Imagine the scene. Friends and family meeting us at the airport while the morning was still dark to bid final farewells. Dad being pushed by mom through the airport in a wheel chair. He broke his Achilles tendon at our going away party. Eight kids in tow, each loaded down with carry on bags, blankets and pillows for the trip.
Or was it a journey? Perhaps a quest?
Yes, a quest into a dream that was beginning to take form.
We were on our way to live in the Caribbean. We were on a mission to bring the HOPE of Christ to our precious Dominicans.
To those who shared the same birthplace as my husband. To those whose blood runs through my children’s veins. Dominicans.
Smack dab in between Cuba and Puerto Rico. On the same island as Hispaniola, shared with Haiti. In the very midst of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
To a place far away from what was the norm for us, yet close, so close to the heart of God.
He called dad. Like Esther, it was for such a time as this. His call to dad reached into the hearts of our clan. We all gathered around him and willingly followed. He didn’t force us. “We won’t go if its just one who says that they aren’t willing,” he would say while we prepared to leave. Our love and trust for him outweighed our jitters. We were willing to take a chance on his dream.
Then, God moved on our hearts.
I remember filming our first fundraising video. The laughter that day will never be forgotten. The soul searching that went on was real. The inward questioning of our own reasons for doing this permeated the air. If we made this quest all about dad, we would’ve failed.
We let God show us that we were also a part of this plan.
So like a bunch of awkward looking folks, we boarded that plane into the unknown.
Sure, we’d been to the Dominican Republic before. We also spoke Spanish fluently. We were accustomed to the food. We were familiar with the culture. We had family there.
Yet, it seemed so foreign at first.
I remember our first home there. No toilet seats. Freezing cold water. Unstable electricity. Mosquitos that devoured every inch of our skin. Loud music outside each night. The clanging sound of Spanish in our ears over and over again.
Sleeping on the floor.
Realizing that we weren’t as familiar with the culture as we thought was enough to make us want to pack it all up and go home. Noticing that there were all types of Dominican foods we knew nothing about kept us in a state of despair.
Oh, and the ache in our hearts when we learned that the land we went there to purchase was not for sale. The disappointment we faced felt tragic.
It seemed as if we would never get ahead.
Setbacks seemed to be the norm that first year. It was hard.
Yet, in the midst of the hard, God shed His HOPE upon us. We were there to give HOPE, but we needed it ourselves.
God proved faithful. We learned that we can’t give what we didn’t posses.
HOPE became our song in the night. We wouldn’t loosen our grip on HOPE. It was like walking uphill during a mudslide. But you know, we made it up that hill.
Some of our clan is living in the states now, but they still are a part of this quest. They support in huge ways. They suffered the discomfort so that others today can find comfort. They set the trail ablaze so that others could clearly see in the dark.
Sometimes we just have to make ourselves remember. We can’t forget how hard it was to reach today. We must force ourselves to acknowledge what others did to make our lives a little better. In doing so, we will live in a hopeful state of mind.
HOPE becomes a domino effect when we cling to its message. Christ is our HOPE.
We are still on our quest. We’re simply further ahead than before. We will continue to travel this road and bring as many people as possible with us.
We will arrive and when we do, our Savior will be staring us in the eyes with His arms wide open and proclaiming, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…well done.”