State of the Union

As the new year gets underway our first blog of 2015 is a little different. Connie and I normally take turns with the blog, but this month we both felt led to share so share we are. As always, thanks for reading!

team-connie-hartsfield-sm-bwWow! I cannot believe that it is 2015 already and our family has been in the Dominican Republic for 5 months. It has flown by for sure. God is doing amazing work here and we are looking forward to what 2015 will bring. I am still thanking God that he allowed our three daughters to transition so easily into life here in the Dominican. They are loving school and have met a lot of new friends. To be completely transparent with you I have had the hardest time transitioning into life here. Nick and I left behind some really close friendships in Florida. For a long time I prayed for God to send us Christian friends that we could share our life with. After moving to Spring Hill he answered my prayers in a huge way. We met and became extremely close with several couples. We laughed together, cried together and studied God’s word together. We simply just did life together. Leaving those relationships behind was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Over the past few months I have been guilty of dwelling on that sadness.

At the beginning of January I had the privilege of being part of Project Manana’s 1st annual Women’s Conference. A team of 8 women from the United States partnered with our Dominican Staff to teach the ladies in both countries how to be a Godly wife, woman, and mother. Leading up to the conference, ladies in both countries spent time studying Captivating by Stasi Eldredge and then came together to discuss key points in greater detail. The first Day Carrie (Ohio, United States) shared with us on how to be a Godly Woman, on the second day Miladys (Santiago, Dominican Republic) taught us how to love our husbands and on the third day Joan (Indiana, United States) shared with us how to be a Godly Mother. Joan opened up and shared with us her struggles of mothering her own children. As Joan was speaking one of the ladies from the community broke down in tears and shared with us that she was really struggling with raising her special needs son. We were able to pray and encourage her. The ladies from the United States were able to show the ladies from Villa Gonzalez how to offer support for a sister in need. At that moment I began to realize it doesn’t matter what country you come from or what social class you are in we all have the same joys and struggles in life and we all need people to do life with. Women are made to be relational. That is how God created us.

Now that I have had a chance to sit back and reflect over that week I can’t help but think God allowed me to experience the close friendships I had in the United States so that I could share with the ladies of Villa Gonzalez how important it is to have people to do life with. God does not intend for us to do life alone. Sometimes life gets messy and we just need someone to pick up the pieces and help us move on. This concept is not the norm in this community. They know each other in passing but their relationships may be limited. I long for these ladies to experience Godly friendships. Friendships where they encourage each other and help disciple each other. Please pray for the ladies of Villa Gonzalez that they will put into practice what they learned this past month and for me as well that I will continue to be an encouragement to these ladies.

Blessings,

Connie

team-nick-hartsfield-sm-bwAs 2014 has come to a close and 2015 is well underway I am in awe of the changes that God has made in our lives over the past few months. What a difference a year makes! Never has our family been so richly blessed and so greatly challenged at the same time. As I reflect on 2014 I can confidently label the year as a season of change. As God began revealing His plan to us last February it became clear that He had been preparing us for this major fork in the road for quite some time. It is nothing short of amazing to look back at our lives and see His handiwork woven into experiences, relationships, job changes, achievements, failures, and the list goes on. All of this culminated in preparation to answer a call that has completely transformed our lives. As we begin 2015, I can see a season of growth beginning to unfold. With an international move behind us and a few months living in the Dominican Republic under our belt, I am beginning to see that God is just getting started.

During my 35 years on this planet I can honestly say I’ve never looked back at a year and been able to see the movement of God more significant than in 2014. That statement both energizes me and gives me pause at the same time. While it’s amazing to see what God can do when you agree to follow wherever he leads, some part of me wonders what I’ve missed by not doing that sooner. What’s more, why do I not seek Him with abandon every day? I’ve seen what He can do, He’s proven that I can trust Him, why do I struggle to do so? I moved to a foreign country to be a missionary…isn’t this supposed to be automatic now? 🙂 While reading Acts the other day I had one of those moments where the verse seemed to leap right off the page. That verse is: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God”. [Acts 20:24] Wow! In the preceding verses Paul is admitting that he is unsure of exactly what the future holds, only that the Holy Spirit has revealed to him prison and hardship. What is his response to this revelation? Not only will I take the hardship and prison, my life is worth nothing otherwise (this is my paraphrase of course). Talk about having an eternal outlook! Paul understood that our time here is limited and so spending a life working towards any other goal is, well, useless. Over the past couple of weeks this scripture has taken hold of me and will not let go. God has revealed that this is the attitude he wants from me. He has also made it clear that regardless of my actions and how often I get things right or wrong, my life has value to Him. We must understand that Paul’s perspective is not necessarily God’s perspective. Our value in Christ does not rise and fall with our actions; that, my friends, is constant.

Through this I’ve discovered that the decision to respond to God’s call is not a one shot deal. As a family, we heeded the call to become missionaries. Making that happen required a great deal of focused effort and a dependence on God like never before. He proved that He will make the way wherever that may be. Now that we’re here I’m realizing that each day I wake up I have to make that decision all over again. Living in a foreign country doesn’t automatically result in a close relationship with the Father. As it turns out, I still haven’t arrived. Each day, He’s ready to lead, guide, or do whatever it takes to carry out His purpose, but I have to decide to join Him…every single day. Responding to the call isn’t automatic, it isn’t easy, it isn’t smooth, in fact, at times it can get down right messy. Thank God He doesn’t expect me to have all the answers, I just have to be willing to follow His guidance and take that next step.

Dios le Bendiga,

Nick