When we were going to bed, Kim said something about setting his alarm for 4AM or some crazy number like that.  Apparently, he gets up pretty early at home, and takes the opportunity to get up even earlier in the Dominican.  But, since I work for myself, I tend to get up pretty late most days, and I think I've been sleeping pretty well lately, so I don't think I've gotten up at 2 or 3 in a long time (a number of years ago, I made myself a rule that said if I wake up and can't get back to sleep for an hour, I get up and start my day, no matter what time it is, so I've gotten up at all sorts of crazy times - midnight, 2, 4, etc.)

I've inherited my dad's sensitivity when sleeping (well, probably not as much as he had, when he used to wake up to an alarm that was broken, and so the only noise was the mechanical plastic piece snapping a half inch), but I've never liked alarm clocks, and always use a quiet radio to wake up to if I need one.  Kim's Blackberry, or whatever it was, was really loud, and John and I were pretty surprised.  The rest of the week, either he used a quieter alarm, or else he just woke up on his own, as I had a nice peaceful wake up at right around 5 each morning.

The first thing in the morning was an individual devotion time, where the only stated goal was to read through a handout Jim McDonald had prepared, and maybe take some notes on it, but I usually spent it reading the handout, and then praying about different things that had happened the previous day, or things I expected to happen that day, etc.

Jim really stressed to us about how getting up early had made such a difference in his life, and said something to the effect of, "if you want God to bless you, you have to get up early in the morning", and quoted the scriptures that talk about Jesus getting up early "when it was dark", etc.  I think he said it a little too strongly, and later in the week, Kim did say something like, "I hope Jim isn't listening, but you don't have to get up early in the morning."  But, the point is well taken, that if you say you love God and want to seek His kingdom, but can't be troubled to read the bible, then who are you trying to fool?

We then went down for breakfast, and went out to plant some fruit trees, as well as some more vegetables in the new garden. We ate all of our meals in the compound, where there was a staff of a handful of ladies who cooked all of our meals.  The food was good for the most part, nothing too spectacular, I'd say, but plenty tasty.  Occasionally there were things we couldn't identify (one thing was affectionately called "fried mush"), and I've read on facebook that a number of the students have been trying to recreate the oatmeal that we had every morning.  There was also some "magic juice", named "magic" by some students because they couldn't figure out how it was made.  Some people thought it might be made from fresh fruit, but that seemed like an awful lot of work to me, and I thought perhaps it was just from some sort of mix.  The Dominicans do like their sugar (which I guess makes sense, since there are sugar cane fields all around), and so that might be what made me think it was a mix - because it was so sweet.  We were offered coffee by a native at one point, and it was really sweet, so actually worth drinking - though the people that actually like coffee didn't think it was any good.  And we were served tea at one of the churches we went to, and people thought it was really spicy, but didn't want to be rude, so I ended up drinking someone else's, but after two cups, I had enough.  It was actually pretty similar to the tea recipe I found in a cookbook that said it was authentic Dominican tea, with ginger, allspice, cinnamon and sugar (no actual tea leaves).

We drove out to get the fruit trees from a farmer, who had pigs and other animals, and we talked to a lady whose husband had been shot, I think, and MGM is planning on building a new house for her family.  While we were there I noticed for the first time how the electrical wires are run - basically homemade, that people climb up the eletrical poles and hand wrap some speaker wire, and run it down to their house, balancing it on tree branches, etc. and maybe wrapping it with electrical tape when the wires wear through.  Their electrical requirements are pretty small - wood-fired stoves for heat, so maybe a light or two, but the wires are still pretty scary.  I asked one native about it, in terms of maybe that would be something we could do to help some people out, by bringing better wire, and connecting up the village's power more safely, but that would require permits, because we would have to officially do it, where if they just send a kid to shinny up the pole, then they can get free power (which I'm not sure who pays for the power - certainly the power company has to know that people are doing that).  So, it is one of those things that though I could make it much better and safer, they won't allow me to do it, politics is the same in the Dominican as in the US, though bribes are more easily accepted (and expected) in the Dominican.

After we gathered the trees, we planted them across the street from the compound, and then we weeded the garden, and planted some vegetables and potatoes, and checked out how their watering system works, which is William, Danilo and Tonito, three Dominican kids from a village nearby, who are paid to come by and water it twice a day.  They were originally paid in cash, but now that the garden is growing, they have ownership of three rows to plant whatever they want, and apparently, a desirable cash crop is cilantro, and so harvesting that pays for their work, and they quite diligently come take care of the garden every day.

We managed to avoid getting our shoes shined by the "shoe-shine boys" for the most part.  I did promise Tonito that I would pay him the last day I was there, and though he was quite worried that I wasn't going to honor that (apparently it is a quite normal thing to lie, and it isn't really looked down upon there) he did clean my shoes on Thursday afternoon.  They were all amazed that I wouldn't normally clean my sneakers every day, and took it as an affront that I would clean my shoes myself, rather than pay them to do it, but I told them that I basically never clean my shoes, unless they got really dirty, and in this case, they weren't really all that dirty, maybe just a little dust on them.  I did hear that the construction guys had their shoes cleaned every day, but I think most people didn't, which I think is another different thing from a "normal" week.

That night, Kim taught and brought a couple object lessons with him; he had a couple different animal traps, and made the analogy of the traps being our sin, and depending on the trap, it may or may not be obvious that we are trapped by the sin, but it is a trap nonetheless.  Those examples were quite powerful examples for a couple of the students, and they referenced them throughout the week in other discussions.

I think Monday night is the night I stayed up late talking and praying with someone, and then stayed up even later praying on my own.  That was a really great night.  Partly because I was feeling "useful" and had a couple conversations here and there with people, and I hope that I managed to not talk/blab too much, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy the college years, and thought more about campus ministry, like I do almost every time I am with college students...  But, I also had a good time just in my own thoughts as I considered what I am I doing with my life, and what are my goals, where am I headed, am I trying to "fit" God into my life, or is He all of my life, etc.?

I slept very little the whole week, and I credit two things for that - one that I had an excellent, alive, time of prayer for lots of the week, and secondly, just being around people, and particularly people who were interested in talking about real life, and what they were doing, struggles they were having, etc. is enough to make an extrovert like me not really need to sleep at all...  And the time was well spent, for the most part (I do question staying up all night the last night) since there were so many things to pray and think about.

Posted by Jon Daley on April 7, 2010, 12:57 pm | Read 2084 times
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Your "magic juice" may have been sugar cane juice. When we were in Brazil a frequent sight was a roadside stand with a hand-cranked mill that took in a chunk of cane and spit out juice. I don't recommend it.

Posted by SursumCorda on April 7, 2010, 3:29 pm

It had various fruit flavors in it, so it wasn't pure sugar.

Posted by jondaley on April 7, 2010, 3:30 pm
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