It’s been a little while, and a lot has happened. I head up to my “loma” – my mountaintop resort site – tomorrow for good. The idea of spending two years of my life in this place is daunting, but the challenge of it fuels me. I think it has been too long since I have faced a challenge like this; if I have ever faced a challenge like this that is. I will be isolated in a community of bean and banana farmers who have hardly if ever seen access to things as simple as electricity or plastic bottles. I imagine what I will do with my time on the loma and am filled with doubt as I ponder conversations about planting seeds, mules, cultivating beans and the weather. I thank God that I will be in a place where I am not going to be comfortable – at least not at first – and where I will likely have to learn to lean on Him for strength and purpose once again.
While my heart begins to sink at the thought of wrapping my mind around my next two years of service it is also filled with excitement at the endless possibilities. My fellow volunteer Sarah is the one who discovered the needs of this tiny 85 home village and told me that she cried the first time she got back from visiting. She was astonished at the needs of the people and their expressed passion for a better life. I hope to bring a few tools that can enable them on that path.
I also have hope and excitement in the people of the village. I have so far only been there for a two day preliminary visit, but the people seem incredibly nice and hospitable. They are extremely shy and my loud personality has definitely been hidden so far, but I see that changing as everyone gets to know me better. At least I hope so.
Its quite amazing the emotions and experiences I have already been through in the first two months. I have gotten to know so many amazing people – Dominicans, host families and volunteers alike – and have come to the point of saying goodbye to all but one: Rudie. I think this will add to the shock of going to my site, where I won’t be busy every evening playing Mafia, hearts or just talking with fellow volunteers whom I have become comfortable with. I’m starting at ground zero once again. I think this is good practice for my first-impression skills though… life is going to slow down, and that is OK. I think I will probably become a scholar during my service too… reading books is apparently a fairly popular time filler.
I hope I can get to know everyone well in my community and get them to really trust me. I also hope that I can build relationships with the kids and come up with some ideas to spend time with them or have some sort of youth groups. I also hope that I can stay sane and maintain a good relationship with God.
Last order of business is to fill you in on some important happenings in the last few weeks. I swore in, which means I am an official PC volunteer!! I went to Isla Saona, one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. I just finished a week of Haitian Creole training, since I have a fairly large number of Haitian families in my community. I am super excited to talk Creole with them, though I am fairly certain most of them also speak Spanish. Creole training was amazing though – we sang a ton of songs to help us learn and I got the chance to see what life is like in a Batey (a town built to house cane workers during the 80’s when Haitians were being sold to the DR for $1/head). It was incredible the contrast between this community and my own. 100% Haitian heritage, very active and used to foreign aid and NGO’s. It was a blast playing with kids and hanging out and playing Mafia at night. It felt like a church mission trip in a lot of ways. Minus the messages and worship. How I miss worship…
OK, I hope this gives you a decent enough picture of my life to last for a while… because it will be. I uploaded a ton of photos at the following site:
God bless and please be praying for my transition. I have you all in my prayers as well.