Thursday, February 26, 2009

Isaiah strength

Ok well I have been busy...actually I have no excuses to why I have not blogged in two weeks. Lack of desire maybe. But here I go...

Whenever I have my rough moments here, I immediately think of the passage Isaiah 40 that I mentioned about in an earlier blog. It gives me the strength to hope and understand that any worries, burdens, or doubts I have, God is so much greater, and it is foolish to even think for a second that He cannot handle it. Here are some of the key verses me gusta:

:12-14 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?
:25-31 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I have truly loved being here and know this is exactly where God wants me to be right now, but I have realized no matter where you go, the Lord still puts trials in your way to help you grow stronger, especially in your relationship with Wednesday night and early Thursday morning were one of those rough times. We had Thursday morning prayer, and each of the girls prayed for me. I cannot even begin to explain to you how grateful I was for that, and how much it meant to me. We set off for school, and I already started to feel more peaceful. We did the morning ritual of singing songs and breakfast time, which led to story time. Cristina decided we would take our kids outside for this, which I was pretty excited about, and she did a few things before asking me to read a book about hugs (in which i had already read a couple of times and said un as if it was the pronunciation of une in Francais...smooth). Cristina and I were both sitting on an already slightly broken lawn chair while I was reading the books. After I was done, Cristina asked the kids a few questions, and on the last one, they all pointed to me and started running. The next thing I know, the chair folds, and I am on the ground with about ten boys and girls hugging me. I was laughing so hard, and I knew, at that moment, my day was going to be just fine! We went to Chichigua after school for the second day of a Revelation study, and I sat with Yesica (Jessica) who I have mentioned before. We doodled and laughed the whole time, which was okay because I had already missed half the lecture from the morning...probably should have paid attention, oops. I then went out to the soccer field with Robin and Cara to play with some of the kids and watch some of the older boys play soccer. While this was going on, Robin asked if I had ever tried sugar cane before. Once I said no, she called out to Ronal who disappeared in the sugar cane field with a machete and came back with some. When you eat sugar cane, you have to tear it off with your teeth, suck on it, and spit it out. It wasn't so bad! Except for the fact that it hurt my teeth to tear it off. Naturally, I did the side bite my dad always makes fun of me for. In the picture above, Jeson decided to get some too and eat it with me. If you have not already noticed, Jeson, Rebecca, and Yesica are all related and are some of my absolutely favorite people here. Every time I am around them, they hold my hand, and I have started to realize how much I love holding hands, funny eh. Their lil ones are so precious! All of this to say, my day ended up being absolutely wonderful, which led me back to the passage Isaiah 40. The Lord gives us strength in our time of need when we put our trust in Him.

Two side notes:
1) Appreciate water and all its goodness. We have been without water now for four days. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you have a set of los tweems to bath, a sink full of dishes, toilets to flush, a shower for your stinky self, etc...well you get the point.
2) Katy, Ashley, los tweems, and I went to the beach Friday for Dia de Independence from Haiti in a twelve passenger gua gua with at least 24 people inside.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

LOST Mountain

So...I will never complain about the Turkey Trot, eva again. Today I hiked up the mountain next to my neighborhood I frequently like to call the LOST mountain. Earlier this week, Anne and Ashley decided that Sunday was going to be the day we conquered the hike. Knowing I may not get this opportunity again while I was here, I immediately caved and joined in the decision along with Katy. At the same time, I knew I was in no shape to do this. The best line of the day came from Katy at the end of the climb, best put, "I almost puked, and then died." We got home from church around twelve, changed, and set off. I knew I needed to eat something, but I grabbed very minimal too worried that I would regret eating too much as we hiked. We started off walking through a couple of towns along a not so steep road, and that is when my pride kicked in. I thought oh psh sure I can do this, easy. I was way too quick to speak! Soon after, the steep parts dominated me. It took us two hours to get to the top. We got a bola (ride) along the way for a few minutes, but it was way too short. Thankfully the majority of the hike was shaded, not to mention beautiful, so that helped. Every once in awhile, we would stop and take in the scenery, which was incredible! You could see other mountains, cliffs, random homes scattered about, and the ocean. I would have to take in the scenery while at the same time catching my breath, which never wanted to be caught :). We finally got to the top, which I thought would never ever happen, and I wish I could describe the view we had. I would not do justice so I took some pics of course. You could see the whole town of Puerto Plata, which you can see from one of the pictures above. You might be confused about the picture with the hatch looking object with the number 21 on it...don't be. If you have seen Lost, it will all make sense. If you have not, then well do not worry about it. It further confirmed the name I gave the mountain because it would definitely be one of the many hatches on the island. I know at this point you are thinking I am such a loser (Kelly if you are reading this, I am mostly referring to you haha. and Mary you are loving this). So the way down the mountain is by going in a gondola, basically a cable holding a box...I know, safe right? I took a picture from the top where you can see one of the gondolas going down. It is very tiny, to prove how high up we were. I am terrified of heights, seeing that I hated the blob at camp because the part of jumping off the platform onto the blob freaked me out. The gondola though was actually quite nice. All that to say, climbing the mountain was one of the best decisions I have ever made even though I felt so defeated at different parts. If you ever come visit me, be prepared to have your own experience :). Two blogs in one week...booyah.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

let it be me.ray lamontagne

Month and a half...craziness. The time is flying by! In less than two months I will be home for Easter for a week, and it will be such a weird feeling. Thus far, I have really enjoyed being in the DR and have loved seeing the process God took me through to get here, showing me why I am suppose to be here, and now seeing what He is doing through me. It really has been a humbling process seeing how much I did not depend on God before now and understanding how much I need to let go and let Him handle. He is amazing!

Like I said in a previous blog, the rain never stops. For awhile it was as if we had one big rain cloud that never wanted to go away. The smart person I was before I left (insert sarcasm) packed the day before and did not think it was necessary to search around for a raincoat. I packed my sombrilla I got in my stocking from Papa Lyle for Christmas, and that was it. (ps I had the coolest umbrella when I was little. It was a yellow taxi umbrella with a clear rectangle on one part to look through and a fake windshield wiper...awesome). Anyways, I went to Santiago Tuesday to help Sharla before she went back to Austin and left my umbrella in the taxi. smooth. Wednesday I woke up immediately realizing my misfortune, and my first thought was, well how about a trashbag :). Luckily, my roomie Katy had a poncho she let me borrow that looks like a clear trashbag, hence the picture above. I told a dear friend I would take a picture so there it is for the world to see. Thankfully, you can still see my rockin outfit for school so the poncho turned out to be very fashionable. In addition the sun finally came out for us chicas on Thursday, yay!

Thursday at school Ashley had her students make Valentines for our class and all the staff. I was standing in my classroom when all of a sudden Memo handed me a piece of paper. It was the cutest lil Valentine. Folks, I have myself a Valentine, so no worries and sorry to all those boys who wanted that chance. A Haitian boy about five years old who is precious beat you to the punch.

FYI, Friday I had my first music lesson with Robin. It was super basic but great. She taught me about notes, where the notes go, A-G, where they are on the piano, and about sharps and flats. My homework is to memorize where each note is on the staff lines/spaces. I have not had homework since fall '07, but at least this is interesting :).

Dia de San Valentin. Not going to lie, it started out pretty rough (and not because I am single :) haha). This week had its ups and downs, but this morning in particular was not my finest for personal reasons, in other words, I need lots of prayers from you guys. I know that is not specific at all, but the Lord knows what's on my heart, and that is all that is needed. Well anyways, Anne came over and offered me and Katy a ride to the beach. We were going to go to the usual Cabarete, but she suggested Sosua instead. Um, it was absolutely wonderful! The beach was more private and clean, and it had the most beautiful view of the Lost mountain wayyy in the distance. In addition, we ate some yummy chicken fajitas for lunch. At four we headed home to make an attempt at making queso, guac, and margs. While we made all this, we had a mini dance partay. I miss those very, very much. All that to say, my day ended up being one of the best Valentine's eva, well besides last year when Mary and I scarfed down a whole pizza by ourselves along with our students' candy valentines and watched Lost. As you can see, February 14th is a thrilling holiday for me every year without a doubt.

So I know I post my prayer requests on here quite frequently, but at the same time, I would love to hear what you are in need of in your life. If you have any particular prayer requests, I would love to hear from you and pray for you. Email me anytime you like (even if it is just to let me know how you are doing)!
ps Read Isaiah 40! This passage in the Bible is truly amazing and humbling. The fact that I even doubt God at times is crazy to think about after I read this chapter. This is probably one of the coolest passages I have ever read. Ok I'll stop...but really go read it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

brightest hour.the submarines

So this week was a bit slower than the others, but I will say my favorite part of the week was a dance partay Friday night with Jakob. I miss those wonderful dance partays in Ayrshire with my gfs so I put on a little old school Mariah and new Beyonce while Katy and I were making dinner. I looked over to see Jakob shaking his shoulders. I started dancing, probably looking real cool, and Isaak and Jakob were laughing at me...Jenna, I thought you said I had good dance moves? Anyways I pulled Jakob off the counter and he grabbed my hands and started dancing. I made him do a few twists, step side to side, and do a lil grapevine action. Sorry Jim, I will teach him the stanky leg next time :). All that to say, small things like this continue to put a smile on my face.

Wednesday night it was my turn to give my life story to all the girls. I had my mom send me a few pics when I was a kid till now, which turned out great. I started off with a fact from my birth that is probably a painful memory for my mom...I was over 10 lbs when I was born. chunk. I went on for maybe a little too long about my whole life telling some funny stories and some sad. It went really good. I was nervous at first and had a hard time at one part, but as a whole, it was nice sharing my life with these girls I already feel so close to and comfortable with. I did forget a few funny stories like Brooke telling Katy and I that if we gave her our candy, we would get jewels on our crowns in Heaven...what do you think happened, well yes, we ended up with all our candy in Brookis' tummy. When I finished up my life story, the girls then got to ask me all kinds of questions, like first kiss, craziest moment, what celebrity would I go on a date with (Mary, you know the answer). My craziest moment was with my sister, Ali Woods, and Kelly. We went pool hopping in a neighborhood where the backyards were facing a golf course. A man in a golf cart started chasing after us, and when we got in a backyard where we could escape, the man stopped his cart on the other side of the fence. Kelly and I stopped, hugged each other, and like the smart girls we were, pretended to be a tree together...shameful. Back to question time, the best part of it was when I mentioned how much I love music and how I wish I could play the piano. One of the girls I work with, Robin, told me she could teach me how to read music so now I will be meeting with her on Thursday afternoons when I am done with school. I am so excited, such a blessing!

Prayer request for the week: Since I have gotten here, I have not been feeling too good. Nothing too extreme, but my body feels very achy. In addition, I constantly feel fatigued (for those who know me well, this is normal :) I can fall asleep anywhere at anytime!). I talked to Anne about it because she is pretty much the expert about anything and everything. We came to the conclusion that the cause might possibly be that I am not getting enough iron. I am hoping that once I start taking iron, that will solve the problem. If you could be praying that this would go away, that would be great! As minor as it sounds, it really does affect my work and the relationships I am trying to build here. Funny fact, anemia can contribute to poor concentration...maybe that explains my ability, or shall I say my non-ability, to multitask...nah, I am just awful at it.

As a last note, for those of you who feel like you are going through hard times, I found the perfect verse for you. I was reading in Psalms this week and ran across Psalm 119.
verse 50 "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."
This verse is absolutely wonderful and is so hopeful. No matter what pain or suffering you might be enduring at the moment, always remember the bigger picture of God's gift to us.

Love you all.