There are no more mangos. When I first got here in September I was overwhelmed with the amount of available mangos. At the entrance to our neighborhood there is a stand where people sell mangos, flowers and avocados all the time. It’s now November and they aren’t selling mangos anymore. There are avocados, flowers and papiya which isn’t as good. Mango is like sweet, orange marshmallows. That’s how it tastes to me. Now there are none.
I will be leaving in less than a month. In so many ways I have learned about myself and have changed, yet I feel a lot the same. I was looking at pictures on facebook from other mission experiences I’ve had. Those experiences were brilliant. Each trip I’ve been on has brought its own experiences and lessons. The same is true for here, but I feel like I’ve lived here. I have a home in the Dominican Republic and a family. The kids here know me. They have learned from me and I have learned from them. They have improved my Spanish and I have improved their English. The little girls were making pictures and writing stories underneath. So many of them wrote, “We love you Amber, don’t ever leave!” I nearly cried! This has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I hope in some I have left an imprint on them too!
If you didn’t know we were supposed to have a Hurricane hit us today. It’s been rainy, but nothing major. Hurrican Tomas has shifted and will now hit most of Haiti if anything. Really, how much more can Haiti take? So I had English class today and so many kids came. Kids that were in my class came and others that just wanted to hang out at the club out of the rain. We had a great class and played some English/Spanish games. Oh, if Paulo Boero my old Spanish professor, could see me now! Afterwards it started to rain pretty hard so we decided we would take everyone home in the truck. It’s like a seven passenger vehicle, so we were going to see what we could do. We also had lots of the little kids with us and they can squeeze. After all was said and done there were diecesiete, 17, kids in the car! This sounds dangerous, but really it’s how the Dominican’s roll. As many people in a car as you can possibly fit. So we drove to Agua Negra/Playa Oeste and all sang Waka Waka as loud as we could. When we dropped them off everyone jumped out and gave hugs and kisses. It was a crazy wonderful car ride.
These are some of the things I’ll take home with me, maybe I’ll try to come back next mango season!
Sometimes you think you can’t do things, and then you do. Liz, the executive director, recently went on a tour of the United States and the field director Melissa came here to hang out with me. There were two days difference between their comings and goings and my Dominican family helped take care or me. Ernistina is the director of the club, her sister Marlenis a teacher, and they have adopted me into their family. Marlenis hung out with me for a couple days in between Liz and Melissa and the water went out. I may have explained this before, but sometimes when the electricity goes out so does the water. When the electricity kicks back on usually all you have to do is prime the pump and water is restored. On day 1 of the drought I didn’t know how to prime the pump so I had to wait for an instructional email. I don’t know if you’ve ever been without water for any period of time but it makes doing anything difficult. When I got the email the next day I was so excited. I was at the club hanging out with the kids and everything was going great. Until I tripped over my computer chord. We were listening to music with some of the older girls and I got up to go check on the other class. I tripped over my chord and my computer fell a foot to the ground. It landed on it’s side and I picked it up and everything seemed fine. We left for siesta time and I turned my computer off. When we got back I went to turn it on and it wasn’t working. I tried to do all these repair menu things and nothing worked. Then I lost it. No water, no computer, no one else to handle these problems. Also, you may or may not know, I don’t speak great Spanish or drive here which makes everything that much harder. Taking motos everywhere is fun and a little stressful at the same time. I got home and tried to prime the pump, but it didn’t work because the water tank was too low. I tried a few times and not even a trickle from the faucet. This is when I sat on the couch to evaluate my life. At this point you may be thinking, “Am, what’s the problem. These are fixable things, no big deal.” Here, like I said it’s harder, it seems like a big deal. My computer is my life line and I’m a hot sweaty mess; no water, no shower. Anyway, back on the couch assesing the situation. I was sitting here breathing and thinking and something a great friend said to me when I was in Jamaica came to mind. He was talking about glory strength. When you feel like, “That’s it, I have nothing left to give.” You find it. Inside yourself, the little bit left that God has given you to do what He has planned to get done. So, I’m thinking about that and how earlier in the day I had been telling my boyfriend about the water and he was telling me how many people in the country, or the world dodn’t have water, ever. I didn’t want to hear it at the time, but as I sat gathering my glory strength that was what I thought about. He was right. In Haiti people share wells. If you upset the person that owns the well or can’t pay the fee, you don’t have water. At the barrios we work in they use the dirty ocean port water or again share a well. Everyday is a struggle for water. So, I got up and talked to my Dominican family and they called the water people for me. They were at the house the next day by noon, I primed the pump and water was restored for 400 pesos. Easy. I called, they came, filled the tank and done. In the barrios there is no tank to fill. We are blessed beyond belief.
Amber is a very hard name to say in Spanish. I’m not sure if I’ve told this to you or not, but it is! Sonya, one of the mom’s, calls me Dulce. This can me sweet, sweetie or candy. We had quite the talk about how calling me Candy could be misunderstood, but in the end decided it would be an ok Dominican nickname. Sonya’s daughter has sinse started calling me Dulces and so have some of the other kids. Even better though, is that many of the kids have learned my name. I was really apprehensive when I first got here that the kids weren’t going to like me. Beter to say, there have been so many volunteers here this past summer that maybe they just didn’t care to interact with me. However,
I will be in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic which is a coastal city in Hispaniola. In the DR I will be teaching English classes at a boys and girls after school program. I will also be working to do special projects in music and arts. There is a job skills program for some of the older children that helps to teach a trade that I will be a volunteer in. The orphanage I will be working at is across the border in Haiti. Since the destruction the number of orphaned children has sky rocketed and they need all the help they can get. At the orphanage I will get to play with and love on children as well as helping in any way I can there as a volunteer. Furthermore, for Dove Missions as a whole, I will be using my journalism skills to write press releases, shoot and edit videos, take photos, update all the orgs blogs and web-sites and any other media need they might have! I will be there from Sept 5 to Dec 3 living with the organizations founder Liz McKie and doing my best to learn and absorb the culture as much as possible!