Although I am back stateside, after another trip to visit New Hope Girls in the Dominican Republic, I don’t feel like I’m really back yet. Funny, I got a text from one of my best friends asking if I was okay. She mentioned that she had hardly heard from me since I got back.
I am okay. I am. But….
I’m also wrestling with the tension of loving people so deeply who live an ocean away. While I love being in the Dominican Republic with them, I simultaneously am so thankful to be home with my husband and kids. I love our family unit and everyday life together!
One Heart, Two Places
So here I sit, feeling an abundance of love for so many people in two distinct places. It can be tiring at times, actually. It is tiring to feel my heart pulling to another place that a part of me wants to be, but also knows God has not called me to.
Yes, God calls me there to visit and He calls me there in service – but it is from a stateside position. He has also called me to the ministry that is found within the walls of my home. And with that comes the tension.
However, with one year of working with New Hope Girls I have become aware of how tension and even heartache amplify the fierceness of our love.
Five Years Later
Before I was an employee with New Hope Girls I was a volunteer and board member. We have a history together – stories that are now intertwined. And, with each visit to New Hope Girls I find myself more deeply embedded.
I now have friends in the DR who invite me into their home for meals when I’m in town.
I have favorite foods that are a “must” when I visit (Casabe!).
I’ve watched the girls grow up over the last 5 years. When I show up we pull out my phone and look at photos from that first year when my dad and I traveled there, unsure what we were getting ourselves into, but certain it was God leading us there.
Five years later, little girls are now teenagers. Teenagers are now in college. The workshop has grown and added positions and expanded in size.
Joy and her family have become dear friends. My parents are now involved too.
New Hope Girls is now part of my heartbeat.
How do I explain the love?
Here I sit in a swirl of emotions. Struggling to articulate, share, and explain just how much I love these people, these girls, the women, and this fight. For someone who loves words it is a beautiful irony that I am rendered speechless.
The only way I know how to tell you about how deeply I care for my Dominican Republic family is to give you a glimpse of what it is like when I feel the overwhelming sense of love wash over me.
When my coworker Mercedes realized I was there, she stopped her motorbike to squeal with delight and give me a kiss on the cheek. My Spanish is minimal and so is her English – but we communicated everything we needed to say without words.
When a sweet little friend, who endured hell on earth, opened up her hand to reveal a gift. A pink gem, shaped like a heart. It was worn and scratched and absolutely perfect in its imperfection.
When another little friend began reading to me and couldn’t stop. “Mas libros” because reading together is a connection and moment we both feel.
When I met a new coworker in our workshop. A strong overcomer who no longer has to compromise her dignity and safety to provide for her family. She is home now. She is safe now. She is honored now. And with the help of a translator, I was able to affirm her God-given worth and strength. There were tears.
When I watched Wanda and my mom exchange testimonies, with a translator and tears, in mutual encouragement. Two of the strongest women I know, aligned in their love for the Lord and love for their families.
When one of the littles fell down and got hurt and without thinking I scooped her up to rock her. Then I felt her relax in my embrace and receive comfort.
When Joy and I enter into prayer because we know this work is too big. So much bigger than what we are capable of – but that’s why it is not our mission – it is His.
Those are the moments when I feel the depth of love wash over me and from it emerges profound gratitude.
Thank you God for allowing me to walk with your daughters. Thank You for taking all the pieces and parts of who I am and using them in the service of Your work. Thank You for the abundant hope You have given me.
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