28 Feb 2014 | 7:24 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
Well hello there! Thanks for stopping by our blog. Yes, this post is about the Lent season approaching, my new hair cut and a confession! Stay with me!
I got my hair done a few days ago, and I had asked my hairdresser to give me a really good cut! She asked if she could give me a "box cut" and I said yes. As she was cutting, she said something to me that has really stuck with me… "Cortemos el que no tenga ninguna vida," translated means "let's cut off that which has no life." I know she meant it for my hair, but the larger implications have sat with me for several days.
Lent is approaching (Wednesday March 5) and I have been praying today over what needs to be cut off that has no life left so I may be closer to the One who gives life. How can I be emptied so He can fill me? What steals, robs, kills my time with the Lord, family, and kids? It didn't take long for the Lord to convict me of what it is that must go!
I know this will surprise some of you. I am a wife, mom, missionary and I work full-time. My kids are in ballet a couple days a week, I go to the gym several times, do all of the grocery shopping, most of the cooking and the list just goes on and on and it would appear as if the "free time" would be non-existent, and sometimes I even try to convince myself of exactly that!
But, it's true. And it's a confession I hate to admit. At night, I sit in front of the TV, not every night, but many, for 2-3 hours. 2-3 hours I could be spending:
- With my husband
- Soaking up truths from the Word
- Delving into my Bible Study (that I swear I never have time to do)
- Vision cast/dream with the Lord about the direction of the ministry he has chosen me to work within
- Pray for the thousands of Dominicans and Haitians our ministry is reaching yearly
- Pray for my own children's hearts to love the Lord and seek him first
- Working out and regarding my body as a Living Temple of the Holy Spirit
But I do none of this, because TV has sucked away my time every evening, convincing me that the way I need to "recharge" is to unplug from the very thing that gives life and instead fill my head with garbage, and when it's not the normal lineup of shows, it's anything- even Australia's next design star (seriously). Somehow "relaxing" and "recharging" in the evenings have left me exhausted, snappy, unfulfilled.
So, for 40 days, I am giving up night time TV (because it's the only time it's on!) and will be replace it with things that will draw me closer to the Lord and my family and not distract or take away from those things, by focusing first on the list above- things that bring new life to us!
What about you? What do you need to cut off that gives no life? What do you need to turn your face from so that you may fully face the One who will breathe life into our souls and fill us with Holy power?
Let's pray for one another!
Holding this sweet "new life," and you can check out my new hair cut! :)
14 Nov 2013 | 3:12 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
In the last 2 weeks I’ve been reviewing the goals that I set for the discipleship classes in the beginning of this year. The theology of redemption classes that we taught during this year were a fundamental base to present who God is and what he is doing though his redemptive plan, to a group of young men and women. Most of the students could not tell me the name of 3 books in the Bible when we started.
The question that I kept asking myself during these 2 trimesters of 22 classes in 26 weeks, was what can I do better? And how can I present God and Jesus to these guys and their needs to have a personal relationship with them? After every week of class was over, I took time after to analyze if I presented through that week of teaching “God and his desire to established a relationship thought Jesus Christ” to each one of the guys and girls that were part of that class, for both, the basketball and baseball programs ages 13 and up. But I think that somehow I forgot about the work that God was doing “in me”. As I look back to this year, I can say that my goals were met in many different ways. After many hours of “praying, reading, writing about God and presenting him though the Bible, most of our guys had improve their knowledge about God and what he is doing. For me I have come to know God and experience him in ways that I never did before. Have I been very busy teaching about God this year? But more important he has taught me during this process, who he is and how he is inviting me and you to help him every day in his plan. I have definitely been learning too!
18 Sep 2013 | 8:54 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
Yesterday was such a special day. We had the privilege of bringing Yasmin to see Doctor Wendy who is here with a mission team. Wendy saw Yasmin last year at the medical clinic and provided us with a lot of insight into what the future may hold for sweet Yasmin.
When we first met her (you can read about that here
) we weren't sure how much longer she would live, being told a surgery to repair the hole in the roof of her mouth was absolutely necessary. Months later, after being evaluated for the surgery, it was determined she was a good candidate, however her body would not survive the surgery at the malnourished weight she was at. We began purchasing cases of Ensure and praying for her weight to go up. Ensure, here in the Dominican is $70 for a case of 24 and she is now up to drinking one and a half a day. Yasmin saw Wendy last year and her grandmother was concerned about how uneven her back was. Upon examination, we learned she also has Scoliosis and a swirling skin color pattern indicated some neurological defects as well. We were told she may never walk, or be able to take care of herself. We were heart broken. (you can read that post here
We prayed and prayed and with faith believed he could do the impossible. I was stunned the day I learned she was walking. (read about that post here
) This sweet spirited girl was WALKING! Her weight was greatly improving. The cloudiness in her eyes was disappearing. God was answering prayers.
A couple of weeks ago Yasmin was hospitalized for Pneumonia. Her immune system doesn't fight off sickness very well and often times a simple cold will turn into something worse and she needs to stay at the hospital while her body heals.
When we learned Wendy was coming back to the DR on a trip with GO, we knew we had to get Yasmin in to see her. Wendy thrilled with seeing her walk and her weight! We were in for another surprise though, there happened to be an Oral Surgeon on the team (THANK YOU GOD!). He was able to look into her mouth and determine that the way her mouth was growing, the gums and the bones where her cleft pallet was located are butting up against each other, naturally shutting off the hole. Yasmin's mom confirmed this by saying that very little liquid comes out of her nose anymore!
Dr. Anderson explained that it would be best at this stage, to not pursue the surgery since it is not impeding her ability to eat. In the future if it presents a problem we should move forward in having her evaluated. They are also researching the other medical issues they believe Yasmin may have so we can know how to best proceed with helping with her medical needs.
We are praising God for the way he answers prayers and performs miracles every day. We count Yasmin as a gift in our lives that we have been able to see God's handprint in who she is and how he is healing her miraculously each and every day and teaching us to have faith in the midst of it.
We are grateful for everyone who has continued to pray for Yasmin and given so generously to her medical needs!
Alan and Jackie
Here's a picture of when we met Yasmin when she was 16 months old:
and yesterday with Doctor Anderson and Doctor Wendy!
6 Sep 2013 | 10:42 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
As many of you know my role with GO changed during this year, and now I’m the coordinator of education for the sports outreach ministry. What does this mean? I’m responsible for developing the curriculums for the discipleship school and all the educational material (bible studies, devotional) for our basketball and baseball academies and also our bible study with our coaches. This week we stared our second trimester of class with 300 kids and young adults. This is a very exciting a challenging time in my life. I ask for your prayers, so we can influent though the scripture the life of all this kids and young adults in a way that will help them to develop a deep relationship with our savior. One of the things that make me most excited about this new journey is the challenge that God is giving me, to speak into the lives of 10 men (our coaches)… one of my closest spheres of influence. Would you please pray that God will help me to speak true into their life in a bold way. With the hopes that they will do the same with their sphere of influence the kids that they work with every day. Also will you pray that he (God) will transform me in the process, to be more like Jesus. I promise to keep you guys update though our blog about these exciting times.
12 Jul 2013 | 10:35 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
"So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword."
This passage has quickly grown to become one of my favorite pieces of scripture. I can still remember the first time I read it many years ago sitting in a coffee shop after an early morning hike at Red Rock Canyon amongst friends. It had a huge impact on my life early on, and even more so once I joined GO Ministries and again seeing this passage lived out spanning across cultures to advance the Kingdom of Christ on the Island!
A tremendous blessing was given to us to host our home church from Las Vegas, South Hills Church Community in June. From the beginning this team has been about partnership. They desired to be a blessing and serve alongside of a community to bring about redemption, renewal, and restoration... things we at GO are incredibly passionate about.
They sweated. a lot.
They left a piece of their hearts here in the DR working alongside of Pastor Elvis Batista and his beautiful wife Raysa and family.
Elvis, (btw, isn't it fitting that the LV Church would be working with a pastor named Elvis :) is a part of our Seminary of the Americas and pastors a large church in a community called Los Salados. An area overrun with drugs, prostitution and gambling. The church is a bright light in this community. Just weeks before we arrived, a man formerly involved with selling drugs was baptized in the name of Jesus!
The church is called to minister to the hurting, the sick, the lost and the poor, and that is exactly what this church does. In scripture we are reminded time and time again that we are called to look out for the orphans, widows, and the hurting and South Hills spent their week doing just this, repairing a single mom's house.
Juana receiving a scripture quilt created by the quilting ministry at South Hills Church
This is Jauna and she she is a single mom. She is a pillar in the church community. She lives in a very small house with no windows or doors installed, except for one. The walls are made of brick that have been laid but not finished and the flooring is dirt. She had one room with a poured floor and that was the only room in her house with a door. She slept and ate and kept all of her belongings in this room. She cooked in her backyard on an old fashioned can with some coals inside. The alleyway between her house and her neighbor's was infested with beehives. It had taken Juana almost 4 years to save enough money to purchase the land that her house stood on. The land had cost the equivalent of $400 US dollars and brick by brick, she built her house.
She didn't do this all by herself though. The men of the church had come and put a roof on her house one time and they had helped with the floor in her bedroom. She felt blessed by what she had and what she had worked hard for.
Elvis had a dream to bless this woman and change her life forever. South Hills had a dream of working alongside of a pastor in a community to give and do and bless just as God's word commands us. And GO? We are the leaders who bring these two cultures colliding together. We are the Aaron's and the Hur's, setting up rocks underneath the local leaders. We invite the North American Church to join us in lifting up the arms of the Dominican and Haitian men and women God has called to be salt and light amongst their cultures. God had brought South Hills and Elvis together through GO Ministries for such a time as this. To bring his child comfort, help in her time of need, and to restore dignity to her. For 2 days South Hills worked in tandem with the GO construction crew to pour a floor, rid her alley of the bees, smooth the walls of her home and be the hands and feet of Christ walking through the community and sharing his love and laughter to many.
Never has the verses in Exodus reminded me more of partnership in the Gospel and working together as a team with a common purpose than this past week!
(Church leaders, Brandon and Amy Gallup with Elvis and his family)
All for His glory!
Thank you South Hills for loving us, Elvis and Raysa, and the community in Los Salados so well!
3 May 2013 | 10:15 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
We walked on down the narrow alley for just a short time.
We were almost there.
I hadn’t seen her in months.
I heard she was walking. I heard she was defying what the doctors said she would never be able to do. I couldn’t wait to see this miracle child with my own eyes.
We turned the corner and ducked under shanty balconies and we continued our way to Yasmin’s home. In was quiet in this neighborhood, not the way you would typically describe where they live, but it was early in the morning and most were sleeping after partying until all hours of the night.
We winded up a spiral staircase and when I got to the top, there she was! Walking! Talking!
She even had a little belly on her! Her bone thin ankles and legs had a little more meat on them than they had before. She was getting stronger.
I also met the newest addition to their family. Yasmin has a baby sister, just a few months old at the time of my visit as well as a seven yr. old sister. The oldest took care of Yasmin, while Yasmin, now three and a half tried to carry her baby sister in her thin arms. I smile and think to my self how the bond of sisterly love truly transcends all cultures as I think sweetly of my own daughters who care for each other dearly.
Carina with her new baby
I snap a few pictures for Carina, holding her precious baby girl. We chat about life, Yasmin, being a mom and then they have something to show me. We head down stairs and out the door to the main street in the barrio and they give Yasmin 20 pesos and she begins her journey to the Colmado (corner store) to by her galleticas (little crackers). She walked quite a way as if she knew exactly where she was headed! Stopping all along the way to play with older kids and say hello to many as they begin to emerge from their houses as the morning wears on. I am told this is her game, and it builds strength in her legs as she walks this distance daily.
This little girl can walk!
This little girl is fierce warrior, fighting for her life and for a chance to live each and every day. Thanks to the many who have stood alongside of us and partnered with us to get Yasmin the help she needs, she will have that chance.
Pediatric Doctors, coming on a mission trip with G.O. Ministries this summer, will evaluate Yasmin. She continues her regiment of 1.5 bottles of ensure a day to gain weight and muscle mass.
Ensure in the D.R. is expensive. It costs $65 for a case of 24 and in one month, Yasmin needs 45 cans of Ensure, not to mention her medicine needs. Providing she is at an acceptable weight at the end of the summer, we will have her re-evaluated by Operation Smile in hopes that she will be able to have the surgery she needs to fix her cleft pallet. Once that is taken care of, we will begin the harder work of having her observed to determine what neurological condition she suffers from and how to get her necessary treatment.
I am thankful for sweet gifts like Yasmin who show me what it really means to fight for something worthwhile. I love this little girl and I find myself thankful for this tiny little girl who has already begun changing lives and showing God’s Sovereign power to heal and overcome adversity.
Carina with her three sweet daughters!
We need your help! Please join us in prayer for Yasmin and her family. If you would like to make a donation to help with her ongoing medical needs please make checks payable to G.O. Ministries, Inc. and send them to 11501 Plantside Dr. Suite 14, Louisville, KY 40299. In the memo line, be sure to write “Perez/Yasmin.”
24 Apr 2013 | 10:55 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
It is a special place, magical even.
It has a way of getting under your skin and piercing your soul.
It has it all.
Hungry bellies crying out.
It has it all.
I found myself, 8 years ago standing for the first time on Haitian soil in Ounamenthe, Haiti, trying to keep pace and take it all in as we winded down dusty roads lined with cactus hedges. Little kids shouting "blanc" ("white") with fascination and wonder in their eyes. They poured from out of their houses to greet us, touch us, slip their hands in ours and run alongside of us for a brief second as we walked by... I knew my life was about to change. God was doing something inside of me and I knew I would not return from that mission trip the same.
I have been to this magical place countless times since my first time 8 years ago. It has never stopped being magical or stopped being a place where God grips my soul and forever changes a piece of me.
On our trip this year, we camped in Phaeton where Lucner pastors the church and leads the nutrition center. God is doing great things through him in this community. The other six pastors traveled by motorcycle (some for many hours) to reach us.
Pastor Lucner and wife Marie
When they arrived to Phaeton, they laughed and greeted one another with a familiarness and love of a family reunion. Such joy! They turned and grabbed shovels and joined us blancs on the job site, and boy were we ever thankful for their help. Truck by truck, remains from the old sisal rope factory were dumped on the foundation of where the new church and nutrition center is. Our job was to level the fill that was brought in... 24 truck fulls!
The sisal rope factory located in Phaeton was once the largest source of income for the entire country of Haiti. The country boomed in it's time, and the factory was a sign of hope and promise, but as quickly as it met success, the lights went out, the factory shut down and left a town (and country) hopeless. Now the remains from that factory will be resurrected to bring hope and promise in a new way in the form of a church and nutrition center. Redemption.
The remains of the Sisal Rope Factory
The sweetest part of our trip was sitting down side-by-side with the Pastors and hearing their heartfelt stories of love, devastation, vision, hopes, and dreams.
Meet Jonas Lekkler. He is 47 years old. He works in a community called L'Hat. It is very difficult to find on a map. His eyes are kind and warm and convey a joy from the Lord that is unspeakable.
He is one of 7 incredible and passionate pastors we work with through out the Northern mountain region in Haiti.
He has been married for 24 years, has 6 children and has lived a life mixed with joy and bitter loss. He has been able to attend many of the trainings that G.O. provides through North-American Pastors visiting the island and teaching them. He shared how truly blessed he was by these trainings and not only has he learned so much about Christ and how to preach through them, but other pastors are listening to him and finding training through his sermons that they are taking back to their own churches. Renewal.
His favorite verse is Psalm 94:17. The NIV puts it this way:
Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
The Message says it this way:
Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers? If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast.When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.
Jonas knows the sting of death. He and his wife have lost two children. One was just a baby and the other who suffered from what they believed to be Epilepsy had a seizure, fell and hit her head and the injuries took her life. Voodoo is prevalent in Haiti, it is hard to get away from it. It is believed in their community that the deaths of their children were the works of witch doctors who do not like or want the presence of a church honoring Christ in their town. They have received much persecution.
Not only does this man of God pastor a church, he also has a school, the only one in the small town of L'Hat brimming with 167 children in attendance. The kids will grow up with a Christian Education, empowered with the hope of Christ to become agents of change in Haiti. Restoration.
God gave our staff a glimpse of the beauty of his redemption, renewal and restoration throughout Haiti. A great revival is on it's way to this Island.
Will you join me in prayer for Jonas and his family? Let us come before the Throne of Grace and lift up these warriors for the Gospel together in expectation of the Lord's provision.
Jonas knows what it means to "slip" and "fall" and has felt the promise of God "taking hold fast." You and I know what it means to slip and fall as well and have felt that same very promise that God will take hold of us fast, calm us down; cheer us up. We are not so different from one another.
Is God calling you to be a part of something bigger? Ask God to search your heart and show you what it is he may have for you. Maybe it is coming on a mission trip with G.O. Ministries. Maybe it's to be a prayer warrior for the local leaders we work alongside of. Maybe it is to financially come alongside of someone and help them live out the calling they have received from the Lord. Don't let an opportunity to do good and be used by the Lord to redeem, renew, and restore pass you by.
Until next year... enjoy some of the pics from our time in this magical place.
Our crew at the Citadel
We managed to almost fall off the side of the building again... good thing Tim was there
The "Teams Team"
23 Apr 2013 | 4:55 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
I recently was cleaning old documents off of my computer and found this article I wrote for a women's ministry blog from a large church. God really spoke to me during this time and continues to reconfirm the same truths today that he did then!
This was originally written May 30, 2011 (just a few days after my twin daughters turned 1). The photo below, however is from 2013!
I am a wife missionarymother of twinsdaughtersisterencouragerand above all things, daughter to the King and image bearer for my sweet King Jesus who, because of his great unfailing love, donned a crown of thorns to give me eternal life. I, much like you, wear many hats depending on the day. Being missionaries with G.O. Ministries, we spend a solid nine months in the Dominican Republic supporting and encouraging the redemptive work of the Nationals whom we live amongst. We are blessed to see a glimpse of the Kingdom being restored on the Island of Hispaniola through his people. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of such restoring work. The other three months out of the year we are traveling around the United States sharing with churches, individuals, our family and friends about the work being done through the local leaders we work alongside of where we live. Our last trip to the states was... good. Real good. The kind of good that makes you feel warm and connected and like you could run forever. God gave me a glimpse of where I wanted to be. The kind of mom I could be. The kind of daughter, friend, missionary, encourager I could be. I often struggle across the tight rope of motherhood and everything else. I struggle with that feeling of having to choose one over the other. I struggle with creating boundaries and not saying “yes” to everything. I think of all the things I could say “yes” to in the blink of an eye, and frequently compare our family to others (because, let’s admit it, we all compare ourselves to others). I often remind myself that comparison kills contentment. This last trip to the states was unique in that I was hit with the realization that I didn’t have to choose one or the other! I had found myself wishing (after the girls were born) that God would call me out of ministry because that would make things a whole lot easier for me and for our family… I thought since He can’t reverse me from being a mom he would just have to call me out of full-time ministry so I can focus on other things… and then it hit me. I heard a sermon right around Christmas time from the pastor at my home church in Las Vegas. He preached that there really is no such thing as full time or part time ministry. We are all in full-time ministry because Jesus died a full-time death on a full-time cross. Wow. We don’t get to choose to not be in ministry, and really, why would we ever want to? I knew in my heart I really wouldn’t be fulfilled solely focusing all of my time and energy into being a mom, because that is not what He called us to. He calls us to first love Him and second to love others. We serve out of our love for Him and for others. That is something that we cannot walk away from, and if we choose to, I believe we will have to answer to Him for that choice. I am finding myself thankful that He took me down that path to discover that these two halves of me could converge and create someone who deeply loves Him, loves to serve Him and have a family that by loving them shows His mighty power and love. I am reminded every time I look into my daughters’ eyes of His grace and mercy for mankind and I would go to great lengths to bring Him glory in my own family no matter the path he leads us on. I know that pleases my Father.
And that is the kind of wifemissionarymother of twinsdaughtersisterencouragerand above all things, daughter to the King and image bearer for my sweet King Jesus that I want to be.
What about you? What has he shown you in your heart and done in your life to show his power to overcome any and all situations?
10 Mar 2013 | 10:19 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
We are in need of a new vehicle. The one we currently have is not working properly. We've put way to much money in repairs and it no longer proves to be safe or reliable for our family. Last October, our car broke down and left Jackie and the girls stranded in the middle of the road, two hours away from Santiago.
We are looking at trading in our car and have found a place that will work with us and are extremely reputable! We want to buy a Honda Pilot or a Ford Explorer. The most important quality in the car is that it has a third row in it so it will serve us well in ministry. We are also getting a car that has never been driven in the Dominican Republic. This is important for several reasons! There is a business in the D.R. of breaking the odometer and turning it back so you never know how many miles/km are really on the vehicle. Sometimes papers are forged as well. With a vehicle coming from the states we know it won't have these problems!
We are in need of about $5,000 to purchase this vehicle for our family and would like to do so in the next couple of weeks!
Will you be willing to contribute to a vehicle for our family? You can do so right on our blog! There is a giving box on the right side of our blog or you can send in a check to the G.O. Ministries Stateside Office in Louisville, KY. Simply mark "Perez, car" in the memo line!
As always, thank you so much for your continued prayers and generous support!
Alan and Jackie
4 Mar 2013 | 6:55 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
Over the last 6 months Alan has been making the transition to join staff with G.O. Ministries. He has been a National Partner with G.O. for six years and has faithfully served in Sports Ministry and Facilitating Teams. He is the first National Partner to join staff!
He will now step into a larger role with greater responsibilities and serve as the Coordinator of Education for Sports Outreach. He heads up the curriculum development and teaching for the Baseball Academy reaching nearly 300 kids daily. Alan loves these kids and loves teaching them about the Word and how to become Godly men of Christ in their homes and with their future families. What an incredible opportunity he has to impact kids for the Kingdom at such a young age!
Alan will also be facilitating teams and working alongside North-American Christians who come to serve on a mission trip with G.O. Ministries. He will have the opportunity to pour into hundreds of short-term team members this year and point them towards Christ's work here on the island through G.O. Ministries!
We are thankful for the ministry and the ways in which they have developed both of our roles over the last year! It is an exciting time in ministry for us and we are so grateful to our friends, family and supporters who have faithfully prayed for us, financially supported us and encouraged us with your sweet words. We love you and are thankful for the role you play in God's plan for the island of Hispaniola!
Alan and Jackie
Alan teaching the Discipleship class for the baseball academy- these kids are received a Christian education class as part of the baseball program with G.O.!
Alan translating alongside of a short-term team member during a baseball camp (read about their incredible week here)