Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Home. After four months traveling throughout the Dominican Republic and the east coast of the United States, I have finally found myself at the doorstep of my very own birth state. I cannot help but roll the name of this lovely state over my tongue and revel in the familiarity. Familiarity was something unknown to me while in the Dominican Republic. Even things that had been well-known lost their familiarity with the coloring of another language. I, now, return home to most definitely find that things have changed while I have been experiencing another culture. Yet, this does not change the fact that I have a strange fondness for this place called ‘home.’

Perhaps, this fondness is found in the childhood memories or in the familiar curve of the land. Maybe it has something to do with dwelling in the same house as my family yet again. I am not certain. I just know that my heart is gladdened by the road signs that proclaim such familiar places. Although I consider this my home of homes, I found this same concept of home in the Dominican Republic and even in hotel rooms. One of my friends stated, “Home is where I sleep.” I definitely think she has a point. If we did not need to sleep, the idea of a house or home might become obsolete. Yet, the feeling of being ‘at home’ shall never become obsolete. That feeling comes simply from a familiarity with one’s surroundings.

This past year, I have found a feeling of ‘at home’ in many places. I count my college a temporary home. I find that my childhood home is yet my home of homes. Now, I also have a home in the city of Jarabocoa in the Dominican Republic. Of course, I have spent half of my childhood at one friend’s or another’s house. Between all of these homes, I found a home in cabins, hotel rooms, and in the houses of extended family members. I must mention that my true home cannot be found anywhere on earth and that I am always subliminally seeking this real home of being forever with God.

People say that
home is where the heart is
. I do not agree with this statement unless it means that my heart is seeking after my home with God. Yet, this statement is just much too simple. I, for one, know that my heart is extremely fickle. When I was in the Dominican Republic, my heart was often focused on the United States sometimes with my friends at school and sometimes with my family. One could say that obviously the Dominican Republic was not my home. Then, I should probably not mention how my heart yearns after the Dominican Republic right now. To be honest, I do not believe that any person’s heart is capable of settling down to one “home.” It is much too fickle and this is why I pass the responsibility of caring for my heart to God.

I am home. I am intimately acquainted with this culture. The rules and regulations of the roads are strictly enforced and the driving is noticeably much more boring. Suddenly, I have the ability to eavesdrop on any conversation that I wish to in any public place! On the down side, it is much more difficult to have a private conversation with someone in the midst of friends because we all speak the same language. I am home to a place that has seasons opposed to a place that has hot and a little cooler than hot. It is a wonder how while in another country one gains a whole new affinity for one’s own national anthem. The first time I saw the Star - Spangled Banner gracefully billowing on a flag pole, I was riveted.
God bless my homes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tropical Christmas

I would like to take a moment to vent. Who's smart idea was it that the those students studying in a tropic location return smack dab in the middle of winter? Granted, there is the splendid fact that we get to enjoy singing songs like "I'll be Home for Christmas" and please don't "Let It Snow." It was lovely to return to Christmas land. Yet, for some reason, somebody neglected to say that we would return to the world that had forgotten color. As the plane lowered rapidly, our excitement heightened to be returning home until our eyes caught sight of all the cement and dead trees.

Frantically, my eyes darted to the button to push to call the attendant. Swiftly, my mind considered the option of petitioning the pilot to turn the plane around. After all, who really needs to have snow for Christmas anyways? Suddenly, the idea of a tropic Christmas sounded perfectly acceptable. The girls around me agreed, but we were josteled back to reality as the plane bounced onto the runway. There was no going back.

About three hours later, our charter bus pulled into parking lot of our college. Inside we sat holding hands and when we saw people streaming towards the bus to greet us, we let out shrieks of excitement. It was a beautiful and chaotic excitement. Tanned students rushed into the arms of family members and friends. There were tears, laughter, more hugs, jumping, and smiling. After all, I guess the guy who decided to bring us back for Christmas had it right.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Reality of Good Bye

Somehow I forgot there would be goodbyes. I embarked on this adventure with excitement and an eagerness. I was worried about the initial meeting of living with a Dominican family. I worried about communicating in Spanish. Yet, I was very focused on experiencing the Dominican Republic to its fullness.

I forgot I would have to say goodbye. It never crossed my mind that with the hello there is always a goodbye that follows. For some reason, I never even considered I would have to say goodbye.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

At The End of the Road

On either side of the patio of the school, there sat a line of children. All were clad in identical blue and white checkered collared shirts. The girls wore navy blue pleated skirts while the boys wore navy blue slacks. Each child wore black shoes. Some children had shiny well fit shoes while other children had very questionable shoes. The boys and girls range from the young age of three to the age of possibly seven years of age. Not only did each child dress similarly, but they were each owners of bright eyes and brilliant smiles. To stop the stream of questions and comments that come from their mouths is always impossible. As soon as they have quieted for a moment, a question bubbles out of one the child’s mouths starting whole new torrent of childish voices. The children are beautiful.

These children attend a two room school house. On both the inside and the outside of the school, the walls are painted a dark ocean blue. It is a schoolhouse that seems to have just exploded from a child’s coloring book. Not only do the dark blue walls set it apart from the community, but so do the life-sized drawings of Noah’s ark. On another side of the school, there is a drawing of Jesus with children. This is the way that a school should be with Jesus at the center. The school is in the midst of a community of houses that look no better than shacks. It seems as though young children had grabbed twigs of wood and created dwellings in which to live. The sad thing is that these shack houses are life-sized and people do live within them. On the bright side, this is the perfect climate for a person to live in a shack. To say the least, the school stands out within this community.

Along the dirt road in front of the coloring book school, there is a wall that runs parallel with the road the entire length of this town of shacks. On the other side of the wall, rich man’s paradise exists. The wall was erected so that the rich man would not have to deal with the poor man daily. This wall is a tangible reminder of the difference between the rich and poor. Yet, this same wall was the chosen canvas for an art site. Slowly, it has become a symbol of the hope that one can have in Jesus Christ. The entire length of the wall presents truth that is found in the Bible. This is my community of El Callejon. Even though it is considered to be the end of the road by all those who have any material wealth, it is often at the end of the road where one finds true hope in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

To Die Dreaming

One of the unique and delicious things about the Dominican Republic is the food. Of course, there may be people who believe that if they have had ‘la bandera’ then they have had it all. ‘La bandera’ consists of a Dominican’s most eaten meal. It is rice, beans, chicken, and avocado. Lunch is certain to be some rendition of ‘la bandera’ which also means ‘the flag’ in Spanish. It is a delicious combination. Yet, my favorite food or drink is entitled ‘Morir Sonando.’ The translation of this name is ‘To Die Dreaming.’

Morir Sonando is scrumptious. I practically foam at the mouth when I think of Morir Sonando. This drink is the perfect combination of milk, orange juice, and ice. I would never have thought that this combination could be so heart-stoppingly good. The first time that my Mami made it for me, I demanded to know what it was. It is like eating ice cream in the form of a drink. Not only is the drink delicious but so is the title of the drink excellently chosen. Who would not want ‘to die dreaming’?

Which brings me to the thought of ‘to die dreaming,’ I definitely like dreams. Of course, I am not sure if I would like the concept of dying in the midst of dreams for real. Generally, dreams are good things and one has many good thoughts wrapped up in these ideas of dreams. Yet, what if one were to die in the midst of an nightmare? I would dislike that a lot. I hate the thought of dying the midst of a pleasing dream, though. I think that would be worse than dying in a nightmare because you would not be able to fully enjoy the entire dream and then still enjoy it upon waking.

Well, to say the least, I love ‘to die dreaming’ and I would have ‘to die dreaming’ probably everyday if I could. If your travels ever take you to the Dominican Republic, put ‘Morir Sonando’ on your list of foods to try and don’t miss ‘La bandera.’ Now, don’t die during an especially extraordinary dream. I need someone to read my blogs.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nothing pleases me more than a roomful of bright eyes and toothy grins.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


On the 22nd of November, Penelope and her un-named chick friend (the queens of the barnyards) died. These queens of the barnyard grew up together.

Penelope and her hen friend desired to create a barnyard that was safer for their chicks. Therefore, Penelope had begun to petition the humans for better living conditions. She was active in this cause by continually picketing the kitchens of the human.

These girls were part of the Cockle Doodle fan club and they could often be found swooning after one of these famous roosters’s sang. Right before their untimely deaths, Penelope had just become a backup singer for this famous crowing group. The un-named chick was happy just with the idea of a free ticket.

Although their family mourns their deaths, they are determined to continue enjoying the feed given to them by the humans. The roosters have lost two more of their wives. Yet, the roosters continue in their polygamy ways. The sister hens have determined in Penelope’s cause by continuing to petition the humans for better living conditions.

Penelope and her friend gave up their bodies for science and sustenance.

For more information on this untimely death:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The aged man sat on a park bench. All around him, there were families frolicking in the warm summer sunshine. Children were racing up the jungle gym and then screaming down the sliding boards. Mothers hollered at their children to behave. Fathers argued over different sports teams. Teenagers lounged in the shade of the large oak that was the center point of the entire park. Everywhere, there was movement and color; yet on the wooden bench, sat the grayed man with his shoulders bowed and in complete stillness.

All seemed to avoid this singular man on his singular bench. He seemed to stare at nothing, but then again, everything. The man’s hair was white and sparse. The wrinkles adorning his skin whispered of the story of his life and his loved but old fashion clothing spoke volumes to those around him. None of this spoke as loudly as his total loneliness did. He sat alone at the park. No one went to the park alone especially during the afternoon hours. After all, old people ruled the morning. As soon as school let out, old people were tucked safely away in their houses. This man was strange. It was afternoon, and he was defying the norms.

The old man stared at nothing, but then again, everything. His tired eyes took in the children joyously sprinting around, through, and on the jungle gym. He saw the mothers, the fathers, and the teenagers. He saw a world that he had been a part of it. He saw every stage of life that he, too, had walked through. He saw them for what they really were. In the mothers’ hollers for their children’s safety, he could see their tiredness. In the fathers, he saw himself years ago when he had been content with a life of a nine to five job. The old man knew he had defied the norms of the culture. The mothers and fathers probably assumed that he had wandered away from some nursing home. Meanwhile, the teenagers as the children were completely oblivious to his presence. He was okay with this. Long ago, he had learned to except that as an old person he was forgotten.

The man had lived his life with the word “forgotten” stamped boldly across it. Of course, with time, that word had become faded and forgotten. Yet, although faint, it was in control of his life. As a young man, he had married and had children. His wife left him. He never heard from her again. He never forgot her, but she had forgotten him. His children had married off and moved across the world. His grandchildren barely knew of his existence. He was forgotten.

Although lonely, being forgotten did not particularly bother him. Long ago, he had become accustom to the silence that seemed to encompass him. Silence was his friend. They had an understanding. After all, silence was his most loyal friend and not likely to leave any time soon. With the companionship of silence, the old man had learned much about himself. In some aspects, it would have been good if he had learned to value his friend, silence, earlier in life. If he had, perhaps silence would not be his constant companion now. Yet, this was the case. Therefore, the aged man sat on the park bench encompassed in silence and forgotten.

Not far off from the aged man, a little girl about three years of age completely clothed in pink with her hair in pigtails was contentedly drawing with a piece of chalk. Her older siblings ran about her and one of them scuffed her picture. Tears welled up in her eyes and spilled over her childish cheeks. The sibling scurried away hoping to escape his mother’s tirade. The little girl cried into her tummy for a bit because her mother was busy talking with a friend oblivious to what had just occurred. Slowly, she lifted her eyes to see if anyone saw her anguish. Only the old man saw her tears glistening like crystal on her cheeks in the sunshine. Compassion for the child filled his gray heart. As the child looked for someone who cared about her pain, she found the eyes of the aged man on the park bench. Looking at the old man with imploring eyes, the girl lifted her small soft hand with the piece of chalk offering it to him. It was a childish invitation.

Slowly, the old man pulled his body off the park bench. With slow, cautious steps, the old man tested his legs. He seemed to have been born into the world again. When he reached the child’s picture, he took the offered chalk and brought a smile back to the child’s lips as he tried to fix the scuff across her childish drawings. The mothers were temporarily struck silent as they at first watched distrusting this stranger who had approached the little girl. Then, they returned back to their conversation. The old man sat next to the little girl on the pavement and drew pictures for her. He did not notice the hard cement or think about the fact that he might have to try to stand in a couple of moments. He was intent upon bringing laughter to the little girl. In the same moment, the child’s laughter brought ridiculous joy tumbling through his entire body.

The world might as well freeze on this very moment for it seemed as though colors of rainbow streamed and exploded from the old man and little child as they played. Silence had to become friends with someone else and forgotten had to totally erase itself from the old man’s life because the aged man returned to the park every day in the afternoon. The aged man never sat on the park bench again unless it was to comfort one of the children who had taken a tumble. Children taking a tumble were a daily occurrence so he did sit on the bench, but never again alone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Painting the Town Red

La Donna and I were adamant. We wanted to get to town. For the past couple of weeks, we had been cooped up in the suburbs of Jarabocoa. Sitting on the porch in front of my Dominican home surrounded by chickens calls and Dominican Spanish, we analyzed our problem of getting a ride into town. Finally, La Donna went over to talk to my mom. In a few moments, my mom was on the phone telling a taxi to come pick us up. Finally, we were going.

When the taxi van (also called a ‘gua gua’) pulled up, La Donna and I jumped it. The ride was to be only $130 pesos. That was a pretty good price because when converted to dollars it was less than four dollars for the ride. I have to wonder what the taxi driver was thinking as he drove along with his two English speaking white females. We were chatting back and forth. I always find it so weird that people cannot understand English. Of course, there are always those times when I’m listening to a Spanish conversation and feel really out of the loop. It’s just a strange concept.

In the midst of a bustling street of motorcycles, people, and vehicles, La Donna and I leapt from the gua gua into the street. We scurried to the sidewalk where we promptly ducked into a tiny boutique. It’s amazing to me at how many stores sell clothing from the United States. Wouldn’t you know that La Donna would be more attracted to those stores than any other store? Through our many miles of walking around in circles of the city, we continued to visit clothing stores that had clothes imported from the states. Of course, we did stop at a jewelry store that I liked a lot with good prices, too. During our shopping, we both settled on buying some Havaianas flip flops for our roommates that we had so kindly ditched before our trip into the city.

In America, the concept of roommates is one hundred percent different. In the States, I never bothered to worry about going off somewhere without my roommate. We sometimes hung out, but more or less, we saw each other in the room that we shared. Well, in another country, your roommate becomes your twin that is attached to you on your hip. We are almost never a part. When we are, we cannot help but feel as though we are missing some essential part of us. The people here are not even used to seeing us a part. It is a blessing that I love my roommate, Adrienne.

For dinner, La Donna and I ended up at Pica Pollo. This is definitely a part of the culture. It is the equivalent of a Dominican McDonald’s. This is the fast food place that one goes to. There are no choices except in what type of drink you would prefer and how much food you desire. The food is fried chicken and tostones. It is good. The best part is that we ran into two different sets of groups of Americans. The first group was a mother and daughter. They have been living in the Dominican Republic for about fourteen years. The second group was a group all from a boarding school called New Horizons. Of course, we talked to both groups because when you meet other English speakers, you are connected by language and skin color. It is fun to pick out the other Americans.

After our exciting dinner, La Donna and I headed over to Splash (an ice cream place). I needed my ice cream fix. We never get enough sweets for my taste here. Anyways, after paying only about a dollar fifty for two scoops of ice cream and a cone, we wandered over to an art gallery. The entire time, I thought the Dominican police were going to show up and haul me off to ice cream jail for eating ice cream in an art gallery. It was a pretty sweet place, but the icing on top of the confection was the fact that sitting in a prime spot of the art gallery was a naked woman. Okay, well, she did have nice piece of clothe over her hips and she was just reclining in some water. Yeah, it was interesting picture. The gist of it was that La Donna and I sat down and started creating stories about why she was chilling in some stream naked. It was an odd picture.

We returned in a taxi where La Donna told him that we would only pay him one hundred and thirty pesos. It was a lovely afternoon and evening. It was topped off by walking La Donna back to her house in the rain. What could be better than some delicious rain?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Dominican Teaching Experience

Everyday that I am in the classroom, I find that I enjoy it more and more. The first week was rough. I felt in the way all the time and very inadequate. I did not know the rhythm of the school and felt so very lost especially in the midst of all the Spanish. Then near the end of the first week, I found out that I would be teaching a classroom of four and five year olds in Spanish. Basically, I quaked in fear to the very center of my being. I had never taught a class in English before. Exactly how could I be expected to teach a class and in Spanish, too?

I got the lesson plans in Spanish (of course). After reading through the lesson plans, I realized that I understood about half of the lesson plan and summarized the rest in my head. When the teacher called upon me to teach the class, I taught the class about the color red and the rules of the playground. Of course, my Spanish vocabulary was vastly lacking and so in which case I found that the students were teaching the class. That was a new thought to me – that the students could teach the class. Instead of me telling them the rules of the playground, they told me the rules of the playground. To be honest, I am not sure how many were actually the rules of the playground because the children were talking at me so fast in their childish Spanish. Yet, it was good to know that the teaching environment was very laid back. My first teaching in Spanish was not a complete fail at all. I definitely have room to improve.

After the teacher, Angelie, watched me teach the first day, she has not been in the classroom for my teach time since. Of course, that does take some of the pressure off of me. Yet, it feels strange that she would trust me to teach her class. Of course, I am never completely alone because Angelie’s Dominican helper, Caralina, is there. Another time, I taught the class about hot and cold. On the chalkboard, I drew a coffee pot, ice, fire, and ice cream. Together we went through and figured out what was hot and what was cold. Suddenly, one boy in the classroom must have gotten bored or tired of listening to me struggle through my Spanish. He jumped up, ran to me, and enveloped me in a hug. A moment later, the entire class followed and I found myself to be hug tackled. Laughingly, I tried to call out, “Sientense! Sientense!” (Sit all of you!) It was a bit difficult to restore order to the entire class but with the help of Caralina the children eventually sat down. Of course, I don’t think that I will forget that moment of hugs for a long time.

As I said, every day I enjoy working at the school more and more. It is incredibly awesome to be walking down the dirt road of El Callejon and hearing little child voices call, “Bi-bera! Bi-bera!” (That is how they pronounce my name) Generally, I turn and I can respond likewise calling, “Hola, Victor Manuel” or “Hola, Suilainy.” There is something wonderful about connecting like this within another culture where children in the roads call out your name excitedly because you teach in their classroom. It has taken a while to adjust to a different culture and feel like I have a place where I belong. I can say that I have found my place.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's in a Name?

What's in a name? Truly, what is in a name? Shakespeare’s well known pair of ‘star-crossed lovers,’ Juliet proclaims to Romeo, “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This statement makes sense. Yet, this flower would then not be a rose because the identity of the rose has been stripped away with the taking of its name. Now, it is only a sweet smelling flower. There are many sweet smelling flowers in the world and none have the same consequence of the flower entitled rose. The rose is unique in the fact that it is the favorite flower used by lovers. To receive a dozen roses is a big deal. Yet, if one were only to receive a dozen flowers that would not be quite as exciting. Roses mean money and a serious love interest. Therefore, Juliet might want to relook into her hastily made statement that a name’s significance amounts to nothing.

In the continent of South America, there was a very poor community of Latins that were known for an extremely low self esteem. By their culture, they were considered trash. They believed this as well. One man, Paulo Freire, decided to study this community. He discovered that although the community had their own language, they had no names for any object that was brought to them by another culture. For example, a necklace brought to them by the Portuguese was forever the word ‘necklace’ in Portuguese. When asked what the object was in their own language, they would answer with the name of the object in Portuguese. To name something is to proclaim a type of ownership over the object. The community could not see themselves worthy to create names for objects of other cultures. Once there is a name for the object, there is suddenly a subtle ownership.

As a baby sitter and a student teacher, I have had the opportunity to observe and monitor children often. In each of these different situations, I have been called upon by nature itself to keep children in line and out of trouble. Without err, it has come to my notice that the best way to stop a child’s bad behavior is to get that child’s attention with the calling of his or her name. Children have the ability to tune out all other voices except those that he or she desires to hear. Yet, when the child’s name is called, his or her reaction is immediate. Adults everywhere have surely noticed that if you just command, “Sit still and keep your hands to yourself,” absolutely nothing occurs. The child continues to poke his or her neighbor and squirm in his or her seat. Yet, if that same adult calls out the same statement with the addition of the child’s name, the child is one hundred percent more likely to listen to the adult. To know a person’s name is to have some sort of relationship and authority in that person’s life. One’s name is intimately connected to the person that carries that name.

Since the Biblical times, names have held a particular significance. The names chosen for children were often a parent’s wish for a child’s life. A name also could be a prophecy of a person’s life. Not only were names believed to carry the fate of the bearer, names were so important that if one were to severe a person from their name it was as if one had killed them. Throughout the Bible, it has become apparent that names could sometimes be used as a quick one-word biography of a person’s life. For example, Solomon means ‘peace.’ He was the first king of Israel to have no wars within his reign. In the book of Ruth, Naomi had two sons named Mahlon and Chilion. Mahlon means “puny” and Chilion means “pining.” Both men died early in life. Clearly, a person’s name holds some weight. From these couple of examples, it is obvious that the meanings of names can influence the lives of their name bearers. Names are critically important.

Throughout the years, the importance of names has greatly diminished. Often children are named something simply because their parents greatly like the name. Yet, names have carried such significance for so long that even though people fail to acknowledge the importance in a person’s name, this does not make the name’s significance any less. Regardless of the name given by a parent, God also promises a new name and says in the book of Isaiah 62:2-4, “The Nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (translation: My delight is in her), and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married.” Names can easily become mundane things that are overused daily; yet, names carry a significance that people fail to acknowledge.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Definition of One Word

I hate being defined. Of course, when I do the defining, all the rules change and I find that being defined is not so horrible. I'm a girl who does not like to be defined by what people say. Yet, today, I'm going to expound briefly on the word that I think describes me reasonably well.


I like this word. It rolls on the tongue nicely and is not overused. At least, I don't use it very often. In my mind's eye, I see myself as a very strange person indeed. All right, here's the definition of Peculiar taken from

Peculiar –adjective

1. strange; queer; odd: peculiar happenings.
2. uncommon; unusual: the peculiar hobby of stuffing and mounting bats.
3. distinctive in nature or character from others.
4. belonging characteristically (usually fol. by to): an expression peculiar to Canadians.
5. belonging exclusively to some person, group, or thing: the peculiar properties of a drug.
6. Astronomy. designating a star or galaxy with special properties that deviates from others of its spectral type or galaxy class.

I think I'm an oddball. I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oatmeal Chocolate Oozing Goodness

It's truly a spectacular thing that my roommate motivates me to run about 2.5 miles every day of the week. That's why today at the base...I allowed myself to eat 4. Yes, four scrum-diddle-E-umptious oatmeal chocolate creations. Hey! I need the oatmeal anyways why shouldn't I get it in the form of something sweet.

My main complaint against the Dominican culture is that there is not enough "sweetness" to go around. I thrive on sugary goodness. No dessert after lunch or dinner. Of course, you might have an afternoon snack of fruit. Overall, this is probably healthier for a person.

I find that, in fact, it is anything but healthier for me because when I find myself being offered a tray full of cookies, I'm all the more likely to stuff my face. And what more! I've actually been slowly training my stomach to have this ability to eat more because the Dominicans forever encourage you to eat more. Therefore, stuffing my face and stomach with sweets is easy. Way too easy.

I expect that I've gained a couple starch pounds here and when I return to the United States, I'll probably gain a couple of sweet pounds. On the bright side, they are sweet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Conversations With November

Welcome, November.

Yesterday, I walked to one of my friend’s house. It took me about fifteen minutes and by the time I arrived at her house. I was sweating. On the way, I could not help but marvel at how intense the heat of the sun was and how glorious the cool of the shade was. I never thought that there could be such a difference between the two.

When I got to Ali’s house, her Dominican family greeted me and bade me to sit down. I sat briefly. Then, I joined Ali in her room while she prepared for our outing of Ultimate Frisbee. At one point, she asked me what day it was. When I responded, “November 1st,” Ali exclaimed, “It’s November and I’m hot.”

Adjusting to living in a different culture was difficult. Living daily in another culture and not pining away for my own home culture was difficult as well. Yet, I have fallen in love with this place. A lot of people in my group believe that they will return to the Dominican Republic someday. Meanwhile, I only know that I have enjoyed my stay here and that I look forward to more traveling adventures. It’s been a rocky road, but challenge is good.

But back to the fact that it is November. The fact that the weather does not fit in with my script of what the weather should be like for the month of November is very confusing indeed. My head knows that it is November, but I live in denial and scream somewhere deep within me, “Mentiroso!” (liar!) You cannot tell me that it is November because it is eighty degrees Fahrenheit or hotter all the time.

November. This will be my last full month in the Dominican Republic because I will be leaving in December. What a bittersweet thought. My roommate claims that she will bawl her eyes out when it is time for us to leave. I don’t believe that I will because I know that I cry about stupid things like math homework or something extremely frustrating. Yet, when I have reason to shed tears, I cannot seem to do it.

November, I’m confused. You’re supposed to be cold and explosion of color. Well, here in the DR, you don’t do any of that. Perhaps, it is a little bit cooler, but is definitely still very green everywhere I look.

November, the people here are already decorating for Christmas. I think they are confused. Don’t they know that Christmas decorating comes after Thanksgiving? But wait a second, they don’t have Thanksgiving. The Christmas season starts whenever they want it to.

November, I think it’s going to be a good month because it’s your month.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

You're really cute but I can't understand you.

So the fact of the matter is that I have NOT been slacking off blogging. Really truly. The case is that this past week I have had only two chances to be on the internet. This is the second time. Therefore, I just did not have time to type out something long and amazing.

For those of you who care to know. I have been working in a school for preschoolers and kindergarden students the past week. I can already tell that my comprehension of Spanish has improved a whole lot. I surprised my Mami yesterday when I understood exactly what she said the first time through and the fact that I trusted that I knew what she said. I do a lot of second guessing when in a conversation with a Spanish speaker. Often, I understand what has been said the first time but I just didn't believe that I had understood completely.

Anyways, my classroom is of four and five year olds. This week, I learned the alphabet right along with them. I never learned the Spanish alphabet so this was a good thing. The best part was when I tried to help teach them the alphabet and I didn't even really know it myself. cool, huh?

The children adore their teacher. She walks into the classroom and the children start to tell her how beautiful she is and they reach out to touch her as she walks by. They are soooooo sweet. They love saying my name over and over again because it rolls of the tongue. I love kids.

Spanish Skills

Life Words

Where does a story begin? When is that perfect moment of beginning? Is there a moment that is more perfect for a beginning than any other minute?

I always wonder when my story is going to begin. Isn’t that a silly thought? I’m just chilling in my room in the small island country of the Dominican Republic wondering when my story is going to begin. If I forever spend my life wondering when my story is going to begin, will I ever get past the beginning or will I one day wake up and realize that all along I was living a story filled with more adventures than I could have imagined? The definition of life might as well be a string of adventures or a story in the process of being told.

Here, I think that my story has yet to begin. Truly, it was begun long ago before I even set my little baby foot onto this planet and before I was even created in the womb. My story is just a small sentence or word within the greater story of the God who created the universe. I worry about my story, though. I ought to be worrying about what my one word in God’s story will be. Correct, God is writing my life story or at least I desire Him to do so. Yet, if my life is only one word within in His grand story, what is that word going to be?

I’m certain that I could be content with being a measly word article such as “a” or “the.” I kind of want more than that, though. I’m thinking more along the lines of a ‘ten cent word’ as my mother likes to say. I’d love to have my life defined by one stellar word. I’m not certain what it would be, though. I once used the word ‘peculiar’ to describe me as an overall person. I do think it still holds yet for my life word I want more.

Of course, in the grand story with God as the grand author, I don’t get much say in the word that He would choose to describe my life. I do know that it would be a great honor to be called “faithful” by God. I desire to join the Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame. My life word shall forever be a mystery, but I will strive to be a person who lives her life as “by faith.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Queen of Darkness

I’m a creeper of the night.

The night is mysterious. It envelopes the world in a darkness that is both welcoming and dangerous. It is both comforting and scary. In the hours of dark, grievous things are said to occur and they sometimes do. Yet, in the cover of darkness, other things of beauty happen as well.

In the night hours, one can wander through deserted streets. One can wonder many a thing in these wandering moments. In those dark moments, one can peep up at the sky and see a world completely other than our own world of normal goings-on. In this world of other, points of light cut through the darkness that so completely and utterly encircles this present location. These points of light whisper of something more beautiful and exciting than what one experiences in one’s own world.

I’m a creeper of the night. I feel most comforted in the circle of darkness. It’s a place of security where no one sees me except when I desire them to do so. I am comfortable here only peeking at those points of light. I admire their beauty but have no desire to see more of their strong light that barely reaches me through my circle of security.

In the dark, I have stolen a kiss when in the morning light I would have died to do so. Everything is simpler in the night. It is a neutral being – the darkness. We make it both comforting and menacing. Whether friend or foe, the dark is and will never stop just being.

The darkness is my friend because in the shadow of the darkness, I can flee the drama of life and hide from those who would seek me out. I walk in the dark. No one can see my tears in the dark or see my dance in dark. I’m alone and I’m happy.

Depth in life is to be sought. Perhaps that is why night is so entirely inviting.
Everything deepens. Night darkens the shadows and hides the scars of day. Although morning brings a fresh beginning, night is the time for pensive thought and melancholy wishful dreams.

I’m a creeper of the night and I like it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dedicated to a pair of Blue Eyes

Have you ever seen a pair of eyes that stop you in your tracks? Then, there is that moment of choice where you could continue walking or gaze with adoration into those ocean blue orbs of wonder. Do you stop or do you keep walking? I stop.

Recently, or not so recently, I found such a pair of eyes in a dear friend of mine. She invited me to gaze into her eyes and so I did. I was drawn to them. In those blue eyes, I saw silver and gold stars. When I looked deeper, I could not contain my awe in the creator who made those gorgeous blue eyes. Words bubbled out of my mouth. Those eyes were full of fireworks - fireworks in full bloom of that moment of excited explosion. When I looked at the intricacies of this lovely woman’s eyes, I saw the distant whisper and the echo of those explosions of fireworks. In the lighter blue of her eyes, I saw the whisper of the sparkle in her eyes. It seemed to hint at the mystery and depth of the woman sitting before me.

I’ve tried to describe the wonder that those brilliant eyes contained, but I find that words fail me. I could sit for years and never fully share the beauty that I saw in those dazzling happy blue eyes. If I were to spend every moment of my life following this pair of sapphire eyes, I could never find words to not only portray the eyes of this woman but to describe the excellence of this Godly woman.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


A cloud is a filmy white thing that floats in the sky. Sometimes it becomes ominously gray and then opens up and spits out rain. People claim that clouds are created by little particles of water. Yet, these celestial things seem to be so much more than just water. Clouds must be more.

What are clouds? Clouds are that little bit of heaven that seems to entrance the child staring out the window. When a person looks out a window wistfully and thinks of many different things, their eyes are generally caught on a cloud. Clouds are made up of the thoughts of people who are trapped in classrooms and wishing to be somewhere else. They throw their thoughts at the sky. Those thoughts become clouds.

In those thought clouds, those thoughts and wondering float around the world. They explore the things you cannot while stuck in a classroom. Then, when it rains, those thoughts come plummeting back to earth. They saturate the ground.

Those thoughts turn into ideas. They grow like plants and become action. Clouds are thoughts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Disaster Hits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The chickens were in uproar. From up in their tree, they screamed and yelled. Below their tree in the yard lay a dead sister. Its days of finding food among the filth of the yard were over. Its clucking had come to a brutal and abrupt end. In the shadows of the tree, there was a bit movement as something dark and menacing slowly and silently ate a killing. In the depth of the shadow, the lank body of a killer could be seen. Although a young dog, it was a big dog. It was made all the more menacing by the fact that from its collar hung a broken chain.

The dog moved with a slow confidence in his might. The barking of the dogs of the house caused him no extra worry. It did not even acknowledge their yaps or the outraged cries of the sisters of the chickens that had been murdered for sport. The puppy on the porch whimpered. The large dog heard and stepped almost with sleepy interest towards the porch. The dog suddenly became engrossed in his breakfast again. Momentarily, the yard had fallen silent while the dogs had barked the chickens had quieted. As soon as the dog returned to his breakfast, the chickens took up their mournful wail.

The girl human who had just come out of the house was met with the chorus of chickens. She looked into the tangle of greenery and barbed wire fence underneath the chicken tree and shuddered. The dog was huge and black. Bravely, she stepped towards it trying desperately to be threatening. It had no fear. This struck fear into the girl’s heart. When the dog came into the yard again, the girl ran and vaulted over the porch railing. It stood there declaring his morning reign upon the courtyard. All was in chaos and confusion.

Now, hours after the chicken massacre, four stiff corpses are piled on a cement block. Corn is still scattered on the ground because the chickens’ lost their appetite. The roosters have lost some of their pluck. The courtyard seems to be mourning the loss of four confused chickens who never knew when it was a good hour to start chattering about their coming eggs. The courtyard has become more hushed. Perhaps, I will sleep better tonight.

(If you would like a different perspective on this grand event, I have it on good authority that this blogger will be posting a similar story to mine – a more serious one.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mist of a Waterfall

In the morning sunlight, I scurried up a huge boulder and perched atop it. From my rock, I could see the waterfall and then follow the path of the water down the river a bit. The view was beautiful. All other sounds were muted by the music of the waterfall. The sunbeams danced across the mist of the waterfall and slithered along the boulders that bedecked the banks of the river. The gentle folk that reside along the river were clothed in their richest and deepest greens. They stood stoic except for an occasional whisper in this sparkling scene. Far above near the beginning of the waterfall a huge rock jutted from the earth majestically. If one looked close enough, you might catch a glimpse of a long ago warrior silhouetted against the waterfall.

I reveled in the scene around me. Finally, I relaxed against my boulder with my back against the cool stone. This place was paradise. Far above me was the blue sky and I could no longer fathom the gorgeous surrounding topped off with a serene blue sky. It was too much. In my mind’s eye, I grew wings. With those wings I soared as close to the waterfall as possible and then followed the trek of the water. Just as the wind caressed my hair, the wind would caress the feathers of my wings. Instead of tumbling from the top of my rock in a heap of legs and arms, I would just shoot up into the sky and dance in the room of the sky. I imagined that I could almost feel the growth of my wings. Yet, it was not to be.

Somewhat dejectedly, I rolled over on my side to take in the view of the waterfall again. I froze. For what met my eyes was not what I had expected. Simply walking from the depths of the base of the waterfall was a woman. The majestic strength of the waterfall held no sway over the maiden. It seemed to ease and make way for her. The water moved like a curtain. This waterfall nymph had honey brown hair that tumbled in wet curls down her back. In every movement, she was graceful and her body had sweet, gentle curves. These curves were masked by the thin film of a fabric that seemed to be made of thread as fine as spider’s web. The gown was unique in the fact that one could not tell where it began and where it ended. It just was. Even from so far away, I could tell that her eyes were the most riveting silver. I gazed in wonder. This beautiful creature glided towards me in the water. The depth of the water did not matter. The waterfall nymph always walked along the top.

I dared not move a muscle as I watched her progress towards me. I was not certain if I slept or if this was just a continuation of my daydreaming. She lifted a dainty foot over a rock and then looked up. Her gaze enveloped me. I felt no fear and she was bold in her look. Tentatively, I slowly smiled. A smile quickly danced across her face. In that moment, there was nothing else in the world except for this waterfall nymph and myself. Everything had silenced and grayed. I was held by that smile. Then, she was gone. I am not certain where she went. I had my eyes open and I did not blink. It was as though the laughing sun had just temporarily painted the waterfall nymph in the mist of the waterfall. Perhaps, that was the case. I could not be sure.

Without much grace, I tumbled off my boulder. I had to investigate. With rapid feet, I tripped over stones along the bank as I hurried to the place that I had last seen this beautiful mirage. In the midst of a more shallow section of the river was the rock that she had perched her dainty foot upon. Unlike the maiden, I splashed through the water. The rock glistened. Which is definitely normal for a rock sitting in the center of a river for it gets wet out there. I wanted more than that. As I drew near to the rock, my eyes were drawn to a curious thing on the rock. Upon the rock, there lay a most beautiful piece of jewelry. The beads seemed to be as pristine as raindrops. I picked it up and then slowly slipped it onto my ankle. It fit perfectly. A chill raced down my spine in excitement.

My mind played hopscotch with different ideas as to why I had seen the waterfall nymph and she had chosen to leave a piece of jewelry for me. Of course, I did not have to investigate her reality. Yet, I had. Finally, I slipped one of my favorite rings off my finger and placed it on the same rock that I had found the anklet. I did not know if she would return. Yet, I knew it was proper to exchange a gift if one is given to you.

I still wear the anklet on my right ankle. The beads have never dimmed and carry a whisper of the music of the waterfall. Unlike other pieces of jewelry, it has never broken or scratched. There is something odd about it. I have never had the opportunity to return to that specific waterfall because my travels have called me elsewhere. Yet, I have a feeling that somewhere there is a waterfall nymph with honey brown curly hair with a human ring adorning her hand. When I shut my eyes, I always find myself at that waterfall.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Rude Awakening

One of the best and worst things about being in the Dominican Republic is the fact that I am almost entirely surrounded by Spanish speakers. Ever since I was a girl, I wanted to be dropped off in the middle of some country and left there to learn the language. In those wild dreams, I was always the heroine of some adventurous novel where I magically learned the language and somehow saved the day. I think my daydreams about the Dominican Republic subtly followed those same absurd dreams. Therefore, I was very ill prepared for the fact that I am not blessed with the amazing ability to wake up one morning speaking Spanish fluently. That morning began very rudely indeed.

I had just rolled out of my bed that was cocooned in a mint green mosquito net and fumbled around for my flip flops. Sleepily I wandered to the pink bathroom to relieve my bowels. Trying to ignore the overabundance of bugs that hummed near my head and hung in webs above my head, I pooped. Now, normally, I would shudder at the thought of being so frank with you, my readers, but in the D.R., one becomes intimately acquainted with the bowel movements of all their companions. Lack of pooping or diarrhea can both be very bad and up to this morning I had not pooped. Therefore, pooping was a great relief to me. After carefully depositing my soiled toilet paper in the waste basket beside the toilet, I yanked up my pants and turned to flush the toilet. The relief of pooping was still very with me and I wanted to proclaim to the world that I had done it. This strange joy was brought to an abrupt end when the toilet refused to swallow my lovingly bestowed gift. I peered into the toilet. In my head, I whispered, “Please, please…go down…” as I again tried to flush the toilet. Hoping against hope, I waited. Nothing happened. “Crap.” I whispered and then I chuckled to myself for indeed it was just that – crap.

As I washed my hands, I prepared to face my Dominican mother. In my head, I ran over what I would say to her in Spanish. I walked out of the bathroom with purpose yet with embarrassment following close behind. My mami was bustling about the kitchen. I approached her and with great eloquence said, “uh…..” She looked up at me with a sweet patience mixed with a tad bit of confusion. Suddenly, I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to say, “I plugged the toilet” in Spanish. I did not even know the world for toilet. I was in deep doo-doo, more so than I had originally thought. Through a smattering of hand motions and the word ‘baño’ repeated over and over, my Dominican mother soon became aware of the situation that I had caused. I was very embarrassed. Thankfully, I didn’t try to tell her that because I probably would have ended up telling her I was pregnant instead. Apparently, sleeping in a Spanish bed does not make one fluent in Spanish.

I’d like to report that I never plugged the toilet again after that first morning. Sadly, this is not the case. After the third time of telling my mami in Spanish, “La silla de el baño no me gusta. (The chair of the bathroom doesn’t like me)” I finally demanded to learn how to unplug the dumb toilet myself. I could not take the embarrassment. To the hoots of laughter coming from my roommate, mami informed us that the toilet often gets plugged and it’s not just me. I was glad to find that out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Picture of the Day

Adrienne and I helped our big brother make Harbichuelas con Dulce. It was so sweet and yummy especially cold. It translates something like Beans with Sweet.

And also, we went exploring and found an awesome waterfall.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A rant on best days

Write about the best day of your life. Ready, go. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by a teacher to do that exact thing. Now, it has even happened in Spanish class. Write about the best day. I think that direction is near to impossible. I have no way of knowing if I have experienced the best day of my life already or if it is still to come. How is one to know the best day of their life? Personally, I think there are many best days in a person’s life – not just one. When you ask a person what their favorite color is or what is their favorite movie, I have hardly ever been given only one answer. I think that is the way of everything.

Best days are days that are indelibly marked in your memory as particularly good. They shine like bright stars in the night sky. Those are the days that you wish to engrave in stone and display in your hall of memory. When you are within those days, you find that you wish to live in that moment forever.

A best day is not defined the same way for every person either. A particularly wonderful day for one person might be a day of absolutely nothing. On the other hand, a fantastic day for another person might be a day so packed full of different activities that at the end of the day one just falls into bed. Days are defined by the people that live them.

I can tell you what my best day should have, but will I ever live that day? I can never know. My best day would have music, sunshine, wind, and laughter. Encompassed in that day would be almost perfect companionship between my guy friends and girl friends. On this day, I would almost be able to feel wings sprout from my back. To the world, I would shout, “Why are you walking when you could be flying?”

A best day – really, what is a ‘best’ day? A best day can be found in a hot mug of chai tea or in the sunshine that splatters little rainbows all over the kitchen sink. A best day might be in the reaching of a goal or the beginning of a journey of learning. After all, a best day is all a matter of perspective. You and I might have experienced the same day side by side. Yet, I might walk away believing it to be my best day meanwhile you might have thought it as a particularly low day. Hence, a best day is a simply a matter of opinion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Picture Perfect or Not So

This mountain view is the first good view that we all got. We befriended the boy on the end of the picture and he showed us that view.

Adrienne and I with a couple of kids that are always running through our household and who love to try to learn English from us.

This is the inside of the church.

This would be the outside of the church. It's connected to our house believe it or not.

This is a suspension bridge that we had to cross over with our family to get to the lower Salto Jimenoa (a waterfall).

This is our room. That weird lime green thing on the lower part of this picture is one of our amazing mosquitoe nets which is a must yet doesn't seem to work very well at all!


Diversity. People stress the need for diversity in schools, in towns, and in almost every walk of life. People want to be culturally sensitive. Yet, diversity extends even more than we originally believe. Within every culture, there are sub-cultures. Within every religion, there are sub cultures. I have found this to be true while staying in the Dominican Republic. I have the opportunity to attend church four nights out of the week with my family. My family is Pentecostal Christian.

Most of my childhood was spent in Baptist church, skirts and dresses were almost mandatory for women and girls. Everything was very structured and traditional. Every week, everything was exactly the same. Generally, one attended church twice a week. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a Baptist church. Yet, all of those things that I grew up with have become a truth or a norm in my life. I had not even realized it.

Attending a Pentecostal church that is all in Spanish has been like jumping from the warm beach into a tank full of almost frozen water. It has been a wake up experience. The church is so full of movement that one could possibly become sea sick. Not one person within the church can sing on pitch. Imagine my horror! The speakers boomed. People scream into the microphones in Spanish. It felt like a nightmare. Then, it became even worse because people seemed to lose control of their bodies and sporadically dance. As quickly as their jerky movement began, suddenly they would become a straight as a board and then fall to the ground. Other people scurried to cushion their fall. With all this motion about me, I struggled to find where God was in this church.

My first experience in a Pentecostal church was obviously not the best experience. It did not help the fact that I had no idea what was going on because I could not get past the language barrier. Of course, with time, I have changed my expectations for church and the sporadic dancing does not bother me quite as much anymore. I also have become okay with the idea that there are different cultures within the Christian religion. That is perfectly okay. Of course, I’ll probably still keep to the side line of things.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Flight Mode

For some reason, when I came to the Dominican Republic, I lived in the illusion that things would be challenging yet simple. I expected to be challenged but not really. Is that possible? Oh, yes. It definitely is. I believed that it was going to be simply a breeze. I would soak in the culture as one soaks in the sun without getting burnt. I would learn Spanish like I had been born with the ability to speak. Things would be like a dream. Can I have a ‘dun dun dunnnn’?

And then, the honeymoon was over. The fun and exploration was over. Paradise receded and normality came rushing forth. Suddenly, I’m realizing that I’m living in a different country for three and a half months. Reality ruins my life as Calvin states clearly in Calvin and Hobbes. Usually, I get burned when I go sunning. It’s true in this case, too. I have always wanted to travel desperately so I thought thinks would go like a dream. Silly me. I should have known better.

Have you ever felt a desperation combined with confusion? Not a good mixture at all. This past Spanish class, I almost jumped out of my skin – screamed, cried, and just broke down. Of course, this was contained by my skin and I wonder if anyone could see that I was hanging on by barely a thread. What happened? I thought this was supposed to be all fun and flowers! What happened? I’m left with rain.

Apparently, I have reached the stage of flight. They are right. If I had my chance, I would walk for miles and never return. If I could sprout wings and fly, I would fly up and up and never return. So you had better grab onto my ankles because I’m about float away.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Wishlist of Impossibilities

The things that I wish that I had brought to the Dominican Republic with me.

1. A fly swatter

- Simply because there is no end to the flies. They are like an ever-present black cloud that hangs over and on your food.

2. Colorful bead bracelets

- Gift giving is all the rage here and a bracelet brought from the States and given by an Americana would be like gold.

3. Peliculas (aka Movies)

- My Dominican Republic family watches a lot of television and would probably love to see my movies (Peliculas). Also, it would be nice to have an American moment movie.

4. Cute Clothing

- Everyone dresses nice and there I am in my cut-offs and t-shirt. Awesome.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

- So the water has bacteria in it so I try to clean my “boo boo” with soap and water and it gets mildly infected. Good, right?

6. Aloe Vera

- No one gets burnt here. Only the gringos. Another ‘awesome’ moment.

7. My own Personal Translator

- Oh, wait. That defeats the purpose of trying to learn another language.

8. Hot Water

- Bucket baths with cold water gets old quickly.

9. Thousands of Chicken Muzzles

- Every try to sleep while the confused chickens ‘cockle doodle doodle’ at random points throughout the night. I’m pretty sure that the Dominican Republic is populated by a very confused bunch of chickens.

10. An extendable arm w/ boxing glove

- For all those men who drive by and slow down to stare longer. For all those men that find wicked joy in driving their motorcycle as close to a walking girl as possible and then continuing to drive by while watching you over their shoulder.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random Tidbits

A list of random things that one either sees, is told, or hears about the Dominican Republic.

1. Don't fall in love with a Dominican Republic man. He's suave and he's after your heart for a ticket to the US of A.

2. The green lizards are equivalent to the squirrels that inhabit any city or town in the US.

3. "Psssssst Pssssst." is not a good thing. Ignore any person that should make that noise at you.

4. Motorcycles are the vehicle of choice. "Do not ride them. They are very dangerous."

5. Music is always loud so that the Dominican's can share their music with everyone.

6. The mini highway of insects traveling by your bed is probably not a good thing, but as long as they stay on their highway. All is well. (They probably snacking on something nearby. Don't think about that too long.)

7. Everyone wants to help an American. American females steer clear of the DR males who leer at you. Do as one of the girls did while in town when a DR man said, "What is your name?" She responded, "I have no name." This sounds rude. Yet sometimes, it is important to draw the line. A moment before, he had been seriously checking her out.

And so begins my list of interesting tidbits of the Dominican Republic. I'm sure there will be more to come. Also, I'm sorry that my blog has been so full of DR things. I believe that will continue to be the case for the next couple of months.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I lohve you

During the siesta hour, a group of gringos ventured out of the Students International compound. We wandered through town because we knew that most of the Dominicans would be taking a rest from noon until two. Our flip flops slapped the pavement as we quietly trooped down the street. Motorcycles whirred by us accompanied by beeping and whistles. We passed houses with people reclining on the porches in the shade. Chickens crossed the street. Trucks growled by us. The new noises and new sights overwhelmed us.

After only fifteen minutes, the majority of our group turned back. Yet, I was determined to explore. I had this feeling that something spectacular was waiting if we only persevered. We turned up a street that split of the main road and began to follow it. Suddenly, I became aware that there was a male Dominican following us. My observations of the male population had not been too positive so far. Most of them cat called at us and claimed to “lohve” us. As we walked, I became like a winding spring getting tighter and tighter with nervousness. The day was fair, though, and we had four girls to his one-ness. As I walked I noticed a tree that had fruit hanging off it, I became curious as to what fruit it was. When I conferred with my fellow gringas, I found that they did not know the fruit so I turned to our very own stalker and asked, “Que tipo de fruta?”

After he responded with “si,” I lost the rest of his response because I was unfamiliar with the type of fruit. Yet, it turned out that he was just a school boy. The other girls began to chat with him and he eventually offered to show us to the top of a hill/mountain. He was a great tour guide and the cat calls that we had been getting changed. The calls began to be directed towards him usually meaning “save one of them for me.” When we finally reached the top of the hill, we were blown away by the beauty. It seemed as though we looked down on paradise. We stood against a barbed-wire fence and peered into a world so very different than our own.

Tonight, I leave you with one thought…. “I lohve you. I lohve you, Americana!” Whatever you do, don't respond.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Estoy Aqui

The rain thunders on the tin roof that protects my cabin full of girls from the elements. I feel as though I am encompassed in a waterfall. The might of the rain is thrilling. It drones on and on. Yet, I don’t tire of it. Here I sit in another country completely where cockroaches run free and lizards sleep with you. Even though so intensely out of my comfort zone, the roar of the rain comforts me. It reminds me that things will be both different and familiar here in the Dominican Republic.

The plane rides were uneventful. I was tense with both excitement and fear. The second flight was much more interesting because I sat by a flower of the Dominican Republic. She had just spent two and a half weeks in Miami. It was interesting to listen to her talk because it seemed that Miami was like a country of its own to her. After a while, I asked if I could try to speak Spanish with her. I didn’t quite horrible, but it was good to practice and stretch myself in that way.

Some Dominican Republic returner brought a Mickey Mouse balloon on the plane. I noticed it. I thought it was strange that someone would bring such a carry on. About twenty minutes into the flight, the balloon made its presence known by exploding. The explosion or loud pop caused momentary confusion and a bit of a panic. Of course, all was well and people soon settled into sleep. Meanwhile, I was stumbling around in my horrid Spanish. Yet, I was determined to be bold and seize the day.

Here I sit in another country. The rain comforts. The unknown beckons. Some days I am ready for adventure. Most days, I am not. Today I am ready.

Can we have a collective scream of terror and excitement please?

So this post will probably be very disappointing to most of you because it is not very literarily correct. Who cares. In about 6 hours, my journey begins and I'm freaked out. Yes, I thought you would want to know. This might not seem mightily important to you. Yet, for me, it's vital and pivotal moment in my own life. I'm freaked. I am going to the Republicana Dominicana. Me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Time is an interesting concept. How is it that time races for adults but for children time slows? Why is it that a fly’s life might only be a couple of days meanwhile a turtle might live one hundred years? Time cannot help but interest me. We Americans are obsessed with time. We always want to be on time for things and are very much ruled by time. On the other hand, other cultures seem to be unaware that time exists at all. How can there be so many different perspectives on time? It never fails to blow my mind.

There are moments when I stand still and watch people race by me. I wonder where they are going and what they are doing. It amazes me to think that for a moment my path crossed with another person. Perhaps, I will never see them again and soon after I will forget that we bumped into each other at the store or whatever location. Yet, for that moment, are pathways crossed. I wonder about how it would look if I could keep track of each person I came in contact with briefly and longer than briefly. How interesting it would be to know so many different types of lives and friends!

In only a matter of couple hours (being about a day and a half), I will be on a jet plane to the Dominican Republic. How do I feel about that? Good question. I would like to know so when you find out tell me. I am certain that I am way in over my head. Time is the only thing that stands between me and my plane flight. That barrier is not very big at all. Thankfully, I do not need to depend solely on myself. God’s got me. I am deeply thankful that I do not need to depend on myself because I will fail completely. Therefore, even though I am very unsure of coming circumstances I do know that God has got me. And Thank God FOR THAT!!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009


The starlight twinkles in the sky. And I sit alone. Although surrounded by much, I am all alone. A beetle scuttles across the sidewalk and suddenly I become like a cat. I leap across the pavement and my hands rush out and capture the beetle. I bat it and then stick it in my mouth. Its feet scramble against my tongue. Suddenly, I become aware of myself again. I realize that I have put a bug in my mouth. I spit it out and it lies prone in a puddle of my saliva. What was I doing?

I return to my spot on the bench and listen. My ears fill with the words and stories of others. I shudder in the cold and pull my hood over my head. The stories drag at me. I stare up at the artwork of a gigantic spider in the rafters. I am captivated by the simplicity of the design and yet the complexity. Quickly, like a monkey, I scramble up to the spider web. I stare at it entranced. I poke the web and watch the spider dance away from me. I hang upside down from the rafters staring down at all of those gathered around below. Their words hold meaning yet I struggle to know what to do with those words. Each word is like a bullet into my very being. They rip me a part. Why am I here?

Again, I return to my place among the group. I shiver with cold with everyone else. My feet are so cold that I no longer feel them. Stories still swirl around me. While others find freedom, I struggle. My eyes catch sight of a millipede. Its legs carry it rapidly across the cement. My imagination places me as one of its feet. Like a team we feet pull the millipede across the pavement. Abruptly, a swift foot comes slamming down. The world goes black. I am smashed with the millipede. I am beyond repair. Once again, I feel the cold and hear the words of those around me. Yet, I am dead. How does this happen?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mr. Pipe Man

There is a man. I pass him every day as I drive to or from home. He sits in front of his house on the same bench in the same posture at the same time every day. His sole companions are his wooden pipe and his dog that seems to be part wolf. His pepper and salt hair is trimmed comfortably and his mustache sits upon his upper lip regally.

I have come to believe that without this man sitting upon his bench with his pipe and his dog the world would cease to go around. I imagine that I know him. Instead of rushing on by on errand, I fancy that I will pull into his driveway and ramble up his sidewalk. His dog will barely deem me worth acknowledgment while the man puffs on his pipe. And I will walk right up to the man and say, “Hello, Mr. Pipe Man, how are you on this fine day? May I join you on your bench and watch the world go by?” Mr. Pipe Man will sagely nod his head and down I will plop beside him.

The cars will roll by us. People walking their dogs and teenagers texting will wander by our place. And the pipe will puff and I will watch the world go by me, the man, and his dog. To myself, I will wonder of the thoughts of Mr. Pipe Man. Yet, conversation will not flow between us because we are comfortable in long stretching silence. While I become distracted by the turquoise blue sky and the wispy clouds, Mr. Pipe Man must be musing on the goings and comings of our neighbors. I wonder what he sees that the rest of us do not take time to see.

The scent of summer flowers mixed with the chill wind of fall will dance with our senses. The wolf-dog will lie contentedly at our feet and the man will be wrapped in a cloud of pipe smoke while I am wrapped in a cozy blanket. As the leaves change, time will stand still for us as the world passes us by. My car will stand still in the Pipe Man’s driveway quickly becoming friends with the leaves. Yet, the road will still be busy and constantly filled with people. People rushing through their lives. The colors of the leaves will entrance me while the Pipe man stares thoughtfully into the distance. I wonder if he is secretly laughing at how we all rush throughout our days barely taking time to breathe let alone live.

As we sit on the bench with the floral patterned cushions, the trees will lose their vibrancy of color. People will become strangely deformed oversized marshmallows and the man with the pipe will finally leave his bench for the warmth of his house that has stood a silent watcher behind his bench all this time. His dog will drag its body off the ground and plod to the warmth of the house. Mr. Pipe Man will have left me on the bench by myself without a look back. Yet, I will have no hard feelings. Instead, I will dig my keys out from deep within the pocket of my summer shorts. Quickly, I will fold up my cozy blanket and hurry to the car in my flip flops. As I huddle in the car, I will wonder what Mr. Pipe Man has been thinking of all summer and fall long.

I will pull out of Mr. Pipe Man’s driveway and head home. I feel like I know Mr. Pipe Man. I know where he lives and I know where he sits. I know Mr. Pipe Man’s dog and I know his pipe. For whom would he be without the companionship of his pipe? It is an extension of him. Then as I guide the car into my driveway suddenly I will realize that it is still a summer afternoon. The green is still lush and the Pipe man still puffs on his pipe.

p.s. photo the compliments of flickr and Edgar Barany

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Well, I have exactly a week before I leave for the Domincian Republic. How can I describe how I feel right now? I feel as if I have left reality and am living in an alternate dimension from all the rest of the world. My stomach is filled with fear half the time when I consider that I'm about to go to a place that I have never before been. Excitement races through my veins at the thought of finally traveling on my own (well, with the group). Anxiety is my constant companion as my dwells on all the "what if" factors. Finally, I whisper to myself through all of these thoughts..."trust, trust, trust. trust in God."
As you can tell, I'm a bit distracted but hopefully posts will again be longer in the weeks to come. I doubt that I will find time to post everyday, though. Until next time, happy reading.

Friday, August 28, 2009

And Those Who Live

It is my strong belief that people have forgotten how to truly live. The humdrum of life consumes each and every one of us. We have lost the ability to be inspired by our surroundings. Our familiarity with life causes us to become unseeing of the joys and excitement of life. No matter how often we shrug off the monotony of life it always finds a way to re-ensnare us. Yet, there are stages in life that people seem to know how to truly live.

In the entire world, you will not find any other age group that is so enjoyed as those people who are between the ages of infant to five years old. To them, the world is new. Everything is awe-inspiring. After all, these are the children that have the eyes of adults following every movement or sneeze. Children live simply. They desire to be loved and to be fed. While adults have become callused to the beauty of rain, children are filled with wonder at how water comes from the sky. Children’s eyes sparkle with the question of ‘why’ and the desire to learn about the world around them. Adults, on the other hand, have possibly been through years of schooling and although found education pragmatic do not enjoy it with the childish excitement that characterizes a child’s view of the world.

Time is something that can be used against all of the human population. To a child, an hour is an infinite amount of time. Meanwhile, to an adult, an hour is simply the blink of an eye. Even though, these two age groups live in parallel realms, their relation to time is vastly different. This time difference can be blamed on the concept of responsibility. The child has no responsibility. Yet, the adult forgets to enjoy time. An adult is forever focused on the most efficient way to accomplish the current and next task. Of course, the child does not always enjoy how time drags. I, myself, have an acute memory as a little girl standing outside of my house bored to aggravation. I stood on the curb of my street and lifted my voice to the skies. My shout echoed throughout the street, “SomeBODY, COME play with ME!!!!!” I must have been an awful annoyance to my neighbors.

On the opposite side of the human population, there exists another age group that has through much trial and error learned to live. These are the humans that are often labeled decrepit by their sons and daughters. These old men and women have watched as their active friends and families have succumbed to death. Although a good many of the younger generation believe that this older generation is useless, the young generation could not be more wrong. For with age comes experience. To a certain extent, each must learn through his own trial and error. Yet, the young generation can save themselves much heartache if they untangle themselves from the constant rush of life to sit at the knee of someone that society has long forgotten. After all, the elderly have learned through experience how to truly live. Although they might have lost some of the awestruck wonder of a child through the drudge of life, these old men and women have learned what is most important in life.

Of the entire world, only the very young and very old know how to truly live life. They possess the ability to see life in a unique way. Children are adored and old people are forgotten. This should not be the case in our society. Instead, old people should be respected and cared for even as the children continue to be adored and cared for throughout their lives. We as a society and a people have so much to learn from those who have experienced life before us. Granted, the elderly cannot fully understand the changing times. Yet, the truths they know will be valid for all of eternity. Therefore, live life with the awe of a child and the wisdom of the old.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Restless as the Wind, Routine as the Ocean

A year ago, I sat in this very same spot. A year ago, my room was in this same state of chaos. A year ago, my belly was filled with a nervous fear of beginning my first year of college. This year, I have new fears. This year, the confusion of clothing and necessities are trying to compact themselves into one large suitcase. Yes, it does seem strange that I would be trying to fit all of my clothing for three months in one suitcase. You see, instead of returning to a regular first semester of a sophomore student at Bethel College, I am packing my bags and heading to the Republicana Domincana. I am doing a semester abroad.

First of all, let’s go in depth to my fears. Last year, I was experiencing the normal anxieties of a first year college student. This year, I am experiencing the same stresses that first time travelers experience. Of course, this is not my first time to travel out of the country. This is, in fact, my sixth time to travel out of the country. Yet, it is the first time that I go as an adult. It is the first time that I live in this other country for more than two weeks. It is the first time that I will have to depend on my ability to communicate in another language. Are you seeing reasons for possible fears? Good, I am.

The summer has flown by in a whirring of insect wings and the hum of air conditioners. Throughout the summer, I have done the normal things of seeing friends, working a job, and taking a summer course at the community college. It has been a restful time. I would describe this time at home as a summer nap where the sunshine warms your skin but does not fry it.

Although the surface of summer has been calm, I have had a time of learning currents underneath that ocean calm. Steadily, God has drawn me closer to himself using many different circumstances in my life. There were times this summer where I bemoaned the fact that I had been caught in the monotony of life and the stagnancy of staying still. This was never the case. The spiritual growth that occurred throughout the summer has been like the growth of a flower. Gradual. It has been so gradual that a person might see the growth right before them but not really see it at all until the rose blooms.

In two days, I leave for Bethel College. I will be there for about a week. Then soon after in September, I and my team will be boarding an airplane that will eventually carry us to the Island of the Dominican Republic. I am not sure how often I will send my chronicles out nor am I certain on how much internet connection I will have. Yet, I do know that I will desperately need your prayer. I also know that I will try to send out a chronicle once a month at least.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Mermaids Singing

The Mermaids Singing by Lisa Carey is a book that I would not suggest. As the title implies, the book is much like the ocean that storms and then calms. When my sister asked what it was about, I said,
“Oh, it’s not that good. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.”
In which case, my sister wondered why I was still reading the book. In that moment, I could not answer. Yet, I pondered this question deeply because no matter how many times I set the book down I was drawn back to its pages.

The story that Carey writes in this book is not a new one. She focuses on the coming of age story of a young teenage Irish girl. It’s a tale of heartache and loss. Intermixed throughout the story is how sexual relations outside of marriage positively and negatively influenced three different generations of Irish women. In no way did Carey sugar coat any of her story. The characters’ losses are brutal and searing.

Truly, I cannot place my finger upon one reason that made me lift this book every hour. I tend to enjoy books that have a happily ever ending with a climax that is not too heart wrenching. The Mermaids Singing is filled with real pain and confusion. It is not a happy read, but Carey’s book is like human life. She shows the monotonous pace of the human life with the confusion of emotion so like the ocean with the continual tides and sudden bursts of storm. The entire tale runs together with one purpose to show how each character has grown and matured throughout the hardships and struggles thrown at them. Ultimately, the story focuses on the granddaughter and how her grandmother’s and mother’s decisions influenced her life.

I cannot suggest this book as an easy or simple read. Be prepared for something that is beautifully real. Carey has a unique way of tying the story together. The book is written from four different points of view. Surprisingly, confusion does not occur for the reader. The Mermaids Singing is almost like a mystery with so many loose ends needing to be caught. By the end of the book, none hang loose. With The Mermaids Singing, Lisa Carey wrote a powerful book that portrays the struggles of the past, present, and future.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fruit Salad

I fancy myself a connoisseur of fruit. It is not only that I love to snack on fruit all throughout the day it is also the fact that I can slice or dice the fruit in a manner of seconds. There is probably not a fruit that you can find that I do not like. Well, unless you happen to stick your thumb into a pie and pull out a plum or a cherry or a grapefruit. Admittedly, not all fruit is to my liking but that does not change the reality that I am a connoisseur of fruit.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. People have been testing the validity of this statement for years. Is it true? I claimed to be a fruit connoisseur not a scientist. Yet, I do know that apples are a delectable delicacy. Of course, I think that Americans sometimes forget how wonderful apples are just because ‘they are as American as apple pie.’ Apples have become too familiar. That’s exactly why we must encourage children to create fun snacks out of apples. For example, apples make great lady bugs. Just use some toothpicks to attach raisins onto their red skin. My most recent favorite way to munch on this scrump-diddle-y-umptious treat is to dribble honey across the creamy white of the apple. There are so many ways to incorporate this sweet crunch into one’s day. I say,
“An apple a day keeps the summer munchies away!”

One fruit that I adore and have dubbed its flavor to be ‘what the sun would taste like if it had a flavor’ is pineapple. Only a couple of summers ago, I could not enjoy this strangely textured and acidy sweet fruit. I even had traveled to Panama and had foregone eating this mouth watering goodness. I was happily content to watch my friends greedily gobble the pineapple down. Only days after returning, I attended a baby shower. The only thing there that I would even consider eating was pineapple. After painfully swallowing the last bite of this horrid fruit, I thought my misery was over. It figures that somehow over that hour my tongue decided to acquire a liking towards pineapple. Now, pineapple and I are good friends. We are such good friends that while in college I got sent a pineapple in the mail. It was definitely a unique gift to give to a fruit-deprived college student. Unfortunately, all I had to cut the pineapple with was a knife blade that was about as long as my pinky. It took some time, but I finally got my little bit of sunshine and shared it with all the girls because nothing was getting between me and eating that pineapple.

As to the fruit that I am not especially fond of, I should probably explain to the best of my ability. First of all, I really cannot explain my dislike of plums because I have not quite figured it out myself. Perhaps it is the texture or maybe it is the flavor. You never know I might surprise myself and suddenly acquire a liking of the plum and then I will be begging that you pull a plum out with your thumb. Cherries on the other hand are a fruit that I have had a deep seated loathing for since I was a child. Blame it on the cherry flavored medicine. Yes, I know. Everyone cries,
“Fresh cherries are nothing like the medicine.”
Prove it. No, I will not try a tasting test. Ask my father about my abhorrence of cherry medication. When I was a baby, he had to give me medicine while screening his body with a shower curtain because I would show my dislike of the medicine by throwing it back up. Cherries and I are not friends. Grapefruit is something all together different. Oranges I like. Grapefruit are just much to tart for me and I know sugar will sweeten them up. Yet, I believe in enjoying the true flavor of a fruit. I thought it would be in my best interest to explain my odd aversion to these considered delectable fruits by some.

Fruit is the candy of the natural world. I can think of nothing as divine as sitting in a forest glade with strawberry juice dripping down one’s chin while bugs hum by on their little business missions. Not only does the fruit flavor categorize as the candy of the world but it also can claim to be the natural gems of the world. I have never seen anything so pretty as the deep ruby red of a cherry (I may dislike cherries but their color is fantastic) or the dark violet blue of a blueberry. No food group in the world shares the rainbow of colors as fruit do. Fruit should be admired for more than just its taste but also for its color. Therefore, I claim the title fruit connoisseur.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Leisure

Perale placed her book down with a sigh and she leapt to her feet. Her bare feet lightly touched the porch as she hopped over her father’s feet. A moment ago, they had been sharing a companionable silence as they had both been immersed in separate books. Perale had just finished her book and it had left a delighted feeling within her stomach. As she bounced off of the porch, the grass welcomed her feet. Perale lifted her arms to the brilliant blue sky and spun in circles.

Perale breathed deeply as she felt her hair swirl in a circle behind her. The yard sloped and abruptly Perale realized that she was losing her footing. Yet, she continued to spin with a carelessness that she had not felt for a long time. Abruptly, Perale found herself falling backwards. There was nothing she could to do to stop this inevitable motion. Instead of fighting the fall, she happily gave into gravity. The grass welcomed Perale merrily as it had welcomed her feet a moment ago. As her back came into contact with the lush greenness, Perale’s legs flew up in the air. For a moment she felt as though she walked on the sky. Then her legs rocked back to the ground. Yet, Perale’s mind remained in the sky.

Her thoughts hovered there for long moments while her eyes roved around the world around her. Perale could not help but wonder why she had not lounged in the grass sooner. The moist sweet scent of the grass stimulated her thoughts. Perale combed her fingers through the grass reveling in how her fingers brushed through it. From the ground, Perale was aware suddenly of the vastness of the sky. Her thoughts returned to the blue that encircled the world and her.

As her thoughts hung in the sky, Perale’s heart had a strong longing. Of course, she knew it stemmed from reading a romance. To her, romances were like candy or junk food. She loved it, but sometimes it just was not healthy. After finishing a romance, she was always filled with this longing. With every beat of her heart, Perale could hear her heart repeating, “Oh, Lord. When? When?” She grinned to herself as she grasped a handful of grass in a fist. Perale adored romances, but she would not be caught dead with such a book in her possession.

Perale was abruptly pulled out of her musings when she heard the porch door slam. Her head came up as she twisted around to catch the figure on the porch.
“What are you doing, Perale?” Perale’s mother asked. When Perale merely smiled, Perale’s mother just continued, “Well, dinner is ready.” As Perale’s father unfolded himself from the chair, Perale slowly rolled into a standing position. She was not quite ready to leave her thoughts or the lush green grass. Yet, it was dinner time.

(picture is the compliments of folkin'around on flickr)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The peeves of the pet

Blogs suggest honesty. They also encourage that one tells all. I have decided that in honor of all those who puke their feeling on relationships and other unnecessary things I shall delve into some of my pet peeves. Of course, I have a feeling that half of these will not interest you half as much as the gossipy dating circle. Therefore, I will spill my guts like many people ought not to do.

1. I abhor when a person quickly drinks everything within their glass. Simply because they miss the nuances of the drink itself regardless of whether it is water or wine. Small sips are ideal. Therefore, one has a full appreciation of the liquid within one’s glass.
2. Etiquette has seemingly disappeared from our society. Some strongly believe that chivalry is dead. On some points, I agree. Yet, I think we need to write a modern day etiquette book. Within this much needed book, the authors would strongly encourage every person alike to keep their texting to a minimum. For example, it is rude to text during meals at home or elsewhere, during movies/shows, and while carrying a conversation with someone else. Obviously the times are changing, but we must change with the times and create new ways to respect people.
3. One thing that I adore to do (yes, this does eventually come to my pet peeve) is to take walks and just enjoy the air, sky, trees, and the beauty around me. I could spend hours simply gazing at the sky. Yet, I find not many people even think to raise their heads to the sky. Actually, I have observed how many people watch their feet as they walk. I think this is a very sad existence indeed because it is true that one will not trip but it is also true that there is not very much beautiful or amazing about one’s own feet. I think people should lift their heads to the skies once in a while in appreciation of the clouds that float there.
4. Something that mildly infuriates me is the ease with which men audition and get accepted into dance, theater, and singing programs. Those are the days where I desperately wish that I had been born male. Of course, that is not the case so I am left wishing for a small part in any play.
5. I have found within my brief existence in the world that radio stations have a way of playing the exact same music as often as they can within a twenty four hour period. The reason I listen to the radio is to have the opportunity to listen to a variety of different quality music. Obviously, radio stations do not realize this fact.
6. Another thing that I have taken note of as I have strolled through many a mall is the two headed monsters with four legs. Have you seen them? I’m sure that you have. I think they are generally referred to as a couple. They are so “in” to each other that a fellow pedestrian has trouble telling where one ends and the other begins. They might as well become connected to the hip since they are attached everywhere else.
7. People who think that they are God’s gift to the world. I do not need to say anything more.
8. Girls have a way of conversing about boys like they are an object. The girls will gush and whisper and giggle over his abs or his eyes. Yet, they seem to forget the fact that he is a person with thoughts and a personality of his own. This is loathsome behavior to me because whether or not girls find a guy attractive they should not treat him if he were only a body and vice versa.
9. The art of reading is dying out. Thankfully, I adore reading. Yet, it seems that non-readers scorn those who adore reading a book or four. I think this is very sad indeed.
10. Society annoys me. It depends largely on all the norms and looks very badly on those who deviate from those norms. Yet, the confusion of society is very hard to decipher and make any sense of whatsoever.

There it is. The rainbow of my gut smeared across an internet page. I have honestly tried my best not to bore any of those people who happened to read this blog and yet have determined to be as frank as possible with my dislikes. Pet peeves are a thing that everyone has and I would sure like to hear more. (hint: leave a comment of your own pet peeve)