May 22, 2017

To love like them . . . .

These ladies are the most precious of givers to everyone around them. They quietly and deliberately serve - all the time. Serving is not a job to them, it is a way of life. I want to love like them.

There are people on this earth that have the "it" factor when it comes to showing love to others. The kind of people who are always able to focus on others more than themselves. You know the ones  . . . when you are with them you always find that you are talking about yourself (even though you vowed not to and to be the one listening BUT before you know it you hear yourself sharing something that you never intended to talk about!) #how'dtheydothat OR you find that they are just naturally and joyfully making the air around you easier to breathe somehow. They see ways to help and they jump in.

Youngest asked for them to make her rice (because we don't make it like they do - she says!) and we ended up with a whole meal of rice, fried meatballs, meatballs in salsa, beans, etc. The girls so enjoyed being in the kitchen with them and learning their tricks!

You know the ones. Even though you set out to bless them, you walk away from being with them feeling more alive, more refreshed, more loved down deep. They have a way. They just do. I'm not talking about people who are avoiding talking about themselves because they are hiding from something, trying to distract, or don't want to be vulnerable or to engage personally. NO, I'm talking about the ones that just have a way of disarming others, pouring in love and blessings, those that give, give, give as if giving is an involuntary reflex like breathing. I WANT TO LOVE LIKE THEM . . . .


Several weeks ago we had some friends from the north coast come to visit. They are the THEM - some of them anyway! They have always made us feel loved and appreciated - every single one of us. On Saturday morning, I woke up to them sweeping and mopping my house and trimming dead leaves off of my plants with the kids on the porch. Like little fairies they made their way around the house - sweeping and mopping and cleaning out places that hadn't been cleaned in a long time! I was like, "HEY! NO! STOP! I did that yesterday (well, the sweeping part). Please don't clean. You don't need to do that! Relax. Rest." The oldest daughter said, "Mom, they are SO happy to do this. Its what they do. They WANT to do it. Stop fighting it. Receive." But I had planned on blessing them while they were with us! I wanted to show them the love that they had always shown us! Hopefully in some small way they did feel blessed, but I guarantee that it was not to the same extent that they blessed us. If blessing were a competion #blessfest we'd lose to them everytime, but I still want to try to love like them! Because truth be told, how is there really any losing when you are intentional about thinking about other people and looking for ways to bless them? Yes, I want to love like them.

The Sawyers love these ladies so much. They are a blessing to everyone, everywhere! Thanks for loving like Christ, Lucia and Odilcia!



May 16, 2017

#forAFry and FRESH EYES

For what seemed like forever I was in a desert place. It was rocky, dry and sometimes I felt swallowed up by hopelessness. I struggled on so many levels and many of the things I had loved vigorously, my God given passions, seemed to have vaporized like droplets of water on a sizzling hot plate. Others didn't evaporate but I had to set some of them down for a while, knowing in the depths of my soul that the Lord would revive them at some unknown date in the future.

A refreshing began to happen in my life when I truly confessed some things before the Lord, and the overgrown elephant on my chest took a load off and dissipated into the lightest of feathers. Freedom. Even though my trunked friend had gone though, I still felt as though I hadn't been fully released from the huge divot he left on me. I was like one of those tempurpedic mattresses  that hadn't been popped back into place to its original form.  The pressure was gone but the impression remained.

One of my most favorite pieces of my life here in the D.R. has always been to share this country that I love through photo and story, yet my eyes had become caked with sand and my heart somewhat hardened. As I began to confess, repent and share with you all, the Lord brought your sweet comments before me in response to what I had shared and they were life - giving. Thank you.

Recently, one of my friends from years gone by who is on our prayer team responded to an email that she and her daughter (A. Fry) had been talking about what it would be like to live in the D.R. every day. Her sharing this comment with me was like a spring board to my soul and all of a sudden the caked on sand started falling off my eyes. They were made fresh again.

I have started snapping photos again, even if they are not that great through tinted windows with an old iphone normally taken from a moving car! I am seeing with FRESH EYES. In hopes of showing A. Fry what every day life is like in the D.R. it has reminded me of all the crazy and wonderful things I LOVE about this country! Things that have been here all along, all around me, yet I had been looking right passed them.

Also, since I started #forAFry #everydaylifeintheDominicanRepublic, the kids and I have had some pretty hilarious conversations about what is normal here that is not normal in the U.S. Remember that the Sawyer kids have grown up here so when I tell them to be on the lookout for things that we can share with #forAFry about everyday life in the D.R., they are unaware that much of what they see would not also be common place in the U.S.


"Mom, you mean they don't have bread trucks in the D.R?" (think of a bunch of bags of bread thrown into the back of a small 2 door pickup!)

Exhibit A: behold the truck o' carbs :)


"Mom, not many people use motos in the U.S?"

Motos (moped like bikes as well as motorcycles) are a major form of transportation in the D.R. and it is common to see small children, whole families and all sorts of cargo being carried on motos. Also, it is like 75 degrees here today. Notice the winter hat? In her defense, it prob does get chilly zipping through the streets on the back of a bike :)

"What? No chicken trucks? speaker trucks? pineapple trucks? People don't ride on top of the trucks in the U.S?"

Every day we see people riding on top of trucks like this guy on the trash truck.

The list goes on and on and on . . . . . good times!

Do you long for fresh eyes in areas your own life? Are you in a rut or coming out of the desert with sand caked on your eyes?  Every day is a new opportunity to receive a new batch of God's compassions and to see His thumbprints all around us. Every day is a gift to begin again anew.

If you are on instagram or facebook, follow along with us (sawyers5dr) as we document the things that we encounter in every day life here and enjoy :)

Thanks for interacting with us! It is a blessing to all of us to hear, see and enjoy your comments!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

May 10, 2017

Confessions of tweenage missionaries

Jon and I are in our mid 40's but in our lives as missionaries, we are about to turn 12. So for all practical purposes, we are tweenage missionaries (shake head and nod in agreement). We've been around the "missionary circut" long enough to have been overcome with pride in different areas. This is not something we're proud of (oh the irony!) but certainly something the Lord has dealt with us about. Pride is a silent killer so we are glad that he has lopped off branches, cut out bitter roots and reminded us who is the potter (Him) and who is the clay (us).

We've been awkard (and probably always will be), inept, ignorant and at times completely ineffective in almost every way.

We've been self-deceived, self-absorbed and self-righteous. Super ugly confessions from pimply-faced, voice cracking us.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm not sure which, I have been become very guarded about what I communicate (photos & writing) about our missionary life for multiple reasons:

1) The people that we have the privilege to learn and grow with/beside/alongside are just that: people. They are not projects or presentations or performances, and when I post things about them, even with the best intentions about accountability, stewardship, inspiration and/or encouraging the body, I can inadvertently convey that they are all the things that they are not. I hope you can hear my heart in this. I used to share with passionate vigor about all the people and places and "projects" and . . . . . one day I was overcome with such conviction from the Lord that it has been hard for me to find the line between sharing this missionary life with so many who take part in it through support, encouragement, etc. to protecting the people who I have so passionately and with wild abandon shared about in the past.  Does any of this make sense? Please tell me it does.

 2) We are not  missionary circus monkeys (ok, well, maybe sometimes) and I don't mean that in an offensive, rogue, free-lancey way. We are absolutely accountable to God who called us to share Him here, to those churches and individuals that sent and continue to support us in our sentness. We do need to share stories of redemption, restoration, kingdom building, hope, salvation and edification of the body. These stories are personal, raw and very real, and they represent God moving in the life of a person(s), and that person is not a production. However, I don't want to withhold news about God's goodness either. Such a delicate balance that can be tainted by the need for validation, funding, resources, significance, etc. I'm not going to lie, yall. This issue has plagued me for the past couple of years.

I am confessing these things to you because I deeply desire to be refreshed by the Lord in this area. I deeply desire to honor relationships, both here and there, and to be wise in what I put before others so as to neither hurt nor hide.

Here is what I know:

  • The Lord has called me to be His, first and foremost, and TO DO LESS, which seems counter-cultural, especially having been "sent" as a missionary - shouldn't that mean we are DOING and DOING MORE? Well, yes, but the doing is less important (yet easier to demonstrate to others in a video/slideshow, etc.) than the being - in Christ, in communion, in study and fellowship, in worship of Him.
  • The Lord has asked me to be slow and intentional in a world that craves insta-everything. I see facebook posts and insta's and selfie's and I just want to jump on in (and I'm not saying those things are wrong in and of themselves) but my heart is wickedly deceptive.  If I am not plugged into God completely, if He is not the author and the source, then I am quick to do a me dance and that's not good for anyone.
  • He has challenged me to pray about everything I put forth about our lives and the people around us in a way that is authentic, honoring and transparent.
  • He has asked me to expose my thinking about all of this before you because I have been relatively silent and still out of fear. Perhaps fear of judgement, fear of rejection, fear of criticism, fear of failure, etc. And fear's got no place up in here unless it is fear of the Lord. 
So there you go, friends. If you read this, will you please pray for the Lord to give us wisdom and freedom in this area? We WANT to share with you, and we WANT you to be encouraged.

Apr 26, 2017

The Invitation

We all get one, the invitation, but it is not always received. Sometimes we miss it. Sometimes we think that we were left off of the list, purposefully or forgotten. Sometimes it sits in a pile of things, waiting to be opened and responded to, but it is always there. Available, sent with intention.


The invitation is from God. He sends it with pristine clarity like the morning light glistening through the trees. It is gentle and soft and golden. He is there and He waits like a gift longs to be opened. AND we wait in eager expectation
to see Him,
to know Him,
to be with Him,
to hear from Him,
to be moved by Him,
to see His fingerprint all around us.

The invitation from God is
to be welcomed in,
to approach the throne of grace blameless because Jesus endured the separation from God on our behalf that we may go close,
to be loved unconditionally,
to receive grace and to offer it freely to others,
to forgive and to walk in freedom.

It is to admit our wrongdoings and turn from them; towards Him.
It is to embrace our own undoing so that we can be less and less for Him to be more and more.
It is to share with others in the midst of the undoing, rather than waiting for a digital retouch to put our best foot forward with all the ducks in the row behind it in their fuzzy perfection and straight line.
It is to say "I'm not in control of most things, but I'm tight with the ONE who is sovereign over all things." 
It is to beckon the unexpected, sometimes the illogical, and often the unforeseeable because God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours.
It is to welcome the prompting of a voice inside, the Holy Spirit, to guide us to action with just a piece of a puzzle that quite possibly makes no sense to us, but for someone else is an oh-so-personal response that lets them know that God says, "I see you and I know the details."
It is to die a thousand deaths to self, but to live alive in the fullest measure of God's abundant love.

The invitation.

Feb 26, 2017

Man holes without covers

We didn't even see it coming though we were accustomed to swerving to avoid them. In the case of months of prolonged rain, an unexpected placement on a side street and high grass growing in the gravel along the street, this one was completely obscured from view. The danger hiding beneath met the right front tire of our van with a jolting thud, violently jossling the contents of its interior with the force of a shark bite. A man hole without a cover, it wasn't what we expected.

Often times man holes lose their covers here.  Every other day there is a new gaping hole  right where your car needs to drive. I don't know why, but they just seem to disappear frequently. There were manholes everywhere on the streets of Puerto Plata, the city on the north coast of the D.R. where we lived for 2.5 years.

To further complicate matters, driving in the D.R. is as if the game frogger and police academy had a baby. Trying to cross the road + trying to decide what is a danger and what is not =
stopping suddenly for the 3 year old crossing traffic with a bag of eggs, but speeding up for the BIG MAC truck that appeared out of nowhere while creating a lane to let it narrowly pass as you count the driver's nose hairs because the encounter was that close.  

If you are driving between the lane lines, your tires pass right over the covered man holes. (The concept of staying between the lines is rather fluid here.  Drivers pass on all sides, even in the lane of oncoming traffic, turn without blinkers, stop suddenly without notice, park in the middle of a lane, swerve repeatedly, drive at night without lights, and will turn two lanes into 5 often, etc.) Did I mention FROGGER?  Things are always popping out from an unknow location - especially MOTOS! Motos are a major form of transportation here, and moto drivers tend to have an invincible mentality, turning out into traffic without even looking, darting across multiple lanes of traffic, weaving in and out of stopped cars, etc.

In our case on that day on a random small side street of Puerto Plata, what popped out nearly pulled us under. It wasn't because we didn't know the danger or were wreckless, we simply did NOT know it was there. It was hidden, out of sight. One minute we were driving along and the next we were scratching our heads because we were in a hole.  Can you relate?

#suckerpunch

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can not avoid man holes without covers, unexpected life moments that knock the wind right out of our chest. Those "what just happened?" moments where disappointment, dispair and hopelessness concoct a plan to blot out joy.

But God.

He sees us. He loves us. He is neither dismayed, startled, nor in a quandry about what to do next. His hands are not tied by our wheel that is stuck 3 feet deep nor our empty pocketbook that mocks us in the face of needed repairs. No, God is not discouraged. He is not fretful. He tells us in advance that nothing, NOT ANYTHING, can separate us from Him.  He sees the #suckerpunch and says:

Come to me.

I am near.

I will cover you.

You are mine.

Yes, "man holes without covers" can cause quite a jolt, and without Him I would never want to be in one. But with Him, I know that I'm NOT stuck.


Just an example of a man hole with out a cover on a wide side street. The man hole we drove into was on a gravely side road where high grass was all around it. On this road, it is easy to avoid these because the road is wide, not full of traffic, and the hole is clearly visible (well, during the day!)