February 28, 2017
“Bienvenidos!” (“Welcome!”) We were greeted at the airport by several of our friends late one night last week as we returned to Central America. They all commented on how much Israel had grown while we’ve been gone and took turns holding him and giving lots of hugs and kisses. Israel was tired but managed to smile and speak a few of his Spanish phrases. On the drive home, Israel fell asleep, then he woke once we arrived back at the mission house (the same place we stayed last time we were here). Our sweet friends had decorated the outside of the house with balloons and a “Welcome” sign. Israel was excited to be “home” and play with some of his toys he hadn’t seen in awhile. He seemed to remember things about the house and toys.
The next few days were busy as we settled in and made a couple runs to the grocery store to restock on food and other items. On one of the runs into town, Derick was driving back toward home when someone in a car on the same road started honking at him. Derick asked the guy with him if he knew whose car it was, and he said he didn’t, but since the guy was still honking at them Derick decided to back up and see who it was. It was one of Derick’s friends! He was excited to see Derick and they chatted for a bit, then planned to get together sometime later in the week. This friend (a young guy about our age) was shot in the back in the capital city while working on his truck and is now paralyzed from the waist down. He speaks English since he grew up in the states and has only lived here the last few years. Derick stopped by his house a few days later and took him one of his favorites that he can’t find here, beef jerky! They had some good conversation and Derick was able to invite him to church again (we’ve brought him before). We are praying for God to draw his heart to him and for him to see his need for Jesus as we continue to develop a deeper friendship!
The first few days we were here, amidst the settling in and busy schedule, Israel and I (Jill) were battling coughs and colds and Israel developed a low-grade fever, which we quickly noticed was as a result of an eye infection (he first had this at the beginning of our last time here when he was only 8 months old). Thankfully it hasn’t been as bad as the first time! Israel and I were also welcomed “home” by a couple of fire ant bites (something we aren’t used to back home in NW Arkansas). Oh, and our second night here Israel decided to test out the instant hot water dispenser and quickly learned it wasn't a toy when some of the water came out on his hand. We cooled the burn and applied burn salve and he only had a little redness in the morning. We also made sure to turn off the hot water so this doesn’t happen again! Good health is something we learn not to take for granted living in a rural area in a place that doesn’t guarantee the same amenities we have back home. We frequently pray for protection from bacteria, accidents and other things that would complicate things or send us running to the doctor.
On Sunday, we were excited to get to see many of our friends at the regular afternoon church service! Israel seemed to love being immersed again in the Latin worship service and clapped along on the front row until the singing was complete, and then I took him out to play fútbol (soccer) with his little friends. At the end of the day he looked like he had had a fun time, he was sweaty and had dust and dirt stuck to him! lol
Although the thought of a cold shower with year-round, summer-like weather doesn’t sound too bad, it normally takes some getting used to at the beginning. Israel wasn’t so sure about the cold shower, but he has outgrown the sink for sure now, so we had to try the shower. He held his hand in the water for a long time waiting for the water to warm up before we finally had to help him get in and quickly get cleaned up.
Derick had the opportunity to preach for one of the services this week (services are almost every day) and did a great job teaching about how to study the Bible and gave examples of ways the Old Testament points to Jesus being the Christ. We feel it is especially important to encourage believers to read their Bibles, since in the area we live in oftentimes even the Christians tend to rely on the pastor for their “spiritual food,” neglecting personal Bible study time with the Lord.
We look forward to reconnecting this weekend with the village ministry we regularly visited that continues to be a hot spot for violence. We will be looking to find local small business owners who may be able to come alongside us and share practical tips on saving money and getting a business up and off the ground in a difficult environment. A sweet local Christian lady has continued going into this village about every week to help continue the skills training classes while we were gone.
The house smells like banana bread right now as “mommy’s big helper” (Israel) helped me prepare the bread we will be delivering to our friends once it’s finished baking. This morning we worked together to get the laundry off the line and bring it inside. As my little Israel is running circles around me while I finish typing this update, I am reminded of my greatest mission field, my little family! Although at times life can seem overwhelming, I’m so grateful for my sweet, supportive hubby who reminds me that “God’s grace is sufficient” and encourages me when I wonder if my daily duties are enough.
We want to express our sincere gratefulness to everyone who has helped support us in our mission endeavors! We are so thankful for your constant support that helps us continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We couldn’t do it without you!
Please continue to pray for:
Continued health and security for each of us.
Upcoming U.S. short-term team who will be joining us for a period of ministry on the ground in a few weeks.
Evangelism and discipleship in our local area, that God will soften hearts.
Clear direction for next steps in the village with skills and business training.
New contact person for this same village since our previous contact person is no longer able to continue helping facilitate due to poor health. (Please pray for him, as they don’t think he will live much longer!)
Praise: the church we are working with has brought on another local pastor who has been able to help lighten the load (help with preaching and evangelism)!
February 14, 2017
January 31, 2017
Derick, Israel and I are so excited to share this news with you about our precious little addition! The Dillards can’t wait to be a family of four!
January 30, 2017
Why is the Recent Decision of the Boy Scouts Sad?
I recently expressed on twitter my dismay over the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to allow girls who identify as boys to join the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. As an Eagle Scout myself who comes from a family of rich scouting history, I am very familiar with what the goals of scouting are, and I believe this decision is a step backwards in the Mission & Vision of the BSA as outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. I repeated this oath and law by memory at weekly troop meetings in Rogers, Arkansas for seven years, and I have thought about its content quite often. This recent decision will not contribute to the goal of fostering what is necessary for young men to become the responsible citizens and leaders they are meant to be. This is confusing to me just as it would be confusing if the BSA were to suddenly become apathetic regarding physical fitness. It doesn’t promote the goals of the organization. This is my evaluation, and I have expressed it to the BSA as a concerned Eagle Scout who values the foundational aim of scouting in America. I will also be removing the link to the BSA website from www.dillardfamily.com. My view regarding the BSA transgender decision comes with a heavy heart, and is not to speak out against the LGBT community who wish to exercise their rights under the law, but rather, it is to communicate my concern to an organization whose decisions are not validating its traditional goals.
I also feel it is important for people (especially some of my followers on Twitter) to recognize that some discrimination is good and it’s a vital part of a healthy society. To “discriminate” simply means to make a distinction. That is why it is important to discriminate, or make a distinction, between that which falls under the umbrella of “discrimination” and that discrimination which needs to be further clarified with certain conditions. That’s exactly what our civil rights laws do when they include “…on the basis of….” Employers discriminate based on qualifications and merit in their hiring process. Bars serve alcohol while discriminating based on age. Bathrooms discriminate based on sex. And the BSA, if they wanted to, has the right under the law to discriminate based on sexual orientation under certain conditions. So, discrimination is all around us, and in this country we should only treat as illegal that discrimination which is against the rule of law of the United States. If you don’t like those laws please don’t bully people or organizations that wish to exercise their rights. A church also functions according to its standards, found in the Holy Word of God, the Bible. And a church, as a private, not-for-profit organization, also has the freedom in this country to uphold and practice all of the standards of a biblical, New Testament church without any fear of recourse from the government. This is the reason we have the separation of church and state. Freedom is a wonderful thing and we need to be diligent to not only protect it, but also make progress as we have in the last century through advancements such as women’s suffrage and racial civil rights. With advancements in science and technology we can attain the education necessary to both improve quality of life as well as make fewer mistakes out of ignorance. And possibly the biggest mistake came 44 years ago when the slaughter of unborn babies became legal. Ideally, if our education increases while our moral and ethical code remain intact, we should be making corrective action so that we don’t continue to make the same destructive mistakes of our more ignorant past. It’s called progress.
With regard to rights, I believe everyone should be treated fairly under the law. I respect this freedom of all people under the law. Freedom is the wonderful thing about America and one of the reasons I truly believe this is the greatest nation on Earth.
In response to inaccurate judgments made by some people who follow my social media, I do want to write specifically to those who may not be familiar with accurate Christian teaching. Sin is a really, really bad thing. Sin is the reason why there is death and suffering in the world. It’s so bad that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, died a criminal’s death, and was raised from the dead so that anyone could be freed from slavery to sin, including its eternal consequences. Jesus died to save all people, and by His grace He intervenes in our lives while we are still spiritually dead because of our sin. We then have a choice. Are we going to accept this free gift of salvation and turn over control of our lives to Jesus or will we continue in the lives we want for ourselves, rejecting this gift? If we truly surrender to Christ, He promises the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to help lead, guide, and direct us. For me, that radical change in orientation happened in August 1998.
As a true Christian, we cannot accept the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers and still be at peace with sin in our lives. In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul bears witness to this dichotomy that exists within the life of a Christian, that constant battle within because of the presence of the Spirit of God that directly confronts the sinful flesh, which is our nature by birth. However, if there is no “war within you” between the sinful desires of the flesh and the righteous desires of the Holy Spirit (i.e. if you are comfortable with sin in your life), then I would question whether the Spirit of God is actually present in your life and whether you are truly saved.
If you are truly a Christian, then you cannot accept homosexuality, adultery, covetousness, lust, hate, stealing, or anything else the Bible calls sin in your life. The Bible is the absolute standard of life and it alone gets to determine what is sin and what is not. It was never Jesus’ goal for people to be accepting of the sinful part of their nature, but rather, to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. When speaking of Christ’s mercy, the account in the book of John, chapter 8 of the woman caught in adultery is often cited, as Jesus speaks to the woman’s accusers “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” However, those who refer to this account often fail to also include the words Jesus spoke to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Yes, this is an awesome example of how Christians ought to relate to people, as it is an example of how God relates to us. We all deserve punishment because of our sin, but God in his infinite mercy, stepped into our lives by way of the God-man Jesus Christ, so that we would not be condemned and so that we would have the freedom from the slavery of sin. What would Jesus say to all of us who are Christians? I believe He would say, “I died for your freedom; now go, and sin no more.” None of us will be perfect until we get to heaven, but we ought to be constantly striving to yield more to the Holy Spirit of God and less to our flesh. This is the will of God, not according to me, but according to the Holy Word of the one true God, the Bible.
Here is my statement of equal opportunity:My aim in Biblical, Gospel-centered ministry as well as in my personal life as a Christian is to not discriminate in my judgment of people’s need for Jesus Christ on the basis of age, race, national origin, disability, gender identity, color, creed, sex, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, ancestry, military service, genetic information, or other protected status.