Tuesday, April 28, 2015

God and a Scruffy Orange Soccer Ball

Jesse came up to me at school today and said, "Mom, I need to talk to you.  There's a problem.  I put my ball with our class's stuff when I went to chapel, and when I came back it was gone."  And he started crying.

This is not just any ball.  He brings it to school every day and about 20 kids play with it every morning and every recess.  He brings it with him when we go to pick up his brother from practice so he can kick it against the wall.  He tries to kick it around the house until we tell him to take it outside.  It's almost like his pet.

Jesse and Micah have been through any number of soccer balls here.  We have spiky plants here in the DR that puncture balls the day we buy them.  It just takes one misdirected kick.

But this particular ball kept its shape and bounciness after being punctured.  And because it is so beat up, it is the perfect ball to bring to school.  We thought it wouldn't be a big deal if something happened to it since it is virtually worthless.  But I underestimated the sentimental value of the ball and the fact that this ugly little beat-up ball is the only one we've had that just won't die as a result of thorns.  It also solved the sad scenario Jesse was facing each day on the playground.

Earlier in the year, my determined first-grade son approached the soccer games of the older elementary students (big 3rd and 4th graders, mostly) each recess wanting to play.  And although his older brother didn't mind him playing, and although, frankly, he's really good at soccer such that Micah's coach wants him to play on the older team, a few of the older kids would shout at him or taunt him until he stopped trying to join the game.  When he or Micah would tell them to let him play, they'd say, "It's my ball."

Not knowing how to resolve the situation and not wanting to get too involved if I didn't have to, after a few weeks of hearing these stories I told Jesse to bring his old orange ball to school and start his own game with that.  Surprisingly, the older kids loved Jesse's smaller ball and started using his instead of theirs.  And then when they tried to tell Jesse he couldn't play, he told them it was his ball.  Problem solved.  The ball that has given Jesse great recesses for the rest of the year.

So I decided to take the ball search seriously.  I talked to a teacher who saw high school boys playing with it.

I asked some guys who said, Oh, yeah!  I was playing with it.  But no one had it.

They asked, Is it flat?  Is it little and orange?

Yes!  Yes!  Flat and orange, that's our ball!  I realize it looks like trash but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.

Finally some guys narrowed it down to one classroom, but I didn't see it in there.  Owen went so far as to call a teacher with kids on a bus on their way to a soccer game.  And those kids told Owen it was in the recycling box on top of the cabinet in the Sociales room.  And it WAS!

And I was so happy!  I may have been almost as happy as Jesse was.

And I thought, this is what it is to be a parent.  To get really excited about a ball that really needs to be thrown out it's so ugly.  And then I thought, this must be how God feels about me.  The things I get so worried about and wrapped up in and that I think are so important . . .  How many times has God answered a prayer that someone else might think was so ridiculous that I should never have even asked in the first place?

 But I think He might feel like I did when I handed the ball to my son and watched him light up.

Dreaming in Spanish

I've heard that you know you're bilingual when you start dreaming in your second language.  I'm not sure if that's true, but I have had dreams since I've moved here where I've spoken in Spanish with less then more accuracy.

I remember being suspicious when I first moved here that I wasn't exactly speaking real Spanish in the dreams.  Just Spanish-like talk.

But the other night I discussed flooring and how I wanted something arranged in a random pattern with a builder of some kind in my dream.  And I don't know that I know all of the words needed to intelligently have that full conversation, but I woke up in the middle of the night and knew I'd been discussing it in Spanish with him.

And I was very happy.  :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Street Dog is Gone

I haven't seen Grenade in 3 or 4 weeks, and while she's disappeared for a week or two at a time, she's never been gone this long.  I was getting suspicious that something happened.  Tonight I heard a dog barking outside and went out to investigate, hoping it was her.  I ended up talking with a Haitian man who gardens an empty lot near me and who was training his dog.  I spoke with him about my missing dog and peeked in my neighbor's yard to see if the bark I was hearing was Grenade.  The neighbor came out, too, and I was asking the two of them if they'd seen Grenade.

At first I didn't understand them because I didn't know the word for poisoned, but since it contains some form of the word "venom" I figured it out.  Apparently she was poisoned by someone nearby.  And I'm sad.

I totally understand why someone would want to.  She barked super ugly at Haitians walking through my neighborhood, she chased motorcycles (and cars, from time to time), and she barked and followed the ice cream man.  She was lovely to our family, but not so lovely to others.  And I had recently seen someone throw a rock at her because she was barking at him.  I guess someone got fed up.

Some would argue that this is why we should have officially made her ours and brought her inside our gate, and they'd have a point.  But what I loved about Grenade was that she was free and she chose to be our friend.  We could go away for a week and she'd be fine.  And then we could go for a jog when I got back.  She wasn't pooping all over our patio (which has no grass), she wasn't keeping me up at night barking (usually--she still chose to guard in front of our house a great deal and would sometimes keep me up), and we loved her visits and giving her our leftover chicken bones.

I know, you're not supposed to do that, but a street dog isn't picky.  She loved them.  And our slightly outdated lunch meat, too.

But I'm really sad knowing that she is dead.  She was my doggy friend, and I don't really like most dogs.  She was my one exception.  And I'll miss her.

Monday, April 13, 2015

No Water Day

A very D.R. sort of scenario developed for us today.  We realized the water was gone in our house, which has never happened before.  And when the guys from the school went over to look into it, we realized that a combination of forces was keeping us from our water.  Interestingly, here it is common for home owners to put in illegal water lines in addition to the legal paying line.  So that much of one's water, then, is "free" (stolen?).  So we knew previous owners had put in a second line at our house.  What I found out today was that that was the line they had running to the cistern.  The main water source for the house.  And at some point, a while ago perhaps, the water company cut off our illegal line.  Which I say, Great!  Let's be legal!

But we knew neither that they did anything or that the main water supply to our house was affected.  So when the wonderful fix-all-problem guys from our school re-routed the problem, it fixed for the long-term but not for today.  Because today I learned what our cistern is protecting us from.  The street water is turned off I guess a day or a few days a week, just as they do with the electricity.  And what happens if you don't have a functioning cistern is that you don't have water until they turn it back on.  Which I was told may happen tomorrow?

So I thought: I have three small kids, one smelly from soccer practice.  Plus, I'm hot and need a shower.  It's like 90 here every day.  Also the toilets all are waterless and I don't know what to do about dishes.

I decided to scavenge around the school for a solution.  Thankfully, there are showers at the school, which I decided to use after soccer practice pick-up, and I got the athletic director to lend me a big water cooler.  I lugged it home, filled all my toilet tanks, packed shower kits, and then we had a Davis family shower in the locker room after soccer ended.  Then I brought the refilled water cooler home so we could wash hands and dishes.

I feel so resourceful.  Also I feel like I live in a third world country.  Some days I don't, but today I do.  :)