Former 19 Kids and Counting stars Derick and Jill Dillard (along with son Israel Dillard) are one month into their long-term mission in Central America. This week, for the first time, Jill shared some updates from her perspective–and it sounds like a productive, if challenging, time.
“During the last month, we visited many villages and town squares where we performed dramas and programs, evangelized, helped lead a couple youth conferences, organized a regional soccer tournament, met with government officials to discuss pressing issues, worked on construction projects, and made home visits,” Jill said, in a blog post. “I have loved watching my husband help lead teams, preach to the local believers[,] and love on the people here.”
One significant difference between this mission and some of her previous missions is that Jill is interacting more with members of gangs, which are very active in the area. Although the violence is a concern, she said it presents a great opportunity to work with both gang members and their families:
We have had the opportunity to minister to several gang members and even see some come to freedom in Christ! One of our main focuses while we’re here will be to provide ways for the people in these communities to be educated and/or have work so the kids won’t follow their parents footsteps. Because of the violence and fear in some areas we were in, people face the frequent reality of eternity and are more open to the gospel because of it.
On top of those challenges, Jill said she’s also trying to learn Spanish so she doesn’t have to rely on a translator. “I pray I’ll be able to communicate fluently and even dream in Spanish,” she said, explaining the locals are eager to help. “I think Israel will pick up on it faster than us though…he is already becoming a local as he loves to nap anywhere there is a ‘hamaca’ (hammock).”
For the next month, the family will be at a language school. Then they are heading back to the U.S., briefly, presumably to film TLC’s upcoming documentary about survivors of childhood sex abuse. In the meantime, Jill asked fans for their support, and requested continued prayers “for wisdom, safety and our ability to learn the language, as well as for the people here in Central America, that God will open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light!”