Around the World, Day 3: Snapshots from the Dominican Republic

My Dad’s cousin Joyce has two daughters who have moved to the DR, married and made it their home. I enjoyed learning a few things about life there. Praying for your family as you continue to minister!

Bread is a main stay of a Dominican diet along with rice and beans. I asked why this bread is orange colored, but never got an answer. When we were told we were going to tour a bakery this is not exactly what I pictured. We were taken down into this dark basement room. The dough was mixed and shaped into this flat bread and the trays put into this oven. The oven has a kind of elevator in it- that the loaves are continually in motion going around and around until done. If the electricity is off, a man has to crank it by hand. He has to sit right beside the oven so that is a very hot job. When the bread is done it is dumped into blue plastic barrels and then onto a table to be packaged in long plastic sleeves. We have seen motorcycles loaded with bread–a long stick behind the driver with sleeves of bread hanging out both sides.

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The outreach at La Mayita–David–our son-in-law -is pastor of a church of the brethren in Los Toros. About a year ago they decided to start having children’s ministry in La Mayita once a month. La Mayita is a town that has formed when the government moved people down from a mountain town, so they are closer to the road and hopefully can make more money. So far most of their income is from shelling a bean that is similar to our soybeans and if they can get enough people in the family to help, they can make maybe $5 in a day. Anyway David’s church has to hire a truck to haul–generator, benches, chairs, people to La Mayita and that costs about $15 so they could only do it once a month. While David and Jewel were with us for 2 months this summer a church here offered to sponsor the cost of hiring the truck so now they go out once a week. Jewel soon realized that talking to kids about Jesus who are hungry for physical food didn’t work real well so they have also been taking food along. The youth from their church have really helped with this project. Also while David and Jewel were here this summer she got sponsors for 20 kids from La Mayita to be able to attend the school that their church has in Los Toros. When Jewel was interviewing parents about sending their children–mothers asked her if they could also attend as they didn’t know how to read.

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When Jewel first talked about taking the youth of their church camping –I thought what a strange idea. Many have outhouses and cook over a fire outside already so why go camping? Earlier this year when Tim and I were in the DR we went camping with them and I now know why. Everyone was so excited! We pitched 10 tents–several for the boys and several for the girls and then several for married couples. The kids enjoyed many games of volleyball, holey board, horse shoes etc. They also went swimming in the river. Everyone pitched in to cook–spaghetti, plantains, chicken, hot chocolate. And now they count on Jewel to bring hot dogs to roast over the fire.

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Our experience in the DR has been very positive and we are humbled by the examples of sharing and giving by those who have so little of the things we often take for granted or think are important.

Blessings—Joyce Sheeler

Bonus pic:

Our 2 year old Granddaughter Amber is will to help with daily household chores 😉 Mopping the floor and laundry… Editors note: notice the laundry lady’s flip-flops 😂

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Around the World: Day 2 ~Nicaragua~ Traveling Stranger

My Cousin Sarah has moved to Nicaragua while her husband continues his medical training. Your thoughts here challenged me, Sarah! Blessings to you!

The traveling stranger seems to always be someone else. It is the newcomer, who carries a story and knowledge of another culture, entering my familiar circles. However, these days I am the stranger.
Our group consisted of four Nicaraguans (two nurses and two nursing students), three doctors from Spain, and one American…..me. My desire to learn Spanish and to work alongside my husband got me into this set of circumstances, and I was coming to realize that the passion in my heart did not prepare me for how foreign one may feel. Yet I knew this feeling was good for me. Did the others around me realize our uniqueness too? They sure did.

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We split into two groups to go from home to home giving medication and education out in the countryside surrounding León, Nicaragua. The one nurse, a jolly man named Carlos, called out to the group of doctors, “Presenting the group of Spaniards!” Then he gestured at me, part of his group and exclaimed, “Presenting the group of Americans!” Everyone laughed and I had to grin too…We were an interesting bunch.

My little group walked up to a home where the man of the house was resting back on his horse cart with a pillow. He immediately arose to welcome us. Carlos happily seated himself, and the other nurse and I sat down on the cart too. Our host soon brought us some warm corn on the cob, cooked over their leña (firewood.) The rich flavor of the corn was a pleasant surprise—no butter necessary!

It did not matter that I could not understand every word spoken. I did understand that Carlos was happy to rest awhile here in the breezy shade and chat with these folk in the relaxed Nicaraguan manner. Eventually we discussed health and education and traveled on our way.

At times I could feel the curious glances of the doctors from Spain…who was this strange lady in a scrub top, cape dress, and hanging veil? One of the doctors could speak some English, and, in a mixture of Spanish and English, we had an enjoyable conversation as we walked the sandy road. Later I overheard her telling the other doctors why I was along and what I was doing here. For some reason, humans retain the ability to know when they are being discussed even across the barrier of culture and language. And, no, the unnerving feeling does not change.

As we walked and talked, Carlos acted as tour guide and rattled off the names of the volcanoes rising in the distance, the titles of the communities we were in, and identification of the agriculture in the fields beside us. And I couldn’t help but think: After two and a half months of living here, I can name one of the volcanoes correctly, and my home is on this Nicaraguan countryside. I am becoming familiar with this place! But as I bumped back to town on the public bus, the words to a well-known song circled in my head…“I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger…”

And the truth is I am a traveling stranger. Every day. Every hour. This world is not my home: I am headed to a heavenly city. Ah, what joy! What delight in the thought!

But what about my neighbors, what about those stylish doctors, and what about the Nicaraguan medical team who so cordially welcomed me? They are traveling too; albeit perhaps unaware.

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Paul’s words to Timothy are a comfort, revival, and source of strength for me to keep pushing heavenward and to be about the work God wants me to do. Really it is okay if every day I am living a cultural experience and frequently feeling like I’m on an adventure. I am a traveling stranger.

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God…For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast… in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” *Selections from II Timothy 1: 6-14. NKJV.

-Sarah Martin

Introductory Thoughts on Culture

Culture- that which defines a group of people, the way they think, their world view, the habits and practices they have, their holidays, their individual idiosyncrasies

What is your culture? No- don’t say you don’t have one- this is something like a personality- we all are blessed with this and it makes us unique.
I am a conservative Anabaptist. (Christian most importantly) I am a farm girl, living in the Shenandoah Valley. Talk about a cultural smorgasbord. It is good to analyze myself upon occasion. My way of life makes perfect sense to me. I know (for the most part) what is expected and acceptable: I know where it’s ok to wear barn boots (to the barn) and when dress shoes are appropriate. I know when it’s ok to buy baked goods at the Bakery and when it’s better to make them at home (if you at least remove the Wal-Mart sticker- that helps) I know that a card in the mail is a wonderful day brightener. I know that it’s fun to have company- but it’s best to have a phone call to arrange a visit. If your not planning to stay- just stop by on an errand- this rule is hits the gray area. I know that if someone invites you for a meal- it’s a good thing to take a small gift as a token of your appreciation. I know that when dessert is served, you must painstakingly wait until all guests are served, and the host picks up his fork. (Ice cream is the exception) I know that a proper greeting is “Hi how are you” and the correct answer is always “I’m fine, thanks. How are you”. This makes sense to me. This is how “we” do it.

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And guess what? “We” does not include include all the world. In fact, it doesn’t include many people at all. Maybe part of these would agree with your list- maybe not. I know for me it’s easy to get into the rut of assuming that “my way” is “the way”. SURPRISE- it’s not. There is so much to be gained by looking around us and appreciating each other for who we are. That’s not to say that as a Christian- I can fully embrace every cultural practice out there. Some things are wrong. We need to go to Scripture and examine things thru God’s Eyes and pray for wisdom and the ability to Love like He does.

I’ve been trying to sort out the difference in Culture and Traditions. In a lot of ways- they are the same. “We are shaped by culture, transmit culture, influence it and reshape it” as we pass it on to the next generation. (Thanks DNI workshop 2/15 for your wisdom on this subject) Tradition is “the handing down of beliefs, opinions, customs and stories, especially by word of mouth or practice.

I know that God loves different cultures. As I think about the differences in the worship services I’ve attended- can you imagine how much variety it is for Him when His children cry out to Him in their own unique way? This is a few random prayer times that I’ve experienced in the recent past…

Mississippi Southern Baptist prayer: The preacher is praying and the congregation is all joining in…. “And We ask- if there’s been anything ANYTHING yes anything,Jesus that has been shared today MmmHmm that isn’t purely Scriptural Yes Jesus We ask you to remove it and throw into the depths yes Lord of the sea That’s right the very depths, Praise Jesus….”

Latino Apostolic Pre-service Prayer: Everybody prays. Some standing, some kneeling. Everyone deeply involved in their own prayers. Praying audibly at the same time. Because of the language barrier- I don’t catch much, cept “Gloria a Dios” and “Cristo” and “Santo, Santo, Santo” (holy, holy, holy) The noise level rises and falls. Sometimes crying, sometimes, clapping… Worship

Amish House Church Service: Again a huge language barrier, but my wimpy back is relieved when everyone drops off of their backless benches to kneel for prayer. The prayer is led by a minister and goes on until my feet protest. Suddenly everyone scrambles to their feet and facing the back of the building for an unknown amount of time. And as the prayer concludes, everyone does a small knee bow, so the entire congregation appears to do a small hop. And the prayer concludes.

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Such a wide variety of people with very similar needs, expressing themselves through worshiping the same Almighty Heavenly Father.

 He Reigns by Peter Furler and Steve Taylor

It’s the song of the redeemed rising from the African plain. It’s the song of the forgiven drowning out the Amazon rain,the song of Asian believers filled with God’s holy fire. It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation, a love song born of a grateful choir.

It’s all God’s children singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns.”

Let it rise above the four winds, caught up in the heavenly sound. Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals to the faithful gathered underground. Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation, some were meant to persist.Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples, none rings truer than this.

All God’s children singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns, He reigns.”

And all the powers of darkness tremble at what they’ve just heard. ‘Cause all the powers of darkness can’t drown out a single word When all God’s children sing out, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns, He reigns.”

Blessings- Kendra

Tell me a Story

“Once upon a time when Father was a little, little boy” I wonder how many times I heard this growing up. All stories started this way and usually went into some elaborate tale about Aunt Martha Ann and Aunt Ella Rose and Aunt Thelma Jean and the hero, of course, the fearless only brother. But I learned a lot through those stories, of life when my dad was younger. About his family, their area and what meant the most to them. And though lots of things have changed, the memories don’t. And neither does the reality- I still love stories.

I’m not sure when I first noticed different cultures… My parents hosted Fresh Air Children before I arrived so my world was interspersed with that from the beginning. Our church sponsored several Ukrainian families in the early 90s. Their daughters always wore such beautiful bows in their hair, and they gave us a number of these beautiful silky red and pink bows. We would BEG mother to put them in our hair… But somehow they always looked a lot more dismal on us than they did on them. Regardless we wore them with pleasure. (Mother is just telling me that once she relented and let me wear a bow to church and everybody wondered who that new Ukrainian girl was- so she must have gotten the art down pat eventually- lol)

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Our family hired one of the young men to help on the farm. Victor K. We girls loved him, which brings me to what I think is my first cross cultural memory: Victor’s parents made it to America several years after their children had arrived. And our congregation gathered in the church basement to welcome them and celebrate. Somehow Victor’s mom figured out who my dad was and everybody stood around and smiled as she met him. Apparently she was grateful for his influence in Victor’s life, because she grabbed his face and kissed one cheek and then the other back and forth until her head covering (the Ukrainian ladies wore a thin scarf) fell off… As a young girl I was wide-eyed… And falling totally in love with the beauty of different cultures.

So in order to celebrate this on a local and international level- Paradise Mounting Musings is hosting a story time. I want to hear from you. What has been your cultural experiences with your neighbor down the road or on the foreign field? I’m planning to post a story a day until we are out of stories- so email me- kdh.farmersdaughter@gmail.com

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Let’s learn together and celebrate as we share how beautifully unique God has created us! Looking forward to hearing from you! Blessings- Kendra