Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brian and I just returned from a week in the Dominican Republic.  I hope to do my best to share what happened and why I felt this was important to share with you.  Remember, some things I share at times comes from a third party and also translated from Spanish to English so forgive me if it is not 100% correct. 
This week was a baseball clinic.  MGM hosted 130 Dominican baseball coaches to come to learn more about coaching and also be challenged spiritually.  We were preparing for the men to come.  Freddy (our our Dominican son) went to town to run an errand.  He didn’t come back for awhile then reports starting coming in that Freddy was picked up by the police.  We weren’t sure what was going on.  After a few hours  we were told that he indeed was in jail and that he was accused of rape.  All of us knew this was a big misunderstanding because Freddy wouldn’t hurt a fly.  After some asking around we were told that the girl identified Freddy as her attacker and that she had witnesses.  As it turned out, the time she was attacked, Freddy was not even in town but with some American baseball coaches preparing for the clinic.  Not only did Freddy have a solid alibi, the girl said she scratched up her attacker.  The judge asked to see Freddy’s stomach and hands were she said she made contact, and there were no marks anywhere.  We figured he’d be released but to our shock, Freddy was still placed in jail.  He was to stay there until a court date.  If after the court date they found reason to go to trial, he’d be transferred to a worse prison in another town.  He could be there for over 3 months before a trial date would be set. 
I need to explain about jail in the Dominican Republic.  From what I’ve been told (haven’t seen it myself) the men are placed in one room.  It has no toilet so the men go in the cell room where they stay.  They do not get food.  Friends or family must bring meals in. The guards check it, then the prisoner is brought out to a waiting area (if you pay off the guard) and the prisoner gets to eat.  These are severe conditions just based on disease alone but then the men can be beaten or worse.  It is a dangerous place to be especially with an accusation like this.   
As time went on, we were told that the girl who filed the charges was put up to it by her uncle.  This is where the story gets cloudy so I won’t elaborate too much because it isn’t that important anyway.  What is important is that she knew it wasn’t Freddy but for 4 days didn’t go to the police and tell the truth.  One of the baseball guys told her that he would not pay her or her uncle off.  He told her she needed to clear Freddy’s name.  That his integrity was important and that if she told the truth and then needed help, she would receive help.
Meanwhile, in the jailhouse, a miracle was going on.  Freddy began sharing Jesus with the other prisoners, police, and random guests who came in to bring food to their loved ones.  Bibles were given to all the prisoners and police.  In spite of all the surroundings and allegations surrounding Freddy, he was allowing his circumstance to bring glory to God.  When I would come in for a visit, we’d do our best to hide the tears and love the people who were around us.  It was powerful.  I hated that  Freddy was in such a terrible place but so amazed at his faith. 
  The town was buzzing about what was going on.  The way the people were rallying around Freddy overwhelmed him.  We saw the body of Christ in action.  The cooks would make special plates just for Freddy. The other boys Freddy works with at the center were taking time to pray for him.  It was beautiful to see how people were showing love to him.  It made the verse in the Bible come alive “people will know we are Christians by the way we love each other.”  People were noticing how we handled this crazy week. 
The day came for Brian and I to get on our plane home.  My heart was torn, I couldn’t wait to get home to Jamie and Elliott but leaving Freddy in jail was awful.  The time we boarded the plane, Freddy had his court date to see if this would indeed go to trial.  When Brian and I landed in Atlanta I powered up my phone and saw the wonderful message that Freddy was FREE! 
Not only was he free, I found out later that night that after the girl finally told the truth, Freddy told her and the court that he would not press charges against her.  He turned to her and thanked her.  He told her that God had a blessing in store and that was far better.  Can you believe that? No vengeance, but forgiveness and mercy.  What a sweet response. 
It’s been a few days now and Freddy is still posting about the way God is opening doors for him to share more and more.  I am humbled by this young 19 year old man of God.   He is a modern day Joseph.  “What man intended for harm, God intended for good.”
 Thank you Jesus for hearing our prayers, for upholding the righteous, for protecting, for allowing Freddy to experience your peace, purpose, and plan for his life.  I am overwhelmed!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

God keeps moving us forward!

The summer is slipping away and as we look back to update everyone we are thrilled to share how God keeps moving us forward.  Brian left for Dom Rep in May 2012 while the kids and Jen stayed home in order for kids to finish up the school year at Creekside Christian School.  Jamie graduated 8th grade, 2nd in her class! We were so proud of all her accomplishments.  A day after graduation, Jen and kids were on a plane to join Brian in Hato Mayor for summer session.

June was fast-paced. We saw 5 weeks of teen groups roll in and out of the center.  God did incredible work in the lives of the young people.  It is rewarding to see the impact of the trips and the eternal destinies impacted because of the work of the Holy Spirit.  What a privilege to serve in a ministry that moves people from darkness into light.

Our family flew back to Erie,PA in July.  We got home and moved from Harborcreek to Millcreek.  We are currently staying with Jen's parents who have made room for us in their basement.  We are happy to say all of us have our own bedroom!

Brian got back to work the week we returned at Cornerstone Construction. We are so thankful for God's provision for work while we are stateside since we are unable to make money in the Dom Rep.  The income we make stateside allows us to build up our support money for when we are away serving.  We dip into our support to pay for plane tickets, health and car insurance, school, and living expenses only when we are in the Dom Rep.  It is critical we come home to allow that savings to grow.  Some have asked why we come back and forth, we hope that helps to explain our situation.

We had a busy summer catching up with family and friends and sharing at a couple of churches.  The kids and Jen are now transitioning to school mode.  The kids will be attending Erie First Christian Academy.  Jamie will be in 9th grade and Elliott 2nd.  We chose this school because they were the most willing to work with our travel schedule.  With that said, Jamie is still limited to her out of class time.  Jen was offered a job to teach gym classes for k-5 part-time then act as substitute teacher as needed.  God always takes care of us.  Thanks to Jen's parents, Cornerstone Construction, and Erie First for allowing us flexibility with work and school, we are still able to be strong with our service to MGM.

This year we face a new challenge. As mentioned above, Jamie is limited to out of class time from school.  We have prayed, spoken to several mentors, and Jim and Mary Lou McDonald. We have decided to limit our service time in the Dom Rep this school season to keep our family together.  With MGM's blessing, Brian and Jen will finish up 2012 in the Dom Rep for week in October 2012.

For our 2013 season, Brian, Jen, and Elliott will spend the month of January in Hato Mayor.  Jamie will stay in Erie the first part of the month then travel down and join her family the final two weeks.  The month of March, Jen and Brian may be back and forth covering 3 weeks of independent groups.  It is unclear yet what the kids schedule will look like.  We all plan to be together for the summer session serving with MGM.  We are thankful to MGM and our team to understand how strong we feel about keeping our family together. 

Speaking of family, the missionaries we work so closely with have had their babies!  MGM will never be the same.  We are pleased to come alongside our MGM family to help them by taking on more duties as they adjust to life with infant boys.  Congrats to Arturo and Rosanny, Erin and Joel, Tito and his wife.  We are waiting to hear from Justin Crocker about their baby.  We look forward to a new season together as we roll into another MGM year. 

While in Erie we are asking the Lord what plans He has in store for us.  Already He is opening doors and allowing us opportunities to serve while stateside.  As we seek His will, pray for us that we move with Him, not move ahead or lag behind His plan.  What a great adventure we are on! 

Thank you for the faithful prayer support, encouraging words, and sacrificial giving to keep us strong serving in the Dominican Republic.  God is always at work and we couldn't do what we do without YOU!  You are vital in the plan.  So thanks or gracious!  You are making an impact for eternity in lives of Americans, Dominicans, and Haitians.  Because of you, God's work is moving forward!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 2012 Update

      We realize it has been too long since we have updated our blog.  Part of the reasoning for that is that while we were in the Dominican Republic this winter, our Internet service was in bad shape.  One of the many adjustments we have to deal with as new missionaries.  Please know we appreciate your feedback and prayer support and as we can update you on what is happening, we will.

       Our family arrived in USA for Easter.  It was wonderful to spend Easter with our family and friends from home and to worship both at First Alliance in Erie and Grace McKean.  It was fun to bump into folks and see the shock on their faces to see us around.

        The reasoning for our Spring return was to get Jamie and Elliott back to Creekside Christian School for the 4th quarter and the PA standard tests.  Brian will return to the Dominican Republic without Jen and the kids to get MGM ready for summer teams.  Jen and kids will arrive June 3rd to spend the summer in Hato Mayor with Brian and the summer teams.  This is the first time our family will be apart for this long.  Prayer is requested for all of us.

        The kids are doing well adjusting to being home.  Jamie is excited about 8th grade graduation.  We are pleased with the young lady she is turning into.  Jamie looks forward to returning this summer to the Dominican Republic and hopes to start doing some translating for the teams.  We are currently touring schools and looking into high school options for her next Fall. Jamie is still feeling led into studying medicine in the future. We are looking for a school that will work both in the States and when we are in Hato Mayor.  Pray the Internet service in the Dominican Republic becomes reliable.

         Elliott's front teeth are coming in!  His looks are changing.  Our little boy is looking more and more like his daddy.  Elliott still enjoys hanging out with his MANY friends both in the States and in Hato Mayor.  He is always got a question or 30.  He is loving being back in school with his buds and so is Jen! 

         Jen is spending time training up youth leaders in the month of May.  She is excited to share her years of experience with others who are currently serving in youth ministry.  Jen also was able to speak at a Mops group in Erie and is enjoying spending time with friends.  Of course, she is wishing the weather would warm up so she can get a few more runs on the Ninja.

         Brian spent April working on a project for the family.  When we finish the summer trips, the family will be moving from Harborcreek to Millcreek.  The apartment Jen's sister and family had generously shared is getting crowded and so Jen's parents offered a space for us to live in when we are Stateside. This location will be closer to Brian's work and also allow Jamie and Elliott to have their own bedrooms.  Brian has been remodeling a room to get it ready for our move.

        We also are excited about the changes in the Dominican Republic.  If you haven't heard, three of our close friends are expecting their first babies!  Erin and Rosanny (MGM missionaries) and Jacqueline Crocker (former MGM missionary) will be blessed with baby boys in late August...yep, all due the same time and all boys as far as we know!  NO!!!  Jen is NOT expecting!  We look forward to helping the new families adjust.  It is quite an exciting time for everyone! 

          One last exciting bit of news for the summer; since Erin is expecting, she will be heading Stateside as soon as Jen and kids arrive to get ready to deliver baby boy in the states.  Jen will be a busy girl trying to fill some of Erin's roles.  Lauren Harris from First Alliance will be spending the summer session with our family to help out while Jen is busy.  She is also coming to work on a MGM promo video.  We are so excited to have her be part of our lives and grateful for the Lord providing helpful hands to come alongside us.

           In conclusion, if you are coming to the Dominican Republic this summer, we look forward to spending time serving Jesus with you.  If not, we ask for your continued prayers and hope you will join us soon.  We couldn't do what we do without you!  Thanks for your continued support! 
Dios te bendiga! Amen!

                Until the Nets are Full,
                Brian, Jen, Jamie, and Elliott Heinrich



Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Season

 Our next season in the Dominican Republic has arrived.  We landed in Santa Domingo on January 4, 2012 with groups arriving a few days later.  It was a crazy time of unpacking, restarting homeschooling, assessing the buildings and vehicles, shopping (cattle truck FULL) and enjoying seeing our friends from Hato Mayor. We entered a full month of ministry with short-term missionaries from America serving Jesus! 
The first week was a hard on our family.  Jen went home for her Grandma's final days and funeral while the kids and Brian began serving at MGM.  It was a very busy time for Brian as he was not only meeting all the demands of MGM, but also homeschooling dad!  The team came around our family and even Jim McDonald helped with Elliott's lessons!  Imagine that!

Jen got a message while home that Brian got an unwelcome bite on his hand from a centipede that sent him to the clinic for treatment.  Thank goodness he was okay.  We have been told these bites can kill small children.  Considering the size of these insects, not surprised!  Brian was well-cared for by our incredible staff and all was well. 

The second week Jen returned and hit the ground running with house guests.  The kids and Jen got caught up on schoolwork and Brian got back to MGM maintenance. We had a  HUGE team come in and mostly did construction.  In just a week, a second addition of block was laid on the new MGM house.  This addition will comprise six apartments to help house families who want to come for trips. 

The team also was busy building a roof for a church.  The team was so motivated they built furniture for the apartments and helped at Tito's house (our MGM door man) It was an incredible week of work. Along with all of that, the dentists, optical teams, and VBS teams did ministry each day in villages.  The final day we went out to a small Haitian village where we gave out family bags (clothes, shoes, and toiletry items collected from the Americans) and rice and beans.  It was a great way to end the week.

The third week we had a team of electricians come for the first time!  We call them our Christmas present.  Half of our house did not have electric.  The guys spent a whole day trying to figure it out. After assessing it,  the problem was that we needed our home rewired.  BLAH!  They worked on what they could and got more outlets working.  We were thrilled. 

Not only did our house get some TLC, but the electricians worked on the addition and another missionary house. We had a team of painters who used their gifts at Bralio's house, a prayer garden Murial and various other spots around the camp. A group of skills carpenters built a pulpit for a local pastor and  shelves and desks for apartments.  VBS, sports, optical, dental, and prayer ministry ran each day in local villages. The end of the week we went back to the poor village and gave rice and beans for each family.

The forth week we had a large medical team.  Not only did the doctors and nurses work with locals, we also had optical team, dental team, VBS team, and prayer ministry team.  At the camp we had another crew of painters putting on a fresh facelift to MGM and the new building. The final day we went to a poor village and shared family bags with them.

This was just the daytime... the evenings and early mornings were filled with dynamic teaching and preaching .  God was at work.  MANY Dominican and Haitian people got blessed,  and we saw life-change in several Americans.  Many hours were spent listening to Americans sharing how God had used something during that day to speak to them.  What a privilege to hear so many stories and prayer needs of the folks who came into the center.  The Americans come to be a blessing but find out quickly that they are the ones who got blessed!

Since the groups have returned to the States our work has slowed down,we are grateful for a tiny break.  Brian is still busy working around the center.  Jen and kids are working on school.  Jen was asked to help instruct English at a children's school.  Tomorrow will be her first day. She is hopeful this will not only help the students learn English but help her learn more Spanish.

 Jamie reopened her camp store with William.  Jamie and William earned enough money for our family to be able to purchase a scooter for him. Thanks to all the Americans who shopped at our store, we were able to bless another young man.  Also, we had an addition to the store this year!  Clinton Young sold ice cream and desserts!  With the proceeds and Clinton's help, William will be able to purchase a freezer to sell ice cream at his village!  How wonderful to help a young man support himself!

Our family is grateful! Thanks to all our family and friends who pray for us, keep in touch with us, and to help us with donations.  We thank you for allowing us to serve Jesus!  Dios te Bendiga!