Well I’m sure that all of you have been worried sick about the tropical storm that is in our area. J You shouldn’t. It’s been rainy all week, but we didn’t really catch any other weather from the storm besides that. It was kind of interesting thought that all of the public schools and many of the private schools were cancelled on Friday, because that was the day that the hurricane was closest to us. I think that hurricane days are a lot like snow days in the Midwest. I do however think that Dominicans view rain as a legitimate reason to not to go school, to work or to meetings. Dominicans hate rain, being wet, and ruining their hair, so they just don’t go out when it’s raining. It’s so different from the US, where we go to work or school every day, rain or shine because we committed to being there.
Everything has been so wet the past week because of all the rain that we have gotten. In late summer it rained fairly often, but it would just be an afternoon shower with sun most of the rest of the day. It has been overcast here for days; I’ll give credit to the hurricane for that one. Our Dominican mom did laundry for us on Monday and it took until Thursday to dry because of the rain and the humidity. It was the first time that Kara and I had to wait so long for our laundry to be done, but I think during the rainy seasons here that’s just a fact of life here. I guess I’ll have to learn to ration my underwear better next week when she does laundry. I’m realizing that any time I feel homesick it’s for the comforts of American life. I’m not trying to say that I don’t miss my family and friends, but the things I miss are simple. I miss heated dryers that shrink my clothes that are getting to big, and I miss the convenience of driving or transportation that we have in the states. I miss my cell phone and being able to get ahold of people instead of making plans a week in advance and hoping the other person remembers. It’s an adjustment here to not have small comforts like that, and I’m at the point where I’m feeling a little bit exhausted by it.
On a much more positive note, on Thursday night this week Kara and I went out with the boys from the microfinance site to celebrate our victory dinner for winning the photo scavenger hunt last week. It was so fun to be able to eat American food and hang out with friends. We played games at Ryan and Caroline’s house, the husband and wife couple who are the leaders of our two sites. Ryan taught Kara and I how to play Settlers of Catan, and though it’s been said that that’s a “boy’s game”, I’m a huge fan of it. We also watched a few episodes of the office after we had dinner, which was straight up food for my soul.
This week I worked on an article that I am sending to be in Bethel’s Semester Abroad/Task Force newsletter. I was asked to write a one page article on some aspect of the Dominican Republic or my experience here that has changed or affected me. Wow, talk about vague. It was really difficult to try to sum up my experience in one page or to choose just one thing to talk about to give an honest representation of my experience here. It’s something that I need to start thinking about because I know that every person that I talk to when I get home won’t want to hear about each and every experience that I had here. We’ve talked before about having a 2 minute summary of my trip, a 10 minute summary and a 30 minute summary, and I don’t know how to come up with any of those time frames. It’s so hard to think about summing up my trip with any amount of time, but to try to put it into one page or two minutes is kind of overwhelming. Yikes!
This week has been kind of a long week. It’s been a focus of mine to try to find some ways to relax and release stress. On Sunday I went with a group of people to play ultimate Frisbee and that was an awesome way to release stress. It’s nice to meet different people and just change up my routine. I spent the night again with my friends who graduated from Bethel and are now teachers at one of the schools here. It’s so great to just be able to sit and talk with people and share about our lives her e and our experiences. Another way that I have been focusing on relaxing is making sure that I find time to be quite and ready my Bible each morning. My favorite place to do that is on our front porch at home, because I get to see the new morning sun and smell the fresh mountain air. It’s so still in the mornings and it’s been great to just have that time to be still and relax. I’m learning a lot about what it means to really relax; I think that’s something that culturally, America is bad at. When we have time off we want to do something, to be with friends or go somewhere. But I think there’s so much value in just having a conversation with someone else, or reading a book in a quiet place to just calm your mind. Hopefully this philosophy will come home with me when I reenter college life J
On Tuesday night of this week, Daisy and Caroline started having weekly meetings for the couples in El Callejon who are interested in getting married this winter. They said that about 6 couples went, but that there are probably more who didn’t come because of the rain (there’s that excuse again). Last year they had about 10 couples who were interested, and three of them ended up getting married. I’m excited to see what this year’s weddings have in store for us, I don’t know exactly what to expect but I am so excited to be a part of something so beautiful.
This past week has been a great time for building stronger relationships with our site leaders, Daisy and Caroline. I’m learning more and more about what their hearts really are for El Callejon and the women living there. Daisy has this wonderful way of asking great questions that make me think so much more deeply about the women, about poverty, about change in general. This experience would be great without questions like that, but they cause me to form my own opinions about what’s going on in the community and what work the social work is actually doing there.
Another thing that has been a really great learning experience is leading Bible studies in Spanish and teaching English classes. We lead Bible study for two groups of young girls and two groups of teenage girls. It honestly wouldn’t be that bad except that I’ve never led a Bible study before and I’ve definitely never done so in Spanish. We have talked a lot about “heart languages” and the way that your first language is your heart language because it is what you know best. With that first language you can best express yourself and talk about your feelings and what is deepest within you. Trying to connect with people in this way while speaking a language that I am only just learning is a daunting task. It’s been interesting to try to express myself and share my heart with these girls while trying to do so in broken Spanish and incorrect words. It’s definitely been a stretching experience!
This week has been kind of a long, hard week, but I think it’s just part of this process. I never expected this to be easy, and I never expected to feel great all the time. I’m not saying that I hated this week; I just think that this was a week of growth where I was stretched in a number of ways that were uncomfortable. I am grateful for this struggle because I know that the hard times are when I grow the most, I am so looking forward to coming home as a changed person, hopefully all or most of that change will be for the better.
This is the waterfall that we went to last weekend, so gorgeous :)