I am alive and well. It actually feels like a lot to say that. It feels like so long since I’ve left the states and the internet is VERY unreliable so I am pretty detached, which is hard—to go along with all of the other things to adjust to. It will be slow going with pictures, but it is SO gorgeous here I want to upload a ton! (We’re not really supposed to do a whole lot of that, so we’ll see;)
Anyway, yesterday I spent 5 hours freezing in the JFK airport, and then took a very empty 4 hour flight to Provo (Providenciales) where I met the rest of my study abroad group. The minute we stepped off the plane it was HOT, and it is very humid as well. Not a cloud in the sky and very blue, the land is mostly limestone and rocky/grasses. It’s not a lush island, though there are some palm trees. Then we all loaded our bags (a monstrous pile!!!!) into a bus to take us across the island to the ferry that would take us to South. Though the bus looked pretty nice, clearly it had some issues because as we were driving up a slight hill, it gave out and we started rolling backwards! The driver tried for almost 10 minutes but every time he floored it, we only rolled further back… kind of scary!! The driver and luggage men (all from Turks & Caicos) were talking to each other and said the bus was too heavy with all of our bags. But after one of them got out, we started going again and were fine. The open-air ferry ride was fun too—across such beautiful turquoise water that is crazy clear, and at times only 3 feet deep! The bottom is white sand and seagrass…which is so cool when you are from the Pacific NW! It was lightening and there was a breeze across the water as the sun went down in the sky, and I was totally in awe to be there.
When we arrived at the dock in South, a bunch of people and little kids were waiting and watching…apparently they’ve been asking all week when the “School for Fields” kids are coming—we are a big deal to the islanders and the kids especially. Every Wednesday we teach in the schools and on Saturdays they come to the center for games and swim lessons and who knows what else… I will learn! Then we unloaded our bags, got a tour of the center/campus, and sat down to dinner. After dinner was diving paperwork, putting money in the safe, and trying to connect our laptops to the internet, which of course didn’t work with so many. Most of us just unpacked and set up mosquito nets and that sort of thing. We weren’t allowed in the water since we hadn’t done our swim test, which was SUPER painful because it was baking hot…. Like so hot we are immediately shiny with sweat once you step outside for 2 minutes. We are constantly wet but since everyone is in the same boat, it is ok. Plus no one cares what they look like since it’s not like there is anyone to impress (or anything you can do about it!). Some of us girls decided we were so gross and even with six fans in our room it was going to be SO hot to sleep, so we decided to take a salt water shower. We are only allowed one freshwater shower a week, and there are either salt water shower spigots around the center outside or the swim zone at the dock that we are allowed free rein to shower in. The shower we found happened to be right outside the main eating (it’s outdoor) eating area, but we figured it was dark and a little weird to be showering in front of people (others from the group were hanging out there), but we were in swimsuits and that must be how it is! It was evening so it was kind of dark anyway. It is so weird to shower in salt but it felt AMAZING. Like I can’t even explain how good it feels to be clean (at least not sweaty) and cool—none of the water here is heated. (Of course today we learned that we are actually not supposed to shower in that one, it is for rinsing gear only because the shampoo will kill the grass in that main area… whoops;).
Last night I read my Bible outside and could hear the waves and see boats out on the water… it was amazing. Still unreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet that this is my home for the next 3 months (and by the way, that feels like a long time right now. I know I said it will go fast, but it’s feeling long!).
Today was a lot of orientations to classes and faculty, a town tour (1500ish residents, mostly houses, 4 restaurants/bars, 15 churches, 3ish convenience-type stores---a tiny box of cereal is $8!), and our swim test. We just had to swim out to one of the boats and back, and then tread water for 10 minutes—that’s what I had to do for my scuba class so it wasn’t too bad, but being in the ocean (currents) and with saltwater was different. But it felt SO NICE! No wetsuit necessary! Then we checked out our snorkel gear and have been having free time until dinner. A couple other girls and I went down to “sea bathe”—or shampooing just right off the dock. One of the waterfront interns said you feel like a mermaid and it is totally true… it is AWESOME! Seriously! You stand on sand and seagrass in water up to your chest and just lather up your hair (of course we all have biodegradable shampoo…;) and just have fun. Plus it is so refreshing. And no towel needed---you get out and are almost dry by the time you get back to the rooms.
Anyway, about me, today was a lot better. Yesterday was a lot of stuff to get used to, a lot of adjustments, and being with a big group (33 students, 15-ish faculty—there are close to 50 at the center) was kind of intimidating. I admit to thinking “what have I gotten myself into??!!!!!!!” when I saw the center and the rooms and felt the heat and was sweating buckets. The center is actually nice once you get to know it, but it is NOT a luxury resort. We woke up to cockroaches this morning and you are literally shiny with sweat any time you go outside. And sticky salty. But today it is starting to seem more real and as people are starting to open up, I’ve found some really nice girls who are also non-bio majors and my roommates who are a ton of fun as well. And I was so encouraged to find that my roommate and another friend and some ROTC guy are Christians and non-drinkers, and I think a couple others too. It’s so fun just to get to know people one-on-one—usually in the hammocks looking over the pool and the ocean—and think, wow what a dream. How was I so blessed to get this experience? My God is awesome, and this is going to be amazing!
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.