One of the great blessings of my life and ministry is the people I get to know, work with, and watch grow. The churches and pastors engaged in this ministry are blessings in their own unique ways. And it has been my joy to watch Holden experience some of those same blessings. But It is also a blessing to see him growing.
God gives us gifts and then He adds an amazing ‘feature’ to them: our joy. And a brief explanation should be a blessing to you and help you appreciate Holden’s letter (below). I am a pastor/teacher. That gifting is used in writing, teaching and preaching. And that is why there is joy for me in seeing or hearing that ‘the light came on’ for someone. They had the Aha! moment (see Living Your Calling). That’s a thrill for me. In the same way, those blessed with the gift of giving take great joy in being generous. Administrators find joy in leading and team accomplishments. God put that joy component in all His gifts. And Holden’s letter shows that to us – from his perspective. But there’s more.
Gifts & Blessings
Half of the blessing in Holden’s experience is to see and celebrate what God has done in and through him. The other half is to know and realize that you can have that same experience of joy. Use your gifts. It’s a God-thing and you’ll find joy in it!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Holden’s note is a bit out of date. Last week I asked him to write his thoughts on his time in Samana. He did that within a day. But technology is sometimes so-o-o-o frustrating. He sent the letter to me multiple times before it actually made its way to my inbox! So some of his statements about time aren’t correct this week, but they were last week.
Further, as with anything that gets posted here, I am editor. The content of Holden’s letter is unchanged. I did add the headings, some punctuation, and editor’s notes. With that said, I think you’ll count Holden’s thoughts as one of your blessings. And please feel free to comment (in the comments section) and to share this post as you have opportunity! – KB
I’m writing this to give everyone an update as I head into the final stretch of my time here. At the time that I’m writing this I have spent about 570 hours in the Dominican Republic since my arrival on July 1. Ever since then I’ve stayed in two different places in Samana and taught 18 sessions of English class. You’d think in all that time I’d speak more Spanish than I do right now. I will say my Spanish has come along nicely, and it’s a world away from what it was when I arrived.
Teaching class has been as much a learning experience for me as it has been for the students. And I’m still learning the best techniques for teaching the ninos (children – KB). What I’ve been doing is preparing some slides with Spanish words and phrases with those same words and phrases translated into English and projecting those slides onto the chalkboard. I’ll then use the chalkboard to explain the nuances of English, what individual words mean, and differences in pronunciation between Spanish and English.
With the young kids I’ll typically play some games with them to review older content. The older kids in the afternoon can handle some more complex ideas and phrases in English, and what I mostly do is introduce more verbs and nouns and explain the complexities of the English language (because there are many).
The language barrier makes teaching a bit complicated but luckily, I have Virginia, the Pastor’s (Pastor Jerlin – KB) oldest daughter to act as interpreter for me. Typically, we get 10-15 younger kids in the morning and 15-20 older kids in the afternoon, so the class has grown a good bit since we began.
Pastor Jerlin & Family
The family has been more than hospitable to me. They prepare most of my meals and make sure that I am well fed and feeling well. Zoila, the Pastor’s wife, insists that I call her “Mama” and treats me as if I were her son, despite being a complete stranger to her four short weeks ago. Virginia and her younger sister, Carolina, take me to play volleyball with their friends every week and the friendly reception I have received from all of them has been amazing.
Blessings: The Church
The community at the church here is something else. After church Wednesday night I was greeted by almost everyone who was leaving the building, some even engaged me in some (simple and brief) conversation in Spanish. At the church I’ve never felt like an outsider, despite not being able to understand a lot of what is being said I genuinely feel like this is a family and I’m lucky to get to be a part of that.
While I am looking forward to returning back home to my friends and family, when I think about leaving the family here, I do get emotional. When I first arrived here in the DR, I wasn’t certain that I would be able to see this through. Thanks to prayer and encouragement God has shown me that I was never able to do this, not on my own anyway. Only the power of God could have ever called me out onto the water and only by focusing on him could I ever have found a new home here in Samana.
I am truly blessed to have been able to experience everything I’ve experienced here and to have received such amazing support during my stay here. God bless Pastor Jerlin and his family, and God bless everyone reading this for your amazing work and support.