To the friends and family who hosted us for dinner, took us in overnight, or met us at random places in the middle of the day during our homeservice,
Homeservice. n. The period of time given to a missionary or missionary family to return back to their native country and connect with supporters, continue to raise funds for their mission, spend time with family, eat at all their favorite restaurants, cram in doctors’ appointments, spend an incredible amount of time in the car, expect unrealistically good behavior from young children while keeping them up late and getting them up early, experience all the emotional feels when connecting with dear friends only to say goodbye again, to be completely and utterly exhausted and feel regenerated at the same time by the hugs and prayers.
We want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You opened up your home, you rearranged your schedule, you took us in, and you loved us as though no time had passed at all. So as we get ready to head back to the mission field, we need to stop and take a moment to thank you–our family, friends, acquaintances, and yesterday’s strangers.
- Thank you for the dinners you prepared for our family with food restrictions. Thank you for calling ahead and asking what foods we missed. Thank you for not judging or caring when our children did not finish their plates or turned up their noses at normal “American” food. It is amazing how quickly beans and rice became their new normal.
- Thank you for opening up your home and moving your children onto the floor to give us beds. We are sorry that we are not easier guests to house. We usually arrived late and exhausted and sometimes left in the early hours of the morning to get to our next presentation. We are sorry we could not help more with the clean-up of dishes, laundry, and toys. Your kindness is remembered.
- Thank you for the Starbucks.
- Thank you for sitting with us in church, for surrounding us with love and not making us feel like strangers. Thank you for worshipping alongside us and for handing us tissues when the sound of hymns in English had tears running down our faces.
- Thank you for letting us do laundry while we stayed with you for a few days and for letting us repack our suitcases for the umpteenth time with clean clothes instead of dirty ones. Living out of a suitcase is exhausting, and you made it easier.
- Thank you for the books that your children are done reading. Thank you for giving them to our girls. Thank you for letting us take them back to the DR so they can share them with the other missionary kids when they are done reading them.
- Thank you for meeting us at random times to grab a drink and catch up when it was most convenient for us. Thank you for listening to our stories and asking questions about our life.
- Thank you for taking me to Sprouts, letting me walk slowly down each aisle, and not laughing at me when I longingly gazed upon the rows of fresh organic produce. Colorful fruit and veggies never looked so beautiful. Thank you also for buying my favorite trail mix after watching me squeal in the store when I saw it on the shelf.
- Thank you for the can of static cling spray when I was having a wardrobe malfunction during our presentation. Seriously. Thank you.
- Thank you for letting our children play. Playing with new toys, in yards, trees, and grass, and on bikes are all pastimes they miss. They had so much fun playing at your houses. Thank you for letting them run, jump, make noise, and be kids.
- Thank you for passing up the opportunity to cook for us and taking us out to dinner at our favorite restaurant or even going to get take-out and letting us eat in your home. After two years, In-and-Out, Rubios, Wahoos, Panera, Robertos, CPK, and so many other yummy places were such amazing treats for us.
- Thank you for the thoughtful gifts–gifts of encouragement that remind us of home or you. We will treasure them and think of you often when we use them in the DR.
- Thank you for all the forgiveness on Sunday mornings. Getting children ready for church can usually be a stressful (and sometimes not a God-pleasing) task. But when you get children ready in someone else’s house for all the services, all the while constantly reminding them they will need to stand up in front of the congregation somewhat well-behaved without doing such things as picking noses or lifting up dresses, that morning rarely goes without yelling and tears. So thank you for allowing us the space and room we needed to deal with all the messiness of life that comes with Sunday mornings on homeservice.
- Thank you also for understanding that, after talking to as many people as humanly possible before and after church, we are just plain talked out at that point. Thank you for letting us sit on your couch and watch mindless TV while we rested after the morning’s business.
- Thank you for watching our children or finding us a sitter so Blake and I could have a date night or a grown-up night out.
- Thank you for not turning your air conditioning on when we got too chilly. We didn’t realize how we must have adjusted to the humidity and warm weather. Thank you for letting us borrow sweatshirts and sweatpants when we visited because we just couldn’t warm up.
- Thank you for putting your sermons and church services online. We love staying connected with your church by listening each week along with you. It is also great for us to hear God’s Word and hymns in our native language.
- Thank you for mailing us all the things we forgot. Why we couldn’t leave a house with all of our belongings is beyond me, but everywhere we stayed we seemed to leave something important. So thank you for gathering and sending our stuff to our next location. Even when you included things in the box that I did not want like a rubber snake that my girls think is hilarious to hide under my pillow and listen for my screams of surprise. Thank you. I am grateful.
- Thank you for reading our newsletter and blog posts. Thank you for asking about stories we shared. Knowing we have supporters, friends, and families who regularly read what we write means so much to us. Thank you for your encouraging words and follow-up questions about what we have written. Thank you also for the grace when we miss a month or two. Thank you for understanding that sometimes life is hard and we can’t find the words to fill a newsletter. Thank you for noticing when those months go by and writing us to check in.
- Thank you for all the coffee. Thank you for the extra cups as we tried to wake up and put on our game face for the next presentation. Thank you for fixing coffee when you don’t even drink coffee yourself. There are some Latin America habits we have picked up these past two years. Coffee is one of them.
- Thank you for being the kind of friend who had my favorite wine in the fridge and let me wash my pants (while I wore yours) so they would be clean for our next trip. Friends like you are few and far between.
- Thank you for understanding when my children threw the toilet paper in your trash cans. Habits are hard to break. While this is one of my favorite parts of being back in the US, my girls just don’t always remember they can put the toilet paper in the toilet. I know it is gross and smells, and I get how annoying it is to clean up. Thank you for putting up with that while we visited you.
- Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to take our family photo. Having updated beautiful photos of our girls and our family means more to us than we can say, and we are so grateful.
- Thank you for the road snacks and for sending us on our way to our next stop with cold water and full bellies.
- Thank you for listening to our stories, for including us in yours, for letting us feel like no time has passed at all. It is comforting to know our friendship can withstand this distance of miles and culture and time. There are no words to express how meaningful it is for us to know that we are still just as close with you now as we were before we left.
- Thank you for supporting us with your dollars and your prayers. It means the world to us when we see our friends’ and families’ names on our donor list. We know there are lots of ways you can spend the money God has given you, and we are humbled and grateful that you choose to support our family while we serve God in the Dominican Republic.
So dear friends and family, as we prepare to return to the Dominican Republic for another two years, we thank you. These past weeks would not have been as enjoyable or even possible without the love you have shown us.
We needed to find rest in your hospitality, friendship, and love. We needed to tell you about the good works God is doing in the Latin America region. We needed to see your excitement when we showed up for our presentations. We needed to see our prayer card on your fridge. We needed to know that we are being prayed for by families, classrooms, and congregations. We needed this because it is hard. It is so hard.
We feel so far from you when we are away. Even though this work is rewarding, it is also very challenging in ways we may never be able to articulate. So thank you so so much for all the ways you support us. Thank you for renewing our spirits and building us up to return to the mission field, ready to serve another twenty-two months before we can return to your hospitality once more.
We love you, friends, and we will miss you greatly.
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