TBT: Dominican Engineering

Today, I posted this picture on Instagram of a man with a Coleman cooler turned into a really loud speaker system for advertisements strapped to the back of his moto.  I was inspired to compile my top 5 favorite moments [captured on film] of Dominican engineering for Throwback Thursday. #throwbackthursday

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5. The question is not why, but rather why would you NOT turn your cooler into an extremely loud advertisement machine strapped to your moto?

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4. Lawn Service in the DR. Who needs a trailer?

3. What to do with all those empty oil cans? Two birds with one stone.

3. What to do with all those empty oil cans? Two birds with one stone.

3. Bird repellant.

2. Bird repellant.

And when in Rome…

1. Driving is so cool when you're a kid.

1. Driving is so cool when you’re a kid.

Here I am, Lord!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV)

“Here I am, Lord!”

It’s these words that filled our prayers from a hotel room in Tegucigalpa, Honduras two summers ago. While our hearts longed to serve Him in Honduras, God was silent to our prayers, and to our disappointment it was clear that was not His direction for us.

And still eager to serve, we prayed it again. “Here I am, Lord! Send me!” And then, as clear as day, He answered. It was the Dominican Republic, where God had sent three others from our home church before us. No, there was no audible voice, but there was a direction and a peace.

People asked, what would we be doing? And it didn’t matter to us that we didn’t have the answers. Our faith in what we had heard could not be shaken.

Christian folk asked, who was our sending board? We didn’t even know what that meant! We only knew that He asked and we said yes. If someone had written a book called, “How to Be a Missionary,” and we had read it, then maybe we would have known more about sending boards, and language schools and fundraising properly. We were terribly unqualified, but we were willing.

God didn’t seem to care about sending boards or fundraising techniques, though. He continued to direct us and fund our ministry in miraculous ways. That’s the beautiful thing about living in His grace. His only requirement is that we live everyday as if we are saying, “here I am, Lord!” And He blesses abundantly!

And just as the new season begins, we continue to walk in faith again toward the subtle call of His voice. We have been welcomed with arms-wide-open to a new ministry, called Doulos Discovery School. It started with just the two smallest Plankenhorns, as students in Kindergarten and first-grade. As we learned more about the school’s vision of serving Dominicans through quality education, it lit a fire in all of us. And the Doulos model is not just an education– it’s about training servant leaders for His kingdom. The word, “doulos” is Ancient Greek for “slave,” or contextually meaning a “servant who is willfully bound to their master.” Through excellence in academics, there is this amazing platform to pour into the lives of the next generation of servant leaders coming from some of the most unlikely and impoverished neighborhoods. Some of the poorest children in the world have had the course of their lives changed forever. They speak English, are educated, and see Jesus everyday.

It is bittersweet that we close the chapter with FIGHT Ministries. We consider it a great honor that God let us be a part of co-founding an organization that is going to go on and do much needed things for ending human trafficking. We continue to be on our knees asking that God shows favor to Luke, Naomi, Ethan and Phyllis and the righteous work that they do for the kingdom.

But we are so excited to begin serving as missionaries to the Dominican Republic at Doulos. Trevor has taken the role as Finance Supervisor and I will be teaching literacy to English speakers (aka: missionary kids) in grades K-2. Both Trevor and I are able to use our passions that we already had to serve The Lord and people that we already had a passion for! How perfect are His timing and His ways!

We still may be the world’s least qualified missionaries. But God’s grace will take care of all that. We only want to serve. How would your life look if you prayed, “here I am, Lord?

How becoming chicken farmers enhances our third-culture parenting goals

IMG_5256A few weeks ago, our Dominican landlord unexpectedly passed away, leaving his responsibilities to his adult children. The sons decided that it was no longer necessary to pay the worker that tended to our large property laden with edible-tropical-vegetation and several dozen free-range chickens. They told us that they would remove the chickens or WE could start taking care of them. I saw the look in Trevor’s eyes and I knew his desire. He had talked about building a chicken coop for years. And so adventure strikes again. We are now the proud owners of 11 hens and 1 spunky rooster.

Here are some reasons why we think becoming chicken farmers fits in with Plank family culture:

1. No leash, litter box, or tank required. It’s not that we are anti-traditional pets, it’s that traditional pets don’t fit our nomadic lifestyle. Between traveling back to the US and exploring God’s beauty of this island, we are a missionary family on-the-go. These guys are cage-free so they are super self-sufficient. Luke 9:58

IMG_00012. Responsibility 101. It has become our 6 year-old’s before-school-task to feed the chickens, and our 5 year-old’s to collect the eggs. They are learning the discipline of early morning work, and the fulfillment that someone is depending on them. Proverbs 31:15

3. Respect your food. There is a moment of pride that comes with cracking an egg that you harvested yourself. Something is lost on those pristine grocery store eggs if they don’t have at least a little goo or a feather or two stuck to the shell. Psalm 128:2

4. Free-range organic eating. Before we a.) lived in a third-world country and b.) lived on a missionary budget, we were a much more health conscious family in the way of whole and natural foods. We had grass-fed beef, organic eggs, milk and yogurt, and were members of an organic vegetable co-op. Though the smaller size of poultry and the leanness to the beef leads me to believe Dominican meat is much closer to the way God made it than average American meat, and fruits and veggies don’t have half the shelf-life of their American counterparts (Re: no steroids, preservatives, GMO’s), there are still many foods that are just not accessible to us. It was a major sacrifice to our family values when when we could no longer provide the same kinds of healthy options. This is a huge way to implement some of those healthier options back into our diet. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

5. Educational. Well, I know I’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned about roosting, nesting, fertilized or un-, coops, coos, and feed. Aldofina next door taught us how to “candle” an egg to check for babies, and soon she’s going to teach us about the circle of life when she shows us how to…gulp…wring the neck of one that’s ready to be eaten. (Her favorite part, she says.) Proverbs 18:15

6. A family affair. There is an equally important job for everyone and we all have a vested interest. When we work together for a common goal, so many life lessons are birthed:

Teamwork.

Responsibility.

Respect.

Stewardship.

Keep learning.

Give thanks. Psalm 133:1

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Our next project is going to be building nesting boxes because the daily Easter egg hunt is getting old. Adventure on, my friends!