We are now reunited as a team after Rodney and Rhodes Gephardt picked us up from the base on Sunday afternoon. Rodney and Rhodes are pioneering a YWAM base in Azua, DR. They are currently renting a beach house with a beautiful view of the ocean. Unfortunately, the view looking at the actual house requires a bit of your imagination. I can totally see it… after some time, hard work, and money put into it. I’m not dogging their efforts. Just days before we got here, there was zero electricity, no toilets, no running water, an empty pool, overgrown trees, bushes and grass everywhere, no mattresses, wasp nests all over inside. The 4 guys that came here before us got to work with Jose (the only other staff member here), and cut down some of the overgrowth, got rid of the wasps (mostly), cleaned the pool and filled it, got mattresses. Jose is doing a great job as the resident plumber/electrician/security/all around handy-man. Something we weren’t expecting was the swarms of mosquitos and biting gnats. They are so RUDE!!!! I was swimming today and stopped counting when I got to 50 on just my right leg. Bug spray doesn’t really help much, mosquito nets to do a certain extent, as do long pants and long sleeves. But it’s so hot, that kind of protection is almost unbearable. Most of us sleep outside with most of the boys on the roof and us girls on the second level porch on bunk beds with mosquito nets strung on them. The breeze coming off the ocean is pretty great!! It even gets chilly during the night. Jose had a guy to help get the bees out of an outbuilding on Sunday and he brought us part of the honeycomb dripping with sticky, golden sweetness. That was a pretty legit experience!!
Monday, Rodney set it up for some guides to take us to a hidden treasure of Azua – a beautiful waterfall. So Kelvin took, Nate, Robert, Desure, Wiclif, and I on an hour and a half hike to an amazing waterfall. The first time we crossed the river, most of us took our shoes off, but by the third time, most of us just left them on. The hike was gorgeous, but I would have to remind myself to look up and take in the view, while still paying attention to where I was stepping. I’ve become notorious for falling quite often, so I had to hold on to someone as I crossed the river many times and sometimes on rocks that were not steady to walk on, especially in wet, slippery Toms. At one point, we walked about 30 feet on a water pipe that crosses the river, it got kind of shaky with all of us on it, and I came close to falling twice. The falls are so beautiful and I was once again blown away by the Lord and His beauty and His love of beauty. There’s something about running water that’s just so refreshing. On the way back, we decided to count how many times we crossed the river because it felt like a lot on the way there. A couple of our guides (barefoot, I might add) practically ran the entire trail, and on the way back, I was having a bit of a hard time keeping up. I kept thinking, ‘oh, man, I better stretch out my legs good when we get back.’ I noticed that I’m not as light on my feet as I once was. I caught myself thinking, ‘why do I have pain in my joints like an old person?’ Then I remembered that I’m not like 16 or 17 anymore. I realize that 25 is not that old, and I still feel really young, but I also realize that my body has probably left its peak performance in the dust. It makes me want to be in better shape. It’s kind of hard to have the desire to work out here in the Caribbean where it’s hot and you’re sweaty much of the day without doing anything let alone working out. Plus, I can’t really run around Azua by myself. So I’ve determined to eat as healthy as I’m able to here and work on getting in better shape when I get home where I can run to my heart’s content (which is actually not that far, if I’m honest, but as I get more used to it, the distance grows).
This week, we’re going to be doing ministry with Raoul, a Dominican pastor that also runs a school. I think there are about one hundred kids there from 2 ½ yrs to 14 or 15, I believe. All of the kids there are troubled in some way, they either have learning disabilities or behavioral problems and most have been kicked out of other schools and this is their last option for school. Raoul, his wife, and their staff welcome these kids and show them the love of Jesus. We will be doing other ministry with Raoul this week at his school, church, small groups and Bible studies.
The 3 Haiti teams will be joining us here at YWAM Azua on Monday, and then we will be leaving on the 13th to go to our next location. Since God closed the door on Guatemala, Robert, Nate and I have been praying about where the next step is. I think we will make the decision today. Check my Facebook for some photos!!!