Upon embarking on a trip, especially one of extended duration to a country of uncertain commodities, we all know to expect certain setbacks. This trip has provided its share.
Thursday (the day before I left) brought two inconveniences. First, my ipod kept popping up the 'sad ipod icon', so I took it into the Apple store genius bar to see if they could tell me what the issues were. They promptly said that the hard drive was dying, and that they would send me a new ipod of that exact version but it would be 5-7 business days. So, I am sans ipod. The good news is that my ipod had only 5 days until it was out from under warranty, and so I am thankful it decided to self-destruct when it did. Secondly, my father kindly purchased a small mp3 player for me to take so I am not entirely music deprived. (Thank you, daddy!)
Thursday afternoon we found out that there is a baggage embargo (at least to the DR) until August 12th, which means that no extra bags can be checked. This meant repacking everything into two suitcases...which boils down to me having the bare essentials and not much besides. (Though, praise the Lord for laptops & internet...they eliminate the need for many other bulky items.) So, I find myself down here with far less 'comforts' than I anticipated. In the repacking, I managed NOT to pack several things which I wish I had, including any shorts. (We don't generally wear them out and about around town, but sitting in the 80+ degree apartment, it sure would be nice to have a pair of shorts.) Tessa suggested that God must really want my attention since I have limited things to distract me: not much music, few books, etc. I am embracing this perspective as it provides meaning for these momentary and light afflictions.
(As I type this to you, we have no power. I am sitting in the pitch blackness except for the cheerful glow of my laptop. Welcome the the DR.)
I thought I might not get here on Friday. My flight was half an hour late leaving from Charlotte, and then we sat on the tarmac at Miami for half an hour. I ran from miami terminal D to terminal E and saw Karyn ( a fellow teacher) waiting for me. Praise the Lord! We boarded the plane and I arrived safely. The flights themselves were not bad, but not having a lay over in Miami means I didn't get the mail sent (all the lovely letters I had written) so I will have to figure out how to get things to the US from here.
My apartment is actually the bottom floor of a house, and quite large. My roommate, Rachel, came in this morning and we have been busy shopping and trying to settle in.
Settling in is a little surreal. We keep coming across things we need (as is to be expected) and I think, "I have that in the States, I will just bring it back." or "I can live without such-and-such, can't I...but for an entire year?" It has not sunk in yet that this is home. I know that there are trials ahead in this area. But we will face them as they come, I suppose.
Things here, so far, are just as expensive as back home, which is shocking and kind of frustrating. Actually many things are MORE expensive. Anything made of plastic costs about 5x's as much here as home. This might not seem like a big deal until you consider all the plastic things we use in our houses...cooking utensils, trashcans, hangers, etc. And so far there have not been many metal or wooden alternatives. We ploughed through $100.00 today, and came home with far less than we would have stateside. This makes no sense (ok, from a broad economic perspective, it makes sense...) to me. In my opinion, if I am not making any money because the country is poorer and has less money to give a working person, then why are goods so expensive?
On a brighter note, my colleagues here threw me an improptu birthday party tonight. We had porkchops, salad, potatoe chips, devilled eggs and watermelon followed by a fantastically luscious carrot cake. Leah gifted me with a candle, which has appropriately been put to good use as Rachel has lit it to sit here and read by. She thanked me for being born on today so we would have light - I told her to thank my mom. :-)
Well, that is something to start with. I hope by the time you see this that I have some pictures imbedded. (At the moment I cannot write the HTML as I cannot access the flickr site they are hosted on for their address. No power means no internet). *laugh* There is so much God wants to teach me. I pray I will be emboldened as I pursue Him. I still feel utterly unprepared for this, but I cling tight to the words of Proverbs 31 about "laughing at the future". Ultimately, there is only one thing that matters, and neither death, nor lack of electricity, nor no toilet seats, lack of refrigeration, misquitoes, flight delays and all other hinderances can keep me from Him. I think knowledge of that is what this trip is really about.