Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enter Into the Mess

Before I went to the DR, I sort of anticipated that I would come home with more to do than I when I went: because I am a big picture gal and because I felt the momentum for the trip building enough to sense that Project I See You would continue and even grow after our second trip.   It just felt as if my life could become a little more messy? non-routine? out of the box?  And that it has and here I am.

Some are naturally okay with this, but in my nature I am a 9 to 5 gal; I like my life in tidy little compartments.  My life is anything but that right now.  I work as a counselor, which by nature ebbs and flows and is somewhat day to day.  When counseling is ebbing I spend my extra time working on Step Up Enterprises and its non-profit arm, Step Up to Help, with my friend Brian.  I also pick up shifts at a 24 hour acute treatment unit when they need help. I also have a husband that works an overnight rotating schedule... And, now, to boot, Project I See You had an amazing week, (actually two weeks - three ladies stayed an extra week!), and it seems that our next steps will involve areas that are irresistible to me and I know something(s) about.

Having a past of perpetual over-commitment, (that was thankfully altered by years of serious physical illness), I asked for prayer from my nearest and dearest before I went "to be able to discern what is best" and where to say no.  Interestingly, as I have prayed, I have heard one thing, "Enter into the mess."  To which I reply, "Like - this messier mess?"  To which I think I have heard, "Yes...for now."

So - here I am: entering into the mess.  The mess of my non-routine, day to day, out of the box life.  Freely, deeply, with open hands...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

La Victoira Post #4

We ended this week as we did on our last trip: washing the women's feet on Wednesday night and going to the beach on Thursday.  All along we have wanted to love these women in practical ways, yet our deepest desire is to build up their inner person - that they would believe that they are seen, loved, and valued, so deeply valued. 

(As a group of women we see that our health, creativity, relationships, and industry are directly related to where we draw our value. We believe that in order for these women to be self-sustaining, or rather God-sustained, they need to see themselves as they truly are.  Not based on the defeat and disappointments they have experienced in their lives.  Just as we do ourselves).

So we washed their feet in faith.  And had delicious ros con leche.  One of the Dominican leaders in the group, Ellie, spoke, "Thank you for coming here.  We know you could have gone many different places to show God's love, but you came here.  And we know that has to be God and His love for us."  And she thanked us for sharing our intimate stories, for the training we offered, and for choosing to come back.

And the beach day was so very fun.  There is nothing like some sand and sea water to level the playing field and to get grown women to act like little girls. I was especially glad to see Francie there.  Francie is just 14 with an 8 month old baby boy.  She lives with a alcoholic man that is at least 20 years her elder who beats her if she does not have sex with him each night.  She calls him her esposo, but they are not married; one day he just "called her over" (as they say) and this orphan saw her chance at providing for her baby (whom she had before meeting her esposo).

We had helped Francie through out the week because her baby had a bad burn on his hand and needed medical care.  Also, strangely, her esposo is the one that lets us use his yard for our meeting place. So we were around her quite a bit.  Francie slowly opened up some over the course of the week, but this young girl, who lost her mother at 4 and was kicked out of her house by her father at 13 when she became pregnant, was understandably guarded.  But at the beach, she came alive.  And to see a 14 year old girl wake up because of a few moments of freedom is something to behold.  What joy in the midst of sorrow.

La Victoira Post #3

Today is our last full day in La Victoria and in the campo.  Tomorrow we will take these beautiful friends of ours to the beach!  La playa, la playa.  I don´t know if I am even spelling that right!

Today has been one of those days that I reminded myself that it was the women around Jesus that did most of the crazy stuff.  Stuff where people asked about the meaning, purpose, orworth of the action.  For example, the woman that cleaned Jesus´feet with her tears.  Today we prayed for healing for the dear, dear Biemba´s husband who is blind and mother who has cancer.  Biemba is the local leader for these women and our blessed cook for the week.  We have been doing things that it feels God is telling us to do, like putting spit on people´s eyes.  Yes, that is crazy talk.  And yes, it was done.

Hebrews 11, Now faith is being certain of what we hope for and sure of what we do not see.

And as far as all of the plans and things that are happening here and our hopes that carry us into washing these women´s feet tonight, I am lead to this Psalm.

Psalm 131, God, I´m not trying to rule the roost, I don´t want to be king of the mountain.  I haven´t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.  I´ve kept my feet on the ground, I´ve clutivated a quiet heart.  Like a baby content in its mother´s arms, my soul is a baby content.  Wait, Israel, for God.  Wait with hope.  Hope now! Hope always!

La Victoira Post #2

Just a minute, but we have had another great day.  And all of us can´t believe it is Tuesday already!  I mean, really...time has flow.

Today, more women were trained on the sewing machines.  They are soooo excited about sewing.  We did a business training focusing on finances, and the ladies were very interested.  Also!  Great talks with the women about their primary health concerns, water!  Connections to start a well, filtration system, and employ women are happening already...can you believe it!  In a week!  But we are praying through it and trying not to get ahead of ourselves.

As we as a team consider this grassroots project, we are encouraged by all of the local connections that are coming to mind, including a female pastor that is already doing great work there.  More to come...Mercy is calling me to get in the car!

La Victoria Post #1

What an amazing first couple of days we had!  It is hard to say all that has happened, but here are a few points,
-  Amazing visits with the women in their homes asking questions about their lives, their health concerns, their dreams, their ability to start or run a business.
 - Today we started several projects with the women.  Including magazine beads that the women took home over our lunch break and came back with them better than we showed them.  A woven magazine basket, which is the hardest, but we made progress!  Including getting the pieces compiled and then starting to weave the bottom of the basket.
-Training for the women on working together as a group and how to address things like jealousy, unforgiveness, competition, and each being gifted uniquely. Prayers for unity.
- Two babies in the campo were desperate for medical care and we were able to provide that for them.
It seems that the needs should be overwhelming when I sit back and consider all that we have heard and seen from the women.  We are asking that God allows us to truly see each other, these women, and what God wants to do here, and he has shown us so much!  But, God has been so faithful to show us our next steps each day and we are amazed at how things are lining up.  Things like the community center director already considering  starting a sewing business, connections with a campo church to start a well and-or a water filtration system...it goes on.

On another note of a bunch of Americanos living in a little DR town....well...the stories could flow.  We have had more than the usual issues with water and have had to haul our water up stairs each day for 14 people to flush toilets and for brief bucket showers.  Lets not go into the poop water on the floor incident...should we use bleach on that...Don´t worry, us liberals bought supplies for a cuba libra.  Those always help.  Praise God.  But seriously, lets praise Him.  We are blessed beyond belief. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

La Victoria, Here We Come...

I had these visions of writing this reflective, hopefully inspiring blog post about my upcoming trip to the DR with Project I See You.  Well, as with most idealism, that came crashing down today when reality set in.  I have 12 hours until I have to sleep for a few and wake up on my way to the airport.  7 of which I will be working; oh, yes - and I must pack.  And make sure I have my passport.  And my daily essentials.  And don't forget your bathing suit...and toilet paper....  You get the picture.

Speaking of the essentials though, here are a few of our trip for those that are interested. 
 - We leave Denver early, early February 4th from Denver and get back late, late February 11th. 
- During the week we will be working on handicraft projects, brainstorming ideas, and offering some training in the afternoons.  And since I am not crafty!, (ask me about the baby hat I knitted that was too big for my husband's head!), I will be doing some business and financial literacy training with my friend Tammy.  And I will also be leading some discussions and teaching on women's health with my friend Angie.
- All the while we will also be doing things that hopefully communicate to these women how much we love them, God loves them, and their deep value.  We want them to truly see them; and we want to be seen too.  One night we will wash their feet, like Jesus did.  (We did this two years ago and it was powerful).  On Thursday we will take them to the beach.  (No men allowed.  And only children that are nursing; or as Mercy said once, "Mama con leche...;" we all cried it was so funny, but especially our Dominican friends).

If you pray and think of us, we would love that support.  There have been a few minor safety concerns in La Victoria recently; we will be smart and covet your prayers.  We feel there is something much bigger than our plans for this trip; we will be listening and watching for that.  Several of the women going are pregnant (all trimesters included); they are brave and trusting.  That is just the start, so "pray as you feel led."

I hope to have pictures of some original, free-trade, eco-friendly handicrafts when I return!  (How many more yuppie buzz words can I include!, she said self-deprecatingly).  And stories.  Stories of single mother's and young woman's lives that give us hope for this fatherless community on the outskirts of La Victoria.