Why blog?

I decided to create this blog so that I could update you and share my experiences each day. I will try my best to post at least once each day. Please comment on my posts, because I would love to hear from you! Thank you so very much for all your love and support <3

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 16 - Wednesday

             I woke the kids up this morning because for some reason I woke up early and was bored! They were adorable, and afterwards we had a “brushing your teeth” party, and I brushed mine again, because Zedekias and Franchellis didn’t want to. They were adorable as always!
Waking them up... Franchesca was mad!

Franchellis, Zedekias, and I

Funny Faces

Zedekias and I at the 'Party'

...and Franchellis decided to come too!

Day 15 - Tuesday

Today I played basketball with Calvin, Christian, Johnny, and others! It was lots of fun! We won a bunch of times and I wore shoes so no blisters! I also helped Eudocia clean the house. She hates pictures, but I take them with her anyway!
Basketball, don't even think I'm in this picture

Eudocia (Mammi), Franchellis, and I cleaning the house

Day 14 - Monday

                Today I helped out with preparation for Semana de los Jovenes again, and painted posters with Nata; Fun but tiring. I also went with Daicey to a “Charla” or meeting for women at the Red Cross in Peralta. They came together to discuss different ways of promoting health in the community and to their children. We walked home, which was pretty far, and stopped at the Internet Center, where any people can come, sign in, and use the internet when they need to. It’s similar to a library, but only computers. When we got home we took a ride with Johnny to buy something for dinner (never found it), but we rode around all of Peralta looking in every store. After I had dinner, Christian came over and invited me to the birthday party for Paloma and Beatrice (twins from the church) who  turned 18 today. On the way to the party, he brought me to his house and introduced me to his two brothers, one of whom is also a Christian, and his neices and nephews. They were very sweet and I liked getting to know more about him by meeting his family. The party was absolutely amazing! Everyone was there, and they played lots of cool games. One was putting the name of everyone there on a piece of paper. One was drawn at a time, and that person had to come to the front, pop a balloon, and inside the balloon was something they had to do. It was mostly Karyoke type things, where they would have to sing a song to the birthday girls. Overall, the party was really cool because it was just a gathering of all youth from the church to celebrate the birthday and the presence of God in their lives. Very uplifting! I came home and hung out with Franchesca, ate some Mango, and talked. It was really nice to spend more time with her J!
The Red Cross in Peralta

Technology Center

Dabeyli and I (She works at the desk)

Day 13 - Sunday

          Today I went with Christian to the pool at the top of Peralta… it was really tiny, and really dirty! Haha but I went in anyways. There were tons of kids and lots of splashing, but fun because they were so excited that I was playing with them. There was also a girl there who spoke english. She told me that she lives in NYC and that her family used to live in Peralta, so in the summer they come back to vacation. The other American girls who are here with some program came and hung out for a little. The pool is like a place people go to hang out because there is a bar and dance floor there too. Around the pool are tables and chairs to sit in, and drinks and food is served. Pretty cool for Peralta. We came back on his motorcycle, which is tons of fun, to shower before church. Alysa, who is somewhat of an intern with the pastor, gave the sermon tonight. She told me she would speak slowly so that I might understand some of it, but I still didn’t. During the service Nata came in and surprised me, because he wasn’t supossed to be home until next week! Afterwards we went to the basketball came with everyone. Camboya won!
Christian and I
Anna, Kassidy, Christian and I

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 12 - Saturday

                Today I woke up and learned how to make Bananas with Cinnemon. I ate breakfast, and Johnny came over and shared with me Matthew 9, which reads:

[ 9As jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pahrisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrafice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”]

It was really nice to talk with him about the verses, and what he thought about them. He is truly a spiritual leader, and I am so blessed to have him as a friend. We hung out more, and the other American girls came over to eat lunch with Christian and I. They were nice girls but didn’t seem to enjoy being in Peralta much, which kind of upset me. After we ate we drove up to the hospital and visited Mercedes who is a member of the church. She seemed like she was in good spirits, but it was sad to see her and all the babies who were there. Afterwards Calvin, Johnny, and I played basketball against some other people at the school. We won! But I played barefoot and got blisters on my feet! I showered and went to church with Franchesca, Zedekias, and Franchellis, then on a date to the Camboya game with Christian! (joke, but seriously, we went) Tons of fun! Can’t wait till the game tomorrow!

Day 11 - Friday

                I learned how to make hot chocolate today with Eudocia, and she made me pancakes for breakfast! We went to Azua to her sister’s house, and she got her hair cut at a salon… we were there for 4 hours! Absolutely crazy!! We came home, and didn’t have enough time to eat and go to church, so we just ate dinner and hung out at the house. She made us Lechosa for desert, which is similar to a milkshake but with fruit. This one was with Papaya.. delicious!!! I hung out with Johnny and Christian and let them look at all the pictures on my computer from spring break, they loved it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 10 - Thursday

             Today I woke up and Wendy told me we were going to work on stuff for “La Semana de los Jovenes”, which is a camp the church is having for kids in the community next week. It was fun, we created portfolios for all of the kids with construction paper, had lunch and just hung out with some people from a church further up the mountain. Aftwards Estelle and I left and went to the prayer gathering, and then I came home to the Pastor’s and saw my new room! It was beautiful! They also have a bathroom inside of there house now 
which is very nice. Tonight, I will sleep in their house for the first time! I am very excited!

Alisa and I

Finished making the file folders

Estelle looking beautiful

All the file folders! (made to look like bags)

The new kitchen! so much more space!

My room!
The new bathroom!

Day 9 - Wednesday

            I was sick the entire day with a stomach virus, (awful), and literally couldn’t get out of bed. Wendy and Chita made me soup and Saday made me the lemonade. They were so good to me. Lots of people stopped by to see that I was okay, which was extremely nice. The pastor called and told me to eat fruit, so Wendy made me a fruit bowl. She also gave me medicine to help with my upset stomach. The “Oracion” today was at Saday’s so I went out on the porch when everyone came over and joined them. They sang Open the Eyes of My Heart so that I could sing in English which was really nice of them. I love spending time in prayer with them, it is very refreshing. When I felt a bit better, I went with Wendy over to the Pastor’s to work on some stuff for “La Semana de los Jovenes”, or week of the children.  That was fun, and I shared with Wendy some things I learned at SB2W like the I’m Third motto and other little things. I like being able to help out in that way and spend time with her. I went back to Wendy’s to sleep for one more night because I wasn’t feeling well still. 

Day 8 - Tuesday

When I woke up today, Chita told me I was all hers, and that I could not go over to the Pastor’s because they were cleaning the house for me… I was very excited to see it and the new parts! While I hung out at Wendy’s for the morning, Johnny came over to hang out, and talked to me a lot about his story, and how he came to know Christ. He told me that he is great friends with Cheito, and when Cheito was saved, he noticed such a difference in his life. He wanted to know more. He said he got talking to the Pastor, and that the Pastor had confidence in him when nobody else did. He started to cry, and although I didn’t understand everything he was saying, I understood his tears and how he felt about his relationship with God, and the radical change it caused in his life. It was a really special time we had together. He had me videotape it so that I could share it when I get home, which I am glad about. We then went to an “Oracion” or a prayer gathering of all the younger members in the church, such as Melody, Melanie, Estelle, Saday, Ezekiel, Raphalito, Kika, Genesis, and more. It was cool to see how eager they are to grow in their faith and support one another at such a young age. Most of them are only 15 years old, and I was really moved by that. The girls needed to practice their dance for the Camboya game, so we went to the church. While we were there it started to downpour like I have never seen in my life, and continued for about two hours. I watched as a bunch of kids had a fight throwing tennis balls at one another in the street, while other people were bathing out in the rain. It was crazy! We were stuck in the church, and finally Estelle and I decided to leave. We ran to her house in the rain. I showered in Wendy’s backyard in the rain (first time for everything), and then some people came over to the house. I talked for a long while with Raphalito and one of his friends about the differences between the US and the DR. He told me how badly he wants to move to the US and go to school at PBA. It really hit home how lucky I am to live where I do and have the opportunity to study at a Christian University. I want to talk with Mark a bit about the posibillity of Raphalito coming to the US. Overall, it was an amazing day, and I never could have anticipated so many events! 

Day 7 - Monday

This morning I hung out with Saday and Estelle, and looked through some magazines with them. They were talking about wanted different types of makeup, and told me it was very expensive and they could only buy it in the capital, and that they only go to Santo Domingo once a year! I decided that I could give them each a mascara and eye liner of my own, and they were so extremely excited. It made me very appreciative of the things that I have, and the access I have to virtually anything I could ever want. I went to the Pastor’s house, and took a ride with Johnny on his motorcycle! It was so much fun! He took me on a tour of the part of Peralta that is further up the mountain, and said soon he would take me down the mountain and show me things down there. At first I was pretty nervous but it was actually really fun. When we got back, Calvin was making a door out of metal pieces for the new part of the pastor’s house. Quite the handyman, I think he knows how to do absolutely everything. I let Daicey borrow the Alchemist to read, and I hope she likes it as much as I did!

Genesis making me 'breakfast' with water (her friend to the left)

Johnny and Franchellis on the motorcycle

Calvin the toolman

Zedekias, Jonny, Myself, and a bunch of kids!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 6 - Sunday

The men working on the Pastor’s house are almost finished with it, which means I will be able to sleep there from now on! Very exciting! Today, I got a manicure and pedicure from Lucy and Dorca’s aunt, who paints nails for all the women in Peralta. She did an amazing job, and does it much differently than the Asians in the United States! I think it was better than any manicure or pedicure I have ever had, and it was also free! I also played some basketball today with a bunch of boys which was lots of fun. They kept calling me ‘la americana’ which I didn’t like very much. We also went to a church service at night, which wasn’t boring, just tiring to try and understand the spanish. It is very different than church I am used to, but a great place to meet more people who love the LORD. We went to the basketball games afterward which was tons of fun because the people are so into it! There are more people at these games than I expected, and they treat it like the NBA. I have a favorite team, Camboya, don’t know what it means or if that’s the correct spelling, but I can’t wait to watch the next game!

Making cement

The workers and I

The Ramirez Family, - Ezekiel and Ingrid, + Zekedias and Franchellis

Lucy and I got twin pedicures!

Coolest manicure ever!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 5 - Saturday

Today when I woke up it was pouring out, which was different than usual, considering it is normally extremely hot! It was cool which was nice, and I ate breakfast inside with Sarai. She put the TV on because the lights were on, and I was amazed to see her watch an entire episode of Mickey Mouse Club House. I found this very odd considering it’s a show targeted towards children, but I guess things are just different here. She also watched Spongebob, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Madagascar, for three straight hours! I was shocked! I read and sat with her, and when the rain let up, I went over to the Pastor’s house. I played with Franchellis all morning, and went over to the school to play Hula Hoop with she and Natalie. The boys there were drying off the basketball courts the same way my dad dries the tennis courts, with a broom! Afterwards I watched Franchellis get her hair redone, quite the process! Overall, a good day : )

Prayer Requests:
*Strength to finish each day (it is becoming tiring to try and communicate all day long)
*I would not get frustrated by the language barrier

Masters of the Hula Hoop
Franchellis, showing off, of course

Genesis, Baby, and Nagelli

Drying off the courts

In between stages of getting hair done!

Side view...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 4 - July 8th

                Today I came to the realization that for most people reading this, they don’t want a play by play of everything that I do… from now on, I’m only going to include things that are very different from the ordinary day, because one thing I have noticed is this lifestyle is all about routine. Another thing I have taken notice of is just how hard these people work at everything. The women spend the entire day preparing food for the family, and even random neighbors that stop by (and they always stop by or pass through the house). Every single thing you eat is fresh, hence the reason why it is so good. I am learning a lot about their cooking, and it’s actually a lot of fun. (Tuesday night dinners!!) After preparing all the food and serving it, they spend time thoroughly cleaning all the dishes. At first glance, when we see that the kitchen is mostly outdoors, it seems unsanitary, the way they eat and do things. However, I have never seen people clean the way they do. Today, Sarai and I cleaned all the dishes from the meal by hand. (Shout out to my roommates) It made me realize how lucky I am to have a dishwasher. I think of it as a burden to have to put the dishes in there, and even to take them out after they are clean. I also watched as three different women today did laundry. They have a small machine that is similar to a washer, but really just moves the clothes around in soapy water. They thoroughly cleaned each article of clothes by hand several times, and then found a spot for them to air dry. I was thinking about how much I love to do laundry, but the truth is, I have never really done the laundry before. I’ve simply thrown the clothes into a machine. I feel like I don’t really know the true meaning of work when I see the way the Dominicans do things. I don’t really work for anything, and today made me feel extremely fortunate, but also extremely lazy. Even though Sarai is only fifteen years old, she is wise beyond her years and an inspiration to me. I feel as if there is so much I can learn from this girl, and I am so blessed by her presence in my life right now. She is so selfless and driven, and truly exemplifies living life for Christ and placing others before herself. Truly amazing!

Ingrid doing laundry

Chita making me breakfast! She is the best Dominican Grandma I could ever ask for!

Helping Eudocia clean the house

Franchellis being her normal self

Day 3 - July 7th

Today was really cool because I got to spend the day talking with several different people, and had nice time spent with each of them. I got to spend the morning with Nelson, a member of the church who is 30 years old. His life is very sad, because he lost both of his parents at a young age, and has many younger brothers and sisters. However, he still has a love for others and the Lord like I have never before seen in someone. We had breakfast together and talked a bit, and I almost cried when I saw that he was wearing my shoes I had left over spring break! It made me so happy that what I left in Peralta went to such good use! When I went over to the pastor’s house, Eudocia (the pastor’s wife) and I spoke a lot while I ate lunch. She told me about how women in Peralta get married extremely young, and that she married Francisco when she was 18 years old. She also told me that women marry older men (the pastor is eight years older than she is). We talked about the clothing I brought to donate and how she will teach me one day to make the hot chocolate they drink. In the afternoon I spent a lot of time talking with Jacques, a man who actually speaks quite a bit of English. We practiced talking together, and I exchanged information with him. It was nice to help someone with English while he helped me with Spanish. He told me that he actually lives in Santo Domingo, and is only in Peralta for a few days. After he left I went on an outing with Wendy to another part of Peralta. She is in charge of a ministry through the church that has different branches, where women have school in the summer for young kids. It is similar to a vacation bible school, but they also learn basic things, such as the days of the week and the months of the year. It was a lot of fun to see how devoted she is to the church and the passion she has for this ministry. I came back to the pastor’s house and had dinner with Franchellis, then went back to Wendy’s and went to sleep for the night!
                Prayer Requests:
                * I would seek ways to serve the people here and offer them anything I can give
               * That I would continue to grow in my relationships here

Zedekias, Franchellis, Me, and Luciana (Daniella's little sister)

Johnny and I

Eudocia (the pastor's wife) and I
p.s. she's the coolest!

Wendy and I on the way to the meetings in a
makeshift taxi bus thing


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 2 - July 6th [Peralta!]

Today was crazy! Because the Pastor is doing construction on his house, I need to stay in Wendy's house (a member of the church) for three days while they finish. They are adding two more bedrooms onto the house, which is almost doubling the space they have. Big changes for the family! I woke up and felt like I had slept the entire morning through.. when I came out of my room it was only 7:15! Wendy made me delicious coffee (I normally don't even drink coffee) and then I watched and learned as she and Sarai made lunch. The meal consisted of pasta, meat, and tostones, all of which I learned how to make! After they let me try some, and I then went over to the pastors house. The entire day I played with the pastors two youngest kids, Zedekias and Franchellis, which was so much fun because they are adorable! The water at Wendy's house went out, so I could not shower, but they got water for me to wash my hair in which was kind of hilarious. After dinner, I went with some of the younger members of the church to an open area on the street, where they set up all their music equipment with amps and microphones, and had a small worship service in a random part of Peralta to share the gospel with nonbelievers in the community. It was really cool to see how bold they are about sharing their faith with others and loving the people around them that they don't know. Afterwards, I played a board game with Daniella and Franchesca (the pastor's oldest daughter and best friend) while we ate dinner together. Zedekias brought me over to the basketball courts where a volleyball league was going on. We watched a game together, and the girls playing are actually extremely good.. it was fun to watch. So far, all the people are being extremely loving and welcoming, and very patient when speaking to me. I am struggling to communicate right now, but there are certain people I find it's much easier with. I do however, realize that I am already starting to think things a bit in Spanish; I even typed on here in Spanish accidentally a few times, and then had to erase and change to English! Hopefully I'll be much better at it by the end of the trip!

            Prayer Requests:
  * That I would not be shy and reserved with speaking to people here
  * That I would learn to be consistent throughout the day in my communication with God
My room in Wendy's house!

Day 1 - July 5th [Leaving Home]

I woke up this morning, packed all my bags in the car, and headed out for the Newark Airport. Thankfully, Bob was able to drive me up, because I think Sue started to cry after we said our goodbyes at the curb! (love ya Sue!) So far, smooth sailing as I make my way down to Santo Domingo. I am eagerly anticipating what God has to offer me through this trip, and the ways I will be challenged to grow!
                       Prayer Requests:
                                *Safe travels not only for me, but for Francisco as he drives to Santo Domingo to              
                                   pick me up and take me back to Peralta.
                                *That my nerves would be calmed and I would find comfort in GOD’S presence!
Franchellis and I in the car on the way to Peralta!


Zedekias and I in the car