This Saturday will mark 4 weeks since I moved to the Dominican Republic, and boy have these first few weeks flown by! I arrived on the same day as a small but mighty team from Nashville. I enjoyed getting to know the team members and was able to serve alongside them at two of their barrio clinics. Part of me felt like I was a member of their team, so it didn’t really sink in that I was here to stay until the team left.
At the end of my second week here I was able to start Spanish lessons. I arrived here not knowing any Spanish, so I am very thankful to have started learning! For the time being I am doing Spanish lessons 3 days a week and I am hopeful that things start sticking soon. I took 4 years of German in high school and now whenever my brain knows it’s not supposed to be thinking in English, I always seem to revert to thinking in German instead of Spanish! Hopefully things will get straightened out in my brain soon so that I can start to truly absorb all that I’m learning in both my Spanish lessons and in daily life.
Something else I have started learning are the responsibilities of my new job! I have gotten a glimpse of the work that goes on behind the scenes in order for a medical team to be able to come and serve with SRI. I have also spent some time in the pharmacy checking expiration dates, organizing, taking inventory, etc. I am definitely looking forward to taking on more responsibilities of my role in the coming weeks.
We have not had any teams the past 3 weeks which has worked out nicely for me, as it has given me some extra time to adjust to life here in San Juan. Yes, I’ve been here on a few short-term trips, but it is clearly different to live here. There are obviously big things to learn like language and culture, but there are smaller things too like learning how to drive here and how to find my way around. Having a few weeks off has also meant there has been time for some fun activities like going to the pool, hiking, and a trip to the beach.
One weekend Tyler was out of town, so I got to watch Osa for a few days. I was glad to have her with me! She was the best companion as I practiced driving and finding my way around San Juan. For those that might think Tyler is biased, I can confirm that Osa really is the best puppy!
Now, if you’ve read all that you’re probably thinking my transition to life in the DR has been going super well. I will be totally transparent here: there have been a lot of moments, especially in the first 2 weeks, where I have struggled and have felt very overwhelmed. Before I moved I knew I had a lot to learn but within my first 2 days here it really hit me just how much I have to learn (language, culture, new job, new location….you get the idea). It’s hard to go from being completely independent to totally dependent on others for just about everything. In the States I never would have thought twice about making a trip to the grocery store but now driving to the grocery and shopping by myself is considered an accomplishment. It’s also hard for me to not be a fully functional team member yet. I love helping other people, but I have a hard time receiving help in return. The Lord clearly knew I needed to be humbled and work on that because I’m very reliant on the help of others right now!
Through the ups and downs of these first few weeks I have been so grateful for the support, guidance, and friendship from my SRI family. I’m so incredibly thankful to have people to help me walk through this season! I am frequently reminded that I have time to learn everything so I’m working on giving myself some grace, being patient with myself, and setting realistic expectations. As much as I’d like to know everything right now, that’s obviously not possible…learning and growing is a process that takes time.
I do want to be clear, I am so happy to be here, and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity! This is just the beginning, and I can already see God helping me to stretch and grow and teaching me lots of lessons along the way. I can say with total confidence that even when things feel hard, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.