Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mmm Mmm Better

Not only was this week wayyy better than the first week of school, it overall was a great one for me personally. I have started to realize how much I love my roomies (no worries, I still miss you Kati :) ) and am starting to recognize the relationships I am building whether it is through my favorite village Chichigua, playing basketball with Sili, or hanging out with the few Dominican friends I have made through my roommates. There are moments that I just sit and laugh and think what in the world am I doing here...when my big tour bus almost goes off the road, a kid bites my hand in the classroom as I am trying to take him outside, the roomies and I get stuck on a two lane highway in political traffic as the car is overheating/we have to turn it off/some man is yelling at us in English as we are yelling back at him in Spanish...but then there are those moments where I look over at Memo, and he is copying what I am doing or just runs over and gives me a big hug, or when I see Sili smiling and laughing while we are playing basketball, and even just sitting in the park with some of my closest friends here eating ice cream and talking for a couple of hours. The small things here can make me so happy to be here and remind me why I am doing what I am doing. Saturday seemed like a long day to me especially after the whole traffic episode, and on the way to dinner we were all riding in the car quietly when all of a sudden Johan (one of my Dominican friends/my neighbor) starts rapping in Spanish about me, Cara, and Ashley. I laughed so hard, and in a way it was a little reminder from the Lord to just chill out and have fun. So that is my lil bit for last week. Oh and one more thing...

I will never bee scared again where I live. My upstairs third floor neighbor Will is pretty much a bodyguard for us girls on the first floor. I have heard about him from my roommates, but I did not meet him until Friday. When he walked through the door of our apartment, I felt like my jaw was going to drop to the floor. As you have probably already guessed, he is a very, very big man. His arms are full of muscle, and he is super tall. Let's just say, he is proud of himself and admitted to us he is trying to be the biggest man in our town of Montellano. He started to tell us several stories about fights he has gotten into or people he has beat up. Some guy stole 1000 pesos from the man he is paid to watch, and Will snatched the money out of his hands and well, you can use your imagination on what happened after. Now you might think 1000 pesos is a lot but this is a mere 30 bucks. I could go on with other stories, but I'll leave you with this fun fact...He at one point was a bodyguard for Vin Diesel and possibly Robert De Niro. All this to say, if anyone ever tries to do anything to me in this town, I will not only scream, I will scream as loud as I can "Willll!" and will know that even if he is 30 miles away, he will hear me and come to my rescue. Only thing is...I feel bad for that person on the opposite end :).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

me gusta popcorn...

The things you will do for the things you love. In this case, it was all about popcorn. I have been reading the Harry Potter series, and in the past week and a half, I have read one and two. I obviously like them a lot :). After I read each book, as a treat, Robin and I watch the movie that goes with it so this past week on Wednesday, we decided to watch the first movie. Now, how can you watch a movie without popcorn?? You can't. But not just any old popcorn; here you have to actually make it, old school style. In the DR, they have what you call a colmado, which is basically a stand type place that contains all the simple things you need in life, like chips, cokes, and toilet paper. I would compare it to a newsstand in the movies in New York but on steroids. Robin and I decide to go looking for palomitas de maíz at the colmado across the street, and they did not have any. We walked down to the end of our street, and ten colmados later, we found one in tamarindo/montellano that has popcorn. Each colmado kept saying, "No, para allá", which means over there, and they would wave their hand in the same direction as every other colmado would do. We had ourselves a nice lil tour of the town, and I actually ran into several students and saw where they live, so not so bad after all. All for the sake of palomitas de maíz.

Mosquitoes. They like to swarm outside of our apartment. Anytime a door is left open too long, it is bad news bears. When I was changing in my room the other day, about 5 were flying around me, so naturally I am jumping around as I am throwing on my clothes. My roomie Ashley does a little riverdance when she is eating in the kitchen so they won't bite her legs. To get a good idea on how I feel, watch this...
...ok maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I thought it was kinda funny.

First week of school. The best description I could give is to just say...ha ha (look at pic below). But I'll fill you in on a bit. The first week went like any first week would go. Little girls were crying for their moms, and boys were fighting. One boy ran out of the school to cross the river to go back home so Robin and Charlie had to chase after him through the nasty,infested river water. Other than that, the teachers are doing a great job. Us extras are taking care of the lil ones who are struggling so that the teachers can get going. I had to hold this chunky boy Elijio for an hour, and then on his own he walked into his class and pulled it together. He's a cutie. Please pray for us for patience, perseverance, and the ability to teach in a second language. This is not an easy thing.
Three of our families from Pancho did not send their kids to school on Monday and Tuesday so I for some reason got the bright idea to volunteer to tell them they needed to come to school. Hmm. My friend Johan who can speak English has come with me lately on Tuesdays to go play basketball with Sili; therefore, I figured he could translate for me, and if not him, then Sili because he understands some English. Well, about that...Johan had a flat tire when I called him to go, and when I showed up, Sili was not there in Pancho. I decided I would just go home and forget about basketball and talking to the families, but then I stopped in my tracks and said "Lord I do not know much, but you can help me get the point across." I went and told each family, just saying yes and it is okay to anything they were going on about in Spanish, thinking to myself, they probably think I am some crazy gringa. I left Pancho feeling okay about it until the next day, every kid showed up! Craziness. I thank the Lord for the confidence He gave me when I usually have none and the words to say when I usually have none :).
One week down...many to go!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Back to school. Back to school."

Each morning I wake up to the lovely sound of "AGUACATE!" I jump out of bed, grab my pesos, and run out the door to buy myself an avacado. Now these are not your average American avocados. These are huge and dirt cheap, usually costing a mere 10 pesos, and thirty-five pesos equals a dollar so you do the math. This fine Sunday morning I woke up to a different noise. Every now and then trucks packed with veggies and fruits will drive down the streets, while the driver with some type of speaker system yells out what is in the back of the truck. There have been times when one of my friends and I will walk past, and the driver will start whispering sweet nothings into the mic...creepy. Anyways, this morning I woke up to a truck driving by, and the guy was not only singing, he was rapping about what he had in his truck. The only line I could make out was something like..."Con que? Con huevos! Con que? Con huevos!" It was great. I was almost tempted to buy something from him, seeing how much effort he put into it. Oh the Dominican Republic.

School starts tomorrow!! I keep wanting to sing Billy Madison's "Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight. Ohhhh, back to school. Back to school. Back to school. Well, here goes nothing."I could not be more anxious about this school year and all the new students we are adding. Memo could not have said it better when he said, "Mom, you tell them if we don't start school soon, I am going to a different school." What a cutie. Last year we had two classrooms, fifteen students each. This year we have four classrooms; therefore, we have a total of sixty students. Aye yeye! My work is cut out for me. I will let you know how the first week goes!

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's my party (...and i'll cry if I want to)

This will hopefully be my one and only venting blog...like i said, hopefully. I have not done this before, but I feel like I need to once to get this past week all out so I can get out all my frustrations and then move on. So all that to say, if you are wanting to read something light and fluffy, you should probably go ahead and well, stop. I know as a Christian and missionary I should remember the typical phrases like "time heals all", "God has a plan for you", "you need to see the positive side of things", and so on, but like David in Psalms, I think I have every right to talk out my frustrations and grievances, and am able to ask God why things are the way they are. The past year or more I feel like He has continually taken things from me (not in death), whether family, friendships, or ones that I love that have affected me. I always think of that song "Blessed be the name of the Lord. He gives and takes away." It has been one of the hardest years, at the same time, one of the best, seeing where He has placed me in this country with all of these beautiful kids to love on. And that is where I begin...
The electricity in the town I live in has been for the majority of this week turning off. They do this to save money, but it usually happens during the day when we are not home so it is not too bad. Well this week they decided to do it at night too, and let me just say, it is the pits. Like I have already told some of you, no electricity=no fans=sweating=high pitched buzzing mosquitoes biting me during the night=no sleep. I know that sounds extreme, but really I am not exaggerating. The lack of sleep has been giving me migraines in addition. I knew (obviously) that Wednesday was my birthday so I just looked forward to it and knew no matter the circumstances regarding sleep and so on, this day would make the week. Like every Wednesday, I knew I would visit Chichigua with Robin because it is my favorite thing to do (moreso visiting Memo and my lil baby Wilson) so of course I would do my favorite thing on my birthday. It started off great! I woke up to a Happy Birthday sign on the floor with balloons, and then when I was walking to work with Ashley, all of a sudden, Anne, Kim, and Lauren started running after me with silly string and another happy birthday sign. It freaked me out, and I am positive the Dominicans living right there thought we were crazy gringas. After work, Robin and I left for Chigs where I was first greeted by crazy Memo and his huge smile, which I absolutely love. It is one of those smiles that makes you smile right back no matter what mood you are in. He wanted me to hold him so I did, well until he accidently rolled in chicken poo, and then I said no...ew. I am determined to call him chicky poo now :). Anyways, I am playing with Memo while Robin is talking to the mom of one of our students, meanwhile I am so antsy to go visit Wilson and love on him obnoxiously. As I am thinking this, Robin looks at me and says, "Kendall I have something not good to tell you." I reply with "What? Is Wilson not coming back to school?" "Worse." "He moved." "Yes...to Haiti." Crushed. For those of you who keep up with my blog, you know that Wilson whom I call Weeson was one of my students who I wanted to take home with me everyday. He is one of the most precious boys I know and would hug me everyday before he left to go home (seen in the first picture of this blog). I cried a lot that night, yes I know, on my birthday, and have on and off since (hence the title...I actually said that to Anne when I got to the Makarios house for my birthday dinner haha). The lack of sleep this week and then Wilson leaving have been a bad combo for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. One of my Dominican friends came over this morning, and he asked me if I was sick haha awesome. You know you look wonderful when someone asks you that. But back to Wilson, I feel like I invested so much emotion into that child, and he was just taken from me. I pray every night that the Lord would place a man of God in Wilson's life that would lead him to love Jesus, and I pray that the Lord planted a seed in him by the love the Lord gave me for him. I am confused as to why now, but I know the Lord is teaching me. To end on a positive note, I randomly went to Chichigua last week and held him the whole time like I mentioned in my last blog, and as you probably saw from my two pictures in the blog. To see him one last time when I could have stayed home that day and waited till this Wednesday makes me want to thank the Lord every time I think of Wilson. When I left Chigs that day I remember holding him, telling him goodbye, kissing him on the cheek, and him giving me a kiss back on my cheek. I set him down, not realizing that was the last time I would ever see him. Adios Weeson...love you soooo much and will painfully miss you.
Depressing blog, I know, but thankfully I have Jesus who still loves me despite my frustrations, big and small, and continues to show me grace. I know for a fact that He will answer the questions I have, He will continue to reveal himself and his character in new ways this year, and will continue to heal my heart from this whirlwind of a past year.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Primera Semana de Regreso

"The first week back" for those of you who do not speak spanish, and it was a great first week. The beginning started out a bit rough. I had that typical missionary feeling that most missionaries get going out on the field. You long to just have the normal, comfortable American way of life with friends and family close by, but at the same time you know this is where you are suppose to be, where God wants you. I had a wonderful summer in Dallas and in Austin, and therefore naturally it was hard to leave, but I knew once I got back here and back in the routine, I would fall right back in love with it. So this week...
We went to Santiago Monday and Tuesday, which is in hour away from here. We had lots of team time and went to a museum to learn about Dominican history. I went on a tour through an area of the La Aurora cigar making factory, pretty cool huh? http://www.miamicigarcompany.com/miamicigar/aurora/home.htm. He explained how they are made uniquely, being just as good as Cuban cigars, except La Aurora's has more variety. The guy we watched make some had been rolling cigars for 30 years! talk about monotonous. After watching that, Ashley and I walked together through the museum and at one point decided we wanted to take silly pictures. Little did we know, there was a security guy walking around making sure no one did that. After we took a couple pictures, one specifically of me kissing a cardboard poster of a Dominican man, the security guy came around the corner. I had the camera in my hand, and as he walked up, Ashley told me to hide it. Well I could not simply put it in my bag because that would be too obvious so I decided to hold it on the side he could not see, and as he circled around me, Ashley would tell me which way to turn (the benefit of speaking another language than the country we live in) and eventually we just walked away. Of course he followed us the whole rest of the time. You can only imagine how silly and immature I got during and after that, trying not to laugh every time he would pop up. Ashley thought we should take a pic of him, but we decided with better judgment not to.
Wednesday I went to Chichigua for the first time since I have gotten back, and it was sooo great to see the kids. I saw Memo first, and he immediately jumped in my arms for me to hold him. Not going to lie, that felt great! I kept holding him for about 10 minutes until, well, some of you can probably guess who I saw...Weeson! (Wilson). I handed Mems over to Holly and picked up Wilson. He had just woken up and was a bit groggy, which I love because that is when he just likes to sit in my lap or just let me hold him. I have been a bit sad lately because when some of the girls went to ask the parents who was coming back to the school, Wilson's mom said he was not going to. I will get back to this later.
Thursday and Friday we planned for our staff/parent meeting we were going to hold on Friday. We put a meeting together of what we should say, and then went out to the three villages to tell the parents and other parents who have kids that do not come to the school. We were a bit worried that we would not get a full roster because we are now going to have four classes with a total of 60 kids. Knowing some kids might not come back, the thought crossed our minds that we would come short... oh ye of little faith. The room was packed with parents! And...Wilson's mom came to sign him up! yay! We gave each of our speeches (yes I did speak to the parents in Spanish. I was super nervous, and Cristina decided to let the parents know right before I spoke that I am learning so they need to pay attention more when I spoke. For those who know me well, you know that I have a huge fear of public speaking in my own language let alone a second language. At the end of the meeting, we got a full roster and even had a waiting list! The Lord is so faithful. This is when it hit me why I am here and why I love doing what I am doing. By the way, I will now officially be a teacher's aide for four teachers. crazy talk. I will switch rooms after each day so that I can go take notes of each student to see how they are progressing week by week. Even though it may be kind of stressful, I cannot wait to get to know the students individually and of course be with my old students again.
Alright, love you guys. And yes, the picture at the end is what you think it is, but no worries, I did not eat it. Bleh.