Amy- July 19, 2014 First UMC Lakeland

I love international mission trips largely because you never know what you will experience.   People who know me well probably are surprised by that because in my “at home” life I love things to be orderly and predictable and nothing about international mission trips are either one. You always wonder what the living conditions will be like… where will we sleep, what will we eat, what will the bathrooms be like. But I have learned that while all that might take up space in my mind, God has a way of moving me right past all of that as I start to see how He will use me and the rest of the team for His purpose and not ours. This trip has been no exception. I’ll briefly say that on this trip we have working bathrooms, comfy beds and delicious food so now on to what God has us doing. He is really working within our gifts to provide experiences that are helping not only people we seek to serve but also helping us to grow and stretch. We have strong youth and adults giving their all to the building of a wall to protect the school. They work alongside Francisco and Guillermo and are learning the Dominican ways of hard and quality work. They are using their muscles for the glory of God. We have a yoga instructor with us who is teaching the local women how to take some time for themselves. Today was day two of their class and there were both returning and new students. God’s using Nicole’s unique gift according to His purpose. Some of us (myself included) are spending lots of time with kids both at the school and at the Bible school we are helping with in the afternoon. Youth are putting their Spanish skills to use and helping those of us (myself included again) who have little Spanish but are getting really good at nonverbal communication. We learn more and more about the kids each day and I marvel at the love and trust they show to us who just days ago were complete strangers from a far away place. We feel welcomed into the village and are receiving far more of God’s love through little hands and smiles than we feel we could ever give out, I had the chance today to spend time reading with Angelica and Luzmeri. I doubt I was sounding out the Spanish words even close to correctly but Angelica was so proud to show off her good reading skills and Luzmeri sure enjoyed the funny faces we made during “Are You My Mother?” Luckily, I know that story really well in English. We have more days to come and I can’t wait to see what God has in store.

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