Saturday, August 9, 2014

DR Trip 2014: Samaná and Almost the End

Oh, Samaná. One of Mumsie’s favourite spots on earth, and with good reason, too. We tumbled into the big van at a decent time and began our hike cross-country to the beachy world of humpback whales (local and in season), fresh coconuts, early churches, and guanabana. After a car ride laden with excellent conversation, and some ‘60s kid music, we reached one of the earlier evangelical churches to be planted in the Dominican Republic. It was originally a community of slaves from the United States who had been released to help colonise the DR. When their pastor died they were left without spiritual guidance. Realising this (it would be nice if we had that same sense today), they sent letters to both England and America asking for help with their church plant. A Wesleyan church in England answered their call and sent a young couple to help establish this church. The wife died of malaria shortly after her arrival, but the work she helped her husband do planted a church that is still going today, 190 years later. That is the kind of woman I want to be, eh?

Hearing their story, and knowing that God can use young lives because it is God who is working in the first place, was a great boost to all of us rather tired and rather motivated young people. And then the acoustics in that church were amazing, so we sang a few Psalms until our skin was tingling with the beauty of it. Then we piled back in the van and headed to our final destination: the resort.

The resort. The resort was a totally unexpected gift for which we are truly thankful. I know, it sounds awful, a mission’s team finishing their last two days at a snazzy resort, but honest it was a gift from God, who can use riches as well as poverty to draw us closer to Himself. That is what He did on this trip. Both at the poverty in Villa and in the total chillness of this all-inclusive result, God was using our surroundings to pull us nearer into who He is. 

See, we desperately needed an unwinding and debriefing period before returning Stateside. The changes going on inside of us and outside of us were very real and very huge. That was kind of the point of this trip in the first place, but I certainly did not expect it all to happen on so large a scale. 

But it did. And not having to worry about food and schedules and car rides and bedrooms and cleaning up helped it happen easier. Not to mention the warm beach and treadmill. They helped, too. What can I say? We were very thankful for this outside-stress-free environment in order to solidify the already stabilised friendships for the months and years to come, and to look inside each of us and really ponder how we were by God’s grace going to embrace His grace and the changes that need to occur in light of that grace. Grace is scary, because Grace means freedom, and freedom means relationship. Not control. Not micromanaging. Not doing it my way, but loving to do it His way. It will take more than two days to sort all this out ~ it will, in fact, take a lifetime ~ but these past two days were certainly invaluable to the process, and I am very grateful to those who provided it. 

So we spent time eating (I got to eat Not My Food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and walking on the beach, and seeing the stars and sunrise, and writing, and asking a lot of questions. We had one more study on the heart, but the rest of our group time was spent parking on certain questions that had come up during the trip. Key. Vital. Necessary. Yay. I loved watching everybody, from 8 to 60, Dominican and United Statesian, interact in meaningful ways during these discussions. I think we have been able to internalise everything a bit better, so that then we might externalise them naturally throughout the rest of the year. Understand, my friend, that one of the things we learned was that most people do it backwards, working from the outside in rather than the inside out. But that leads bright on the outside and dark on the inside. We want the light of Christ shining in the darkness. Praise God that He knows our hearts and works with our souls and makes us new

The last two days were excitingly hard and wonderful, culminating with the time to say goodbye. That we did, at the airport, surrounded by luggage, and Patrick and Emanuel left us in a Breaking of the Fellowship sort of sadness, except that we know the end; one way or another we will be seeing each other again. And, hey, there’s always Facebook and G+.

While we waited at the airport for a variety of things, each of us read each other’s notes from Emanuel. The kind soul had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning writing each one of the team members a personal note of appreciation. That floored all of us, and passing the notes around are what kept our spirits up as the prospect of total farewell loomed ever closer. 

The plane to Miami was delayed, and it was a literal squeeze to make our connecting flight, but God knew what was needed and good, and we made it to Dulles safe and sound around midnight Friday morning. 

We did, but not our luggage. Nope, a lot of Saturday was spent going back to the airport to pick up all those nineteen suitcases which did not have time to be scuttled onto our connecting flight the night before. But in that too God was working His good will because having to deal with 950 pounds of luggage late at night would have been slightly overwhelming. No, it was much better to handle those pounds the next day, after a good morning’s sleep and some food. Plus, it was an excuse to see everyone on the team one last time. 

But now farewells are officially said, not forever, but for as long as God would have, and we all feel better equipped to live life as Christians made confident through faith and adoption, through God’s glorious might to be patient in all He would have us do and be and wait for. I love having these friends forever, just as I loved making them real friends over the past two weeks. The love of God is something that cannot be broken, and it was enriched in us throughout this trip. For that I am truly grateful. 

As Jessica Grove said at the end of it all, Greater Things Are Yet to Come. Greater things are still to be done! So, let us move further up and further in to the love and truth of God by His grace! 

Thanks for all your prayers as we travelled far away from home. I hope this smattering of delayed updates has provided you with a glimpse of not just the doings, but also the learnings and encouragements and growths we experienced in the DR. I am grateful for each one of you! Signing off. 

Actually, I think there will be one final "Highlights and Appreciation" post, but this is mainly the end. Thanks for joining me!

(please excuse typos. this will be the last time I ask you this, really.)

DR Trip 2014: La Tinajita

La Tinajita. If you happen to recall anything from my batch of posts from last DR Trip, you might remember La Tinajita as a little bit of heaven on earth. It really was its own earth-placed paradise. Well, nothing has changed since last year. It is still there, lovely as ever, and this time we were even more eager to be there. Our van pulled up with smoking tires and we staggered and stretched out of the car to fall into the arms of our lovely hosts, Ambiorix and Rosario. Only after wildly giving hugs all around and making a special point to pounce on the vecinas with a warm embrace did I get to looking around and falling in love with La Tinajita all over again. The fairy arbors were still there, the hobbit walks still meandered from one door to the next, the house still spoke of Rivendell, and the view still struck you with a majesty too deep for words. And the mango and jobo trees still lined the gazebo-speckled property. 

By the time we had settled into our rooms and supped, our tiredness was too great and manifold for a real study, so we went around the terrace-lounging group again to hear what had so far impacted and taught each one of us in special ways. It was a great way to wrap up the first part of the trip, the getting-to-know-you and welcome-to-non-American-cultures part, and enter into the second part of this learning experience called travelling, the I-got-to-know-you-now-what part. La Tinajita proved perfect spot for embarking on this new adventure. 

See, it is very public, complete with a huge terrace and jacuzzi and bedrooms jumbled into kitchen and living room and dining room and outdoor porch. There is an intimate, old-word feeling about the place. But it is also very private, spread out on a hillside with the house at the top and branches and branches of paths winding down the hill to a symphony of little tables here and reading nooks there and covered gazebos hidden all over the lawn. Perfect for plunging into the communion that is in Christ and the meditation that is in Christ. Just perfect. 

So that is what we did. We talked and laughed and played games, and sang ’til I thought my throat would drop off. We listened to the studies as a group while ingesting them as individuals. Then we walked and thought and read our Bibles, and journaled ’til I thought my fingers would give out. Both the we and the me were fed during our stay here. I think that is what we are most thankful for now that all is said and done: the deep fellowship we developed. And it all flourished right here in La Tinajita.

On Saturday we continued our studies in Colossians and the Heart, learning more about what it truly means to have our lives “hid in Christ” and how to deal with our souls now that they are alive in Him rather than dead in our trespasses and sins. To me, it was encouraging more than I can say. Convicting, yes, to see the clear distinctions between the dead and the living lifestyles, but encouraging because I am alive and don’t have to live like I did anymore. Because Christ. And in Christ. 

That afternoon, the music director for the church in Santiago (Iglesia Bíblica Reformada de Santiago or Reformed Bible Church of Santiago) came over to practice the songs included in Sunday’s worship with the members of our team who would be playing in their service. Timothy sang the violin, Joshua strummed the guitar, and Joanna trilled the flute whilst the Emelii and James played the keyboard. It was neat to see how many great English songs had been translated into Spanish, and we were all happy that people from our team could worship God through instruments on this trip. 

After hours of practice, during which time many of us retreated to think and/or talk, it was beyond a shadow of a doubt time for dinner. I believe the main meal for that day involved an impeccably scrumptious assortment of rice, beans, and bistec, made the more merry by two young women, Jeannine and Julia, who danced about the terrace handing out drinks and refills and more refills. We turned in at a decent time for the night, knowing that tomorrow was Sunday and we would have quite the drive to church in the morning. 

Sunday service was amazing. We drove down on time and got there almost an hour early, which was important because we ended up needing to rearrange the sanctuary so that the English-speaking crowd could sit in an undisrupting location for translation purposes. We sang some of my favourite songs, and our guys did a magnificent job by God’s grace of leading us in worship of our Lord through song. The accent of the violin and flute grounded by the chording and percussion of guitar and keyboard sounded spectacular together. Then Dad preached a great sermon on 1 John, focusing on the togetherness and interweaving of Truth and Love in that letter. Joshua and I translated, and we often ended up saying the same thing at the same time in the same intonation as we turned Spanish into English for our friends. 

Post-service we welcomed the surprise request of teaching the church some new songs we had been singing throughout the trip. Although it was a spontaneous performance, God used the words and music in the life of one of the maids from La Tinajita, who had for some reason decided to join us for church that day. Later that evening I found her crying in the kitchen and she asked for the lyrics to one of the songs we had sung that morning. Please pray that God would save her, so she would be one of our fellow worshippers next year! 

The service done, we drove to Ambiorix and Rosario’s main home in the city, where we were regaled with a feast amidst friends, arrayed in a stunningly beautiful home, and all graced with the love and generosity of believers. Those stewed bananas smelled…wow. Good food, my friends. Good food. 

Full and sleepy, we lounged about the house talking and napping and touring the gorgeous mansion. Many of us used the home’s internet to call parents back home. All of us drank in the restful afternoon, which we all needed badly. Sooner than later it was time to go back to the mountains and fresh air, with the stars glittering in a cold sky. Elvish, I tell you. We had another excellent and challenging study, then sang and sang again until it was very very time to hit the sack. 

We did. 

In brief, Monday consisted of Jessie going to the doctor with Katy and Mumsie and Rosario (Jessie’s fine) and then them buying souvenirs, whilst the rest of the gang stayed home and went through a six-hour long study session. So, SOOO good. I can’t tell you how good. Then we faintingly crawled to the table for food after having skipped meals for the Bible, and boy was there food! The vecinas (this family call their maids “neighbours” instead of “maids”, which is a great testimony of Philemon-like community) cooked us up an amazing sancocho (everything stew) in the outdoor cookery place, and it came with avocado and fluffy white rice until we could not eat anymore. Our brains were dead and our tummies full, so it was a perfect time to journal and talk and play. 

That evening, Dad and some of the boys headed back down to the city so he could teach the pastors he usually Skypes on Tuesday nights. While they were away, we started packing our bags yet again and listened to Ambiorix tell us his testimony and teach us some principles about handling money. This man was born into a very poor yet dignified family; he shared a pair of shoes with his brother and worked in the fields before and after school. He worked hard. Very hard. Eventually he made money. A good deal of it. But he did not ever spend more than he needed, saving most of what he had and using what remained to keep on going. He helped us with some good common sense, and then inspired us with how the gospel changes how we view money and people and time. From not cheating taxes to loving the brethren, this man has grown in everything, and I was personally excited to see how God has changed Ambiorix from grace to grace since he became a Christian. We love him, and we love his wife Rosario. Thank God for them with me, will you?

Tuesday morning found us scurrying around to get out the door and headed to our next and final destination, Samaná. But that will come next post.

(please excuse typos)

DR Trip 2014: Jarabacoa

It is Thursday the 7th of August and I am 10,334 miles above sea level with only 28% battery life left on my pretty banged up laptop.

July flew to somewhere and August for some reason appeared, ready and able to fly by even more quickly than July. The pilot has just announced our decent to Miami Airport and the sunset evening lights up one side of the plane in rose and gold while down the aisle and through the window I see the sea awash in moving greys and rather Byronic blues. It could not be more perfect. Perfect to describe how our whole team is feeling: on one hand happy and blest by our time in the Dominican Republic with each other, and on the other hand sad to need to say goodbye but peaceful in the memories we can now all share. God is awesome, no matter which colour one feels. 

The trip has, in fact, been very colourful. So colourful that my noble goal to blog every day fell by the wayside. But I think enjoying more time to be with my teammates and journal to myself was well worth the lack of blogging. In an attempt to catch up, I will offer all you my faithful readers and pray-ers an overview of what followed my previous blog post, and what all happened to bring us up to now, on an airplane quickly swirling down towards the United States and all it holds for us. 

Goodness, that takes me all the way back to Thursday in Jarabacoa, which feels so very long ago. That morning I believe we had mangú with queso frito again, followed by morning studies, a lunch of leftovers (a mess of moro tossed with picadillo, a quick Dominican fry-up of ground beef with, yes, blissfully bright vegetables), followed by another walk that involved climbing up a very slippery and sheer hill only to discover something on the sliding hill-top caused a delightful little rash all over one’s body. That was fun, and steep, and hard. Our team still could not believe the number of beautiful flowers and fruits dotting the paths down which we trod, and we all grew in the gratitude of simply being there. 

Throughout the day, I had been simmering the beans which Joanna and Janelle had so faithfully sprouted over the past three days. The maids, of course, were shocked at three American girls’ treatment of their native dish, but they enjoyed the differences and were quite curious about how to make things more digestible. One of the maids had recently undergone a colonoscopy for severe intestinal issues, so hopefully she was able to pick up a few tips and practices from us. The best part of being in the kitchen with both maids was to see their willingness to help accompanied by their eagerness to learn, and their complete surprise at how simply we did things. But they liked the pork and bean soup we had for dinner, so hopefully the surprise produced positive results.

Right before dinner, however, the lights went out. Now, the electricity turns off every day in the Dominican Republic, but most houses have generators or inverters to compensate for this occurrence. Well. Our inverter decided to have issues. No lights. Whatsoever. 

Yet what seemed to be a problem at the beginning, God turned into a blessing by the end. Does He not always? If only we would trust that more. At least Dominicans smartly use gas stoves instead of electric ones, so at least our dinner was cooked through when we ate it. At least the men in our group were helpful and kind and loving and gentlemanly, so we girls always had one of them to hold flashlights by our side as we chopped vegetables and prepared delicious avocados. At least some of us had “randomly” decided to pack early and shower late so that many of us were ready to go in the morning, regardless of our electrical condition. At least this forced us to have no manmade lighting as God’s own lightning struck the charcoal sky throughout the evening. At least God gave us memories to sing and sing songs without lyrics after dinner. At least God gave us brains, and some boys with brains, to figure out what really was going on with our inverter so that we were able to turn in for the night with the knowledge that, yes, we had electricity again! Thanks, Andrew. ;) 

Trusting in God always works. 

Friday morning dawned too soon, and our hot chocolate oatmeal was gone too quickly, and our packing was done too efficiently, and our games were lost and won too easily. It was time to leave Jarabacoa, and it was time for one of our group, Jose, to leave for good. Leave not just us, but his homeland and friends and life to move to North Carolina. We bade many, many farewells until his dad finally ushered him out the door and our ride finally arrived. 

Leaving Jarabacoa was hard for many, because the place was so beautiful and restful and what was to come remained in the scary realm of the unknown. 

But remember about trusting God?

He had good things waiting. Despite our tiredness and unfulfilled hunger, the ride to Santiago was peaceful and fun and full of sleep for some. We stopped on the way in La Vega, the Christian seminary of which my grandfather was one of the founders, and where my father was born. It is always such fun to see him slide right back into his old life with his old friends full of their old stories together. The seminary is now a Christian camp, but the mango tree my grandfather planted is still there, still giving us mangoes whenever we go back to visit. My family lived there for a summer when I was a little girl, so even I experienced some nostalgia walking around the lots where I used to make mud puddles and the buildings that always smelled so good of Dominican food. They still do. It was also great to hear of a place and of a people that actually valued Christian discipleship and the sufficiency of Scripture, while teach pastors soon-to-be how to plant churches as well as how to plant plantains. 

But we were hungry and on a schedule that day, and needed to make it to the hills surrounding Santiago in time for dinner ~ and lunch had yet to be eaten. We stopped in the hub of the city for  some quick sandwiches at about four in the afternoon, then drove through the city to pick up eight mattresses that were piled on top of our SUV, and at last trekked up the mountain to La Tinajita, the place where our next hosts were awaiting us with supper and…well, I will talk about that in the next post.

(please excuse typos)

DR Trip 2014: Days Six and Seven

The last two days have blurred somewhat in my mind, so this post should cover both, albeit in whimsy and windy fashion. Tuesday involved a gorgeous lighting of patched and terraced hills. Here it truly is a lighting rather than a sunrise, because the morning fog is so heavy and the mountains so nearby. The early hours also involved coffee, of course, and boiled yucca with fried cheese. This preceded a morning of journaling and studies and a walk around the countryside. Someone is constructing a residence a way further down the hill, but neither the noise nor the smoke is heavy, and the workers are admirably fast. On Tuesday they were torching black something onto the roof and today, Thursday, the roof is almost completely tiled. That is one thing about Dominican culture. Time is not of the essence; events are. But in their own way, Dominicans can be very efficient and hardworking, especially in the realm of construction and engineering. It reminds me of the person in the Santo Domingo who used an old Pizza Hut box as a sun guard for his windshield. You make do with what you’ve got, and you do it well. 


We almost completed the first chapter of Colossians and delved deeper into our Theological Heart Surgery sessions. One of the challenges of this trip has been the way the size of our group has affected, or rather, could affect, the closeness of the communion we enjoy. Now that we are all staying in the same house, those challenges are being overcome and we are growing together into Christ. This has begun to influence our studies and I hope will continue to deepen the level of conversation as we proceed deeper into what the Bible says about us and our hearts. 

One of the chief topics of conversation here has been grace. The unsurpassed and overwhelming grace God has shown us in Christ. Our sessions on the heart describes our need of that grace so exquisitely and painfully, but then Colossians rushes in where our self-justification fears to tread, and shows us Christ. Christ in all His power and meekness and mercy and love. Kind of like the way the sun slowly lights up this beautiful place each morning, the light of Christ has been dispelling our own darkness, only to leave His beauty in its stead. There are so many shadows waiting for that glorious brilliance.

Thankfully, growing in the knowledge of God in all spiritual wisdom and understanding must needs flow into a growing love for our brothers in Christ. I see that happening with this group. We are able to talk, enjoy each other, and pass very pleasant and jolly times with one another. Apparently Bible knowledge does not preclude, but speeds on, brotherly love. And so it goes. Together we have sung and played some rousing games, varying from the requisite “jacked up” (Jessie’s phrase) versions of Speed Uno to intricate rounds of Psychologist. Daddy loves games, and loves watching us play games, not because he is a party animal (he really is not one at all), but because he believes that in games, as well as in mealtimes, who we really are unintentionally comes out. And genuine sincerity plays a vital role in these trips. Thus, the games have been merry and often. 

In between group times, plenty of smaller conversations have taken place. The gift of these occurrences has been that no cliques have formed. We all engage in more private discussions, but we pass each other around pretty well and feel comfortable talking openly with anyone who happens to be sitting next to us. Yes, this group is great. 

But back to Tuesday. After a lunch of crunchy salami with bread and farmer’s cheese and fresh wonderfully fresh and vibrant and snappy and snarky and sweet and satisfying and delicious vegetables (can you tell we missed fresh veggies in the city?), we gathered around for another Theological Heart Surgery session and then Joanna, Janelle, and I prepared supper, with a bunch of help. 

I have so loved getting to work with Dominican ingredients in a Dominican kitchen with American friends. Collaborating with Joanna and Janelle has been a sweet growth to our relationship, and we are all learning from each other. 

So Tuesday’s dinner consisted of (my first attempt at) moro de guandules and a happy bowl of steamed green, purple, and cream cauliflower, all accompanying a dish of minute steak marinated in Dominican seasonings and grilled by a few able young men. Thanks to Andrew and James and Emanuel, dinner tasted swell and non-overcooked. 

Wednesday brought hot chocolated oatmeal, or oatmealed hot chocolate, depending on how you look at it, followed by a morning of more studies and an afternoon of stewed chivo, a mouth-watering meat accompanied by all the usual Dominican sides: rice and beans and plátano and avocado and garlic casabe. The person responsible for spoiling us with such an over-the-top delicious meal was Tomás, our faithful jack-of-all trades pastor, missionary, visionary, servant, cook, chauffeur, networker, and master of cooking to classical music. He seriously has all the best classical songs every composed, and plays them at the top of his speaker’s lungs to our great joy and delight. I think it makes his food taste happier. We love Tomas, and there’s an end to it. 

Our days here have been punctuated by walks around the neighbourhood, walks made all the more exhilarating due to the steep hills and wild orchids growing by the wayside between wild banana plants and orange trees. These outings keep our body going so our brain can continue functioning through the whirlwind of sessions upon which we are embarking in this trip. Apart from steadily working through Colossians and being dazzled by Christ with each verse, we are steadily digging into the ways we and others work as we learn to not treat problems with the bandaid of “being better people” but with the Master’s Surgery of going deep into our hearts’s most earnest desires and ingrained processes in order to apply the gospel constantly to our souls. By God’s grace our actions will change, and instead of pharisees and slaves, God will have sons and a people who love to worship Him. 

To be frank, talking about the gospel and Christ and our hearts’ sins and cures can get messy, even with a close group of Christians. But the messiness has been good because the messiness causes Christ’s stellar perfection to glow even brighter and His grace to shine its warm rays all the more closely upon us. Sure, we are sinners, but like Colossians says, we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the inheritance of the saints in light. That is awesome, and in that beautiful truth we are truly walking in love with each other. I confesses to loving our group, this band of brothers, and I am confident everyone here would say the same. 

It all has been so worth it. Thanks for praying, and please continue to do so.

(please excuse typos)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

DR Trip 2014: Day Five

Day Five. Sunday number one for our group. Father’s Day. After breakfast, our entire team gathered at the apartment to pile into the twenty-one-seater bus that awaited downstairs. Our driver, José, steered the streets well and we eventually ended up at the correct church after stopping to ask for directions. I guess it is kind of normal to get lost when someone gives you the wrong address for your destination. But get there we did with no bones broken, and filed into a crowd of very welcoming brothers and sisters in Christ. 

This church, Iglesia Fundamento, is located in a poorer part of town, less safe and speckled with more tin roofs and more trash than what we had so far seen. But the church itself was cheery and bright and clean, all four stories of it, and the people were so very loving and immersed in the beauty of Christian fellowship. It was all different, but I think we as team felt at home in a sense, too. We worshipped together with great joy and learned from Scripture with glad song and simply enjoyed the communion of “foreign” “family”. Despite the drip drip of faucets, despite the doubling up on toilet flushes, despite the dearth of air conditioning and the surrounding scenes of poverty, we were blessed and with people we loved because they loved God, too. The church kindly sang songs that were likewise in English, and put the English lyrics side-by-side the Spanish ones. Everyone chose their language and sang, sang with life. 

Then Dad came up to preach on Ephesians 2:1-10, a heart-stirring passage that you absolutely must read to once again relish the grace God has showered upon us undeserving sinners. The team sat upstairs, near the fans and basking in the yellow light bouncing off the sky-blue walls. Sure, it was hot, and, sure, the whirring of the fans made translating difficult, but Josh and I and the team worked together to hear God’s word and were blessed. 

After speaking with some of the members there and being passed cokes and chocolate (they are very kind to foreigners), and after a good degree of baby-holding, we traipsed back into the bus to eat at Viscaya, a favourite Dominican restaurant with strong Spanish (Spain Spanish) roots. We were twenty-one people, not to mention all the fathers who were eating out to celebrate Father’s Day, so the food took a while to come, but that provided ample time for good conversation. Half of the fun and growth on these trips comes from getting to know the other members of the team itself, and this provided us with the perfect context for that. The food came in rounds, first Spanish tortillas (think omelet or quiche-minus-crust laden with potatoes), then baskets of garlic flat bread, then a grilled assortment of meats, then a round of fish, then rice and beans and tostones (fried green plantains), maduros (ripe fried/baked plantains), fried potatoes, and finally avocados. It was a feast, wrapped up well with a dish of flan (a sort of custard) and strong Dominican coffee laced in its own creamy foam. Yum. One experience I doubt team-members will forget was having bites of Dad’s favourite mondongo, a dish of stewed beef tripe. It was hit with some of us (great for GAPS!) and not so much a favourite with others. But everyone ate something they liked, and walked away very, very satisfied. 

Now we are gathered at the apartment again, waiting for news about Jorge Daniel and relaxing before evening service begins. Tonight we will be attending IBNP, something about which we are all very excited because we know people there and it will be nice to see the place we painted buzzing with believers. And the music. And the preaching. And everything a church is about. 

I am at the church now, brimming with internet and postability. I will check back next time I get wifi, which will probably be in a week because tomorrow we are leaving to a place in the mountains, brimming with non-internet and all the lovelinesses that brings. Enjoy the week! I know I will. 

(please excuse typos)

Thanks for remembering us in your prayers!