She's the one in the middle grabbing the bucket of cement.

Chiqui (pronounced "cheeky," don't worry, here real name is Elizabeth) is a member of the Mission Emanuel staff. She recently went to the ministry director and asked for help with her house. He explained that there's really not any extra money for that, but they could pray.

A few days later, Javier gets a call saying that a group from Ohio would like to donate money toward a home for a specific child if possible. A girl named Viviana whose smile can light up a room. It just-so-happens that Vivi's mom is Chiqui. Javier runs to Chiqui's house to tell her the good news.

So I shouldn't have been surprised to see her in the middle of the bucket line as we poured the concrete stairs and roof. The OSUers loved on Chiqui and she loved on us. At the end of the week, she even made habichuelas con dulce for the entire group.

If you think about it, pray for Chiqui, Manuel, and their 3 kids. They're living with her mom until the house is finished this summer.


She's graduating from Wake Forest University in May. She's looking for something to do this summer and after her wedding in September. She's really interested in the work of the Women's Co-Op. She speaks Spanish and loves to translate.

So, when she asked if she could do anything with Mission Emanuel, it took all of two seconds to say, "YES!"

I'm so thankful to have met Caroline a few weeks ago. I can't wait to work with her more this summer and into the next year.

Don't you just love it when God answers a prayer you didn't even know you had?


The first time we went to the DR, we were co-leaders with our friend, Amy. Like us, Amy decided to sponsor a child in the Mission Emanuel school. His name is Randy. I remembered because we would always roll the "R" when we said his name, "Rrrrrandy." Since returning to the DR, I had lost track of Randy. I knew he was still in the school, but just never saw him on my trips.

Then, in October, I was walking up the hill to the church and I saw a boy playing in the street. I looked at him, smiled, and asked, "Como te llamas?" "Randy," was his reply. Randy! Amy's Randy. Not knowing what to say, I just smiled and took a few pictures of him with his buddies. When I got back to States, I double-checked with Amy. Yep, that was him.

It just-so-happens that Amy's best friend, Becky, was on the trip with me this last time. So, we made sure that we would find Randy and take a picture of them together for Amy. Our first afternoon in the community, we're walked by the same spot I saw Randy last time, and there he was. We stopped and I introduced Randy to Becky. After telling him her name, I asked if he remembered Amy. He looked at us, muttered something, and ran into his house. A minute later, he comes back out with a framed picture of him and Amy. I guess that answers that. We proceeded to go into his house, meet his family, and try our best to talk.

For the rest of the week, Randy was pretty possessive over Becky. She would play with other kids, and he would swat them away saying that she is the best friend of "his American." Needless to say, Randy wants to know when Amy's coming back. Amy, if you're reading this, Randy's ready for a new picture with you. And Becky too.

Neela's friends

This is not the promised story about the DR, but I assure you, it's coming. I just had to show you what Neela found when she went out first thing this morning.

(notice the snow in the background)

Looks like they're ready for summer too. And yes, Neela almost fell in the pool trying to get them. They flew away before she succeeded.

Spring Break in Heaven

I love college students. I loved being a college student myself and maybe that's why I love them so much. They're fun, easy-going, and jump in with both feet. So to be able to spend two weeks (one for Justin) of their spring break with them was amazing.

First came three groups: Wake Forest University, Salem State College, and college students and twenty-somethings from Florida. It was great to be with some old friends and many new. It was similar to a homecoming for me because mine and Justin's first trip to the DR in 2004 was with Emmaus, the college ministry of First Pres Church in Winston-Salem. As great as it was to see my Winston friends, I was elated to have 4 of my fellow Bostonians on the trip. With Sean, Shawna, Nicole, and Becky coming as first-timers, it was evidence of how far God has brought us in such a short time. Becky is in seminary with Justin and started a college ministry here on the North Shore. Sean, Nicole, and Shawna are students at Salem State and participate in the ministry that is only in its second year. Seeing the four of them in the DR confirmed in my heart the reason we moved up here in the first place. It was never just about seminary. It was also about college students. But that's a whole other subject.

Back on track...the second week brought a small group of 18 from Ohio State. They aptly named their trip "Spring Break in Heaven" because of the name of the community being Cielo meaning "heaven" in Spanish. Only three of them had been to the DR before, two of them being the adults who were asked to accompany the students since so many of them were new. As soon as they stepped on the ground, their excitement was contagious. They worked hard everyday and played even harder. I loved watching the children in the community as they embraced them with open arms (which is usually the case, but there's something different about the way they relate to college students).

As I type, I'm thinking of so many stories that I could write about our time there, but I'm afraid it will get lost in the length of this post. So, instead, I think I'll commit to writing one of the stories everyday until I run out. For now, you can enjoy the pictures I took from the two weeks.

(Click here to go directly to the album)

Beans with sweet

We just returned from a week in the DR with our new friends from Ohio State. Pictures will most likely follow with Holly giving you a much better blog entry than I could. But the lasting image in my mind (and taste on my tongue) was the traditional Holy Week snack/meal called "Habichuelas con dulce," or "beans with sweet," or just simply, sweet beans.

Sweet beans are a stewed mixture of beans, sauce, sugar, potatoes and more sugar. I can see why they love them. But every time I think about them I get a little nauseous. Yes. Even now. Gotta go.

meet our friends

I don't think I've told you blog readers about our friends, Mandy and Drew. He's a fellow seminarian and she's a librarian by day/rock star by night. They're from the South too, so we've come to enjoy each other's company as we adjust to New England life. (You probably think we'd be fully acclimated after a year and a half. We're not. A little, maybe.) Of our many activities together, we've:
-been in Bible Study together (not all 4 of us, but 2 and 2)
-gone to IMAX and many other movies
-eaten countless places
-played Catan, Munchkin, and paper/rock/scissors
-spent a weekend watching a whole season of 24
-played in the snow

They also dogsit for us and M & N love them. The best is when they try to lick Mandy's hands. She hates it.

So, I thought you should know that we're in good company up here. And if you wonder what they look like...

"Hello. I'm a ?"

Well, it's official. Justin and I are now on opposing sides. He's on the left. I'm on the right. Except I'm a girl and he's definitely not a nerd like the guys in the ad, but you get the idea.

Yes, I got my very first Mac on Friday. I'm as shocked as you are. I mean, obviously, I've always thought Macs are much cooler and I'd like to have one. But I never thought I'd be owning one this decade.

It all changed when I realized I need a laptop for work. You see, I'm taking on some new responsibilities with Mission Emanuel and a computer that can travel will be most helpful. Lugging my desktop around is just not an option. So, they gave me a generous budget and said, "Go shopping." Justin and I headed to Best Buy with full intentions to pick out a Dell or HP. The sales guy showed us a great Dell laptop that was on clearance, so we said we'd be back once we got the "ok" from the finance guy.

Two days later, we arrive at Best Buy to find that they've all sold out. So, we start looking at the other options, but we're unsure what to do. We're about to leave and just order the Dell online for the not-Best-Buy-clearance price when a sales guy approaches. After a short discussion on what I need, he says, "Have you thought about a Mac?" No. I hadn't. Because Macs don't run Windows. Or so I thought...

Let's just say that when it's time for Justin to get a new laptop...he'll be joining me on the right.