Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting closer

Julie is demanding a new blog entry, but the truth is that the updates are fairly boring right now. The teachers are in training this week and as I'm not a teacher, it's been a good prep week.

Wedding plans are going well as each day seems to pass in a flash. We have just over 2 weeks left until the big day and are getting very, very excited of course. My parents will be here next week followed by Julie and her mom and then my grandparents.

It's been so interesting planning a wedding here! It's another reminder of the truly cross-cultural relationship and marriage that we have and will have. It's a constant reminder of the importance of never assuming the other one understands and to talk each and every thing through. It's been good to learn about bringing the American and Dominican life together and it's going to help make an excellent wedding and amazing marriage.

A few of the different things in our wedding: we'll be using Padrinos, who are chosen by the couple to support them in the wedding, the madrina buys the cake and the padrino buys the drinks; they're also in the entrance along with the bridesmaids. We'll be using a wedding program which is a new element for most Dominicans...they normally have someone announcing each person walking down the aisle and each step of the wedding rather than reading it in the program like the Americans are used to.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Feliz Cumpleanos

Happy Birthday to Ariel! We had a fun day yesterday as it is also a national holiday so there is no working! There was a meeting at church for the morning, but in the evening we went out for tacos and then back to his house for birthday cake. Just a few more weeks until we'll be eating cake of another kind! Happy Birthday, Ariel!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

School days

All continues well at the Care Center. We have the majority of kids now in school and have been pleasantly surprised by the number in attendance. Each day more kids are there, which is also quite normal for the beginning of the year. We hope as February rolls around that we'll all be in the routine of school again and see every happy little face showing up.
Speaking of February rolling around, wedding plans continue strong as we finalize everything and continue to bring this day together. My parents will be here in two weeks, shortly followed by Julie and Eileen and then my grandparents! I'm really looking forward not only to getting married, but to having my family and friends here with me! The days have been flying by and we are excited about all that is ahead!

Friday, January 16, 2009

We're back!!

It was so nice to see each of their little faces yesterday! We had a total of 106 kids which isn't too bad, considering. As it is the first week back in class, we expect to have lower numbers, so in the weeks ahead we will have a better grasp of how many kids have really moved out of the village, but we continue hopeful that things will soon be near normal again.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back to school

We started back today and all is well. Today and tomorrow are teacher-prep days, organizing, cleaning, that sort of thing. We are excited to be opening our doors to the kids on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to seeing how many kids are around and how they are all doing.

Word is that there are still families that will not be moving back in out of fear for a repeat in events, but we will wait and see what that means for our attendance. We hope to continue as normal, taking more precautions with saftey and travel for ourselves as well.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Back to life

Well we are all set to head back to the village on Monday. The staff will be first on Monday to get the classrooms and offices ready, hoping to welcome the kids on Tuesday or Wednesday. We aren't sure what to expect as far as numbers, but are hopeful. This is an effort to help make things "normal" and encourage others to return and move forward with life.

In many ways, our school is a "free zone" for the village, neither choosing Haitian or Dominican. We are about 60% Haitian and have a mixed staff, always striving for equilibrium. Our director, Alberto, has been careful to stay out of arguements in the village and manage our school well in regards to race issues. So we hope this is just another step in reuniting our kids, working together, and showing these kids that they don't have to live the same issues that their families have. I am excited to see them, it's been too long!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Into the village

We went to the village today for our staff meeting. Physically, everything is mostly the same. There is a row of shops that had all the windows busted in along with some other buildings with broken windows from looting, but most things looked the same. Our bathrooms were broken into where we have our storage things, but just little things were taken, nothing of high value.

While we had our meeting, we did see a few trucks coming into the village filled with furniture and boxes...a sure sign that families are coming back. That was encouraging.

What was hard was hearing story after endless story of all that has happened. Looting, robberies, fear, fleeing, it was hard to listen to some things. Some I talked to said they absolutely will not move back to the village because they know this will continue to happen. Others say it's just a matter of time and they'll be back in.

We are still working on a plan for starting back to school. It is supposed to be next Monday and I am hoping that it happens. I'm desperate to see these kids and hug them and know they are really all okay. I worry for them, that they're not eating, that they're in a house with 3 families and 1 bed, that they don't get to play, that they don't get cuddled.

I'm ready to listen to Jeuli singing and see Jonas' broken-tooth smile, to see Carlitos riding on his bike when he's not supposed to and hear little Yira's voice again. I'm ready to go back to school and for things to all be normal, like it's supposed to be.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The village update

Just to give a bit more info about the village, I know many have been emailing asking me about it. I still haven't gone into the village but we are supposed to have a staff meeting there tomorrow. Most families have still not returned but are very hopeful that soon they can.

The stories continue to come in of the looting and stealing that took place in that first week. Nano, the man who makes metal art, had his shop looted and all things stolen from inside. Luis, our doorkeeper, had all of his savings stolen as well. The good thing is that nothing has happened since that initial week, as families have left the village and temperatures have seemingly normalized.

I will continue to let you know anything more that I hear. I'm a bit nervous about going in for a meeting tomorrow...I can't imagine how the families feel when they think about moving back.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!!

I made it back 15 minutes before midnight, just in time to get to the church for the midnight celebration. There was lots of shouting and hugging and kissing and's a whole new year. I was happy to make it back in time, even if just barely, to celebrate with everyone.


I packed in friend time over the last 2 days at home and it was so great! First Jeff and Cali came over so I could meet one of the most amazingly cute babies ever, Dallas! He's only 7 weeks old and super cuddly. Right after that Bethany and Matt Thomas came over so I could meet Bethany's growing baby, or at least see her all pregnant. The next day I went to Megan's house and met with her and Heidi and got to meet their little ones too. It's been years and years since seeing them...but the great thing is that I think everyone is still the same! I'm thankful the snow let up enough to allow some good friend time while I was home!

The village

Many have heard about what is happening in the village but I wanted to let the rest know and clarify what's happening.

About 2 weeks ago, 3 Haitian men living in Caraballo, I'm not sure who they are, killed a Dominican motorcycle taxi from Caraballo. The three Haitians were hidden away in some of the houses in the village for 3 days, in which time frustrations rose from the Dominicans. The Dominicans started going through houses in the village looking for them, then the police and military got involved. It turned into quite a Dominican-Haitian conflict as the Haitians are here illegally and for the most part unrecognized by the government. The Haitians were being thrown out of houses and others, out of fear of riots and violence, have fled the village.

Both sides have made homemade bombs and guns, so the scare is real. Military got involved in the beginning but it appears that things have calmed down now.

At last check, of the approx. 200 Haitian families that were in the village, about 50 remain. I talked with one of our favorite workers today, Fransua, who is staying with his family in Montellano at a friend's house. He has hope that things will get better and they will be allowed back into their homes soon.

We know and trust that things will improve, we have seen trials before and will get through this as well. Please keep these families and the community in your thoughts and prayers as we hope to be able to get back to school soon and know that everyone is safe at home.