Life proceeds as is its custom. Yesterday was our first teacher training day. I hunted down about half of my textbooks (the other half has not yet surfaced.) I spent last night working on the syllabus for my 11th grade class. I am super optimistic I am sure, but it is a start anyway. I am going to do it quarter by quarter, so one class down, 5 to go. I am more concerned about the challenges of the younger classes than of the older, though our French teacher, Karen, was very encouraging today when she told me that she taught Jr. high in the public schools in the States and she loved it. Sadly, I am enough of a nerd to really be loving lesson plans, and the thought it takes to create them. They are time consuming, but they also scratch a part of my brain that has been itching since I graduated from UNCC.
The school will have just over 250 students. I will have about 50 between all my classes. A church group is in painting and cleaning the school and we are SO thankful, because there is no way we could plan for school, adjust to living and setting up house here and manage to paint and clean. When I saw them working today I wanted to hug them. Please thank God for this group of willing teenagers/college kids that are ministering to us through their service.
I was sitting in the Director's office today and looking out the window behind me and was overwhelmed with how beautiful the landscape is around me. The sun was shining down and there was a breeze blowing through the palm trees and the mountains in the background were gorgeous. I forget when I am in suburbia how much the outdoors ministers to me, and how much I love the mountains (especially tropical mountains.)
Today we went into Jarabacoa to open bank accounts (our salary is direct deposited.) We rode in Leah's mitsubishi SUV type vehicle (7 of us) and on our way back to the school while negotiating traffic a hatian in a blue baseball cap on a passola (carrying a pick-ax) ran into the side of the car. He kinda ricocheted off the vehicle and his bike stalled right in front of us. Traffic was backing up behind us and Leah was waiting for him to pull out of the way and wait for us to assess the damage. Instead, once his passola started, he took off. Leah took off after him trying to catch up to him to at least get him to apologize (since the chances of him having insurance or any way of reparation was slim.) A chase ensued. Here we are, 7 of us, bouncing through the 'streets' (and I use that word loosely) of Jarabacoa trying to catch the run away motorcycle. I don't think Leah knew exactly what she would do if she caught up to him at this point. Jokes were made about 6 women and one man facing down a man with a pick ax. At one point we lost him, and turned around to head back to the school (our chase had taken us in the opposite direction) and just like a movie, about a minute later he pulled out of a side street right in front of us, looked back over his shoulder and took off as fast as he could. It is really amazing he didn't kill himself given that he was looking over his shoulder as often as he was looking ahead to negotiate traffic. Finally he broke away by squeezing between vehicles, people and buildings that Leah's car wouldn't fit through. The whole adventure took about 10 minutes, but seemed completely surreal at the time as a car full of missionaries partook in a spontaneous car chase. I am sure that was only the first of many unexpected adventures here.
Sunday night I made scones in our little plastic propane oven. I was very proud of myself, and enjoyed going through the process of something home-like and familiar. Yesterday afternoon my roommates (Rachel & Kimberly) and I walked into town and bought fruit from the fruit market (A Pineapple, two Mangoes, Grapes and Plum and a Peach) and veggies from the veggie market (Lettuce, Tomoatoes, Peppers, Onion, Avocado, etc.) and regular groceries from the grocery store (Soap, Cheese, Yogurt, etc.) Here, they suggest that you bleach your fruits and veggies, so we went through that process. Rachel made omelets. It was a successful day. This evening we cut up the pineapple (oh, tropical fruit is soooo good in the tropics) and we made chocolate chip cookies. So, we are learning to operate in our new environment. The refrigerator has only been working sporatically, (probably due to the brown-outs and power outages) but was fixed today and so far is still working. Please pray that this continues to be the case. Apparently, the method for fixing appliances here is trial and error. They don't take amps and readings, etc. to try to ascertain problems; they just start replacing parts until they get it right. We still don't have toilet seats *shrug* all in due time, I guess.
There is so much to tell and it is hard to decide what to share, so I will end by relating an encouraging discussion I had with the director this afternoon:
We were discussing scripture and Malachai chapter 3 where God is reminding Israel not to be discouraged by the apparent prosperity of the wicked, and encouraging them that His promises will be fulfilled. It is so easy to look at the world around us and all of the ugliness and corruption that is a result of man's sinful nature, and we feel discouraged. It is hard to watch the wicked prosper while the righteous face persecution. It is hard to remain faithful when the pay off only seems to come to those who take short cuts and follow their own desires. Reading Malachai there is a bittersweetness. God made these promises to israel but it was 400 years after Malachai spoke to the Israelites before God's promises were fulfilled - they were fulfilled however. It is hard to look at my own life, to look at all I desire and to see the evilness in the world around me and to see the flaws in my own self. It is easy to get discouraged and to think, "God, I cannot wait 400 years!" Allowing God to work in his time is so difficult. Every ounce of my flesh cries out in rebellion. But in the midst of my despair, I have hope. Hope that there is more to this life than my desires. Hope that there is a bigger picture and purpose for my existence. This next year feels in many ways like I am putting my life 'on hold' but I know that what is happening is exactly the opposite. For the first time in several years I am actually accomplishing something. I am responding to a calling and experiencing (in the midst of all the chaos and stress) more peace than I have in ages. That doesn't mean that I won't be discouraged, or that I won't call home ranting about the perils of another culture, or crying because of the effort that I have to put forward everyday just to survive...but I know that for this day that has just passed, that I am exactly where I was made to be, and I can only offer praise that God blesses me in the midst of my discontent and provides such richness in the moments of duress.
Please continue to pray for me. Finances for everyone here are tight. It is hard to know that you have to count every peso when you purchase food or buy cleaning supplies. There is a Dengue epidemic here at the moment and we cannot afford screens. Not having power from time to time makes creating lesson plans at night more difficult, and our internet sometimes works great but often is slow as molasses. We also are all very dependent upon each other, which is wonderful, but also means that we have to be gracious and forgiving and focused on not taking out stress out on each other. I really love the other teachers at the school and I am encouraged that exhorting each other is a priority.
(And my roommate just found a tarantula type spider on the back porch and completely freaked out - God help us. Three women who are terrified of spiders living in one house!)