Aldridge newsletter

20 02 2011

February marks the one year anniversary of our leaving the states for language school and the Dominican Republic. We’ve put together a short little newsletter to update everyone on what we’ve done this year, as well as what the future hold for the Aldridges and the Manna DR team. If you’d like to look at it, you can find it at:

https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0Bzma-_dgUwtGZTc1NGEzNjQtZWY4OS00OTUwLTk4ZTItNjRlZTBmYTExOWFm&hl=en

Thanks for looking at it, we appreciate all of your love and support!





discipling program progress.

20 02 2011

We’ve had a busy month with preparations for our discipling program. A few weeks ago we officially began to spread the news about the school to our prospective students, and the response was awesome. Our kids were all incredibly excited, and they asked a lot of great questions about the program. They seem to have a renewed sense of excitement, not only for the school, but for our existing programs, as well.

A week after officially breaking the news, we hosted a parent meeting  for the families of our prospective students. We invited the mayor of Rio San Juan, the director of the high school, and personnel from the district of education office in RSJ. Overall, the turnout was great, with about 17 students represented, and all the parents were incredibly enthusiastic about having their children be involved. I was unsure about whether or not the community would catch onto the idea behind the discipling program, but we had an incredible response. In the weeks following the meeting, we have had several other members of the RSJ community asking for information about the school for their children. All in all, we have collected about 25 applications for admission to the program (we’re planning to accept somewhere between 15 and 20 for year 1), and we’re incredibly pleased with that turnout.

Over the next couple of weeks, we plan to conduct interviews with each of the prospective students and their families. Shortly thereafter we should have a more concrete list of the students who will be in the discipling program for the first year. The plan is to include those students as much as possible with the Spring Break and summer groups, as a way to prepare them for the school and build relationships with our stateside supporters.

Also, thanks to some really awesome people who worked super hard (especially Cheryl Mynatt and Laura Beth Lamb), we now have a TON of school supplies ready for our usage. Mrs. Cheryl was able to head up a fundraiser and Boyd-Buchanan in Chattanooga, providing us with both supplies and money to get a great start on our supplies. Then a work group from Northside in Jeffersonville, IN (the Lamb’s home congregation), came down to bring the supplies and put new roofs on our school buildings. They put a LOT of work into the labor and into getting the supplies through customs. We are so grateful. Here’s a picture of some of our supplies:

Needless to say, we are super excited about all the progress being made here for the “new” program. There is still MUCH to be done, but we’re making progress! Please keep the DR team and all the preparations in your prayers!





the future of Manna DR

23 01 2011

The DR team has exciting plans in store for the future of the Dominican Republic ministry. In order to give the most in-depth explanation possible of what we are planning, I have copied a post from the Manna DR blog site. It’s mannadr.wordpress.com if you would like to keep up with our team that way! Here it is:

 

Most of us remember the old adage, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a life time.” How true is this in the Christian life? Even though the Great Teacher was known to give some people a fish or two every now and then, He never stopped at that. No one who ever encountered Christ walked away without learning something. That is the mark of a good teacher. It’s safe to say that we have given out plenty of “fish” in our day, but now we are ready to disciple. And what better way to disciple than through a Christian school?

The Lord has put it on our hearts to show the people of this country how amazing the love of God truly is. To do this, though, we need to build deep/long relationships so that He can show that love through us. Our challenge: being able to spend enough time with our kids to form an intimate relationship and actually make a difference in their lives. Our solution: have an intensive discipling program in the form of a school.

We call this a “new” ministry, but it is really just an extension of the ones we already have. The inspiration for this program comes from the kids in our existing Manna DR ministries – the Angel’s, Ranger’s, Estefany’s and Rosmery’s. These are teens that you may already know, and they are searching. They are searching for love and attention – and many times – in all the wrong places. We feel that God is calling us to minister to these children in the Jesus-style of teaching, which will encompass not only their academics, but every other aspect of their lives. We believe that dedicating 40+ hours a week to the spiritual well-being of these students/disciples will allow them to receive that love, attention, and intimate training they so badly need – from a God who loves them unconditionally. That being said, although the plan for this program includes teaching our children “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic,” if that is the only thing these children learn from us, we have failed miserably.

Our plan is to open Manna Christian School in the fall of 2011, with anywhere from 15-20 high-school students. In the future we may look at offering this program to younger children, but for now, we feel that we are most called to mentor to our high-school-age participants. We will use Manna’s existing facilities in both Bobita and Rio San Juan as grounds for the campus. We are currently in the process of building a team (more on that later), putting together curriculum, working out the issues of accreditation and diploma, and retro-fitting our facilities for this project. Needless to say, there is much to be done!

For the benefit of both our students and supporters, MCS will be an all-English school. For the students, this will provide an incredible economic advantage and wider range of job opportunities after graduation. In addition, it will allow greater possibility of involvement for our U.S. counterparts. After opening the school, we plan to have volunteers (individuals and possibly teams) come down to give English, bible, and/or trade classes in a specific area to our children. We know that so many of you love and support both the children and the work here in the DR, and we want to keep you involved as much as possible. Thus, a plan for week-long workshops taught by people like you!!

For the long-term and to create an exit plan for these kids, we would eventually like to start a young adult ministry in the Santiago area. If students from Rio San Juan would like to achieve higher education, they have to do so outside of the area, in a place such as Santiago or Santo Domingo. One of the best universities in the country is located in Santiago, and for this reason, we have plans to set up a campus ministry there. As our students graduate from our program, they will be able to go on to be supported and disciples this ministry, both as “tellers of the good news” and encouragers for those around them.

As you can see, this is neither an easy nor a short-term goal for our Dominican ministry. However, we are so excited about where we feel the Spirit is leading us as a team here in the DR. There is much more to come on the details, but we can’t wait to see how you’re going to be involved! Please join us! We have a large vision document which we are happy to share with you if you’d like more details. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support,

The Manna DR team





back to life, back to reality.

11 01 2011

I decided to make a separate post to recount the goings-on since we have returned to Rio San Juan… this one is not for the faint of heart. Ha.

So, we were in the states for 3 weeks. Evan and I ended up coming in to the states on two different flights (I came in a couple of days early), and apparently (not that I’m casting blame here) someone forgot to lock the door securely as he left the house. Apollo (our 70-pound Weimeraner), stayed at the house while we were gone. Ronald and Rosi went to our house to feed him everyday, and, since we have a fenced-in yard, he just slept (in theory) on the porch by our front door. Apparently he got bored or mad on the first night we were gone, and he pushed his way into the house through the not-securely-locked front door. What ensued was apparently mass chaos, involving a bottle of red acrylic paint, 500 yards of red and green yarn, 2 pairs of my shoes, and other various items. Bless Ronald and Rosi for coming into the house the next day to try and clean up the mess. However, our apartment was in total disarray Sunday night when we got back… including red paint on our only set of clean sheets. Ha.

Probably the most unfortunate part of this story, however, is the other critters who entered the house while the door was open overnight. Upon closer inspection of our guest bedroom, we realized that there was rat poop literally ALL over the room. Leo, being the brave 5-pound dog that he is, marched into the room and started sniffing around the mess. Much to our dismay a huge rat comes out from beneath a pile of clothes, runs to the kitchen, and climbs in the back of the stove, with us screaming like little girls in pursuit of it. At this point, we let Apollo into house, and he then proceeded to chase the rat out of the (2nd floor) window. We thought we were safe. Well, yesterday morning, I went into the kitchen to see what kind of food we had to eat for breakfast. I open the cabinet door to find another sizable rat eating velveeta and staring at me, looking like I was the one out of place. Another scene similar to the night before ensued, and the rat escaped the house, unscathed. Apparently we are not really brave warriors when it comes to this type of battle.

Anyway, after all that excitement, we spent the entire day yesterday washing every dish and sheet and article of clothing that we own. We swept, mopped, scrubbed EVERYTHING, and threw away probably half of our food supply (which had been chewed on by the rats). It appears that we have finally returned to some semblance of normalcy. So there it is – an incredibly rude awakening from the past few weeks!





a blessed furlough.

11 01 2011

For those of you who don’t know, Evan and I just got back from furlough on Sunday. We were able to spend the holidays with our families in the states, and it was awesome. We probably didn’t do much different from what you guys do around Christmas (EAT, sleep, be with family), so I won’t bore you with all the details… but I do have to hit the high points! 🙂

We had a great baby shower in Jackson right before Christmas. Connor really racked up on the goodies. I think we’ll have to change his clothes every 3 hours for the first few months just so he can wear all his new stuff. Thanks so much for all of you guys who helped put that together, and came to the shower, and brought gifts for the baby! And also thanks to the Northside church (where Cory and Laura Beth Lamb are working now) for bringing down all the loot in a few weeks. We appreciate all of you!

As per tradition in the Gilmore family, we spent New Year’s in Gatlinburg with the whole Gilmore clan. Evan was able to go to the (heartbreaking) Music City Bowl in Nashville with his family on the 30th. Being in Gatlinburg involved way too many Krispie Kreme doughnuts than I care to admit to, but we did have a great time. On the 4th, we left for Disney World with Evan’s family, where we stayed until early Sunday morning, when we came back to the DR. It was awesome to have a little bit of a vacation. The next few months look like they might be especially busy, so I’m glad we got to rest up a little on furlough!

Anyway, we were so blessed to be able to spend some time with family and friends over the holiday. It was an awesome experience… now we’re back and ready to get back to work! And definitely enjoying the warm weather after seeing the snow in Chattanooga on Christmas day!





Santiago & Magi boxes

12 11 2010

Having several things to do in “the city,” we spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week in Santiago. On Tuesday, we saw my baby doctor, and everything went really well. Although I’ve been feeling him moving around for a couple of weeks, it was pretty awesome to see him kicking and punching and sucking his thumb (so sweet!) on the 3D ultrasound. The doctor is pretty convinced that the baby’s a boy (we’ll confirm it in a few weeks), and he said that he is “perfect in every way.” We followed the doctor’s visit with eating lunch at McDonald’s, shopping for the little guy, supper at Chili’s, and spending the night in an air-conditioned hotel room with a hydromassage shower (basically it shoots at you from every direction). All in all, it was a pretty stinkin’ awesome day.

We met up with Chad, Norm, and Kevin on Wednesday to pick up the Magi boxes from the airport. With all of the boxes together, they filled up the entire back of the Diahatsu. Wow, guys. Thanks so, so much for those of you who had a hand in putting those together and getting them here. Evan and I are so excited about getting to be here to help pass out Magi boxes. Can’t believe it’s almost time!

There’s something else I wanted to share with y’all, just because I feel like it’s a cool story. I would call it a “God thing.” While we were waiting on all the Magi boxes’ paperwork to go through at the airport, I met a missionary couple from Virginia with a really cute little baby boy. I started talking to the lady and found out that the boy was born at Homs (the hospital we go to in Santiago), and that her OB was the same one that I see. I was able to ask her a lot of questions that had been on our minds about the hospital, doctor, US paperwork, cost, etc. Anyway, just thought it was cool that God put in front of us the opportunity to talk to a couple who understand and were willing to give us their contact information and answer some questions for us. I love little things like that – they’re just a testament to the role God plays in our everyday lives. 🙂





gideon.

26 10 2010

I feel like most people like stories in which the ‘underdog’ wins; people or teams that rise up from nothing to accomplish something incredible. Let’s face it –  there are probably about a thousand sports movies that have made millions off that very idea. One of my favorites from the bible has always been the story of Gideon. I remember my mom teaching the story at VBS one year. She used a real lamb’s fleece to talk about the “tests” Gideon asked God to perform, and she explained to us what it meant to “lap like a dog.” I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8. It’s an incredible story that tell the greatness of our Lord, and it has become very special to me over the past several months.

Evan and I have almost been married 3 years, and we have always, always wanted to have lots of kids (By lots, I mean like, maybe 4. ha). We had not quite been married a year when we decided that we wanted to start trying to have a family. Well, as we are daily learning, our plans are not always the plans that God has for us. Although we have been able to do some wonderful things in the past 2 years – especially making the commitment to live in the Dominican – having a baby has not been one of those things. This past year we have had what felt like bad news, after bad news, after worse news, when it came to the prospect of our having a child. We have both always loved the idea of adoption. Having 2 adopted sisters, I feel like an adopted child is no less a gift from God than a biological one. Unfortunately, to adopt in the DR, you have to be 30 (which we are not); and to adopt in the states you have to (go figure) live there. More bad news.

We have been through lots of stages in this journey… sadness, anger, jealousy…. the list goes on. A few months ago Evan and I were talking over lunch and I began thinking about the story of Gideon. He started out with a great army, and God slowly cut that army down to the small number of only 300. The reason for this? So that when they succeeded in defeating the Midianites, there would be no doubt that God alone had delivered the victory. We began to think that maybe this story was incredibly applicable to our situation. We had tried various doctors and fertility treatments, but none of them were able to give that which can only come from God. Although we had continually prayed for a child, I don’t think we had ever truly given it over to God.

Judges 7:2

God said to Gideon, “You have too large an army with you. I can’t turn Midian over to them like this—they’ll take all the credit, saying, ‘I did it all myself,’ and forget about me.

Now I am 14 (and a half, but who’s counting?) weeks pregnant. Nobody can know the mind of God, but a big part of me thinks that he just wanted us to be sure that our child had come from Him, and not from our own strength or the strength of our doctors or fertility drugs. As a testament to that, in mid-August we started a new treatment for me – hormone injections (FUN) – only to find out later that I was already pregnant before we even started with the drugs. God DOES have a sense of humor. We are beyond blessed and exceedingly thankful. It makes me emotional to even write this story, because I know that God had a hand in all of this, even when we sometimes doubted His plan. He is faithful and patient, even when we, like Gideon, need signs of His presence to strengthen our faith.