Back from Mexico

Ross_and_TueyWe got back from the Back2Back campus in Monterrey, Mexico, early Sunday morning and I’ve been wanting to post about how our trip went but hadn’t been able to pin point exactly what I wanted to say. It was great to be able to go on this trip with MaKenzie but we both sure did miss our little baby Maebyn. Funny how your life changes from checking facebook or email in your free time to watching (and re-watching) the same videos over and over of your kids when you’re away from them. Even though MaKenzie and I were together on this trip, our family still felt separated. Although we greatly missed our daughter the trip was great and we experienced a lot in the 5 days we were in Mexico. I couldn’t help but see her face in the faces of the kids at the orphanages we visited and my heart broke over and over, thinking that they did not have a parent somewhere out there who was missing them like I was her.

While we were in Mexico our days were pretty planned out for us. Some days we worked, some days we played with kids, and some days we did both. Our main work project consisted of laying a concrete floor in a new building that was being constructed as a new MaK_Ross_Mexicoorphan home. We worked tirelessly and managed to lay 50 yards of concrete in 115 degree heat (yes, you read that right… 115 heat index one day). It was tough work to say the least but it felt good to be working and working with a purpose. It was also fun to spend some time with MaKenzie’s co-workers and get to know the people she is around everyday in the office. She’s lucky, they are a great bunch and tons of fun. All in all, it was just fun for us to serve. Isn’t there something about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty with hard work that makes the end of the day that much sweeter? MaK had a big impact on the children and the adults there. She did not do or say anything that made that impact, it was merely the fact that she was pregnant, in a vulnerable state, and still willing to serve and work alongside of us. She did everything we did and did not sit out of anything – despite my asking millions of times for her to slow down. The Lord greatly used this act of servant-hood to speak to the people there. Everyone we came in contact with couldn’t believe that a woman, pregnant, much less pregnant with twins, would come and help serve them. I think her act of merely “going” really showed the people of Monterrey love and that was really humbling to see. She’s got a pretty cool testimony from the whole experience too, God worked in some powerful ways in her own life.

Work_Team_AngleAfter having several days to think about our experience there was one point I felt like God kept impressing on my heart in a different way each day and that was the reality of poverty – in many different facets – that exists in our world today. In the places we personally visited throughout Monterrey, physical poverty was obvious and all around, yet that wasn’t what struck me. Beth Guckenberger, the woman who started Back2Back Ministries with her husband Todd, talked about different kinds of poverty; financial poverty, relational poverty, spiritual poverty, and emotional poverty. All I could see was the physical poverty that was all around me but as the week went on, I started to see that the physical/ financial poverty was not having the biggest impact on the children and the other areas of poverty (relational, spiritual, emotional, etc.) was really making an impact on them individually. Don’t get me wrong, we are called to serve the poor and needy and there is a big need there but I began to see how we all live in a state of literal poverty in so many areas of our life and just because it might not be as obvious to the naked eye as financial poverty, we ignore it.

As we went from one orphanage to the next and met different kids from different areas it became more and more obvious what a significant impact Back2Back was having. Children who were a part of the Hope Program and in the Back2Back sponsored MaKenzieorphanages seemed to be more spiritually, emotionally, and relationally rich. The impact of being in a family setting where there was a father and mother figure teaching these things made a huge difference into the whole development of the children. I was impressed by the development of children who have had to deal with abandonment, abuse, and neglect from the moment they were born. Was there still financial poverty there? Yes, but what stuck out to me the most was that the kids that were in the most danger where the ones stricken with emotional, spiritual, and relational poverty. These areas of poverty were all directly correlated to events that have taken place in these kids lives – events that warrant feeling angry, hurt and confused about relationships, especially their relationship with God. Whether it was abuse, abandonment, no provision, or not feeling loved they all lead to a place of poverty in their lives.

Ross DykstraI couldn’t help but feel like we all live in poverty in one or more of these areas. We live in an affluent culture where we rarely come in contact with physical poverty like in Mexico but the other forms of poverty are alive and well within every society and culture. No parent wants to pass along the burden of financial poverty to their children. This is eminent in almost every culture and especially America. We all want better lives for our kids and for most of us that means trying to pass down more opportunities for provision than what we had – or continuing the trend of tirelessly working at the cost of our family. Whether knowingly or unknowingly we pass down our emotional, spiritual, and relational poverty to our kids without a second thought. These are things that we can not always see, they aren’t valued by our culture, and it’s hard to measure so they get shoved aside in our pursuit for “a better life”. I’ve been wondering how often I excuse my own decisions and motivations to obtain something that is here and now, while making my family and children sacrifice in the process. Makes me think of 1 Corinthians 9: 25 – “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

The lasting impression from Monterrey that I pray stays with me always is that I want my family to be spiritually, relationally, and emotionally rich. I don’t want my family to live in financial poverty but the thing that I most long for our family to be wealthy in is loving one another and others from a holistic, healthy heart. To love as we have been so greatly loved.

Happy to back in America but thankful to have had the opportunity to serve,

Ross

The Aftermath

ross_maebynThe faith journey has started. With the events of Saturday still fresh in our minds the battle of Who is actually in control has already started. We are not the first to go through a multiples pregnancy and we won’t be the last but just like a lot of “new” things go, the unknown can be scary.
We’ve begun to read more about what goes into actually carrying 2 instead of 1 and the information, reality, and struggles have become more real with every passing minute.

 

When we first found out we were pregnant again, we thought the biggest trying of our faith would come from the increased responsibility, lack of time, and drained resources. Although these will still be ever-present, the immediate call to faith has been in MaK’s new found state of carrying not just one but two babies.

 

As any mother knows, going through your first pregnancy or any pregnancy for that matter… is all consuming. When MaK was first pregnant, it was such a new and wonderful experience. It seemed like we were learning something new everyday about what goes on inside the woman’s body that allows it to make a new life. MaK was always reading new things, gathering information, and trying to take care of her body in the best way possible. It was exciting but at the same time scary. There was another life inside of her and she was responsible for literally carrying for that child 24/7. Seriously, to all the mom’s out there – I applaud you. It is no easy task. This is not something I can even begin to understand but the constant concern for your child while its inside of you I’m sure can be so overwhelming at times. After Maebyn was born, and we decided to try and have another kid, pregnancy wasn’t nearly as daunting to MaK as the first go-around. She had been there and done that and although she would never take the responsibility lightly it was something that was more comfortable the second time around.

 

All that to say, carrying twins is completely different than carrying just one baby. It’s considered a high risk pregnancy so there will be more time spent in the doctors office, more attention to her health, and a greater responsibility placed on her. It’s like being pregnant again for the first time. All of the fear, uncertainty, and newness of pregnancy is back and the battle of trusting the Lord through this time has started.
I feel like with any and every pregnancy there is an element of faith involved. A successful birth, baby, and mom are not promised. Even through a healthy pregnancy, there are waiting periods – times of unknown – and many opportunities to simply rely on God. For some reason, probably because of a healthy last pregnancy, it never crossed my mind that these next 9 (or less) months would be one of the biggest leaps of faith throughout this journey. I thought this was the easy part. My eyes were solely on what was to come after the babies were born, however, God has elevated our desire for increased faith and is forcing us to trust Him through this unknown circumstance.

 

I desperately want to trust The Lord more and have a deep faith in Him but to be perfectly honest, over the past couple of days, I just want to have a little bit of the control back. I want to somehow shoulder the weight that rests on MaK’s shoulders, I’m scared for the health and safety of the babies, and I’m overwhelmed by all the changes that need to occur before these babies arrive. The only thing that brings me peace is the fact that I have very little control (or, none at all) over many of these things… which leads me to believe that the Lord is trying to deepen our families faith in Him. As we continue on through this journey I am ever aware of the fear that is trying to grip us both. Our hope lies not in the little control that we have but in our faith that we have a good Dad who is telling a very good story and we are overjoyed to be a part of it.

 

Ross

Two for the price of one

girlsControl? Ha. I guess when you talk about ultimate surrender to God, you should expect a curveball, right? Today was just that (and then some more).

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
— Isaiah 55:8-9

This morning we went to have our first ultrasound for Baby Dykstra #2. We were so excited to find out if we were going to have a girl or a boy. My mind set going into this ultrasound was much different than the last one with Maebyn. When we found out we were having a girl last year I think I almost cried, and not from excitement. It’s embarrassing… but it’s the truth. I wanted a boy so bad and I was somewhat heartbroken that Maebyn was a girl when the technician let the cat out of the bag. I’m not proud of my response but like I said, that’s where I was and it took me a while to get over it. I don’t think I truly got over it until she was born. The day I met Maebyn I realized it didn’t matter if she was a boy or a girl, but that she was mine. I was in love and that love has only increased each and every day. Me and MaK say all the time that we can’t even imagine having a boy first – we’re thankful God knew what He was doing in our family and it was better than what we wanted to “plan” ourselves.

So this morning we went to the same ultra sound place, sat in the same room and looked at the same screen. I was determined to be excited no matter if it was a boy or a girl. Deep down inside though, I knew I still wanted a boy. But, in all honesty, I was OK with a girl because then Maebyn would have an almost twin sister. I put Maebyn on my lap as we eagerly awaited the big screen to light up and show us our new family member. The technician rubbed the warm jelly over Mak’s over inflated belly (I could tell Maeby was excited because she was bouncing up and down on my legs) – the tension was mounting! I was trying my best not to drop her because I was shaking so bad with all the nerves that were racing through my body.

As the ultrasound started, the technician paused, looked at us and said “Is this your first ultra sound?” We said yes and then she asked, “And how far along are you?”. MaK looked a bit nervous but calmly replied “17 weeks”. The technician moved the device to get a better look, then stuttered through the next phrase, “Well… there are two babies in here, guys…” Say what!? Can you count again, please? Trust the Lord, give Him control of how many children we will have, trust that He will provide. These are all things I posted in my blog when we announced we were pregnant and today these statements have started to be truly tested. The technician continued, “And, guess what… these two little ones are sharing a placenta and appear to be identical… yep, identical twin girls!

I don’t know how to accurately describe my emotions. I’m mostly excited, somewhat nervous, and just in awe of what is going on. Needless to say, I was so in shock from the news that the sex of the babies really seemed unimportant (still can’t believe I just typed “babies“). It hit me a couple minutes later that I would be the father of 3 baby girls. Not to mention, because MaK will probably deliver earlier with the twins – three baby girls under one years old. I’m proud of my reaction this time. I was disappointed we aren’t having a boy, but this time I am elated at the opportunity just to be blessed with another child, and then another one again.

We’ve always wanted twins but I’m not sure we would have picked to have three under one. If the goal for our family was to live comfortably and have kids but still have time for ourselves this would be a difficult situation to undertake. This season will be difficult, exhausting, scary, and filled with unknowns. However, if increasing our families faith is the ultimate goal, this situation will be one that will force our faith to grow as we watch where the Lord leads. There are many unknowns right now. We’ll need a new car to fit three car seats, we’ll need more strollers and whatever else you need for babies times three and most importantly… we’ll need renewed faith each day that God has us in this season for a purpose. God is on the move and we can feel it in a deep, deep way today. Our hope is that as the unknowns continue to grow so will our faith. We have no idea what we are about to enter into but there is an intense excitement that is welling up in MaKenzie and I both as we get the opportunity to trust in the Lord on a deeper level.

Praise the Lord for 2 for the price of 1.

The Dykstra Family