Saturday, March 24, 2012


I pulled out of the airport taking the well lit road towards the highway being careful to slow down for all the random speed bumps that were, for whatever reason, placed in the middle of nowhere. I turned onto the entrance ramp and slowly merged onto the deserted highway.  It was 1:30 a.m. and apparently everyone else had already decided to call it a night.  My friend Mark and I didn't have that luxury as we had dropped Mark's friend off at the airport for his 3 a.m flight.  Mark and I sat silently as we continued along the highway in my green Honda CRV.  In the distance I noticed a man run out into the middle of the road waving a flashlight.  As we got closer, I saw that it was two uniformed police officers so I pulled over as they instructed.  I sat in the car nervously wondering what I did wrong as one of the uniformed officers walked around to the drivers side door carrying a very large shotgun.

I rolled down my window and the officer pleasantly greeted us.  He asked me for my license and the documentation for my car.  I gave him both and he took them not even bothering to look at either.  He began explaining to me that him and his partner were responsible for protecting the people of this area.  I knew full well that he only wanted a bribe but I sat there quietly not moving or saying a word.  Even after he had finished talking, I continued to sit quietly playing dumb.  Unfortunately, I already knew I had given myself away at the beginning as I had been speaking in Spanish with him.  Frustrated with me, the officer looked right at me and simply said, I'm not going to leave until you give me something for protecting the people in this area.  I thought about continuing to pretend I didn't understand but the shotgun in his hands along with the corruption of the justice system here persuaded me otherwise.  I pulled out my wallet and gave him some cash.  He handed my license and documents back and told me to have a good night.  

As I pulled away, anger started churning inside of me like a bad stomach ache.  How the crap do they call that justice? Those guys are not protecting anybody.  They are simply sitting beside the road and robbing the people they claim to protect.  Just thieves in good guy uniforms.  The rest of the 40 minute drive home, I thought about all the things that I would have liked to ask him.  "Are all cops just selfish jerks like you?  Do you have any respect for your country or for any of the people in it?  Did you become a cop just so you could rob people?  Do you have any idea what your uniform symbolizes and stands for?"

Thankfully when I got home I was exhausted enough from the day to fall asleep.  However, even to this day, a full two weeks later, I feel the anger that rises up inside of me when I remember the situation.  I don't feel angry about the money he stole but mostly about the fact that he was an incredibly unjust man in a uniform that represented justice.  However, over the past two weeks I've wondered often if I'm that different from the police officer I encountered. I tell people I am a Christian and it is a uniform that represents justice.  I may not have intentions to use my uniform to steal from people or deliberately treat people unjustly but sometimes I simply forgot what my uniform symbolizes or that I'm wearing my uniform at all.  I think God must be fairly angry when I wear his uniform yet my actions don't line up with that uniform or when I simply haven't spent the time to know what it represents.  

May God help me to remember:

That God's justice is showing grace and mercy to those who don't deserve it.  (even the police officer who robs from the people.)  Zechariah 7:9-10

That God's justice is doing to others as you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12

That God's justice is not being partial to the poor or deferring to the great, but judging with justice.  Leviticus 19:15

That God'd justice is loosing the chains of injustice and untying the cords of the yoke, setting the oppressed free and breaking every yoke, sharing your food with the hungry and providing the poor wanderer with shelter---when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood. Isaiah 58:6-7

That God's justice is leaving a position of authority, becoming humble and making yourself nothing, becoming a servant, and dying a painful and undeserved death.  Phillipians 2:5-8

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Alive and Kicking

 It is officially Day 58 for me in the DR and that seems crazy to say.  In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday that I anxiously sat on a plane wondering what the next several months would hold yet in other ways, it seems like I have been down here for much longer.

I have officially settled in to my apartment down here.  It was an incredible blessing to move into an apartment with all my furniture and appliances ready to use.  Ryan Holloway, the previous Microfinance Director lived with me for the first three weeks, followed by several weeks of living alone before my friend Mark arrived a few weeks ago to be my new roommate.   My apartment is much too big for just me so thankfully through Super Bowl parties, a weekly Guacomole and TV night, new roommates, and friends, God has sent people to fill the empty spaces.  Another gift that God has given me so far is a fun group of Dominican guys to spend time with.  They enjoy doing things outdoors and we especially enjoy driving dirt bikes through the mountains.  It has been incredible to drive through the dirt roads of the mountains and simply the beauty of God’s creation.

Overall, while adjusting to living down here has gone smoothly, it has not been without its challenges and frustrations as well.  Many times, simple tasks become long drawn out tests of my patience.  About a month ago, I went to a communication services company called Claro in search of internet service for my apartment.  Since this is a large company here in the DR, I figured that it would be a quick and painless process.  I’ve never been more wrong.  3 trips to the service center in Jarabacoa, 3 round trips to the service center in La Vega (35 minute drive), 5 ½ hours of waiting, 3 hours of working with service reps, leaving in the middle of a meeting to meet a service technician and 3 phone calls later I finally had internet.  Other unfortunate events have been my car breaking down 45 minutes away at the airport, hitting a guy on a motorcycle with my car and killing a dog on my dirt bike within 4 hours of each other, and being stopped by a cop for doing nothing wrong yet not being allowed to leave until I gave him a bribe.

The first several months of working at the MF (Microfinance) site have been excellent.  While language barriers and a lack of technical and cultural knowledge have definitely made the site challenging at times, I have greatly enjoyed my work.  Over the past two months, Miriam, the Dominican lady I work with, and I have planned for the vision of the site, implemented a new accounting system, created a new banking group with Student’s International national staff, and hosted two teams of students.  While all that work has been fun for me personally, the most rewarding parts have been the personal contact that I have made within the banks.  Whether it has been helping Ramona begin her dream of building her own house, business coaching with Liliana as she starts a new restaurant, or simply spending an afternoon chatting with Frankely, the 22 year old son of one of our associates who was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident last summer, it has been neat for me to see the way that the site is able to not only care for people’s financial needs but also address their emotional and spiritual needs as well. 

There is much more that could be said but I think I will save it for another letter as my computer is going die soon and I currently don’t have electricity at my house.  Thank you for all of you that have updated me on what has been going on in your life and for those of you that have been praying for me.  Continue to pray for the MF site that we would continue to become more like Jesus in both the personal connections and administrative tasks.  Continue to ask that the Holy Spirit would lead me and guide me as I lead and guide this site.  May God’s glory be made evident in the actions of our lives as we continue to rest in the joy our salvation.  I love you all.