Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finally What You've All Been Waiting For!

Okay okay okay.
I know I've been bad at putting up photos, so here they are. But these ones are from the Dominican Republic and more exciting than my last bunch.
The main thing that I learned was how to rest. It seems like resting is something that I seem to think that I'm good at, but then I always realize that I really am not. A few weeks before I left for the trip, I was complaining to one of my roommates Ashley that I wouldn't be well rested until a month later (after going on the trip). She laughed and half-jokingly said that I would find plenty of rest in the DR. Man was she right!
We were driving into the town of Jarbacoa (Har-ba-coh-ah) and I happened to look out the window to my left. On the plane ride, I was wondering why specifically God wanted me to go on the trip (a probing question from Ashley again) and was a bit disappointed in myself for not necessarily knowing. But when I glanced out the window, I knew right then and there. I saw nothing out of the ordinary, simply a horse grazing in a green field. Psalm 23 immediately flashed in my mind:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.

This is why I was there: to rest. And that is what we did.
Dominican culture is very slow. Things happen when they happen and there seems to be no reason for anyone to ever rush. It is okay if class starts 10 minutes late because the mothers of the preschoolers probably will be late picking them up anyway. The roads are bad at the very best, and most of the time you are lucky if the road you are driving on has half of its pavement left, if any at all. You can blame the tardiness on those, I guess.
I worked at a preschool in a town called Los Higos. All of the 12 students were sponsored in order to attend. The school was a recent addition to the town; it had just opened up in January and the results were already pouring in. The students who had just finished the semester (January to May) who were ready to go onto the public school were on average testing at first or second-grade reading and writing levels. By preparing the children of the poverty-stricken rural town for the primary grades, Students International helps to break the cycle of illiteracy and be able to send the children to the equivalent of an American high school or university.
They start off each day with the singing of the national anthem, a review of their letters and numbers, and a prayer. Class ensues for an hour, then recess for thirty minutes, another lesson for an hour, then lunch and siesta. A mother of one of the students would come in each day to cook a basic lunch of rice, beans, and either plantains or chicken. Then after lunch was finished, the kids would go inside and lay down for a nap for an hour. Then class would resume for about another hour, and then it was time to go home. After the children left, we had an hour before we needed to be back on the base, so we would go to a neighbor's house for Dominican coffee. This was not your normal cup o' joe. It was about three ounces of coffee and 5 tablespoons of sugar drunken from a very small cup. Delicious, but you are only allowed one cup at a time.
We would get back to the base around four o'clock and have free time until dinner. Then we would have some sort of night activity. We had "team time" about three times; there was a culture night in which we learned meringue and a cup passing game called Don Ramon; a night on the biblical view of poverty and the appropriate response to it.

Here are my top five photos with short explanations:

This is Waldy, fondly know as the "One-Toothed-Wonder." He was a brother of one of the little girls in our preschool and hung out with us all the time. A little ball of energy, he did have more than one tooth. What had happened was this-he had lost both of his front teeth (as young boys often do), and only one of them had grown fully in. The other one was slowly creeping out. We looked forward to seeing him every day. This picture captures his playful essence beautifully!

This is post-naptime hair. Gabbi and Vivianna style.

We got to go out to dinner on Saturday, and we opted to go to ice cream afterward at Splash. Ruby had parked herself on this carousal pony type thing that you put pesos into and it takes you for a little ride. While she had her back turned and was talking to the girls on the bench, Kali, Rob, and I conspired to get this thing to work while she was on it. We tried so hard! We shoved in peso after peso, but to no avail. The thing was broken! It was fun anyway.

Fridays are a half-day at the preschool, and so the intern from the Kid's Club invited us to go to the river with them.
"The river is suck. You cannot swim." This is what one man told us before we left for the river. What he was trying to say was that the river was dirty. The Spanish word for dirty is sucio; so homie thought that if he just took off the io at the end of the word, the correct English translation would magically appear. We got a good laugh out of that. It was a great hike and we got to swim in the crisp water. The boys started a mud-slinging fight in order to entice us to get in. This is before they turned on us.

And, of course, our wonderful team. Here we are at training, about five weeks before we left. We are comprised of students and leaders from Sonoma State, San Francisco State, Chico State, and Santa Rosa Junior College.

For more fun photos, look at these two (!) slide shows:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here Are Some Photos!

Here are pictures from Bay to Beakers, graduation, and the InterVarsity Camp.

Hope you have fun looking at them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Its Been a While

Hello Friends!
I'm sorry that it has been so long since I've posted last; my life has been practically insane in all areas. Here is a rundown of what has happened in the past, well, six (?) weeks:
1) Three friends and I ran Bay to Breakers, the race through San Francisco the day before finals week started. For me it wasn't that bad, since I only had one final this semester.
2) My last finals week happened! It was nice not really having a lot to do for myself, I helped out some friends and edited a whole bunch of final papers. I think within the last two or three weeks of school I helped edit/inspire about 80 pages of writing! Ah, it was wonderful.
3) InterVarsity had something called jouRney, a week long camp in which students get together and study the book of Mark for seven hours a day. They do it in two sections, Mark I and Mark II. I helped lead a table group for Mark I, part of my first official IV Intern duties!
4) I said adios to two of my dear friends and roommates, Danielle and Emily. They are getting married later this summer and moved off to their prospective new homes. Blessings upon them!
5) I spent two weeks in the Dominican Republic co-leading a mission trip with my good friend Rob. Another InterVarsity inspired trip, there were 14 students under our care and it went great! More about this adventure later.

At the moment, I'm quite tired and will figure out sometime soon how to do these fancy slideshows when I am more awake. The DR photos will be on a separate post so that I can tell more about the trip as well.

Until later,