Almost a year ago we were in the States. We will not be coming back to the States this year, which has been a hard but necessary decision. We are hoping to return for a visit this coming summer. We don’t have dates yet, but we will let you know more as the time draws near.
One of the things we like to do while we are in the States is purchase fun items and then tuck them away in a drawer when we return to the D.R. Throughout the year, we pull out the items. Most of these items are things that are hard to find in the D.R., which makes them extra special for the kids. We have had bracelet glow sticks, water balloons, books, and small boxed Lego sets – just to name a few.
Two items we purchased last year were tie-dye kits (six colors in all!). These kits were sitting in the drawer dying to be used, but I had one problem. I had NO white t-shirts on hand. Now, in the States, I would just go to the nearest store, find white t-shirts, and then choose the correct four sizes. In this country, it is not quite that simple. I would have gone to one store and may or may not have found white t-shirts, possibly in the right size. Then, I would have had to go to another store likely with the same results. I may have spent hours searching with only partial results. In fear of this possibility, I had not even tried looking for shirts.
So what happened?
*Important interruption that has nothing to do with the story.*
At this point, I just want to tell you how important you are to our family. We have truly lived month to month since we arrived, only and always by God’s provision. When we had need, God provided through YOU. Thank you for allowing God to work through you.
I am amazed day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year, as Jesus has provided for our family. He shows me over and over to have faith. Sometimes, to me, our life looks like it’s going to fall to pieces. It’s messy. It’s not goal oriented. It’s unworldly. Our life doesn’t make sense to many. The students we work with cannot understand why we would give up everything to come here and have little. They intend to return to the States and be wealthy. Most of the time I can’t understand either.
And yet . . . each month, it’s a new lesson in faith AND contentment. I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” I’ll be honest. Sometimes I wonder why God provides for us. I grew up believing that hard work provides an income. It’s not that we don’t work hard here, but our work “hours” have nothing to do with our income. God works through you to provide for us. You don’t ask to see our working hours or assess how we do our job. You trust the leading of the Holy Spirit in your lives. It’s not something I’m used to, even after more than three years here. There are times when I wish we could just work extra over-time when we need additional income, but it’s not an option. We pray and God provides.
The most recent lesson I’ve been learning has cut even more deeply into my character. 1 Timothy 6:6-10
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
On the surface, I’ve known these verses. I know that I don’t “love” money, but I also know that I “love” not having to sacrifice. I “love” being able to go to the store and buy what I want and not just what I need. I “love” being able to purchase items that make my life more convenient. I “love” the idea of going on day trips to the beach any time I want. I “love” what can come from wealth. What stood out to me in blazing colors are the words “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Am I content with the necessities? Do I want the latest gadgets? Do I want the best toys for my kids? In this way, I realized that I’ve become stressed and frustrated with God’s provision. Ridiculous, right? God has provided, and I’ve become just like the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. Instead of appreciating what God has provided, I’ve grumbled for more.
Even in this grumbling, God has been faithful to us. He has not stopped providing, and He has provided even more than we needed. Again, this provision came through YOU.
*End of interruption.*
Ready to return to my story?
Out of nowhere, a very good friend of mine contacted me and told me that she wanted to send us a package in the mail. She asked what kind of things she could send us. BOOM! “White t-shirts in four sizes, please!” In due time, we received a package in the mail FULL of goodies for our family. In the midst of these treats were four white t-shirts. I know that to you who have easy access to these items this story is overly dramatic, but if you’ve ever been in a place in which you can’t buy whatever you want whenever you want it, you’ll understand. I was ecstatic!
We put our plan into action the day before school started as a last hurrah of summertime.
See for yourself.