Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Update from the DR

Written Thursday June 18

Hola de la Republica Dominicana!

I am writing to you from Puerto Plata, a city on the north coast. We´re staying a couple nights at the house of the Dominicans who run our site, in transition between training in Jarabacoa, a town in the mountains, and our placement on the coast. I cannot explain how quickly the past few days have gone. Everyday is full of so many things that it seems like we´ve been here so much longer than we have. This is the end of the fourth day. I´m writing for my team, which includes Rachel Kusmer and Rachel Jones.

We´ve been introduced to the culture gradually. In Jarabacoa, the mountain air is relatively cool and there aren´t very many bugs. Most of the summer interns stayed in apartments together. The first day we had orientation with the other interns, who are great. We went on a scavener hunt in the town and learned about the mission of Kids Alive and got to know each other. The past two days we´ve been at training for all the summer volunteers. I love the worship times and singing the Spanish songs.

The three of us are all in different places with the experience so far, probably relating to how well we know the language. It´s good for us to be in highs and lows at different times so that we can help each other. Rachel K is very excited and loves to talk to people all the time. Right now she is helping to cook dinner. She´s thrilled to be here on her first trip out of the country. She has always wanted to come to Latin America. Rachel J is unphased even though she doesn´t know the language. She´s not easily discouraged, and is excited to work in Caraballo where there is a lot of discrimination and French Creole (she does speak French). For me, some parts of the past two days at training have been frustrating because it´s difficult to understand the language, other times I feel like I grasp it well. The teaching has been very good. We learned today about transformation, in our lives and in the lives of the kids. It´s really only through God that we´re going to be able to do this work with the kids. We keep hearing that Caraballo is the most difficult placement. I am learning how much I need God, even to keep a good attitude towards my teammates and in general. We looked at Galatians 5 today, the fruit of the Spirit. I hope that we are able to keep having that. As long as we ''keep in step with the Spirit,'' we´ll be alright. I am excited to get to our site and start working.

As a team, we have had really good times talking together and we´ve been very open and honest with each other about how we´re feeling and what´s going on.

I´ll tell you the first two things that I learned in the Dominican Republic.
1) I heard my first rooster crow. The first night that we got here, one was crowing outside the apartments. It doesn´t sound like it does in the cartoons.
2) they do not flush the toilet paper here. There´s a little basket that goes beside the toilet and you throw it in there. The toilet in our apartment ran continually, and we had to take the lid off and jiggle some things to stop it running. Yesterday, I walked past and saw it was running, opened the lid, pulled up on something to stop it running, and the whole top piece popped off and water started squirting out of the toilet like a fountain! I ran out to the patio yelling help! help! help! and the girls came running in to see what was wrong. They and one of the guys were able to get it under control. We all got wet. Thinking about it now, it´s hilarious, but at the time, I was mortified.

Tomorrow, we are going to our site for the first time to play with the kids in the morning and then start working on the curriculum, classes start on Monday. We´re each working with a different age group of kids. Rachel J with the youngest, me with the medium age, and Rachel K with the oldest. We´ll be helping with the summer programs, not sure exactly what that will look like yet.

Pray that our planning goes well tomorrow, this sets the tone for the whole next five weeks. Also, pray that we keep getting along with each other and communicating and remember that our strength comes from the Lord and not from ourselves. Thank you for your prayers so far, it does make a difference.

We´re about to eat dinner, so I´ll go for now, they´re frying up the plantains... yum.

Much love y Dios les bendiga (God bless you),

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