Mike, Karen, Nina, Janae, and Marcy moved to San Jose Costa Rica in Aug of 2011, then lived in the Dominican Republic from May 2012 until May 2016. Currently we are living in Middlebury Indiana.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Middlebury Indiana.. Here we are.

       On Thursday night May 26th we landed in Chicago for the "last time" in a sense. It was pretty weird looking down knowing that we will not be returning anytime soon anyway. We stayed at Karen's folks house for a few days until the closing on ours on May 31. Words can not explain the way we have felt Gods hand on our returning trip. A place to say for a few days, the closing on our new house moving up from June 30 to the 15th, to the 10th, then to May 30. (none of which was our asking for). A place to move our household things into in the "in-between-period". Great deals on a vehicle for Karen and one for Janae, for a job opportunities that feels so right.  Thanks to all of you for the prayers during this time.
         Our adjustment back to our "Passport Culture" has been much smoother so far than any of us had anticipated. It is so good to be back around family and church friends again. There was a joint baby shower on the 29th for Abby and Rachel. It is strange to see them both pregnant when it seems like not so long ago, they themselves were babies. Time has a way of doing that. We are excited to that next chapter in "our" lives as well as for them both. Abby is still in Edmond Oklahoma and Rachel in Elkhart Indiana.
          Our house still has a few boxes that are unpacked but over all it has gone really good. Much better actually than we had thought maybe. We have already been to the school where Janae and Marcy will be attending and both of them on right on track for their grade levels. Nina had her appointment to be placed in a group home and we were told that that "could" happen as soon as in the next 60 days. Karen is still looking for employment of some sort, hopefully in the school system. I am still in the job search process. with a couple of really good opportunities, I just need to try to figure out which of them is the one that I am being called too at this time.  I am still on staff with Students International and will be leading some construction teams to the five different areas in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and of course the Dominican Republic. I also hope to attend some mission trade shows throughout the year. We still want to get connected to a Spanish Speaking church for mid-week or Sunday night
Eating at our new home at our campfire that Marcy helped me put in.

 I will not be updating this as often anymore but I will try to give an update every 6-8 weeks to keep you informed mostly of our involvement with Students International. Thanks again all of you who supported us. During this time. 
Mason Kenneth Rowe, 8# 4 oz. 21" long, born to Rachel and Elliot 6-8-2016

   Over the course of the week that it took me to write this post, Rachel and Elliot added a new member to the U family, Mason Kenneth entered the world on Wednesday evening about 10:30. Karen and I as well as the 4 bigs (Abby by way of SKYPE) were all there for the big event.  We are all so excited to begin this new era in all of our lives as Parents, Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

God's plan looks much different than ours at times.

I write this update in the Miami airport on my way back home (DR home) from spending a week back in Indiana. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip to say the least.  Backing up. When we sold our business 10+ years ago we kept the building that was on our property and just sold the business. We had a couple different people rent it over the years but nothing real solid. We had another business man approach us a few years ago about buying it along with 3 acres to build a house on but that kind of fell apart. Then this spring he approached me again and was ready once more but also wanted to buy the house and the rest of the property. Karen and I had talked about that before and so it was in our long term plan but not right now. It seemed like bad timing to try to do this while moving back. Well, God had a different plan and with much persistence from the gentleman, we did end up selling our place. That then put us both homeless and jobless coming back the on May 25th. I ended up coming back for a long week to start to empty the house, sign a few papers, and look for some job opportunities. We did end up buying another house in Middlebury, right in town (about 8 miles from our home in Shipshewana). So that was a blessing. We had a couple in the area that was willing to rent us their home until we could find something else and get possession. I then received a phone call the day before I headed back saying that we can have the closing/possession on May 31, just 5 days after returning. So we will be staying at Karen’s folks for a few days before moving into the Middlebury house. I also had a couple different people talk to me about employment so I feel better about that also. I am still unsure where God is leading me in that area but……. I'm praying that it well be clear once we get back.
While I was back I went to visit a friend of mine that recently found out he has bone cancer. I visited with him for maybe 25 -30 minutes and I think that visit really gave me different perspective on things that I was going through that week. When I would see him wince with pain, and talk about the medications and the effects of those meds, about how he had suddenly became so dependent on others from his family to his church, it gave me a different set of glasses to see my seemingly unorderly life.  To see his faith, his positive attitude, and heartfelt gratitude, put me in an almost embarrassing state. It made me thankful for so much, just as he was thankful for so much.
Most likely, my next post will be written from Indiana after we move back. Thank you in advance for the prayers for our family as we transition back and see what God has in store for us during this next chapter in our lives.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Saying Good Bye at Genesis.

The staff at Genesis for the Despidida for us on Thursday
       Karen's last day at Genesis was Friday of last week. The custom here is to have a despedida for staff when they leave. On Thursday after most of the kids had left, they had Chocolate cake and Coke and made sure that I was there too. It was an interesting time as there was only one teacher there that was there when I left Genesis a little over three years ago. That was probably the hardest part of being here was the constant change of staff, teachers, just always someone leaving with new ones coming.
Juan Carlos, one of the students that we especially bonded with

      Just like the staff changes, so do the students change.  They might move to another area or they might not have the money for the transportation or some of them go back to the regular school system back into a regular classroom. We have had a couple that have left to go back to the regular school system when they opened up their own special education program here in town. And then there are some parents that it is just too much bother to get them there so they leave them at home all day.
Marcy singing along with one of her teacher friends from Doulos
       Juan Carlos is a student there that Karen and I really bonded with his family. We made a lot of home visits to his house with teams and sometimes Karen and I would just visit with his dad and sisters. His mother died soon after he was born due to complications related to his birth. It seemed like some of the kids ended up being really special to us and Juan Carlos for sure fell into that category.
      Karen and I went to see a movie last evening with the girls, "Miracles From Heaven". There was a line in there that really struck me with our time here and it was quoted in the movie from Albert Einstein.  "There are two ways to look at your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle." When I think of our time here is is very evident to me that everything is a miracle from God. All those faces at Genesis, the loving staff, the supporters that we have back in the states, our health while we are here; every little and big thing. "Miracles are everywhere. Miracles are goodness, Miracles are love, Miracles are God, and God is forgiveness".
      Thank all of you for praying for us while we are here and we would covet your prayers as we continue to plan on going back to Northern Indiana the end of May. My job is still up in the air Karen is also exploring options regarding that too for her.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Road Trip 2016

Macry dancing the Merenge on the boat in Bayahibes
     In most Latin cultures, Holy Week (or Semana Santa) is a week when most businesses shut down or at least shut down on Good Friday and Saturday. SI usually takes Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that week off and so Marcy and I took that opportunity to visit the southeast part of the island. We went to a part of the DR that I had only been in briefly about 12 years ago. We saw a lot of beaches, drove through a "National Park,. we visited some caves in Santo Domingo and went on a "rope pulley ferry" in the cave, we stayed at a couple of "lesser quality" hotels and experienced some foods we had not experienced yet. It really was a nice time away and since we drove the Tonka Truck, we drove 650+ miles on 13.6 gallons of gasoline. (that is one of the many things I will miss here is the Tonka Truck). One common culture experience you can see here is on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. On these days you will see men carrying a full size cross down the road usually for a long distance, maybe 20-30 miles or further. We saw two different men doing that.
Fish for breakfast
The rope pulley boat at Tres Ojos
      While Marcy and I were gone on our road trip, Janae was up translating for a team in the Santiago Base of SI. She enjoys doing that whenever she has the opportunity. Then back in Jarabacoa, Karen and Nina were working part days in Genesis, where Karen is finishing up a few things that she wanted to get done before she leaves that site in the next week or so. She has been working on the back playground for the younger kids. It is looking really good. We had a couple work teams in January and February in Santiago and I brought them down to Genesis for a couple days to put a roof over the eating area and then pour a small slab of concrete for that area. Then a couple days before Marcy and I left, I put new metal on the roof of the main building there. It had been leaking for some time and it was pretty much past the "patch and seal" stage. With the new roof, new gutter, and back playground area, that site is looking really good and will be ready for the students when they return in a couple weeks for the summer trimester. I also made a couple wheel chair swings. I am anxious to see how they work for the ones in wheelchairs that up til now, just had to watch everyone else swing during their recess time.
The Caverns at Tres Ojos
       As we begin to think more about coming back to Indiana we started to sell some of the things in our home. A new family from California will be moving down late summer/fall and they will buy most of our household items. Our vehicles will most likely end up going to the base in Santiago but that is not for sure yet. Pray for us as we prepare to transition back. The packing up, the finishing up small projects, the saying good-byes, and everything in between is what we have on our minds. I will be looking for employment when we return so also be praying for the "right job". We are really trying to take it slow and find out what God has for us in that area.

Marcy playing with her new friends at Bayahibes

Playa Diamate

The new wheel chair swings at Genesis
New roof and eating area
New playground for the smaller kids at Genesis
Small playground
Small Playground

Wheel Chair swing.

It appears that this lady is opening a can with a butcher knife. YEP!! Thats how they do it in the DR. No can openers here :)

Friday, March 11, 2016

February and March Happenings

     On Sunday, February 28 I flew to Texas to be with my folks for a couple of days before driving back with them to Indiana. It was a great opportunity that I didn't want to miss to spend some time catching up with them. After spending one night with our daughter Abby and husband Jeff then visiting some people in the Heston/Newton Kansas area and about 1800 miles and 2-1/2 days later, we were in Shipshewana. I had a short few days there and returned here to Jarabacoa on Tuesday evening the 8th of March - just in time to take Riley Hochestetler to the airport on Wednesday morning about 4 am. We were so glad that she was able to be with us for that part of her life.She worked with Karen at Genesis and also helped coach a soccer team that Janae was playing on. She will be missed a lot.
Riley with Alfry
       Karen has 1 week left at Genesis and then she will be done there and spend the remainder of her time packing, saying goodbye to people and helping out with SI wherever they need her. When Karen and I arrived at Genesis back in May of 2012, Maribel Mondragon was the director there and had just come back from a maternity leave. She then worked there as a teacher for the next couple of years. Maribel then went to one of the SI pre-schools as the site leader in January of 2015 for the next 15 months. She will be returning to Genesis and taking Karen's place at the site leader and director there the end of March. Courtney Barlow is also there as the American site leader and is doing an adoptive PE program with the kids.
      Since returning from Santiago in the middle of February I have been keeping busy finishing up a few projects at some of the ministry sites that I had on my list to get done. I will stay busy with that until we leave at the end of May.
      When I was back in Indiana last week I met with Honeyville Metal about returning to work there when we move back in May. We are exploring different options there so just be in prayer that we can discern what God has for me for when we return.

Vladi and Riley

The soccer team the Riley helped coach with Courtney Barlow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Busy times in the DR

New cabinet and counter top
Lauren Unternahrer used her artistic talent to bless us.
       As I read the title of this Blog "The best of times, the worst of times" I think how pertinent that is to our life here the last 6 weeks or so. I had been in Santiago since January 5th and returned this last Sunday the 14th of February. I was able to be back home in Jarabacoa for 3 days in between teams and then I went back again. It was great to be there to help lead 4 different work teams from our home area in Northern Indiana. One team was our home sending church, Shore Mennonite, and then another was our son and daughter-in-law's home church, River of Life. As good as that was, it was also really hard to be gone from the rest of the family for that time period. But God is good and we got through it. There was a lot of painting that got done, two different roofs were put up, a swing set was put up, a pad of concrete was set, a set of 4 cabinets was made, a lot of general clean up was done, a lot of guttering on the roofs was installed, two Styrofoam buildings were put up - it was just a lot of everything.

Watching the rain as it washed the paint off of the freshly painted roof

       I had the opportunity to work along side Lowell and Cheryl Troyer for 3 of those weeks and Fritz Bontrager from Shipshewana for all of that time. He was a huge help and a real encouragement to me personally. Blessings to you Fritz, for giving up over 6 weeks of your life to come help out with these teams. I now settle into a bit of a slower life as we try to catch up on a few things that I have been neglecting since last Summer/Fall. 

New roof started and floor poured at Genesis for Karen and Courtney

Dave Wenger putting the finishing touches on the concrete at Genesis

Fritz Bontrager. We could not have accomplished this without your help. Your helping hands, your sense of humor, your ability to work with a great attitude and much more. Blessing to you Fritz.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Christmas in the DR (for some of us)

Marcy making friends at ATL.
     Christmas was a celebration that we were not able to do as a family once again this year. Karen, Nina and Janae stayed in Jarabacoa and had their vacation time there as I and Marcy went to the States. We flew into Oklahoma on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas day with Abby and Jeff. Then on Saturday I drove one of their vehicles to St. Luis to Urbana15. It is a missions conference that is held every three years in St Louis for people that have interest in going (mainly overseas) into full time or part time missions. SI had a booth their to try to recruit short term and long term staff as well as a couple of College programs that we help out with. It was a great time to reconnect with friends from Language school in Costa Rica and MTI training that we went through in Colorado back in 2011.

Emma with her new Christmas Present.
       On my way back to Oklahoma City on New Years Day, I was able to stop in and visit with Mark Ropp and his family in Kansas. I enjoyed spending a few hours with him. Then on Saturday Jeff and Abby went with Marcy and  me to visit Jason and Sara Smoker, some friends that had lived in Shipshewana for a number of years. Sunday we had the opportunity to attend church with Jeff and Abby as well at Memorial Road Mennonite Brethren Church in Edmond, OK. It has been good for Karen and I to see them so involved in their church there in Oklahoma.
       While Marcy and I were out gallivanting around in Oklahoma, Karen, Nina and Janae were back working in Jarabacoa as Karen and the girls did some much needed painting in our house in town. Karen also had a project at Genesis that she was overseeing during the break. We had a nice two days together then when we got back before I headed to Santiago to be there for the remainder of January for the work teams that are there/coming down during the month. Busy times :)
Marcy enjoying the ice skating rink in Edmond, OK
Marcy with her new Minion glasses

Trying to keep Emma from eating Marcy's Christmas present

Abby and Marcy enjoying one of the parks in Oklahoma City

      Prayers for our family during the next 5 weeks would be much appreciated as we will be apart most of that time. Blessing to all. Mike.