Friday, March 31, 2006

DR Trip

“Mi casa es su casa!” My house is your house. This generous phrase greeted me as I entered my host family’s home at the commencement of my second trip to the Dominican Republic. Though bumpy truck rides, long work days, unfamiliar food, fires, whips, sea urchins, and strawberry daiquiris on a pier make great stories, it has been my interaction with the Dominican people that has made my trips to the DR unique and memorable. The people are incredibly open, community oriented, and fun-loving to a fault—foreign attributes to workaholic, individualistic Americans.
The Dominicans have a wonderful sense of humor. I remember going up to a cave where Esteban used wads of gray, curling Spanish moss to transform himself into an old man with a mop of hair and full beard. Another time, we couldn’t help smiling as about ten Dominicans became laughing backseat drivers on a bus ride as they encouraged the driver to pass every slow vehicle on the road.
The Dominicans are also generous. The host families really do act as if I am part of the family, and the daughter, Marisol, managed to demand more piggy-back rides than my little sister at home does. The people give us what they can out of their poverty. On the worksite, a mother and her four children would laboriously tramp from some unseen dwelling several times a day to bring us strong coffee and more than sufficient amounts of yucca, rice, and beans. These people hardly have houses, and yet they want to give to us.
Finally, the Dominicans have a child-like enthusiasm unlike anything habitually seen in the US. This manifests itself in adults wandering around for hours blowing a horn because it’s fun; but it also is apparent in their joyful participation in the Mass. Five or six of them are louder than a whole American congregation. Immersing myself in a new culture is always an enlightening experience if I am willing to shed American prejudices. The Dominicans remind me to be relaxed, generous, and joyful—valuable additions to my American work-ethic, comparative wealth, and focused ambition.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Postcards from God

I've waited a while to post FOCUS news because I wanted to call close friends and tell them personally first. [On that note, if you are a close friend and are finding out this way, it doesn't mean I disowned you; it means I've been REALLY busy and haven't gotten a hold of you yet or had free time at a time when you too would be free to chat. Sorry!]

I received a call last Monday accepting me to FOCUS. After a lot of prayer the last few weeks, I said that I'd be happy to join their team. I am incredibly thrilled. I know that committing two years to mission work wherever they assign me will be a challenge, but it will also be a wonderful growing experience and a great joy. I am always happiest and holiest when I serve others. As I explained to a good friend recently, if I begin to get self-centered in my life, it's the fastest way for me to go skipping to hell.

Friends and family have been wonderfully supportive of my decision too (though I really think it's God's decision ultimately.) Maybe Nora hasn't realized yet what it really means for her big sister to go off gallivanting around the country for two years, but she seemed glad. My parents, as always, are 100% behind me. And Larry's been incredibly patient and understanding with his crazy girlfriend. Thank you so much to all of you who have prayed for me in the last month or two as I've sought discernment. [And thanks Addie for happening to be there when I got the call, so I had someone to hug and jump up and down with. ;) ] Do please continue to pray for me as I get ready to face this new challenge!