Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Adventures of Bean Boy and Bean Girls

Last week Chad and I got to take Rosmery, the oldest girl who lives at the Children’s Home, to Puerto Plata for dinner and a movie courtesy of her sponsors and family in the United States, the Beckham’s.  It was so much fun, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this and spend some more time with Rosmery.
We started the trip off by going to La Sirena (a big supermarket kind of similar to Walmart) to buy some supplies to make beans for the Easter Egg Hunt we were having the following week.  Here in the Dominican Republic, the week before Easter is called Holy Week.  One of the traditions is to prepare this dish known as “habichuelas con dulce” or “sweet beans.”  To make sure our Egg Hunt fit the Dominicans’ expectations, we had to serve sweet beans so we went to La Sirena to buy all of our supplies.  We bought A LOT of stuff to make these sweet beans and Rosmery helped us out with all of it.  She’s not really a fan of the beans, and so she kept making fun of us for getting all of this stuff.  Then somewhere throughout the entire process we started referring to Chad as Bean Boy and to ourselves as Bean Girls.  When you’re buying 10 pounds of beans, 10 pounds of sugar, and various other items to put in a massive quantity of beans, you have to make jokes about something.  
After the bean purchasing, we went to the resort where the movie theater is.  We ate a yummy dinner at Pizza Hut, walked down to see the beach, and even got some fake tattoos while we were waiting for the movie to start.  Rosmery chose a Dominican made movie called La Hija Natural which was interesting to say the least.  The movie was fun as well as all of the conversation and critiques afterwards.
When we finally made it back to Bobita, Rosmery and Keren, another girl who lives at the Children’s Home, spent the night at my house.  We stayed up watching Mary Poppins until all of us finally fell asleep.  
I had such a wonderful time with Rosmery.  She is such an incredible girl, and I really feel like our relationship was able to grow more that day.  Rosmery is going to be a part of Manna Christian School with our discipling program and with the English classes.  She only has one more year left of high school, so she will continue studying academically at the local high school for her final year.  Please keep Rosmery in your prayers as she completes this final year of high school, becomes involved with Manna Christian School, and transitions out of the Children’s Home to study at the university level.  I know the Lord has big plans for her life.
Stay tuned for more adventures of Bean Boy and Bean Girls...

One of the many ways we found to amuse ourselves before the movie started, grinding up some coffee beans.

Rosmery wanted me to take her picture with this really cool surf board.

Our awesome tattoos!

Bean Girls and Bean Boy

Ministering with Mary Poppins

I’ve written about this before, but I love how comfortable the kids at the Children’s Home feel about coming into my house.  A few weeks ago, the kids had been over playing at the house after church one Sunday afternoon.  All of the boys were there, and they wanted to watch a movie on my laptop.  I figured once I told them the options they would change their minds pretty quickly.  I have two movies here.  When in Rome (a major chick flick) and Mary Poppins.  Well, I definitely didn’t expect this, but they were all apparently dying to watch Mary Poppins.  I got the movie set up in my room and they moved all of the chairs from my kitchen table into my bedroom and put them in a neat little row.  The five of them piled into four chairs, and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching Mary Poppins in Spanish.
Once again I am amazed at how the simplest things can entertain and amuse them.  I love that there was no complaining about how small the screen was or how they couldn’t hear it very well.  I love that there was no complaining about what movie we watched.  They simply wanted to be together and spend time doing a fun activity.  
I love those kids very much, and I pray that activities like that will continue the entire time I’m here.  Whether it’s watching Mary Poppins,  playing countless games of Clue  or Mouse Trap, or drawing on the white boards and playing in the cabinet, I hope they will always see my house as a fun place that they are always welcome.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Baby Connor

After months of waiting (9 months to be exact), Connor Evan Aldridge is finally.  He was born on Monday, April 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM in Santiago.  He weighed 8 pounds and was 19.5” long.  He is absolutely beautiful, and I am so glad that I got to be at the hospital when he was born.
Chad and I left Bobita the Sunday before he was born.  We went to Santiago and got to have dinner with Evan and Rachel and her parents as well as Norm and Kevin.  It was so fun to get to spend this time together the night before Connor was born.
Early on Monday morning, we all got up and went to the hospital to wait for Connor to get here.  They had scheduled a C-section so we were expecting Connor to arrive pretty early in the morning.  As Chad and I waited with Rachel’s parents, a woman came in who was waiting for her daughter.  Her daughter had come in for an emergency C-section and it was a month before her due date.  The mother was extremely worried and was crying.  She was all by herself so Ms. Joyce, Rachel’s mom, went to sit by her to comfort her.  It was so sweet to see these two soon-to-be-grandmas taking care of one another.  We found out that the woman’s daughter had the same doctor as Rachel so we knew it might be a little longer before we got to see Connor.  Anyway, not long after that, the doctor came out and told the woman the baby and her daughter were fine.  We were all so excited for her, and she was grateful to Ms. Joyce for being there to take care of her.  I was really glad we got to experience that.  Well, it probably wasn’t thirty minutes later and the nurse came out to ask us if we had clothes for the baby.  We all said, “Our baby?”  The nurse said yes and then said we could come back and see Connor!  We couldn’t believe he was finally here, and it had happened so quickly!  I guess he was just ready to be here.  
We got to spend the rest of the day getting to know Connor and holding him.  He really is one of the most precious babies I’ve ever seen.  I’m so happy for Evan and Rachel, and I’m so grateful that Connor is healthy and a part of our lives.  I love him so much, and I’m glad I get to be Aunt Jill to sweet little Baby Connor.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Update on Carlos from the Texaco Station

A while ago I posted a blog about a guy named Carlos who worked at the Texaco Station in Rio San Juan.  I had met him there and invited him to church, and he ended up coming the following week!  I was really excited that he came and excited to see where that would lead.
Well, about a month has passed since my first interaction with Carlos, and things are still moving in a really positive direction.  Carlos has been at church every opportunity he has had the chance to go.  He works every other Sunday, but when he’s not working, he always comes to church.  One time when he was there I was able to talk to him a little more because Chad was with me to help translate.  Carlos told us that he’s always been a Christian, but a few years ago he kind of went through a wild phase.  However, now he’s back on track and searching for something.  He’s just not sure what yet.  He loves God, and he’s enjoyed coming to church and getting to know all of us.  Carlos really is an excellent guy and I pray that he will continue to stay interested in growing and furthering his relationship with Christ.  
Please keep Carlos in your prayers.  I haven’t been able to have much communication with him lately, but Ronald, our minister in Rio San Juan, told me he was at church this past Sunday (we had a church service at the Children’s Home) which made me really happy.  Pray that he will continue to stay interested.  Pray that he will continue to form relationships with all of us.  Pray that he finds what it is that he is searching for.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Lovely Week with Levy

The final spring break group was a high school group from Levy Church of Christ in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We were especially excited about this group being here because most of our groups this summer will be high school groups.  We felt like this group would be a good representation of how our summer groups will interact with the prospective students from the school.  Levy did not disappoint us.  They were an absolutely phenomenal group, and the way they interacted with our prospective students was exactly what we hoped for.  
One of the things I found most impressive about this group was their VBS.  It was apparent that they had put so much planning and thought into each and every aspect of it.  The kids loved it, and I even had fun participating!  The theme was Jesus walking on the water.  They had an incredible skit, two really fun and unique crafts, a ton of new games, and an organized, systematic way of getting kids from place to place.  The VBS was a true success, and I was really proud of this group and how much work they did to make it as great as possible for these kids.
With the Levy group came Jordan Crow.  Also while the Freed Hardeman group was here, Audrey Parker had arrived to spend a few weeks.  Both Audrey and Jordan along with Glenn Weaver who came with the Freed Hardeman group are moving here this summer.  We all interned together this past summer, and it was so much fun to get to spend this time together as well.  I am so excited for each of these people to be here, and I pray that God will bless them as they continue to prepare to move here in the next few months.
God truly blessed us with some amazing groups over spring break.  It was so much fun to spend time with them and get to know them better.  I am so thankful that God prepared each of these groups to be a part of the work here.  They were such a blessing to the kids, and such a blessing to our team here.  Thanks to all of the spring break groups for three wonderful weeks!

One of the many fun games the group played at their VBS.

Soap dolls were one of the great crafts the kids got to make.  They loved them!

Great skit guys!  It was so creative and fun!

The bracelets were also a blast.  The kids are still wearing them around.

Sweet Audrey.  I can not wait for her to be here!!!

Jordan is such a great guy!  I know he's going to do great things when he moves here!

The entire Levy group.  Thanks for a great week guys!  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cabinet Inhabitants

I absolutely love living on the Children’s Home property.  There are kids around all of the time, and I love that they feel comfortable enough to come in my house or peek in my windows in the morning to see if I’m awake.  
Three of my most frequent visitors are Adolfo, Lisandro, and Cristo Daniel.  They love to come over and read books or draw on the white board that I have.  While the Freed Hardeman group was in Puerto Plata, I got to have a day off to relax and get some other things done.  Bright and early that morning, Adolfo, Lisandro, and Cristo Daniel showed up to play.  It didn’t take them long to realize that one of the cabinets I’m using in my house was empty.  They immediately decided that this was where they would be spending the morning.  They had so much fun laying on the shelves and opening and closing the doors while they were inside.  Who knew that empty cabinet would provide so much entertainment?  I just couldn’t resist taking a picture of them and sharing it with all of you.  
I’m thankful for moments like this when I can be reminded of how important it is not to let the simple things in life pass us by.  I honestly think those kids could have played in that cabinet all day long if I hadn’t had to leave the house.  I’m so thankful to be here and for the opportunities like these that I have to spend time with these kids.  They are so precious, and I pray that their innocence and love for life never changes.  
Just so you all know, the cabinet is full of things now, but sometimes when they come over I take everything out just so they can play in it.

Family and Friends From FHU

We had some amazing spring break groups in the month of March.  One of those groups was the group from Freed Hardeman University.  I was especially excited about this group coming because this is the group that I first came to the Dominican Republic with.  I knew everybody in the group that was coming, and I was so excited to have a little piece of Freed Hardeman here.  
The group of people that came were absolutely incredible!  They had put so much hard work and planning into their week that would be spent here, and it really paid off.  As I mentioned in the previous blog about TTU, we tried some new things with these groups where we partnered the prospective students for the school up with one of the group members.  Just like TTU, the FHU students did a great job with these and proved to us once again that intense one-on-one time spent with these kids is exactly what they need.  The relationships the FHU group formed with the kids in just one week was amazing.  The kids here are still talking about some of those group members, and it’s exciting to see what an impact they made on them.  
Cheryl Mynatt and Jan Beckham were able to come with the Freed Hardeman group and it was such a blessing.  Those women worked relentlessly all week long in my house and in Chad’s house.  They cleaned, painted, and tried their best to make everything feel more like home.  I am so thankful for each of them.  They don’t know how much that meant to me, and I love them both so very much.  
The FHU group was such an encouragement to me.  It was so good to see some of my closest friends and get to spend time with them and hear about what is going on in their lives.  I love each of those people who were here so much, and I didn’t really realize how much I missed them until they were here.  I was really sad to see them go, but I am so thankful for the encouragement they were to me.  
Thanks to all of the FHU group for such an incredible week.  You guys were absolutely phenomenal, and we appreciate all of your hard work.  I love you all very much!  Good luck with winning Number 17!!!

Here is one of our groups at the old Outreach Center on the Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Another group on the Photo Scavenger Hunt with a cute little puppy they found.

How many people can eat one Skim Ice?  A lot!

The group I was blessed to be a part of for Community Day with Milagros and her sweet family.

We had an ice cream party for the Princesas and Pescadores.  The group served ice cream to all of our kids!

Jonah was FHU's theme for VBS.  The skit was phenomenal!

These two precious ladies, Cheryl Mynatt and Jan Beckham, worked relentlessly to make my house and Chad's house seem more like home.  I'm so, so grateful for both of them.  

Glenn got to come with the FHU group!  I cannot wait for him to live here!

What an amazing group of people.  Thank you Freed Hardeman for such an incredible week.  I love you all very much!

Pictures of TTU at Work

We involved our prospective students by making them a part of the chore groups.  The groups participated in a photo scavenger hunt in Rio San Juan.

They love Skim Ice!

One of the other activities we did was an Olympics.  One of our events was 3-legged kickball.  It was hysterical!

There's nothing like a good wheelbarrow race to get people to bond.

TTU's VBS told the story of David and Goliath.  The kids loved it!

For their craft, they made these awesome bandana bracelets.  The kids are still wearing them around.  

For a game they played "Pin the Rock on Goliath's Head."  It was so cute!

Jeff Reese was in charge of the TTU group this year.  He's also going to be one of our interns this summer.  He did a great job with this group, and I'm so excited for him to be here this summer!

An amazing group of people and an amazing way to kick off spring break groups!  Thanks Tennessee Tech for an awesome week!