Nicole Eby | Solid Rock

Nicole Eby | Solid Rock

La Despedida

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I guess things come full circle after all.   I thought everything would feel so crazy in these days…running around in a fog trying to do a million things.

 

And instead I feel like it’s been like the early days here.   I’m playing lots of dominos and visiting folks and walking in the campos and making juice and listening to those old bachata and trashy songs that were playing on the radio all the time when I first got here.  I’m watching my beautiful girl eat mangos sitting on a concrete block porch covered in dirt and screaming in excitement with the other kids playing in the dirt with her.   I’m watching her walk around the mountains where her Daddy was born.   I watch her with our family here, soaking up these minutes of being completely and totally adored.    I watch myself, stepping further and further away from work and ministry, and feeling complete peace in it.   I watch myself…concentrating on the next domino move, feeling that adrenalin like I used to have, hearing that slap on the table and knowing that I know how to play.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

I know how to play dominos.  I’m not great at it but there is not another game that I’d rather play.    I know how to make the noises, the faces, the gestures.    I’ve written some of this stuff on this blog before…the under-the-table culture stuff that it takes a good long time to learn here.    I don’t claim to know it all and I’ve got a long long way to go.    But the DR is in me.    I love it.   Oh…I don’t love every single bit of it and a lot of it makes me insane.   But I love our little life here and I love what it has meant to me.   I love where God has brought us and where He is taking us.    I love my curly haired Dominican girl and my brave and hilarious Dominican husband.   I love our family and I love our friends.    I love our ministry and our patients and the old guys who play dominos down the street.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

I’m making juice and watching Magdalena eat mangos with Baby Nicole.   Who is EIGHT.   Eight years ago I delivered a baby in the barrios and I thought it was the greatest day of my life.   And her name is Nicole and now she’s 8.    I watched her last weekend.   Giving her toys to my daughter and walking her through their neighborhood while her mom and I sipped orange soda sitting on a dirt floor at 10 in the morning.   I drove away from our visit remembering that first day and carrying a huge bag of mangos and peppers and guandules that they gifted me.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

I’ve seen some old friends.   A couple weeks ago when Cathy was here and we were teaching (well, she was teaching!) at the hospital in town I bumped into Julian.    He was fine, just checking out some stuff.   But what a joy to see him again.  Same sheepish look, same awkwardness, same Julian that I knew in Pueblo Nuevo 11 years ago and that I saw sitting outside the church in Bastida eight years ago.    And this past week Gustavo rolled up to a farewell party to see me.   He sat down a domino table and I remembered playing against him nine or ten years ago when he made the neck slashing gesture and grinned at me to let me know that there was no way that I was gonna win.    Smartest kid I think I’ve ever met.   And life’s not been easy for him.  But there was the “I’m going to win” grin on his face. Now Euclides and Simon and Nelson and Stalin and Ronny are Ministry Assistants at Solid Rock and I get to see the wonderful men that they have grown up to be and it’s such a privilege.    I love that I ended up in San Juan after visiting the Rose of Sharon in Pueblo Nuevo 11 years ago.

 

I’ve soaked in the old AND new friends.   Last night I was given a photo album by some awesome girlfriends who have been coming and pouring into our lives and the lives of the Dominicans here for years.   The album spanned at least 6 years and I was blown away looking at the pix.   I remembered how I used to scrub into surgeries back in the day, running around the clinic like a crazy person.  That’s before all the Public Health paperwork started and when I lived in Room 16 and spent nearly all my clinic time in the Operating Room and was with the groups 24/7.   I miss those days.   I can’t remember the last time I was actually in the OR for a whole surgery.   Sometimes it feels like we are such a well-oiled machine now (HA!) …and those days were a bit more chaotic and organic.  But there was something beautiful about it too.  I learned how to be a different kind of nurse here.  I don’t know if you would say public health or community nursing or some OR nursing or whatever it is.  But wow have these folks (both North American AND Dominican) taught me so much.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

I see ministry well done.   I’m not saying we haven’t fallen on our faces, maybe even frequently.  I’m not saying ministry is easy or even black and white.  But I love Solid Rock and the difference that I believe this ministry has made in San Juan.  I love the people who work for SRI and our patients and the students at our schools and I love the Child Nutrition Program and the clinic in El Cercado with my dear Jazmin and Samuel.    I see Jeff and Kamanda and Jon and Alissa and Nicole and Jason working together to serve the incoming teams as well as the Dominicans in such a caring way.     It’s well done and I am preparing to leave and feeling so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to participate in this.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

I see palm trees and beaches with white sand and blue blue ocean water.  I  enjoyed some days at the beach with Cathy before she left… and then at our staff retreat,  and then at a beach day for the Ministry assistants.    I stared and stared at the water and the shoreline and floated in the Caribbean and then the Atlantic and reminded myself that I won’t see anything like this in the US.   I ate fried fish with tostones and lime by the shore and soaked in the flavors that are quite distinctive to the DR.    I played dominos in the shade under the little wooden huts that Dominicans build by the water to protect them from the sun.  San Juan is about two hours from the ocean so it’s not like we get to the beach frequently but I never ever take it for granted when we do.   So much stunning scenery here…right in the midst of folks scrapping and scrapping HARD for a living.   As Laura wrote back in the day, it’s such beauty among ashes.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

I see incredible patients.  I see the most resilient people in the world.   They get knocked down so many many times and they keep getting up and coming at it.  They stand in lines for hours to see us or make a government appointment or wait in a bank or hope to get a ticket at the hospital.   They walk for water.   They wait forever for health care and it fails them often.    They travel hours to get an education and then sometimes the teacher doesn’t show.   They ride buses or motorcycles to other cities to try to take classes to be able to graduate in less than 8 years from the university.    They pray for rain for the crops to grow.   They keep planting anyway.  They depend on their neighbors.   They live relationally and they drop everything to help each other.   They can’t screen phone calls because every call means so much to them.    They crank the music as loud as possible because the power could go out at any minute and let’s just go big or go home.    They die without hospice or pain medication.  They trust me.   It means…. well…. I don’t have the words to tell you what it means.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

I see my face in the mirror.  Gosh I got old here.   Maybe too much sun.  Gained a lot of weight eating Dominican carbs.   Gray hair and wrinkles- a baby at 45 will do that.   So many many life changes.   And yet, I’m still there.   The girl who came to the DR and loved EVERYTHING and soaked it all in and flew around on motorcycles and ate food in everyone’s house and visited so many patients in their homes…she’s there.  She’s a bit jaded and tired and can’t do all the busy things anymore.    But she’s there.   I am breathing it all in and sucking the juice out and loving all those things.

 

I feel so grateful.

 

When you play dominos here, you play with a “frente”, who is your “forehead” or your partner.   You and your “frente” are trying to beat the other two folks playing against you.  You are playing with 28 dominos, each person having 7.  Whoever goes out first wins and gets all the points of all the dominos left over from the other 3.    First team to 200 wins.  There are bunch of variations on how to play and each little neighborhood may have their own rules or points.   It’s fun. It’s all strategy and trying to know what your “frente” has and how to NOT allow the other team to play.    I met my husband playing dominos and so there always is a special little thrill in playing with him again.     Until the last couple weeks, I really haven’t played that much lately.    I love love love going down the street and playing with my little old neighbors who play every single day at 4.   When Madi comes along she plays with sticks and rocks on the cement while the old men hand her crackers and mints.  I could play there for hours and hours and never get tired of it.

 

I am so grateful.

 

We are leaving soon.   We are going home.  To our other home.  Where the other piece of our heart is.   And we will leave a home here too.  Where my baby was raised for most of her two years and where I met and married the great love of my life.  Where my Dominican family lives and where they have loved us so incredibly well and served us selflessly always.  Where the Dominican part of my heart will stay.  Where the music blares and the motos roar and the garlic and onions sizzle in the cauldron with the inescapable scent of the DR.   Where the coffee and juice are so so sweet and the mango runs down your mouth and the beauty amidst the sorrow overcomes.   Where the patients bring me pumpkins and beans and even a live chicken once.   Where God speaks Spanish.  My feet have always treasured dirt in different places and here I go again.   Back to those who know me best in the world and who are so excited to know my little girl and husband more.   I’m going back to the back roads of Pennsylvania where I can drive for hours breathing in the country air of hay and horses and honeysuckle.   I’m going back to Costco and sushi and parks with walking trails and cousins and church in English.    I’m going back to Bud and Sue and their ever present love and acceptance.    There is no better place for me to be at this time than with them and Monch and Magdalena.    I am so so grateful.

 

In our game of Dominican dominos there is a way to win a game while gathering extra points.   It’s when you lay your last domino and both of the numbers on your domino match the last numbers laid on both sides of your domino row.  It’s hard to describe but it’s called capicua.   It’s when you win on both sides.   That’s how I feel now.   I’ve had the best life here in the DR.   I am so sad to leave but I’m also so excited to start our new life in the US too.   There have been a million emotions but right now there’s just peace. Peace.  Knowing it’s time.  Knowing it’s right.  Knowing everything is ready and finished and prepared and set and just good to go.   I have peace.   Thank you Jesus.  Thank you Solid Rock.  And thank you DR.  You’ve been so good to us.   CAPICUA.  I win on both sides.

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