Jun 29, 2011

Wow Highlight #3: Sungrove Youth Group

Our second incoming mission team of the summer was Sungrove Youth Group, from the (Elk Grove) area of Sacremento, California.  This group  was made up of teenagers who were, how shall I put it?  FREAKISHLY MATURE!  Their leader called them the "cream of the crop," and having observed them for two weeks, I'm going to have to agree with him.

They worked hard.
After having dug dirt, brush, and other "stuff" out of the canal where a local Dominican community gets their water supply from.  The canal was probably 50 - 75 feet long.  Those two Dominican boys hopped in for the picture but did not lend any physical labor to the cleaning out process!  
Painting a dorm area for a conference center belonging to a small church in San Cristobal.

Cleaning up the yard around the conference center in San Cristobal.

More cleaning, raking, etc.

"Cutting the lawn" Dominican style.  I think that they *might* have been wining about ants right before I walked up :)

Mopping water, which had leaked in thru the roof, out of the conference center.

 They played hard.

If they're this way about rock*paper*scissors, just imagine what their like when it comes to the big stuff!

Playing with and loving on Dominican children who are disabled at Genesis.

Tickling, chasing, more tickling, snorting, tickling, chasing, laughing.
They loved softly (as in they, as a group, had a very gentle spirit that was quietly unassuming). 

Terrence making friends with this sweet little bundle of sunshine.
They were vulnerable and open and listening intently for what the Lord wanted to show them about His character while they were here.  They had some serious leadership with Terrence Williams, a friend made from that first KBM trip that was mentioned in that last post, who is a dream to work with and an AWESOME youth pastor who really adores his youth.  And his support team of Abby, Patty and Bruce, well they were as entertaining as they were insightful!

Patty doing baseball signals to her daughter, Abby, across the field at the batey.
The "Harry Potter Sisters"  Yeah for Abby being able to to answer important HP questions for Allie.
This is Bruce right before he tried to get the Haitian lady next to him to do the Hokey Pokey.  
In short, this was a great group of teenagers and adults who clearly desired to seek the Lord in all that they did.  They were a real encouragement to Jon and me, and we were totally blessed by their time here.      Thanks Sungrove!

Jun 28, 2011

Wow Highlight #2: Kingdom Builders Ministries, Inc.

Several years ago, Jon and I had the PRIVILEGE of hosting our first real live incoming mission team.  The job of hosting was thrown to us at the last minute, and I can honestly say that I was totally flabergasted at how much we LOVED the group, the hosting, the bungling thru of first time hosting error's (like taking said group  to a beach that we'd never been to only to find out it was like a beach of fire - as in your flip flops are seared to your feet causing you to do the "my feet are on fire" dance only to throw your towel down and never want to leave the safety of it ever again type of error.  And you should know, that this was only one event in a series of similar events.  Nevertheless, the Lord was in it and He did what He wanted to despite us!  And, the Lord used this first group to set us on a course for hosting other groups, which has personally been such a blessing to Jon and me!

Like "the beach of fire" only different,  the beach of rocks that we took this first group to (prior to taking them to the beach of fire) left the 2009 KBM team  slightly tumbled by the ocean . . . . because as the waves crash in, they are crashing in carrying rocks of all sizes.  I also think that one person got sun poisoning on this day.  Sorry Amanda.  God is bigger than fire-y beaches and beaches of boulders, right? RIGHT!

Last summer, Kingdom Builders Ministries came back, but we only had a brief moment with them because we were headed out the door to the United States.  It was soooo tough for us to leave with them here!

So, this year we were pumped to have them back to the Dominican Republic.  They brought a ROCKING group of on-fire-for-the-Lord college-aged students who are part of their "Experience" discipleship program.  An overseas trip (that's where we come in) is only a small portion of what they do before heading off to other ventures.  (If you are a college aged student who loves the Lord, or you know a college aged student who loves the Lord and wants their lives to be forever altered in a serious Kingdom Builder fashion, you should absolutely check out this program! Go here.  And even if you're not, you should go there anyways and check out what they do.  You will be encouraged!)

This group ignited a time of spiritual renewal, restoration, and revitalization in the lives of those around them.  There was a whole lot of  conquering fear, sharing of  testimonies in a very authentic and vulnerable way, and thirsting for more of the Lord.  The taste that this year's "Experience" students left behind was super sweet.  Thanks guys.  For REAL.  They OOZED the LOVE OF JESUS ALL OVER US!

Jun 27, 2011

Wow. Just WOW.

This is going to be a ridiculously long post.  Consider yourself warned :)

The month of June has FLOWN by and has been PACKED FULL of such cool, wonderful, exciting things.  I have hardly had a chance to process all that has happened but I want so badly to hold tightly in my mind and spirit how special this month has been, and how blessed we have been in the midst of all that is going on.  Each of these could be there own post, but because the "busy season" of serving seems to be upon us, I am going to highlight the key moments thus far. 

Highlight Number 1: The end of the 2010-2011 school year.  I'm going to have a "proud mama moment" right now, so skip to the next highlight if you want to miss me talking about how proud I am of each of my children for the work they did this past school year.  And, it's not so much that I am proud of the accomplishment (but you know I am), but it really is more about the fact that they are thriving in a culture that has embraced them, and they have embraced it.  It has not been without complicated challenges and cultural awkwardness at times, but for the most part, they have been adopted by our host culture.  It really is a beautiful thing.  Sometimes I want to hop on a plane out of frustration, and sometimes I cry for joy because of the things that we are learning here.  Anyway, these moments below were cry for joy moments.

Annabelle received awards for "Best Mathematician and Most Joyful" - yes, she is just 2 but both of these really do fit her!  (She has been counting since before she could walk, and thanks to Uncle Patrick, she now knows all about prime numbers!)  And she also received a big award, "The Principle's Award," for being the most outstanding student in her class in all areas.  Nevermind that her awesome teacher, Miss Duncan, had to duct tape her to her chair to get her to sit still . . . .
The exceptional Elissa Duncan passed out lots of hugs to her little people all year long.  My new friend, Inga, gave Annabelle the package of cookies b/c I could not for the life of me get her to sit still.  Of course, she would not turn lose of them until . . . . .

She pulled the lollipop of her "Best Mathematician" award.  Award of Excellence. Check. Lollipop. Check.

Sizing up the competition.  It starts at an early age. Can't we just be friends?
Miss Gracie graduated from kindergarten and received the award for "Best Imaginative," which for those of you who know her know that this award truly fits her as well!  To Jon and my surprise, we also received an award at the kindergarten graduation ceremony for "Parents of the Year," and I might add that I practically fell out of my chair because we had never heard of this award and we still aren't quite sure how we came by it.  But we now have a shiny gold plaque for "John and Raquel Sawyer" that is precious to us because we adore the people who work with our children and desire to be a blessing there. 

Proud siblings.

Marcela, Gracie and Jasmine

Her "Best Imagination" Award.

Mr. Gonzales and her "official" diploma.

Dancing and singing.  So cute.

All lined up on the stage with their cupcakes, high heels and neck ties.

Mr. Tater Salad received an award for the "Best Science Student" in first grade and we were so proud of him too!
Fabio, Wilson and Tate = Three Amigos

Wow did Mrs. DeYoung do wonders for building Tater man up and helping him to shine and to struggle well in areas that needed improvement.

And this is one of the reasons that the lovely  Mrs. DeYoung received an award for "Teacher of the Year," and we were so happy for her.  She tutored Tate and patiently loved on him and made first grade a triumphant year for him.  Thank you, Mrs. DeYoung!

Mrs. DeYoung is a kind hearted and compassionate as she is beautiful!

And little Miss Allie received awards for "Best Math Student," "'A' Honor Roll," and "The JCS Christian Character Award," that only 3 people in the school received. She received a beautiful trophy for that one, and we could not have been more proud of her!

Ms. Rankin ROCKS!  I hope Tater Man gets to have her as a teacher next year!

"A" Honor Roll

Her Christian Character Trophy :)

Okay, more to follow quickly as the highlights just keep piling up!  Thank you, Jesus, for all of these incredible blessings that have given us a shot in the arm of encouragement.

Jun 5, 2011

Life is Messy

I do admire her GUSTO.  And, I think she helped me come up with a motto for the summer.
Behold Exhibits A & B.

Jun 3, 2011

One hour in Jarabacoa

I now have blog idea buildup (bibu) because I have been 2 busy 2 blog (2b2b) lately.  And now I have this volcano of blog ideas (vobi) and not enough time to express (nette) them.  Well, I guess there could be worse things . . . .  like me making up silly abbreviations for things that don't matter :)

Now, prepare to feast your eyes on interesting things that a person could see in one hour in the town of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic (actually, I think all of these were taken within 30 minutes in town doing errands!)

 Slab of meat, anyone?  There was another guy right behind this guy in the middle of the road with the other half.  The guy in the green and blue getup is selling skim ice, which is like a popsickle that you squoosh out of a wrapper right into your mouth. It's so hot here at times that I feel like it SHOULD be illegal for people to cover their arms and legs with long sleeves and pants.  I TOTALLY do not understand why Dominicans don't sweat.  I want to be a Dominican.  I digress . . .

Amazing balance!  I can barely walk and talk, let alone balance something on my head while walking down the road!  Do you like the "bar stools" at the little store's counter in the background?  They are tree stumps . . . . made very smooth over time by the pressure of Dominican bums.

 Fresh flowers and women with "parasols."  Umbrellas are used here ALL the time!

One doesn't have to go very far to see sun dried, crunchy clothes roasting in the Dominican sun on a barbed wire clothes line/fence.

 In terms of all the things carried on the back of a moto-concho, this picture is not a particularly impressive example.  However, the dude had two large boxes strapped down with strips of old tires. Very ingenuitive. 

 Fresh fish anyone?  Jon is in the background exchanging money while I was sitting in the van waiting.  This guy had a whole ice chest full of this type of fish.  I guess you can just flag this dude down and buy a fish off of his handle bars just like no big deal.  I heart the Dominican, but I guess you already knew that!