Friday, August 30, 2013

Tomorrow is September?

So much has happened since I last blogged anything.  I returned to the USA for the summer before returning to the DR, but unfortunately my fundraising did not meet my expected needs and I ended up staying in KC.  So here I am now 3 weeks into the school year at Argentine Middle School where I am teaching 8th grade math.  It has been a blast so far and I am really excited about this year.  My students represent a lot of challenges and a lot of potential and I am excited to be part of their lives and see where they can go.
For those of you that don't know the Kansas City area; Argentine is a small part of Kansas City, Kansas.  It is an area that is very rich in history and has a large standing Hispanic population.  Although Argentine sounds like it gets its name from a S American country it actually comes from its silver refining days with the Latin root of Silver being Argos.

Basically life is good, but I do miss the DR.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cheap Flights

Are cheap flights worth it?  I saved a bunch of money by booking a flight that was supposed to leave the DR at 7:30 pm  last night, it left closer to 10 pm, but that is not the point.  I spent many hours in JFK and then had a 5 hour flight to Salt Lake City, where I am right now.  Now I have a flight to Denver, which is my final destination, at least for a couple days.  So is it worth it?  I have also only spent $1 so far, impressive right?  In the end I think the $100 or $150 I am saving is worth it, but I think most people might disagree.

Here are some fun pics I took in NYC, the Statue of Liberty and all of the bridges were just to pretty to pass up getting a shot with.

Yep, I am losing my mind.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dia de Corpus Christi

Yesterday was Day of the Body of Christ.  We didn't have school, which was kind of weird for a Thursday when today on a Friday I am back.
Because we did not have school yesterday the local Young Life community took advantage of the day to remember Megan Garven who was on teacher staff in Santiago and just a couple weeks ago passed away in a car accident.  We all went up to Pico Escondido and collectively remembered Megan and planted a Manzana de Agua tree (a bright tree with lots of fruit that reflects on who Megan was).  It was a good time and a good reminder that we do not mourn for people that pass away, but we mourn for the fact that we do not get to live life with them anymore.
Because Pico Escondido is so close to the trail head of Mogote (my favorite mountain here) I decided to spend a few hours running (hurting) all over it.  I am hoping to do a 50k in KC this summer so climbing mountains over an over should make that easier I hope.

One of my friends like to take funny pics of people and then make collages like the one below.  She then send them to everyone you collectively know.  I thought it was funny, so here you go.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keeping Focus

We have less than 10 whole days of school left and it is reaching that time of year when it becomes hard to focus on the present.  Constantly I find myself counting the number of actual plans I have to write until the summer.  The hard thing now is staying focused on the present and maintaining quality from myself and the students.  Even though it is getting harder to focus on the present we have been allowed the chance to celebrate the amount of the year we have successfully made it through so far.  The 11th grade class all got their SAT results back today and most of them were very excited about how they did.  The 12th grade class is celebrating their last few weeks of school today by "skipping", but is it really skipping if you ask the principal first?

Personally I have been spending a lot of time running up and down big hills and mountains.  My legs have felt strong as I run through the beauty of tropical mountains and I am enjoying every minute of it until I return to the states and begin adventures there.  A few days in Colorado and an adventure in Alaska are definitely things I am looking forward to.

The last few weeks here should be good and I hope to keep my focus on the present until the present is enjoying times with friends and family in the states.

We were lucky enough to have some connections to Rancho Aurora where we spent our staff retreat and student retreat.

Our end of the year Young Life party was here at Pinar Dorrado, and despite some gentle rain we all had a blast.

Both pictures came from Google Images, because I have been slacking on taking my camera anywhere.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pico Duarte and the HS Retreat

It has been a really fun last couple weeks.  This past Saturday myself and a friend had the opportunity to climb the tallest mountain in the country as fast as possible, the next day we had our last YL leader meeting for the year, and today we had our HS retreat.  Of everything I would definitely have to say that today was the most fun of all.
Shortly after school on Friday myself and my friend Daniel left school and headed for La Cienaga, base camp for Pico Duarte.  That night we ate at our local guides house and went to bed as early as possible.  The next morning at 4:30 am we woke up, packed up, and headed up the mountain.  Round trip the mountain is roughly 28 miles and 10,000 vertical feet, so needless to say we planned on taking a good chunk of time.  Daniel didn't feel the greatest that day and let me take off on my own after 6 or so miles.  I managed to make it up to the top of the mountain in right around 4 hours and 10 minutes, which was a bit faster than I expected.  Overall the trip took me 7 hours and 36 minutes, which as far as we know is the fastest anyone has ever done it.  It was a good day, and I barely made it past 8 pm that night before I passed out in my bed.
Today we had our end of the year HS retreat, and it was a blast.  We went to local resort that was a little ways out of town, we worshiped, ate, and played the day away with the students.  The highlight for myself and quite a few of the others was a game of wrestle the football away from whoever has it.  This just happened spontaneously when the football ended up in the pool somehow and we started wrestling over it.  Somehow this ended up turning into upwards of 15 people at a time fighting for a solitary football.  I got pretty good at acquiring the football, but maintaining it was almost impossible.  Sometime the best times are the least planned ones.  Today was a wonderful chance to spend time with our students, just letting everything go and enjoying each others company.

All retreat pics are courtesy of our PE teacher Heather Hamby

Hanging out at the retreat.
 When the boss lady has the ball, everyone listens, except the ornery student with the broken wrist that stole the ball seconds later. 
 Minutes before I was ruthlessly thrown in, luckily I had changed into shorts, but I still had the polo on.
 Battle royale.
 Early in the morning on Pico Duarte
 Sunrises here are kind of awesome.
 2 hours in, still doing good.
 3 hours in and you can see the mountain haloed by a cloud in the distance.
 Ta da!
 What it looks like on top of the Caribbean when you are inside of a cloud.
 Sign at the beginning of the journey.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The End and Beginning

About a year ago I was discovering that a place called Doulos existed and needed a high school social studies teacher.  Here and now I have been here for the better part of 9 months.  After that much time in a place you generally develop some rhythm to life, and my time here has been no different.  There are certain days I go to the gym, certain things I do when I get to school everyday, certain places I enjoy on the weekends, all of this creating somewhat of a comfort zone.  A large part of my routine is rooted in what is happening at school and until recently it had a wonderful rhythm about it.  In the last couple weeks leading up to our Expedition Night and even continuing through now things went a little haywire.  Life has still been good, it just has felt a little more reckless.  The combination of missing school a few days to do some school trips with the students got us a little off track but we returned and started to get back in the rhythm only for everything to be blown apart the next week.  Part of this was do to the fact I had some wonderful friends visit, which was a lot of fun and a blessing to have them here.  This was the first time I had taken any days off and I took 2 off for it.  Expedition Day/Night also causes everything to be stirred up.  We then returned to school this week for two days before having standardized testing for 3 days.  All of this has been fine and it has been good for the most part but I am ready to return to the rhythm of day to day life.  I know times like these work for a reason and are generally good to get us out of bad habit, but I am ready for consistency.
The students that I worked with on their project was the 10th grade class.  The result of it is an attempt at bettering their community here in Jarabacoa by empowering them through knowledge and showing them the Love of Christ.  If you want to see some of what they have been doing visit the Deja Una Marca Facebook friend page or fan page and connect to any of their other links from their.
Some fun pictures have been taken out of the whirlwind of activity the last few weeks, so here ya go.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Expeditions, Friends, and Mountains

This weekend Ven and Michal Smith came to visit Jarabacoa and we had the opportunity to do a lot of fun adventuring.  We wen to a couple local waterfalls, hung out at Spirit Mountain for a day/night, and did some adventuring on motorcycles.  It was a fun time here in town and they have since made it safely to the beach.
Tomorrow is Expedition Day/Night, and it will be a wild one.  Expedition night is culmination of work that different class have been doing and are now sharing with the community.  It can be really fun, but it can also be a bit stressful for some.  My class is in a really good place right now and I am excited to wrap up all we have been working towards.  The reward for me will be a trip to the beach to catch up with Ven and Michal.
Recently myself and a friend (Daniel Gutierrez) have been attacking the local mountains to get some elevation and miles under our legs for our attempt on Pico in a few weekends.  Its fun to see how your muscles react to increased exertion.  Things that once were really difficult and energy sapping now are relaxed and easy.
Watching the students' videos (mustaches are so yesterday).

Students working on Expedition stuff. 
 This is what a our current schedule has become.
 One of the trails up at Spirit Mountain.