Wednesday, November 27, 2013

And I'm Okay.

Noviembre 28, 2013. So I have a parasite. Eatin me up. Ew. But, I've got medicine killin it and I'm feeling much better. And it wasn't Dengue!
You know. People here (PCVs) ask sometimes, "What were your selfish reasons for joining Peace Corps?"  And I've always struggled to answer. That's not to say I'm completely selfless and only want "world peace" and to "save the children" or some stuff like that. But I had a hard time figuring out what exactly that answer would be for me. Sure I've always wanted to learn Spanish for many reasons but I couldn't have known I was going to a Spanish-speaking country when I was applying... After these last two weeks of complete and utter chaos, however, I think I've got it. 
My life thus far these 24 years have been incredible. I have a family that loves me unconditionally. A mother that I've looked up to and wished I could be half as strong as her despite her challenges. A father that would do anything and give everything for his wife and children. An older brother who became distant but is still there and taught me so much my parents couldn't always teach. A younger sister figuring out life and love and growing stronger and more beautiful every day for it. A munchkin who brings joy to anyone who meets him. A grandmother who not only taught me but showed me what it means to have faith in The Lord. Another grandmother who showed me what a blessing children are and helped me find my passion in teaching. A best friend who knows me more than I know myself and has always been there through it all. Uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, non-blood related family. A home. Clothes. Food. I've had it all. And on this thanksgiving, as cliche as it is, I couldn't be more thankful for all of it. But that's just it. I've only ever known me, with them. And while that is a beautiful thing and something I would never want to change, I realized that I wanted to know me, outside of them. To discover what I'm capable of without having their safety net to always fall back on. I never want them out of my life, don't take any of this the wrong way. But when things got tough, could I make it on my own? Could I take care of myself? Could I discover a me without relying on their insights, perspectives, and infinite knowledge? This, I feel is my selfish reason for joining. Yes, they are always there when I'm a mess and crying. But through video chat or a telephone call. Yes, they give me comforting words when I'm sick but they're not here to bring me soup or a cold washcloth for my burning body.
And so, through these last few weeks I've found out I'm moving sites. And been a mess. I've gotten a parasite and honestly have felt the worst I've ever felt. I've wanted to do things and have had them to ask for their opinions, but they're not here to make decisions for me. So when I got sick, I had to take care of myself. I actually made the call to the docs (if you know me, that's a big deal). I got myself to the capital. I went alone to the lab to get tests done. I stayed, drank fluids, ate when I could, rested. Then when the challenging in-between came of going back to site or staying in the capital till the Thanksgiving party when I still felt pretty off, was worried about my dog, and knew my house was a mess, I had to figure things out on my own. I was being pushed to stay by friends. It would have been easier, after all. But something was pulling me to go. To go home, clean up my responsibilities and just go back to the capital the next day. And I did. I was shaking from head to toe when I made it with no strength whatsoever. But I cleaned my house, filled my water tank, did my dishes, took care of Diego, thanked Fredito 100X for doing that for me on short notice and not knowing how long I'd be gone, etc. and I woke up today, and left for the capital yet again. And despite it being non-stop, I felt good about it.
I made it to the random hotel on my own and we partied. We had a pool and jacuzzi on the roof:

We grouped together for a foto (or 4) of those that came in March together:

We sang (a lot):

Smiled some more:

And then we ate here: 


And these (these were just for our table alone):

It wasn't gram's apple pie, but it was pie :D

And made a few messes:

And on the way back, I missed that last carro from Villa. I didn't hit freak-out moment yet but tried to make a few phone calls to see if someone could come get me. No one was answering. Then a random lady and her friend showed up and said something and turns to me and goes, "Let's go!" And I go "where?" She replied, "59!"  She made a phone call and a little guagua showed up in seconds and we were on our way. I thanked her and thanked her cuz I didn't know what I was going to do in the dark in Villa without a way to get home.

 After all that I sat in my house with no luz and just sighed. This has been insane. I've been depressed. Unsure. Lonely. Sick. And downright without hope. But I made it. I took care of my house, myself, Diego, and my emotions (everyone's got their moments, of course). And while I would never ask to not have my family and friends to help me through things, I now know that I can, in fact, do things on my own (with words of affirmation always welcome along the way aaaand a few answered and unanswered prayers from the Big Guy-can't actually do everything all on my own). 

And? I'm still me.
And I'm okay.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Buenas noches.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Don't Read if You're Grossed out by Illnesses

So I've never have gotten a flu shot in my adult life, here it was required and now I have flu-like symptoms. Damn.

Nope. Dengue-like symptoms. Yup. I wrote that when I woke up Sunday before the reality of whatever I had hit. So I am now in the capital, in a hotel, waiting out what feels like death approaching. Let's backtrack through this adventure though shall we?

Friday I found out that Ann is moving me. We barely even talked about what happened this last month after her ultimatum with my community but through my tears (and believe it or not, hers too and the rain...), it was decided without many words. Just lots of tears. I wrote this afterwards below:

"Pint of ice cream just for myself as if I'm going through a bad breakup. 
Blurry faces.
Imagining already being here for the last time. Washing my clothes in my tub by hand. Bucket showering in this shower. Making coffee in this kitchen. Sleeping in this room. Having these kids draw and color in this Sala de Tarea. Who knows if I'll even have enough space in my next house to have one?"

I write like that if I need to get thoughts out before having the time to put them in a cohesive order so, forgive me. But I'm a mess. I know she's right, and I know I'm unhappy but lord, how am I going to tell them? Ann said I can blame it all on her but that doesn't seem to help... My kids. I know them. All by face and name now. I know their home lives. I know their personalities. They drive me crazy. But I love each one of them. My move out day is right before I go home and my stuff will be in storage. Then when I return from the states, as if starting completely over in every way, I will be taken to my new home. Where? I don't know yet. I just told Ann, just give me one person. One person I can team up with. And she said okay.
Saturday was an emotionally better day. Fredito came over and just shared story after story with me and I happily listened. Sunday was when it hit. I woke up after not sleeping a wink and shivering all night (it was, in fact, very cold here), with a 102 fever. And for the rest of the day I went back and forth from crying in my bed (because a really loud moto kept going by-like many many times-and apparently that's enough to bring me to tears), going to the bathroom (I'll spare the details), rocking in my dinning room chair, shivering with the chills or sweating, and in so much pain all over my body you'd swear I'd gotten run over by a guagua. Twice. I took more Tylenol which didn't do much and went to bed early cuz really, what else can you do?
Around 8, I hadn't been sleeping yet but was close. Suddenly I hear a group of kids screaming, singing, banging pots and pans, and marching around the neighborhood. They passed my house 100 times and finally came to do so on my front porch. Head pounding with a pain I've never experienced before, I opened my front window, clapped for them when they finished, and they left. They didn't stop doing this until around 9:30/10. Now at this point, I put my phone on silent and even made sure my iPad volume was down.  Any sound was like someone was stabbing me in the head with my machete. Then at 11pm, I get a knock on the door and someone yelling my name. It was Yobi. And he proceeded to tell me 100X that he had been calling me all night. Oops. He came to pick up his furniture. At 11 o'clock at night... And had to hammer down the frame of the front door to get everything to fit. And brought about 10 guys to help as I said there and watched all gross and groggy with whatever this is. I moved all my stuff off the tables and the gorgeous shelving unit. And he took the other bed. Which I thought was gonna stay... That could either be a misunderstanding or he lied or changed his mind. But finally around midnight after multiple trips, he finished, hammered my door frame back, and left. 
The rest of the night I was able to sleep in between bathroom trips which would also woke me with intense body aches. In the morning, my fever was still 102 so I called Maria, my lovely PC doctor (seriously, I love her). I was told to keep taking Tylenol and go to a med clinic to get a stool sample (sorry). This would be to check if I have any sort of viral or bacterial infection first that's causing these symptoms. They can't check for Dengue until after five days with a fever. I WILL DIE. But also, our huge Thanksgiving party is this week and I was so so so looking forward to that :( 
Turns out the clinic couldn't do it until Wednesday with the results not coming in until Monday. I called Maria and she told me to come to the capital. Now to find someone for Diego and somehow get food for him (just ran out). I messaged Lili to see if Fredito was arriba and could come down. Nothing. I wanted to call Linda, didn't have minutes. Natividad came to see me cuz she heard I was sick and proceeded to guilt trip me for not calling her. I finally went abajo to see if the Ferreteria had food and they did for the first time I had been in site. Which meant I didn't have to go to Villa first or make poor Lula and Greg bring some for me. I also bought minutes. Passing Luis, he said Fredito was arriba so I decided to make the trek up despite feeling the weakness and dizziness coming on stronger by this point. He wasn't there... I went home, called Linda and she said she could watch him. I wasn't too thrilled for various reasons but I was desperate at that point. I left the key and  leash in her house and finally headed out around 1:30. On my way down, Fredito passed me on his moto and said he could stay at my house for me. Gracias a Dios for perfect timing there.
Luckily, I didn't have to wait long for a guagua but in getting in the front, I spent the entire time getting stared at by the chofer as he would swerve a little and telling him over and over again I wouldn't give him my number. He continued to tell me he'd come visit me at my site. And when I paid him, and he found out why I was going to the capital, he didn't give me my change and said he would take me directly where I needed to go. I was not happy. Though I may be becoming slightly Dominican when I realized I was somewhat flattered he called me beautiful when I feel like absolute shit... I'm ashamed to admit that... But was still moreso stressed and angry and annoyed by him. So I'm still me.
When we arrived to the street I needed to get dropped off at though, he had more people to take so I told him to leave me because I needed to get there now. He gave me my change and let me go. After walked a few blocks, I finally made it. Maria pulled me in, did a routine check-up, asked me why my pulse was racing (dude, I had to walk two blocks to get there), and made reservations for a hotel room with orders to go to the lab at some point tonight to get blood drawn and a stool sample (sorry again). She also held my hand and gave me an incredibly loving pep talk when I told her I'm moving sites. And Boriana (the other amazing doctor) gave me a huge hug and proceeded to beat me in the back saying, "They say that sometimes you have to hit a nail with another nail to get it loose." I don't know if that is true cuz it hurt like hell but god I love her. So I headed out, and to save me from walking, Maria called a driver to take me there :)
At the hotel, I rested a bit, and finally made it out to buy some juice, water, and crackers (since I hadn't eaten anything since yesterday morning-which was a piece of bread). I was nervous cuz I knew I had to go to the lab soon and it had been a couple hours since I needed to race to the bathroom... Buuuut as soon as I drank that cup of coffee that the wonderful lady of the hotel offered me and ate the crackers, I went. So at 7pm, I headed out, buying another package of crackers por si acaso. I ate half the package on the way. When I arrived, I didn't have to wait long, got blood drawn and was given two cups to do #1 and #2. Aaaand I could barely go. I think I sat in that bathroom for at least twenty minutes and even desperately tried to eat more crackers while on the dam toilet to help things along (TMI? I warned you with the post title)... Didn't help. I emerged from the bathroom and apologized telling her I couldn't do anymore. She laughed, looked at what I had  and said it was plenty. Oh thank goodness. I left and as soon as I arrived back at the hotel, had to go. And it was bad. But thankfully my legs don't have to endure another walk until tomorrow. Maria is gonna call me with the results in the morning and let me know if I need to go to her again or just rest more... 
Now I just need to work up the courage to shower. This hotel doesn't have hot water and the cold bucket shower I took at home before leaving? Not pleasant with a fever...

Keeping you posted on all things lovely, Buenas noches.

Also my mom said this the other day:
"With all this technology, there should be a way to send hugs through the Internet. Ones you can actually feel."
And I couldn't want that more.

Spanish, Puppy Chow, and Christmas

Noviembre 20, 2013. "BESAME, BESAME, bljsodjscnkk xnosdjjd wordsidontknow etc." Yes, I am currently singing an awesome belt-out-in-your-car-windows-rolled-down-and-with-your-mother-including-whole-body-movements song :) 
And despite the fact that the song is blaring from the speakers in the room next to me, currently I'm alright with it. For now...
It is now Wednesday, day 3 of ISLT or "In-Service Language Training." There are 8 of us and we are back in the capital living which our host families from way back in March in Pantoja. Yes, it does feel like forever ago when we first arrived and started training here and yes, I hate Pantoja just as much as I did before. It's a barrio of the capital and it's busy, loud, and there are lots of men with shameless stares and many, many clever piropos. The fun part about that, however, is that I can actually understand them now. So I get to just laugh as they're thrown out instead of uneasily walking faster without trying to be noticeably uncomfortable. And speaking of understanding, I basically understand everything that my host mom says (as long as she's talking to me and I'm paying attention)! It's pretty exciting and hasn't change the awkwardness I feel with her so I don't think it was me! Not being so concerned about the impression I make here, I now stay with my friends as long as I can and use my super small amount of homework as an excuse to stay in my room for the whole night. And they play dominoes with this new habit if blaring music for at least three hours each night. So we're good I think. All I can say is I'm so glad that wasn't the case when I was first here. I may have ETed and gone deaf.
To be honest with how I'm feeling, I wrote another blog entry that I chose to not publish and keep in my private stash of journalings. It worded itself in a much more depressing manner than I was ready for or even aware of. Here's the beginning though. Just as a description of what it was like walking onto the training grounds for the first time in over 6 months:

"And there I was. Standing on the narrow, stone walkway where the edges still cracked and crumbled to the grass below. Connecting the aulas with zinc roofs and dry erase boards that still stood scattered on the property. The man in the blue jump suit raked the fallen leaves but the trees seemingly remained full. Your footsteps yet again went from a gentle tap on the walkway to the loud cracks as the stone driveway shifted with your every move...
But there was a stillness in the air unfamiliar to me now. Once a group of 33 here, now only 8 returned. We were children then. Anxiously learning with every breath. Hope and exciting uncertainty dancing in our eyes just as the lights on the Christmas trees do on every Eve.  To most questions, answers. To many others, only answered in time. We were sea sponges, soaking in all the water but ensuring that we only held in the nutrients we needed. The world was kind; every teacher helpful and every staff member shamefully optimistic, trying to preserve our innocence. Our blissful ignorance."

That's where it gets sad so I'll attempt at paraphrasing in a not-so-sad way. It was just a strange feeling. To be hit so incredibly hard with what I used to feel here and how I feel now. Then, I had no clue where I was going to be. What my project would entail. Who my neighbors would be. What my house would be like. Etc, etc, etc. Now I know. I live in a home made out of wood. I have neighbors, many are Haitian who speak Creole and I don't understand a word of it (okay, maybe a word here and there). I have two schools with kids who's faces and names I know.  So much to be grateful for. And yet, I'm unhappy. I struggle every day to get up and see the purpose in my being here. I know significantly more Spanish and it shows. But while it feels like I've been away from Pantoja for years, it's only been 6 months. And my emotions, confidence, excitement, and vision of what I can accomplish have dwindled like I could have never imagined.
But to turn this still depressing post around a bit, what has not changed is my passion. The talk of changing sites has been brought up on too many occasions. And while I fought it hard and still am trying to, it's a possibility now. Though even writing this, a huge part of me is screaming NO... But with either choice I make it's because I still feel a fiery passion in my chest when I think about the reality that I'm in the Peace Corps. So if I stay in my community, it's because I can't imagine knowing how much of a disaster it is and leaving for somewhere else. I have a family, friends, kids, and so much work that needs to be done there. I'm not as comfortable as I thought I would feel but I know that if they'll allow me, I could do so much good there.. But if I move, it's because with the problems that exist in my site, I might not be able to accomplish what I could accomplish somewhere else. And they do have an NGO with funds and extra help, something that other places don't have at all. It may just be because I have way too much passion for what's possible in KM59... But Lordy this isn't easy. The tears are welling now even thinking about trying to make a damn decision.
In other news I went to La Sirena today which is like a big Walmart here. And I used to think they had everything, right? So I go in, planning on buying everything I need to make Puppy Chow cuz someone mentioned it at training, I haven't had it in forever, I LOVE it, and I really wanted to share it with my kiddos back at my site. After scanning the cereal aisle (where they had an entire aisle of different cereals just like back home!), come to find out, they don't have Chex!! Or anything like it! Name any other cereal and they had it! But Chex NO. What the hell?? I was so sad. Attempt 2 will be at a mini supermarket by the PC Office Friday before heading back to my site.
I also may or may not have bought a mini Christmas tree, wreath, more lights, and ornaments for when they take all my furniture away. I will create my little Christmas corner with all these things to keep me from crying in my empty house :D I'm so excited.

So here's to two more days of Spanish. To fighting depression and winning. To loving my family. To Puppy Chow (for luck in the supermarket). To getting back to my site with a fresh perspective (hopefully that will be the case after talking to Ann this Friday). And to Christmas.

Buenas noches.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

New PC Project: Looking for Gold

Noviembre 9, 2013. Well my in-site English class was okay. I didn't have great plans because I was unsure of who was going to show up and how to progress. If there were new people, I needed to move forward. If there were old people, I needed to review. There were both. But like I said, it went alright.
What bugged me was waking up and waiting around for the woman to come and plan for our preschool. She didn't come... Then I went to the school to get the list of "Outstanding Students" for October so I could take pictures and get them printed for the newsletter. I had given Natividad a list of the grades so she could get the list for me last Monday. She still didn't finish it. This teacher was missing. This teacher said there wasn't a single good student last month (not one...). Then this one had to leave. This one had training... Etc. and she mentioned that she needed a substitute for next week. Knowing she wanted me to offer, I left in silence...
Today I arose slowly, cleaned my house, and almost changed my mind about going arriba to visit my host mom and her family. I'm so glad I didn't. We hung out, watched TV, ate, shucked guandules (which I decided to do instead of leave at one point; another great decision), talked, and then went to the river to look for gold. Yup! It's legit. And so many people have been doing it in my site lately. So we walked up towards the mountains and Fredito showed me all of the parts of the river they had already sifted through. It was crazy, and is so much work. They start on one side of the river, moving all the rock to the other side and digging until they can't dig anymore; and then with their large wooden shallow bowls, they swirl them in a very specific way to allow the gold to sink to the bottom because it weighs more than the pebbles and sand. Seriously fascinating. And I was able to see a little piece of gold a neighbor of mine had found. One downfall I'll mention since it is now a lesson learned and avoidable, was a tree. Yup. I was climbing down from the path to get the the river. One part was steep so I leaned forward to grab a tree, palm wide open, fingers stretched. And as soon as I grabbed it, I hear, "Cuidao!!"  And then the pain hit. The damn tree had thick spikes all over it. So while watching, I was picking out wooden spikes from my hand and sucking the blood. Hahaha
I begrudgingly returned home to change and look for the woman that wanted to help me with the preschool. She said her son had the fever and her daughter was sick. And then...proceeded to tell me that she can't help me after all. Her husband works during the days and they have no one to watch the kids. I left and went to see Manuela who wanted to see me. She said that even though Elva told me she didn't want me crossing the thruway three times a week, that I need to do it anyways (but pretend that we never had this conversation). She explained that she knows how much I want to help and she knows how badly these kids need it. 
So after revamping my entire project and looking to finally get started, I'm back to square one. I had two days in the afternoon in El Batey and two here in Rancho de Yaguas. And my preschool in the mornings three days a week (none of which I've started yet but that was the plan that looked promising). And I was no longer in the school. But now it looks like nothing will ever get done in the school if I'm not there. My preschool just abruptly halted (after I made my caterpillar numbers and paint palate with labelled colors and calendar with changeable dates). Manuela wants me in El Batey three times a week. So what do I do here, on my side? Good question.

I think I've decided to devote my time to looking for gold with everyone else here. It seems to be the thing to do. And I get to hang out in a river all day and not have to sweat under my zinc roof. And chill with the people from my community and the kids still. And hopefully actually find some, keep some, and sell some for extra pesos. And then when I go talk to Ann or someone from Peace Corps, anytime they ask me something about my site and my projects, I'll just go, "Look! Gold!" And they'll be so impressed and in awe that I won't have to answer. Yea. That sounds good.

And with newfound purpose, I'm going to cook dinner by candlelight (the luz schedule has changed and we no longer have electricity at night...). Romantic, right?  And since I don't have a TV to watch a movie or soap opera, I have what they called a "Christian Circle" right outside my house. They just borrowed my four plastic chairs and there are people sitting, pacing, everyone is chanting something different about God and sometimes bust into a song together. But mostly it just sounds like chaos. Way better than a TV.
Cue megaphone. I took sound clips because I can't describe what's going on out there in a way it would do it justice. But this damn blogger will only let me post pictures lol. Ah well.
Buenas noches?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Want Something to Get Done? Have a Fever.

Noviembre 7, 2013

And sometimes, you just have to lay in bed with a fever despite feeling guilty for things to happen.

How or why, you ask? Well. Two days in a row now I've had what felt like a fever (the damn thermometer PC gave us is in Celcius and I haven't had luz to convert it to Farenheit to know). Yesterday I went to the school to talk with Natividad and then to Villa cuz Diego needed food and I needed to go online and print something for the Courts4Kids project. When I got back I realized I couldn't really see straight (good thing I'm not allowed to drive in this country) so I laid down...for what turned into the rest of the day (obviously getting interrupted many times by my kiddos screaming my name). The last time I finally decided to ignore little Jonny. Until, that is, he yells, "Someone is here to see you!" Grungy and a mess, I got up and answered the door to a lady with her adorable baby boy. She is the woman that spoke with Mavel about wanting to help me voluntarily with my informal preschool. She is studying early childhood education and is putting off the next step because she would like to get some experience first. SHE came and found ME. I can't tell you how crazy that is! I told her about Esperanza missing two meetings and how I wanted to get started soon. That I would love to just partner up with her and get going. That though it's in my house with my things, I want this project to be hers. The kids will pay $100RD monthly and it'll all go to her. I'm here to help plan, manage the kids, and provide the space, but she will be the main teacher. I showed her some materials, asked when she could come to plan, and we agreed on Friday morning! Looks like I'll finally be starting next week!!
The luz never came back so I went to bed early. Which... Made Diego get up at 5:30am cuz he wanted to go outside. I let him out and just sat in my chair still half asleep waiting for him to come back. Then I went back to sleep and unwillingly arose around 9. Going back and forth between laying down, walking Diego, trying to eat, and doing laundry, I received a phone call from Zach for Courts4Kids. Apparently they might have another slot open and he wants me to have first dibs (!!!). I wasn't really aware that I wasn't in the running anymore but hell, I'll take it! I've just gotta get our estimate down and soon in order for things to look up. It's not a guarantee, but it's hope.
So it turns out laying in bed with a fever and doing nothing is okay sometimes. And things can take steps forward without me being on top of my game all the time (which it's been quite a while since I've been on top of my game...) ;)
I skipped my afternoon pull-outs in El Batey in the hopes that I'd feel better for my English class in Juananito. I really didn't want to miss that (haha that's still crazy to me). And it was amazing yet again! I had 16 people come and they were a blast :D I did a lot of blushing as they said over and over again how blessed they are to have me... Now to try and get motivated for my in-site English class tomorrow... ;)
Buenas noches

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'll Believe And Pretend

Noviembre 5, 2013. 
Woa, wait.  A good English class in my site?? Yup! 5 people, young adults. And it was raining!! And they still came! All different (again) but I felt like it went well!
Sarah (another volunteer) came to visit also :) after class we were hanging out watching Matilda (oh yea) and the main guy from my English classes in Juananito called the DAY AFTER the class. He told me he already called a guy from a university and it was confirmed that they would make certificates and would just need my signature to make them official (boy do I feel fancy). Wow! So damn fast!
Then: MAYELIN WAS HERE!! She came to my house with Yasmin and as Yasmin stood in my door way, I saw little feet behind her. Once I saw her face, I screamed and ran and spin-hugged her up in the air. It was so good to see her! On our way up to visit my Doña and her family for lunch, I stopped and saw her mother too. They are doing well way far away which I'm glad for. The pain here was just too much.
The visit arriba was wonderful. We hung out, talked, and ate "rat poop" which is what they called cocoa pebbles hahaha. Sang. Played with a spinning toy that lights up. Etc. After we ate we went to the...
River! I bought us all soda and galleticas to eat there :) We hadn't been there in a while so it was awesome. I got a little chilly towards the end and soaked it in while happily shivering.
Then Saturday night, I introduced Sarah to the Hunger Games. Muahahaha. And I managed not to cry at the two worst parts! We headed to bed early so we could leave early for...
Monte Plata!! To visit our Doñas (!!) just for the day. But it was pouring when we woke at 5am... And with the about three hour trip one way, it wasn't worth leaving late. So we're going to try again when Sarah is visiting Cory later this month. *crosses fingers*
So Sunday I arose around 8 and while Sarah continued to sleep I listened to music and played Candy Crush haha. And discovered something I don't quite understand. I was nearly in tears every time a Christmas song came on when my music was on shuffle. Why?? I'll be home for Christmas! Oh who knows, I'm a sappy mess all the time. I should be used to that.
Then Tuesday rolls around and I headed to the Duarte to see Sarah off. Upon returning, I had to fetch two 5-gallon buckets of water from the river to make a third time doing so. I haven't had to do this before, and I will admit, I didn't like it much. It was heavy. And I was an embarrassment to all Dominicans that can carry it on their head with a towel and not spill a drop. They're so good at life. I spilled quite a bit and had it on my shoulder... Oh well. A good volunteer friend reminded me that it's a pretty awesome work out :D about 40lbs each trip! I just might start slumping to the right a bit if I have to keep this up... But! They're working on fixing the problem. They were digging and putting in a pipe and for about 5 minutes, the water was trickling in my faucet! But went away again quite quickly... 
I then went to school to get my botelón of drinking water. And ten minutes later, left crying. It was just a reminder of why I left in the first place. But the guilt for seeing all that needs to be done for these kids was overwhelming. And seeing my director give up the way she did, just...sad.  I'm going to go back tomorrow morning to talk to her though. Maybe I can just go in one day a week or something.
I then FaceTimed my dad who put everything into perspective and made me feel better like he always does. And my older brother sent me a message that made me speechless and remember to step back, be patient, and know that in time, things will come around.
After some ramen noodles, I headed to El Batey to work with my munchkins. We played bingo using 1 peso coins and they won gum that I bought for them. Not many showed up though so when I finished early, I headed out to visit the home of a boy who misses a lot of school. I had already visited his mother but I thought I'd try again. I stressed the importance of his education and how she needs to send him to school everyday. That I'm here to help him in any way I can, but I can't do anything if he's not there. I think she understood but following through will be another thing.
An older woman who lives in my neighborhood was at the house as well. She lives in a one-room wooden home with no electricity or running water. I know she has some problems mentally but we've had some good conversations before. But when I saw her, she was a mess. Upset about the community, the terrible people and the problems she has with her family. She's looking to move soon. But she was telling a story to the mother of my student and it took me a second to realize it was about me. She had been having a horrible day, no money, no food, and wasn't feeling well. I was walking by with my handful of milk cartons I had gotten from the school (whenever there's extras from breakfast and I visit, Natividad gives me some). I handed her two and she said she "saw the heavens open up" and The Lord was telling her it would all be alright. She was able to use the milk to make supper just a little bit better and she was happy the rest of the day.  I know she isn't all there, and will continue to ask me for money or milk but just a simple thing like a milk I had gotten for free made all the difference in her day. And I didn't even realize it at the time.
So that's my lesson of the day. Things are slow moving and I'm unsure if what I'm doing is enough. But Lordy if a carton of milk can do that for her? I can keep moving forward believing that though I may not always see the fruits if my labor, they're there. And even if they're not, I'm gonna pretend they are until my service is up ;)
Buenas noches.