Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Martes Musings

In an attempt not to get so bogged down, here is a shorter post.

I am trying to remember to take pictures of all my classes. It is hard as the days are busy, but I did remember on Monday to take Pics of my 11th grade class. The only sad thing is that Rachel is missing (she was in Santiago for the day visiting friends.)

That's Lis (pronounced Liz) on the left. Her father is one of the pastor's at the church I will be attending here. She is a very bright student and alot of fun to have in class. Next to her is Karen. Karen's mom owns a clothing store in town and Karen seems to be the barbie doll of her class. She is a sweet girl but she often doesn't show alot of motivation. It is hard to expect 11th grade girls ANYWHERE to see the value of anything outside of boys, but it seems even more difficult here. Beside Karen is Mary. Mary's family is from Costa Rica and came here 4 years ago to plant the church that I attend. (So Lis and Mary's fathers are the two pastors at Templo Bautista.) On the other side of me is Elsie. Her mother owns a bakery in town (and I ate a YUMMY donut from there for breakfast on Sunday.) She is academically perhaps the strongest student in her class (Lis definitely has an advantage because she is a native English speaker, but Elsie has really exceptional writing/understanding skills and she puts effort into her studies.) Next to Elsie is Brayan - the only boy in their class. He is a good kid but not very motivated. He is also very shy about his written english and probably doesn't like me alot because I like them to write in class. They are a fun class, and we have alot of interesting discussions. It is hard to make US history relevant for students who don't necessarily intend to go to school in the States, but it is important for their understanding of world politics etc. We will be able to vary from the book more after this first semester and discuss more current events. I really enjoy discussing American government, but I also recognize that much of my appreciation is found in the subltleties and those are harder to communicate.

I really need to get pics of my 9th grade class. I want to tell you stories about them, but you need to see their faces and, in truth, hear their voices to appreciate what a handful they are. BUT they are great kids and I have LOADS of affection for them. For any of you who have kids, or who have taught before can you please tell me why sometimes the troublemakers win your affection more quickly than their quiet studious classmates?

The dog...has a name. Dariel named her "pila" which means battery because she keeps going and going. Rachel and I took her to the vet today (again) and she got her parvo shot and a leash and a food dish. I know, I know...but my roommate, Jessica, really doesn't want me to keep her...If I can find her a family I will. She is a pain, and keeps me up at night, but honestly, it is nice to have something to look forward to in the evenings -- and playing with Pila and cuddling with her is an escape for me. (Granted, sometimes I would like to strangle her. On the walk back from town today I was holding her and she was SCREAMING and drawing the attention from everyone for blocks. They were all turning to see who was killing the dog. I just smiled sheepishly and hoped that they knew that the gringo wasn't torturing the dog, though it sounded that way. Most people just smiled. I am sure they are getting a laugh out of the gringo school teacher adopting a female runt street dog. *sigh* what can I say? I am a pushover.

In other news (quite literally) the Dengue epidemic here is being reported on around the world. Here is an article from Cuba (?) and another from China.
Regan is supposed to come home from the hospital tomorrow whcih is fantastic, but Katie Fluth was really sick earlier today so we are all praying that she doesn't have Dengue. It is getting ridiculous, but there really isn't much you can do to avoid it. I will make a point to either get my misquito net by saturday. I don't know if it will really make much difference, but it cannot hurt.

That is about it for the moment. I am tired and I think that Pila has finally decided that she is sleepy again, so with any luck in about 10 minutes she will be so fast asleep that I can put her in the kennel without her waking up and noticing! *crosses fingers* Please keep praying for us here. I am definitely learning to adjust (and am VERY excited about my mother arriving here in Friday) but there are still worries and frustrations. (As of course you all know since we all have them.) I will keep praying for all of you. Know that you are in my thoughts constantly.

Best wishes to my small group as you gather tonight (well, tomorrow...but you will read this wed.) I miss you all terribly, but am encouraged to know that you are all fellowshipping together and building community.

Grace and Peace

Sunday, September 9, 2007

when you love you walk on water...

...just don't stumble on the waves
we all wanna go there something awful
but to stand there it takes some grace. - Rich Mullins

There is so much that i want to tell, and it is hard to know where to begin. so first, basic updates on sickness, school stuff, etc.

Nancy Fluth, the director's wife, who first came down with Dengue is back to teaching! It took over three weeks for her to heal sufficiently and she still gets tired, but THANK GOD she is healing well and is back to teaching the PK-3 class.
Kimberly, one of our roommates, went back to the States about two weeks ago. She was very sick, and had some other complicating health issues.
Derrick, who had Typhoid, is back at school and doing well. There was alot to catch up on after missing the first two weeks of teaching his 5th grade class, but he seems to be adjusting.
Rachel, my roommate, was out of school for a week - we are not sure what she had, but last week she was back and taught and though the week has been stressful, she survived.
Christy Elmer, a second grade teacher, has Dengue. She was in the hospital last weekend but has been recovering at home this week. She had several really uncomfortable days because her internal organs were swollen making it hard to breathe, be comfortable etc. She appears to be on the mend. I don't know what her ETA is for returning to school.
Regan Hess, the third grade teacher, was taken into Santiago on Wed (?). He had been sick all week and they finally determined he has Dengue. He is still in the hospital. They are still waiting for his platelets to start rising instead of falling. Please pray for him.
So the running total is 15 American teachers. 2 with serious stomach ailments (one returned stateside and one recovered). 3 teachers with Dengue (Nancy recovered, Christy Elmer & Regan still sick.) That is a 3rd of the Americans. Some of the Dominican staff have been sick as well. Rough way to start a year...but God knows all about it, and we are clinging to the trials/perseverance/character/hope promise.

A week ago Emmanuel, one of my tenth graders, was in a car accident (along with some relatives of his) coming back from the capital where he was playing in a baseball tournament. The car blew a tire and crossed the line or hit something (details are still unclear to me.) His uncle and his grandfather were both killed. He returned to school midweek and seems in good spirits. TOO good. He lost his father 6 months ago, and the accident and loss of family members again is more than any average 15 year old could handle. I think most of the teachers feel pretty certain that he is not handling it at all - just repressing - and hence the happy-go-lucky attitude we have all been seeing. Please pray for him. Sometimes you wonder why God allows such catastrophies to pile up in people's lives.

I keep forgetting to take pictures at school of more of my classes. Days are full and it feels we bounce from one thing to the next constantly. By the time I get home from school I am flat worn out. Many nights I am in bed before 10 - some nights by 8.30 or so. But, classes are going well. 4 of my 6 classes had tests this past week - overall it seems that they did pretty well. I am head over heels about the 10th grade class where the lowest grade was a "B". Tuesday was an interesting afternoon. I got home from school and one of the 10th graders (Heidy) came over to study, then one of my 8th graders (Dariel) who had missed school that day (due to being tardy) stopped by begging to take his test. Then another 10th grader (Katherine, my upstairs neighbor) came down and joined Heidy and Rachel and I for dinner. Friday night several of the 10th graders stopped by and we made cookies and salsa. Then Katherine and I walked Ebony home and I met Ebony's mother, Eunice, and then Katherine and I walked back to our house...and that is where the puppy really enters the pic. It was after 8 and quite dark. I had ignored the puppy all afternoon (ugg, tore my heart) but at 8 my defenses were down and I decided to at least bathe it and give it some water...and so, because I am a big push-over I have to decide what to do with this:

Yesterday after Clarissa and her daugher Marlenis (sp?) finished cleaning, we went to their 'house' outside of Jarabacoa. Clarissa cleans at the school and Rachel was talking to her one day and learned a little of her circumstances so we wanted to figure out a way we could help her. She has 5 girls ranging in age from 15 down to 3. Shortly after the three year old was born Clarissa's husband was hit by a car. She has been supporting her family by herself. They live in a small building (maybe 10' x 12' if I am estimating generously) which is sub divided into two rooms (there is some wall and alot of curtain to divide the rooms). All 6 members sleep in the larger half of the dwelling and there is a pretend kitchen/dining space in the smaller side of the dwelling. Truly, there is NOT much room. They were very excited to have us over and fixed arroz y pollo for us to have for lunch. Clarissa also invited her mother-in-law and her brother-in-law and his wife over. (and two of their kids). He was primarily there to drive us back after we ate. It was so humbling to be so graciously received by a family who has so much less than what I consider the bare minimum for survival. We are praying for the funds for Clarissa's youngest to get to go to JCS. It costs about $400.00 US a year. Here is a picture of her family (Clarissa is wearing the hair net and tank top. The older woman is her mother-in-law. Her youngest is sitting in Marlenis, the next to oldest (14) lap. The girl on the far right is Clarissa's neice (I believe). Their house is only as wide as the window, etc. they are in front of - the one you see to the far right is the neighbor's house. The doorway on the left is the left wall of her building. You can see the space is not very large.)

I think I have found a church here. It is the fundamental Baptist church and I am sure that I have some theological differences but I really like the community there and I need to get plugged in locally.

The church on Sunday mornings is mostly full of kids that come from the local barrios (most often very low-income/education communities.) The service is in Spanish, but I can pick out parts. It feels good to be in a community and worshipping. Both of the pastors' daughters are in my 11th grade history class. I get to hear/see alot about their families and church even outside of Sundays and that is nice too. This is a picture of the view at the church. You can see the side of the building to the left. I was standing about 15 feet forward and about 10 feet to the side of where I was standing to take a pic of the front of the church.

Rachel and I house-sat for one of the other teachers last night and their house compared to ours is a resort. We sat on their front porch this morning and drank coffee and commented on how amazing it is that we decide we want to live on a tropical island and "poof" we are allowed to do so. (Of course, we all know it is not that simple, but there are moments when the beauty of our location makes us forget for a moment all the other travails we endure.) I try to capture the blueness of the sky, the grandure of the mountains, the lushness of the fruit trees, but I cannot export to you the feel of the air, or the slant of the sun or the sense of where we are. These pictures are just very dim representations of the amazingness we live in.

This was a picture that Rachel took from the landing at the top of the steps at the school looking across the sports field. It is the view I see everyday in greater and lesser moments of glory, but rarely do I stop and take it in that I don't still feel some amazement. I truly desire you all to see it for yourselves!

In other news, it has been over a week since they set the field next door on fire. I am growing bored and look forward to the next time they set it ablaze. Watching all the men that usually sit at the colmado on the corner come out and watch the fire provides the residents of this house with much entertainment. Also, no recent goat spottings or chickens in the school yard. (Or maybe I am just getting used to things like that so I don't notice them anymore.) I did stop by the bakery belonging to the mother of one of the 11th grade girls (Elsie) and while standing outside waiting to order heard a chicken and looked and a woman had a huge hen hanging by its feet (they were tied together) from the handlebars of her motor bike. Elsie said, "That is something you wouldn't see in the US." Too true, Elsie, but it is part of what makes living in Jarabacoa interesting!

There is much more to tell, but I need to go ahead and get this posted, so keep checking back. I have every intention of posting pictures of my classes as soon as I can 1) remember to take pics. 2) have time on the internet to post and 3) manage to stay awake longer than it takes to do the bare minimum of necessary activities that fill my day.

Grace and Peace to you all!