(A brief detour into my mind:)
Life flies by and it feels like I have been here months even though it will be two weeks tomorrow. Honestly, folks, it is really hard. I understand the culture shock 'graph' which usually looks something like this:
but I don't feel like I entered on the upper portion of the graph or on the 'mountain top'. I feel like I slipped right into the valley. Maybe (and I have heard some folks suggest this) I just re-entered the graph where I left it the last time I was overseas (which was 2003 in Thailand.) I left there at the bottom of the curve, and when I arrived back in the States I spent about 6 months angry at the culture I had left and angry at the culture I returned to. I seemed to have left the states and entered the DR in about the same frame of mind. The hardest 'cultural fact' for me here is the lack of gratitude. Dominican upper classes seem to think that teachers are the same as servants, and in this case apparently they are lesser servants because they are the servants of children. I took a 90% pay cut to come down here because I desire to be used by God to spread His name, as well as help the kids at the school get into US colleges, and yet it appears in the minds of the people here I should be looked down on and largely ignored. Instead of the respect shown to teachers in other cultures, here we are glorified babysitters. So, I have been having some internal dialogue with God about why exactly I am here. It is certainly not because the board of JCS values my education or experiences. So, there must be some other reason.
So, please pray that God will give me a spirit of acceptance. That I will be able to cast off the anger that has gripped me and cling instead to the promises of a reward not measurable by human understanding. I think it says alot for our environment here that we are constantly being reminded of passages from Psalms or Malachi where the Israelites were assured that the wicked do not ultimately profit. So, I wrap up this little caveat with a passage from Colossians 3:13-14 which I need to remember during my time here,
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity." Please pray that I can forgive and that I can love. (Now would also be a fantastic time for phone calls and emails of encouragement or to tell me you are coming to visit.)
So, funny things about living here:
They seem to really like setting the lot next door on fire. I am not sure why. I don't know what benefit it provides. We certainly don't need the heat. Its not just a little fire, either. Its generally a large portion of the lot. *shrug* Weird.
Another weird thing:
Um, yes, that is a chicken. Apparently they stroll through school grounds quite often. The owners of the chickens get mad, however, when the kids chase them. *shrug* There is also a goat that sometimes lives next door to my apartment, but I haven't gotten a good picture of him yet. Many people around here have horses and to see them on the street is not unusual at all.
A few days ago Dylan (Leah's son) and Danny (Karen Speciale's son) found this:
Although I am not a huge bug fan, I have to admit this one was pretty cool! You cannot tell in the picture, but this little guy was probably about 3" long. Its legs have little pinchers at the end that it uses to grab onto things. I probably could have brought myself to touch it, except it still bears a resemblance to a cockroach (at least to me) but of all the creepy crawlies, this one was the least offensive so far.
Speaking of creepy crawlies...last night (in the midst of my headache) there was the loudest noise from our dining room -- it sounded kind of like the buzzers on a fire alarm. Our place is all concrete so the sound just echoed and reverberated to the point that when you walked into the room you had to cover your ears. After hunting a bit, we determined that it was a cricket smaller than a dime. Little guy/big noise apparently applies to bugs as well as humans.
I do have favorite animal friends here. Like this guy who lives in our dining room (Karyn, don't look):
At first I caught them and put them outside, but then decided that wherever they were the chance of spiders was less, so now I invite them in and name them. This one likes to climb up to the back of the dining room chairs and look around. Isn't he cute? Too bad we cannot remember what we named him.
Other exciting news: A week ago one of the couples on staff had a new arrival! We took dinner over on Monday and got to see Jeremiah who waited until the very end of our time there (when we were taking pictures) to complain. He was sweet as peaches up to that point. That's Teresa and Daniel. Daniel teaches jr. high and highschool science. It is extremely fortunate for me that I already love all of the American staff at JCS, and I am honored to have been accepted into their families so quickly.
This last picture is my 6th grade homeroom. We are responsible for decorating our homeroom classrooms, so I spent a little over a day coloring and preparing what I could with the construction paper and marker resources that I had available. I hope it will do.
The start of school was postponed a week, so classes do not start until Tuesday. This was a huge boon as none of us were prepared as well as we would like to be.
AND I am planning to go to the beach tomorrow! So hopefully many beautiful pictures will follow.
Lastly, there have been several unplanned expenses since I arrived here. Many of you have mentioned that you would like to contribute to the work being done here, and I earnestly appeal to you that now would be a great time. My mother will be flying down to bring me supplies and I could sure use any help I could get to purchase those. If you would prefer to purchase supplies and send them, you can contact either myself or my mother and we will happily share the list. Contact information is on this page.
Oh, one more picture...
As you can see, we don't have it quite right yet - we have to go into santiago to find one that will fit. Apparently there aren't any that fit at any stores in Jarabacoa. *laughs*