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It's almost been a year!

In some ways it's hard to believe, while in others it seems we've been here longer, but July 17th will mark a year since we boarded the plane for the Dominican Republic. What a year it's been! In many ways it has been more difficult than we had anticipated, but here are some of the highlights of our first year:

-Making new friends
-Getting to know kids in our neighborhood
-Watching our children grow as they adjust to a new culture and way of life
-Worshiping with other believers in another language and culture at our home church here in La Vega
-Several beach trips we've been able to make when family and friends visit or when celebrating special occasions
-Getting to experience life in a different country, and participating in some of the customs which are new to us
 
Updates/ praises and prayer requests:

Skatechurch in Portland sent us 15 skateboards to help launch our Skatechurch here.  Unfortunately, they have been held up in Miami for close to two months now by our second party shipping company. Please pray that they will release them to us this week, without charging an astronomical amount in taxes. We have been given approval for use of our church building for this ministry, and the neighbor kids come to our house every Tuesday asking if there will be Skatechurch that day and we feel bad every time we have to tell them we still don't have the skateboards.

A major answer to many prayers over the last couple years is that Jolie has adjusted to living here and wants to stay!! Of course, she wants to come home for a visit (as we all do), but she is enjoying living here and has been helping out in our kids' ministry with a willingness and eagerness we hadn't seen until recently. She's also agreed to attend school, when she'd been extremely resistant to it all along. If you were one of the many faithful who prayed for Jolie, will you now pray for Ivan with the same fervency? He is struggling in much the same way that she had been.

I, Tonya, have now been to court 5 times due to the accident, and must go again on August 3rd. This time I will need a lawyer and the case will go to trial, because the motorcyclist didn't want to take the deal offered by our insurance. He and his family have stated that they want 700,000 pesos (the equivalent of $15,000 USD) from me, and don't want to settle for the amount our insurance is willing to pay, even though the accident wasn't my fault. The process here seems to be opposite of the way it works in the States, and has been confusing and frustrating at times.

After visiting several schools and getting advice from a few different people, we've decided to send our kids to the Christian school here in La Vega. It will be challenging at first, as all of the teaching takes place in Spanish, but we feel it is necessary for the kids to become fluent in the language and culture, and to make friends here. Unfortunately, it will cost about $500 per month in tuition fees for all four of our kids to attend. This means we need to raise up some more monthly supporters, and we have only six weeks to do it, as school starts on August 14th. But we've seen the Lord provide over and over, and if it is His will that we send all four kids to school this year, we trust that He will supply the necessary funds.

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Ben has been helping out in a prison ministry most Tuesday mornings for the last few months.
Two weeks ago we read the story of the Tower of Babel and then built towers out of marshmallows :)
Emilie and I taught English until about a month ago when the school year ended. My favorite part was the rapt attention the children paid when I read them a book. There are no libraries or book stores here, so books are a novelty.
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