Sunday, August 21, 2011

Adios la RD, Hola los Estados Unidos

I said my goodbyes at the airport to pretty much my whole Dominican community minus a few. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Walk away from so many people I care deeply about: Johan, Merlin, Gloria, Edwin, Elianira, Mami, Maria, Benjamin, Wilson, Yomo, Bella, Memo, Yulena, my Pancho brothers, all my students, Makarios staff, and many more. Knowing that no longer would I be able to walk down the street or hop on a moto to go to their house, hang out, and talk about life. I know God brought me home for a reason, and I will trust in His will and new story for my life. Adios la Republica Dominicana, hola los Estados Unidos.

Last Day with my Babies

I had a great time on my last day at the school of summer camp with my students. I laughed ALOT with them and took random funny photos. After school, I took Rachel and Franchesca with me to my apartment. It was Yulena's birthday so we decorated the living room area with signs and balloons. Yulena, Escarlet, and Neifi came over an hour later to play. We made hats with construction paper, stickers, and crazy scissors. After that, we had cake and sang happy birthday to Yulena. Overall it was a wonderful last time with my girlies :)

My Crazy but Wonderful Friends

The Saturday before I left, a few Dominican friends and Cara came over to eat dinner with me and Lara. We cooked, listened to music, watched youTube videos of different dances (Cat Daddy and the Bernie), naturally tried to dance that way, and then had a photo shoot (timer of course). Enjoy the ridiculousness of that photo shoot :)

Mi Despedida de Pancho Mateo

My last day in Pancho Mateo was the Tuesday before I left. I went in the morning to each of my student's houses and said bye to other people along the way. It was a wonderful morning sitting at people's houses and talking about the years past. I went to Miguel Angel's house last, and he sat and showed me pictures of him as a baby. We laughed alot together, and he picked on me like usual but gave me hugs. I did not cry once though. I had gone to Bienvenido's house and thought I would but did not. Bienvenido was one of my students and one of the brightest. He knew how to read from the start of the school year because he taught himself in his house. Bienvenido is extremely witty and stubborn so he definitely gave me and Johan a run for our money this year. He was a tough kid to discipline, but for some reason, I don't know, maybe God, I loved this child alot and so did Johan. I reached out to him the last few weeks I was there by taking him to the river and playing basketball with him one day. I slowly saw a change in his attitude with me, starting to talk to me and open up more. I thought I would cry when I said bye, when he walked away from me surprised and maybe upset, but I didn't.

I went back to Pancho to play basketball like always on Tuesdays, and Cakito had his soccer boys holding up signs with my name on them to greet me at the court. Then I saw a sign with balloons on it that said "We will miss ya Kendall." I told Cakito if we did not start playing, I would start crying so he picked out our team, and we started. After this, I joked around with my Tuesday basketball family and walked away for the last time with Jhoan and his brother Joel. I knew the tears were coming. I also decided to say bye to Bienvenido one more time. He started to tear up a bit, and I lost it.

I went home to shower and had to go back to Pancho to have my goodbye dinner. My brothers' (Jhoan, Joel, and Jovanny) family cooked me a Mexican dinner. Tacos, guacamole, salsa, all the works. They knew my favorite food is Mexican so they went all out to say goodbye. After, we sat around, talked, laughed alot at Joel, and took pictures. When some of the family went to bed, I asked my five Pancho brothers to sit and talk with me. I read them a letter and gave them pictures that we had taken throughout the years. We sat in silence, smiled, but mostly cried. Cakito prayed for me, and then they drove me home. Miss you my dear brothers :) We had a great few years, and I will never forget them nor you!

Mi Despedida de Chichigua

My last times in the DR.

It began in the village of Chichigua, where my loves Dido, Memo, and my students live. It was my last Monday, and I spent most of it with them and later that day in the church in my town for their ESL graduation. I walked around Chigs saying bye to everyone, to my students' families, but mostly I sat in Dido's house with her. My students came by to hang out with me, and I gave them a picture of me and Johan with each one of them. I made brownies and brought coke to have a little going away party. Dido lovvvves her brownies. You can see this in the picture of her scraping the glass pan.

I did not get emotional when I left Chichigua for some reason. At this point, I still had not cried about leaving. Honestly, I felt like something was wrong with me since I usually cry about everything haha. I think at this point it was because I knew I would see Dido and Memo at the ESL service at my church. I knew my final goodbye would be there. I went to the service and was happy to sit and hold Ryner, Dido's baby, and sing worship songs alongside of Dido. Eventually Memo came and sat in my lap. Love that boy. One of the final things to do was listen to the ESL class sing "God of this City" by Chris Tomlin. They learned it during the summer so they could sing it at their graduation. I sat close by to take pictures, and then it happened. I looked over at Memo singing about his God that he trusted in this year, and I lost it. Tears pouring. After this, I watched them get into their guagua to go back to Chichigua, and I could not stop crying. I will never forget Dido and how well she loved me every time I came to visit her. Dido became a Christian this year also, and I am more than grateful for that. I pray that even though she is poor, living in rough conditions, that she will never take her eyes away from Christ. That He will always be sufficient for her.

Parque de Agua

Before I left, I knew I wanted to take Yulena somewhere. Anne Marie, Lara, and I went to a place in Sosua that was called Ocean Village. It has a waterpark, but also has several normal pools (about four). It is along the beach and is wonderful! Lara and I immediately decided that we would take a couple of kids there so of course I chose Yulena.

I do not think I have said much about her in my past blogs, but I grew to love this child like she was my own and even at some points like she was a friend. She is one of the most mature eight year old girls I know, always saying please, thank you, excuse me, and so on. She would visit my house and play while I would do other things, and when she was done, she would say thank you and put everything back to where it was suppose to go. Not normal! Yulena was a new student at Makarios this year in my first grade class, and I thank God for that. Kristen at the beginning of the year asked if Yulena could join my class, and I was very hesitant. I finally said okay, and now I look back and know that Yulena was one of the biggest blessings in my life in the DR. When I left for a week in January when my grandma passed away, Yulena offered to pray for me. An eight year old! My last full day in the DR, Yulena was with me. She walked around town with me, talking to me, quiet at times because she was sad, and laughed with me. I could go on, but you obviously see how much I love this child. I pray that she will stay the child of God that she is (she is a Christian), wise beyond any other kid her age, and will grow up to be a beautiful woman of God.

Monday, August 15, 2011

La Cancha

I once posted a blog about the basketball court in Pancho Mateo:

La Cancha

My home away from home. As long as I live, I will not forget that place. It is where I first played with kids in the DR. My first village visit when I arrived. Where I started to play basketball with Sili every week. Where I colored with Nelisa. Where I met one of my greatest friends Cakito, which then lead to me meeting my brothers of Pancho Mateo and playing basketball every Tuesday with them till I left (my old blog about them). I miss this place and the people more than words can express.

While I was still in the DR, the boys decided to give the cancha a makeover. Cakito put in alot of work to collect money from people and get the boys together to paint it and redo the backboards/rims. I was so proud of them!

I could say that was it and voila! the court was finished, but there needed to be one last final touch. I had been asking Cakito if we could all put our names on the court somewhere, and he told me if I bought spray paint, we could. A few weeks later, I bought a few cans and went to Pancho Mateo where I found him at the court with some other boys. I handed him the paint and said it was time to write our names. Well...what I wanted to be in a corner smaller somewhere along the walls turned out to be alot bigger haha. That is an understatement. Cakito called out the professional, and next thing you know, my name is HUGE above the stands. Now it is pretty funny, but I still get embarrassed thinking about it. They were so excited to write it there and thought it looked way "bacano" (cool). Honestly, I feel honored by them. Love and miss you mis hermanitos de Pancho!