Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Casa de Luz

We had the great pleasure of visiting an orphanage for children with disabilities today.  The orphanage is called Casa de Luz (Lighthouse), which is so fitting for the experience we had with the people there.  These are children who were abandoned by their families because of the extent of their disabilities, which is heart wrenching to think about but I try to reserve judgement because it's likely they are being cared for more at Casa de Luz than they would've been by their families.

The pastor who runs the orphanage is also the man who started it.  He started this work because he and his wife have a child who was born with a significant and profound disability.  As they begin seeking out help with care for their son, they found there was nothing available.  So, they started rescuing children like their own son.  The pastor now lives on the site where the orphanage is located, but the day to day work with the children is accomplished primarily through volunteers who are nothing short of angels of mercy.

There are many things that I could write to try to explain to you the experience but I will allow some pictures to tell the story.

This is our new friend Ruth.  She welcomed everyone with a huge smile and a hug.  Such a sweet spirit in this little child.  

We were able to help out with lunch.
I love this picture for many reasons but focus on the faces of Ruth, Jacob, and Eli.  Ruth, just so happy to have someone helping and giving her attention.  Eli, watching closely all that we are doing (he was very cautious and watchful for the first 30 mins or so we were there).  Jacob, processing all that he is seeing around him.  I was so proud of my boys today with the way they interacted with the kids at this orphanage.  The kids here have some very profound and severe physical and mental (probably also emotional) disabilities.  I have worked with kids with special needs for years and this scene was still somewhat shocking for me.

But, check this out...

Wheel Chair Races!!!
The kids (both the ones who live there as well as my own) had so much fun racing up and down the hall.  All of a sudden, these were just kids.  Like any other kid in any part of the world.  

I'll leave you with one last image, my favorite from the day.  Jacob and his new BFF Ernesto. 

After lunch, Jacob pushed Ernesto up and down the long hallway for the rest of the time we were there.  They both brought so much joy to the children at Casa de Luz today.  I've said it before and I will continue to say, I believe (because I've prayed for it since before they were born) that my boys are world changers.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baseball, Baptism, Beach, and Sun Burns

I think the Texas Rangers Dominican Academy has become one of my favorite places to be. Last summer when we came I had the opportunity to see lefty phenom, Yohander Mendez. Today I had the opportunity to see Juremi Profar, Jurickson's little brother, play SS for the Dominican squad in a MLB sanctioned DSL game. I'm grateful for my new buddy Stosh Hoover for helping us get in and feel welcomed. 
(Juremi Profar #7)

This was a great experience, but pales in comparison to what the afternoon brought. 

We went to Boca Chica for lunch and spending time on the most beautiful beach you can imagine. After lunch and spending some time playing in the water I had the honor of baptizing my oldest son, Jacob, in the Caribbean. This is something we've been talking about for quite some time. Jacob has wanted to be baptized for a while but going to a church that meets in a day care we were needing to wait until this summer when we can fill up out outdoor, portable, baptistery (inflatable pool). No greater time or place than while we are here in the DR, a place we've grown to love, as a family. I will never forget that moment as long as I live and my hope is it will be a defining moment in my precious son's spiritual life. The sights and sounds of Dominican culture surrounded us while my son experienced one of those BIG MOMENTS. (Will post a video soon.)

Just a quick reminder, friends, Christ is anywhere and everywhere you are. Will you stop to recognize His work?

Oh, also, we got sunburns. 

Soli Deo Gloria,

Monday, July 22, 2013

Casa Juvenil Tercer Cielo

(My new friend, Levi. Levi is a #worldchanger.)

I was given the opportunity to go teach an English class tonight in Santo Domingo. 

Julio and Mercy go to the capital every Monday night to teach English to junior high and high school students. This is a ministry started by former New York Yankee, Dámaso Marte (a really cool ministry, here's more info I had the opportunity to talk (and I use that term loosely) to the high school group. 

Some thoughts from the hour I spent with them:
1.) I must learn to speak Spanish. 
2.) Dominican teens are not that different than their American counterparts. They enjoy facebooking, listening to music and hanging out with their friends. 
3.) I have to learn Spanish. 
4.) There are a lot of good people working to make the world a better place to live. 
5.) Something good and redeeming came out of the Yankee's organization (Dámaso Marte). 
6.) I really need a second language. I'm leaning toward Spanish. 
7.) Love, appreciation, kindness, humility, passion, these are universal and cross every known language barrier. 
8.) Does anyone own Rosetta Stone, Spanish? JK I'm rolling with my FREE Duolingo app. Btw, I'm going to learn to speak Spanish. 

I made a deal with the students. I told them I'd come back next year with more Spanish if they'd promise to have more English. 

¡Julio y Mercy, necesito su ayuda!
(See what I did there? Spanish. Thanks google.)


Santa Alicia

Just a day full of joy. 

As we approached Santa Alicia it didn't take long to realize we were going to have to abandon the vehicle and seek alternate means of transportation in...

Jacob taught an art lesson for the kids (and many of the adults) and did such a great job. I could not be more proud of him for doing so many things that I know made him uncomfortable. Watching him interacting with the kids and helping them brought so much joy to my heart. About 20 mins into it, he looked up at me with sweat pouring down his face (btw, Jacob typically doesn't like being all) and said "Daddy, I want to stay here forever!" This is a common response from people who have the opportunity to visit Santa Alicia. 

After the art lesson we divided the kids up and Eli was able to do the one thing he REALLY wanted to do on this baseball with the kids on the batay. I threw batting practice to the kids for about an hour...took a pretty good pounding. Felt like Roy Oswalt circa 2012 out there. 
(This is me pitching to Ariel, the little boy we sponsor through @25Projectorg.)

(Eli rounding 3rd after taking me deep.)

(A good picture of Jacob drilling one off of me for a round tripper.)

In other news, the big chicken coop (or is it coupe?) we built there last summer is still in tact and full of chickens. 

Until next time, Santa Alicia...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Every Tribe and Every Nation.

We had the opportunity to worship with the family of International Baptist Church in Santo Domingo this morning. Such an incredible experience. The worship through singing and preaching were both so go. I was stirred and inspired by how passionate this church chases after Christ in worship.
During the "informacíon" part of the gathering they talked about the upcoming baptismal service they will be having. There were probably about 40 names of people who will be baptized next week. So stinkin' cool. 
Also, they gave all 4 of us these head sets where someone was translating the entire service to us in English. That was kinda the "WOW factor" for the Snow Boys. They thought that was pretty awesome...ok, I thought that was pretty awesome. 
Pray for Jacob tomorrow as he teaches an art class to the kids (and possible most of the adults) at Santa Alicia. We went and picked up the materials he need after church this afternoon.  
Ok, I've got to get back to what I was doing...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dominican Republic or Bust...with excitement

We are setting off on our first family mission trip. I know this experience will be life altering for all of us. Please pray as we visit and hopefully encourage these sweet friends that Susan and I made last year. Also pray with us that our kids will be forever changed by the things they see, hear, and experience. 

Soli Deo Gloria,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Humble Hope ::: Jonathan Edwards

Some of you know my affinity for the writing of those affectionately referred to as "The Old Dead Guys". I want to share what I read this morning from Jonathan Edwards. I hope it challenges and stretches you. 

"A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble brokenhearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior."(Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, Yale, 1959, pp. 339f.)