"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 26, 2017
Last week of writing about my mission trip to Santiago!
Friday was our last full day in the Dominican. We worked hard that day!
There are both men and women Teen Challenge centers in Santiago. The day before we arrived, the men had just moved to a new, bigger center to better accommodate them. The women were in the process of readying the center that the men had just vacated so that they could move in there, because it was bigger than their current location and they needed the extra room. We spent the entire day painting.
Paint is not like it is here. I'm not sure what the difference is, but it was thinner and harder to paint with; and the added humidity could have been part of the problem, also. The ceiling and walls were uneven, there was rotted trim that had pieces missing and one of the men told us that it was due to rats (they got cats to help with the rat problem), and the floor was noticeably un-level when trying to set a ladder up. The floor was really dirty in the kitchen; and the walls were horribly sticky and had a thick coat of grease around where the stove/cooking area was; but due to the guys just moving out the previous day before we arrived to paint, there had been no time for any cleaning to have been done. Plus their cooking pots and stoves are much different than what we are accustomed to and use here in the US, which likely accounted for a lot of the grease and mess.
Darryl (my brother-in-law), Janie, and I began painting the kitchen and were told to start with the ceiling and work our way down. It took us all morning to get the ceiling painted. Janie and I were using rollers and Darryl was on a ladder painting trim and cutting in. As I mentioned, the floor was very uneven. Darryl was up on the ladder and was reaching to paint some trim when the ladder started shaking and he lost his balance. He was trying to not fall completely off the ladder, while holding onto the paint so that it didn't go flying all over the kitchen and make a huge mess. He wrenched something in his back, and was in a lot of pain afterwards. After lunch, Darryl and another guy from the Missouri team (whose back had got horribly sunburnt the day before when we were at the beach, and he was in a lot of pain) stayed in their room to rest up for the planned evening activity; where Darryl was scheduled to preach.
That afternoon, Janie and I got most of the walls painted, except for the trim work around the bottom and cutting in. Then they moved us and the other women, from our group from Arkansas, to another building and had us to start painting the outside. Towards the end of the day we had the sunny side left and when Janie, my two nieces, and I moved over there, the sun beating down upon us was so hot that it was making us feel dizzy and sick, so we stopped and called it a day.
Our missionary, Chad, told us as we were loading up in the van to leave that one of the young men who is in the Teen Challenge program told him, "Thanks for today! It's the first 'normal' day that we've had in a very long time, and that felt really good." The program is very intense and takes a lot of dedication and study and hard work, as well as requires a lot of discipline. The young man said that he knows that they've done bad things in their past, but it was really nice to be able to have a day filled with normal activity. They painted right alongside us, talked to us, laughed, got dirty; and even though it was very tiring and exhausting for us, it was a really nice change of pace for those involved in the Teen Challenge program and gave them a sense of normalcy.
We got back to the facility, where we were staying, and had about 45 minutes to clean up and eat, before needing to head out again. We had 5 women staying in our room, with only one shower! Not showering wasn't an option, due to us having paint splatters on us and being so sweaty and dirty. We took shifts eating and showering. Janie, Tonya, and I were absolutely exhausted and nothing within us wanted to go anywhere or do anything that evening -- nothing! Our comment was, "We're done!!" But we hurried to shower, eat, slather mosquito repellant all over ourselves, and loaded back up into the van and went anyway. We thought, "Well, maybe we can just go and sit and enjoy the service, and not have to do anything."
Teen Challenge has faithfully gone to a particular street corner in Santiago and set up in an empty lot every single Friday night for the past ten years to have a service. They set up a PA system, put up a canopy, strung a few lights and set up chairs. Each week, some of the women build a small fire in the corner of the lot, put a huge pot over it, and cook food for those who come to the service. That is commitment!!
This is one of the most dangerous areas in Santiago. After everything was set up, we divided up into two groups to go out and walk the streets to hand out literature and Bibles. It was dark by that time and the streets were uneven and we had to keep stepping over the sewer ditches that runs between the sidewalk and street. We were told to stay together with our group for safety. So no, we didn't get to just go and sit, but had to get out and walk the streets with our assigned group.
But here's a miraculous testimony! One of the Teen Challenge ladies told Janie that they would used to see prostitutes standing in almost every doorway as they walked down the streets. But they noticed recently that most of them are gone. Janie asked why; what had changed? The girl told her that about a month ago they decided to begin fasting and praying for that area every Wednesday. Shortly after they began doing so, they noticed a change in that area and there aren't nearly the number of prostitutes as what there used to be.
The Teen Challenge director told us that at one time there had been about 25 brothels right around that area, but they have all closed down, except for 5. Prayer works!
The prostitutes know that Teen Challenge is going to be there every Friday night so they will watch and wait for them. There was one particular prostitute that was watching for us, and ran up to hug the director and other Teen Challenge girls. We rounded a corner and they told us that was where the brothel was where that particular prostitute worked.
Standing on the sidewalk was a new prostitute. Janie, the director, and a couple of the Teen Challenge girls talked to her and prayed for her. She was crying, but refused to pray herself. They offered her help and told her that they would hide her in the Teen Challenge van and get her to safety and help her, but she feels as if she has no hope and is worthless. They told Janie that the madame will work the new girls really hard when they first get there and use them incessantly, in order to break their spirit and make them feel like they have no value. Then they feel like their life and situation is hopeless and as if they can't leave. The madame owns them; they can't just leave whenever they please. They said what is really hard is when some of the prostitutes will come to Teen Challenge, then leave the program and go back to their old life. When those girls then see them come on Friday nights, they will mock the Teen Challenge ladies.
Standing in the middle of the street that particular Friday night was the madame. She was watching and waiting for us to come. Why? Because she wanted prayer! She had suffered a stroke and wanted us to pray for her. Since the others were on the sidewalk talking to and praying for the new prostitute, that left me, Chad, our interpreter, and another Teen Challenge girl in our half of the group. When she asked for prayer, Chad interpreted what she wanted so I would understand and asked who wanted to pray for her. I volunteered, using our interpreter so the madame would know what I was praying. I prayed everything from healing, to God to reveal His love and forgiveness to her, to Him showing Himself to her so that she would know who He was..... That took me out of my comfort zone! I had never in all my life stood in front of a brothel, in the middle of the street, praying for a madame!
Wouldn't it be awesome if she got saved, closed her brothel, helped the prostitutes that she owns to get help from Teen Challenge, they all be delivered from that life and know that they each have worth?!
We then turned around to walk back to the empty lot where Teen Challenge was set up for their service. On a street corner were four men from Teen Challenge playing various drums and rhythm instruments and singing. They had a crowd gathered around them. Then they led our group down the street (kind of like a parade) to that lot, singing and playing their drums and declaring freedom over spiritual darkness.
Even though we had been exhausted when we went, our strength was renewed and God energized us! What a way to end our time in Santiago! It ended up being one of most memorable evenings while there. Isn't God amazing like that?!
Loretta went on the mission trip, knowing that she wasn't in the same shape she had been in when she was 20. She didn't know if she would have the energy or strength to do everything that week that she would need to do. And especially Friday, she got up and went to the evening service, sure that she didn't have any energy left. But God gave her the energy and strength as she needed it. Loretta had to step out first. But when she did, God gave her what she needed.
Inside Out Hostess Cake
1 Devils Food Cake Mix
3 cups Heavy Whipping Cream, divided
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 tablespoon Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Bake the cake according to directions on the box.
For the whipped topping: Pour 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to combine ingredients until it forms stiff peaks.
For the ganache: Pour 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1-2 minutes until it's hot. Add the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, butter and vanilla. Keep stirring with a whisk until it turns into a silky smooth dark chocolate.
To assemble: First pour the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake (reserve 1/4 of the chocolate to drizzle on top of cake). Next, put the whipped cream mixture on top of the ganache and smooth it out on top. Lastly, take a spoon and dip it in the remaining chocolate ganache and drizzle it on top of the cake. Be sure and keep refrigerated until ready to serve; as well as store any leftovers in the fridge.
For Your Information:
Recently we had a personal check stolen out of our mailbox; at least that is what seems to have happened. The check was put in our mailbox early one morning and was cashed later that evening. We rarely mail anything from our home mailbox, but use a secure postal box; unless we're in a hurry. Someone stole a check, altered the payee and dollar amount (from $125 to $925), then cashed it. It is not easy to get that money back. We had to file a police report, fill out an affidavit at the bank, then close our checking account and open a new one (because the person could have possibly copied our bank numbers on the bottom of the check and then printed checks with that information on it and used them to drain our account). Never again will be use our home mailbox for mailing out anything with money in it, even in a check. Please be careful if you mail money/checks from your mailbox, because if it should get stolen, it is a hassle trying to get the situation corrected and the money back into your account.
The people who you let influence you will determine
whether you become a world changer or a miserable failure! - KrisVallotton
We love you!
Loretta & Jon