The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement!
The first week of March marked our missionary retreat in the Dominican Republic… and what a blessing that time was for us!
Just this past week we had visitors from West Park Church, one of our supporting churches back in NJ, and the church that I grew up in! I have so much I want to share about their visit… and will be posting very soon about their stay here with us :)
But first… retreat!
There is something special about getting away from home and work and retreating somewhere else for a few days. As much as I try to set aside time to rest and Sabbath, it is SO incredibly difficult to do that when your home is your workplace!
The trip to the DR is a bit of a drive (6 hours of driving, not including stops!), and can be quite an ordeal at the border (you never know when your passport might get held up on one side and you get stuck on a bridge in between two countries… yeah. that happened!), but despite the little hiccups we had, it truly provided a time of rest and relaxation for our family AND a great time with our wonderful OMS family (in Haiti and the DR!)
Here are a few pictures of our retreat!
Okay… so I know what you're thinking. Seriously Emily? Your first pictures of retreat are these? But I must say… this trip was the first time I have seen road signs, lines on pavement, organized traffic patterns, and WORKING traffic lights in 6 months! It was pretty exciting! :)
Each day we gathered together for morning and evening sessions with Craig and Deb Torrell. They graciously came to spend a week with us, helping us to understand the importance of rest and time with our Father. It was truly a blessing to be told to slow down… sometimes we need to hear that from someone else in order to let it sink in!
The beauty of the Domincan truly helped me to bask in God's Presence! The view from where we stayed was absolutely breath-taking!
One morning I took a contemplative walk and was SO overwhelmed with the beauty of His Creation I could do nothing but sit and worship. What a sweet time that was for me!
Meals together each day, with our OMS gang, was lots of fun too! Fellowship and taking time to sit and eat and talk together is a beautiful expression of God's heart for His church. (And the food was REALLY good too!!)
The ocean provided lots of excitement for kids and adults too! I am STILL finding sand in my ears!!!
Another adventure was our visit to the local grocery store… I haven't seen one of THESE in over 6 months either! At first I thought it would be a super exciting time, but to be honest, I felt totally overwhelmed. The variety and quantity of things surrounding me and my desire to limit my spending to a minimum created quite a difficult time!!! Imagine only going to a grocery store like this twice a year… and trying to figure out what you might "need"! I finally had to stop and breathe and commit to sticking to my list and not getting caught up in it all!
In the end it was nice picking up a few items that we can't get here in Haiti- things like cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, … and that trip to the grocery store truly helped me to think about what my "needs" and my "wants" really are… I actually enjoyed putting a few things back on the shelf or saying no to some things and thinking about how much more I would enjoy them when I go back to the states this summer! What a good lesson that was for me :)
Even getting stuck between borders on the way home provided a great time of getting to know Ryan and Cheyenne better… when you are THAT close for 6 hours though… its inevitable! :)
All in all, retreat was AMAZING for our family! I am thankful for time away, to reflect and to rest. We ALL need time to retreat… even if its just a day trip to a favorite spot (at home in NJ, that spot for me is Delanco Camp!)… a time to take in the beauty of God's creation, to spend time alone with God, and to just be still.
As hard as that is for me… I know how much I truly need it. To "be still and know" that He is God.
When will you retreat? Where will you go- even if its just for a day, or an afternoon?
Take time to spend with the Father. HE is the only One who can truly fill you up!!!