Hope through the little bumps

I am hoping to someday be able to step back from this whole experience and realize how much I’ve changed, how much I’ve learned, how much I fought to get water and development to happen in my community, how the low points in my service had taught me some valuable life lessons, how the Lord taught me humility through the complexity of people. These aren’t yet realizations, but rather my attempt at hope since a lot of the things I am experiencing seem unnecessarily difficult. You go into a long and seemingly challenging commitment without realizing the small, daily steps that will actually carry you to the final destination. Not to say that my life is really all that difficult, but I feel like I have always gone into things with some supreme optimism – perhaps that no matter where I end up, I still control  my own fate, control the work around me, and control the way that I react to my circumstances. While all of this still remains potentially true, at least in the physical sense, the expectation and reaction from the boss and the community members can eventually reach a tipping point.

This sounds quite dramatic, as if my projects and life as I know it have somehow come tumbling down around me, but that is only partially true, and my life is not (yet) in shambles. Hah. Who knows, maybe in a few more months?

I suppose all of this is to say that a person can only do so much, and that is OK. It is a difficult thing to say, since we can always look back and see a pile of things that we could have done to have been more successful and more motivating and better organized. But no matter what had been done, there is always some higher potential. Our expectation, maybe as Americans, is very high both for ourselves and the people around us. But we have to somehow take into perspective the fact that our coworkers (the community) have families, animals, crops, leisure and livelihoods to take care of on top of the projects that some fulano (stranger) has come to impose on top of their normal daily schedule. Plus we are fighting against 50+ years of tradition and routine. Complexity sucks.

I realize I am piggybacking on my last blog post, but these are still ever present ideas in my mind. I have also been thinking a lot about my personal wellbeing/healthiness amongst all of this. On the bus back from the capital just the other day, I found myself dealing mentally with the difficulty of living and working essentially for myself. I don’t know if I have really prepared myself well enough over the last 9+ months for this type of environment. Maybe some lack of boundaries or expectations or something of the sort. Am I, as an American, so confined by the world of rules and routine that I just don’t know how to survive living like I am? I have realized that I sometimes struggle separating leisure and work in my project site, since as Peace Corps Volunteers we are “technically” on the clock all the time. Sitting, resting, not doing anything, letting my mind be at ease; I think these are difficult for me. The boys I spend time with are essentially my only access to rest and relaxation in my village – something I am very thankful for. I think I crave time outside of my site at times for this reason – an opportunity to relax. Instead, maybe I ought to do more of that while I am at home there. Something to consider. Sorry I am being a bit scatterbrained, but in writing these things down I am coming to some realizations.

Thoughts aside, work (still) continues in my village. We have placed half of the pipes with the rest to be placed within the next few days. After that a small feeding tank will be built near the spring and then I will again be waiting for money. I am hoping to take the numerous lessons I have learned from this first construction to better organize and motivate the community for the future construction projects. We will see how these ideas in my mind convert into actual community effort.

Also, I had a splendid Thanksgiving hanging out with nearly all the volunteers, playing sports, eating amazing American food and performing at the talent show. I played Jackson by Johnny Cash with Sarah Chaplain and then played Arms Wide Open by Creed. Both went well, and I think some volunteers are still convinced that Scott Staff was actually present at the event. The sharing of thankfulness around our table reminded me of what I truly am thankful for: all of you. Thank you to my friends, family, girlfriend, and to God for giving me the strength to continue my adventure here in the DR. You are all my inspiration and strength.

Finally, here are some photos from the adventure I was able to share with my friend John just recently. We met in Haiti last summer and he came to visit for 9 days. Lots of traveling, spending time with volunteers, beautiful beaches and ridiculousness. Thanks chief.

Please pray for my health, both physically and otherwise, and that I am able to enjoy the Christmas season away from home. It’s difficult to imagine being away, but it should be new and exciting at the same time. Finally, pray that I continue to lean and depend on God, replacing myself with his power and wisdom.

Love and hugs!!

Josh

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