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.