I never felt this way in my site. It was only going there and listening and drowning in it all that I was swept off my feet, and not in the love kind of way. I tried justifying it all to no avail. I tried using it to motivate me to do more, only making my heart race and stomach flip at the reality of my personal experiences and failed attempts. Tried convincing myself that what I'm doing is enough, but Washington and it's need for numbers hovered over my head, menacingly.
But I carried on, enjoyed the time spent with my friends and meeting news ones who I hadn't ever seen before. I wanted to go to my old site Friday and head back Saturday but Linda never answered her phone. I didn't want to risk going out there, having her not be there, and not having enough time to get back to my home. So I left Friday morning with Matt and Kinnerly from my neck of the woods. I chatted with a decent younger man on the Caribe Tours bus, we made it to DaJabon on time to get the last bus to Mariano Cestero, and even through the hour and a half wait while they fixed the bus after it broke down in Loma, it all hit me again. As we weaved through the winding roads, rose and fell with the land, felt the air blowing through the windows fill my lungs with a purity I always miss when I leave, watched the boney cows grazing in the fields and between pine trees, and saw the familiar faces of my munchkins and old folks in my town, panic turned to peace. I made it back to my house and was welcomed with a warm hug from my Dominican mother, took a cold and refreshing bucket shower, drank fresh coffee picked, peeled, roasted, grinded, and boiled right from our backyard, organized and unpacked, and headed to see my sister, Casilda, and her son.
I saw them all and forgot all that ailed me only a day before. I gave Casilda and her family a children's bible (just four stories written for kids and with beautiful drawings) and she cried with gratitude, saying she would bring it every time she went to hospital with her son. And as dinner was given to me, her little boy, with cancer eating away at his liver and tiny 2 year old body, came over to me and began to eat. He had apparently not eaten a single thing that day and hardly anything the day before. I placed him gently on my lap and he nearly ate my entire bowl of boiled guineos. I was humbled, honored, and so incredibly at peace, kissing his cheeks with every bite and soaking in his absolutely beautiful smiles and giggles.
I may not do all the incredible initiatives and programs and trainings as my counterparts. Washington may look at my service after two years and wonder why they even sent me here in the first place. I may not leave much behind when I go. But this life, this family, and this love I have felt here has forever changed my life and my drive. I may not know what's next but Lord only knows I would have left the pages of this chapter of my life empty and torn if I never came. I only hope and pray that those here feel just as I do and remember me. Always knowing that I truly loved them more than I ever thought possible.