An Heartfelt Explanation

“She’s gone Vicki,” our ministry base cook could barely look me in the eyes, “you know, the young mother with cancer.” She lowered her head even more, “My niece.” Her voice cracked a little, “She didn’t make it.”

“I’m so sorry,” I hugged her briefly. She isn’t a big hugger. She’s still learning to trust me in that way. “Are her children okay?” I asked as I compelled her to hold my hand and lowered my gaze to reach her eyes.

“Yes, their father came for them. They are fine.” She quickly let go of my grip and turned the other way.

“Please let me know if we can do anything for them.” My heart goes out to those boys!

Our family has been hit hard over and over again since 2012. These hard hits have caused us to make some risky changes.

Family illnesses and deaths, young adult children in transition, personal burnout, meeting the current needs of our tween and teen and keeping our marriage intact through it all has been a challenge.  With these challenges on the forefront, we’ve continually been faced with the needs of our ministry. In response to God’s call for us to serve in the Dominican Republic, we left behind all of what we knew to be familiar. We eagerly gave it all up because His call was and still is much greater to us than our own comfort and desires.

In the midst of the difficulties we’ve faced on the field and the needs we encountered abroad, we’ve remained faithful to that call. Quitting has not been an option for us. Hardships may sometimes seem to prevail, but we are convinced that God is with us through it all. We have chosen to view our trials through God’s word in the book of James chapter one, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you…” We wanted His wisdom in relation to our circumstances, thus sought Him for an answer.

We then submitted our realities to mature Christians that we trust. We strategized and planned to the best of our abilities and came up with a solution.

In response to the needs that seemed so consuming, we helped our teen and tween  fit into a community of believers where they could grow. That was important to them, thus important to us.

Our adult children are each moving along wonderfully, but also made us realize that their need for our presence is real.  Extended family is important to us as well. Time spent with them is essential, especially because of the emotional, spiritual and financial support they’ve allowed us over the years. This lifetime is really our only chance to love those in our midst.

Our marriage also needed to be refreshed. The toil of building a ministry without many resources took its toll on us both. We had both burned out and that state felt like death! Marriage had become a business partnership which left little room for romance. Help was of the essence.

Traveling back and forth is a bit daunting. I’d much rather call one place home and not wake up in the morning trying to remember if I’m in Virginia or in the Dominican Republic! The reality is that we are making the best choice for our current situation.

God allowed us to prepare our leaders in the Dominican Republic for their assignments long before we ever thought we would have to leave them so often. Our ministry continues to grow strong as we fulfill the needs of our family and ministry.

The risk of losing all of what we’ve worked so hard for has loomed over us as we face challenges in our home. Please don’t think that we need your support less because we are in the Dominican Republic less!

  • We still have to feed over 150 people (mostly children) daily.
  • We still have to pay our staff’s salaries each month, take care of their medical expenses and pay them double each December.
  • We still have to pay monthly rent for four of our locations.
  • We still have lots of maintenance on HOPE Mountain.
  • We still have to provide resources and supplies for our leaders.

All of the above is depended upon your donations. We still need you!2016Dominguez-63

During this season, our time in the Dominican Republic has dropped from 100% to 75%. Our airfare is specifically donated for that purpose. While we are in the states, we spend our time connecting with churches, Christian schools, ministries and small businesses for partnerships. We meet with our Dominican leaders via teleconferencing on a daily basis and we even preach online for our Dominican churches. We also engage with our children and extended family members to the best of our ability. We spend time enriching our marriage and our own spiritual walks in order to manage the ministry better.

The fruit of our time spent stateside is displayed throughout the new life we are experiencing in our ministry.

  • We have made relationships with more churches in the states which has awarded us more teams.
  • We hosted an amazing conference for pastors and leaders in the Dominican Republic.
  • We have more interns.
  • We are poised to plant two more churches of which our current pastors will lead.
  • We have been able to help more children each month.
  • We have more buildings on HOPE Mountain.
  • We have more training and resources easily available for our ministry’s growth.

You see, the salvation of the young lady who recently passed away occurred during one of my trips from Virginia to the Dominican Republic.  I remember the day when we talked and prayed for salvation. She was eager to give her life to Christ. She was eager to know Him and always wanted prayer. She consistently asked for prayers for peace in her family. She accepted her life as it was and wanted the rest to accept it as well. A team that ministered here briefly spent some time praying with her one day. She said that she felt God’s presence like never before. I’ll see her again.

She is only one example of the many who have committed their lives to Christ through one of H.O.P.E Dominican Republic’s ministries. We can’t quit.

Children count on us daily…we can’t stop.

Our churches depend upon our leadership…we must continue.

The countless short term missionaries that come through HOPE Mountain need our guidance…we must move on.

Our cook is still learning to trust me. That trust will convince her of the true love of our Father. We are committed to walk with her until she accepts His gift of life and we will hold her up as she walks out her newfound faith.

We are convinced that this current difficulty will only last for a season. Please stand with us during this complex time. We need you!

 

 

Not Just a Funny Girdle Story!

Once upon a time, my very observant daughter Selina bought me a girdle. The girdle became a trusted friend. I relied on this uncomfortable corset for years. It seemed to never fail. This constant companion made me look smaller and it gave me an amazing shape! My girdle, my friend, my tight sister, my forever squeezing and not giving me a chance to breath buddy -failed me today.

With my trusted companion in hand, I slipped into the restroom of the ladies parlor as the bridesmaids prepped for John’s and Ahsley’s wedding today. I stole a moment with Caroline, Jose’s girlfriend to let her know that I needed her help with zipping up my girdle. I slipped on the girdle and confidently called Caroline in for help. She gave up after a few moments of squeezing, sweating and pain shooting through her fingers. We called in Selina for reinforcements. Selina pulled and Caroline zipped. I sucked in my gut and almost fainted, but anything to be beautiful ladies! Selina was flustered, “Mom, when was the last time you wore this thing? The buttons are all broken and the zipper won’t zip! Suck in your gut more!” I wanted to respond, but I couldn’t breathe!

They both gave up and ran for help. This was an emergency! My son was going to declare his love for his bride today and I needed to look good. My pictures had to be flawless and a hanging gut would destroy it all. Selina understand me. She knew that only one person could get the job done.

My amazing super hero husband entered the ladies parlor and straight into the bathroom because his wife was in despair. Like Clark Kent turning into Superman, Ruben Dominguez became Supergirdleman! He knew the routine, we’ve done this a thousand times before. So, in his beautifully thick Latino accent he proceeded with the following instructions; “Lean against the wall,” he had this thing down packed! “You zip and I’ll pull. Suck in your gut. Why are you wearing this thing again anyway? You are beautiful without it. We are throwing this away after the wedding. I’m not doing this for you anymore. It’s not necessary.” I could barely respond because remember, I couldn’t breathe!

My Supergirdleman got the job done. Sister girl was looking good! Everything that needed to be lifted had risen. All of what liked to hang was tightly tucked away. He looked at me in my dress, “You look good baby, but you don’t need that thing anymore.” All I could do was smile because I was still struggling to breathe!

The wedding had begun. I walked down the aisle with as much grace a I could. My son’s wedding day had to be special for him. I wasn’t going to break down in tears because my waist burned, no not I, I am strong. I made sure no one noticed! I counted on my girdle. It was my trusted friend. My hope was in its security, even if it cost me my peace. I wasn’t going to give up on my girdle.

I could barely eat because my stomach was squeezed so tight. I could barely sit because the sides burned so bad! All of this agony, but I smiled. That’s what we oftentimes do. We pretend that all is well before the crowd as we suffer in silence. No one would ever know. I wasn’t going to let go of my confidant. This false truth of reality had become something I relied on for years. I would not let go.

It was time for me to dance with my son. Our song, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey. You’d never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away….” I sang that song to my Jonathan while he was in the womb, as I nursed him, when I changed his diaper, as I put him to sleep and throughout his childhood. This was our moment. Our special once in a lifetime dance. This was it and my girdle began to drop.

That trusted friend failed me. As the muffin top began to expand, I asked John to hold me closer. He asked why and I told him that my girdle was slipping. He could not hold back his laughter. I looked over at my other children at the table and they were also laughing. I felt a little hopeless. The thing in which I placed my hope had failed.

Such is life my friend. Why place our trust in this flighty world? Why place our hope in man? There is nothing on this earth capable enough to hold you up. Just like my failing girdle, the things of this world will leave you disappointed right when you need them most.

This has been my recent learning curve. Man lets down. The things of this world won’t hold up.

I laughed with a few friends about my girdle, then I went upstairs to take it off. True freedom came when I looked into that long mirror and accepted each and every part of my bulky self. I realized that I already had what I needed. True freedom reigns when we accept that our only hope is found in a relationship with our loving God. He won’t let us down and He will always hold up!

Selina, thank you for your gift, but I’m taking dad’s advice and throwing it in the trash. Today I’ve chosen once again to put my trust in the God who formed me and who loves me, curves and all. Today I choose to be free!