Honestly?

I’ll be honest. These past few weeks back on the ground have been pretty tough. I can’t really pinpoint any one reason. I’ve just been physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and not ready to take on this summer. Some of our teachers have said that they’re already feeling beaten down – that it seems like they can’t go on. Is Satan doing his best to bring us down in the middle of the miraculous? Or is the Lord allowing these “light and momentary troubles” into our lives for a far greater purpose?

I don’t know.

Pray that our team would continue to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

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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!

February 2016 in pictures

Time is flying! A few pictures from our busy February.

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We had a sweet time with Scott’s brother Ryan and his wife Erin for a week!

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Third quarter parent-teacher conferences went well!

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Miss Emma with her kindergarten kids in Village Lima

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A group of 5 visited and worked with us mid-February

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A neighbor’s brush fire got out of control and ran rampant on Freedom property! Students moved classrooms as a safety precaution, but no one was injured.

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It’s always a pleasure to share life each year with this group from North Carolina

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Independence Day in the Dominican

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Students marched through the streets of Ramon Santana

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The construction crew has been working hard on classrooms and bathrooms on the second floor of the school building

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Yuleisy made Leyton a special birthday dinner of bollo and salami

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Scott continues teaching music class in 3-week blocks

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Our apartment is getting closer! We now have tiled floors and a porch railing!

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Master bedroom

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Sillies with Noah

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Leyton couldn’t be left out!

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February was Caleigh’s 5th month

Our Colorful New Home

We are so excited! The apartments on the Freedom campus are coming along – railings are going on the porches, tile is being put down, closets, kitchen cabinets, and counter tops are going in… (The Hilgemans have actually already moved – they say the quiet atmosphere is so relaxing!) Life will be so different once we move. I’m personally counting down the days til I get to flush toilet paper again!  More than anything, I’m praying this move will help us to more effectively minister to our sweet students and their families.

To keep things moving, missionaries are painting their own apartments. We were thinking it was going to take us quite awhile to finish painting, considering our three little munchkins. Guess what? Scott’s brother Ryan and his wife Erin decided to come for a visit. Perfect timing, right? We put them to work! And it was much more fun painting with company. Scott and I may have gone a little color crazy, but it was so fun picking all the paint and thinking about how we’ll decorate! Enjoy some pictures (click to enlarge)!

January 2016 in pictures

Oh, how my heart has been aching to write. But alas, life is running a mile a minute. I’ve been feeding sweet babygirl, playing momma to the boys, driving to school several times a week, emailing, making phone calls, cooking, planning, and washing (our clothes, our dishes, and our children). Life has been so beautifully and wonderfully full, and I’ve been enjoying this fleeting season. It’s been impossible to find time to splurge on writing. So for now, I’ll post some pictures of this first month of 2016 and try to be more intentional about sharing life over the next 11 months.

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Freedom’s first Field Day was a success!

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Photo booth cuteness

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Sibling love

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Caleigh helped us pick out our new bathroom floor at the tile store

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Students wrote letters to their sponsors

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Mommy’s little helper

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January = Caleigh’s 4th month

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Noah loved the Carmel Christian team visit

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Counting practice in kindergarten

Caleigh’s birth story – sort of

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When it comes to hearing birth stories, there are two types of people: those who want to know every single detail, and those who don’t. I’m guessing the majority of my friends are found in the latter group. So if you really want a play-by-play of how Caleigh miraculously entered the world, just email me. For the rest of you, here’s the abridged version: It hurt. A lot. It was worth every ounce of pain, of course. Because after all that hurting came my healthy baby girl! And the rest, as they say, is history.

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I brushed over some of those birth details, I know. But I’d be remiss to gloss over what the Lord reminded me through that experience.

20150831-DSC_0013In the hospital room where Caleigh was born, there were two picture frames on the wall – one containing the word Hope, the other Strength. I remember sitting in the hospital bed, waiting for the induction medicine to kick in. I knew that a pain-filled night was ahead of me.

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I saw those words on the wall and thought to myself, Oh, what good reminders! When I’m in a world of hurt here in a few hours, I’ll just look over and remember to be strong. To have hope. That’ll get me through. I can do this!

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Before I even finished that thought, another tidal wave of a thought crept up and overtook the first: No, Ang, that’s wrong! Those two words in and of themselves will do nothing for you. You’ve forgotten something. The Source!

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Truths like, “The Lord is my strength” and “God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” began to run through my head. Of course! What was I thinking? It’s not me. I can’t do this alone. It’s about Him! He is my help and my hope.

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There came a point during labor that I just wasn’t sure if I could physically go on. I remember saying, “Oh, Lord, help me!” My midwife didn’t miss a beat. She said, “He is helping you, honey. He’s here!”

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Such truth in those simple words. He was there! Even in moments of great physical pain, He is present. He is my Strength and my Hope!

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After Caleigh’s birth, a friend visited us in the hospital and dropped off a gift. It was a CD called Roots for the Journey by Yancy. One of the songs repeats the phrase “My hope is in the Lord.” Oh, what a blessed relief! I absolutely cannot do life on my own. It’s only by His strength.

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So very thankful for my beautiful baby. For simple reminders of His truth. For opportunities to live those truths out. And for a patient Savior.
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