The D.R. chronicals...

Macao Beach, Punta Cana-Bavaro

 Domincan Republic

November, 2020

Being A (single) mom in a third world country

It is fascinating to see on Instagram the recent trend of having many children.
Sometimes I will watch one of their you tube videos. It could never hurt to get a few tips from a busy entrepeneur mom, who seemingly has it all together.

Although we all know there is a good chance that is at least, partly a façade.
So I see these families and they all seem to have a pretty good flow and system to keep things in order. But then I realize I live in a 2nd-3rd world country.

And only rich people have automatic washing machines, dish washers, water heaters, 24 hr electricity, etc.
AND THEN I think about the grandmothers here, the ones who grew up in countryside 'campos,' as they call them. Often without even the luxury of running water. They had to go get water from a well with buckets and donkeys, if they were lucky enough to have an animal.
You start to realize maybe people actually had the children just to have help around the house!
And many here still live that way.
Yes, HERE.
The Dominican Republic.
The lovely and dreamy island where you come to vacation and experience luxury and joy.
In all seriousness though...
I am a mom of 2 now, a ten year old girl and a one year old boy.

(Side note; I am actually a mom of three but placed my second child for adoption.
 See more on that story on this blogpost.)

I don't know what I would do without my 10 year old, she's so helpful. She makes me laugh when my mom asks her via video chat "What did you do all day?"

Favors," she replies. 🤣

Husbands are helpful too, usually. I don't have one of those either.

But that brings up another point on this topic concerning Dominican culture. It is a VERY patriarcal society.
On one side the men are actually very sweet and involved with their children, but there are others who are more of the head-of-household type and prefer the roll of being authoritative and served by their wives and children.
Many women do not work, and weren't working before all the current worldly "crisis", or whatever you want to call it.

This came up in a discussion with my (ex) mother-in-law because one would assume things are harder as a single mom as I am.
It is partly easier as I have no husband to worry about or serve, but I also don't have the steady financial help of a husband either.

 So I'm not sure which would be better. I'd say neither, and hope for a helpful and involved husband.
I know, I know...negative Nancy. 

Don't start with me on that.
It's just that society and communities in general have come to such a place of complete disrespect and lack of care for the family unit. 

It takes a village, right?
Well not anymore it seems. It takes faith now, because that's all we've got left.

I am getting off topic though...
Just know, your first world mamas, you've got it a lot easier than many other mothers around the world. As I, as well obviously, have it easier still than others mothers that are worse off than I.
We have to stay humble and be thankful for these technologies that have made life easier on us moms, and not take it lightly. 
I feel so grateful as well, however,  for this experience of life in a less technologically evolved society, and confident to know I could survive a potentially harder situation.

Like if things were to become even worse off in the world at large right now. 

Which seems to be happening month by month anyways, so who knows where we will end up.
 Because I'm not sure things can go back to what they were at this point, anyway.
 I suppose I ought to do more research on the Spanish Flu and see how that all played out, though.
Lets just all try to be grateful for what we have, and maybe even try to find other more primitive ways of daily life and chores, as simple preparation for the what if's.
 It couldn't hurt, moms.
We have gotten very comfortable in modern day living, and would be quite the wake up call if it all came crashing down one day.
I don't mean to be a downer or sound like a conspiracy theorist, but where I live they regularly (whoever "they" are) for no particular reason, shut off the electricity in parts of the city and country. 

So this is something I have learned to deal with and be prepared for.
A few examples being:
Never let the laundry build up too much.
(An add on to that, hand wash your panties when you take a shower!)
Don't keep too much food in the fridge.
Keep LOTS of candles, matches and lighters handy.

Mosquito nets are a wonderful invention as well, for those of you who live in warmer climate and humid areas. A necessity here when the electricity is out at night. Helpful still as well for deterring spiders and other critters in cooler climate areas, too.
Just a few things to think about in these weird times we live in.
Coming from the mouth of a priveliged American turned local (expat) Dominican.
Be blessed.
Be grateful.
And be aware of the big world we live in and its potential possibilities...and downfalls!

December, 2020

I feel as though Dominicans have killed the sanctity of love...

Now at first it seems real sweet, and even complimentary. Those first years as an expat are naively blissful. So much wonder and lovliness in the island paradise atmosphere.
But eventually you get down to the gritty.
"How can I help you my love?" Says the grocery clerk.
"Lets go, beautiful," says the motoconch guy (motorcycle taxi).
"Thank you my queen,"  says the fruit stand lady.
And funny enough, my (ex) boyfriend (and baby daddy) never much used any of these lovely pet names in the seven years we were together. Thats a whole other topic in itself, however...
It seems to me that, if everyone is going around calling everyone my love, my queen and beautiful, it really loses a lot of meaning and significance when you actually genuinely want to express this type of sentiment to a partner, friend or family member.
Dominicans in general are a very loving and accepting type. This is definitely one of the Christ-like qualities many of them have. They really do "love thy neighbors," so to speak. 

 I mean that in more than one way, also...


Again, another topic for another time. 

Seems to me I ought to do a series on Dominicans!

But honestly, what sentiments are left for the ones we cherish when we go around calling "Joe Blow" my love and my king?
I often wished my then partner showed me as much verbal sweetness as the bodega guy always does!
 Maybe this is one of the offshoots of some of the realizations I've been having lately.
Maybe they really do love everyone and want to express their love and care.

Another point to mention is every partner/boy/girlfriend they ever have is always considered their 'wife' or 'husband,' while not actually being married of course.
This to me does cross the line a little, because as an adult I now value and cherish the idea and custom of marriage.
So what is it to say to your potential future REAL spouse, when all this time you've been calling any old boyfriend or girlfriend, your husband or wife?
Seems diminishing and unfair to them in my opinion, if they do exist out there somewhere.
Walking in love is one of the hardest roads I have begun to walk. Love your enemies. HA!
Well it's easy to say that, and relatively easy to do, from afar that is. Imagine if you had to cross paths regularly, or even live with someone who constantly disrespects and devalues you-and you have to love them! And honor them! And bless them!
Well Jesus surely takes the cake on that one, no doubt about that.

Dominicans are pretty good at it though, much more-so than Americans.
I don't know, maybe it's the Catholic smoke screen, but there seems to be a lot of contradiction to it when I consider it all from afar.
Just the other day a neighbor lady was offering to sell me some squash (auyama, as we say here). 

It was a relatively small piece, so I of course either way would have bought it as to try and support others in these hard times, trying to be as charitable as possible. We are all struggling, the non leaders of the world that is.

In the store or colmado (bodega) it wouldn't go for much more than 20-25 pesos, but she charged me 50.
I didn't complain or bat an eye. I want to do good and be good so I handed it over, thanked and wished her well.
You wouldn't believe, in the next breath she begins to tell me to be careful for people calling me outside the house (as she had just done). To always check them out and keep the door locked for safety, and not to trust anyone.
Well first off, duh! I'm a white girl in a Dominican local town, and second; you just ripped me off completely, lady, with your high price piece of squash and your going to tell me not to trust others? I don't even trust you!
People baffle me, and so does this walking in love business.
But I won't give up, and mostly out of stubborness and determination, as usual I suppose.

 January, 2021.

Being a grown up is strange.

Life seemed so simple before.  A child's mind doesn't consider the complicated and logical issues of life, they just live!  Wouldn't that be nice to do again.  I am attempting that feat, but childish-adults are a major deterrence in that department.
Logic seems to be an inexistent quality these days.  I really hate to bring it up again, but narcissism is the ugly head that seems to have irradicated many honorable qualities in the human personality spectrum.
I went walking with my kids around town the other day and stopped at the food stand in the park to grab a water, and ahead of me in line were some trendy, young millenials discussing something about the jaw placement and its relation to word pronunciation.  So refined, ha!  

The worker lady and I just rolled our eyes at eachother as she passed me my purchase in between them, because obviously they hadn't thought to move out of the way during their enthralling conversation.
I have seen countless comments on social media, sometimes paragraphs long, babbling on about some minorly important subject, but making it seem so evolved and momentus with all their fancy word play.  

We have perfected the skill of being utterly feebleminded while sounding completely enthralling and intelligent in our enunciation.  It's terrifying, honestly.  

The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

This verse has been monumentally validated as I've been attaining that knowledge.             
I was a judgemental, bitter and proud mess of a human before my road with God began.  I will say I was always truthful, but often in a beligerent and rude way.  

My mind has always been a logical one, even from childhood. I think that is why I've never had many friends.  My brain just cannot deal with illogical people.  I know we are all given different gifts and talents, but logic seems to me to coincide with the fight or flight response, something that (used to be) built into our natural survival systems. 

  To judge something or someone is not a bad thing or an ego personality issue, the problem comes in when we insert our opinions alongside or within those judgements.  I can judge that this mango is ripe enough to eat; I can judge that a mother tends to over-coddle her child; I can judge that my cousin has a really rebellious personality.  These are all fair and right observations, which is all judging actually is.  It becomes something else when we apply additional personal opinions atop of those observations.  

It reminds me of a conversation I was having with a family member.  They went on about how they know they were making the right decision about something because it made them feel happy.  To which I responded that all correct decisions do no necessarily mean instant gratification or happiness.  I gave the adoption placement of my daughter as a great example; that was not something I felt particularly happy about doing, but I knew it was the right decision, and as a result it brought many blessings and future happiness to myself and her adoptive parents and extended family.  If I had done what made me "happy," we would have all missed those blessing and current happiness with the situation.  So over analyzing and the desire to be happy has overriden all logic and just-judgement in modern society.

I am in a stuck position as two of my closest relationships in life are people cursed in a trap of narcissism and illogical personal and world views. I have no escape from them, other than all possible avoidance, which is relievieng, but not lasting; we can avoid our family only to a certain extent.  

I've come to the conclusion this is a feat I will have overcome and conquer, and I am convinced if I can get through to this personality type I can get through to anyone.

 Which will be really helpful in my assigned duty to be a "fisher of men."                  (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17)

April 2022.

Losses for Wins

With disdain I begin this tale, as to tell it gives the failure jurisdiction. As it is said; Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. I have many blessings in my life, an easy life really, compared to many. Although sometimes I think that it just seems easy in comparison because we all only receive to the extent that we can handle. I wonder sometimes how those who so often judge my life would react to being in my shoes.

Knowing the Lord hasn't prevented the curse of depression and disdain creeping up on me from time to time; we all have our battles and shortcomings. I feel fortunate that now I do my darndest to find solace in those losses, knowing they are not for naught.  

Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ... (Philippians 3:8) Like a potent and smooth salve, topped with a soft cotton covering, it ever so eases the pain. It does not, however, delete the sting to my soul that it has marked. We all have hopes and goals in life, some simple and small and others grandeur and dreamy. It has become for me, a small battle within myself to discern what is the appropriate measure of effort to attain those goals while still being a follower of Christ, staying true to scripture. We are to take up our cross daily, and deny ourselves.

 How far do we take that is the big question, concerning career goals, family, living situations, etc. It can be such a battle because the enemy often makes the wrong choice very easy, but God also opens doors easily where we ought to go. Needless to say prayer has become a very useful tool! 

Your will not mine, Lord. 

I was raised basically secular (cross hanging on the wall and grace at dinner, but no talk of religion or church attendance); and became a believer as an adult. My mom dabbled in the church, but never took to impose her beliefs on me. Something now I am very grateful for, as I fear it would have done much more harm than good based on the remainder of her spiritual walk.

Although, where I live is seemingly a very God fearing country in general, there is also the small danger of the salvation taken in lightness with the arid spiritual undertones of the general public. I am not poking or attempting to stir the pot, but it can be agreed that in some religious circles there are attitudes and rituals that may not line up fully with scripture. Anyhow, you get a lot of people around proclaiming the will of God over their life daily, while also daily acting very careless and sinful- the toxic super-grace mentality. While I am still maturing in my acceptance of God’s divine grace, it’s easy to judge the other side who are too complacent in their grace. 

I became saved after having been in a relationship with this type of man, who now in one breath will proclaim God to bless our son so earnestly, and in the next breath curse my love of the bible and God. A common judgement is that I have changed so much, and boating that they have stayed the same. As if that were a triumph. Refusing to see the point I often make, that normal and healthy people do change, mature, and grow in time.

  So to what end do we continue to fight for our dreams? I have seen the results of both extremes, and they both seem to be likewise unfulfilling and far from God in many ways.  

I cannot speak for those people, but only from what I see as an outsider. One, a woman presumably outwardly living her dreams, to which I saw from being to now come to fruition. A lovely little life and business she has built for herself. Although it seems that any mishap or shortcoming may fall on her shoulders and be a burden in that way.            So much glory to God is forsaken via her hard work and persistence. Another, a man, who presumably has left all his own efforts behind, possibly in the name of attempting to allow the will of God to fully work in his life. This time, all the shortcomings falling on God, therefore giving great reason to hold grudge and regret towards the Lord. There is a saying here, "Si Dios quiere," if God wants. So we use this model in all areas, big and small in life. 

 But there is still no clear outline to how far we ought to ride this command outside of either sinful, purity and/or of the will of God. So a sure battle it has been for me to find a happy medium in the midst. 

My hopes and purpose in this tale is I suppose, to simply share and grieve for a moment together, that we are not alone, and although we also share the great gain of Christ, we also share the hurts of the losses. These are the guts and glory of what should be our brotherhood. We walk by faith, not sight. 

Evangelical: emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual.

 I came across a video done by some young twenty-something or so guys, claiming to be evangelizing patrons at a bar around midnight. Now, in all normal manner of thinking this seems like a sketchy idea. What could we possibly say as believers to convert some drunks at a bar? Well when you put it that way, there are a few things that come to mind. But what doesn't seem logical right off the bat would be to convict these drunks of their sinful ways. Who wants to be told that what they are doing is wrong? Well, no one, in fact. But that is exactly what these kids were doing. I was excited to watch the video, and took a whole hour of my precious alone, single mom time in the late night just to do it. I was sadly dissapointed, however. Further wasting my night afterwards, attempting to help a confidont of these young men understand that what they were doing, first off, was not really evangelizing, and secondly, would not save or help anyone. But just as the drunks in the bar, this kid would have no part or agreement to the ideas I was trying to enlighten him with.

 My road as a believer has been nothing short of miraculous, even straigt up mystifying and bizarre at times. Something that I never expected as an unsaved, secular person. I always believed in God, in some way or another, but was never before sure of who He was or what He had to do with me and my life. Over the last eight years that idea has radically changed. Even just recently I finally had the world rocking revelations of what grace actually is and how it ought to be applied to life.

But back to the drunks and Christians at the bar. That could be the start of a good joke, no?

 Well it sure seemed like a joke the further along I got into this "evangelizing" video. These young men were actually seemingly knowledgeable and had quite a few memorized verses under their belt. But their message that went along with it was nothing more than persicution and fear inducing. Even their matching hoodies said something like "Jesus will save you from hell." A good and true message, but not the first thing an active sinner wants to hear. It made me laugh at one point when a guy came up saying "you're in hell brothers, haven't you realized?" I often have had this thought and truly contemplated that possibility. It seems thoroughly logical when you look at the world we live in, and also consider the second coming; that Jesus will come to take all the believers away with him to heaven and leave the rest behind here. So is this just hell on earth? That will be another discussion for another time.

 So anyway... A thought to start with is, do sinners go to heaven? 110%. I think that's the line in the sand where so many are either on one side or the other, and I, at this point in my understanding, stand firm in having one foot on each side. This is the message these boys ought have been preaching. We are all sinners, and that is an unchangeable fact, thanks to the serpent and Adam and Eve.

 I can understand where these guys were coming from, because I too in my faith had a period of time where I felt very persicuted, and even leaned more towards Judaism and law in my worship, thinking I was supposed to follow many rules to please God. I am still in the process of breaking out of this way of thinking, but find it imperitive to keep my foot on that side of the line as it is multiple times stated in scripture, that yes, we will be judged.

 1 Corinthians 9:20 comes to mind concerning this. That perhaps it is good to become like others, even in perhaps undesirable manners, so we may experience what is like to be them and therefore may gain understanding of them and have a way into their hearts, and bring Jesus along with us.

 Anyhow, the judgement proclaimed now seems to be on what the "new" law became after Jesus died and resurrected. We are to love God above all, with all our heart and soul, and love our fellow man as we love ourselves. If we can do that, the rest naturally falls in line. If we truly do those two commandments. I find it really unsettling to see so many Christians who live in a way that if they just claim Jesus as saviour, then they are saved and it ends there. I even recently saw a man make a comment saying something like "Well I don't have to change because I am cleansed by Jesus." That is partly true, but those who truly know Jesus continually and fervently are ever changing and advancing in their knowledge of God and their faith in him, and attempting at least a little bit, to sanctify themselves. This has been my personal experience, anyways.

 It's the same as anything, really. You can claim to be anything, but until you do that thing, it is an empty claim. We can claim to be Christian, but until we attempt to live like Christ, that is an empty and fruitless endevour. But still, we will never escape the sin of the flesh, so we do have to make some sort of peace with that. Do our best to be good in the eyes of God, but also know that nothing we will ever do could ever please God enough to win our salvation. As it is always said, it is a free gift, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. It is not, however, a get out of jail free card to sin. (See Romans 6:15, and all of Romans for that matter, is wonderful concerning this debate, in fact.)

 We are called to share the good news. The good news is what will penetrate the hearts of the secular and lukewarm. It is what the last straw was in my faith that got me to understand what being saved by grace really is.  

As I continue to understand what the word love actually means, my understanding of God deepens. Love the sinner, not the sin. Easy to say, much harder to do, especially when you hate sin. Much easier to do when you realize we cannot escape sin.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

 (Ephesians 6:12)