As many of you know, Andrew and I made the decision to move our family to the Dominican Republic at the end of October 2016. Then in early November, Andrew officially accepted a position as the director at Caribbean Mountain Academy in the Dominican Republic.
Prior to getting married in 2008, Andrew and I had a very frank conversation about where we felt that God was leading us. We both had a heart for people, and knew we wanted to serve in a ministry capacity but we weren’t entirely sure what that would look like. Both of us felt that we wanted to work with youth, and I specifically wanted to pursue counseling. I remember very distinctly having a conversation with Andrew that went something like this,
Andrew: “Do you feel called to foreign missions at all?”
Erin: “No, I never have. There are too many hurting people here! Do you?”
Andrew: “No, not at all.”
Erin: “Okay, that’s good.”
Shortly after this conversation Andrew began working at Lifeline Youth and Family Services at a residential boys home. He loved it! After we got married, I worked for a year at a crisis pregnancy center while I waited to turn 21. Once I was 21 I applied, and soon after began working at Lifeline as well. There we have remained until now.
For about a year prior to the Dominican Republic opportunity coming up, I had begun feeling a great deal of unrest where we were. Some of that had to do with having divided interests with family rearing and continuing at Lifeline, but I really believe God was beginning to transition my heart away from Lifeline. In May of 2016, Andrew forwarded me a job posting for the directors position. I emailed back and said, “Nah, I don’t want to move to the Dominican Republic”. A few weeks later he emailed me again and told me he talked to the hiring VP, and really wanted to apply. We talked about it that night, and I was hesitant on the timing because I was at that point 7 months pregnant with our fourth baby, and feeling a bit overwhelmed already. I told him if he felt strongly about it, he should apply. He did. He felt the interview went really well. We started really talking about what the move would mean for our family, and what we would need to do to get there. I even felt a little bit of excitement, and then…. Nothing.
We assumed that the hiring VP had chosen someone else, and so we moved on in every way. Naomi was born, I began a Masters program, Malachi was enrolled in preschool, and things were moving along smoothly. Then Andrew called and told me he was asked if he was still interested in the position. We both sat through a second interview, and were scheduled for a trip down to see the ministry in action. The trip was a whole six weeks away, and it seemed like an eternity. As we prayed about it, we knew that this was likely our next step, but meeting the staff and the clients and experiencing the impact being made really confirmed it.
So, here we are.
On the way home from Pennsylvania (where our kids had stayed with family while we were gone), we listened to a few songs on repeat that repeat this concept of walking on waves, like Peter did when Jesus was approaching the boat. Peter asked if he could walk out to Jesus, but once his feet touched the water he took his eyes off of Jesus, and looked instead at the waves. He was immediately terrified, and cried out to Jesus in fear because he was beginning to sink. This concept has been powerful imagery for me as I consider all of the ramifications of moving not only myself, but my four small kiddos to a country that I do not know. Where Andrew and I will need to learn a language that we do not understand. And seek to understand and appreciate a culture that is not our own. I won’t say that every day is awesome, and I only feel excited because that is far from the truth. There have been many growing pains in the process. However, in the last few years I have been challenged and stretched in some hugely impactful ways and I have learned some very important preparatory things.
1.) We do not want to waste our lives. In 2014, I lost my Mom to cancer and she was only 56. That was (and is) hard, but through her life and death, she taught me an important thing: lives lived faithfully for Jesus make an eternal impact. I want my legacy to be one that points others to my Savior.
2.) Home isn’t found in places or things, but in people, and ultimately in Jesus. As we consider what things to keep or sell/give away I am learning that those things are not home! I love my house, but it’s not my home.
3.) Even if. Habakkuk 3 talks about a list of terrible things happening, and through each of those things over and over it says, “even if”… “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in my God, my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength…”
So, Andrew and I will lift our eyes above those waves, and look to the author and perfecter of our faith. Because these short lives we have been given, will be lived for Jesus alone.