Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Top 5 things we're looking forward too and will struggle with most about the states

Top 5 Things we are looking forward to about the states: (not in any particular order)

1.       Recreational activities (while there are several rivers and waterfalls, there is a huge lack of organized sports. Josh is very much looking forward to organized basketball again)

2.       (Josh) Being able to utilize my experience and bring in a cross-cultural perspective into the new ministry that I’ll be working in – Youth For Christ

3.       Food (milk, ice cream, cheese, large varieties of everything!... and Starbucks!)

4.       Raising Julia near family

5.       Things being open 24/7

Top 5 things we will most struggle with in the states: (not in any particular order)

1.       Lifestyle

·         The pace of life is difficult for us – it’s so rushed

·         People have a permanent best friend called “smartphone” – the need to be in constant connection with the world/friends/facebook/twitter is foreign to us. When we’re back at Christmas this is one of the hardest things for us to be exposed to, constantly being interrupted by Mr. /Mrs. Smartphone and the divided attention by the person holding it.

2.       Having a different perspective than those around us on materialism and consumerism, and needs vs. wants

3.       Lack of community

·         We are used to and love the community that we have with Students International, coming back and not having that type of community will be really hard

4.       Quality of relationships

·         Relationships here are very intentional and everyone has time (or makes time) for everyone

·         Each day is an adventure with relationships – you never know when another incredible conversation is going to happen, but they happen frequently

·         Not really being known

5.       Hard to relate to others because of the experience and not being able to fully communicate or express this place

·         We’ve been away for 4 years in a place that few of our friends and family have seen and we’ve changed a lot as a result. Communicating who we truly are and the condition of our hearts will be something that will be very hard to do – few will “get it”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Top 5 things we are not going to miss about the D.R.

Top 5 things we are not going to miss about the D.R.

1.       Lack of customer service

·         It’s not a huge deal, but sometimes I do get tired of waiting to pay for stuff or get help because the cashier is checking facebook, having a personal conversation on their cell phone, hanging out with the other employees but forgetting to work, or just simply doesn’t care. I know these things happen in the states too, but it’s on a very different scale… in my experience, it happens everywhere here, including the grocery store, emergency room, nice resorts, restaurants, etc.

2.       Lack of structure and organization (ex. standing in line, applying for residency, driving, putting on basketball tournaments, filling up the car with gas, paying for bills, etc.)

3.       Being center of attention because of color of skin (seen and treated as rich) (getting hissed at)

·         We draw extra attention because we’re white. I (Vicki) get hissed at a lot when I’m walking through town, going for runs, and paying bills. (The hissing is a way of trying to get my attention.) I also draw comments like: mi amor, princessa, and mi visa. The comments and hissing don’t hurt me, but I don’t really like it.

·         Because we’re white, we’re seen as rich. And I know that we are never wanting for anything that we need… so we are rich! But it’s hard to be in a place where we’re trying to do ministry but feel like people just see us as dollar signs. Sometimes people who aren’t even begging will just walk up to us and ask us for money.

4.       Sweating everyday (we love the sun, just not the constant sweating)

5.       Not being able to fully show/express ourselves to Dominicans

·         Due to culture, language, humor, and sarcasm differences, it’s difficult to show the “real me” to latinos. While we’re still able to communicate, share of ourselves, participate in our hobbies, and hang out, it’s still challenging to convey the true me – maybe it’s difficult because we place our priorities and values in different things… I’m not completely sure on this point.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Top 5 things we're going to miss about the D.R.

So Josh and I decided that in effort to help us process leaving we are going to post four blogs each being a “top 5…” list of some sort. Today’s list is the top 5 things we are going to miss about the D.R.


1.      The Lifestyle.

·         It’s super relaxed here (Dominican people are non-crisis people)

·         It’s a very worry free and stress free place

·         Flexible

·         Easy going

·         Relationship oriented

2.      Importance of relationships

·         America is a task focused culture, while here the focus is placed on relationships first. At times it can be a little frustrating as it can take a really long time to get something done, but we have enjoyed this aspect of the culture.

3.      Weather

·         Being in a sunny place is so great!  Waking up in the morning to sun every morning is so motivating. We love sitting on the porch, lying in the hammock, and going to the river and beach. We can always count on the sun!

4.      Being in a community of like-minded people

·         There is something very special about daily being surrounded by people who share the same vision and calling in life. And we all understand one another because we’re all journeying together with the same organization. And for the Americans that are with SI, we all “get each other” and the changes, sacrifices, and challenges that we face being here.

5.      Unique opportunity to minister to Americans in another culture

·         Ministering to Americans while being in the D.R. is a very special opportunity. We can have conversations about things here while only knowing one another for a very short period of time, where to have the same conversation in the states would take months and months if not years to have.

·         Being abroad on missions trips has a way of allowing a person to open up and become vulnerable, therefore allowing for awesome conversations and life changes

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

43 days left

Another sunny day! Now there is a phrase I am going to miss. We are a week into this year’s semester program. It’s a small group of seven students but they are excited and taking each step of the program with an open mind… at least so far. We had our first bible study with them last night here at our house; we are taking the first five weeks of the program to study the book of James. We talked about verses 2-18 where James talks about trials. Josh used this particular section from chapter one to encourage the students as they walk through the trials of being in a different culture – studying, limited freedom, living with a host family, not being able to fully communicate or fully be known. This study was the perfect way to begin.


Josh and I love this program for the reason that we really get to know the students. We are really intentional with our time and do our best to invest ourselves fully into each activity. So 4 times a week we offer to go running with anyone who wants too. So far four girls have come along with us. Sunday afternoons we play ultimate Frisbee with SI staff, semester students, and other people from other ministries here in town. Monday evenings we have over for dinner one pair of students. Tuesday evenings we have bible study at our house. Thursday evening (only for the first 5 weeks) we have everyone over again and we each share our life story (testimony). Then Saturdays we have all day excursions. Throughout their time here sometimes we’ll have everyone over for games, food, and movies on Friday evenings. It’s so much fun getting to know each student, we love it!


We are doing our best to stay engaged and to fully give of ourselves but I’ll be transparent… it is so hard. We are approaching the end and what’s next is on my mind. Seeing family, finding a house, Thanksgiving, winter in Seattle, football on Sunday’s, finding a new church once we move to Bremerton, creating a new schedule for our new lives, ice cream, cheese, and milk… all these things occupy my mind.

Tomorrow Julia will be 3 months old! It seems like the time is flying by, and she just keeps getting bigger and bigger! Today I got her to laugh for the first time… it was so precious. She is such an amazing gift from God. I am so excited to see who she becomes and how she loves the Lord. Right now she is rolling up onto her side... but not quite all the way over. She chews on her fist, or whatever else she can bring to her mouth, all day long. While she still loves wiggle time she has taken on a new favorite activity of grabbing her toes. She stares at them as she tries to bring them to her mouth all the while making fun little noises. Lastly she has developed a habbit... a habbit that keeps me from getting much sleep. Around 4am she begins to stir and she lifts both her feet high in the air that then slams them down on the bed. Then she tosses a little and makes fussy noises and then repeats this whole show. So 4am has become snuggle time with mom and dad in bed.
Tonight we have the night off which we're pretty excited about - the past several days have been really tiring, so tonight should be a really great relaxing evening.
Have a great evening yourselves!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August update

Hello readers!

 As of today we have 72 days left here in the D.R. The time is flying by like crazy. We just wrapped up our final summer program. It was strange to say good-bye to something that we’ve been involved in since 2007, when we came on our first trip with SI. I think it’s going to be a while for this to fully sink in. This summer glowed with our 8 wonderful interns and my “substitute,” Margie. They were an incredible help to us, I couldn’t have asked for a better group. It’s such a treat for Josh and me to have interns, people we get to journey with for a longer period of time. They blessed our lives tremendously.
Our eight awesome summer interns and Margie, my great friend and huge help for the summer.
(From left to right: Tyler, Margie, Lacey, Kaylee, Courtney, Helena, Brad, Andrew, Ellie)
This summer we entered into a new phase of life: parenthood! My parents were able to come and visit which was really fun. We spent one week together before Julia came having one last hurrah together here before we leave.
Cooling off in the river... it was a really hot day!

Grandpa holding Julia on her first day home
First night home with baby girl Julia - Josh is so great with her
Our summer program includes one evening activity that I treasure, as it is a night of worship and prayer and I get the privilege of leading it. This summer I was worried I’d have to miss one, if not two, but I was able to lead them all! Leading worship is such a passion of mine and my love language with God – so I was very pleased not to miss a night.

Now we are entering THE time of transition… transition out of our ministry position as our replacements are arriving tomorrow, transition out of our possessions as we have sold Josh’s moto already and we sell our car on the 5th of September, transition out of our stuff as we have sent many of our things home with my parents and the church team that was here, and transition out of our home as two of the three ladies that are taking the lease over on our house when we leave have moved in and have bought all our stuff – so we’re giving them everything now that we can do without. We think it will make leaving a little easier if we have already detached from things well before we actually leave… we’ll see if that theory proves true or not.

We are in a time where we are actually experiencing things for the last time. Last intern group, last debriefing beach trip with the interns, last summer program, last staff beach retreat, and the list will grow as each day passes.

People keep asking us what will we miss the most? For me it's definitely the importance placed on relationships... I'm going to miss that so much. Life in the states is so fast paced that people don't really have time for people. And relationships take place via facebook or texting... this will be a hard thing to get used to.

What are we looking forward to about the states? Silly things I think... good dairy products like ice cream, milk, and cheese. Mexican restaurants. Customer Service. Going a day without sweating. Not having ants crawling on us all the time. Not being surprised in the middle of the night (or any time really) by giant, cockroaches. But most importantly, family. We've gone several years now on just seeing them once, maybe twice a year... we're looking forward to being able to see our family more frequently.

What do our final 72 days look like? Besides playing lots of Puerto Rico (an awesome board game) with our friends, sharing meals with friends, and baking lots of cookies, we have launching and running the semester abroad program; training Kenny and Karen, our amazing replacements; running two more short-term teams; our fairwell party; final good-byes; and getting on a plane with whatever few possessions we still have, our two dogs and child and heading back to Washington.

Julia Marcela - 2 months
I'll try and write a few more blogs as we wind down to share thoughts, highlights from our time here, and updates. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Julia's Surprise Birthday

Julia’s Surprise Birthday

Many people have asked about our experience here with the labor/delivery process for Julia. So here is her birthday story.

At 41 weeks exactly we decided to help Julia arrive into the world since she was clearly not thinking of leaving her first home. Up to this point I had experienced no contractions or other signs of her thinking of coming. So, wanting to get an early start to what we believed would be Julia’s birthday; we headed down to the hospital at 6:45am on June 12, 2012. My dad dropped Josh and me off at 7:30am to begin our great adventure of welcoming our new little addition into the world. By the time we checked in, filled out paperwork, got into our room and received the first dose of inducement it was 9:15am, and now the waiting began. The inducement medicine I received was a little pill that was placed next to my cervix; the purpose of this was to ripen my cervix and begin contractions.

Keeping in step with everything else up to point, this too was slow to get going. By 2pm I finally began having my first contractions, they didn’t hurt, so I knew they probably weren’t doing much. At 3pm the doctor returned and checked me out – only 1cm. So he gave me another inducement pill. By 7pm when the doctor returned nothing had really happened. So he told us that he wasn’t going to continue anything more for the night and that the following morning he’d come by first thing and we’d try again. While I was a little frustrated that everything was going by so slowly I wasn’t too disappointed about getting a good night’s rest, I was tired. The nurses rolled in another bed for Josh for the night and we went to sleep about 10:30pm. At 12:30am I awoke suddenly to sever pain. I didn’t know what it was and figured it was just a random pain so I tried readjusting so I could get back to sleep. Well, it wasn’t a random pain, real contractions were here. I paced the room quietly until 3am when the contractions began to get harder. I called our friend and doula, Katie, at that time to let her know what was going on so she could decide if she wanted to come now or later. Katie showed up to our hospital room around 4am. Josh was still sleeping so we sat together in the little guest section of our hospital room where she began walking me through different techniques for getting through the contractions. I was so grateful that she was there –all the preparations I had done ahead of time I had totally forgotten! We spent the next 3 hours working through contractions as they gradually increased in intensity. By 7am the doctor had arrived and checked me out only to find that I was dilated to a grand total of 2cm. Talk about let down! I was surprised, 6.5 hours of contractions only to have increased by 1cm… I knew we were in for another long day. But the doctor seemed optimistic, he said he thought the baby would be here by 2pm. So I thought to myself, “Well, he’s the doctor, he’d know!”

At that time the doctor gave me another inducement pill, but this time only a quarter of a dose. Three hours passed before he came again, during which I passed the time facing the joys of contractions doing squats, walking the room, rocking my body (while standing) to the rhythm with a rocking chair, dancing, and countless other techniques for bringing little Julia to the outside world. Katie gave me acupressure, and massages to assist the process as well. When the doctor returned at 10am he notified us that I was only at 3cm. He suggested that I use Pitocin but I wasn’t about to give in to that quite yet. I’ve heard horrible things about Pitocin and really wanted to the process to be as natural as possible, so I said that I wanted to continue without it for the time being. He wasn’t too thrilled at that reply but left us to it.

I found that if I sat or lied down my contractions stopped, so I kept moving… the ENTIRE time from 12:30am until 8pm. Another few hours passed and again the intensity of my contractions had reached another level, but thanks to Katie and Josh getting through them wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be… and I think they found my personal coping mechanisms funny at times because, though I was focused, I could hear them laughing from time to time… I’m always happy to provide a comic reliefJ. And there were times where I started to fall asleep standing up in between contractions, and when I would shake awake from starting to fall over, they’d get a little giggle out of that tooJ.

When the doctor returned I had reached 5cm! We were so excited… the longest part (supposedly) was over and now the next 5cm should be faster going. The doctor said he’d come back in a few hours after lunch. When he returned we thought FOR SURE that I would be at like a 7 or 8 because of how quick and long the contractions were, but no luck… still 5cm almost 6. He again suggested Pitocin and said that we could be here another day if we didn’t use it. The decision was very difficult for us to make but we decided to go forward with half a dose of Pitocin to see if that would get things going. A couple hours later I was at almost 7, then shortly after that, 9cm. I didn’t feel that the contractions got harder but that could also be because the IV drip they had in my hand wasn’t working very well, it was pressed up against the vein wall, and they even saw this and told me to just hold me hand in a very specific position for the rest of the labor/delivery… practical and professional, eh?

Nine centimeters ushered in the drama of the whole process. It was 8:00pm, and the doctor told me to begin pushing because Julia was still really high and we needed her to come down. After a few pushes with him he told me that with how strong I was pushing she’d probably be out in 2 or 3 more pushes! Well, we were pretty excited about that. However following that statement, he left the room. So when I had contractions I would push but it seemed weird to be pushing without the doctor there. After a little while Josh went looking for him and found him sitting at the receptionist desk with the other staff, just hanging out. Josh asked him to come and check on the progress. At this point he came in with two nurses and the pediatrician and a U-Haul truck full of stuff. Our room was literally full from wall to wall – there was hardly room for Josh and Katie in the room after everything they brought in.

I’m going to spare some details from the final hour but here are the important bits of information…
Julia came after one more hour of pushing. She weighed 8 pounds 12.3 ounces and was 22 inches long. She was and is healthy. That final hour of pushing was very intense. I think it’s a good thing that I was so tired by that point, because I don’t remember much now. The doctor (as it seemed from Josh’s, Katie’s and my point of view) kind of lost it. In the D.R. 70% of deliveries are C-section, so natural delivery isn’t practiced as much. He got very aggressive in the end and stopped communicating with us. He began shooting me up with various medicines (in my IV bag) and when I’d ask what he was doing, he just ignored me. He wasn’t happy to be patient and wait for Julia to descend on her own; he was grabbing her from inside and eventually with one push she was completely born; there was no head, then shoulders, then body – she shot out like a rocket, but again, this was because he was being very aggressive… I have many stitches to prove that. All this wasn’t before he tried to give me an episiotomy (after I had told him that I didn’t want one) but thankfully Katie fought him on that for me. Furthermore he didn’t think that the baby was coming fast enough and didn’t think that I would be able to push her out so he had one of his nurses literally lay on my stomach while I was pushing and she tried to push the baby out from on top of me… bizarre? I think so! Lastly, my contractions basically stopped while I was laying down, so he had one of nurses induce contractions by poking my stomach… a lot… and every time after a contraction had passed.

After Julia was born and we got to hold her the doctor said that he needed to take me to the O.R. because I had torn a lot and he needed to get me stitched up. (According to Katie, he did most of the tearing himself – not the baby). So get this… after just having given birth and having been in labor for 32 hours, they asked me to crawl (crab style) from the birthing bed to a roll away bed… with the umbilical cord still hanging out of me. I hadn’t even fully crawled onto that bed when they began wheeling it out of the room and down the hall, I literally had to hold my head up because it wasn’t on the bed and I didn’t want to door to hit it. Once inside the O.R. they asked me to crawl onto the operating table! But not just crawl across, they wanted me to crawl diagonally so as not to get blood everywhere… are you kidding me!?!? So I crawled onto the operating table where a few things began to happen immediately. One, the nurse began stabbing my stomach again with her fingers because she thought that it was bad for the placenta to still be inside, so she was trying to induce contractions to get the placenta to come out, which she accompanied with tugging on the cord a little as well. When I asked (with a very frustrated tone) what she was doing the doctor looked over and told her to stop, that the placenta would come soon. Second, the doctor, after he scrubbed up again, began stitching me up almost immediately without having numbed me first. I kept saying “ouch” and asking what they were doing. He totally ignored me. Finally I said “Stop! I want to be numbed, no more!” He looked frustrated by this because now we had to wait for the anesthesiologist. While we were waiting he tried a few more stitches and each time he poked me I flinched pretty dramatically and loudly said “ouch!” Finally he stopped and waited. Just then, Josh came in! I was so grateful that he was allowed to be with me, especially since this part hadn’t been going well. He stood there and held my hand the whole time. Finally the anesthesiologist came in and got me all set up, they put a mask over my face and within seconds I was out. Josh said it was pretty crazy, 30 minutes of them stitching and searching for places to give me stitches. When Josh asked him how many stitches I had received, the doctor said he didn’t even know. After the surgery part was over they woke me up about 15 minutes later because Julia was finished with the pediatrician and ready for some food. They wheeled me into our recovery room around mid-night where we met my parents who had been waiting patiently for hours. After Julia finished eating, my parents got to hold her but then went back home shortly after… I was pretty out of it and everyone was tired. The anesthesia made my vision really blurry and my memory was gone… not to mention I was saying some pretty ridiculous things, which everyone got a laugh from. I was pretty excited to get some sleep… but not Julia! She wanted to stay up and hang out J! Which we’ve done every night since she came into the world!

While it wasn’t the perfect experience, I am just so grateful to have a happy and healthy baby girl. Praise God!

Monday, April 2, 2012

March Madness

March Madness... check!

We have wrapped up our crazy month of March - back-to-back-to-back-to-back teams. One month of no breaks, but a very fun month of getting to meet and re-meet a whole bunch of people wanting to serve the Lord over their spring break. It didn't come without it's problems of course. We were plagued by a wave of sickness through our staff (about half contracted something), a robbery in one of our bases' dorm rooms, a robbery at one of our staff's home, and LOTS of rain. However, God is good and brought us through this time safetly and successfully!

Many wonderful things are happening here with SI. Besides a healthy staff family and positive energy  our new women's social work site in the community of El Callejon has a roof, floor, some paint (the current project underway), and will soon have doors and windows!

This week is Semana Santa (Holy Week) which is celebrated here with many fun activites. So on Friday and Saturday at the river are several different competitions including a basketball tournament that Josh is going to play in.

This month we are moving into summer planning and baby prep. Should be a great relaxing month!