Friday, January 20, 2012

Shopping, Chores, and Logistics

After sleeping in a little on Thursday morning...Kim, Susan, and I enjoyed the company of Connie and Amy for a bit.  They normally come out to sit with us so we can catch up before the busy-ness of the week starts. It's always so nice because I love them so and they are very special people.

We then ventured in the big red truck with Alexander as our driver.  This is always a great adventure shopping in the Super Mercado for the team lunches during our work week.  Lunches usually consist of peanut butter/jelly or ham/cheese sandwiches, pringles potato chips, and cookies.  We also purchased 300 lbs of beans and the same of rice.  These will be divided up into 1 lb bags and the cli
nic pharmacy will distribute next week to all the clinic patients.  Beans and simple, yet something that some may not have.  I take so much for, would I sit down to a meal of beans and rice day in, and day out?  I can't answer that.  I would like to think I could....but I dont know.     After the purchas of 50 cans of pringles, 55 packages of cookies, water, some drinks, the beans/rice...we headed back to the hotel.

Friday was a restful day since all the shopping had been done on Thursday.  We enjoyed each others company...sat and watched God's beauty all around us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Need to Remember to Ride With the Window Down More.....

This day's blog wrote was a thought process that started this morning at 3:30AM....and evolved upon arrival in Santo Domingo.  It was uneventful fairly much on time. No missed flights and that 3 hr. layover in Atlanta gave Susan and I enough time to grab a bite then meet up with Kim, who came in about an hour later than us from Raleigh.  

I will have to tell you that the check-in process at the airport and stressing that your bags are too heavy....well, it's a huge relief when they tag them and send them on the conveyor belt to the huge weight lifted.  Getting into a foreign country, although this is year #9 coming into the country....exchanging American dollars for Pesos...baggage claim...hoping and praying your bags make it this year....then Customs/Immigration.  Although I know "the  drill" its still a relief when you walk out the door at the airport to find Rolando with his COPA sign.  This is the 3rd year he has picked us up and taken us on our 4-5 hr journey.

We really hadn't gotten far down the road and the air conditioner stopped working....and so the blog evolves.  It's hot....we've been rushing to get out of the airport, getting bags and going through all the legalities of traveling out of the country....3 spoiled American women who are hot and feel grubby....and the air doesn't work.  

I don't think I hesitated....rolled down my window in the back seat of the truck....I don't ride with the window down was amazing within just a few minutes how I could feel the tensions of the past stresses, life's challenges....that wind blowing through my hair and face quickly reminded me of simple, my childhood....and that I need to do this more often.

It wasn't long into the major part of Santo Domingo's busy road that Rolando banged on the dashboard....and we clearly understood "clutch!" Yep....clutch gone or something....enough of a something that we sat on the side of the road....busy busy road....3 lanes they make into 5, and we were sitting off to the side of it. Buses passing within inches....and when I say inches....I'm meaning 5-6 inches....Buses! But my window is down....and I should ride with it down more worries! Susan had just said we all came with lots of prayers and family/friends will pray the week no worries from me. I knew we were safe with Rolando and at some point or another....we would make it to Barahona.

It was really amazing how some guy just walks up almost immediately....crawls under the hood and under the truck, removes a part, Rolando runs down the street to purchase a new one and within 45 minutes....the Dominican wind, the smells of the country, and the familiar scenery along the way are underway I rode with the window open.

We talked as we got down the road how God indeed was watching over us....had that truck breakdown occurred an hour down the road....we would have been out in the middle of nowhere on a dark long 2 lane road. There is some electricity out there must mostly not....thank you Jesus....and so we rode with the windows open.

I said before how I could feel the tensions of "life" finally leaving....every mile we rode....more contentment, more peace....more thanksgiving for my blessings. I am always thankful for I know I am blessed....but sometimes we just need to remove ourselves from "busy and comfortable" to see "reality and simple".

Rolando made up he drove very fast down the road....passing through small towns with roadside selling of their countries crops, wares and stuff. I love passing through the villages! We again prayed really hard because he was driving really fast and all it would take is a blown out tire....but we didn't dwell on we rode with the windows down.

We made it safely to Playazul by 8 pm Dominican time....had some dinner and retired exhausted from our travel day.

This day....I am thankful for wonderful travel companions....laughter that we shared so much of today....realization and conversation of our blessings and safe travel. I also am reminded and hope to remember....I need to ride with the window down more often!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Last of the Packing...100 Pounds of Stuff and Love

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. ~ Galatians 5:6

It's been a busy week...and it's only Tuesday...but the biggest theme throughout the weekend and so far this week has been love.  I had a wonderful meeting on Saturday with 4 beautiful women, planning a spiritual weekend in April.  Dinner with my husband that night.  While he loves me doing what I feel God is leading me to do...He dreads this time of the year, because I'm leaving. 

Sunday, the sermon was about letting people see God in matter where you are, what your circumstance.  Our Christian Fellowship Sunday School group prayed over Susan and I, which is always so moving.  After church, we met for lunch with a group of friends to 'send us off.'  It was nice to share in that meal, fellowship, and love.  The beginning of the week has brought sweet calls, emails, and Facebook messages.  I know there are prayers for safe travel and prayers for our families...but all that has been on my mind is the people of the villages in and around Barahona DR that will cross and bless our lives this next week.

So, at 430 in the morning when I check those bags at the airport...they're full!  We anticipate the mission, what will we see, how we all work together as a team, but mostly...will they see Jesus in us?  All the 'stuff' we're carrying in those suitcases...some necessities for us while we're there, but there's also a great deal of 'gifts' and things for friends there.  Through those gifts, hopefully they know and see the love we have for them.  There are little beanie babies for the kids at the hospital while they wait on their surgeries.  There are little bracelets from Oriental Trading that has Jesus love on them...will they see Jesus? At the end of each day and the beginning of the next...through the heat, and the tiresome time...will they see Jesus? 

So the thankfulness,love, prayers and all that I have put in there the past couple of weeks...will they see Jesus in me as much as those that have showed it to me in the past several weeks in getting prepared?  I hope so...that's my prayer. 

Be kind to each Jesus to someone this week that you wouldn't normally come in contact with.  Be a blessing...let them see Jesus in you.


***I hope to blog while I"m away but it largely depends on WiFi signal where we're staying.  If not, I'll be taking notes and will catch up when I get home.  Thanks for all the prayers...pray for the people of the Dominican Republic.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A suitcase of love and prayers.........

This week has been crazy many irons in the fire.  Suitcase sits in the bathroom floor with piles of stuff on top of it.  I had so hoped to be more along with packing that I am...less than a week out from leaving. 

Let's see...I'm working 8-10 hours a day, trying to make purchases and last minute decisions about the bathroom remodel that will take place while I'm away...planning a meeting for Saturday that's very important, making purchases of things I'll need to take and for a few things I'm taking some my DR family, then there's the trying to keep up with laundry, deciding where we'll eat OUT for dinner each night because trust me...there's no cooking going on for sure!

Earlier today, I scanned through my email to try to clean it up and happened up a devotional email I get each week from a friend.  For 7-8 years now, since our DR trip, he has forwarded to me a weekly devotion he receives from a man.  Sometimes, they are ones that I've read before and I will glance through them then delete...but more times than I can's one that sticks to me.  Many times it's been the ones that I've left in the mailbox unread for a week or more, then go back to...somehow knowing God is using those to speak to me just at the right time.  Much like the one below...

In the busy-ness, craziness, of my life right now of doing, preparing, working, packing, deciding...all those 'action' words...I realized am I really remembering to be thanking, loving, and praying.

So tonight, with so much to do...a bed full of bags from the store that I need to go through...I stop, watch some TV with my sweet husband, who loves me more than I can ever comprehend and am thankful.  Tonight, I'll rest and be thankful.

My Uncle Marshall, my Mom's brother, has been battling Pancreatic cancer for 2 years.  If you don't know a great deal about this type of's nasty, it's deadly, and it's winning over his body.  I found out today that Uncle Marshall was told this week he has a couple of weeks.  After talking to my mom this afternoon, I wept...then I made that phone call.  I called him to tell him "I love you Uncle Marshall.  I have such wonderful memories of my childhood, with you in my life.  I have wonderful memories of you in my adult life and I will always have them."  I wanted him to know before it was too late and I wanted him to know before I leave...because there's a good chance he won't be here when I return.  He's my mom's only brother...I hurt for her, and a part of me hurts for my sisters, and all brothers and sisters who go through this loose a sibling. 

I wished I could tell you what all the last 2 years have given him...I don't know them all.  But I can tell you a few...Uncle Marshall was always a fisherman, he competed in fishing tournaments a lot, he loved golf, and he loves his wife.  When he was diagnosed 2 years ago...he didn't think he would live long and wasn't given very long....but this big man, who had not been church going or "God talking" to my knowledge enough to make an impact on me....starting attending a church who believed, REALLY believe in the power of prayer.   They prayed over this man...and Uncle Marshall began living, breathing, and believing in the healing power of Jesus Christ.  He went through lots of cancer treatments, but he remained faithful in his belief that prayer works...prayer is powerful.  So much so that when my step dad was so sick at Thanksgiving/Christmas last year...that same preacher from Uncle Marshall's church came with Uncle Marshall to pray over Papa...and I know without a shadow of a doubt...that those prayers, and the prayers of so many of my friends, and our family sustained him and brought him out of that crisis. 

My Uncle Marshall is going to die...he knows it, I know it, my mom and her sister knows it.  But in the past 2 years, he has been able to fish, play golf, spend quality time with family, go see friends and family he hasn't seen in years.  He has had 2 years to 'heal' some things in his life...and no, this cancer may be winning at taking his body...but God and all those prayers have healed his heart, his spirit, and will prepare him, has prepared him for his homegoing.

So tonight...I add prayers and love to my suitcase.  It's with a heavy heart that I made that call to him.  I will call him again next week before I leave, for I want nothing prayer for you so share your love, right any wrongs, fix any fights, and don't let the sun go down on hurt feelings.  We have no guarantees of tomorrow...none. 

I'll close with this devotion that I so needed this day...God knew I needed to save it for this day.  Had I read it when I initially recieved, I would have glanced, scanned, and probably deleted.

Some thoughts for the new year...
~Author Unknown~
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

I love you Uncle Marshall!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Adding to the Suitcase of Thankfulness and Blessings

I've really been thinking a lot about the trip coming up in a few short of the sweetest things about it is the people.  The new people we'll come into contact with through patients at the hospital, new team members that will serve beside each other for 10 days...but mostly for the Domincan family and the 'longing for simple.' 

I've finally, as of today...removed all evidence of Christmas decorations from the house.  It was kinda sad, but as I sit here very late...or very early in the morning (depends on how you look at it), I'm reminded of simplicity.  No, compared to the homes of the Dominicans, my home isn't simple...but without all the 'halls decked' and having been there way for a month and a now looks 'normal' yet abundantly simple.  I look around and for some reason it gives me pause...and realize how blessed I am.  I can't see the outside through my walls, for there are no cracks, I can turn on a faucet and get fresh, clean, bacteria free water to drink.  I can open my cabinets to find nourishment...selfishly realizing that often times it's there...just now what I want.  My husband is asleep in our bed...nice, warm, with blankets, pillows.  While we in no way live in a lavish, enormous home...our needs are met, we want for nothing.  I have healthcare, a job, a ways to travel to and from...then I then catch a look at a picture on that's been there since our trip to the DR, 2 years ago...we were there when the Haiti earthquake occured, we were blessed enough to cross paths with several of the victims.  On my  mantel...still is a picture of a little girl and her dad, that will forever remind me of God's Grace and sweet tender Mercy. 

So, this my suitcase, I add thankfulness and blessings.  I used to want a big house, but what I have is a  mansion compared to those in the DR....yet, THEY teach me so much about being blessed, having enough, and simplicity as it's best.

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has to think with deep gratitude,  of those who have lighted the flame within us." -  Albert Schweitzer

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Crazy Transition, Busy Year...Empty Suitcase.

2 Timothy 2:15  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

It's that time again...normally before now I'm thinking non-stop about the trip.  But, this has been a crazy year that has somewhat left me at times as empty as this suitcase.  So, I'm preparing for the trip by stashing things away in the bottom drawer where I keep all my DR stuff, or I'm realizing how unprepared I am spiritually for this trip this year. 

Gracie graduated from Wingate in May...with a BA in Religious Studies.  She applied and was accepted into Duke Divinity School where she started her studies in August.  It's been a period of growth for her and me.  It's been a reminder from God so often telling me..."I've got this!"  The "I've" isn't's Him.  You see she was going to a city where she knew no one, a larger University than Wingate.  Heck, we didn't even know how to get there.  As of date, I personally have been there about 5 times and I have gone a different way each time AND there's always at least 1 U-turn involved :)

I learned several years back that God's driving the bus...especially the one that guides me to raising, and loving my Gracie.  So...I try to obey and with that...I can add Peace of Mind to the suitcase.

Mid-Summer, my job led me in a new direction.  I was transferred to another department and also transitioned to working at home.  So, I've gone from working as a nurse since getting out of school 30+ years, working with others, to working remotely at  myself.  Just me, the dog, and the cat...and she stays hid all day. 

To say it was an difficult transition...well, that would be an understatement.  While I loved and still love what I'm doing, it took social interaction and very important people in my life away.  So, I sat at home at a desk...doing my job, but felt very much like I was disconnected from a large part of what defined my eyes.  There was a lot of frustration with people saying "I would love to work from home," "lucky you," and various other was me, not them...and I felt like I felt...period.  I do feel  different now...I have adjusted with the help of a lot of encouraging words from my Michael, Gracie, my family and friends.  They were right...all those people...but it took time and mostly it took a lot of prayers.  So, with that I'll add Acceptance to the suitcase, right beside the Peace of Mind.

This time last year, when I was preparing to go to the step-dad had been gravely ill and we had been told her wouldn't make it through Christmas last year.  He did, and Praise God is still with us...I'm blessed to have 2 sets of parents and they were all 4 able to divide up and attend Gracie and Kayla's (Niece) graduations in May.  So, with the blessings of health of my family for another year....I add Grace to the suitcase.

So...for this day, I've added Peace of Mind, Acceptance, Grace and Mercy to the suitcase.  Tomorrow is another day and as I prepare my heart and mind I'll continue to add to my suitcase. 

“God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him.”Hudson Taylor
“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.”- Hudson Taylor

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reminders for prayers

Here it is April...and I've not blogged since Feb.  Life has sucked me back, but not my heart.  So many reminders around my, art, jewelry...and they all kindle an emotion.  But, none like an email some of us received yesterday about Sami.  Do you remember Sami, a brave little Dominican boy, Santa's son that we prayed for on Friday before we left.  Sami is fighting Leukemia and below is the email Jorge sent....He sent it to several people, most of which are the doctors here in the U.S.








Please pray for sweet Sami and his family.  I can't imgine what his mom is going through and how she just wants him 'fixed.'  I can't imagine her prayers to God...I can't bear to imagine what mine would be.  Knowing we always should pray for God's will...but also knowing you have to be specific and in this case to beg for sweet Sami's life.  God I pray for Sami and his family that someone can intervene and possibly get him to the U.S. so that there is more resources to help him.  Amen

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tough week!

“The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don't know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened.”
James Arthur Baldwin

Ecclesiastes 5:3
"For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words."
Dreams...according to what I've read and one really knows why we have them.  The scripture above from Ecclesiastes may shed a little light...have you read it? Do you find it interesting that those who study dreams suggest that when your body slows down to rest, your mind continues to work. The Bible says that the multitude of business will cause dreams. This could be the multitude of physical and emotional business or it could be the multitude of mental business, but either way it appears that this is what causes us to dream. Though your body settles in rest, your mind can keep right on working and thinking.

Well, I agree with this totally...and my husband would too, by the way.  It's always an interesting couple of weeks after my trips to the Dominican.  I am up during the night, taking off my pajamas, putting on clothes...stacking things on the bed, talking to people.  Yep, all the while, I'm asleep.  Trust's happen so much now, it's not funny to Michael anymore.  he expects, wait...I know he has to dread it!!

So far this week there has been plenty of the above.  You go and go and go for 12 days and then you come home and are thrown back into OUR 'real' world...HEY...where did my peeps go?  There's still work to be done...patient's to pre-op, people waking up from anesthesia...there's still work to be done people...wake up!!

I'm exhausted...I feel like I'm literally working day AND NIGHT!  

I've had a horrible week...that's me being frank and honest.  It's hard to jump back into life as we have it.  Don't mistaken me...I'm blessed...I have a wonderful job, who allows me to be away from my job each year for this joy in my life...a family who allows me to follow my heart...but after seeing simplicity and 'island time' come back home and have deadlines, dress codes, time to go, time to leave, time for this...that, I want to scream.  Some of it, which I know IS NOT...seems so trivial this week.  Seems so un-important after where we've been and what we've seen.

But...understand...this is ME talking to ME...snap out of it!!  Remember what you friend said while in the's our and there!  I can't tell you how many times this week, I've had to remind myself of this.  God's mission field is everywhere Paula...not just in the Dominican Republic.  Snap out of it!  There's work to be done....right here at home.  There's people who are in need, who are hurting...who need prayers, who need love and attention...right here in my own back door. 

Colossians 3:23
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (NIV)

Yes, this week has been hard...but I've got to allow my joy and actions shine God's light just like I did in the Dominican.  God's not done yet...and neither am I.  I have to act on my word...His word of what I believe.  I have to "walk the talk." 

God, I pray for your help...your help to 'bring me home' emotionally.  Not in such a way that I forget...but that I can continue Your work here by remembering the work there.  People are watching me...they watching to see if I show You here like I say I do there...I pray that I do.  I want to be your disciple...I know I don't have to be perfect, but I do have to be willing...and I am.  Amen

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Part of My Heart Stays Behind

"He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name."  Psalm 23:3

We all know who the "He" is in this passage....God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit...and through my darkest of days I know HE is always with me.  I shared a quote I think earlier in this day....basically saying that's where we find those valleys. 

I also find him in is my husband, Michael's birthday.  What a birthday home?!!!  Yeah...that's what he says.  He's elated to have me back and misses me so much.  I miss him too but it's different when he's here at home all alone with all my stuff around and our 'normal' life is missing something... me!  So he was eagerly awaiting me at the foot of the escalator last night. 

Knowing Jesus Christ is my strength...there's no doubt that He offers it and richly blesses me with it through Michael.  He's a solid foundation for me...holding me accountable, being my cheerleader from the sidelines, and or being the first to call me out...and yes, there are those times.  Those time when someone so grounded in his faith...offers his insights, his opinion, his interpretation...that helps me to see things in a different light. 

Oh trust me...there are those times that I don't either...those times when I'm so set in my opinion and frame of mind...bull headed, I believe would be an appropriate word here.  But, he loves me...both Michael and me just the same. 

Today....home from the Dominican....feels weird.  Still fresh enough to smell the smoke in the air in Barahona...suitcases are on the back porch and will be for several days 'airing' out.  There's a distinct smell every where you go...and there is no different.  Laundry is being done...a few souveniers pulled out....but I'm a bit teary today. 

I miss my roomy, Susan...yeah, she's right here in the same town basically with me....but we've been inseperable pretty much for the past 12 days and I miss her. 
I miss the sound of the ocean outside our room...
I miss looking up into the night sky and seeing more stars than I have ever seen in my life...because we're so far out...
I miss the, as you ride down the road in the open red truck...they'll wave as you wave...they're the same as me.
I miss the team...God's team that He so sweetly put together.  I smile as I think about the things we shared this week...each with their own gifts and talents...their niche'

I miss seeing God so simply.....oh, I know He's here....but as I have made it so abdundantly clear throughout my's not as simple sometimes.  I know...I make it that way.

I miss....a part of my heart that always stays behind. 

"I Know What It Is To Have Plenty" Philippians 4:12

"All of us love mountaintop experiences, but it is a trap to always be expecting and looking forward to those times of exhilaration. And if we are truly honest, we will admit we have learned greater lessons from the Lord while in the valleys  of life.  Of course, our understanding of what God was doing typically comes much later.  Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, once wrote, 'Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.' 

When we compare the mountaintop to the valley, we realize that what sustains us- such as water, food, and fellowship - is found in the valley.  And, the people who so desperately need our testimony of faith live there!"


"Morning by Morning"  The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon & Jim  Reimann

I've read this twice today...and it rings with such truth.  It's when I'm at my lowest that I can see Him...feel Him, so why would we think that's now where He is....wanting us to lean, and rely on His wisdom, Grace, and Mercy.

I wonder if maybe that's why the people in these 3rd world countries are so close to Him...they don't have all the distractions but they still rely on and I to offer them and show them their mountaintop experiences.  Regardless of how different it may be from ours.  He's still just as powerful and "there" for them.  I want to talk to God someday and ask, I want to applaude Him in creating us in such ways...we can tolerate the valley's, while experiencing different levels of mountaintops yet still seeing Him.