Monday, September 8, 2008

Thankfulness and Peace of Mind

Sat 9/6

So, here I sit in my bed, as I have been doing all day since I’m a little sick, and I can’t help but think about everything that’s changed in the last couple weeks. I have to say that I am so lucky to be here!! There isn’t a day that goes by though that I don’t feel at least a little out of place as the other trainees seem to be so much more qualified than I. Almost all of them are very good at Spanish or fluent in at least one other language than English, most were straight A students, several have master’s degrees, all but me have been out of the county before, tons have studied abroad for at least a semester but most have been out of the country for several sessions of abroad living. These are people who are in the same decade of their lives as me, many the same age as me or even a year younger.

So, as I sit and think about all the reasons I’m not qualified in this group I’m hit with a realization: if I were so under qualified I wouldn’t be here either. The PC must have seen something I’m not aware of yet but I think it’s not so much about what has been accomplished but about the potential to accomplish. I also think that I am so lucky to be here with so much talent. Everyone has to start somewhere so I guess this is my start. I’m really glad I’m so young and I can get used to the fact that I see my self with little to offer for now since when it’s time to come home I’ll see myself with more to offer.

It’s jus been two weeks and I’ve already been very surprised with how my perceptions are different than I had thought they would be. I’m not even homesick yet!! How is that possible? I know it is because you all are so supportive and also because of all of your prayers. There is not even one day that passes that I don’t feel blessed to be in the DR. This is the only country in the PC that distributes cell phones to their volunteers. This is because they are able to and also because it helps out a lot when there is a need to get in contact with volunteers during times like these, hurricane season. I am grateful everyday when I get to talk to family and when I get to use the internet. Something I don’t take lightly is that I get to charge my computer and sit here in a room with the tv loud in the next room. Sure, this makes me need ear plugs but I was also lucky enough to get a free pair during a training exercise! Everything always works out:) Sure the tv is in Spanish which I don’t pretend to comprehend yet but my point is that, as of now, I’m not washing my clothes in a river or literally only living off of rice and beans. I’m super close to the states and I have the luxury of living in the Caribbean. Yes, it is sooooooo freaking hot right now, well more humid than anything, and my room is pretty much always 90 degrees (thanks for the cool whistle/thermometer/compass guys at BCHD:)but that makes me enjoy the bucket baths! I simply can not find the same appreciation for the ice cold water (which we collect off of the roof and I learned in my med class that there is a certain breed of worm that thrives in water on roofs, ick) after a nice cool day.

Yes, cool days happen here. In fact one day this last week I was downing hot cocoa since I was FREEZING. Rain makes it a lot colder here. So, while there is always some bad that can be focused on, there is way more good in my circumstance! I thank God everyday that he chose me for this and that I am lucky enough to be here. So, feel free to send me the fruit roll ups (tropical tye dye is my fav by the way:) but don’t worry about me- although I never turn down sympathy:)

I feel so taken care of here, the staff is very caring. How many people can say that they really like their boss? (don’t read into that Bill or Molly:) The country director, the highest person in the PC in country, personally greeted us at the airport terminal and helped us get our bags when we arrived! We don’t even need an appointment to see him.

Yesterday I was having an extra super frustrated day and the technical trainer for the health group, who had no idea how I was feeling, just happened to ask me if I had some time to talk to her. She said she was a little worried about me after our last conversation since I don’t like the food and expressed concern about a new host family for CBT (mine is so good now, how can any family really have a fair chance to compare?) as well as concern for the prospect of being homesick during CBT since there are no phones available. So I wouldn’t be able to talk with my family for the 5 weeks of CBT. I thought it was so nice that she noticed all that and took the time to see how I felt a few days later. I noticed that others in my group often just randomly ask each other how they’re doing and it’s not a generic question. They really want to know and offer help if possible. I told Ann (my tech trainer) that I purchased a pre paid cell phone so people can call me if they want, and I already bought a jar of peanut butter to get CBT started. I went through a whole jar last week! But after talking with her I felt so much better!! It’s true I may still get homesick but even though I don’t know all the volunteers well enough yet to picture myself crying to them if I get homesick I feel like Ann is already there for us. It’s a great feeling.

I was invited earlier today to study by Richie (another volunteer from Chicago who speaks Spanish so good that I think my Dona is in love with him) but I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea to be far from a bathroom today since I’m not functioning at my best. A few hours later, after I had been in my room with the lights out pondering how my eyes were able to adjust to the darkness so well, and my Dona knocked at my door to tell me I had some visitors. There were 6 volunteers who heard I wasn’t feeling well and decided to stop by for a visit, how nice is that?!

So, I know this is long and rambling but after my Dad’s comment a couple days ago about rescuing me by plane or boat (by the way Dad, if I want to leave I just have to say so and they’ll fly me home so rest easy.) I figured it was a topic that I should maybe cover more thoroughly. Thank you all for your support because it really means a lot to me. I’m still nervous about this and that and my Spanish pisses me off endlessly but I am my own worse critic. The upside of my Spanish is that people really get a kick out of me so they like to talk to me. Today I was trying to talk to my family about the “art” of flushing the toilet and they were laughing hysterically at me. Turns out I was saying winter when I was trying to say toilet. I could get offended by this but I’m not sure if I’m past that point or perhaps not up to it yet. Getting laughed at, whether by other volunteers because of my “cute” Spanish or my family because of my “I don’t know what they’re saying” Spanish or just by random people who think a poncho is the funniest thing ever, is a very normal part of my day now. Sure, I got laughed at a lot in the states but this is a LOT more for sure. So, thanks to all of you back home who were never shy to laugh at me and helped condition me for it here. Way to think ahead! Talk to you all soon I’m sure.




Karen & Greg said...

We love you and miss you. I am sorry that you are feeling bad. You are in our prayers constantly.. We love you Aunt Karen & Uncle Greg

Anonymous said...

Hi Betsy,
Aunt Claudia and Drew here! Sorry we haven't written -- your Dad took up all the blog space so there was no room for us to write. Hee Hee - JK .. (Love you Jeff!)

Seriously, I just wanted you to know that we read your blog all the time -- we LOVE it-thank you so much for writing and keeping us up to date. We laugh and cry when we read it and Drew just cannot believe that you are really doing this. He was the first to notice the hurricane was in the Dominican Republic - right after we returned from Chicago. He's really keeping up on everything you do, and cringes at the unappetizing meals. We hope you got your peanut butter. Not to scare you, but I took 4 years of Spanish in college and never did pick it up. I hope you don't have my Spanish language genes or you're in trouble!

Not much exciting news here in California (compared to what is going on there!). The weather is hot, Drew is back in school and swimming and I'm back to work. We did get a new dog! A Dalmatian. She is a doll. Fully trained and very sweet.

We love the way you blog and all the interesting items you report on. It's such a treat to read everything, we feel like we're right there with you (and we will be soon! Spring 2009 - we're just waiting for our slot). So, you have us in stitches - some of your stories have us on the floor laughing, or in mortal fear (the list of yucky stuff - thank you!!) ... so keep it up - We are thinking about your every day and miss you and can't wait for the next blog!

Okay, I don't want to write as much as your Dad (Love you Jeff). Somehow we must train your Dad on how to use spaces between the paragraphs or soon we'll need to start calling him Kerouac!

We love you and are praying for you! Enjoy your adventure and thank you for sharing!
Aunt Claudia