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For as long as we have been together, we have been serving with two separate ministries, Kids Alive International and Christian Surfers International. We love both ministries and hold them both in incredibly high regard, so we are simultaneously excited and sad to share the news that Dustin will be leaving his job with Christian Surfers and taking on a full-time job with Kids Alive this year!
Dustin has been serving with Christian Surfers since 2010, and he has been the North America Regional Coordinator for the past five years. CS is currently going through an organizational restructuring, and the position of Regional Coordinator is being discontinued. At first, we thought the obvious answer was for Dustin to apply for a new but similar position within CS, but then we realized that this was an opportunity to see if God was leading us somewhere else. Dustin began conversations with several other ministries to see what kinds of opportunities were available, and Kids Alive offered him a position to develop and strengthen the high school and university discipleship and scholarship programs, as well as the transitional program for children leaving our residential facilities. On top of that, they invited him to join a team to create and implement a leadership development program for national staff and missionaries that will eventually be rolled out internationally. After several months of prayer, conversations, and waiting, we are thrilled that Dustin has accepted this job – Youth and Leadership Development Coordinator – with Kids Alive! He will work across Kids Alive’s ten sites in the Dominican Republic and potentially in the 14 other countries where Kids Alive serves. (For more info on Kids Alive, visit www.kidsalive.org.)
We have received confirmation after confirmation that this is the path that God has for our family for the next few years, but that doesn’t mean leaving Christian Surfers is easy! Dustin (and Emily to an extent) has built deep friendships with a lot of the CS national directors and volunteers across North America and the globe, so stepping away from those relationships will be difficult. Dustin has already raised up leaders within the region who will continue the work that he was doing until the restructuring process is finished, and he is committed to equipping them by introducing them to donors and other key leaders so that the ministry continues to thrive. He will also stay involved with CS here in the DR as part of the local leadership team for our chapter here at Playa Encuentro. We are excited to see how God continues to use CS over the coming years.
Now, the logistics. We will transition slowly over the next few months, ending with a final farewell at the CS international conference in September. Dustin’s new role with Kids Alive is still a support-based position, but now we will both raise our financial support through Kids Alive. We will still live in Sosúa and work at the Park Care Center (since Emily is part time right now we are there two days a week), and Dustin will gradually take on more responsibilities with Kids Alive as the summer progresses.
Please pray for us in this time of transition! Like we said above, we are confident that we are following God’s lead, and we are excited about where he is taking us, but it’s hard to step away from a ministry that you love and people that you love. Pray for the logistics to fall into place both in leaving Christian Surfers and in Dustin’s joining Kids Alive. Pray for continued peace and trust. And pray for the work that Christian Surfers and Kids Alive are doing around the world to expand God’s kingdom.
If you would like more details on Dustin’s new job, the transition, or how to support us in this time, feel free to send us an email through the “contact us” section of our website.
We hit the ground running in 2018 and thought we'd give you a quick update on what we've been up to for the past two months.
Dustin started an online MBA program at Temple University, kicking it off with a one-week residency in Philadelphia.
Emily went back to work at the Park Care Center two days a week. Under her new title as "Teacher Coordinator," she is leading twice weekly professional development workshops for the teaching staff. This is a really exciting opportunity for growth toward academic excellence for the school!
The 8th annual Christian Surfers Dominican Republic surf contest happened at our local beach, with over 80 competitors.
Pictured here with Dennis Leon, three surfers from Latin America arrived in Costa Rica for the annual Spanish-speaking Christian Surfers Internship! They are learning about the foundations of Christian Surfers in a hands-on ministry context to prepare them to be Christian Surfers leaders in their own countries.
We participated in a training led by several Kids Alive Guatemala staff on Trauma Competent Caregiving. Trauma competency is an area that Kids Alive DR is just beginning to focus on, but it's a critical area for us as nearly all the 2000 children we work with have experienced complex trauma. We look forward to more extensive training in the next few months.
After almost 10 years of living in the DR and 3 years of bureaucracy, we finally received our government ID cards and temporary residency cards here in the DR!
Dustin was confirmed as an elder at New Life Church. So now we all have to listen to him preach more often... but we are excited for this opportunity for him to serve the church in a new way.
The Spanish Surfers' Bibles are finally arriving across 16 countries, and we picked up a carful (literally) of them last week! Thank you to everyone who gave and prayed for this project. We hope to see many surfers encounter God through these Bibles.
Brennan turned 6 months old in February and continues to steal everyone's hearts. We love being parents and are so thankful for him!
Ten years ago, at the end of my summer internship in Caraballo with Kids Alive, I said, "No, I don't think I'll ever come back." Out loud. To the man who is now kind of my boss.
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." - Proverbs 19:21
Looking back, I laugh! I had thoroughly enjoyed my summer internship, but I was about to enter my junior year as a music major. I planned to go into graduate studies in music before launching my career as a professional vocal coach and collaborative pianist. The internship had just been an easy way to get some international experience without sacrificing a semester of college.
Just two years after uttering those fateful words, I moved back to the DR to live and serve until God sends me somewhere else.
A lot happens in ten years! I have learned a lot more Spanish and a little Haitian Creole. I have learned a lot about Caraballo and its rich yet complex history, shadowed by damage done by well-meaning white people. I have learned a lot about the Dominican and Haitian people, but mostly have learned that they are individual and unique and defy broad-sweeping cultural labels. I have learned a lot about white privilege, the undeserved benefits of being born in the US, and the undeserved discrimination of being a woman in a culture full of machismo.
Over the past ten years, I became a teacher, a worship leader, a motorcycle driver, a translator, a wife, and most recently, a mother. I became a surrogate daughter and sister to people I work with and a surrogate parental figure to many of my students. My experience of God has been blown open, and my experience of His Church has been expanded. My definition of poverty has been ripped apart and reworked almost daily, as have my ideas on development, aid, and trauma.
If you are interested in more - more stories, more explanations of any of the above - feel free to reach out to me via email.
One of the beautiful things about sticking around for ten years is seeing growth in both the ministry itself and the children we serve. So here are a few #throwbackthursday photos of the school ten years ago and today! The last two sets of photos are my favorites. In the first set, Cherina (in the circle) was still a student at our school in 2007. Now she is attending university and is a teacher at the school! The second set features Carlitos, who was in my 2nd grade class in 2007. Now (blue shirt on the right) he works at the school and attends high school at night through a Kids Alive scholarship. I am blessed beyond measure to be able to play a small part in the work that God is doing in Caraballo, and I am so thankful that I came back!