Friday, 25 March 2011

Another Stamp on the Passport of Reality (quite possibly the lamest blog title ever - You're Welcome!)

A couple of weeks ago I planned and executed a solo expedition to the wild and unpredictable land next door.
I took a bus to the Dominican Republic.
It was an adventure and I definitely added a lot more bullet points to my list of "Rookie Mistakes" (to be embarassingly published at a later date, I suspect), but it was a good time and a good thing for me to do.
I won't go into all the ups and downs of the trip, but I will say that I found the Dominican people to be exceedingly patient, kind and generous. I used the phones of 3 strangers in the first day of my trip and none of them wanted to be reimbursed for used minutes. I don't speak Spanish and almost everyone I met had no English, yet I enjoyed multiple interactions with people I met.
I was there to visit 2 friends (one planned visit didn't work out), but also to visit the countryside of the Island of Hispaniola. I saw a lot of the country, many towns and some of Santo Domingo from my bus. I landed in a town called Higuey for a couple of nights and saw a few things like:La Basilica de Higuey Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia (a church and shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary), and met Haitian children begging for pesos in the streets. I had fresh fruit and juice and burritos and even a Domino's calzone. It was just good to get away for a bit. To have time alone to reflect, to pause and listen to what's been running around in my head these last many weeks, to sort out those racing thoughts, and then to return to MOH having had an experience separate from what is happening here - and there is always a lot happening here.
This week I've been house-sitting for a family who live at MOH full-time. The Van Der Mark's (there should be a link to their blog in the column to the right) went on their yearly vacation to the Dominican Republic. It's been kind of surreal to stay in their house because it's actually like a house. It has a kitchen and living room with appliances and couches and televisions. It has bedrooms without bunk beds and washrooms with hot water and without a million mosquitoes or a family of mice, and a washing machine(!), and power all the time. It's quite luxurious actually. I'm anticipating it will be difficult to move back down to my mosquito-netted bunk in the room without floor to ceiling walls, where there is zero silence (seriously, if the noise ever stops there, between the 61 kids and teams living in Hope Village and the dogs that howl at night and roosters that crow any hour of the day or night and the giant generator that powers this place roaring in a nearby building... well, I'd worry that I'd missed the Rapture or something!). It has been like a mini-vacation while staying on campus. A break from reality.
I'm not sure if you've had this experience before, a break from reality is often a good thing spiced with a little not-so-good. I'm going to have to fight again for quiet and peace, but there have been a bunch of days together where it's been easy to access those things - so maybe it will be easier...
I think life should be sprinkled with little escapes from our regular life, time-outs from our realities, alternate endings of our usual days. I hope we don't have to fight too hard for them because they are refreshing and have such potential to help us re-set for getting back to all that's waiting to be done - and there is much to do!
Working to do it well and praying you are too, KL

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Just wanted to introduce you to the lovely ladies I share a room and loo with:
Abby and a puppy -- "It's so FLUFFY!"

Abby is from Jacksonville, Florida and teaches English to the Hope Village Kids and Mommies. She also works with the ladies at *3**Cords (see new link at right), and is developing a Young Life program here at MOH.

Clockwise from top left: Star, KL, Megan, Blaire

Star is from Witchita, Kansas and is part of the team who takes care of and leads the groups of North Americans who come to work here for a week or two at a time.
Blaire is from North Carolina and also helps with the groups.
Megan is from Toronto and is a Nurse who is finishing up her Master's in Community Health. She's been writing the curriculum for the MOH Community Health program while she's been here. Sadly she leaves on the 22nd of March.

Those are the girls I live with!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


It's amazing what you can find when you venture out of this dry and dusty area here in Titanyen.
Saturday morning I went to church with the Hope Village Kids and Rachel and Abby. To be quite honest, it wasn't the best service. There was a kind of unnatural feeling of chaos in the place. Usually the worship, while often seeming chaotic, is actually beautifully covered in a sense of joy and the praises are sweet and overflowing with the Holy Spirit - living water in action: singing, dancing, clapping, shouts of praise. But last Saturday felt somehow dry.
Maybe it was just me. Maybe I was in a stuck or dry place.
Anyhow, after church we walked up for lunch and then a group of North Americans on a team were heading into the mountains to a place called Saut Deau. There is a waterfall there and teams are often taken up to enjoy the place.
When I was invited to join I turned the offer down - I was feeling tired and maybe stuck in that dry place mentally - but one of my roommates persisted (Megan is a gift to me!) and I decided to go with them.
It was about an hour's ride in the back of a canter truck (picture a cube truck or small U-haul with a screen door on the back... for air flow) up into the mountains. UP in to the mountains.
Did I mention how dry and dusty it is here?
After about 15 minutes I tied a towel around my face to shield me from the dust. I was sitting at the very back of the truck so that I could keep an eye on the horizon and try to prevent motion sickness. The result was a fine coating of Haitian dust on every exposed area. Even the inside of my sunglasses needed to be wiped off every 20 minutes or so in order to see anything.
But see things I did. Though the road remained dry and dusty, the landscape began to change. Lush growth covers much of the mountain areas. Farmers are working successful crops. Small villages and towns were active with children playing, women chatting together or doing laundry, men walking around town or working on projects at their homes. There were big shade trees, fields of sugar cane, cattle and horses here and there.
The air changed too.
And when we got out of the truck and paid our $1 and walked down some stairs to behold a hidden waterfall... Well, despite my coating of dust, I didn't feel so dry anymore.
It's easy to think of this land as desolate and barren and desperate and dry. But it wasn't always and this waterfall in Saut Deau is, I think, a glimmer of what this land used to be. It reminded me as well of the hope in God's promise of restoration. Restoration of dry and dusty and barren and desolate lands, okay, but of our desperate souls even more so.
Lush Mountain Vista

Maria's Dusty Braids...
It was a beautiful walk up around and along the water.

Old Lady Hair & a Beautiful Waterfall

Covered up on the way back to MOH... lesson learned :)
 Blessings from a dry and dusty and lush and lovely land!