Monday, December 19, 2011

Reflecting His Glory

when i was a kid, i lied a lot. i lied about everything. i even remember some friends of mine confronting me in seventh grade during track practice about my lying. jessica, jennie and crystal sat me down on the track and told me to stop lying about what brand of shoes i had on. it was one of the most uncomfortable conversations i've ever had in my life, even to this day. i knew i had been caught. i was mad at them for accusing me. i was embarrassed that they knew. i was trapped and couldn't figure out why i was lying in the first place.

when i was a teenager, i had mostly stopped lying but had taken up relationships with "bad boys." whoever told me i was pretty or complimented me on my basketball game the other night or said i did a good job acting out "romeo and juliet" in class; i clung to them. they instantly became the object of my affection despite other people around me giving me the, "what on earth are you thinking," look. i always had a deep down tug. knowing i deserved more but unable to pull myself together.

this past year, our staff at G.O. threw me a surprise party for my 30th birthday. they came up with a list of "30 things they love about goody." they made me read it out loud in front of everyone. as I was reading things like, "your positive attitude about overcoming fears," or "your sensitive heart for those in need," or "you are willing to be vulnerable which invites others to be vulnerable with you," i began to tear up. i was as uncomfortable as i could have possibly been. but i felt a sense of empowerment too. which was immediately followed by guilt for my enjoyment while reading things about myself that others thought. which made me cry harder. little did our staff know, i had a raging battle going on inside me. a battle that had been going on for 30 years.

this fall, as i began working with the young girls in the hole i felt a lot of anxiety. feeling like i needed to have a standard set. i needed so many girls to come to christ in order for me to be successful. i needed to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies by 30% in order to prove that i was being useful there. as i was thinking all of these things to myself i knew god was doing something big in me. it wasn't about my need to please or my fear of failure or my over-dependency on people's approval. it was so much deeper. and it wasn't until i went away this weekend on a little retreat with my family that god bull-horned into my heart exactly what has been going on my entire life.

i had to take emi for her nap and thought i would peruse a book shelf and read something while i was waiting for her to fall asleep. i didn't peruse at all. the first book i saw, i felt drawn to. it had never been opened and the pages were crisp and as my eyes fell upon the words there was a heat that welled up in my chest. And then I read it:

"The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it."

i was brought to tears the instant i read it. i am brought to tears now as i write it. i knew it was the answer i had been looking for; the thing God has wanted to tell me since the day i took my first breath on this earth.

it all came together. it all made sense. why did i lie when i was a kid about the clothes i wore, or the money my parents made or that i was going to have a kangaroo at my birthday party? why did i cling so tightly to worthless boys who said something nice but had nothing else to offer me? why did i feel so uncomfortable reading a list of 30 supposedly amazing things about me that my dearest friends wrote? because satan's assault on my heart for the last 30 years has been to make me believe i'm not good enough. to make believe that i am not beautiful, or worthy or glorious in my own eyes, so how could i be to the Creator of the universe?

satan knows that if he convinced me to be fearful, and to doubt my worth, and to believe i wasn't good enough or to question God's divine plan for my life...he could paralyze me. he could banish me to a life of mundane living. he could rob me of the glory God wants to shine through me for all the world to see. he wants to keep me from telling other people, especially these broken, defeated girls in the hole, that they are a glorious reflection of God, too.

i've known most of my life that this world is at war. maybe in a more real way than many people do. i've always been aware of spiritual warfare and satan's dominion on this earth. but i had always assumed his biggest assaults were in things like, oppression and starvation and abuse. i had been blind to the fact that, in my life, he was sneakily carrying out one of his biggest, most damaging, most successful assaults that he is capable of...

...keeping me from knowing just how amazing i am.

just typing those words made me shudder a little bit. there's a little bit of a knot in my throat thinking about how people who may be reading this might react to a statement like that. but before i downward spiral into a series of explanations and retractions and studdering let me say it again. i am amazing. i am a glorious reflection of God himself. an image bearer of the Creator of the universe. i am resilient and passionate and strong. i care deeply about others and hate that satan held me captive in a lie for 30 years. and above all...i am crazy-passionate about fighting for people's freedom. and before you think that any of this is prideful or boasting or an ego trip...i'm going to let you in on a little secret; you are amazing too.

we are god's children. his glory reigns in us. he has given us all of the power we need to stomp on satan and his schemes and rescue his dear ones who are suffering. but it begins with you. believing that you are worth it. believing that you are God's most greatest joy. believing that satan has nothing on you. because he knows "what you could be and fears it." and i'll tell you what. this morning when i woke up, he shuddered when my feet hit the floor.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Nelson Mandela

(side note: the book i'm reading is called "Waking the Dead" by John Eldredge. I, obviously, highly recommend it.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

She's Here!!!!


a few days after the first picture above was taken of carolina and big brother eliezer, the second picture above was taken of sweet, little steisy alina (pronounced stay-cee uh-leen-a). she was born on december 15th at about 10:30 am via c-section. they didn't tell us her weight or her length. just that she was healthy and content.

it was a little shocking for me to walk into a room to see steisy and her mom and have to greet five other moms who had all just given birth within the last 24 hours. carolina had just had her c-section a few hours before and had no privacy to recover. i wanted to wheel her into a private room, grab a nurse to be at her every beck and call and paint over the peeling teal walls with a soothing periwinkle. seemed like another life away.


this little beauty is the first baby born from one of the girls in my pregnant mom's class. i've been waiting for so long to meet her. and she was SO worth the wait.



a few weeks ago, carolina asked if i would be steisy's madrina, or basically, her godmother. i, of course, said yes. i couldn't imagine wanting anything more. i held her for two hours straight and stared at her as she slept peacefully.


carolina and her little girl went home to the hole the day after and are both recuperating well. continue to pray for both of them as they adjust to this new norm. especially be praying for steisy, as the last time i talked with carolina, steisy was having some trouble latching on and carolina desperately wants to breastfeed.

so overjoyed with this new life. can't wait to watch her grow up.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Week 8 - The Last Class

the final class came. i was dreading it on one hand and looking forward to it on the other. dreading it because we were going to talk about sex (yikes!) and because no more seeing these girls weekly. looking forward to it because, lets be honest, its always a good feeling when something comes to completion.

i combined the two classes and had our pregnant girls join the others. which proved to be a good decision. when talking about sex, its always good to have people that have been in their shoes. sometimes kids don't want to hear about sex from adults who are old! (i used that term very gently because i am NOT old...haha!) my 13-year old that is pregnant was able to speak more honestly about being a teenager and being pregnant than i could having been pregnant in my 20's. and it was good. she let them know it wasn't easy. she couldn't get comfortable. she couldn't sleep well. she didn't know if she'd know how to care for a baby when her's was born. i was thinking in my head, "i felt all those things and i wasn't even a teenager."

we talked about the more serious side of sex as well; as a number of girls i've spoken to on this island (not just in The Hole) have been sexually abused as children. it's never easy to talk about it but i felt it incredibly necessary because of the girls i've spoken to who have been abused they: 1) never told anyone 2) acted as if it was just a part of life, and 3) were threatened by their abuser that if they did tell, they would kill them. i feel that, unfortunately, sexual abuse is more the norm here than just an exception. we could probably have a year long class on just how to heal from those types of deep wounds.

we also spoke on protection, STDs, being smart and abstinence. obviously, as a christian, i think that abstinence is the best route. even though i didn't choose that in my youth, as an adult i see the truth behind this biblical principal. but...i also have to be realistic. these girls are part of a culture where sometimes even in christian circles, living with someone before being "officially" married is acceptable. and just like the youth in America, most people will not wait for their future spouse. for me, the best thing besides abstinence is helping them to be informed.

when i started these groups i told them that first and foremost, i am a christian woman. transformed by my relationship with God and redeemed of my past by the blood of his son, Jesus. but secondly, i want them to know they can trust me. that i will not judge them and that i was there to teach them from my own experiences. that i care about them and their futures. and when it comes to the "sex talk" none of that changes. yes, i want nothing more for them to wait for the husband God has prepared for them. but if they don't choose that themselves, i want them to be healthy and smart. now, i did bring a five-page sheet on all the main STDs that can be contracted with photos showing sores and bugs and oozing stuff. hopefully that helps them to make better decisions :)

and with our sex talk concluded, we ate, drank and enjoyed time together. and it was my favorite part.




God put something in my heart that i could have never put there myself. he gave me a responsibility to care for these girls that is bigger than i am able to accomplish alone. i have shed more than enough tears over the burdens i bare knowing the stories of these brave girls. and i wouldn't change a single moment of it. i have never depended on God more than in these last 8 weeks. i have never lost more sleep praying for anyone in the darkness of night. i have never felt more joy (apart from my wedding day and birth of my children) than watching God do a work in them. even if i never see the final outcome of what God is doing in their lives. even if it is as small as a mustard seed. because we all know what our Father says about mustard seeds.
"...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." -Matthew 17:20

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Mother's Story

In 2008, I was asked to run over to a nearby hospital and take pictures of a little boy who had just had surgery. G.O. came to his aid when they learned of his condition from his pastor, Felix Abreu. I remember I had a lot to do that day and tons of stuff on my mind and, quite frankly, I wanted a pity party for myself because I had to stop everything I was doing to take a couple pictures anyone could take. But it was my job. I needed to go.

I arrived at the hospital, hiked it up 4 flights of stairs and entered a room. I caught his eyes. They were hurting. He cried almost at the sight of me and was more uncomfortable than he already was, just at my presence. He didn't know me. His Grandmother and his Pastor were the only other people in the room and I could tell he would rather leave it that way.

I took my pictures and was about to leave when Felix said, "We don't know if this one is going to work." He explained that his stomach gases were already out of control and I could see little tiny bubbles leaving his lips as if someone had put too much soap in a dishwasher and it was bubbling out. Little Wilson couldn't control it. He couldn't stop it. His eyebrows dented inward with worry and pain. I walked over and touched his arm and told him I would be praying for him. I had to get out of there before Niagara Falls spilled over.

Closing the door, the tears fell. In an instant, a poor, suffering little boy changed me. I hated myself for whining about one more photograph to take when I should have been overwhelmed with gratitude that this is what I get to do everyday.

Fast forward to present day...Wilson still struggles. The surgery didn't take. He was left in his debilitating condition. But hope arrived in the form of a doctor and a hospital who were touched by him the same way I was three years ago.

Please watch this video to see his story. Please pray for him as the process has started for him to get an emergency medical visa to be taken to the U.S. and have life-saving, life-changing surgery.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Week 7 - Labor and Delivery

Oh, the daunting task of talking about the most difficult hours of a woman's life. Add to that daunting task the fact that the mother's are teenagers (minus Carolina). I kept it positive, reminding them that at the end of some of the most difficult hours of their lives, they will be holding the most beautiful thing they have ever seen.

We discussed pros and cons for both natural birth and C-section. Culturally, almost all women choose to have a C-section, somewhere close to 90%. I explained the importance of a vaginal birth, if they are able, considering how young they are and some of the difficulties associated with C-sections in the country they live in. But told them that they need to listen to their doctors and do what they say is best.

Although I had an emergency C-section with Landon and a planned one with Emi, I had all the comforts of amazing post-op care and really good pain meds. It's not that way in the Dominican. A friend of mine who recently gave birth via C-section only stayed in the public hospital for a little over 24 hours. She was sent home with Tylenol and a little bit of cream for her incision. Because of the high rate of drug trafficking here, it is pretty difficult to come by any type of narcotics. Good in one sense; keeping it off the market. Bad for Mom's recovering from a C-section. It was awful, seeing how much pain she had. I remember having pain even while taking Codeine, I couldn't imagine it with just a little Tylenol.

We talked about relaxation techniques, about who would be at the hospital with them and any other questions they had. I planned on showing them a 3-D delivery video but right as I was getting ready to download it and bring it to class, our electricity went out. No video.

But it was ok, we ended the class with a really good salad that Yudy and Carolina made and a couple of the girls from our girls group trickled in to join in our feast. It was such a good time sharing my experiences with these girls about labor and birth just as many women had shared their experiences with me.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Week 6 - Serving

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

I am always blown away by the characteristics of Jesus. He knows all things. Is all things. Sovereign. Supreme. Almighty. And yet, He was the most humble of us all. He doesn't possess ugly pride or feel that he is owed anything.

I wanted to teach my girls a lesson that was uncomfortable and necessary. Many times in cultures where extreme poverty is prominent, people think they can only do what is needed to survive. I know, easy for me to say. I don't live in extreme poverty. But I see it everyday. I breathe it everyday. I ache over it everyday. And God is teaching me very intentionally of not selling people short of His will for them just because of their circumstances. They are still capable of serving and loving others. In fact, God calls them too.

I read them the passage above, in fact, I read the whole story of Jesus washing His disciples feet. In Spanish. If nothing more than to be vulnerable with them. To show them how imperfect I am but still willing to do what was necessary. Teach them about serving others.


They were uncomfortable, and rightly so. In a place where most people just wear flipflops, people's feet are the most dirty of any part of the body. But it was the same in Jesus' time. That's one of the reason the disciples were so uncomfortable with the King of Kings washing their dirtiest parts. But that is why Jesus did it. It is the lowest one can get, doing the dirtiest job one can do.


I'll admit. It was fun for me to watch the girls wiggle and squirm. Some of these girls act like they are the Queen of Queens but without the humility that Jesus possesses. It was awesome seeing something that they were so awkward about in the beginning and pushing through and doing joyfully towards the end. I watched some of them transform into servants right before my eyes. The kind, I hope, one day all of them can be.



To bring in the "girly" aspect of serving, we then painted our freshly cleaned nails. No one was allowed to paint their own nails, they had to "serve" someone else in this way. All the while, the other women and I answered questions some of them had. It ranged anywhere from "How does someone learn to be humble?" to "How do I know when I'm in love?" It felt like we were in a real Dominican salon, talking about life and giving out advice!




I was super glad my friend, Brenda, showed up towards the end of our class. She jokingly calls me her Mom and the grandmother of her two children. I've been looking for a way that I can serve her and let her just be a teenager. So I painted her nails.


I never know if anything I say or anything I tell them about my past experiences is making a difference to them. If anything is sinking in. In fact, I've been praying, asking God to give me a little bit of encouragement to just know that what I'm doing is what He needs me to do there. My encouragement came.

While everyone was painting their nails and jabbering about this or that, one of my pregnant girls came into our class. She sat on a bench just watching and listening and talking to the other teachers. All of a sudden and without being asked, my 10-year old, Iveth, got up from getting her nails painted, knelt down and began washing Carolina's feet. I grabbed my camera (if nothing else so the girls didn't see me tearing up) and felt God just saying, "I will make a way."


It has been such a joy learning about these girls. It has been hard too, just knowing some of things they've gone through and are going through. But I've never been more sure of what God has called me to. Being a servant and teaching others to be one too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 5 - Relationships and a Look into the Second Trimester

With the Mariposas we talked about Relationships. Instead of the over-used conversations on the "do's" and "don'ts" about dating I decided to focus on the characteristics of a Godly young women and of Godly young men.

We had several characteristics which correlated with bible verses. If you're interested, the bible verses for the women were:

1 Timothy 2:9
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
2 Timothy 2:24
1 Peter 3:4
Proverbs 31:11-12, 20 & 26

For the men:

Proverbs 12:11, 15, 18-19
Proverbs 15:33
Proverbs 16:32
Proverbs 28:13
Proverbs 29:7

I gave them a homework assignment to really think about what kind of qualities that would like in a future spouse. They were very eager to start that list. I am very eager to hear their lists next week!

It was photo day for the pregnant girls! I love this day. I love to see those bellies growing!

Yuleidy at 21 weeks and 25 weeks...she is having a GIRL!!!! (Due in January)

Yoeily at 16 weeks and 20 weeks...she is having a BOY!!! (Due in February)

Carolina at 24 weeks and 29 weeks...she is having a GIRL!!! (Due in December)

In the next few months we are going to be having a lot of adorable newborns and new moms. Please be praying for these new moms as they start their transition into motherhood. Pray that I can be a support to them and can be a good example for them as well. That we can have some good conversations before their lives change forever.

If you would like to partner with this ministry, please contact me at amanda.braisted@go-ministries or go to the GIVE tab at the top of this page to find out how.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Week 4 - A Break

In Week four, I had some other commitments with our Staff at G.O. and was unable to "teach" the classes in The Hole. So I instructed the other teachers to make some coffee, have some crackers or cookies and just enjoy time with each other. From all the appeared to be a great time. The girls had stories and inside jokes and they all giggled talking about the conversations they had. I was so happy to know that they enjoyed this time together. That it was relaxed and fun but still informative. I'll admit, I was a little jealous I wasn't there for all of that.

If you would like to partner with this ministry, please contact me at amanda.braisted@go-ministries or go to the GIVE tab at the top of this page to find out how.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Week 3 - The Body and a Look into the First Trimester

In week three we discussed our bodies. What nutrients we need, how we can find them, what substances we should avoid and how we can use our bodies as a Godly way.

We welcomed a new member to our girls group named Iveth. A super shy, quiet girl. Our youngest at the age of ten. There's just something about her though. This really calm confidence. I know she's going to be an awesome addition to this group.


As a fun activity, I brought a bunch of fashion magazines. For those of you that know me, Elle and Glamour are my guilty pleasures! I printed two photos of each of their faces and had them choose two of their favorite outfits from the magazines. One outfit that is God-honoring and still fashionable and another outfit that is a bit risk-ay and too sexy for their age. To be honest, I think they really liked looking for the ridiculously sexy outfit more. But some of these girls, man, they have some good taste in fashion!






Our class was nicely interrupted by an all-out, torrential downpour. Like, I haven't seen anything like this in a long time and I certainly haven't ever experienced it while in The Hole.

I don't have any photos of my pregnancy group but we talked through the first trimester of pregnancy. I show them pictures of the baby and how it looks inside their tummy and we read about all the changes that are happening. This has been my favorite class so far. They had no idea that their babies had fingernails and a beating heart and already had limbs. It was really cool to see them really make the connection between what was happening to their body and their babies. It was like the bonds really started. Which, for me, is what I've been hoping for. That these bonds would form early, that these girls would realize how amazing our God is and how incredible his creation is. It was a good day.

If you would like to partner with this ministry, please contact me at amanda.braisted@go-ministries or go to the GIVE tab at the top of this page to find out how.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week 2 - Self-esteem and Nutrition

Las Mariposas (young girls group)

In week two we discussed self-esteem and why its so important in our lives. The fact of the matter is, probably most girls struggle with low self-esteem regardless of where they live or what their economic group is. I had amazing, supportive parents, great friends and was active in sports and school clubs and still struggled with self-esteem issues. It seems to be engrained in us girls.

So we talked about what the effects of bad self-esteem are, poor decisions that can be made as a result of low self-esteem and what we can do as women to support each other and encourage one another. I made each of them say something encouraging to one of the other girls in the group. It was hard for them. Most of them gave a quick, surface answer and giggled and got shy. It made me think hard about the competitive nature of women. Why do we find it so hard to lift one another up? Why do we have trouble celebrating in other women's triumphs even if it means no recognition for ourselves?

We talked very seriously about false self-esteem as well. About girls they know that talk themselves up, make it appear that they have it all together and could care less about what others think. But deep inside, there is a battle there just like the rest of us. It was really refreshing. It seemed to be a topic that they all wanted to participate in. They seemed interested in really finding the root of good self-esteem.

A prayer request for this group: we have two girls that are a little more "difficult" than the other girls. And we all know that this group is especially for them. Pray that the Holy Spirit can open them up and break their "hard outer shell." Pray that I have patience and wisdom in how to deal with some of the things that come up with them. Pray that it doesn't discouraged or distract the other girls who are so ready to listen and learn.

Las Flores (pregnant teens)

This week, I was super excited to have my friend and fellow missionary, Deloris Norman, come as a guest speaker and also help me measure and weigh the girls. It is my goal to give them the information necessary so they could have healthy pregnancies and hopefully healthy newborns. So, knowing that a majority of these girls will never go to get prenatal care, we are going to do the best we can with what we've got in helping them achieve a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Deloris measured their bellies and got a fundal height measurement for each of the girls. I also weighed them on the scale to see where they are for next month and help them adjust diet or mild exercise if needed. Deloris also took their blood pressures as gestational diabetes is a very high probability here.


The other great thing about this week was we had two new mamas join us. Both girls are great additions to the group and I'm so excited to be able to share this time with them. We now have each of the trimesters represented. It will be so much fun to talk about how all of their beautiful babies are developing!

Marleny, age 16, 4 months pregnant -- Marilyn, age 17, 2 months pregnant

Deloris then went through a list of 10 important things for taking good care of your body during pregnancy. Things such as diet, exercise, things to avoid, body aches, etc. She got a lot of her information from a book called, "Where Women Have No Doctor." It's a super good read in areas like where we work because it is a practical approach for women that have limited-to-no access to doctors or medicine.

All in all this week was so amazing. I had been praying for a couple more moms to join our group (i knew they were out there, just had to get them to the church!). And the girls seem to be getting a little more comfortable with the idea of having a little one soon! Of course nothing really prepares you for that. But hopefully over the next couple weeks as we discuss the different trimesters, they can begin to bond with their baby and realize what an incredible responsibility they have been handed.

A prayer request for this group: one of the moms and her spouse are having some difficulty. Just pray that God would reign in the situation and that His glory would be seen.

If you would like to partner with this ministry, please contact me at amanda.braisted@go-ministries or go to the GIVE tab at the top of this page to find out how.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Week 1 - Girls Groups Introduction

There has been much anticipation, on my part, for these girls' groups to begin. This summer I've developed some great friendships that have made these groups possible. I've been nervous, excited, scared, overwhelmed and a whole slew of emotions leading up to this past Tuesday. I e-mailed people and called people and talked to people asking them to cover all of this in prayer. I've done my best to leave my expectations at the door, because in reality, expectations sometimes ruin the beauty of things. And these eleven girls are the beauty of things.

When eight girls showed up for our first "class" I giggled a little to myself in that I had brought exactly an eight count of materials, not knowing how many would come. Maybe I limited God in that. Maybe if I had prepared for twenty, twenty would have come. But I was elated with eight. And more elated that I had enough materials for each of them.

The other Maestras (Yudy, Tatiana, Elba) and I began with a short introduction about what we hoped for these girls and why we were there spending time with them. Each story was so inspiring and exactly what I'd hope God would place in their hearts to tell these girls.

Rosa Angelica, age 15 and Lylyana, age 13

Cindhia, age 13 and Angela, age 12

Marilin, age 13 and Sondra, age 13

Maria, age 12 and Yolibeth, age 15

After introductions, I had prepared a little craft for them. The name of this group is "Las Mariposas" or The Butterflies. So I found a tutorial for butterfly barrettes and we spent the last half hour of our class working on the craft and just chatting.




As our time together began to close, God gave me some incredible wisdom that pertained to our craft and the class. So I asked the girls, "Tell me something you learned from making these butterflies that you can apply to life." One said, "What looks easy, what looks beautiful, is actually a lot of work." Another said, "We had to share and ask someone else for help." Then I asked them, "Who here knew how to make a butterfly barrette before today?" No one raised their hand. "Who knows how to make a butterfly barrette now?" They all raised their hands. "And why do you know how to make it now?" "Because you taught us," they responded. I went on to explain that this is exactly what this class is about and what our lives are about. There are many things we don't know and we need people with more experience than us, that we can rely on, to teach us. And once we are taught, we have to do the hard work to become something beautiful. And then it is our responsibility to teach it to others. To help them become something more beautiful too.



Wednesday, we started our pregnancy class. Three girls came, and apparently we were supposed to have two more, but over the weekend there was some drama and the other two couldn't make it. I was happy to have these girls show up. I do pray we get a few more girls so its not so intimidating having only three "students" and four teachers.

Carolina, age 22, 6 months pregnant--Yuleidy, age 13, 5 months pregnant--Yoeily, age 15, 3 months pregnant

We started with introductions, just like with the other girls, and spoke more specifically on motherhood. The difficulties, the joys, pain of childbirth...etc. I could tell these girls were a little more uncomfortable than the younger girls in the other group. So I didn't press too much conversation and we just went into doing our craft.

The name for this group is "Las Flores" or The Flowers. So I found another tutorial for flower barrettes that the girls could do. It was a little more intricate so it gave me a good amount of time to observe and just listen to their conversation. I also had extra materials, since I planned for eight, so the teachers got to do one too!




Yudy, Tatiana and Elba

It was such a great couple of days. A lot of the stress that I was putting on myself, just getting everything together, faded away. I felt a lot more confident going into the second group just knowing how easy the first group flowed. I'm excited for next week, especially for the pregnancy group. One of our medical staff, Deloris Norman, will be coming next week to weigh, measure and take blood pressures of the girls and we will be speaking on the importance of Nutrition in pregnancy.

Just a tidbit of information, we are handing out a week's worth of prenatal vitamins to the girls at the end of each class. Prenatal vitamins are EXTREMELY expensive here. Mike and I are paying for these vitamins with some of our ministry money but we could still use some help. If you are interested in getting some bottles of prenatal vitamins here to the Dominican, or sending support to Mike and I so we can continue supplying the needs of these two classes, please contact me at Or you can click on the Give tab at the top of our blog and get more information.

Keep praying. God is opening doors!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

He's Here!

Little man arrived by emergency C-section on August 29th. Yorgenis was born five weeks early at 7 lbs 8 oz. Could you imagine if Brenda had gone full-term? Yikes! He spent a week in the NICU receiving oxygen and being kept under observation but is with his Mama now!

Brenda is staying with her Grandmother until Saturday when she can return to her home, her husband and her 2-yr-old daughter. Because of the amount of stairs she'd have to take to get down into The Hole, her doctor told her she needed to wait until she got her C-section stitches out. On Sunday, she will be taking him to church to be dedicated. Pretty exciting.

But even more exciting, she told me today that she has read through Genesis in her new bible. She is in awe of how God created the world. For someone who hasn't stepped foot in a church until three weeks ago, I'd say that's pretty exciting! She is such an incredible girl. I am so blessed that God has placed her in my life. Enjoy the rest of the photos!


I thought this photo was hilarious. He is sooo tiny. A regular pen is the same length as the length from his head to his waist! Do you remember this tiny little guy born last year?

I don't know how I caught him smiling, but isn't it cute?

proud mama.

proud aunt :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Creation Restored

how fleeting are the feelings we have
on top of the world, one minute, and in a bottomless pit the next
can't it be just smooth sailing in life
not flying high but not so vexed


we don't belong in this world, i get it
in this world we will have trouble
but sometimes i just want consistency
not joy nor sorrow, doubled.


i can look in a child's eyes one day and see
the sun and the moon and the stars
and the next day as she stares at me
i see the wounds and the bruises and the scars


its not fair, i tell you, to feel the burden
of a little ones' hurt and an older ones' pain
but the joy, oh the joy, when their smiles are brighter
just by the sight of you, oh what a gain.


i know my savior is with me
he knows my tears, he sees what i see
i just take a look at his marred up hands
and i remember by his grace i am set free

freedom is what i want for these ones
to feel his love when their parents don't even care
to know a protector unlike any other
to have a spirit lighter than air

to forget the horrors that they've watched
play out in front of their little eyes
to be guarded from this jaded world
to know in the end the bad guy dies


that the king of kings is triumphant
even now when loneliness is all they feel
that the lord of lords will prevail over all
that even the deepest cuts can be healed


oh my healer, come and rescue us
redeem these people who never felt redemption before
renew these communities, breakthrough strongholds
so that we can return to a Creation restored.