In the past eight months Team Powell has been through numerous changes. Honestly, we still feel the weight of leaving our home in the Dominican Republic. As spring unfolds after a long winter of snow, we are still processing the move stateside, parenting two little ones, and the shift in ministry. Through all the mess, Curt is enjoying working for Young Life and I’m trying to soak up precious, busy days with the girls because they are growing so fast.

Here’s a look at the past few months in pictures:

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We welcomed our sweet, tiny Opal Wynn into our family three weeks early! She is the happiest baby we’ve ever met and has won us over with her dimples, shrieks of laughter, and constant snuggles. We didn’t even have our baby bag packed for the hospital when the doctor called to tell us I need a c-section earlier than planned. Despite the surprise arrival, Curt and I were amazed by the medical care here and felt immense peace. Having Curt in the room with me and pain medication available was a game changer. We also had family come to visit us in the hospital! It made for a memorable Christmas and end to 2016.

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Visits from family and friends encouraged our hearts these past months. We’ve spent time with grandparents, cousins, siblings, dear friends from the DR, and wonderful stateside friends.

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Fenna turned 2! She is full of energy and doesn’t stop talking. She loves sprinkles, animals, wiggly worms, princess dresses, drawing, and running around outside. Most of all she adores her little sister Opal.

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Thanks for joining us on this new journey! We’d love it if you kept in touch and even visited us in Spokane. Our casa is su casa!

We’d also appreciate your prayers as these past couple months have been challenging for our family. Please pray for:

  • The cultural adjustment to living stateside.
  • Our hearts. We still miss our Dominican community and are praying for new relationships to grow here.
  • Parenting wisdom and room to invest in our marriage as we raise two little ones.
  • Our emotional and mental health after having a baby, moving countries, and beginning a new ministry.

Gracias and bendiciones,

Team Powell

 

 

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Saying Goodbye

With heavy hearts Curt and I want to share with you that we will be moving from our beloved home in the Dominican Republic at the end of November. Our hope was to finish our fifth year with Doulos Discovery School this June, walking alongside our students for one final year of discipleship and growth. In our hearts we planned the months ahead, but God planned different steps for our family.

Before summer started, we were surprised to find out we are expecting Powell Baby #2! We couldn’t believe it. We were equal parts excited and intimidated. Just a few short weeks later the school year ended and we hopped on an airplane to spend time with family and friends stateside. Throughout the summer Curt and I began to pray about what God’s plans were for our last year at Doulos with an unexpected pregnancy. We wrestled with concerns about rising number of zika cases in the DR and where to give birth to our baby. There were lots of prayers, conversations, and tears. Although not what our hearts desire, we recently reached the decision that leaving our home in the DR early at the end of November is the best choice for our growing family of four. Let me explain.

When Fenna was born in Santiago, we had a difficult experience.  I spent over 30 hours in induced labor that didn’t progress. Eventually, I was whisked away to have a c-section. It was not ideal. I couldn’t understand the doctors well because Spanish is my second language, I was strapped to the operating table per c-section procedures, and worst of all, I experienced this alone because Curt was not allowed in the operating room. I was unable to welcome Fenna into the world with Curt by my side or hold my daughter afterwards. It took weeks upon weeks to recover physically and emotionally, yet we were thankful for a healthy baby.

In January I will have a second c-section. When we welcome this baby into the world, we hope to be together as a family, we want to have access to emergency care and medicine for recovery, and we want to feel safe and cared for by hospital staff. With our past experience and changing hospital regulations, we are not sure this is possible in the Dominican. It will also take four to eight weeks for me to be able to travel after surgery and even more time for me to lift heavy objects. We would not be able to transition back to the DR until mid February or March and then only have a few months left before we move back to the States. Our apartment is on the fourth floor. I would need to carry Fenna and the new baby up four flights of stairs, which is extremely challenging after a c-section. This means we would need to move homes again for the fourth time in five years.

Again, our hearts are heavy to leave this country and community earlier than expected, but after prayers and many conversations, we believe this is best for our family.

The next few months with Doulos Discovery School, Curt will be working hard to ensure the Student Life Department will thrive in his absence. A new guidance counselor and student activities coordinator have already been hired, and Curt is working to transition department leadership to his friend and co-worker, Marc Stomprud, our school chaplain.

We greatly welcome and appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Specifically, please pray for our hearts, and the hearts of our friends, teammates, students, and families we will be saying goodbye to over the upcoming months. Please also pray for decisions about the future. As of right now, we will be living in Cody, Wyoming for two months to give birth and recover from the c-section. We do not have direction with jobs yet. Lastly, please pray for protection for myself and the baby against zika.

We will keep you updated on our last few months as well as how you can be a part of helping us transition to the States. But for now, Curt and I want you to know we are so thankful for you. Thank you for joining us on this journey as we look ahead to a big transition for our family. Your prayers, encouraging words, grace, and support mean more than you know.

Gracia y Paz,

Alicia, Curt, Fenna, and Baby #2

The Little Artists of Doulos

Serving at Doulos this year as a part-time art teacher has been a wild ride. I teach pre-kinder through second grade. More often than not I leave class with paint splattered in my hair, but hands full of the cutest artwork in the Caribbean. I get to teach my students that art is a way to worship God through recognizing and reflecting the Perfect Creator. Our days together are filled with wonderful mess-making as these budding artists let loose their creativity. I especially enjoy seeing the students who struggle in English or Math excel in art.  Art gives our children the space to be free, to create, to do, and to think about the beauty, the color, and the detail of the creation God has gifted us.

Last week at Doulos we celebrated our students through the Doulos Art Show. Students from all grades had their artwork showcased. It was encouraging to watch students beam with pride as they showed their parents their work. The room was packed, and the 100 homemade cookies we made were gone in minutes. Families slowly moved around the exhibit, taking in the talent, snapping selfies with their favorite pieces.

I hope you enjoy these pictures of the final products from my little artists!

Luz

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Meet Luz. She is our dear friend who takes care of Fenna every Tuesday and Wednesday while I am off teaching art to little ones at Doulos. Luz’s name fits her to a T. In Spanish, Luz means light. The joy in our friend shines bright as she reflects the generous love of Jesus into our lives and the lives of so many others in our community.

Curt, Fenna, and I had the privilege of visiting Luz’s family for her daughter Pricilla’s 15th birthday. Their home is far up the windy mountain road above Jarabacoa, nestled next to fields of broccoli, banana, and plantain. It is a small, beautiful house covered in flowers and surrounded by playing children and bustling chickens.

Upon our arrival, we IMG_5342met the whole family: grandma, cousins, sisters, nephews, and an enormous group of church friends. We were greeted with the standard Dominican kiss on the cheek and hug – a greeting of affection we’ve come to love. After making introductions and having Fenna whisked away from us once or twice by open arms who can’t get enough of babies, we were ushered to a table and served lunch – a giant bowl of san cocho garnished with rice and lime. The soup was full of chicken, potatoes, carrots, and plantains soaked in a delicious broth (but after being surprised by a pig’s snout in my san cocho last year, I found myself putting in a little extra time inspecting my meal!). As guests, we were served first alongside the birthday girl and before the rest of the family. The chatter continued around the table and throughout the house as everyone gathered to celebrate Priscilla.

The depth of care and generosity we are shown by Dominican friends like Luz and her family never ceases to amaze me. Guests are welcomed with open arms, room is made at the table, and food is something to be shared, never coveted for oneself. Dominican generosity has shown our family how to be generous hosts in return – living with an open door, and sharing what we have with open hands. I’ve learned to bring out the dark chocolate we bought in the States to share with our neighbors, or make a little extra at mealtime to give to a friend during the week, or give away the fresh orange we bought as a special treat to someone whose eyes lit up at a glance of the rare fruit. It sounds simple, but being generous hasn’t always come easily for me because it is so tempting to hold on to “my” clothIMG_5364es, or “my” food, or “my” space, or “my” time.

I’m grateful for this country, my friends like Luz, and my husband who help me to live generously as they continuously remind me that stuff is just stuff and people are most important.

Bienvenidos a Year Four!

Year four with Doulos Discovery School is shaping up to be an incredible year. Thank you for joining us on this journey, covering us in prayer, and being a part of God’s work in Jarabacoa. In a few pictures and words, check out what’s new this year.

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The first ever Doulos Leadership Council is up and running! Curt kicked off the year with his group of students in training sessions on servant leadership and student body government. These students are using their positions to be incredible leaders and examples on campus. They welcomed younger students on the first days of school, lead flag for the school every morning, and have great visions for the days to come.

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The Doulos Leadership Council took a trip to 27 Waterfalls. None of the students had every visited, but all of them loved the adventure and conversations about their dreams for the coming year at Doulos.

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We moved! It’s our fifth home in four years of marriage, but this apartment has already become a place of peace and rest in our lives. Though we loved our old house and neighbors in our backroad, out-of-town neighborhood, the late night beats infiltrating our home, mold growing on the walls, and loud and speedy motorcycles driving past were difficult for Fenna. She has been sleeping and growing like a champ in our new place.

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Doulos had its first ever family picnic and back to school night! Curt and the Leadership Council put on activities for the student body and their families like face painting, bachata dance lessons, and bouncy houses. They grilled up delicious meat and everyone brought a side to share. It was a great way to bring our community together and get excited about this year.

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Art class for the itty bitty students on campus has a new teacher. Alicia is teaching art for the prek-3rd grades this year, alongside a new Doulos teacher, Meredith, who is an incredible artist. Watching the students learn their colors, experience the stickiness of glue, and create something beautiful is a messy and loud process, but so much fun.

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Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetFenna is five months old! This sweet girl is growing more accustomed to the heat and Spanish around her. She tends to be a little shy around people, but once she is comfortable will laugh and smile for days. Her new favorite things are chewing on her feet and scooting around and rolling over as soon as she is set down. When Alicia is at school on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings, Fenna spends time with our wonderful friend Luz (Alicia taught Esdras, her son, two years ago).

Good things are already running wild at Doulos Discovery School this year. Thank you for sending and supporting us in our ministry to our students and their families.

Gracia y Paz,

Alicia, Curt, Fenna (and Clove)

She’s here!

 MEET FENNA RUTH

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Born April 10, 2015

in Santiago, Dominican Republic

weighing 8 pounds 4 ounces

We had a plan. We knew we would dar la luz, Dominican for give birth, to our little daughter in Santiago. The baby bags were packed, the room was ready, and a birth plan was written. Then our due date came and … nothing happened. We waited – two days, then almost two weeks. Eventually our doctor decided Alicia should be induced. That was not in the plan. After a grueling 32 hours of labor – also not in the plan – we were told we would need to have a c-section (definitely not in the plan). What we thought would be one of the happiest, joy-filled moments of our lives quickly became fear-filled with Alicia being whisked away to surgery … in a foreign land …  in a developing country … in her second language … leaving Curt and Grandma waiting outside the operating room doors. Our plan was to welcome our daughter into the world side by side, together. Instead, at 3:04 pm, Alicia welcomed Fenna on the operating table by herself. Fenna instantly stopped crying when held to Alicia’s face, and even began sucking on her mother’s chin. Curt first saw Fenna through tear-filled eyes on an iphone picture taken by a nurse, and was able to hold her shortly thereafter. Beautiful, life-changing, but not part of our plan.

Our recovery in the hospital was rocky. Bedridden, Alicia couldn’t hold Fenna or even take a good look at her new daughter for a full day. IV’s continuously stopped working and the quality of care was often subpar. Thank goodness for Grandma Nina who is two parts veteran OB nurse and one part baby whisperer. Two days after Fenna was born Alicia transitioned from her hospital bed in Santiago to her home bed in Jarabacoa. Here, she recovered slowly (and painfully) over the following weeks with help from Daddy, Grandma, and extra-strength tylenol.  Needless to say, none of this was part of the birth plan.

Fenna is six weeks old now. These six weeks have been full of tears and joy. Tears for things not planned – like hot weather, very late nights, very early mornings, sickness for mommy and babe, and loud motorcycles who wake them both up.

In proverbs, the author writes, “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” We had grand plans for the birth and our little girl’s first weeks of life, but what happened wasn’t even in the ballpark of what we anticipated. Yet there have been countless moments of unexpected beauty as well, and so much for which to be thankful.

Thank you to every friend and family member who has loved us through prayers these past weeks; we felt them. Thank you to those in our community who brought us comfort through delicious meals. Thank you to the friends who came over just to sit, hold Fenna, and offer encouragement. Thank you to supporters who financially helped us pay hospital bills, buy diapers, and purchase all the things this little babe needs. We have never felt alone in this journey. God has poured his love out for us through our surrounding community. We have been challenged, encouraged, and made more like Jesus. We are so thankful.

Below are some of the unplanned, joy-filled moments we would like to share with you.

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Friends and family who continually lift our little family up in prayer.

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A healthy baby girl, making cute faces and yawns in the hospital.

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A grandma who took a month away from home to share life with us, care for Fenna, and help Alicia during her recovery.

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Bath times with dad every night.

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Short walks and dessert date nights.

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 Silly faces and first smiles with momma.

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Snuggles after naps.

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Naps on the padres because the pack n’play just isn’t doing it for Fenna.

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  One month of life.

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Mother’s Day walks.

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Big girl headbands and wide eyes that take in the world.

We are looking forward to seeing each of you and introducing you to Fenna this summer. Until then, may the Lord continue to bless you, walk with you, and plan your steps.

Bendiciones,

Team Powell

Thoughts on Year Three

Dearest friends and family,

Year three has been a year of transitions – transitioning into pregnancy and soon into life as parents, transitions into new positions and responsibilities at work while transitioning out of old ones, transitions out of our home (which was giving us a little trouble) and back into the same home a few weeks later (because we love this place so much), and transition within our community as we welcomed new Doulos Teammates after saying goodbye to living and serving alongside dearly loved friends.

Amidst all this transition, it’s a joy to say that Curtis and have never felt more settled in Jarabacoa. The Dominican is our home, and every day we experience the beauty of sharing life in this wonderful country. We wanted to take a few moments to share with – our family and friends – what life on Team Powell has looked like lately. Thank you for being on this journey alongside us.

Bendiciones,

Alicia, Curt, and Baby Powell

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Baby Powell is due at the end of this month! Except for the fried chicken and smells of cooking eggs that didn’t agree with me, being pregnant in the Dominican has been wonderful. The best part has been getting to feel this beautiful baby girl move around. I’ve loved it! But a distant second from this is experiencing how the Dominican culture treats their pregnant women. This culture reserves the best parking spots for pregnant ladies, and people insist that I cut to the front every line. Our neighbors (including our eighty year old porch sitting Dominican grandma across the street) jump to open doors and carry groceries. Co-workers have been stopping me regularly to rub my belly and remind me what a blessing it is to be pregnant. We are thankful.

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Letting students run wild with projects that allow them to process and display their learning is always a good idea, even if things get messy. Right now students are working on life cycle models of chickens. We are even raising our own chicks inside our very own chicken coop!

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Basketball season is in full swing, and the boys even have jerseys this year (thank you Lynden friends)! Curt is loving time with the boys and watching them grow in skill and character. If you judge the team’s success by their record, then they have two wins and five losses. But if you judge their success by the attitude, effort, and growth of these young men, then they are dominating the competition. Curt couldn’t be prouder.

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We’ve learned cookie parties and sidewalk chalk are a great way to bring kids together and make sure everyone is having a good time.

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Wyldlife camp was a hit! Curt was the camp speaker for the weekend and used the parable of the lost son to speak on the real life with Jesus vs. the fake life we experience without him.

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Did I mention my class is amazing this year? I have loved exploring, learning, praying, and growing with them. I’ve listened to students speak their first complete sentence in English! I’ve watched students persevere through their first hike and camping excursion. I’ve seen little hearts soften and open up to the idea of loving others like Jesus loves us. I’ve heard small friends pray their first prayers. I’ve watched them serve with their whole hearts. It’s been such a joy.

As we say ‘yes’ to life on the other side of major transitions, Curt and I are reminded how thankful we are for friends and family like you who have been so constant in every season of our life. Thank you to saying ‘yes’ to doing life alongside Team Powell. We love you!