Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lesson 1: Gratitude for Blessings in Life

We arrived here in Los Alcarrizos, our new home for the year, on Friday, September 7, 2007. Here we are with our fellow volunteers, Catie and Erica, with all our luggage on the front "galleria" of our house.

We were overjoyed to the double bed in our room. Originally, our room had 2 single cots in it and we were not sure how our backs would survive. The bed pretty much takes up the whole room and we cannot both be moving thru the room at once! The bed is very comfortable and we are sleeping pretty well here. The white curtain behind the bed is the mosquito net that fits securely around the bed. The mosquitoes tend to bite more in the morning and at dusk. There is an epidemic of Denge Fever right now and it is contracted from the day-biting mosquitoes. Mosquito repellent is applied several times a day.

Our bathroom is small, as you can see from the picture. The large white container seen in the shower is to collect water. We don't have running water here. The water gets turned on in our town several times a week. We listen for the sound of gurgling in the pipes and the holler of "Agua!" on the streets and we know the water has come on. There is a frantic scrambling in the house as we all grab a hose and fill up the water drums. All the water containers must be kept covered to keep the mosquitoes from breeding. We then scoop out the water with pitchers to use for bathing, washing dishes, scrubbing floors, flushing toilets, washing clothes. We never imagined we'd be grateful for a pitcher of cold water to pour over us at the end of the day! We cannot safely drink the water that comes from the pipes, so we have large bottles of water all over the house to use for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, etc. The drinking water is purchased from water trucks that come through the neighborhood daily to fill the bottles.

Give thanks for electricity that flows endlessly through our homes in the US. The electricity here comes and goes...mostly goes. The pattern of this past week was that it was usually on from about midnight until 8 AM and off most of the day. The neighbors tell us that the electric company is punishing the people for not paying their electric bills! We cannot keep food in the freezer and we go to the local market, a "colmado" daily to get the food to fix for dinner. We miss the fans desperately when the electricity is off. And we often "shower" by oil lamp. We are telling ourselves that we are on a year-long camping trip. HA!HA!

There is much about life here that is difficult to get used to. The constant noise is overwhelming right now the neighborhood children are sitting outside our door yelling and talking. There is constant music, babies crying, dogs barking, roosters sounds like there is a constant party going on right outside the window. Of course there is no glass here to muffle the sound.

Our rooftop terrace is often our refuge and allows us to "rise above" the noise and clamor and find a bit of peace.


We have become aware of how much we had back home. So much of our life that we took for granted gifted us with time to enjoy life. We now spend that time in activities of basic survival. We will never again take a hot shower without a smile on our face. We will give thanks when we sit in a room with an air conditioner on a blazing hot day. When we open the refrigerator and it is filled with ice and cold drinks, we will be grateful. When we lay our head down at the end of the day and there is silence, we will say a prayer of thanksgiving. A recent meal of chicken (meat!) and baked potatoes and roasted carrots felt like a celebration and I couldn't stop talking about how wonderful it was!

We are grateful for new friends who smile graciously at our fractured Spanish, for fresh mangoes and pineapple, for our housemates who are so patient with us as we learn to make a new life here. And we are grateful to you, our friends and supporters praying us through this year.
As hard as it is, our life is so much better than the people we have come to serve in the Batey. They have had no water for 8 days and they walk a mile to the river and collect buckets of filthy water to live on. They are lucky to have one meal a day. They have no clothes to wash or toilets to flush. They cannot escape to the city for burger or pizza. They have no family and friends in another country praying for them.

Or do they? It is our job to let them know that there are people across the water who care about them and are praying for them every day. Keep on is a gift to them and we will help deliver it.

Stay tuned for more lessons learned from our Home Sweet Home in Los Alcarrizos, DR!

Love and prayers, Cindy and Greg