Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Wooden Heart Inside this Iron Ship

It’s been a while since I’ve written, I have been super busy and working to figure out what’s next for me after I leave this place. I’ve had a couple of interviews with a few opportunities and one with City Year in Miami looks really promising. I have a second interview the day after I get back into the States, so I would appreciate prayer in that. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to follow God’s calling in my life, especially in this time of transition and making decisions about where my life is headed next. I just want to be where I’m supposed to be.

Yesterday morning I translated from Spanish into English for the first time in front of a group of like 50 people. It felt awesome! We have different staff members share their testimonies, or their stories each morning so that the American volunteers who come down can get to know them better and hopefully take something away from knowing what others have been through. Alberto is Dominican and knows a lot of English, but I understand full well how difficult it is to try to share your heart in a second language, so he spoke in Spanish and I translated for the volunteers. It was far from perfect, and I had to have him repeat a few things, but it felt so good knowing my Spanish is at least good enough to try. That was a huge accomplishment for me, though I didn’t even know I was working towards it.

Last weekend we only had one day off, because our last group is a one week team and they arrived on Sunday, instead of Monday like we have been used to. To relax on Sunday afternoon, we visited some friends who were staying at a hostel with a pool. It felt so great to be out in the sun and to be with new friends. I got a little sunburned (figures) but it was so nice to be able to relax with them.

On Saturday last weekend we went over to Vanesa’s house. She is the staff dentist here who runs her own clinic. She had a few of us over to teach us how to make a few Dominican drinks, including Morir Sonando (means “to die while dreaming”), pina coladas, and Dominican coffee made in a stovetop greca. Again for that day, it was great to get off base and do something other than what is scheduled into our normal routine. Vanesa’s husband Jose works at a Young Life camp on the other side of town and the recently installed a giant swing on their campus. Vanesa hadn’t done it before, so we decided to go over there to try the swing. SO FUN! I went up with Vanesa and another intern, Ellie. We couldn’t figure out how to pull the release cord so when we finally went, it was awesome. It also started to rain while we were up in the swing. It was actually super fun to get stuck in one of the trademark Caribbean downpours of rain.

This week I have a really cool opportunity to drive out to a tiny rural community to pick up volunteers early for some activities they are doing. The community is called Mata Gorda and while I was here in 2010, the drive out there was one of my favorites. It’s way out in the mountains and there is a 20 minute drive to get out to the preschool that SI has out there. I love driving on the ridiculous dirt roads and just being a spectator in the lives of those people, if only in passing. Yesterday while I was driving, I found myself wishing that my eyes could be cameras so that I could show all of you the beautiful life that these people live. I saw an older man shaving his face outside of his hut, children playing with cars made out of old oil bottles, cows resting in front of a house and the clouds rolling in over the mountains. Driving out there leaves me so in awe of this place, and of creation. I will miss this beauty. 

This morning while doing our morning routine I had a really cool opportunity to hear from some of the students about the things that they are learning and the experiences they’ve already had. Hearing some of those words helped me to know that what we are doing here matters, and that we are making a difference in the lives of other people. one of the students was really impacted by the way that people here living in poverty have found ways to be incredibly satisfied with their lives, regardless of the fact that they are materially in poverty. It reminds me of what I learned while I was here in 2010 about there being different types of poverty: material, poverty of spirit, emotional poverty, etc. Another student commented on how it is possible for two people to connect with little or no use of a shared language. I know this well having lived here with little Spanish experience, but a smile or other small gestures go a really long way and two people can change each other with something so small. It makes me think about the small ways I am being intentional with other people to show them that they are loved or that I care.

It’s been hard to know that the end of my time here is coming soon, because as a rule I’m pretty bad at saying goodbye and finding closure in my experiences. For two days next week we will be at a resort on a beach where we will do some debriefing activities that will hopefully help all of us to say goodbye to this place and this experience. I will dearly miss being a part of such a beautiful community. I will miss the sense of adventure here and knowing that each day will be different and full of something exciting. There is no such thing as monotony in this country or in this job, I will miss that. I will miss speaking Spanish, and meeting new people all of the time. I will miss feeling like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and that I have purpose in being here. I will miss the way that deep and honest conversations just come up effortlessly and regularly. I have a feeling in my heart that when I leave the Dominican Republic next Wednesday that it will be the last time I am here. It will be sad to go, knowing the impact this place and these people have had on my life in my two experiences here. I am so thankful for the beautiful opportunities and memories I’ve had here, RD will forever be in my heart.

This is a song I’ve been stuck on the past few days, I hope you love it too J