Greetings to all!
Today is Monday, November 17 and I am writing a new blog update! I am currently in a driving rain storm while the temperature hovers around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. My friends, the later the calendar becomes the more I feel that I have been transplanted into a different world where the normal laws of seasons do not apply. Christmas is coming and it’s going to be a hot one!
I am healthy, happy, and feeling increasingly as if I have been placed in the perfect location for personal growth. My Spanish classes continue twice a week with Lisa at a steady pace. We’re currently working on the past tense which is always a challenge with the irregular verbs! I’m also teaching English for free on the side to three students in my off time. I’m about to expand that operation to the entire office this week and everyone seems excited about that. I’ve been able to prepare for all this because it’s been a relatively slow month here in the office as we anticipate Advent craziness!
For the last month since my last post, I have really settled into Boca Chica and the surrounding towns by shadowing Julio “Julito” Luis Sanchez. His is a great story worthy of a blog post all its own but I will keep it short by saying succinctly that Julito found his way to God with Caminante, and has in return given back tenfold to both the kids and adults lucky enough to know him.
The process of shadowing Julito involves several aspects which I would like to highlight here. The first aspect of shadowing Julito is to always be a presence with which people want to associate. Somedays he and I will go to parents’ houses to talk and simply be a presence. We enter, shake hands with the men, kiss the cheeks of the women, and then chat with the parents about whatever they want to talk about. Everyone ends up happy because Julito is just that brilliant at small talk and discussing Caminante’s mission.
Other aspects of my shadowing involve visiting the coconut jewelry shaping workshop (you have to see it to believe it.) We use a buzz saw, sanding machines, and a up and down saw machine to create incredible jewelry. Then, we sell them to raise funds for our missions. We don’t keep any of the proceeds for ourselves but do have groups that buy jewelry in bulk to resell in the US to raise money for our mission as well.
In addition, I shadow Julito to play baseball and soccer with the boys. This happens every Tuesday morning on a nearby beach. Normally we play baseball. (Baseball is the national pastime here and I’ve seen five year olds that could probably play center field for the Braves.) However, one day I got to suggest soccer as the sport del día. That day, I got to show proper soccer techniques and then we did a scrimmage. Of course, the scrimmage became a gaggle of kids chasing a ball around. After laughing quite a bit and trying to teach passing, Julito and I challenged the fifteen or so 6-9 year olds in soccer. My life was coming full circle that day as this soccer-playing-kid began to experience memory after memory. Thanks Dad.
Our mission at Caminante is to be here. Always we strive to fill in the gaps that appear in the social fabric of the Dominican Republic.
To be quite honest, that’s so much easier to write here than it is to do. It would be really easy to feel overwhelmed at the challenges in front of us.
That’s why I have colleagues here 🙂 I’m never alone and constantly have companions to help me and give me advise!
My life continues to move onward. The pace varies week to week but the sense of fulfillment never wanes.
May you be blessed wherever you are today. Remember who and whose you are as you walk on this amazing path with me.
Blessings and peace,