Feb 26, 2011


I practically jumped out of a moving vehicle today when I saw Maria down at school.  I mentioned her in my last post about the prayer walk that we did around the neighborhood.   Maria is one of the neighbors that works at the school.

She doesn't know how old she is - nobody really does - which is endearing.  She defies what a particular age should look like.  She is difficult to understand . . . . even for some Dominicans.  But she manages to get her point across.

I just found this picture from several years ago.
She is with my cousin, Scott, who is well - shortish.
And he is hunching over . . . .

Let me tell you what . . . . this woman is little but MIGHTY!  She stands all of four feet high.  Her eyes are like sparkling blue diamonds. Her face worn, but her spirit ALIVE.  I have seen her hoist large trash cans over her head and walk them across a large field to dump them out in the trash pit.   I kid you not - the little lady is strong. The hike to her house had me breathing heavy like a middle school prank caller - for real. The most compelling part about her strength - is her strength of spirit.  The gal exudes JOY.

The last time my sister came to visit, we ended up giving Maria a ride back to the path to her house.  I introduced my sister (in Spanish, thank you) saying, "Maria, this is my sister.  She is visiting me. Her name is Dawn"  She took one look at Dawn, threw her hands up flamboyantly above her head and with great confidence and volume said, "NO! Ella es Chaaaarrrrrrro!"  Thus, on that day, Dawn's Dominican alter ego was born, and we shall forever call her CHHHHHAAAAARRRRRRRO (must be said with arms thrown wildly above one's head!)

Maria might be one of the most joyful people I have ever met.  I do believe that life is difficult for her, but I also believe that she is rich.

"Listen, my dear brothers: Has God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith?"  James 2: 5 

Feb 25, 2011

A prayerful walk

A couple of weeks ago, the staff, students and members of a visiting mission team (I  heart Goshen Mission Teams!) divided up around our campus and went on a prayer walk.  Some prayed around the school, some prayed around the student houses and family houses that are on the campus, and some prayed for the Dominican neighborhood that is right next door to the campus.  Jon and I were in the group praying for our Dominican neighbors, who are people that smile at us and do things for us on a daily basis.  Some are gate keepers (security at the front gate), some are cooks, cleaners and some are just neighbors.  All of them are extremely special, so it was a privilege to walk around their houses and pray for their families, for their lives, and for their walks with Christ.

In the Dominican culture, there is a STRONG since of community - you are responsible for and to those around you, whether it is convenient, pleasing or a burden for you.  You care for those around you.  Period.  It is very refreshing to my very American mindset - and often very convicting to my spirit.

Anyway, I wanted to share photos of the walk and encourage you to walk and pray around your own neighborhood - for those that live nearby that you may not even know.  I can assure it will transform your thoughts, attitudes, relationships as well as your own walk with Christ.

So, we left the school gate and wove our way up to the furthest house.  And then we . . . .

 Jon mid- machuka with Marcello and his chicken.

The path up.

And up.

A house that is being built for a neighbor . . . his current house is further in the the post.

Dominicans are not afraid of color.  I think I might be part Dominican. 

Can you believe that this beauty was just laying on the ground by the house?  Can you believe I didn't even pick it up on the way by?  I don't think I was totally well on that day - or I would have! 

Walking thru a forest of banana trees.

Preparing to pray at Maria's house.  She is the spunkiest little Dominican lady that ever was.  I need a picture of her so that you can see the spunk in her eyes.  

Matt giving us some history on Maria's relationship with the school before we prayed for her.

I've got NOTHING to complain about - neither do you!

Hochstedlers, the most wonderful people from Goshen, Indiana, praying for Gloria at her house.

Back down we went praying at every house along the path back towards Escuela Caribe.

Over the avocados and thru the banana tree woods, to grandmothers house we go . . . . 

Simple but effective.

Just cause I like shadows on the ground.


Maximum security!

Praying at Eddie's current house.  His new house (in progress) was pictured earlier.

Eddie was adopted by the neighborhood and provided a place to live.  Eddie is an awesome house painter.

I find this irresistible.

Guandules = a type of bean used in a dish called moro.

These are avocado trees growing up out of the trash pit.

Yeppers - avocado tree, tree, tree, tree. Everywhere you see greenery in the trash it's a future avocado tree.

I don't know what this plant is, but I want one real bad.   

Hibiscus trees so tall their limbs are falling from the sky dangling over the roof.  Lovely.

The view from the entrance of the neighborhood.  It is usually cluttered with cows, chickens and goats.  It's kind of rare to find something as dead as that tree here because the conditions make things flourish.  

Barbed wire. Duh.  Just cause I'm artsy.

This is Tobias - one of our guards at the gate.  He is very sweet, and clearly very intimidating.

Feb 22, 2011

Color for the Farmgirl

For Farmgirl Paints whose world is likely a canvas of white and grey in the great north.  The assignment this week for the Thrive Project was to show her photos with color.  I've pulled up a few of my colorful favorites.

This place sits right beside some really swanky hotels and condos in my favorite beach town on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Cabarete.  The roof is created by nature, vines climbing and reaching for the outer walls.  There are children playing everywhere.  The clothes are soaking in the last bit of the evening sun.

This is in the same parking lot from the building above.  I like it that he knows what is really important - shoes and a slingshot.  It is likely that all of his clothes are on the line.

This boat lounging in the sand after a day in the water made a great stage for Tater's and Little Pickle's imagination. I'm pritty sure that Tate is having a convo with Captain Jack Sparrow on his ship off in the distance.

I heart the patina of this boat.

Can't you just feel that warm Dominican sun on your face?  We were driving down the mountain at dawn and I looked back and caught this one just in time.

Feb 11, 2011

Peace of God wins!

Ever been disturbed by circumstances?  Ya, me neither.


I'm at a place right now where I sense the Lord doing His thang (insert heavy Texas accent here!) all around me.  While I am super duper excited b/c I know that I know that I know that whatever He is doing is better than my funkiest technicolor dreams, I am sometimes overtaken by my flesh that really finds satisfaction in the complete and utter freak attack.  Been there, yes?

And then there's the whole "be joyful" command.
And it's not
"be joyful when everything is hunky dory"
"be joyful when you have enough money in the bank"
"be joyful when you've got everything under control."
No, it's

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect, result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  James 1:2

I've never really been an endurance person.  I'm more like a sprinter - short blasts of faith followed by a retreat to steady eddy.  The thought of endurance kind of makes me queazy and yet it's the endurance of being faithful which will cause me to be lacking in nothing.  Wowzers.

This morning I sat staring at my husband's bible - it was close at hand and I opened it to find this passage underlined.  

"Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 

 As I read this, I was reminded of a devotional by my friend Katy Mowery Swafford from many years ago that made a lot of sense to me.  I am an uber visual processor, so this illustration has stuck with me.

She said, "Imagine the Peace of God and Your Understanding are horses in a horse race.  Imagine that the Peace of God horse ALWAYS  passes and is VICTORIOUS over the horse Your Understanding." So, when I think I understand situations and when I have no understanding of situations, the peace of God trumps my comprehension or lack thereof. Thank you, Jesus.   

And thanks, Katy, for the excellent mental picture.  I am clinging to it today with the giddy excitement of a child of God that knows that so long as she is seeking the Lord and following His will, she can be joyful, unafraid and have the peace of God - no matter what!

Feb 8, 2011


One of my new favorite things that I've recently discovered about blogging is the joy and fun associated with linking up with other blogs.  I went here - this girl conjures up a deep, hearty laugh and somehow manages to to reach down deep to your guts and shake things up a little bit . . . in a good way - and then I went here (I love her taste and her eye pleasing stuff) - where I saw this fun project on linking up photos each week with a different aspect of love.  This week the assignment is to share a photo that represents LOVED DEEPLY.  I love this!  So, here are some of my photos that represent 
On a walk with my sweet baby.

The biggest curly getting love from the littlest curly.
 ~ Deeply Loved ~
Nothing but mutual, complete, overflowing adoration here.

Cousin love. It started with a kiss.

And ended with a lick.  Big cousin is trying to escape the super strong loving neck squeeze of little cousin and prevent further slobber.  She was unsuccessful, I might add.

I lova your face-a.
And then there's the love of a grandma - now that's some truly deep stuff.

Feb 6, 2011

Blooming fences

This post is for Charlotte, who recently came to visit her sister in the Dominican Republic and was enamored by the way fences are put up here.  Branches are pruned off of a regular variety Dominican tree, and then the branches are put into the ground as the posts for the fence line.  Then barbed wire is run using the lopped off tree branches as the posts.

Well guess what Charlotte?  The fences are in bloom now!

While it looks like a tree lined road, and it is, the trees are actually the fence posts.  When they are put in the ground, they are just sticks, but the ground and conditions are so fertile that most of the fence posts live and thrive.

They look kind of gangly when they aren't blooming.

I wonder if these pretty little pink blooms are why I am sneezing?

Feb 5, 2011

I heart caribbean beaches

Tate enjoys his fresh pineapple juice at our favorite restaurant, LAX, at one of our favorite beaches on the north coast of the Dominican, Cabarete.

It doesn't take much to make that one happy :)

Tater loosing a game of mercy to daddy.  Imagine the next photo of him squirming in the sand.

Happy hour = 2 for 1 chicken wings with magical sauces.  Family members who have accompanied us to this favorite spot know that I have been known to drink the little cups of spicy, jelly-like salsa that comes with this meal.

Red eye fred eye - two little monkeys swinging in a favorite spot.  No time to edit :)

The snorkel monster and his accomplice the snorkel raft out for a fish spying tour.

Curly and Moe.
Cheapy cheapy?  No freebie freebie as the two year old contemplates borrowing the jewels that a carefree beach vendor left sitting in the sand.


Happy feet.

Beauty and the beach.