Friday, February 14, 2020

Janine and I have been on one long Journey of Faith and Answered Prayers these past 2 1/2 years ministering here in the Dominican Republic. It is while we were living in the community of Costambar, Puerto Plata that we received the direction from God to plant a church. 

Months before the opening day of the Journey International Church (JIC), we received a divine appointment. We met up with a friend at McDonalds in Santiago to pick up some materials he had translated into Spanish for us. While we were meeting he happened to notice a girl he had in his class at University named Lindsay. We were introduced and it just so happened she also had just moved to Costambar.  Of course, God’s plans are always perfect!  We became instant friends.

We worshipped on a regular basis with Lindsay in another city while we were putting things together for the opening day of JIC. We had been looking for a translator to come along side of us and help minister to the Spanish speaking community. We had interviewed a few people, but they were just not the right fit.  Then one day, Lindsay introduced us to a man named Miguel. He was a Dominican believer who had translated for Lindsay’s mission team when they visit this country.  He was perfect!  We knew God sent him to us!

We spent some time in prayer and some time practicing what we would be doing on Sunday’s. Miguel started with us on the opening Sunday, October 14, 2018 and he has been faithful to the Lord and to service every week. I have a brother who communicates the Word of God from English to his native language of Spanish. I know I can trust him because his English is also better than mine. Lol  Many people who have visited JIC, who are fluent in English and Spanish, attest to the fact that he is accurate in both languages. He has been a perfect fit!  

We have been praying for God to send people whom we can train in ministry. We have also been praying for someone who is as fluent in both languages like Miguel that we could use to reach out in this community and expand the ministry.Miguel would be perfect, but we could not take him away from his full time job because we felt we couldn’t afford to pay the wages he needed to support his wife and three daughters, and we wanted God to speak to him directly and Call him into ministry.
Flash forward to December of 2019, Janine and I started to call out to God for his provisions in our ministry, according to His will.  We needed Him to provide the correct people for us to train in ministry to reach the people He has us seeking. We needed answers as we entered into 2020.  Our God is the great provider! He Answered!

We weren’t home even one week when we received a call from Miguel saying he needed to talk to us personally. Miguel shared that God has been pulling on his heart for some time now to serve him on a full time basis. He said he finally realized this is God’s will for his life and he wants to yield to Him.  But, He was not sure what to do. To make matters worse for Miguel, he attempted to take a better job and gave notice of quitting to his place of employment. He later found out the new place was not a trustworthy place. In a strange turn of events he found himself unemployed.

Well, after spending much time in prayer, and figuring out the church finances.  We made an offer to hire Miguel on a full time basis. Miguel and his wife, Miriam also spent much time in prayer and have accepted the offer. We are so excited to share with you that Miguel Angel Victoria Castillo is now the full time Assistant in Ministryat JIC.

Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  God did answer our prayers, but he did so in his time, the perfect time! 

We prayed, laid hands on him, and commissioned him into service to the Lord this past Sunday, February 2, 2020. Please be praying for Miguel, his wife, Mariam and their 3 daughters, Libni, Arlyn and Angely as they serve our Lord and savior here in the D.R. with us in a new way here at the Journey. We are excited to see what God will do - in us and thru us - with this Team in 2020

Serving Together for the KINGDOM
Bruce & Janine

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Blessed and Thankful

Colossians 4:2 (NIV) – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

November is the month of Thanksgiving.  A time to reflect on the many blessings that we have: life, family, friends, health, jobs, etc. and most importantly it is a month to Thank God for all the love He pours out on us! 

We are praising God for a somewhat uneventful or could we say a “normal” month.  We are feeling at home and settled in our new house. It is an older cement house that is a little rustic, but it is spacious and airy and just has a good homey feel. We never thought being a missionary would require us to be so flexible and ready to shift to where he wants us next.  That’s Ok! It is always good.

This house has helped greatly with ministry!  Every Saturday we set up 30 chairs (and we have the space for more if needed) outside under our carport, and show family friendly movies in Spanish.  We have been averaging 15 people every week, children and adults.  It has been a fun time just to get to know our neighbors and share our love for Christ in small ways.

Sunday’s we turn that carport into a place of Worship too.  Neither of us are worship leaders, but God has provided us with a way to sing and get into the spirit of worship together by using worship song videos in Spanish and English.  We love to learn Spanish songs and they love to learn English ones as well. Then Bruce preaches a message in English and Miguel, our translator, translates in Spanish.  

One Sunday the weather looked quite threatening and we weren’t sure if a storm would roll in from the ocean or not.  With this house we have the option and space to set up church inside if needed.  So we did!  It was awesome to see this group of people from Spain, Italy, Dominican, Haiti, California and us all worshiping together in our living room!

Janine finished her sewing classes at Esperanza School for this year.  Four young girls learned some basics and made a pretty cool book bag.

We have two Canadian, Christian, friends that live just down the street from us.  It is funny how we met months ago in Santiago.  We say, “It was truly a God ordained meeting.”  And we have been blessed in so many ways with this friendship.   They live here 7 months of the year and then have a team from their home church, close to Toronto, Canada, come and do mission work here for 2 weeks. We joined them and the team for a few of their outreaches.  We went to a nursing home in Puerto Plata for a Special Christmas Party for the elderly.  Santa, singing, dancing and gifts for all!

One little serious elf!
We headed to the mountains and participated in a worship service with the team one day as well; beautiful ride there and beautiful people.

The team threw a Christmas party their last night here for all their friends (us included): their driver, interpreter, pastors and their families. The party started at 2:00 and we left at 11:30. You would have loved the pastor’s dance that Bruce was a part of.  Lucky for you no pictures or videos are included.  Eating, swimming, singing, laughing! Pure fun! We had so much fun together and were extremely blessed to have this time with other Christians, and mostly English-speaking friends.   It did wonders for our soul!

We are truly Blessed and Thankful for how God leads our lives and has given us this opportunity here. We wind down our time and ministry here over these next 3 weeks.  And we are excited to be able to come to the states for a two-week visit over the Christmas holiday.  This will be the first Christmas home with our family in 5 years.  We are excited beyond words!  Hope we will remember how to drive on snow J Brrrr…
And we hope to run into a few of you too!

Happy Thanksgiving! 
Blessed because of Him!
Bruce & Janine

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Every perfect Gift

James 1:17, NIV: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

From the moment we landed in America and saw the Huge Red, White and Blue Flag hanging so proudly, until we returned to the Dominican Republic, our days and our hearts were filled with joy, laughter and sweet memories that we will carry with us until we return again.

August was a month of celebration that was filled with gifts, gifts and more gifts! Gifts are usually thought of as something you see, open, and hold in your hands.  Even though these are wonderful, the “Gift of Time” spent with family and friends, celebrating and catching up on what we have missed this past year was truly the best gift, and a true blessing to us!

The Wedding of our youngest son was surely the Highlight!  God added an extra special, beautiful lady to our family!  Bruce had the honor of officiating the ceremony, joining Gavin and Jacqueline together.  He did a great job!  And yes, the jokester restrained himself; he can be serious when he has to be. The days leading up to the wedding, and all the moments of the wedding day were extra special and absolutely beautiful.  Our granddaughters were so excited to be a part of this special day as well. They loved being the special Flower girls.  Instead of flowers, they walked together carrying a little sign that read, “Here she comes Uncle Gavin”.   As one of them said at the end of the night, “This was the best day EVER!!”  We agree! 

Beside all the wedding fun, we were so happy to be able to connect with many of you while we were home as well.  It was great to spend time with some of our supporting churches and friends sharing how God is working and opening doors for ministry in the Dominican Republic.  Some days we met with friends for breakfast, and then met more friends for lunch, then again more friends at dinner. What fun!  Gathering together and eating together is always a good time!  Thank you!! (We were even gifted with a little more fluff added to our waistlines.)

Thank you Penny and Dalton ladies for all the
 fabrics and sewing supplies!
Spending time with my aging parents was also a Huge Gift!  I wasn’t aware of, or prepared for, the changes I saw in their health though.  Both of them were having some very difficult and serous health issues.  We spent time in the emergency room with my mom who had a small stroke. We spent time in doctor’s offices helped schedule appointments, tests etc.  Not the fun stuff!  But we were glad to be home to help where we could and just spend time talking, reminiscing and being family.   A real reminder to us; time doesn’t stop.  So, enjoy every moment.  Family Time is a Gift! (Even when it’s difficult)

Over the past 5 years we have missed many, many special events and a whole lot of birthdays.  So, we decide to have One Big Birthday Party celebrating all our grandkids at once. There was a cake for the girls and a cake for the boys: gifts, games, cake and ice cream, swimming, fishing and a ton of laughter.  We had so much fun; we think we will try to make this our family tradition.

We loved our visit home and all the special moments.  But, as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” We are back in the Dominican in our own bed, back to our routine and working on the ministry God has marked out for us here. Please continue to pray for us as we press on making way for planting a church here. 

Thank you for being a part of our lives and having a part in all that we do! You are a special Gift to us!

Blessed because of Him!
Bruce & Janine