Today marks 7 weeks since we sold everything we owned and moved our family to the Dominican Republic. It was and still is a difficult change for our family of four here in the DR and also the family that we left back in the US. Some of the changes have been awesome. I get to see Kathy and the kids 7 days a week now. Kathy can get her blood work done for $4 without a prescription any time she wants. God’s beauty is all around us on this island and everywhere we go, we see new and amazing places that leave us speechless.
Some changes have been more difficult. Not speaking the language is one example of something that frustrates me daily. We are learning slowly, but I want some Matrix type of brain plug that can upload it instantly to me.
Some things just require a change in perspective. When we first arrived in the country, we had to go to Santiago and La Vega quite a few times to buy groceries and home goods that are not available in Jarabacoa. The driving in this country can be a bit hectic at times and even though some people consider them optional, you do find yourself stopped at a stoplight quite often when you are in the big cities. There’s easily a dozen people running from car to car selling phone chargers, limes, newspapers, cell phone cards and cases and even random things like garbage bags. There are also the window washers. They throw a sponge onto your windshield and even if you say no and shake your finger, they wash your windshield. They then await payment. I used to get so angry with them because I didn’t really need my windshield washed and it wasn’t like they gave me an option. Sometimes we drove away without making eye contact. Sometimes we tossed them a few pesos. The best was when our entire car full of people was laughing at me because of my reaction to the washers.
A few weeks ago, Luke Ostberg and I drove to Santiago to check out the progress of the foundations of the house that the team from RPC is going to build over Thanksgiving week. On that trip we came up with a plan, a change in perspective. We decided to embrace the washers. They really only expect 10 pesos to wash the windshield, which is like 25 cents. We made a game out of it that first day. How many times could we get it done? We were waving them over. Smiles all around. We joked that we needed to carry some mud with us to dirty the windshield up between stoplights. That day, we got our windshield washed 5 times. We laughed. It was awesome. It cost us less than $2.
Yesterday, we drove to Santiago to pick up a package and were disappointed that we only got one washing. After he got done with the squeegee and the light turned green, I reminded Luke of the second part of the deal. We are going to document all the faces we meet by snapping a pic with the phone. Faces that I used to avoid, I can now smile at and remember. With cars honking behind us, we got this pic. Amazing.
Kathy will tell you she gets embarrassed at me in public situations sometimes because I can let little things set me off. I still have a long way to go in this, but I’m so thankful that all it takes sometimes is a change in attitude to reverse the script. I’m praying that God will show me new ways to look at every situation that I might find frustrating. I pray that I will see more smiles.