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


Theo said...

such a wonderful account of your "new" life! ... love, thoughts and prayers are with you and now our new friends in the Batey, as well ... keep them letters coming ... God bless, Theo

Bardgeist said...

dear sojourners, your Spanish may be a bit fractured yet but your faith and your love are wholly intact. You have a fluent understanding of where you stand and in whose presence you breathe and share space. The people must surely feel your mutual honor and respect. The solitude of the rooftop reminds me of a cottonwood tree I once visited on the shoulder of a western river. The Lord shelters you still. Peace & many blessings & miracles, Stephen

Stephanie said...

Greg and Cindy,
Interesting that as visitors we saw the Sr's home as nice though small. We didn't see the water and power issues that you now see so up-close and personal.I so appreciate your sharing your experiences with us all and you're right, our friends in the Batey do have folks praying for them--they are not forgotten though it may often feel that way to them.


Shelley said...

Dear Greg and Cindy,

You pass through my mind several times a day and your friends in the Batey are in my constant prayers as well. I will use your stories of life there to remember how very grateful we should all be to have all the amenities we have here.
Know that I am with you in spirit throughout your adventure and can't wait to see you guys again! We're having a celebration Mass both at Christmas time and again next June, right? Start picking the music!


Noreen said...

I am honored to know two such wonderful and caring people and proud to call you friend. You have been in my thoughts and prayers since I heard about this endevor. Looking forward to following your experiences.

Ryan said...

Hi Guys!

Please continue to share your "lessons". Your thoughts really opened my mind again to all the things I take for granted in life. I will be checking your blog often and you will continue to be in my families' prayers! What you are doing is so wonderful - you are having an impact not only in the DR, but in Mint Hill as well.


Kristin Bublitz said...

Cindy and Greg -

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. You and those you are there to pray with and serve are in our thoughts and prayers daily. You have given us a great reality check on what's really important in life. You are such a blessing! Peace and blessings, The Bublitz Family

Bob and Chris said...

Greg and Cindy

Thank you for reminding us that we should be thankful for all we have been given.

How enriched the lives of all your new friends must be by receiving the gift of your presence!!

Peace to you on the roof!

Phyllis said...

Greg & Cindy,

Just wanted you to know we have you on our minds and in our prayers all the time.

I love your new "digs" and hope you are settling in with less turmoil than the first week.

Love you both, Ray & Phyllis