Tuesday, January 27, 2009

breaking it up.lykke li

Spiders. hate em. never will enjoy their presence. Sunday night the roomies and I were watching Thomas Crown Affair on the bottom part of my bunk bed with our backs against the wall and the window open. There were about 20 minutes left of the movie when I looked to the space on the wall between my head and Sharla's only to see one of these (http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/995/80001188.JPG). Ew. Back in my first blog, I mentioned a spider just the same as this one in los tweems' room, except that one was not chillin next to my head. So after I saw this second one and probably made some girly squeal, Sharla then started to say as if it was totally cool, "I thought I felt something crawling on my head earlier." Ashley also played it cool, but I could definitely tell Katy felt the same as me, even though she did not act as girly as me. Being the cruel roomies that they are, okay maybe an exaggeration, they made me finish the movie while it was still crawling along the wall. Naturally, I could not focus, and when it was over, I made Sharla kill it despite the fact that they kill mosquitoes. This is no ordinary task because these suckers are super quick and jumpy. We usually keep the windows open at night for the cool breeze, but I have not opened mine since only to find out from Anne that they are inside the house and do not come from the outside...and Robin called me and Katy newbies for caring. I will always care. creepy.

Monday was a holiday here so we hopped in the truck to go to Cabarete, which is about 45 minutes away. The beach there is wonderful because you have the opportunity to watch the professional kite surfers out in the water. I do not know how they do that. It requires some major arm strength and the lack of fear of sharkys, scary. This weekend Sharla wants to vaca there with the tweems so she asked me and Katy to come with her. Weekend at the beach, with the occassional watching of Isaak and Jakob, not too bad :) Jakob calls me nendall now. Katy tried to teach him to say k-k-kendall to practice saying the k sound, and instead he now says k-k-nendall. No joke, every time he calls me over or to look at him he says that because he actually thinks that is my name. I know I should correct him, but it is just so cute! Jakob and Isaak just got stick horses for their birthday from Nana so all day long Jakob says "be horsey" to me, and for hours I run around the room in circles with him and Isaak pretending to ride a horse. I make all sorts of sound effects for them...ok I will stop there.

Side note for Wednesday morning at the preschool: I help Cristina out, but it is usually getting things done for her, helping the children with their manipulatives, or just plain being a kid with them during free time. I have not had the real opportunity to teach yet, obviously since I do not know the language, but Cristina asked me to read a book to them on this particular morning. The book had the sentences in English then in Spanish so I assumed she wanted me to read it in English. Ohhh absolutely not...I smiled and said "en Ingles?", and she responded also in a smile with "no, in espanol." I wish someone could have been recording this. It was a sight to see! I pronounced word after word wrong, read the story so slow, and found myself pronouncing the words like they were French words (for those of you that do not know, I took French for three years so when I say something in Spanish, I want to use a French twist :) ). Quite a humorous sight to see. At least I have a sense of humor about it, eh?

After school on Wednesday, I went with Ashley to one of the villages called Chichigua that sends kids to our preschool. Ashley goes every Wednesday to hang out with her students' families so I decided to join her this week. We got there and walked around at first, and I felt slightly overwhelmed. I just walked around and smiled at everyone having no idea what they were saying. This can be very intimidating. You really do get the feeling of what it is like for those who move to the US and do not know English. So we continued walking around and one of the families invited us into their home. When I say home, I mean a one room shack. My student Rebecca and Ashley's student Jeson lived there with their mom, dad, three sisters, and baby brother...more than a humbling experience. In addition, as I am feeling overwhelmed about not knowing Spanish or Creole, the dad starts speaking to me in English. This was a blessing from God for sure because it is rare to go into these poor villages and meet people who speak English, yet here was this man who spoke Spanish, Creole, English, French, and is learning Italian...again I felt humbled. I was so glad that for my first experience God provided me an opportunity where I could communicate with my student's parents. One of the daughter's named Jessica, who is absolutely beautiful, decided she wanted to give me a Spanish lesson so she started talking to me in Spanish, which was crazy because I followed a lot of what she said, and pointed to everything in the room, saying it in Spanish, and making me repeat it. She tried to give me her plain paper to take home to write words on (only paper she has) so I could bring it to Bible school, and she would check it. I have felt grateful about a lot of things, but I think this was one of the greater times. I want to keep writing about it, but I do not think I could express in a short paragraph how I felt at that moment. I could probably write another page about this girl, but I will move on for the sake of not rambling.

So beach weekend in Cabarete with Sharls, los tweems, Katy (aka teetee by Jakob), and I. You will probably hear about it in the next blog of course.
PS I have the whole week off before Easter, and I am trying to decide where to go. If there is a specific country, city, you name it in this vicinity (in the Caribbean or South America) that I should go to, let a girl know :) love you guys!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Prospekts March/poppyfields.Coldplay

Rainy season...all I can think in my head is "rain, rain go away. come again another day." It has been raining here nonstop, which I have been told is nice because after rainy season is over, you would do anything for a drop of rain...in other words it's blazin. The funny part about it all is that the people here are scared of the rain. When you step into a gua gua with an umbrella, people steer clear from the umbrella knowing water will drop off of it, or when you see the men on motoconchos driving, the driver is holding an umbrella while driving, safe. It is quite humorous! If it is raining without ceasing, barely any students come to the preschool because the parents think their children are going to get sick. On Wednesday, we only had a little group of them come so we did fun activities like fingerpainting (pic of Ambiolix...told him to smile, and he gave me a huge cheesy smile) and let them go early.

We all left Tuesday to go to the city Santiago. Tuesday night, the moment I did not think would happen till I went home, well, actually happened. We ate mexi food :). Of course it was not the exact same, but it was enough to fill the craving I have had since I got here, seeing that I eat mexi food at least three times a week probably more. If you could have only seen the smiles on me and Katy's faces when we were told that we would be eating at a mexi restaurant. We ordered queso curious to see what would come out, which ended up being a big plate of chips with carnival type cheese on top...no bueno, so I settled for the guacomole. I ordered chicken tacos and of course had Katy tell the girl in Spanish only chicken and cheese, no lettuce or all the rest of the nast toppings. So what do you think happened...tortilla, lettuce, chicken, cheese, and sour cream. If any of the people I worked with truly did not understand how picky I am, they definitely saw it at that moment. I slid everything off of the tort and picked out the chicken and cheese that did not have anything touching it. Shameful I know...

Wednesday morning, we woke up early and drove up a mountain to Jarbacoa. The scenery surrounding the mountain was other mountains and was absolutely gorgeous. We went to our positive discipline seminar at a school in Jarbacoa called Doulos Discovery School. Ok so this school was amazing...several buildings, a pond area, amphitheater, basketball court, cute outside cafeteria area, must I go on...the work that the Lord has done there is amazing, and the people that work there were very hospitable. If you are bilingual and want to teach in a foreign country, I would highly suggest trying to teach there.

Thursday was my wonderful roomie Katy's birthday (Ashley you are just as wonderful, don't worry :) ). We had pizza and Bon ice cream for dinner and dessert. When you don't have these lovely things at your disposal, you appreciate them so much more...and so we did, maybe even a little too much. We all scarfed down several slices of pizza and ate way too much ice cream, recipe for a stomach ache for us all. But it was delish! Afterwards, we had Katy tell us her life story. We are doing this every week from now on till we go through everyone. You are front and center spilling out all the fun, crazy, sad, and so on details of your whole life. Not going to lie, I am a bit nervous about this, but I am sure when my turn comes around, I will feel very comfortable in telling everyone my crazy life. After the person tells their story, everyone gets to ask questions about anything for 10 minutes. Katy did a great job with her life story because she was personal yet added some great funny touches all throughout it. After all of this, I went upstairs to finish the book A Voice in the Wind I have been reading for the past week. Okay so I am not much of a reader...but this book (and I'm sure the two other to follow it) was amazing. It was not your sugar coated Christian fictional story by any means. It was very descriptive in every part of it, whether dealing with war, romance, or faith. It reminded me of Redeeming Love where you read about a great romance, but that is not truly what the story is about. It has such a deeper meaning that challenges you in your faith, and if you have been in need of a new good series to read (for those of you who finished the Twilight series), go get it! Not gonna lie, I teared at the end of it, yes I just admitted that, but thankfully it's not over :).

I forgot how hard it is to blow up balloons. I mean I can do it, but after a couple, I thought I was going to black out. This is when you realize you are getting old...Friday was los tweems third birthday. Sharla made them a cake pictured above, which they only eat once a year on this special occasion (they are not allowed to eat anything with white sugar in it). At first I felt so deprived for them, but then if you don't know the difference between desserts and dinner, why distinguish that and have them eat something not good for the growth process. In addition, Sharla made them a fort and put on a movie with horses in it/the circus movie, which I think I have memorized. There is one song on it that makes me cringe, just ask Ashley :). Sharla, if you did not already figure out, is my boss in the matching scarf pictured above and is adopting los tweems Isaak and Jakob who live with us. She has been a great mother for them, providing the boys with everything she has and has been so selfless. I hope someday I can be like her when I become a mom...but hopefully that will not be for a long time haha.

For my last and final comment of this blog, I am now officially Kellogg Malkovich according to Anne, my boss in the picture with blond hair, who told us all, "I'm always good with names. I always remember them!" I am not sure where either of those names came from, but it makes me laugh along with the quotes "I always wanted to call her Jackie" and "What's your name?" (as Katy asks her a question. My ice cream almost went up my nose I laughed so hard). Anne is pretty funny, and if you do not know her, I suggest you do...oh wait never mind she does not have facebook because she is scared of it.

Miss everyone more than you know :)
ps the titles of my blogs are now going to be random songs that I like...basically I am not creative enough to come up with title names every week

Thursday, January 15, 2009

C'est la vie!...oops

Sometimes I forget I live in a foreign country...and then a man on a horse rides by on our street every day, and it clicks. The sound reminds me of the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which both of my roomies have not seen, just not okay, along with The Labyrinth. So this was the second week with the roomies, and it has been pretty great. They are so easy to get along with, and we have become close very fast, which is such a blessing. When you have exhausting days and come home, it is nice to have friends who listen and encourage you, and Ashley and Katy are the perfect pair for that.

Monday and Tuesday I stayed home with los tweems and played all day. We walked around the neighborhood, played with playdough (of course I joined in), and did all the little kid things you can think of. It has been interesting learning all the individual characteristics of Jakob and Isaak and how you work with that. Sharla has been in the Sudan all week so Katy and I have been moms. I look like a mess all day and am continually saying "yay good job" or "do not touch that." I have been learning sign language little by little so it is a bit easier to communicate with Isaak and actually pretty fun to do.
Wed/Thursday I helped at the school. Wednesday was my first day to walk/ride a gua gua home by myself. I walked through the neighborhood of the school to the main road to catch a gua gua and got a couple of offers from randoms on motorcycles. You would think this would be creepy, but it actually is quite humorous. I just ignore them and keep on walking. A majority of the time I walk around Puerto Plata, I have my ring on my left hand finger and carry around los tweems so I have not had too many marriage offers yet :). Anyways, I stood by the main road for 10 minutes waiting for a gua gua, which is probably a funny site to the people who live here, random gringa on the side of the road just chillin. I then packed myself into the gua gua, said aqui! when I got to the neighb, and walked through my neighborhood to the house, which is always a wonderful walk since I am walking toward the view of the LOST mountain (ps I found a site where I can watch the new eps...amazing). Thursday at school the kids got to have about 30 minutes of play time, and I took this time to observe the difference between girls and boys. The girls went straight for the dolls and play backpacks while the boys ran around the room wrestling each other and attacking me with an alligator stuffed animal. Naturally I favored the boys after I tried to braid a doll's hair and failed, grabbed the alligator, and made my own attack. Next, the boys got to "read" books while the girls colored. I sat on the ground and tried to read some of the books to them, which was a huge failure. The boys looked at me funny because I pronounced almost every word wrong, awesome! I am sure Cristina thinks I am the worst since I act like a little kid and can barely read Spanish. I am learning though!
Friday, I went with Ashley to the two Bible classes we hold for various ages of kids at 9 and then 2. We feed them, teach a new Bible story, and have them do some form of art to take home. At the end of the day, Ashley and I headed for the main road to catch a gua gua, only for one to arrive that had at least 20 people inside. Here is a picture of a gua gua: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/123/340035427_521186369b.jpg?v=0. Now imagine me and Ashley sitting right by the sliding door face to face super crunched in, and if i reached my foot out just a little bit, I could touch the ground. The cobrador, guy who opens the sliding door and takes your money/hangs out the door if there are too many people, decided that he wanted to shut the door and position his body against mine...awkward...I am thinking at this point, there is no way they will stop, yet the DR continues to surprise me. The driver stops for three more girls, who somehow squish on my row, so you can imagine how close I am to the cobrador and Ashley. The rest of the way my face and Ashley's face were a few inches apart, and meanwhile the cobrador pops his face in by ours to say, "Where you from? Estas beautiful" (which led to my nervous chuckle because of the inappropriate sitch of how close he was and then him saying to Ashley "Estas happy?" referring to me). If only he knew why I was really laughing...

Prayer requests: continual prayer for me to pick up the language (both Spanish and learn sign), for me to be fully here and focused, for patience in everything
Love and miss everyone, no joke! I would love individual emails from you guys letting me know how your life is going and how I can also pray for you :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The First Week of my New Life

I left off on the last blog saying I was going to watch the texas game...well this lasted for the first half, and then around halftime karaoke was starting in the restaurant. I do not know what got into me, maybe the coke I had because I never drink them, but I was more than willing to sing beat it by Michael Jackson on the stage. I went up there with a few girls who were the background dancers and sang with Becca Harris (more like yelled it). I am sure all the Canadians in there who were watching hockey were appalled by our voices, but it was one of the most fun things I have done in a long time. All that to say, I can now claim that I sang karaoke in the DR, try to beat that! Oh and for all of you who eat penne pasta, you need to find out what penne actually means...

So I am not much of a cook, at all. My diet before I came here consisted of Chick-fil-a and mexican food, neither of which I had to cook. At school, I sadly made ramen, mmm healthy right mary?, or a sandwich. I recently decided this needed to change mostly because Anne is an amazing cook and has made dinner every night while the group is here. She makes really tasty food from all these recipes she has. When I don't know how to do something, I usually put it off, but I know it is time to know how to cook so I helped Anne with dinner. I helped her make chicken pasta and lemon bars. Those of you who know me I am verrry slow. It took me forever to cut the peppers for the pasta, but hey at least I tried! I hope to help out Anne more when she cooks so I can learn how to do more. Hopefully I won't make anyone sick :).

Wednesday, I went to the preschool for the first time. I got to meet my students who are absolutely adorable. They are very good for Cristina, which is so refreshing for me. My student teaching was one of the more stressful times so it is nice to work with someone who has great classroom management skills. I ask though that you continue to pray for me that Cristina and I will be able to communicate more and more as the semester goes on, and that we will both make the effort to talk to each other even though it is very difficult (2 Timothy 1:7). We had the students from 9 to 1, and I will continue to do this every Wed/Thurs. Like I said in my last post, I will also be taking care of the twins Jakob and Isaak. They have little minds of their own and are so cute. I love each of the personalities and how they play/share together. Isaak is deaf so Katy and I have to learn sign language to be able to communicate with him; therefore, I may be somewhat trilingual in time, which would be pretty cool...ok maybe that is a stretch, but at least I will know both a little of Spanish and sign language.

After school on Wednesday, I went with the group to Pancho Mateo. There are three bateyes, or villages, that send children to our school so we have a huge desire to keep up the relationships we have with the people in each. It was a great first experience. The people here are very inviting and give you kisses on the cheek when they greet you. One lady in the town Montellano even let Katy, Ashley, and I have a tour of her house before we bought a Coke from her. She told us we could come and spend the day there anytime we liked (keep in mind I had just met her). So back to Pancho Mateo, I gave little girls piggy back rides, which lasted only so long because I am a weakling, and let them braid my hair. There was a basketball court where some boys were playing, and I wanted to go school them, but then some older men started to play so I refrained...someday I will show them that girls can play just as well, well not always but I did beat Chase Walker and Billy one time :).

Since I have been here, I have learned more and more the importance of prayer in our lives. When I am at home, and everything is going well for me, I tend to think I do not need to pray. I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way, but being here has reminded me that we need to talk with God everyday in order to strengthen our relationship with Him. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we get together and start the day off with prayer. It is so refreshing to do this, and I encourage everyone when they wake up to start off with prayer because it really does change the way your day goes.

The luxuries of living in the U.S. of A: mexican food (salsa, queso, the whole nine yards), chicky, drinkable tap water, unlimited use of water, my own room with a normal bed, etc. I could go on, but I am not. When you live where I am, you begin to see how much we take advantage of the things we have. Living here even for just a week has taught me to appreciate the small things in life especially water. I was telling someone this morning how I missed so much about home, but the strange thing about it is I know this is where I am suppose to be which feels like such a contradictory feeling. He told me you forget about the petty things, and that really is part of my prayer everyday, to be wholly focused on where I am and what I now have been given.

"As my heart is yielded to Christ, it will reflect humility, compassion, conviction, patience, contentment, and a hunger to follow Christ. It will drive me to work through conflict in a way that reconciles versus responding in anger or avoidance. I will be salt in the spheres in which God has me. It is all about the condition of my heart."~Kyle Thompson

Here begins the second week of my stay in the DR...au revoir, adios Austin Stone group! I have had a blast with you guys :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Beginning

So I arrived in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic on the third ready for my new adventure...
Sharla (my director) picked me up at the airport along with my other two roomies Katy and Ashley. Katy and I are the newbies, but Ashley has been here since August, which is extremely helpful that there is someone learning with me and someone who knows exactly what they are doing. We drive up to a neighborhood, which in this area, is one of the "wealthier" ones, and immediately I absolutely love our house. We were greeted by Ann and Garrett who are married and are very sweet. Before I could get anything out, she greeted me and said before I got here, she called me Kellogg for some reason so while I was here, she would continue to call me that. At home, I already have a hundred nicknames so adding one more did not bother me naturally. I live on the second floor on the top bunk in a room with Katy and Ashley, and when I look out my window there is a mountain, and this oh so beautiful mountain, like I have already told some of you, reminds of Lost. I therefore have the privilege of thinking I am on the show...well at least a little bit. Okay ya so I am a dork, but if you know me well, you already know this about me. The beach is about a 15 minute run from the house, which I will hopefully take advantage of because from afar the beach looks absolutely beautiful.The bugs here are not too bad like I thought they might be, but I did find a huge spider in the house a tiny bit smaller than the size of my palm, just scary. I was taking care of the twins at this point (Sharla is adopting Haitian twins Isaac and Jacob who are almost three years old) and had to pretend like I was not scared, but I was terrified. I just walked out of the room with them so as of now it could be in my bed...

This week is just suppose to be orientation along with taking care of the twins so I am not in the school much yet. My official job is being a nanny for the twins on Monday/Tuesday, helping teach Wednesday/Thursday with a Haitian lady named Cristina who only speaks Spanish, and Friday either babysitting or school. One of the biggest prayers I can ask from you is to be able to pick up on the language asap. I know it will take time to learn most of it, but in order to teach with Cristina I need to pick up on the gist of what she is saying. All that to say, I am super nervous about working with her, but I know the Lord will provide. Another reason why I need to learn certain words is also for transportation purposes. I am able to ride in a taxi, gua gua (van), or motoconcho (motorcycle). Besides the motoconcho, you are packed into the taxi or gua gua with many others, which can make for an uncomfortable sitch. The second day Katy, Cara, and I went to the bank in a gua gua where I had to make myself extremely flexible to fit while the man who took the money hung outside the van door barely holding on. You can only imagine how many people were in there. On the way back, we took a taxi that already had three people in it plus the driver. You can use your imagination once more :). Tonight we are going to watch the Texas game at a restaurant on tv. I love sports so this will be a nice little break for my brain since it is fried from all the information I have received thus far. Sorry for those Aggies reading, who think I am betraying you, but I had to swear that I would cheer for the Longhorns...I was always a 2%er anyways plus everyone here I am with went to UT. Well this is officially my first blog I have ever written (sorry for those grammar freaks out there, but if you read this, get use to my frequent mistakes), and there are more to come! Love and miss all of you, and thank you for your prayers and encouragement!