Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Very Special Person

When I came here to the Dominican Republic the first time I never knew what I was getting myself into. In fact, there was a boy that was in the Children’s Home that, to be honest, I saw as just a punk who did not want anything to do with anyone.

Now, five years later that boy lives with me. His name is Jean Carlos de Peña.

Jean Carlos grew up in a very hard situation. His mother was not able to take care of him and had no other family that was able to. His grandfather is a minister and was one of the initial people to bring the Church of Christ to Santiago. At one point in his life he was living on the street with his mom and some of his siblings. His grandfather knew of the Children’s Home here and had him put in, along with two of his brothers and his sister. While here, the three boys rarely got to visit their family were normally left behind here when the other kids left for vacation.

When I came back as an intern, Jean Carlos was the only one of his siblings left here in the Home. Jenifer had left shortly after she arrived, Alberto left and went to the States to live, and Antonio left the Home shortly after Alberto had gone.

As I said before, he was usually left

behind when most of the kids had gone home. For this, he was here in the summers when there were not that many kids here.

It was that first summer that I got to know that punk kid who I had many two years back. He opened up his rock hard outer shell to show me a broken but huge heart inside. He was someone dying for attention and love.

God used this boy to open my heart to a new world. I am forever gra

teful to him and the way he allowed God to use him, even though he had no idea.

I have many stories of the time I have spent with him but a new development in our relationship has come up in the last month or so.

His brother, Antonio, was kicked out of the Children’s Home shortly after Alberto had left for the states. He was quite a terror from all that I hear. But even thru that, he was also someone who was looking for love and attention.
Thru my relationship with Jean Carlos I have been able to get back in touch with Antonio and create a new friendship with him.

Antonio is someone who needs prayers, like the rest of us. He is someone looking for God. He knows what the world has to offer him, but has realized that the worlds offerings will not fill his needs. To be honest, I did nothing. He came running, like the prodigal son, a few weeks back and God did the rest. He worked thru my amazing cousin, Weston, to be able to talk to him and help him find direction for his life. He is still working, as we all are, but making the right steps toward his Savior.

Thru Antonio we were able to go on this retreat this past weekend. God used Antonio to talk to Jean Carlos and something beautiful happened.

The last night of the retreat we had a beautiful devotional. Many people responded and as we were singing Antonio said he felt the urge to talk to Jean Carlos. They talked for a little bit and Jean Carlos responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ and was baptized. He could not even wait until Sunday and went right then with three other people to a very cold river and was baptized. It was beautiful.

I can not say that I did anything. God used me as a very small piece in the puzzle of many pieces.

I can not even begin to mention all the pieces of this puzzle, but I am so very thankful for everything that has been done for his boy and am so proud and excited to be able to say that he is now a brother in Christ.

Please pray for him in his new walk with Christ. He will fail, as we all do but help him to know that even when he falls or even runs away, he will always be welcome back into the family of God and will be right there for him to embrace him.

Dear God,

I could not be more happy. You have had in plans something very special for this boy named Jean Carlos. There have been so many pieces to this puzzle that have helped him to make the decision to give his life to you. I was a very small one, but I am grateful for the privilege to be one. Antonio was one, and for him I am grateful. Brian and Tammie were huge instruments in getting him here to the Home.

LORD, thank you so much for the decision Jean Carlos has made. Be with him in his walk with you. Hold his hand and help him to know that you are holding him even when he is turned the other way.

I love you everyday!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Terrific Weekend

A terrific weekend.

This past weekend I spent in Neiba, Dominican Republic. I went with the purpose of going to a retreat for young people from all over the country.

I had no idea about the retreat but Antonio told me about it and encouraged me and Jean Carlos to go with him.

On Wednesday, Jean Carlos and I went to Puerto Plata and spent the night with Antonio then left on Thursday for Santiago to meet up with their cousin, Wendy. We spent the day in Santiago visiting their family, including their mom, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and lots of friends from Santiago.

On Thursday we woke up around 2:30 AM to head to Neiba.

We were the first ones to arrive about six hours later.

Their camp is way up in the mountains and it was very cold but very relaxing and ve

ry fun.

The theme for the weekend was “Luciernagas” which is like a lighting bug. All weekend we talked about shining our light for Christ and reflecting his light onto others.

I met many awesome people. It was so encouraging to see how many people there are in this country who are desperately trying to follow Christ and what he has planned for them.

One of the leaders for the weekend was n

amed Christian. I spent a lot of time with him talking and getting to know his work and a lot of the work going on here in the Dominican.

The last night we were there we had invited many people from the community to come and here the lesson. Many people responded to the gospel

and were baptized, including someone very special to me, but a separate entry for that.

It truly was an amazing weekend and I pray and w

ait the next time that I will be able to meet up with these great people.

Dear LORD,

thank you so much for this weekend. I am so thankful to have been able to spend it with some amazing people. I am so thankful for all the people that made it possible

and made it go so well. Help me to shine and be your light to the world as we were talking about this weekend.
My prayer is one that I read that Mother Teresa used to always say:

“Dear LORD,

Help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.

Flood our souls with your Spirit and Light.

Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.

Shine thru us and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul.

Let them look up and no longer see us but only Jesus.

Stay with us and then, O LORD, we shall begin to shine as you shine. So to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O LORD, will be all from you, non

e of it will be ours. It will be you shining on others thru us.

Let us thus praise you in the way you love best by shining on those around us.

Let us preach you without preaching. Not by words, but by our example. The catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do.

The evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you.”