Sunday, November 29, 2009

The past several days have been very full and somewhat crazy. Wednesday afternoon, we had a pulga (flea market) at the school. Instead of staying until 2:30 like normal, the kids went home right after lunch. We sorted through all of the items people had donated to Students International and snagged a few things for ourselves. People began lining the fence at 1:20, almost an hour before the pulga opened. When Alberto opened the gate, people came charging in - literally running out of their shoes. For the next half hour, people frantically searched through the different tables. It was basically the small scale equivalent of Black Friday sales in the U.S. That night, we had a Thanksgiving dinner at the base. The food was good, but I have to say my Mom's stuffing is way better.

On Thursday, the American teacher I work under had to go to the capital, so Mary (a Dominican helper) and I taught the class by ourselves. I was a little bit nervous before hand, but Mary is very good and the kids were awesome. Nap time was a bit more rowdy than usual. I believe a few of the kids were testing me to see if I would really make them take a nap ... they soon found out that nap time means nap time. All in all, the school day went very well. That night, Dennisse and I joined Dan at our old family's house for supper (he is staying there now). We had hamburgers! Even though they are nothing close to the hamburgers I have at home, they were still a nice change from rice and yucca. Dan walked us back to the base where we made brownies and watched "Diary of a mad black woman" with Brent. It was the most interesting movie I've ever seen. I can't say I will ever watch it again, but it did give us a lot to laugh about this weekend. Dennisse and I spent the night at the base in the softest bed I've slept in since being here.

Friday morning, after a wonderful breakfast of raisin bran (first time I've had that since leaving home), we all piled into the van and a truck and headed to Dajabon. We went to the Haitian market and actually walked all the way up to the border. It was the craziest thing I've ever experienced. The market is open on Fridays and Mondays; any Dominican or Haitian can cross the border with goods during those two days. Brent explained to us that the Haitians usually bring over stuff that has been donated to them by organizations, like toys and shoes, while the Dominicans sell things like food, diapers, and carry-out containers. The Dominicans are able to buy stuff cheaply from the Haitians and then resell the goods in stores and make a profit. All of the Haitians I saw crossing back into Haiti were either pushing wooded wheelbarrows piled high with rice, beans, and ice blocks or carrying big bundles of goods on their heads. The traffic of human beings was nothing like I've ever seen before. At one point, I was wiggling my way between a moving charter bus and wheelbarrows while ducking so I wouldn't get hit by the huge bundles on peoples' heads. I don't yet have pictures because only a few of us brought cameras, but hopefully by the time I come home I'll have gotten my hands on a few. We walked around the outer edge of the market. It was just as crazy as the border crossing. We had to hold hands and form a chain so we wouldn't lose each other. That night, we headed to a church camp about half an hour away. Me and four other girls pushed our bunk beds together and had a sleepover on the bottom bunk.

We spent Saturday at a beach. This was the first beach we've been to yet that has had waves. That was fun for a while, until one caught me, buried my face into the sand, flipped me over and drug me for a little ways. But I still enjoyed myself. There were lots of cliffs that offered a bit of shade ... I took a nap for a while under one. After leaving that beach, we went to another one, but everyone was so tired that we ended up heading back to the camp fairly quickly.

This morning, we went to a Missionary church in Dajabon. We introduced ourselves and sang a song in English and a song in Spanish for the congregation. We stayed for Sunday School, but the actual church service wasn't until later on in the evening. We stopped in Santiago for lunch. Since we were near a supermarket, several of us decided to pool our allotted money and buy some fiberous food there. We ended up being able to get a lot of really good food, like wheat bread and yogurt, without going over our budget. Creativity is pretty handy at times ... it saved us from McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some pictures from the last two weeks

Still an hour from the top of Magote. It was a long and tough hike, but I think we all had lots of fun anyway. Plus, there were black raspberries near the top ... definitely worth the climb.

Lining up by the flagpole at the beginning of the day to sing the national anthem.

Singing during the morning devotional time.

We had a sleepover last Friday with our mom, one of her friends, a girl from church, and a YWAM girl we know. We did masks, played truth or dare, ate lots of good food that was really bad for us, and watched a movie before all piling into two beds for the night.

In the backseat of the van on our way to the baseball game. We call ourselves the munchkins because we are the four shortest people in the group, and we all happen to be close to the same size.

We went to a baseball game last weekend. Our team, the Aguilas (Eagles), was playing a the Indios from Puerto Rico. We won, 5-4, at the bottom of the last inning.

It's nice to have a roommate who wants to learn how to paint nails Dominican style :)

Yinelvy will wear a coat all day long unless someone takes it off of her, even though she sweats like crazy with it on. I think she just forgets she has it on.

Alexander is one of the older students in my class. He doesn't come every day, but when he does, he's always wearing is thick, brown, leather jacket, no matter how hot it is outside.

Yocaira, my nap buddy. She likes to make up her own stories to match the pictures in books.

Smil always has a smile on his face, even when he's embarrassed, which is all the time!

During breakfast time, Kyarolin peeled three oranges and didn't eat a single piece of any of them, even though she told me she was going to eat all of her food. She is one of my favorite kids at the school. Right now, we're trying to get her to spend more time with the other kids; if she had her way, she would sit in our laps all day. But, she recently discovered how much fun the sand box is, so we're making progress!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I thought it was about time for another blog post ...

Last week, one of our professors from Bethel came down and we had a ministry class at the base. It was nice to see the other students so much again. And we had an awesome snack every day! However, I’m beginning to wish I didn’t have all of the sugar … I have to run a lot more to work it off than I used to!

Friday night, Dennisse and I spent the night in Hato Viejo with two of our friends (also Bethel students). It was the birthday of one of our Dominican friends, so we spent the afternoon with her, eating cake and catching up. Dennisse and I also visited our first family for a little while. After an awesome supper of Dominican style spaghetti, we gave each other facemasks and then made a fun little music video (while we were wearing our facemasks). It started to get late, so the mom of the house came into the bedroom to tell us we needed to be a little bit quieter. She wasn’t expecting to see four snow white faces. After her little scream, she hid her face and tried not to laugh too hard at us, but we didn’t mind because we were already laughing pretty hard at ourselves. We eventually washed our faces off and started a movie. Our hosts fell asleep before we did, so Dennisse and I decided to turn the movie off and try to get some sleep. We failed in the last endeavor. Three of us were in one bed and Dennisse and I were trying to share one tiny blanket. She got it for the first half of the night, which meant that I didn’t sleep much for several hours. Eventually, she somehow figured out that Kirstin was wrapped up in a huge blanket all by herself, so Dennisse took some of hers and gave me the other blanket. It was a fun time. But seriously, it really was. We laughed a lot and got to be American girls for a night.

The next morning, after having leftover birthday cake for breakfast, we walked to the base and headed out for our excursion. We hiked up a river for three hours. I’m using the word “hiked” very broadly here. We did a lot of slipping on big rocks, swimming against the current, staggering through the middle of the river, clinging to big rocks with the tips of our fingers so we wouldn’t get pulled away. The boys also did a lot of pulling girls to safety. We eventually got to the waterfall we were supposed to see only to find out that there really wasn’t a place to sit or do anything by it. We decided to turn around and go back to a sunny spot for lunch. Luckily, we had packed our lunches in plastic bags; they were the only things in our backpacks that weren’t soaked. We made it back down the river in an hour and a half, half the time it took us to reach the waterfall. It’s amazing what traveling with the current can do. I don’t think anybody walked away from this excursion without at least one cut and one bruise. Personally, I have more cuts that I can count and two huge bruises. Another girl and I found out that if you brush up against a particular plant, it will leave little slivers in your skin that are really hard to pull out. Luckily, they didn’t hurt too much.

The church here in Mata Gorda is a lot different than La Vid, the one I went to in Hato Viejo. As I understand it, the church has had some disagreements among its members and the groups they work with. As a result, the congregation now consists of about seven adults and twenty kids (all under the age of eleven). Our pastor is currently in Africa, doing mission work. We’ve had guest speakers every Sunday I’ve been here. I think the pastor and his family will be moving to Africa within the next year to be full time missionaries. When that happens, I have a feeling the church will die out, which is very sad because they have an awesome children’s ministry going on in this community.

We didn’t have school on Monday because of some national holiday. Dennisse and I decided to run to our friends’ house in the next town. As we were running, it started to pour down rain. After about an hour, it hadn’t really let up, so we decided to just head home. It only took us about five minutes to be completely drenched. The people in our town had a good time laughing at us gringas running in the rain. It rained for the rest of the day, so we didn’t do much … we had hot chocolate, slept, ate, played Nintendo with our little brothers, had more hot chocolate, and then went to bed.

This week at the school has been a lot of fun for me. Katie, the teacher I’m working with, put me in charge of three different subjects for each week. I like having something to plan for and something definite to do while I’m in the class. This was my first Friday actually being at the school (I spent last Saturday at the base for the ministry class and the Saturday before that at the clinic with Dennisse). Fridays are gym days … after the devotion/singing time, we took a walk through the neighborhood and then had our snack. After recess, we made finger puppets. The kids loved them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

All of this week, we have a ministry class at the base. One of our Bethel professors flew down on Sunday and is spending the week with us. We have class for four hours every day with a nice long lunch break in the middle. Monday morning, I was pleasantly surprised with a package from Peter. He sent it along with the professor. I had been dropping not so subtle hints that chocolate would be wonderful, but he didn't let on at all that he was going to send me any. I'm trying my very hardest to not open anything until later on, when I really, really "need" it. Because Dennisse and I went through a fun lack of fiber time last week, Peter also sent some fiber rich cereal that we can snack on. I have to say, he's very thoughtful. Monday afternoon, I washed my clothes Dominican style for the first time by myself. While living with my first family, I was never home when the laundry had to be done because of Spanish classes. It's hard work! I first put the clothes in the little washing machine, which could rinse the clothes as well as wash them, but I would have had to empty the water between each load. Since we didn't have water, I figured that wouldn't be a good idea. I actually ended up using the same water for four loads, which was pretty nasty, but the clothes got clean. After the clothes when through the washer, I had to wring them out, rinse them in a bucket of water, and wring them out again, all by hand, before putting them in the electric wringer and then hanging them on the line. I definitely appreciate the washers and dryers I'm able to use at home a lot more than I ever did before.