Friday, January 20, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

        Please forgive me for the lapse in time since I have written! Since my last update in November, I have traveled back to the US, planned a wedding, GOT MARRIED, gone on a honeymoon, and am now back in the DR with our ministries in full swing.
        Last year was one of the busiest and greatest years I've had, all in one. From living at home for a couple months, to Guatemala, to the Dominican, to getting engaged, to planning a wedding, then to finally getting married with only 1 day to spare left in the year. God has blessed me so faithfully in all the excitement and blessings he gave me 2011. I couldn't be a happier newlywed wife, daughter, mentor, and person all around. As this year is into full swing I wanted to put into writing some of my new year's resolutions for my life and ministry here in the DR. Hopefully having these down in writing will give me an entirely new group of people keeping me accountable for these things and in addition, share with you what is on my heart for this year.

1. I want to continue in my daily Bible study with my husband to prayerfully bring both of us closer to Him.

2. Each of my disciples have the desire to learn English and learn about the Bible so I would like to help them learn a new story each week and different English vocabulary words from the story.

3. I want to be a better communicator to my family, friends, churches, and everyone back in the States.

4. I would like to spend more time doing activities with my 3 disciples outside of school.

My hope is that anyone who reads this will help me stay accountable for these things. If you are reading this, you must take an interest in what I am doing here and I cannot thank you enough. It means the world to me to have the support back home that I do. As time passes here, I will continue to keep you all updated on all that is going on here in the DR. My husband also has a blog and he, being an English major, is much more of a talented writer than I. His blog is  if you would like to read a little more eloquent of a piece :)

Thanks again for all your love and support!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our wild Halloween party!

Even though the seasons here don’t often find a way to change, it only felt natural to celebrate the beloved holiday of Halloween here in the Dominican. Fall has always been one of my favorite times of year, mainly due to my love of my family’s Thanksgiving celebration. Being such, we brought decided to bring the season to us. These kids love to have a good time with music and friends, as do all teenagers, so we planned a Halloween party in the Outreach center in Rio San Juan. The day of, my girls were so thrilled and excited for the fiesta later that evening. They even begged to come early and help with decorations. We spent our discipling time that day decorating goody bags with pumpkins, ghosts, and any other scary goofy things we could think of. I was so proud of one of my girls, Estefany, especially as we planned for the party. During this process I was able to see how much she truly wanted to use this opportunity to help and serve others. Through decorating all the bags for the kids, hanging up streamers, and blowing up balloons, for maybe the first time, I saw her put a great amount of effort into something for other people. This was so encouraging to me, and now that I think of it, I need to tell her this and how proud I am of her.
So many others showed up at 5, an hour early, and hung up streamers that said ‘Sangre!’ or ‘Blood!’, they blew up many balloons and punching balloons (you can imagine the excitement once they figured out how to use those!), they set out plates, and many other things to help us. The decorating  was maybe just as fun as the party itself, watching all the kids scurry around the room in complete chaos to set up for the perfect Halloween party!
We had sodas, cookies, and even a real jack-o-lantern that Jordan and I carved the night before! As all the kids started to arrive they became instantly moved by the blaring music of Michael Jackson in the room. These kids LOVE Michael Jackson and have a dance to probably every one of his songs. One of my favorite parts of the evening is when the song Thriller came on. Suddenly, as the song started and began picking up speed, 7-8 of the kids lined up in a row and started doing the Thriller dance. Thankfully I was able to record it on video. One of my disciples Graisy let down all of her hair then put it in front of her face and started walking around the room like a mummy. On the other side of the room we had a line, probably 15 people deep to bob for apples. In another corner we had water bottles with glow sticks in them set up for bowling. Then to top it off the other 30 kids were painting each other’s faces and every balloon they could find. Complete chaos could probably not fully describe this experience. As crazy, and messy, and overheated it was in the space, it was such a neat time we were able to share with the kids. They felt comfortable around us, sincerely wanted to bring their friends, and tell others about what we are doing. I pray for more experiences like this one, where the kids can come and truly be themselves and know they have a home in the outreach center.
This Halloween was special to me because I was able to see how my kids want to serve one another and just how comfortable the feel around us. Plus, it was a blast! Keep us and our ministry in your prayers. We are thankful for your support and encouragement for all of us and our disciples.

The Latest

Forgive the ridiculous length between my last post until now! I can't believe it has taken me so long. Many things have happened since I last updated. Everything with Manna Christian School has been going really well! The first 8 weeks we had English immersion and I taught English for 2 hours each day. Now that English immersion has ended, I teach Monday and Wednesday afternoons and continue to do my discipling time each day with my 3 girls. As there are probably countless things I could blog about, instead of trying to cover them all, I wanted to hit a highlight or two.

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to spend the night at Jailinne's house, one of my disciples. We had such a fun night and next day activities planned. After Club Chiquito on Friday Jailinne, Graisy, Estefany, and I went over to Jailinne's house to get ready for the fun evening ahead! Going back to my teenage days we tried on probably at least 5 different outfits until we all found just the right one. Then we went out for pizza and to watch the basketball game in town. It was interesting being with them in their own environment. Normally, they know me as 'teacher Audrey' or 'discipler Audrey' but it was nice to have this time were we could just be friends and enjoy our time together. Before the game started, we went to the park right next to the court and took probably 100 pictures with all kinds of different poses. They LOVE having their picture taken and looking at each and everyone after. We had a lot of fun and I'm sure entertained anyone and everyone who walked by. Then we watched the basketball game and headed back home later that evening. Jailinne, Graisy, and I had a real sleepover where we all crammed into a bed much too small for the three of us, and watched The Princess and the Frog. The next day we woke up and headed over to Milagros' house (Graisy's mother) and spent the morning with  her. I was able to go watch her get her hair rolled and just spend some time talking to her. Then Graisy cooked us her famous Dominican spaghetti, which was our first lunch of the day. Then we walked back to Jailinne's house where her father had also cooked us a lunch consisting of beef and all kinds of different vegetables. I was beyond stuffed by this point, but I thought it was really sweet that they both wanted to feed us.

After lunch we went to The Beach of the Dead (there is a graveyard there) and looked for grapes. We were actually able to find some and they were pretty tasty! We enjoyed some time just swimming in the ocean and spending time together. You could imagine by this point I was pretty checked out of Spanish after trying to translate in my head over the previous 12 hours, but nonetheless, I tried to keep up. Then we went swimming in the laguna and I continued to take pictures as they jumped into the water. Not soon after, I headed back to the outreach center and Evan picked me up. Even though I was completely exhausted after not a good nights sleep and trying to speak and understand Spanish over the previous 24 hours, I was really blessed to be with the girls in their own environment. It was complete immersion! They were really sweet trying to take care of me and make sure I was as comfortable as possible. They are good girls and I love them a lot! Here are some pictures...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monday Night Mayhem

It’s nothing but excitement here in the DR as we are all in the final preparations for our school starting next Monday and carrying out all of the activities in Rio San Juan. With the transition out of groups Jordan and I have still had quite the showing of children and teens in our ministries. Monday nights have been our Princesas and Pescadores time. These are kids ranging from ages 10-17. Our kids love to have fun. Our desire for this time was to create a kind of environment, but also with something more. Our official kickoff ‘meeting’ with them went really well. We all had banana splits with every random topic you could think of. We also played some games and really enjoyed the fellowship and company of another. The next week we presented them with a paper stating the expectations we were holding them accountable to and how the attendance system was going to work. The expectations basically states that we are holding them to the standards the Jesus left for us, commanding us to love the Lord first and foremost, then to love others as ourselves. This paper also stated specific ways they could live out both of those commandments. The reason why I felt the need to go into such detail on these items is because I want our kids to see these 2 commandments as reachable goals. We want them to be able to really practice loving the Lord first and loving others second. These specific expectations and guidelines for our program also show them that we are trying to hold them to a higher standard. Jordan and I want them to feel ownership over this program and really participate in the things we do together. I would say they took all of this information very well. They were very excited to see all the fun things we had planned for the rest of the year.

Monday we started our P&P time by hanging out, then playing a dangerously competitive game of Steal the Bacon. We had the whole group split up, with 10 kids on each side, and race to the middle to try and steal the bandanna and get it back to their side. It was fun watching them get so into it, however the losing team took their loss pretty tough. After the game we had announcements then Jordan took the boys for their lesson and I had the girls. As we are trying to keep our Club Chiquito lessons and P&P lessons in sync, we both spoke out the story of Adam and Eve. With the girls we each got a Bible and read Genesis 3. Each girl would go around and take 2 verses. Then we talked about Eve’s temptation to eat the apple that God had forbidden her to eat. I had the girls get a marker and a piece of paper and write down 3 temptations they had. They did really well following instructions. I was really blessed to have my fellow teammates/ great friends (Jill and Rachel) there with me to help me keep them focused and calm down. The girls went around and shared their temptations and each one listened to the other. Then I told them we were going to spend 30 in silence to talk to God about our temptations. Keeping these children quite is a much greater feat than you would believe, but they did exactly what I had asked. There was completely silence as they all spoke to God in that moment. I felt so proud to be sitting there with them and just asked the Lord to please hear their prayers. I know He did.
Thanks to all for reading and taking such an interest in what is doing here in our Monday night ministry and ALL the areas flourishing here with Manna in the DR. We are incredibly blessed to be a small piece of God’s plan for these people. Continue to pray for us and that our individual walks stay strong and unwavering.


Monday, August 22, 2011

August Highlights!

1. Manna Christian School Sleepover in Bobita

Before all the interns left we were able to have all our kids come out to camp to spend the night with us. You can imagine 20 teenagers out here with us, having practically free reign of the camp, was not one of our calmer nights. When they all arrived we ate homemade pizza and drank flavored sodas. You’d be very surprised how much these kids can eat. Even my girls, as seemingly skinny as some of them are, put away at least four pieces of pizza. They loved it though. Then we spent the rest of the night running around camp, playing games, roasting marshmallows over the bonfire, watching all the Dominicans dance to their hearts desire, then playing a movie up on the pad. The kids loved it and were so full of energy from the moment they arrived until the next morning when they left. It’s exciting to see how much they love being here, especially since this place will become a big part of their life over the next year as school is starting. We loved having him here and it was a really fun night.

2. Our Princesas and Pescadores’ kickoff party

A large part of mine and Jordan’s ministry out here is our Princesas and Pescadores. We wanted to start the semester off right by throwing a big welcome party for all of our kids. We decided to have ice cream sundaes with all the toppings. These included fruit loops, crusted up Oreos, bananas, peanuts, cherries, whipped cream, and many other delicacies. We had the whole place decorated with streamers and balloons as well. As the kids started to arrive, many of them danced and hung-out. We all ate our banana splits then Jordan and I introduced to them our game. We had thought this game up probably a day before and knew the kids would get a kick out of it. Basically we had 10 bowls set up at the end of the room with a different food item in them. There were two teams so each team had five bowls. One bowl contained pickles and jalapenos, another was nasty baby food, another whip cream and Oreos, another had a melted Twix bar, and the last was a mixture of pb & j. We covered each the bowls so none of the kids saw them before hand. Then they would pick a partner and one person had to walk on their hands while another held their ankles and finish one of the bowls. It was a race between the two teams and the team to finish their bowls first got to pie Jordan and me in the face. It was really hysterical. I felt somewhat guilty for filling a bowl with jalapenos but the kids seemed to love the game, some more than others of course. We had a great time and it was just the way to get our semester kicked off.

3. A week with my mom

I was really blessed to be able to spend an entire week with my mother here! She came just after the summer groups and the interns left, so we were able to have a lot of great, quality time together. We went to Santiago with the team, visiting Chiles, Jumbo mall, Pricesmart, saw the final Harry Potter movie, and visited many other luxuries of the big city. She really enjoyed seeing that aspect of the country. The next day we went to my good friend Milagros’ house. Her name means miracle in English and she is truly a sweet woman. Her daughter, Graisy, is one of the girls I mentor and spend a majority of my time with. We arrived at her house in the morning, helped her cook and spent time with the girls. Jailinne taught mom how to make a thread bracelet by tie lots of knots with different pretty colors of string. Graisy painted mom’s toe nails and we all shared a wonderful meal. Milagros’ is truly one of the most faithful women I’ve ever met. She speaks constantly of the love she has for the Lord and continually strives to please him. I love speaking with her about these things. Her passion for her faith and her family really radiates in all that she says and does. This day was a blessing to both my mother and me. The following days she was able to spend Club Chiquito with us, the VBS like activity we have with the younger children of Rio San Juan, visits to the beach, a Bobita church experience, and the greatest experience we had together Saturday when…


August 13 was mine and Jordan’s one year anniversary and he asked me to marry him! We woke up very early to go see the sunrise on the beach and it was nothing short of perfect. I had no idea he was going to propose, even though my parents had known for months. He played me a really special song and asked me to spend my life with him. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life, knowing I’m going to marry my best friend and guy of my dreams. We spent the entire day on the beach, got a massage, and started the ever exciting wedding plans. That night all of the team and mom came out to have dinner with us on the beach. It was truly a day I will never forget. God has blessed me profusely with a life more perfect and special than I could have ever imagined. Continue to pray for us as we plan out our December wedding and the rest of our lives together. We are very excited!

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. We are busy each day preparing for the first day of school at Manna Christian School, September 5th! Keep us in your prayers for this day and for each of the team members in our individual ministries. God is good at taking care of us all.

Sending my love from the DR,

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Dominican sleepover

Things have been going very well here in the DR. We have kept very busy between our groups and Dominican disciples here. Last week my girls (that you met in the last blog post) were able to come with us to Puerto Plata day. For those of you who do not know, Puerto Plata day is a day that we travel into the big city and visit the people in the hospital and in the dump. I was really looking forward to experiencing this day with the girls because I knew it would force them outside of their comfort zone. After having had this day with them before I had a pretty good idea of how to best engage them. In each of the hospital rooms there are close to 10 beds per room. We normally spend about 10 minutes passing out bags, talking, and praying with people. Then we will sing some songs and have a prayer over the room. The girls were great about going up to people. I loved just to stand beside them at times and watch them go. It really made me proud how they made an effort to get to know these people. There was one lady in a wheelchair, very old and feeble, and they all three went up to her and laid their hands on her and started asking her questions. It was a great reminder to me to step back and let them take the lead. Another thing that really impressed me was that morning I found out that Jailinnee had prepared a prayer in advance to pray over the rooms. This can be a really scary thing for a 14 year old girl, to pray out loud in front of 20-25 people. She did so wonderful though and I know that her prayer encouraged Graisy and Estefanie to pray in front of others as well.

Another exciting adventure me and the girls were able to have was a sleepover! They had been asking me about this for a couple of weeks and I knew it was something they would enjoy. So Wednesday night after community day, they all came back to camp with us and the festivities began. We enjoyed dinner, volleyball, and lots of other things. Rachel allowed us to use all of her paint and the girls painted canvases for their moms. I thought that was sweet because they came up with the idea. So we did that for awhile then they all played capture the flag. It is incredible to me the energy level these kids can maintain here. I am still trying to keep up. They must have run around for 2 hours chasing one another. It was very enjoyable to watch. Then once we were ready for bed, gracious Jordan allowed us to use his home (mine had no power at the time) and we all headed to bed. After a movie and nonstop giggling they fell asleep around 2 am. The next morning we woke up bright and early, cleaned up and went to breakfast. When we were sitting at breakfast the group went into quiet time. I had not planned to do anything specific with the girls during this time but I felt the urge to pull them aside for a little more serious of a time. After bringing our chairs into the grassy field, somewhat more isolated from the group, they really began to open up.

I started by asking them things they struggled with and asked them what they had been praying about. It was amazing to hear their answers. The thing that surprised me most about their prayers and answers to these questions is that none of them revolved around themselves. They continually mentioned their families, people they cared about, someone that they knew was struggling. So often my prayers are for myself, my work, my struggles, and all things Audrey related. I realized that they have so much to teach me and others. These girls have so much potential and I have no doubt that the Lord is leading them down a promising path. After much talking, which these girls LOVE to do, we had a prayer. You really know a person on a deeper level when you hear them talk to God and that it what it was like for me. I felt very blessed for our time together that morning, as well as the experience in all.

God is doing great things here. Know I love each of you and think about you often. Keep me, my girls, our team, and my Pappaw in your prayers.

Love and blessings,

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Dominican Beauties

I came to the Dominican for a very specific purpose. I feel so called to these people, but especially to spend time with 4 specific girls. Their names are Estefany, Jailinnee, Graisy and Rosemary. As many of you know we are starting a school in the first of September as an opportunity to pour into the lives of the children we are looking to disciple. We are using the school as not only an opportunity to educate them but more importantly to have the vast amount of time with them each day. Reflecting on how Jesus raised up his disciples, it is evident that He poured into them constantly. He was constantly surrounded by them. This is simple what we want to mimic with our kids. These are my four specific disciples...

Estefany, Jailinnee, and Graisy


Estefany is the girl I have known the longest and the one I have clicked with since I first arrived 2 summers ago. I think the best word, or way, to describe her would be firecracker. She is FULL of energy and always engaging with someone. She is a heart, I believe, is starving for love and attention. She normally lives in Rio San Juan with her grandmother. Her house is very small compared to most, which is why, when in RSJ, she is normally out around town. My heart for Estefany is that she can grow maturity wise and learn to function on a deeper level. She is very fun to be around and loves the attention of others. However, I long for her to grow in a way that she can pray with me, or that we could have a deeper conversation. I know she is capable and I cannot wait to see how the Lord grows her in this way.

Jailinnee is truly a doll. One of the things I admire about her most is just her willingness to sit down and devote time to people. When she and I sit down, she will give me and our conversation her full and undivided attention. I admire this so much about her because I think it reflects a level of maturity that many of us are still trying to reach. She has expressed to me that she dreams of traveling the world. She wants to work as a flight attendant and speak 5 different languages so that she can communicate with all kinds of different people. I have such high hopes for Jailinnee because I know that the Lord has put her in our path for a reason. My prayer for her is that she can discover what Christ means to her. She does not have the parental direction and attention that many of us have grown up with; therefore, I believe she has a beautiful sense of independence about her. I can’t wait to see her talents continue to be developed and used for the Kingdom.

Graisy is one of a kind as well. She comes from a home with an incredibly connected mother named Milagros, which means miracle. Milagros was recently baptized as has a level of faith I personally aspire to. Although things at home have not always been smooth for Graisy and her little sister Adrianna, Graisy is a leader. She is the type of person that can truly influence others and they listen to her. I know she has been just the encouragement her mother has needed on many occasions. She also really reaches out to her younger sister, Adrianna (10 years old), who spends time with us as well. Graisy also has an amazing servant’s heart. Anytime Graisy is around I always see her painting someone’s fingernails or toenails with such precision as if they were her own. One day she painted so many she told me her shoulder was hurting. Graisy and Jailinnee are cousins and aspire to the same goal of traveling the world. My prayer for Graisy is that she can continue to develop her leadership qualities and to NEVER be afraid to step outside of her comfort zone. People notice her and follow her, and I cannot wait to be a part of her growth.

Rosemary is just a sweetheart. She lives here in the children’s home and just loves to be around people. I met Rosemary 2 years ago when I first came and was drawn to her maturity and calm nature in any situation. Rosemary has a great desire to learn English and is very patient. As I have not been able to spend as much time with her as I have the other girls, thus far, I am thrilled for the opportunity to be a deeper part of her life. She is surrounded, here at the children’s home, by people who love her and want the best for her. My prayer for Rosemary is that she can discover the Christian woman that God has called her to be and to live that with confidence.

I cannot repeat enough the potential I see in these 4 girls. God has placed them in our mission and before me specifically for a reason. I hope that this post has allowed you to have a more detailed understanding of these girls and my heart for them. God has incredible plans for this place and their lives specifically. Please continue to pray for me that I can have the energy to keep up with all of them and that my Spanish will continue to develop in a way that allows me to reach them. This is the mission I know the Lord has set in motion for my life and theirs and I’m thrilled for this journey.

All my love,