Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Filled with joy & sorrow


It has been hotter than usual here the past several days. Not sure how hot it is because there really aren’t any thermometers around and you can’t get the weather forecast for Berlín online. The temperature is different than in San Salvador and San Miguel. But between 2-4pm Kathy said it’s probably been getting up to 95 lately. Thank goodness it’s the dry season so it’s not as humid.

My fourth grade class was hilarious today. I was about halfway through the class and I asked the teacher if I could open the windows because I was dripping with sweat (remember, no A/C). The door was open which let a lot of air in but I figured opening the windows on the other side of the room would give us a bit of a breeze. The teacher said yes and I started to open a window. Immediately about six students got up to open all the windows for me. They are so sweet!

It felt a lot better in the classroom with the windows open, but I noticed the students were looking somewhat groggy and lethargic. I asked the teacher if they needed to go get food because it was time for them to get their daily alimento. She said they could wait until class was over so I kept teaching. But they looked really tired so I asked the students if they wanted to eat. They said they wanted to wait until I was done teaching. I commented that they all looked really tired. The teacher said it was because they’d been out last night at the fiesta. I told them I also went to the fiesta last night. They all looked pretty surprised and asked me if I went dancing. When I told them I did they all applauded and asked me to dance. Only at the fiesta, I told them.

In my sixth grade class I was telling the teacher that I’d gone to the coronation of the queen last night. She pulled out a magazine/program she’d got yesterday at the festival. It had a bunch of information about the patron saint festival. It had the schedule for the week’s activities, advertisements, pictures, profiles of the candidates for queen, and other fun information. I asked her where she got it and if they were going to sell more today. She said she didn’t know if they’d be selling more or not. Before I left she told me she wanted to give me the magazine as a gift. She even wrote “Para: Alicia, De: Roxanna, 16-03-2010” inside. She told me it was to remember her. People’s generosity and desire to give what they have still amazes me.

Another example of the generosity of the kids and teachers at school is all the food they bring me. Several teachers have given me fruit, pan dulce, and other foods. Today as I was leaving my third grade class with my little escorts one little boy gave me some cookies. He’d done the same thing yesterday as well. The teacher in my fifth grade insisted that I go get a pupusa with the kids. Even though they’re made with rice flour which is different than what I’m used to they’re still pretty tasty. The teacher in my seventh grade class today gave me a little bag. I opened it up and inside was a mini sandal on a keychain with El Salvador on one side and my name on the back. I love it! Tomorrow is my last day of classes. I don’t know how I am going to say goodbye to my kids. I am going to cry.

After my afternoon class I walked around the house thinking about what I wanted to do. I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to get done before I leave and all that I wouldn’t have time to do. There are so many things I want to do and learn about that will have to wait until next time. Next time won’t come soon enough.

Around 4:00pm Bob Cook and 8 people from the Iowa Wesley Foundation showed up at the house. They are here for two nights to learn about Our Sister Parish and the mission here. Once they got settled in we all walked around downtown. There wasn’t a whole lot at the market but I love just walking around downtown. When they walked back to the house I walked to La Casa Mia to see Kimberly. She’s staying there because the medical delegation that comes at the end of the week needs all the rooms at the house. We chatted for about an hour and I walked home for supper.

Dinner tonight was tasty and there was good conversation around the table. After supper Bob walked downtown with some of the people and me to La Neveria. I had a cone with one scoop of mango and one scoop of strawberry. I love ice cream. I have a good friend that eats ice cream every day and I think I’m turning into her. She’d be proud of me (you know who you are). When we got back home the group had an introduction meeting with the team.

Later in the night I taught Alejandro how to play Uno. I wish I could have thought to do this sooner. It was fun playing a card game with someone. And I know there are some games he could teach me as well. I love that I finally feel comfortable asking people how to say things in Spanish and they can ask me how to say things in English. Alejandro told one of the guys with the student group that I was his teacher of card games. I said Alejandro was my teacher of Spanish. It has been great getting to know him and understanding the struggles he has learning English. Even though we are learning two different languages I’ve realized that we struggle with the same things. He told me he was a little afraid to speak English. I said I also get nervous speaking Spanish but that it has been good for me to be a place where I have to speak Spanish because so few people speak English. It is nice that we can struggle and make mistakes together. It is easier to practice a different language when I know the other person is in the same position.

Tonight I spent quite a bit of time talking to Cecilia and Blanca. We talked about all sorts of things. I LOVE these women!! I am going to miss them so much. I have grown so close to them over the past six weeks. They are like older sisters: they look out for me but we’re also able to joke around and tease each other. Getting to know them and spending time with them has been one of the best parts of my experience. When I leave I will miss their humor, generosity, seriousness, love, and devotion to God and others. These women are truly remarkable and are wonderful role models for how I want to live my life. The Pastoral Team has truly become my family.

Berlín has become home. It hurts to think about leaving. Until yesterday I think I was in denial about leaving. But awareness of my departure has crept up on me and it causes me pain. I don’t want to go to sleep because I want to savor every minute I spend here. I am going to miss so many things! I am going to miss the little ants that crawl around on everything including my computer, the pan dulce, and my clothes drying outside. I will miss washing all the dishes and my laundry by hand. I’ll miss the pan dulce that arrives almost every day at 4pm. I will miss the giant hill I walk up to school every day. I will miss sitting in the hammock chair in Kathy’s office for one of our many interesting conversations. I will miss napping in the hammock. I will miss the pupusas, plantains, and beans. I will miss going to church and the market every Sunday. There are so many wonderful things that I will miss when I have to leave. But most of all, I will miss the love of the people here. I know I will never stop loving them, but it hurts to be far away.

“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater” Unknown


kathy mahler said...

Sweet Alisha.
It is only about 11:30 - the very morning you left. You are already missed.
Love you.
Safe travels.
mama k

Emily said...

ice cream! hope you enjoyed one last one before leaving. maybe you even pulled an emily and spent the last change you had on some :)

so proud of you for falling in love with something so wonderfully delicious! ice cream should be a daily treat for everyone!

Matt said...

What an amazing experience. I'm so glad that you were able to connect so well with so many people that you met.