This past weekend I went on a Young Life Training Retreat. Nearly 20 of us Young Life staff and volunteers traveled the windy road between Jarabacoa and Constanza until we reached this big ol’ cabin in the woods where there was no WiFi and hardly any running water. There was, however, a giant table big enough for all of us to sit and eat together, a porch where we gathered to sing and pray and share our hearts, and a gazebo where we played games and got to know each other and made up and performed some choice skits.
I loved playing games (my love language) and eating snacks (my other love language) and smelling the pine trees and looking at the river. I loved getting to know new people and speaking in Spanglish while surrounded by both languages. But my favorite part was getting a giant moth out of our room with my coworker (and now friend!). We had worked together for a year at Jarabacoa Christian School (JCS) but never really had any kind of interaction. Now we will always have the memory of throwing my rolled up socks and underwear at a giant moth at midnight in the mountains.
My other favorite part was on Saturday afternoon when we sat together with our teams to get past the surface level stuff we tell everyone and get to know each other beyond our likes and dislikes. I am part of the Young Life JCS team, which means my goal this year is to get to know and love the 30-some high schoolers at JCS. There were four of us on the retreat this weekend with the same goal. One of them is another JCS teacher, Adriana, that I had worked with for a year but never really talked with. Another is a new JCS teacher, Sarah, that had been in the country for two weeks. The third was my best friend’s husband, Danilo, who I have known in the context of “my best friend’s husband,” but am getting to know now as a friend and it’s really nice.
Adriana read us questions from a little piece of paper and we each answered them. One of the questions was, “When was a time in your life when you felt closest to God?” Such beautiful answers.
My answer was, “Right now.” I talked about how I feel that moving to Jarabacoa was like setting a reset button for me and that I was able to take all that I had learned from growing up in Michigan, going to college in Ohio, and my very formative time in San Pedro but start over in a new environment . I have grown a lot since moving to Jarabacoa just over two years ago. I see it in myself and I see it in the way that others encourage, pray for, and relate to me.
On Saturday I said something like, “I am just so happy all the time. My prayers lately are just, ‘Thank You, thank You, thank You.'”
Yesterday I went and got pedicures with my best gal. A pedicure was sorely needed in my case and it’s so nice to have smooth feet again! We chatted, of course, while the lovely ladies were working on our feet and then as she was dropping me off Amanda (that’s my best gal) said, “You seem sad. Are you sad?” I was a little taken aback, but only slightly. I did feel less peppy than usual. But, I honestly answered, “No, I’m not sad.”
The way I have been feeling in the past couple days has not been sad, but perhaps overwhelmed. Here’s the thing…
I got back from the retreat on Sunday and one of the dogs had peed on the couch. Okay, these things happen. Then it started raining on Sunday. And rained off and on until Tuesday. The dogs collectively decided that since it was raining, they’d just prefer to pee in the house. So I’ve been mopping up four dogs’ worth of dog pee since Sunday afternoon.
On the topic of pee, I got a new rug this week! It was even bigger and better than I thought it was going to be and within the first two hours of having it home the puppy had peed on it three times. Oh, and someone else peed on the couch again just as I was heading out the door for work Tuesday morning.
On the topic of dogs, on Tuesday I got home from work and was greeted by two dogs instead of four. The girls, Leche and Rosie, had decided to let themselves out for a little field trip and came back soaking wet (and in Leche’s case, smelling like horse poop), about thirty minutes after I got home. Rosie was supposed to be spayed this past weekend but the scheduling didn’t work out, so fingers crossed she’s not pregnant.
I lost one of my side jobs last week. God quickly provided THREE NEW side jobs, but that has been a little overwhelming.
On Tuesday evening I was sitting on my couch working on one of those side jobs and was becoming increasingly annoyed by bugs flying into my computer screen, face, and neck. I got up to see what was going on and discovered that my kitchen was full of flying ants, or termites, or whatever the bug is that has wings for 24 hours, invades people’s homes, and then leaves you with a pile of wings the next morning to remember them by. So I had to sweep those up.
Yesterday morning I woke up to discover (thanks to Fred’s bark) a mouse in my bathtub. I live in a house with four dogs and two cats and yet somehow a mouse had made it boldy into my bathtub. I found a cat, dumped it in the tub, and Rosie joined in. Yet the mouse got away and I couldn’t find it, so I left my bedroom door open when I left for work hoping the animals would take care of the mouse problem. They didn’t, but let me stay in chronological order.
Not wanting Rosie to get pregnant, my moto driver, Anthony, and I tried to make the front yard a bit more secure before I left for school yesterday morning. There are already four different kinds of fencing securing the front of my yard and yet Rosie, the biggest dog I have, still manages to squeeze her way out into the world. I started with putting her in the backyard, but that lasted about 2 seconds before she climbed the chain link fence and bounded up the driveway.
So Anthony and I wedged some fence in between some rocks in the opening through which the girls had been squeezing. I pushed on it and we determined it would hold. As I was climbing onto the motorcycle, puppy Leche climbed out of the opening, new fencing be damned.
Last night I came home from the pedicure, did one of my side jobs, and then decided to take a little Netflix break before starting on another. During that Netflix break the power went out. While the power was out (well into the night) I went to the bathroom with my iPod flashlight to guide me. Guess what I saw in there? The mouse!
I grabbed a bucket and hopped up on my bed, determined to not let it slip away again. Rosie was in there with me and at one point I heard a hopeful squeak (hopeful for me, not for the mouse) and I was praying that that was the end of it’s sneaky little life. But the bold little thing eluded us again.
Not loving the idea of sleeping in my bedroom without power and with a mouse, I pulled out the “bed” part of my sofa bed and took up residence on the couch. While I was locking up the house I very clearly saw a bat flying around my living room. A bat in my house! My first reaction was to duck outside and then when I came back in I couldn’t find the thing anywhere.
At around 4:30am (about an hour ago) Fred woke me up barking. I got up and opened the back door so he could go outside and pee. How naive of me. While the door was open, zero dogs went outside, but one of them peed in the kitchen. While I was mopping that up another one of them pooped in the kitchen. They are nearly as elusive as the mouse! I never catch them in the act and therefore don’t know which of the four to punish.
After having cleaned up the kitchen I came back to my messy little sofa bed to see that I had been lying on a dead spider. Nice.
So, the thing is, I’m not sad, but I am a little over it, you know?
Just now mopping up pee for the thousandth time this week (and it’s only the wee hours of Thursday morning!) I felt like Job. That might be a little grandiose and dramatic, but hear me out.
I just shared publically (to three other people, and now to you all) that right now is the time in my life when I’ve felt closest to God, that I’m constantly grateful and happy, and that during this school year I want to work on being more calm and peaceful. And it feels like satan was like, “Oh yeah? What about now?” and then started throwing handfuls of pee and lost dogs and vermin at me.
And you know what? I’M STILL HAPPY AND I’M STILL GRATEFUL. So eff you, satan.
I am a problem solver and a plan maker and I may do it crying but I’m getting this stuff done. I’m translating those 30 pages by Saturday morning even if you turn off the power and I have to walk to town in the rain to get it done. I’ll continue to mop up pee while brainstorming ways to get my dogs peeing outside again and also thinking about how mopping up pee is so worth getting to live with these crazy little cuties.
I will trap that mouse and I will set it free. Or I will watch one of my pets kill it and I will feel no remorse. Sorry, mouse. You set up camp in the wrong house.
I will keep handling everything that life or satan throws at me because I know who I am and I know Whose I am and I am capable and loved and I have a job to do. I am peace, even in the midst of a thousand swirling discarded insect wings. Nothing is going to distract me from my job of loving people. This has been three days of refining fire, baby, and my prayer is still, “Thank You, thank You, thank You.”