Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Baby Georgia

It’s been 3 months since we welcomed baby Georgia into our family.  I am now ready to document her story. I needed time to process, to feel, to soak in His faithfulness to our family and to see clearly through the fog of what we had just experienced.  If you like adoption stories, grab a tissue, a glass of sweat tea, and enjoy!
It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon when the phone rang.  We were told that Latrice, Georgia’s birth mom, was in the hospital and had developed preeclampsia.  The doctor wanted to go ahead and retrieve baby Georgia 3 weeks early to ensure no harm would come to her or Latrice.  She was scheduled to be induced early on Wednesday morning.  Like our previous two adoptions, we threw some things in a bag, squared away child care for our bigs, and hopped in the car for an 8 hour car ride filled with excitement, anxiousness, joy and all the other feels you feel when your family is getting ready to grow!
We arrived to our hotel, settled in, slept a few hours, splashed water on our faces, and headed out the door to Kansas University Hospital. When we arrived, we received our name tags and were escorted back to Latrice’s room where she was waiting for the doctor to arrive to discuss a time to induce. We were so very nervous as we were preparing our hearts, minds and eyes to be in the delivery room to witness sweet Georgia enter the world…as this was nothing we had ever experienced before.  Latrice was so very gracious to want us there, as she truly desired us to experience everything we possibly could as she was gifting this dear child to us.  This baby was ours. 
We sat, we waited, we talked, we laughed, we told stories and we waited some more.  After a whole day of waiting and sitting in the delivery room with Latrice, the time had come.  Her body was ready to bring baby Georgia into the world.  A rush of emotions overcame us as we experienced such beauty for the first time…the sites, the sounds, the rush of doctors into the delivery room…all of it. 
After just a few pushes….there she was…we saw the miracle happen right in front of our eyes!  It was just the way God had designed it to be. Georgia Rae was so beautiful with a head full of hair!  The little squeeks she made were sounds of pure bliss in our ears.  As Will was cutting the cord, the tears flowed…the representation of what that signified was overwhelming to our souls.
We spent the next few days in a hospital room caring for our sweet angel.  Will had some good time with Latrice in her room as she recovered.  He talked to her about Jesus, about who He is and what His characteristics are.  He talked to her about how God can Redeem all thing and all situations for good.  We had a bracelet made for her with the word Redeem etched in the middle. 
Fast forwarding a few weeks.  We’re back in Louisville.  Our family of 5 is reunited after a long two weeks apart.  The reunion was so glorious!  Our two bigs, Ruby and June, just adore their baby sister…as we knew they would!
Just a few days later…
The phone rang. The gentle voice on the other end carried a deep sadness in her tone.  We received the news that Georgia’s birth mom, Latrice had passed away. Our minds went into a fog as shock set in.  The heart break, oh the heart break.  It was all so very surreal.   All the questions swirling around in our minds. Sweet baby Georgia.  How will we navigate these waters?  Did we properly thank her for giving us the most beautiful gift and for helping us fulfill our desires to grow our family? 
We were told that Latrice was wearing her Redeem bracelet on her wrist as she took her last breath and passed into eternity.  Our prayer is that seeds were planted and that she truly felt God’s redemption in her life.  We’re praying that God used us to be Light.  We’re praying that Georgia Rae will use her story, her journey in this life to reach others, to share what redemption looks like, to glorify Him!
God chose to expand our family again.  He has done it through something so beautiful…Adoption.  The story He has written is breath-taking.  It’s a life full of complexities, curves, twists and turns.  It’s complicated, but not, because it’s of Him.  It’s ingrained so deeply into the fabric of who we are because it’s all we know. It’s our life.  It’s what He has so graciously given to us.     

He brings such beauty from ashes, His kindness is so evident, His goodness is over whelming, His gifts to His children are wrapped in such beauty.  And that’s what Georgia Rae is to our family…a gift.     

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The seed that fell on fertile soil

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  - Matthew 13:1-9

For those of you that have been following our blog for a while, you have heard me mention the basketball camp we have been doing for over 200 kids in the community of Hoya del Caimito every summer since 1998.  This was the very camp that changed my life forever and caused us to move to the Dominican Republic as missionaries.  Two days ago, I received this email and it brought tears to my eyes as God allowed us to see fruit of a life forever changed because of a 3 day basketball camp.  These are the words of Francisco Martinez.

"hi my name is Francisco Martinez, I am 32 years old. I am en english teacher, and interpreter, Church Leader and basketball player (Leader too)

I grow up in Santiago, Dominican Republic. but right now I am living in Barahona. ( In the south).

I was in a basketball camp in 2001,2002 and 2003 in Hoya del Caimito, Santiago, 
I wasnt cristian at that moment but i remember I learnt 30 bible verses. now i remember that and i thank God for everything. also my basketball skill that I have now I learnt there.
you are doing a great job for Jesus. God bless you!

I would like to have a basketball camp here in barahona to change their life too.
maybe one day....

If you would like to bring a team to this area (Barahona) I am more than willing to help you and serve together. Its my dream!"

Why short term missions?  Why sports outreach?  Why invest time and resources in overseas missions?  Francisco’s letter says it all.   

Thank you to all who participated in the GO Basketball camp in 2001, 2002 and 2003.  God used you to plant seeds that fell upon fertile soil and Francisco “Duncan” Martinez is producing fruit in his community 15 years later.  I hope the participants of those camps read this blog and consider coming back to the DR to put on a camp in Barahona!  Let’s fulfill Francisco’s dream!

Below are pictures of the ribbons he won at camp many years ago.  They obviously mean a lot to him. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Heart of GO Sports

Many people ask the question, how does sports ministry work?  And even after attempts to explain it well, the concept of using sports as a vehicle to present the Gospel can remain foreign to many.  Over the past two weeks, we have seen a clear picture of the impact sports ministry can have…when done with the most important ingredient, “but the greatest of these is LOVE”.  Here at GO Sports we have 11 coaches that have committed their lives to sports ministry.  Some decided to join the team because they were influenced by Jose Luis and Pedro, the two men that founded GO Baseball and GO Baloncesto.  Some are with us because they have a passion for their sport and they want to teach kids.  Some are coaches because they have recognized the need for mentors in the lives of the youth that surrounds them in their communities and beyond.  Others are here because they simply love Jesus and see the opportunity to share the Gospel with hundreds of kids on a daily basis.  Whatever the reason may be, however much knowledge of the game they have, one things is true, our coaches downright know how to love these kids that they work with.  In Matthew 9:35-38, Jesus speaks about how plentiful the harvest is, but what few workers are in the fields.  In this story, it says that that Jesus was walking through towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news, healing diseases and sicknesses.  While He was doing these things, he saw the crowds of people and had compassion on them, “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  In a recent Bible study by one of our baseball coaches, he said, a good leader sees a need and responds with compassion and action.  This is what Jesus did, as He had compassion on the people, he said to his disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  In GO Sports, there are numerous kids that are like sheep without a shepherd and the Lord has sent our coaches into the field to love them and shepherd them. 

Donatello Rodriguez, a beloved kid from our GO Baseball Academy, tragically passed away on January 26th.  Donatello came from a loving home, with two parents that adored him.  They came to his games, they walked him to school, they volunteered at his activities and they cleared their schedule to spend time with him.  Not only is this very rare in the Dominican Republic, but the whole world could learn from this kind of love.  As the entire GO Baseball Academy grieves this loss along with his family, school and community, God has revealed to me the heart of GO Sports and encouraged us to keep on going and growing.  We held a memorial service at the baseball field last Saturday and our hearts were overwhelmed as the great ingredient of love was evident in every word, tear, hug and expression.  Our coaches, one by one, stood up and told stories of their time with Donatello.  Their words communicated to the world that they are not just coaches, they truly are shepherds and they deeply love their sheep.

When our coaches finished, Donatello’s mom and dad stood up to share.  The words of a loving father have never been more powerful and affirming as he looked at our coaches and the kids in the baseball academy and expressed his overwhelming gratitude for their investment in his son’s life.  He repeated again and again, “Ustedes eran su vida” (you guys were his life).  He shared Donatello’s passion to always be at the field and in discipleship class with our coaches.  He couldn’t keep him away from the academy and he told me it was a privilege to share his son with men that love the Lord like our coaches do.  He said they taught him to love Jesus.  After he was finished and the service was over, he pulled me aside, grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “please don’t ever lose your focus.  These kids need what GO Sports is doing”.  There are sheep without a shepherd and the harvest is plentiful.    

During the celebration of Donatello’s life, there has been no mention of his talent on the field, how our coaches developed his skills or how many games he won.  There has only been story after story of the mutual transformation that took place between a little boy filled with the joy of
the Lord and 6 baseball coaches that desperately loved him enough to call him their son.  This is sports ministry….this is the heart of GO Sports and we will continue on so that more kids, more families, more coaches and more missionaries will experience love the way Jesus intended for us to.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dios ha sido bueno

"I will give you thanks in the great congregation: I will praise you among much people"

- Psalm 35:18

The above Psalm grabbed my attention this morning and reminded me to stop in the middle of a busy season and publicly give thanks to God.  The Scripture mentions giving thanks in "great congregation" and "among much people", so even though I am sitting alone in my office at the computer, the beauty of a blog and the internet is that this has the potential to reach a "great congregation" and "much people".  

We were sitting in church two Sundays ago and an overwhelming sense of gratitude consumed me and tears streamed down my face as we worshiped together as a Body of Believers.  I LOVE the music at our church and always enjoy worshiping through song as our talented and passionate worship leaders lead us.  This particular morning my heart was moved to open my eyes and scan the room as we sang "Dios ha sido bueno" (God has been good).  As I slowly looked around the room, I was able to see example after example of just how good God has been.  Bear with me as I do my best to describe what I saw so that proper thanks is given to God for His incredible love for His children. 

The first place I was drawn to was the worship band.  Kendrix, an incredibly talented 22 year old musician in his 3rd year studying at the Seminary of Americas.  His mom wasn't even supposed to have kids after being treated for a cancer that doctors said would lead to her death months later.   She lived and still lives...she had Kendrix (and 2 other boys) that are now impacting thousands of lives for the Gospel.  

Next was Moises, on the electric guitar, has been healed and restored after a dark life filled with addiction.  He gave up music years ago because it only lead him to environments that caused him to use.  God redeemed him and reminded him that his musical talents were a gift from Him and could be used for His glory.  He's been leading worship now for a couple of years along with a Celebrate Recovery group for other addicts in our community.

Then, Carlos, a once super hyper kid that grew up in our baseball program (he was like a mosquito that buzzed around your ear that you couldn't get rid of).  He didn't even know he had the gift of music until a man from Columbia spent time with him and discovered his crazy talent with instruments and booming singing voice.  He is now a worship leader and a mature mentor that serves as a baseball coach for almost 200 kids.

My attention moved off of the stage and directly across the room to Eddy.  Oh Eddy.  God really poured joy into my heart when I watched Eddy that morning.  Eddy was a professional basketball player for 17 years that had to retire because of an un-diagnosed illness that caused him to lose over 40 lbs.  He accepted Christ and was baptized last year.  Shortly after, his health was fading fast and  he was rushed to a hospital where weeks later they finally discovered that he had Crohn's Disease.
After major surgery and a long recovery, there he was that morning, with his hands raised high and his eyes closed worshiping Jesus.  Thank you, God!

Next to Eddy was Rey.  Rey was a "tigere" (thug) from the "barrio" (hood) that lived a fast life.  He participated in our basketball camps for years and just a couple of years ago gave his life to Christ and was baptized.  We hired him as a basketball coach and mentor to youth that lack love and guidance in their lives.  Like many places in the world, we live in a community that needs more father-figures.  That morning, Rey had a HUGE smile on his face as he danced and sang with his almost 2 year old daughter, Cadens.  A dad and his daughter in church together...a rarity here.

I then landed on Luma.  Luma is Carlos' (the mosquito turned wonderful singer/leader mentioned above) mom.  Her daughter, Albania and son, Carlos, have been active in the church for a while.  They always asked for prayers for their mom and dad.  Last year at the women's conference, Luma was baptized and has been a bright light in her community ever since.  Sitting next to her was her husband.  This family moved to Santiago not knowing Jesus.  They have not only been redeemed, but have become passionate about the renewal of their community and beyond.

Kyle and Dariana were sitting in the same line of vision as Luma.  Dariana was a trailblazer.  A Dominican girl that LOVES basketball.  She grew up in our camps and later went to the USA to play college basketball.  She graduated and came back to her home country to serve in ministry with GO Sports.  She has launched a girl's basketball program.  She has also fallen in love with Kyle, a fellow missionary with GO, who I prayed for for 9 years.  He came to us almost 3 years ago and his love and passion for ministry is overwhelming.  They are engaged to be married on April 24th and they already function as a dynamic duo in ministry.  

Towards the middle of the room sat Gustavo.  I met Gustavo 9 years ago when we moved to Santiago.  He always seemed to have a desire for more in life but couldn't quite figure out what that meant.  He told me the week before that he has lost his family.  His wife and kids live somewhere else with another man and he is broken.  He also told me that he now understands that what he was looking for cannot be found in possessions or worldly things.  He messaged me last night and said that he is ready to make a huge decision and be baptized.  In the midst of his biggest storm, he recognizes that strength comes from the Lord.

Next, I looked to my right and then down.  Audrey was holding June next to me and Ruby was in my arms.  I was reminded of the heart ache of infertility.  The dying to our expectations.  It was quickly replaced with a warm, grateful heart.  What an incredible family God has provided for us through adoption.  He took "something" and "someones" that were broken and created something magnificent.  Our daughters are living proof of His goodness.

My Dad always comes to my mind when my life slows down for a minute.  I replayed the last year of our lives quickly through my head as I sang.  It was downright hard!  But again, being in a spirit of worship and thanksgiving, God reminded me of all the beauty through the hardship.  The joy He provided in the midst of sorrow.  God sent His Son to die on the cross so that death's sting would not consume us.  My Dad is in the presence of our Creator with zero pain and suffering...what a gift He has given us all!

The last stop was at Tata and Gabriel.  Whatever is more powerful than the feeling of "gratitude" is what I felt when I looked at this incredible couple.  Over 30 years ago they moved their family to a community in Santiago that didn't have a school or a church.  They were on a mission to bring Jesus to an area that didn't know Him.  They sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel and God has blessed them tremendously ever since.  Because of their sacrifice, all of the people mentioned above have a place to worship.  Because of their sacrifice, the community of Hoya del Caimito is being renewed.  Because of their sacrifice, GO Ministries was started and God has used this ministry to change lives forever.  

I was reminded that morning of His goodness.  Thank you, God, for being so bueno!  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


It's amazing how our senses can trigger our minds to drum up thoughts that we've never even imagined.  Or maybe those thoughts have been there all along, right below the surface just waiting to come out and provide a perspective that has been needed for quite some time.  A couple of Saturdays ago we were playing around the house as a family and Audrey and I realized that we have reached a new season of life in which our two daughters, Ruby and June, can actually enjoy playing with one another.  We giggled as they rolled around on the floor together and "wrestled" in a way that only leads to laughter and not someone crying on the way to the hospital.  Then they both made their way to the door and just stood there looking out as if their little minds entered into a place of deep thought.  Audrey and I thought it would make for a cute photo so we snapped a quick picture and as we admired the photography, it happened.  My senses kicked in and triggered my mind to go to places that I wasn't sure that I was ready for. 

The fear of raising daughters came first.  There they were, two little innocent sweethearts (most of the time), playing within the confines of their own home.  Cute, cozy, playful, safe, confident, sweet and on and on and on of all things wonderful.  Then the very next moment their lives are flashing before my eyes as they grab ahold of the bars and turn towards the outside world (poor things have  bars and an iron gate to get through before they can get anywhere).  School, friends, hobbies, boyfriends, fiances, husbands, kids..........!!!!!!  But as I focused to try and get rid of the pit in my stomach, a perspective came and hit me upside the head.  It's not the world that put the fear of raising daughters in my heart that morning, it was the responsibility of sending them out well.  How do I keep my weakness and flaws from negatively influencing our daughters?  How do we channel all that they have been gifted with so that they may be used to leave a positive, lasting impact on those around them?

I am reading a book by Judah Smith, called Jesus Is ____, and there is a heavy focus on grace.  My heart has been satisfied so many different times as I read this book and I'm beginning to understand why.  See, I have received this Grace (a.k.a. Jesus) in my life and although it can be a difficult gift to accept, knowing that I haven't done anything to earn it, it is also the sweetest, most satisfying gift one can every receive.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, it is now my desire to extend that same form of grace to those around me because I can only begin to imagine how much Jesus loves them too. 

So after the fear of raising daughters subsided, joy and excitement took it's place.  I then realized that Audrey and I have the opportunity to raise daughters that will be the extenders of Grace to all they come in contact with.  We have a chance to teach them to love others well when the world may not.  We have been tasked to share with them the truth about who Jesus is and that He gave His life for us so that we may know how much He adores us.  Then we get to share with them that in response to this magnificent love, we get to let the world know that this love is available for them too.  We want to send them out grace-fully.  All of the sudden I saw the above picture as a sweet opportunity rather than a daunting task. 

Perspective didn't end there.  The following week, we had registration for our GO Sports Academies for the first semester of 2015.  We asked kids to come to the church to sign up and give our GO Sports Staff the chance to look them in their eyes and commit to be mentors and role models in their daily lives.  After 255 boys between the ages of 8-18 signed up to be a part of our academy, perspective struck again...we have the same opportunity to raise these boys up to be extenders of that same grace and truth!  255 BOYS!!!  All of the sudden raising two little girls seemed like a piece of cake.

Please pray for us as we have an incredible opportunity right under our nose.  Our GO Sports coaches need your prayers and so do the little hearts and minds of the kids we will be working with this year.  May we all experience the grace of Jesus Christ and then know what to do with this overwhelming gift.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

...a little mush.

yep...this blog post might be a little mushy.  so, here's your warning in advance!  my heart is overflowing, and I would love to tell you why.

I am feeling especially grateful for 3 particular things.

1. God's provision and blessing on our lives.  we are so blessed that WE GET to do what we do for a living.  WE GET to see God move first hand over and over and over again.  WE GET to play a part in life changing experiences for people who come and serve on an 8 day trip.  I could go on and on...but I think you get the picture.  so, THANK YOU to those of you who sacrificially give so we can stay and serve in the Dominican Republic.

               (just had the sweet opportunity to host this awesome group from Carthage, MO.)

2.  My husband.  I love watching him do what he does.  I love how he serves and how he loves others and how he makes every person he talks to feel like they are the only person in the room.  I love watching him do his job.  I love how he has fallen in love with the local leaders we work with and how he empowers them .  I love watching him be a daddy (and how especially patient he is with our 2 year old who is testing her boundaries right now like nobody's business.)  I love his playful and spunky personality that keeps me laughing and on my toes.  
yes, I am definitely a proud wife who feels like I won the husband lottery! 

  (praying at the Leadership Development Complex land)


 (there's that playful personality I was talking about, he always has me laughing.)
3. Jackie.  as many of you know, Jackie is the beautiful girl in the picture below.  she gave us a gift almost 3 years ago.  a gift that changed our lives forever.  a gift that came in an adorable little package with beautiful brown skin and lots of black hair!  
for the second time, Jackie came to the Dominican for a mission trip.  what an honor and privilege to serve along-side of her last week.  I don't think Will and I can even grasp how amazing this story is...all praise and glory to God.  can you see the  beauty in all of this?  It's a true picture of what adoption is.  we have all been adopted into the body of Christ as sons and daughters of The King...just because He loves us that much.  Jackie will forever hold a special place in our hearts.  we adore her.
                (working together with Jackie and her mom, Donna, at the GO Medical Center)

hope you are having a fantastic summer.  ours is off to a great start!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Mountain Dew and Doughnut Sticks.

Baby Penelope June is now three weeks old and I am finally getting a chance to document her story.  What a sweet joy it is for me to tell.  Adoption stories are kind-of my passion. : )
I would like to call this entry “mountain dew and doughnut sticks”. You will have a better understanding of why as you read on.  Grab a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or tea…and enjoy!

On December 23rd, Will and I received the most exciting Christmas gift anyone could ask for.  We were sitting around my Grandma's kitchen table eating strawberry cake when Will’s cell phone rang.  After I answered it, the gentle voice on the other end said, “You and Will have been chosen by a birthmother in Kansas City.  It’s a baby girl and she is due in 2-3 weeks."  After the shock subsided, we returned to the kitchen where the family was gathering and shared the exciting news.  I saw my daddy’s eyes fill up with tears.  He must think there’s something special about having 2 girls. : )

On January 8th, we flew to Kansas City to meet Sara, the birthmother.  We met her at a restaurant for supper.  It was one of the most beautifully surreal experiences we have ever encountered.  Sitting across the table from this sweet and lively young gal, having her look into our eyes and so genuinely say, “I am carrying this baby for you,” seriously tugged on our heart strings.  We sat there for almost 3 hours and talked and talked and talked.  We loved getting to know all about her!!
The next day, we flew back to Louisville simply to await the phone call to let us know when Sara was going into labor.
January 13th, 3:45 am...the phone rang.  Startled, we both jumped out of bed.  Sara was at the hospital in labor!!  Luckily, our bags were packed and ready to go.  We splashed some water on our faces after just a couple hours of sleep and hopped in the car praying that the 7 hour drive would go by quickly and we would get there in time for the birth.  After being on the road for just a few minutes, we thought it would be smart to stop and fill the gas tank.  As Will was pumping the gas, I decided to run inside and grab a few snacks to keep us awake.  Will just looked at me and giggled as I returned to the car with Mountain Dew and Doughnut Sticks (and maybe a Bear Claw too)!  Hey, a little sugar would surely keep us awake for the long drive that was ahead.

9:35 am...we arrived at Research Medical and baby Penelope June Partin was born at 10:02.  So thankful that we arrived in time for the birth.  The nurse came into the waiting room to let us know that everyone was healthy!  Praise God!  I was able to be in the nursery with Junie while she took her first bottle and got her first bath.  What a memorable time that was for me. 
We spent the next few days in the hospital with Sara and baby June.  Those days seem to be a bit of a blur now, but looking back, they were days that will forever be etched in our minds and our hearts.  We had the opportunity to sit with Sara in her hospital room and love on her.  We laughed together, cried together and told stories.  She held baby June and just loved her little fingers and toes.  She is truly a beautiful, courageous woman who has given us a gift that we can never re-pay.  We love her so much.

God has chosen to expand our family again.  He has given us baby Penelope June through the blessing of adoption.  She is so beautiful and spunky, and she can be a little fiery at times (I bet that’s the red hair!)  God has charged us again with a responsibility.  A responsibility to teach our two girls about Jesus.  There is nothing more important than that.  He has been so merciful and gracious to us and has hand crafted this life for us.  A life we wouldn't trade.  A life full of beauty and excitement.   A life enriched with a story so complex.  A life full of joy and a life full of relationships that we never even imagined possible.  A life with 2 beautiful birth mothers who hold a special place in our hearts.

(baby June just after she was born)

(a photo that speaks volumes and one that will be cherished forever)

(Ruby Ann loving her new baby sister)

Monday, December 16, 2013

the gift of perspective
several weeks ago i had the privilege of taking our dominican sports staff across the border to phaeton, haiti.  GO ministries partners with pastor lucner and his wife, marie, and we are currently building a church and nutrition center in their community.  every year, after hosting several american short term mission teams, our sports staff goes on their own short term mission trip to serve outside of their own community.  for the first time, we acquired passports and visas and headed over the border to our neighboring country to join our construction crew in building the church/nutrition center.  aside from being excited to help further our ministry project in phaeton, i felt like God was paving the way for us to take this trip for a specific reason.  this trip was about perspective. 
every year we host over 1,000 americans that come down to serve for a week in the dominican republic and haiti.  most of them have never left the country before.  most of them do not speak spanish.  most of them have not spent time in the dominican cultlure.  most of them have not eaten chicken, rice and beans for 7 straight days before.  most of them have not tied rebar with a piece of metal and a wire.  most of them have not ridden in traffic like the DR has to offer.  so, needless to say, there is always conversation about different perspectives that have been gained while on their mission trip.  this year i wanted our sports staff to have a similar experience by going on a trip to haiti. 
by going on this trip, our guys were in a very similar situation as an American group would be in the DR because they don't speak creole.  they don't usually sleep in tents.  they weren't able to eat their favorite rice, beans and chicken for lunch every day.  instead they ate fish, bread and popcorn.  the sun is much more intense in haiti.  there was no cold water to drink.  there was no electricity.  they bathed in the bay.  there was no colmado (corner store) to buy snacks.  so, at the end of the trip, i asked the guys to write about their experiences and here are a few quotes:
"this was a unique trip for me.  i was able to reflect upon how i need to value what i have rather than complain because the little that i do have would be considered a lot to other people.  God, forgive me"
"i learned that there are others that have greater need than i do"
"God will use anyone who is willing as an instrument to expand His Word.  if we are willing to sacrifice our time and show love to others, we can be an instrument of blessings to others"
"during this trip, i learned to help others in ways i didn't expect"
Many of these comments sound very similar to something an american says after returning from a
mission trip to a third world country.  the perspective i gained from this experience is that it doesn't matter if we come from the united states or if we are a dominican making less than $6,000 per year (like the majority of the sports staff that went on this trip), God really desires the same for all of us.  He wants us to see with His eyes.  feel with His hands.  think with His mind.  love with His heart.  speak with His words.  walk in His shoes.  serve with His humility.  believe with His faith.  hope with His confidence.  if we are able to live life with this kind of perspective, we will be able to endure all things, see the world as He sees it and serve Him well.     



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

be encouraged
in so many of Paul's letters to different peoples and churches he takes a moment to encourage because of the incredible testimonies that are being heard all over the world.  his encouragement always stems from the work God is doing through His people.  he uses words like, "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you" or "I thank my God every time I remember you".  the bottom line is, their faith and actions in the name of Jesus are being recorded and mentioned amongst a multitude of people and they are to be encouraged.  We want to take a moment to see if we can encourage you through this post. 
we often go through seasons where the difficult and awful things of this world consume us as we watch the news or receive prayer requests from friends and family.  as you all know, my dad was diagnosed with inoperable and incurable brain tumors this May.  it became easy for our hearts and minds to become focused on all of the other hardships that surrounded us (other family friends struggling with cancer, deaths of friends and family, desperate life situations in the Dominican and Haiti, financial hardships, crime, etc...)  but, thankfully God is passionate about renewal, redemption and restoration!!  he loves taking hard, difficult, dark situations and doing something so great so we can give Him the glory, honor and praise!  I hope the following words encourage you as I briefly share how God has used our situation (dad's illness) to reveal Himself and show that He is doing a mighty work amidst a difficult situation.

there are several UPS pilots that attend our home church in Louisville.  some of them have reported to us that as they fly all over the world, they stop and gather with others and pray for my dad.  that means there are people all over the world praying for my father. 

our oncologist is from Lebanon.  he is one of 15 children and has an amazing story of how his parents raised him to know God.  the most encouraging thing he told us throughout this whole process is that as doctors, they can only do so much to help cure my dad's illness, but the rest will be up to the "big man upstairs".  when we asked him if he has seen God do miracles, he said, "you can't be a doctor and not believe that God does miracles...we have seen it before."  this man has an opportunity to share this good news with many patients.

we receive at least 10 hand written cards from people all over the country every week encouraging my dad and the rest of our family to stay strong in our faith, hoping and believing that God can do all things.  people still hand write cards and send them to the sick.

because of dad's gentle personality he has been a relationship builder his entire life.  as I drove around town with him visiting his clients and banks, I saw people light up when he walked in the door.  bankers and clients hugged him and expressed their concern and said they were praying for him.  they said over and over how great it was to see him.  when he wasn't able to go with me on these errands, he told me who I needed to visit and where...most of whom had nothing to do with his business.  they were random employees in restaurants and banks that he shares a smile or a kind word with while he's on his daily routine.  people still have face to face fellowship and don't just bank online or send business emails.

our Dominican and Haitian brothers and sisters were with us at a conference when we received the news that dad had a mass in his brain.  as we have been back and forth between the states and the island, we have had countless people tell us they gather in prayer every week to pray for dad.  people stop me in the street (some that I barely know) and ask me how dad is doing.  people really do pray for one another when they say they are going to. 

I could continue, but my point is this, I am encouraged by the testimonies that are being recorded all over the world that there are faithful Believers that are hurting and celebrating together as one body...just as Christ called us to.  all of the sudden, when those dark feelings try to make their way into our day, I remember that God is alive and working through people all over His creation.  thank you to all of you for your faithfulness and love for dad.  if I were Paul, I would write a letter to all Believers saying this:

I think my God every time I remember you.  The love of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is being expressed through your actions and for this I am grateful.  His Gospel is being preached through your cards, prayers, phone calls, meals, hugs, tears and smiles.  God is blessing others through you and the central message of God's Word is manifesting itself in ways we never imagined.  I praise God for our partnership in the Gospel and that He has the final word! 

(the photo above is of the GO Ministries Board visiting dad at the house and praying over him)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

until that day
i've heard many people say that life is filled with different seasons.  with these seasons come many different events that cause an array of emotions.  often there is unspeakable joy.  sometimes heartache and sadness show up.  whatever the season may be, there are a few truths that cause hope, peace and trust to rule in our soul in a way that seems to direct our focus and perspective exactly where our hearts The Creator of all things good. 
over the past several years of serving with go ministries in the d.r. and haiti,  we have seen things that our simple minds can't handle.  some of those things have been awful sights of hunger, violence, sickness and injustice.  some have been miracles of healing, unimaginable grace, great provision and unconditional love.  at the center of all of our experiences, both wonderful and difficult, there is a powerful word that rings true over and over and it's RESTORATION.  21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. - Acts 3:21. 
we are in one of those seasons in life right now that has brought about some heartache and sadness.  one of those times that feels like everywhere you turn, every phone call you receive, every news article you read brings news of sickness, death, hurt and pain.  when my (Will) dad was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, our hearts sunk as we long dreaded the day of a difficult phone call from "back home".  we both love our families dearly and have said that the only true thing we felt like we sacrificed when moving out of the country was time with our incredible families.  when moments of hurt overwhelm us, when exhaustion overcomes dad's ability to walk and communicate, when fearful thoughts enter our minds, that powerful word works it's way back into our hearts and that very hope, peace and trust reigns.  restoration. 
there will be a day when there will be no more sickness.  there will be a day when there will be no more violence.  there will be a day when there will be no more pain. no more sadness.  no more hate.  no more injustice.  no more orphans.  no more fear.  no more dad's getting cancer.  no more kids longing for the love of absent parents.  no more brokenness.  there will be a day when HE returns and restores everything!
when the storm comes and seems to stay a while, a feeling of complacency may arrive and we feel like sitting in the rain until that day comes, but that hope, peace and trust doesn't allow us to just sit and wait.  as a body of believers, coheirs with Christ, we have been commissioned to be active in this restoration that God is so lovingly pursuing.  so rather than sitting and waiting for His return, we will be on our knees.  on our knees praying with great expectation and anticipation of the miracles that God is so capable of performing.  we will be on our feet.  on our feet sharing the love that Jesus so sacrificially showed for us on the cross so that we may have life and life in abundance.  we will extend our arms.  extend our arms towards our Creator.  extend our arms and embrace those that need to feel the love of Jesus that satisfies every ounce of emptiness or fear we may have.  and we will lift our heads.  lift our heads high and say with confidence that we trust in the Lord and He will make our paths straight. 
until that day, when Jesus comes to restore everything, we will choose to serve Him here on this earth and be in awe of the unimaginable ways He is working to restore His creation.  below is a little video i managed to capture of my incredible mom and dad worshipping together after dad's brain biopsy.  what more could a s on ask for!  this is hope.  this is peace.  this is trust.

for those of you wondering where we are and what we are doing.  we will be in the dominican republic june 24 - july 10,11 or 12th.  we will be hosting two teams and spending time with our incredible G.O. Ministries and Dominican/Haitian family.  we will then return to Louisville, Ky where our hands are needed with the Partin family.  we ask that you pray with us during this season.  pray for healing for Rob Partin, sr.  pray for hope, peace and trust.  pray for our hearts to be expectant that God will continue to do a mighty work in all of His children so that we can give Him all the glory, all the honor and all the praise.