Friday, December 21, 2012

. . . And Back Again

(Yes, that's a Hobbit reference, can't wait to see it when we get to the States)

We're almost packed!  Abigail has checked her plane bag about 20 times to make sure the Hello Kitty pez dispenser and lollipop are still there.

We're heading back to the U.S. for Christmas.  It's crazy, it's going to be crazy.  Drinking tap water, flushing toilet paper, shopping at Trader Joe's and Walmart, loading and unloading the dishwasher, being cold . . .  I'm really excited!  Mostly to see everyone.  The phone and internet make people seem much closer, but it's still not the same as physically being with people.  It's been a long time, almost 6 months, since we've seen almost everyone we've known our whole lives.

I'm excited to talk with those I'm close to about my life here.  In some ways, if this makes sense, going back to "report back" will make my life here feel more real.  Analyzing my life in the D.R. from a distance will I think click my new life into focus.

It's a great time to go back.  God is so good.  I can't tell you how much better I'm feeling this month than last (and all the months before).  As a super honest communicator much of the time, I've struggled with my answer when people have asked, "Do you like it there?"--admittedly a pretty innocent and seemingly non-threatening question.  But in survival mode, I found that question a difficult one to answer.

Life here has been physically, emotionally, and mentally harder.  New language (still wildly frustrating), new culture, new jobs added to the routine (related to a less sterile environment), new worries (Dengue fever, for one), new noises, new bugs in food . . .  And none of that has changed, but I'm figuring out how to navigate my life without expending quite so much of my energy and internal resources.  You don't realize how much of your day you do in automatic pilot until you have to think about each interaction and task for a while.  It's exhausting.

I feel like I'm inching my way over a big initial hump.  Suddenly I'm finding it possible to do some "extras."  I got some editing done, I started a quilt I had meant to make for Abigail, I made a few batches of ice cream, and I did a few other projects I had put off for a "someday" that seemed quite remote.  I didn't see it coming, but somehow I seem to have gotten adjusted enough that I'm able to do a little more than just the daily tasks of living before collapsing on the sofa.

But I started to realize in the last few months that my biggest issue at this point is relational.  I mentioned in a previous blog how I don't have close friends here yet, and my friends from the States can't relate to my life here (though they are still an important part of my life).  But what is so great is that in the last few weeks we've had more of a chance to hang out with friends from our church here, and we are genuinely starting to be real friends with them.  And real friends, to laugh with about the ridiculous things we do here because we still don't know what we're doing, are what I have missed so much.

Feeling like I'm leaving and will return to people who get us and care about us gives me a very different perspective on my life here.  I honestly feel now like I can say, "It's great!  It's hard and we're still adjusting, but we love it!"  :)

Friday, December 14, 2012


It's right around 70 degrees this morning, and boy, it's really chilly.  We all have on layers.  :)  It was definitely in the 60s last night.  We've really adjusted to the temperatures here.  I should add that I'm wearing capris, and say that it's supposed to go up to 80 this afternoon.  Christmas in the U.S. should be a little bracing for us.  I'm really excited to feel wintry, Christmas just isn't the same when it's hot and sunny.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Different Perspectives

We just had some, "Hmm, we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto" moments.  I thought I'd share a few:

Doctor Visit

Owen had to go to the doctor the other day.  His name is difficult for people here.  None of his names seem like first names to anyone particularly.  So the receptionist at the doctor's office had a lot of trouble with his name, even though he showed her on his driver's license.  He told her many times which name was his first, middle and last in Spanish--as did the nurse from his school who went with him as his translator--but she did not seem confident.

When he got back to the exam room, the doctor had trouble pulling his name up.  Owen looked at the computer as the doctor was looking under his last name and saw "Organ Donor" as first and middles.  He said he was pretty sure that was him.

Dinner Party

We were invited over for dinner today after church.  Ice cream here is pretty much awful, so I offered to bring some I had made--I am loving the chocolate ice cream with coconut milk I found on an Oprah website--which I think is infinitely better (mostly because it doesn't contain all sorts of artificial colors and flavors and tastes "real").  So I thought I'd bring it to church with me and stick it in the freezer in the church kitchen.  But when I got there this morning, the refrigerator was gone.  It turned out someone in the church needed to borrow it because they didn't have one.  So then the pastor's wife asked a neighbor who attends our church to keep my ice cream in her freezer during the service.  It felt distinctly un-American, the whole thing.

Then on the way to the dinner party the host of the party asked for a ride to his house.  We checked if he needed us to drive his kids (and wife?) too, mentally trying to figure out how to cram the our two oldest and one car seat into the back (where the boys could sit on pull-down jump seats) and counting seat belts.  He said, never mind, his brother had room (maybe he heard that infinitesimal pause as our American minds thought, "How could he think we have room?").  We followed his brother's car to his house (they made one stop to let out someone who had needed a ride--Owen thinks they had a kid with them, but I cannot corraborate that) and when we got there, five adults and five children poured out of the car.  I told him maybe the expression "has room," which in America involves the number of seat belts in the car, means something very different here.  The meal was delicious!

(Hilariously, when it was time for all fifteen of us to eat, he told us to all sit at the moderate-sized round table with seven chairs.  I asked if he meant just the seven kids, or all of us, and he said we'd all fit.  I told him I think maybe he just has trouble with the concept of "fitting.")  These are some of our best friends we have made here, I'm sure there will be many future chances for us to see from different perspectives.

On a personal note

I'm feeling an unusual sensation a lot lately of needing to call someone but not being able to think who it is.  I think it comes from feeling the need to talk with someone who 1) knows me very well, and 2) understands the context of the story I want to tell from my day.  And while I have wonderful friends in America who know me very well, and new friends here who understand the context of my story, I have no friends who both know me very well and understand the context of my story.  It is a tribute to my wonderful friends in the states who walked so closely with me through my daily experiences how very much I miss them now in my new daily experiences.

I know I will always have those friends, and I know in time I will have close friends here who understand my daily life well, but it's a very wistful, indescribable feeling to not have that right now.

Two more weeks till we visit the states!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Girl Effect . . . in Santiago, R.D.

I went to a fundraiser tonight for a girl's school in the barrio of La Vega (about 30 minutes from where I live) called Nueva Esperanza.  It's an incredible school and has an incredible mission serving girls and families in an extremely poor neighborhood.  They showed a video tonight highlighting the incredible need of pre-teen and teenage girls worldwide.  It was thoughtful and moving and just a few minutes long.  I must share it, click on the link below to watch it:

The Girl Effect Video

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Getting ready for Christmas!

The Davis annual gingerbread house building--these collapsed the next day due to humidity.

The Davis Family Christmas "Tree"

We don't have enough room on the tree for all the ornaments, so we put some on our doorknobs

One more picture!  I took this picture in October, someone's festive porch in the mountains.