lovelikeheloves

Love Always

New Experiences

So I’ve officially been here one month. Well actually, it’s been like a month and 3 days but who’s counting. It’s been a month of new experiences and challenges. A month of learning about Dominican culture and of living the “simple life” as the Sisters like to call it. Some things I’ve gotten used to and others not so much. For example, I’m used to the fact that the electricity goes out from time to time (which makes it much easier to live the “simple life”).  There are also some days when I feel like I’m getting accustomed to the heat and then there are days when I think “oh my goodness! Why can’t I stop sweating!” All in all, I’ve had an interesting, fun, challenging, overwhelming, humbling month. Here are a several experiences that I’ve enjoyed over the past month!

1. The beach!! Duh!

image

I went on my first beach trip last weekend. Even though it rained most of the weekend, it was still absolutely lovely! I love the beach so when the Sisters extended the invitation, I was super excited!! It was a relaxing weekend. We stayed at a small all inclusive resort that the nuns have been going to for years. We didn’t have to worry about cooking or doing the dishes. Instead, I sat by the pool drinking a piña colada with one of the Sisters. It was lovely. (And they had air conditioning!! That was awesome!) I even got a sweet tan…well actually I burned but it’s now turned into a sweet tan. Overall it was a good weekend and I can’t wait for the next beach trip.

2. Hitchhiking
I’ve now hitchhiked twice. (No mother, not by myself) Apparently everyone here hitchhikes and no one thinks twice about it. Here, if you’re too lazy to walk to your destination you can “pedir una bola”, aka hitchhike, and get there much quicker. I’ve never hitchhiked before and I loved it for two reasons: 1. It saved us from walking for an hour. 2. It saved me from sweating for an hour on the walk home. Like I said, I didn’t do it by myself. There were 4 of us the first time and 3 of us the second time. Oh, and we in the back of the truck both times. See mom, I told you I’d be safe..haha.

3. The mountains
Whenever I walk home, I get the pleasure of having a nice view for part of it. These are the mountains I walk past on my way home.

image

Every time I get to the point on our walk where I can see them, I use it as my time to chat with God about my day at  the school. It’s my time to pray and admire God’s beautiful creation. I’ve gotten excited to get to that part of the walk because I feel like that’s our meeting spot. It’s where I let go of the stressful school day and gain some peace before entering the busyness of the next barrio.

4. Modes of Transportation
I’m fairly convinced that the DR has no traffic laws…haha, but really. The traffic here is crazy. This makes for 2 types of reactions when getting into a vehicle. You can either be 1. Terrified for your life or 2. Enjoy the thrill that is driving around the DR. I identify with option numero dos. I will admit, at first I was slightly terrified for my life but I now enjoy the thrill…for the most part.

What is supposed to be a two way street is usually a 3 way street with two lanes going one way and the cars going the other way weaving in and out of the other two lanes. There are typically 7-9 people in a car that is supposed to fit 5. The truck that picks us up in the morning will often have 12-14 people in only the bed of the truck. Here is a picture of what that truck bed looks like

image

Some of teachers after a long day at the school

There are about 6 teachers missing from the pic because some stayed at the school. Another fun thing I’ve experienced since being here is that in addition to cars and trucks, motorcycles are a common mode of transportation. I’ve been on more motorcycles the past month here than I’ve been on in my whole life. Now don’t go thinking they’re schnazzy motorcycles because they’re not. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen people fuel them up with beer, but nonetheless they’re fun to ride on.

5. New little friends
School started two weeks ago which has been an interesting experience. The first day of school was overwhelming but also fun. I finally got to meet the kids I would be spending the year with. They are crazy but super cute. They wear uniforms to school and look absolutely adorable. They test my patience everyday but I love them all. I will admit I already have some favorites. I know teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites but I don’t consider myself a teacher so I’ve rationalized it’s okay. Here is a picture of the first little friend I made.

image

My beautiful little Yuli

Her name is Yuli and she is the daughter of one of the custodians at the school. She is 5, loves to dance, and has a sassy little attitude to go with that beautiful little face.

There are some other things that I’ve enjoyed since being here but they’re kind of random so I didn’t know where to put them lol. For example, it’s apparently avocado season which means Dominicans put avocado on EVERYTHING! It’s amazing. I love avocado so having them everywhere has been awesome. We even have our own avocado tree. It’s also mango season and that has been delicious! When we were at the beach I’m pretty sure I had like 3 mangos a day. I even made a friend with a staff member and he brought me a bag full of mangos the next day. Another thing I like, most of the time, is that it’s like a constant block party here. There is always music playing and there are always people in the street. The only time I’m not a fan of this is when it’s midnight and I’m trying to catch some Zzz’s but I’m trying to  get used to it.

While this month has been filled with fun new experiences it has also been incredibly challenging for many different reasons. I continue to ask for your prayers, thoughts, or good vibes. If you also need prayers, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to add you to my daily prayers.

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-7

Love always,
Gabby

Advertisements
4 Comments »

Resistance

I never wanted to be a teacher. I come from a family of teachers but that profession never appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think teachers are amazing. I went on a field trip with my nephew’s kindergarten class and I remember thinking, “man, I don’t know how she [his teacher] does it. There’s just so many of them. God bless her.” I love kids, I just don’t think I could teach them. Well, you know what they say, ‘never say never,’ especially to God. (I know that last part isn’t part of the saying but I have found it to be true).

I knew I would be teaching when I applied to be a volunteer but I thought “eh, I’ll learn” or “God will give me the graces I need to do His work.” I came down here with what I thought was an open mind and open heart ready to learn. I was not ready for the resistance I felt once I got to the school. For the past two weeks we’ve been having workshops and setting up the classrooms to prepare for the upcoming school year. While it may not sound like hard work, I had a really difficult time with it. This came as a surprise to me because I was so excited to come here and spread some l-o-v-e. I found myself with negative thoughts, with a lot of doubt, and a lot of worries.

My thoughts had turned from “God will give me the graces I need” to “I don’t know that I want be here a whole year.” Insecurities flooded my thoughts and I felt as if I could do nothing about it. I struggled to understand what was going on in my heart. Why was I all of a sudden such a negative Nancy?? Why would I come and try help teach when I’m not even a teacher?? Where did my desire to serve go?? I was praying about these feelings but I felt as if nothing was happening. I was still having these feelings and was getting frustrated. I knew that these thoughts I was having were lies from the evil one and I was entertaining his lies. He knows how to get into our heads to try and distance us from God. But of course, God is just amazing and wouldn’t just leave me to fend for myself! He showed himself to me in different ways during this time. Whether it was through the smile of one the kids, a line in the book I was reading, or in the mountains we walk past on our way home, I knew He was there. He had never left my side.

I started to feel a little less resistance each day. Sure, sometimes the enemy still tries to tell me lies but I respond with “nu-uh, not me Satan, I am a daughter of the living God” or simply with “Jesus I need you.” So if you’re like me and struggle with the voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough or tells you anything other than how deeply loved you are, know that it is a lie from the devil. Say a quick prayer or even just the name of Jesus and know that you are deeply loved by someone who died to know you.

In my almost 3 weeks here I’ve repeated this quote quite often:

The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you

I trust that God has my back and that He wouldn’t lead me here and then leave me hanging. He loves me too much. 🙂

Soooo, school starts on tomorrow and I’m excited to start working with the kiddos! I’ll be a teaching assistant in the 4-5 year old classroom in the morning and with the 3 year olds in the afternoon. Even though I miss my niece and nephews so much, I’m excited to be working with little ones that’ll remind me of them and all their craziness. I’m eager to get to know them and love on them (in a totally non creepy way haha). A lot of them haven’t been given a lot of affection or love so if I totally screw up the teaching thing, I at least want them to know that there are people in this world who do love them and that there is a God who loves them unfailingly. As the song Here I am Lord says:

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord.
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

Love always,
Gabby

1 Comment »