Thursday, December 24, 2009

I keep forgetting...

...that I need to count on an alarm, rather than roosters to give me an early start to the day...
...toilet paper goes in the TOILET...
...there is no need to check the bathroom for cockroaches before I set anything down...

It was snowing when I got up this morning - just a friendly reminder that my days of passing every minute outside are over for the time-being. I guess I could sit outside in the snow if I really wanted to...
The past week has been full with saying goodbye to my DR travel-partners and reconnecting with friends and family.
Once we arrived in the Dominican Republic back in September, we went through orientation as we became familiar with the DR culture. Just last week, before we left the DR, we went through some debriefing as we prepared to adjust back into Bethel life and the American culture. We affectionately named this time period "dis-orientation". Let's just say culture shock hits a lot harder when you go backwards.
While I know it will continue to take time in order to feel comfortable here again, I'm loving being with my family and catching up on all that I missed during the last few months.
My philosophy: jump right in the middle of what scares me if I really want to get through culture shock...or should I say climate shock this time??

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bittersweet goodbyes

In 4 days I move out of my house and leave the family that has become my own.
In 9 days I leave the country I have come to love.

I waited for 3 months to experience what they call "culture shock" when I would become fed up with the cultural normalities because they differed from my own and wish above all else to be back in the "normalities" of America. When I would sit in my room and cry because I missed my friends and family so much. When I would lash out against this unfamiliar place. But the days passed, and I simply fell more in love with the people, the land, and especially the language of the Dominican Republic. Now, as I realize how close that time is to ending, it's a strange mixture of emotions.
Simply because I KNOW I'm leaving, I'm ready to go. It's as if a part of me has to give up the desire to stay - this while trying to continue putting my whole heart into this last week of my work.
But what's affecting me most, is that these three months of living in another culture - being a part of the community, not simply site-seeing - has awakened even more my passion for missions and ministry. A long time ago God placed a dream in my heart to do international ministry and I've had that desire. But now I feel even more like I understand WHAT it is that I desire.
As I walk the dirt road to my work site, I am able to greet the women on both sides as they call me by name, and say hello to the kids who are not in school yet. As I stood in a field during a church service last weekend, I wanted to cry because I didn't have enough arms to hug the three children with their arms around my waist, asking for the love they don't get at home. I visited a woman at her house this morning to see how she was, and walked to the next "campo" to see some of the teenage girls I work with at my site. I'm a part of this community and it's a part of my life. That's what I want - to bridge that gap between our cultures. To be able to sit with my Dominican brothers and laugh about the "coldness" of Americans and the "superstitions" of Dominicans.
I still have much to learn about the culture here, and much to learn of the language, but God-willing I will have a chance in the near future to continue building on this foundation!