The Lord has been working tremendously in our family. He has been moving in our lives in ways we did not expect. In all honesty, it’s been quite difficult for us (I know for many others around us as well). The expectations of what we thought this year would look like have been overcome by the reality of our current situation. But even with all the hardships and changes, the Lord is still working. Here’s what’s been going on the last few months.
Our year began with the pandemic that shook the entire world back in March. The DR’s strict quarantine restrictions caused us to abruptly stop carrying out our daily routines. It was difficult for our two growing boys to be stuck at home all day. But we did receive a blessing through the pandemic. It helped us to stop and realize the importance of re-evaluating our priorities: valuing time with family and cultivating relationships that we have taken for granted. It gave us time to breathe and value that life on Earth is but a vapor that needs to be treasured. We took advantage of the time we had to reflect and think about what God is doing inside of us.
The pandemic changed a lot of things. For many in the Dominican Republic, it meant the loss of jobs, loss of businesses, shortened work hours, and the loss of lives. The Lord called us to act on behalf of those experiencing hunger. There was already a spiritual hunger, and a hunger for authentic relationships, but physical hunger increased significantly. I encountered many people of different ages and stages of life going through trash cans looking for something to eat. It was heartbreaking to see, but it created opportunities for us to show God’s love. Our church community began a food dispensing ministry. We helped to create food bags to Haitian refugees and Dominicans that lost their jobs. Giving them a bag of much needed food helped them be open to God’s love.
Also, last week there was a devastating fire in the Haitian community right by our church. Sixteen families were left without a home overnight. We’re working to help aid those 16 families who lost their homes and belongings with food, clothing, and household items. Anytime there has been darkness, God has shown His light through that situation. We are hopeful that the Lord will continue to provide for those who need it most.
In our own family, we have experienced many hardships too. Our oldest son, Nathan, was struggling a lot at school. Last year, we noticed he wasn’t eating well at lunchtime and was struggling to make friends. We started the investigation process to get to the root of the problem and began a series of tests. At the same time, we realized our youngest son, Samuel, was also struggling. We started to question whether or not he could hear well. He would yell and cry in frustration, and he wasn’t saying any words. The tantrums were making our home life very stressful. So, we decided to take him to an ear specialist. We quickly realized these problems our boys were having was creating stress in our relationships with one another.
At the end of February, we found out that Samuel had thick ear wax, which explained his behavior and speech problems. He missed out on so many learning opportunities because he couldn’t hear well for so long. He finally began to say some words, but he is still so far behind in his speech development. In Nathan’s case, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism back in August. Our world came tumbling down as we tried to make sense of all this new information we had received. We are learning how to work with him so he can improve and gain much needed skills. We began analyzing our parenting strategies. As we investigated, we began to realize that this was our new reality and we need to re-evaluate our expectations.
We realized we need to be good stewards of our family and of our children’s overall well-being. Nathan and Sam’s diagnoses have led to several unforeseen expenses. Sam is going to speech therapy twice a week to address his speech delay. Nathan has a whole list of needs, but for now, we have started taking him to something called social-emotional therapy once a week.
We sometimes wonder why we didn’t find all this out before we moved to the Dominican Republic, where we’d have support from our family and friends. But God has allowed for us to discover this now, and we are trusting in His good timing.
My friends, how can you help?
- Join us by being our prayer partners. We need your prayer support as we work with Haitian refugees, and with wisdom and discernment about Sam and Nathan’s needs.
- We also need financial support for both Nathan and Sam. We need our village to help us with the cost of providing help for our sons’ diagnoses. We are seeking to raise $800 a month to cover our unforeseen expenses. Click on the link to support us: https://www.coahmissions.org/garza-family.html
Thank you all for your love and support! We could not do this without you.