with Memaw and Pepaw over Christmas!

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Piñones cuties!

October 2016 in Pictures

Another full month in the DR! Highlights: Day camp for 2nd/3rd grade and more construction progress!

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Third grade circling up for an afternoon of fun at their first-ever day camp!

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The kids enjoyed a group game where they introduced themselves with animal noises/silly actions.

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Guys and girls competed to see who could carry their volunteers the fastest across the human bridge!

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Enmanuel playing a game with his small group

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Marcia posing for the camera

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Fabiola coloring a picture after listening to the lesson

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We love these two! Thankful Rachel is back in the DR as a full-time missionary, and thankful that Katherine has been doing much better behaviorally in school recently!

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Three little goobers

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We’re reaching the 3rd story!

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Lots of floor pours this month!

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Caleigh continues to keep us on our toes! We had a little milk mishap one afternoon.

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We got in the Christmas spirit a little early when Dad found a couple of Christmas cookie box sets on super sale at the store!

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The Pyle girls joined us for the making of some melty snowmen!

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Rachel has been settling back in to Kindergarten! The kiddos have been learning lots!

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Patricia showing off her writing notebook

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Just answering some emails with Dad

September 2016 in Pictures

Three more months, and 2016 will be history. It’s funny how days seem long, yet the months and years just fly. At the close of each day, I fall into bed so very exhausted. But, the Lord! He’s so faithful and constant and near. As difficult and full as each day is, I’m thankful for His presence and strength. You can pray that our family would keep our eyes solely on our Jesus as we make our way through each day.

Enjoy some pictures of this past month in the DR!

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This section of the school building has reached 3 stories! Scaffolding gone – looks pretty impressive!

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More footers and subwalls for new classrooms. God’s provision!

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Scott continues with music class!

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Noah loves that his dad gets to spend a little part of the day with him. Enjoying class with Sebastian.

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Leyton and Cristofer are buddies!

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Our Accelerate! program continues – Desiree helping her students read through Spanish syllables.

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Two shipping containers arrived with more tools and supplies to continue the ministry!

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Airport run! We decided to take the back route through the bateyes. When we were unsure of where to turn, we just asked people along the way if we were headed in the right direction! Who needs maps?!

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This little one-year-old is developing quite the personality.

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During our down week, we were able to work on some house projects. Thanks to Gabe for helping make loft beds for the boys!

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Leyton continues growing. Trying to take advantage of Tuesday and Thursday mornings with this big man.

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Someone forgot to close the bathroom door one afternoon. We heard splashing and found Caleigh enjoying a new place to play! Bathtime ensued (immediately after the picture). Always an adventure…

July and August 2016 in Pictures

Tick-tock! Time marches on – our babies are growing, our ministry is changing, our students are maturing. There’s nothing we can do but take advantage of each moment. Here are some pictures of life in the DR from the last two months!

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Digging out the footers for new schoolrooms

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Such hard work!

 

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Heather talking with Estaylin after a trip to the office. He recently chose to accept Christ! This little boy’s life is changing!

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Smiles from Meroli as she enjoys spending time with short-term team members

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Some of our littles took some time to get accustomed to school. Cuddles with Elle!

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Summer teams built the walls of these two new classrooms

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Noah working at his technology center in 1st grade

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Noah says Jose Miguel is his best friend at school

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July was Caleigh’s 10 month

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One of the MK’s favorite pastimes is toad-hunting

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It’s neat to see Mery as she grows as a teacher. We co-taught our first years in kindergarten.

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This little girl loves getting into everything

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My little laundry helper

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Our newest good behavior incentive – a book giveaway!

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We’re loving Anna Luisa’s smile as she picks her book to take home

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Caleigh loves to play peek-a-boo

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Smiley girl!

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Noah leading his class in the Spanish alphabet

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Sebastian and Noah

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August was Caleigh’s 11th month

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First-third graders are beginning music class with Mr. Scott

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Carla is learning about musical instruments and their families – she made her own “maraca” out of paper plates and rice!

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Fernancia and her classmates continue learning and growing!