Jul 13, 2011

Wow highlight #6: All Colin

A good guy.  A really good guy.

Of course, I am TOTALLY biased since he is a relative, but still he is as impressive as he is good looking!  True story.  (Sorry in advance for probably embarrassing you, Colin.)

This is Jon faking being taller than Colin . . . 

Our nephew, Jon's older sister Jane's oldest son, Colin, came to visit us for three weeks!  His trip was a high school graduation present from family members, and it was like a gift for us as well!  Colin jumped into life with us here, going and doing all that Jon does with the students here.

We exposed him to as much of the Dominican Republic as possible in three weeks time.

He went on a mission trip.

He hiked a mountain:  Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the Caribbean. 

He jumped off of a 40 foot cliff at the beautiful Lagoona Dudu.

He went to the three different beaches, and purchased goods from beach vendors.

Not to mention all the quality cousin time.

We had such a good time with him, and it went by so fast!  Thanks, family, for the gift!

Jul 8, 2011

Wow highlight #5.5: Children being children at the batey

Children can overcome obstacles that are sometimes harder for adults to overcome.  True story.  There seem to be few social gaps (like the sometimes awkward getting to know you phase) for them.

Oh how they just seem to jump right in with other kids.  No judgements passed or feelings of self-doubt.  No social boundaries that prevent their thinking to keep them from acting.

Sure, they have their moments, and have a way of sorting out a mode of operation with one another, but still.  Some things really are universal.  Little boys don't need to speak the same language to understand and enjoy one another.

I don't know if I'm making any sense here, but I do know that when I stepped foot onto a Haitian batey outside of San Cristobal last month, that I felt socially awkward, held back by something (fear? anxiety? being overwhelmed by circumstances very foreign to me?)  Where I felt inwardly paralyzed, the children around me thrived.  For real.

Not just children who have grown accustomed to visiting this particular batey (such as the very awesomely acclimated and socially confident Gray kids!), but my own children who had no idea what to expect.  Across the board - they thrived.  (throve? thrived? throve? hmmmmm . . .  I'm gonna pick one and go with it I guess because I'm too lazy right now to figure out which is correct.)

I was somewhat puzzled when Tate said that he did not want to go back to the batey, because as you can see from the pictures, he clearly had a great time.  Upon further investigation and conversation, I realized that it was the 3-4 inches of mud caked on his shoes that had really bothered him about that afternoon.  It would have been okay if he had said that he had been uncomfortable, because I know that that is how I felt.  And he was in fact, uncomfortable, but not so much socially as physically the difficult circumstances (like mud and dirt) that are very much a part of the batey.

I will never forget this day.  How I felt.  How my children ran and played and frolicked.  How the children on the batey embraced all of us.  How I want to not walk in a spirit of fear or anxiety or worry.  How I want to thrive like a child.

Jul 5, 2011

Wow highlight #5: Visiting a Haitian batey

During our stent here in the Dominican, we have visited Haitian batey's three times, and each time I've walked away with images etched in my mind that have changed me.  Click here for more information about what a "batey" is, but in short what you need to understand is that it is according to wikipedia, "a company town where sugar workers live."  Often bateys are tucked back in the thick of the sugar cane fields and are somewhat isolated, and they each seem to take on their own personality and feel.  Sometimes you can taste an air of oppression and darkness, and sometimes an air of joy.  It is not as simple as that, and then again, it is.

When we went down to San Cristobal (southwest of the capital city of Santo Domingo), we visited a batey that some friends of ours have been visiting for some years now on missions trips (before they up and moved here back in January 2011!) And, as a side note, these new friends, the Gray family, have been an ongoing highlight for us Sawyers this year.  And, let me tell you, they are super stars (and this is going to be a totally separate blog on a different day, but you'll understand better when I tell you about them!  I digress . . . .)

Driving into the batey, which was about a mile from the main highway.

Batey housing.  Multiple people/families share each apartment.
Those little eyes stared a hole in me as we pulled up in the batey.

Shoes caked in mud as we begin to walk around.
There were many children without clothes and/or shoes.
Sometimes putting yourself in the other person's shoes means taking your shoes off.   

Catching rain for  water.

These women were doing the laundry . . . by hand.

Beautiful cherubs.
Those of you who know me well know that I am struggling to not paint my own house these delicious colors.  The Lord was so sweet when He sent us to the Dominican because the vivid surroundings and colorful houses are like a song in my heart that He planted long before I realized that I would be called here!

Some of my most favorite photographs that I have ever taken were on this day at the batey.  Like many other events from the month of June, I don't feel like I can adequately express the range of  emotions from outright discomfort to utter joy.  It was beautiful.

I think that I'm going to have to create "highlight 5.5: children at the batey".  It was incredible to watch my children, other's children and the children of the batey together.  No words needed when it comes to children diving right in with each other.