Sarah Heinz | Solid Rock

Sarah Heinz | Solid Rock


I left home to go back home and now, after 2 months, I have returned home.

That sentence doesn’t really sound like it makes much sense, does it? But when you live a life like mine, I really do have 2 places I call home: one in Illinois and one in San Juan. At times this is hard, but it is also such a gift. I am thankful for my time at home in the States, and I am also thankful to be back home in the DR now.

My first 2 weeks stateside were spent in central Illinois with my family. I hadn’t been stateside for nearly a year so it took me a little bit to adjust. Whenever anyone asked me how it felt to be home I didn’t really have much of an answer. It just felt…weird. I don’t mean in a bad way! Everything is familiar but it just doesn’t feel the same as it did before I moved (and I don’t think it ever will). So yeah, just kind of weird. I can tell you, though, that it was great spending time with my people!

I spent the following 3 weeks in southern Michigan at my counseling retreat. Alongside is a very special place. It is located on 100+ acres in southern Michigan and was built with the intent of ministering to those who work in full time ministry. There are 5 different walking trails through the woods, and the trees were so beautiful and colorful when I arrived. I am grateful to have had such a beautiful, quiet, and peaceful place to heal and grow.

The environment at Alongside is very special because there are people that are serving or have served in places all over the world (that includes the counselors), and while we are each there for our own reasons, we can understand one another’s struggles in ways that few can. That provided a lot of safety, comfort, and validation from day one of the program. Our days started with 2 one-hour seminars, followed by group counseling. We then would break for lunch and have our individual counseling sessions in the afternoon. I will share a couple key takeaways from counseling at the end of this blog.

Following my time in Michigan, I returned to Illinois and spent the majority of the next few weeks with family and friends. Because of my extended stay in the States, I was able to see more people than I have on my previous 2 trips home…some people I hadn’t seen since I moved to the DR! One day I was the guest reader in my mom’s kindergarten classroom. The following day I was a guest in my sister’s fourth grade classroom. I was able to share some pictures from my mission trips to Brazil and share about my life in the DR. I have a lot of teachers in my family and it’s always fun for me to see them in their element.

The evening after I arrived back home, Maverick City Music was in town, and I was able to get a ticket! It was an incredible night of worship…just what my heart needed. I loved all the songs they sang but there was one that was new to me that brought tears to my eyes. I will attach a link in case you want to take a listen.

On November 29th I celebrated my golden birthday. It was special to be able to spend the day with my family. My extended family surprised me after dinner by all coming over to share some desserts with me. Being together is honestly the best gift I could ask for!

Something else that was special during my time in the US was being able to attend my home church, Summit Point. Being able to worship in my primary language and understand every word that is said is something I don’t take for granted! My mom and I attended Summit’s women’s Christmas event at the beginning of the month, and I was also home for Summit’s Christmas services with the full choir. Thankful I was home for both events! I also got to meet up with my biblical counselor (Darla) and advocate (Tiffany) a few times which I’m incredibly grateful for.

On December 14th I traveled back to the DR and spent a few days in the capital with the Buchers. It was so good to catch up and enjoy some sunshine before heading to San Juan with our last team of the year. One evening we went to a mall in Santo Domingo to see their Christmas display, and then we went to an outdoor Christmas village and walked through all their lights. Very magical to experience these things with Brantley and Braegan!

It has been so good to be back in San Juan. I am grateful to be back with my people, and the reunion with my dogs was everything I could’ve hoped for. I have primarily spent the past few days getting up to speed on things I missed while I was stateside and working on prep for the first few months of the year.

A few final thoughts from my time at Alongside. I learned so much in counseling…did a lot of deep digging, soul searching, feeling the pain of old wounds, and healing. It was not easy, but I am so thankful to have had the opportunity and safe environment to do the work. To be surrounded by others who work in full time ministry while we all worked through our own heaviness (both individually and together) was both a gift and a privilege. I am extremely grateful for the way Solid Rock has supported me in the past year, and while I wish the accident never happened, I am thankful for all the learning and growing I’ve done along the way. While I was at Alongside I realized how God has used the accident, through my time there, to help me become a healthier and more whole version of myself than I was even prior to the accident. What a gift that is on so many levels!

There are a few things I learned in counseling that I want to share with you, just because I feel like there is someone else out there who needs to hear this as much as I did.

  • We are meant to function at 80% capacity on a daily basis. We are only supposed to function at 110% in emergency situations. That’s right: if you’re getting a ‘B’ in life then you are doing great! I have always felt that only an ‘A’ is acceptable, preferably a 100%. Unfortunately trying to give everything I have all the time has left me running on empty for awhile now which has only made recovering from the trauma of the accident that much harder. So if you’re someone like me, remember to take care of yourself too…functioning at 80% is our goal.
  • My second point goes hand in hand with the first. When talking with my counselor about point one, I made some comment about being a bit of a perfectionist…things need to be perfect to feel that I have done enough. She explained to me that when perfect is used in the Bible a more accurate translation wouldn’t be perfect, it would be complete. I pair this realization with a quote I saw shortly before I went to counseling: “You’ve got to do your best every day but remember that your best is going to look different every day.” This has changed the way I view things. If I complete something to the best of my ability that day, then that’s all I or anyone else can ask of me.
  • “We are meant to work out of our rest, NOT rest from our work.”
    • Sabbath is important.
    • Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is self-stewardship.
    • Dead bodies can’t do anything.

This year has been hard and heavy, but it has also had so many good moments too. I am also certain that I have cried more tears this year than any other year, for any emotion you can name. Praying that the tears of 2023 will water the seeds planted for 2024!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

May God bless you, everyone!

Prayer requests:

  • Health and safety
  • Maintaining balance and healthy boundaries during our upcoming busy season
  • SRI and clinic unity
  • Spanish
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