Sunday, February 26, 2012


The candle lit the small outdoor shack which housed the fugon, a small cement stove that many Dominicans use to cook.  The room was small but my friends and I crowded in hoping to make ourselves a pot of coffee.  My friend Moreno grabbed some firewood and began stoking the small fire that must of been started earlier in the evening.  Soon smoke filled the room and flames started leaping through the wood.  A pot of water was put over the fire.  While we waited we sat and listened to my friend Melvin's dad share stories from his life.  Once the water had boiled, coffee was added to the hot water and we waited some more.  Melvin's dad shared another story.  The coffee finished boiling and was poured from the pot through a small filter into each cup individually.  Finally, an hour after initially deciding to have coffee, we sat in the shed and enjoyed the warm black liquid together.

As I sat there enjoying my warm coffee and listening to Melvin's dad start into another story, I couldn't help but think about the process of making coffee.  Back at my house, I could have simply put some grounds into a filter, thrown some water into the machine, and flicked on a button.  Five minutes later, a pot of black coffee would be waiting for me.  Here, the process had taken over an hour and had required more work and attention, yet nobody seemed to be bothered by the length of time we waited.  Somehow, it was as if everybody simply knew that making coffee was about more than just the end product, it was about enjoying the process.  It was about sharing time with people, sharing stories, and enjoying the smell of the coffee brewing on the open fire.  

While waiting for a cup of coffee seems like such an insignificant event, it was a personal reminder for me that God works through the processes of life. That he is refining me, molding me, and shaping me through the process of life.  That finished products don't happen overnight but are fashioned over time.  That God is forming me perfectly and that I am to take joy in that.  He desires that I would be joyful as I hang out with friends, enjoy the beauty of this country, and watch as women's businesses grow and provide abudantly.  He desires that I would be joyful as I spend 20 hours trying to get internet at my house (doesn't mean you can't get upset), take a man to the hospital after a motorcycle accident, and as I struggle to clearly communicate important details during a bank meeting.  May each of you continue to find joy in the processes of life, whether good or bad, as God continues to form us into his likeness.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


As I sit here in my apartment, I once again listen to the rain pounding the pavement on the road outside. While I love listening to the rain from inside my comfortable apartment, the rain here is continually causing inconveniences for life outside.  I almost always ride my motorcycle to places when the sun is showing its beautiful face only to have it start pouring down rain an hour later leaving me stranded wherever I am.  Sometimes the rain catches me in the middle of a drive soaking my clothes, my backpack and me.  The dirt roads become nothing more than a sea of mud puddles which if you are not careful leave your shoes and jeans looking like a puddle as well.  It negatively impacts businesses; it changes my plans; and overall it makes things messy.

As it poured down rain one morning this week, I sat in my office and God brought to my mind Isaiah 55.  "As the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for what I sent it."  I always liked this verse because it always reminded me of fresh buds which would bring spring flowers and new green vegetation.  Yet somehow I never really thought about the entire process.  I never focused on the muddy process of the melting snow and pouring rain that made it possible for those things to grow.

Liliana has 4 kids, a husband who drinks way too much and doesn't help enough, and recently just started a second business in order to further provide for her family.  She starts her work day at 5:00 AM and ends it at 8:00 PM.  She finishes her day, falls into bed only to wake up and do it all over again, not just 5 days a week but 7.  She desperately wants a better life for her and her kids and that dream drives her to move forward.

Sila has 8 grandchildren that live around her house.  She works at an orphanage making a small amount of money in order to provide for her family.  She saves when she can but rarely has any money left over.  Recently, she got very sick and spent three weeks in the ICU at the local hospital.  Not only where the medical bills expensive but it cost her three weeks of work as well.  Her grandkids roam the streets during the day with almost no parental support and sometimes just skip school all together. 

I could continue to fill these pages with similar stories of woman with messy lives.  However, as I have been here, as I have see the rain come in many of the woman's lives, I can see God working through the muddy mess that the rain has caused. Sometimes a small flower is beginning to bloom.  Sometimes a plant is just beginning to poke its head at the ground and sometimes I still only see the muddy puddles.  Yet in all these situations I continue to cling to His promise; for the rain and the messes of life "will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for what I sent it."