Dominican Day 16

March 17, 2015

WEATHER: Today it reached a high of 39 degrees and I don’t think it rained. I felt the Dominican heat for the first time since I’ve been here and I loved every moment of it.

Zero new bites. Many painful, swollen old bites. Perhaps the Off Louise gave me is working after all? Very strange, considering it only has 7% DEET and the other one I was using had 30%. And this Off actually smells nice. Something like a platter of honeydew melon and cantaloupe … yum. It’s kind of nice not to have any new bites and to smell somewhat decent for once. Such luxury!

I have a success story that I am so excited to share with you.

Refreshed yet again from being with my family yesterday, I woke up this morning determined to not give up. I had a few ideas in my toolbox and was very interested in trying them out.

While Teresa and I were alone for a few moments in the car this morning on the way to the club, I had a heart to heart with her. I explained that I wanted to have a meeting with her and the director before class started so that we could talk about what our needs are and how to support one another. Oto, the director, is able to hush the kids, and Teresa is able to speak to the kids with the compassion they need. I felt that even though Teresa and Oto possess opposite qualities, something could be leveraged from us working together. I also told Teresa that she needs to be more firm with the kids. I mentioned that I love her skills in responding to the children with such love but that without her laying down some boundaries and sticking to them, the children would never respect her. She felt, understandably, that being more firm would be very difficult for her since it’s so out of her character but I asked her to just try and explained that in the end it’d make things easier for her; she agreed.

The meeting this morning went quite well and I’m grateful that Teresa was able to translate my thoughts into Spanish for Oto. The three of us shared some suggestions and we all agreed that we’d help one another. And so at 10:04 the first class began with a group of only 4 boys. It was the perfect opportunity for me to test out some of my ideas.

The first activity I had Teresa do was talk about what it means to be a citizen of Dove Missions. From there, I had her remove the current classroom rules posted on the wall and had the kids come up with a list of rules that they thought should be in place (thanks for this suggestion, Tia). Many of the kids were eager to respond, most of them excitedly fought for the chance to write their idea on the board. After the suggestions were written on the board, the boys were asked to write them down in their notebooks so that we could revisit them tomorrow. To my surprise this activity took more than an hour and the boys were mostly quiet during this time.

What’s more, is that whenever someone got out of line, I saw Teresa making an earnest effort to be firm with them. I’m so proud of her! Afterwards, I had the kids make and write up thank you cars for their sponsors. Since many of them didn’t have a sponsor, I asked them to make a thank you card for anyone that worked at Dove. The boys had such a good time making these cards and using a box full of stamps to beautify them.

Before I knew it, it was already 10:45 and the kids still had to clean up and have their snack. They are also normally given some time to play outside but they were so into making the cards that they didn’t even care about the play break.

The same process was followed for the boys who came in the afternoon, though the group was a bit bigger (13 kids). The afternoon group was a bit more rowdy but they were so excited about the activities that they also missed their play break. And what do you know! Some of the kids thought I was special enough to receive a thank you card. Every time one of the boys excitedly showed me his creation and then said, “para ti” I couldn’t help but blush and grin from ear to ear. What an incredible blessing.

So, there are a few things I think lead to today’s success:
• Allowing the children to decide which rules should apply
• My pep talk with Teresa and her trying her very best to be loving but firm today
• The meeting with Teresa and the director where we agreed to support one another
• Oto checking in on the classes every once in a while and coming in to encourage the kids to settle down
• My help in reinforcing discipline. On a few occasions, some of the boys were behaving badly. Each time a boy had begun to interrupt the lesson or activities, I’d give them the option to stay or to leave. Though they seemed to always want to stay, a few of them continued to misbehave. After giving them 3 chances, I would lead them by the hand out of the classroom and right to the director and would explain that they needed to leave because of their behavior. Two of thirteen boys were led out this afternoon and hopefully this was an example to the others.
• The reward system I used that included:
* A large attendance sheet on chart paper. Each boy that was present today received a smiley face sticker on the attendance sheet at the front of the class
* High fives every time the boys showed me their work. I also told them what a great job they were doing
* A few of the boys who went out of their way to help me without being asked, received star stickers on their shirts. Many of the others asked why they didn’t have a sticker, to which those with stars would proudly explain, “I got this because I helped. If you want one try to help tomorrow.”
* At the end of class I called Oto into the room and asked all of the boys with star stickers to stand. He commented on how he was proud of these boys and the example they showed today and we all gave them an applause.

• Knowing how to dress for the weather. You really don’t know what you’re going to get. I wore a jacket to work this morning and peeled it off by the time I got to the club.

• By the time I got home last night it was pretty late so the deep desire to wash the sand, sun, and ocean out of my hair would have to wait until the morning. Well, as it turned out, we had a power outage this morning. I turned on the shower in the morning and braced myself for cold water … I had given up all hope of washing my hair – it’s survive or die when it comes to me and cold water. To my surprise, there was hot water and so, mid-shower I happily decided to give my hair a try. Since we didn’t have electricity and I was the first to shower this morning, I think I used all of the hot water. Don’t tell anybody though.

• Sundays and Mondays, my days off, are when I usually clean my place and wash my clothes. I only got around to doing one load of laundry this past weekend and had begun running out of things so I was really looking forward to putting in at least two loads of laundry this morning before work. Well forget about it. With a power outage that wasn’t happening but when 8:15am came around the power came back on. I thought I’d take advantage of the 45 minutes I had to do some laundry. So yes, the machine was set to small for a large load ☺

• Speaking of the washing machine, the water pipe that leads to the machine burst this morning while I was washing my clothes. Oh geeze, Martina and I were frantic when water was spraying everywhere!!

• Still wishing that my Spanish was better. Necesito practicar pero los Dominicanos hablan muy rapido!

• I thought I should put on some jeans for my evening walk. I’d like to say that this was a major challenge because it was hot and sticky out. Cyclone anyone?

• Have I ever told you how much I hate cockroaches? Well I do! After seeing that beast the other day I’ve been super paranoid. Thinking of tucking my mosquito netting into my bed. I could have sworn I saw a cockroach crawl into my underwear drawer this morning but the power was out and it was a bit dark in the closet. Maybe I was just tired?

• Ordering from Mr. Pollo is not as easy as I thought it’d be. I went in there to get takeout for lunch and I think I left with dinner for a family of 5. Ay Dios!
• I finally learned where the bus garage is. Now I know where to catch my second bus when I visit my aunt and uncle
• The kids are actually interested in receiving start and smiley stickers. I’m on to something here! Thank goodness I brought several packs of stickers.
• They do celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here! Had I known, I could have used an activity for it today. Noted for next time.

• An amazingly successful day
• Fresh bananas from the side road and for only 5 pesos a piece
• My aunt’s advice yesterday. A lot of it couldn’t be applied to my circumstances but just talking about it and hearing fresh ideas was so encouraging.
• Hot water. All of it. Tee hee.
• My evening walks and taking in the beauty
• Bug spray that works, I think!
• Hot weather. Finally!
• My cough that’s mostly gone
• 6 very beautiful thank you cards from the kids
• Recreos … all 8 of them
• The two sugar cane sticks that Teresa bought and peeled just for me. God bless that woman!
• Brad, who delights in being able to talk to me for even a few minutes in spite of choppy voices and our calls constantly being cut. I need to learn how to have your sort of patience!

Father, thank you for showing me what hope looks like. Because of you, I got to finally experience moments of success. What a pleasant and unexpected blessing today has been! I pray that you help me to see continued success and that you give me the encouragement and wisdom needed when things don’t quite work out.

• It’s been a long and very rewarding day. Brain dead. Very tired. No questions. Unless you have questions for me?


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