09/07: Musings from week 1
Week 1 ?
So week one here has been incredible. I know we?re almost at week 2 but be patient. It is so hot here my brain doesn?t work as fast!
I would say that our first week is a week of contradictions, the incredible beauty of this place contrasted with the incredible poverty. To be honest, I have had so many thoughts over the past days since we left Canada that several times I have gone to write and then been left feeling as if I am writing useless drivel. I am overwhelmed most days with the complexity of it all, how does the price of sugar in the world impact these people we are growing to love? How does the fact that they live on so little and I live on so much, square with God? How does the global currency exchange impact the buying power of an impoverished Dominican and also impact the buying power of a Hamiltonian living on minimum wage at Barton and Sherman? If my trip with my family here cost the same as 2 years worth of the salary paid to my night watchman ? is it worth me coming? What do I have to offer to a nation whose language I can not even speak? Do I think I am better than the people we are working with...is that it?
Now don?t get me wrong, in between all these intense questions?we?ve been absolutely loving it. Every bit of it, and there is LOTS to do! We?ve made some great friends, met some excellent people who give their lives for the people of this great country, and have done some work already! We?re figuring out this culture a little bit, thanks in large part to John Huizinga and his wife, Jane. They are amazing. John is an absolutely amazing man who genuinely loves these people and who is respected immensely by them. We are very grateful for their hospitality. We?ve spent a lot of time in Villa Esperanza which was a Haitian Batey called Algadones ? and has been transformed by The Samaritan Foundation into a beautiful little Village with a school, medical clinic, church and many little houses.
These people are incredibly poor. We did a food distribution program and the bag of rice and beans, etc?that they were able to get through the distribution was for some families 2 weeks worth of food. Right now a lot of my thoughts have been turned to how to break a cycle of poverty in a country that?s unemployment rate tops 14.4% (the highest in the Caribbean, and doesn?t even include any of the Haitians who have no papers?which is apparently about 70%...so that number might as well skyrocket in the Villages we?ve been working in to over 50% some say) It?s interesting because those questions are obviously being asked by people who have been here a long time and who are much more versed in international development, but I am surprised because there doesn?t seem to be much progress in that regard. Perhaps because of a legal system that is very complex and highly discriminatory, perhaps because those kind of changes are harder to get support for.
So ? those are my thoughts. Lots of them!
I know they are not new thoughts ? I know that my questions are like the questions of a freshman or an apprentice, so I put them out there only because these are the things that I am ruminating on.
The big challenge, I find, is twofold,
1. Not to let the questions stop you from action
2. Not to allow the questions to distract you from relationship where the power of God moves. Food comforts the body, but if I really believe my faith is real, the Spirit will comfort the soul and that is far more powerful.
In the midst of this we also are enjoying this beautiful country ? so I give you a few pictures to temper my philosophical and ideological ravings!