Last week was Youth Week (and last Friday Youth Day), which is a national holiday in the TCI. The whole week there were various activities running throughout each day, and Friday the kids had no school (we did though) but a field day instead. It didn’t mean too much for us at the Center, but we headed out to join whatever activities we could in between classes.
Tuesday before dinner my roommate Aimee and I walked to town to see the little kids play softball, and we had the cutest moment ever with some local kids. This is so typical of South Caicos too: as we were walking down the street (which, by the way, had random horses walking down it), two little kids came running up to us and the girl immediately put her arm around me and told us to come sit with her! We walked with them to the dirt field and then took turns taking pictures because they were so enamored with our cameras. After twenty minutes the little girl, Kalia, had to go home and she urged us to come home with her and her mom would make us dinner, but we weren’t sure her mom knew about that ;) plus we had to get back to the center for our own dinner. Still it was an awesome evening as the sun set to be with the community and get to know some of the kids.
Wednesday I was in the kindergarten class for outreach and our task was to present on cultures/geography of the world. My peer, Hannah, and I weren’t sure what would be attention-span-appropriate for that age group, but we decided on drawing a world map and talking a little about the continents; then letting them have at it with the crayons. We didn’t get too far with our geography lesson (they definitely thought their island was Australia, next choice was Antarctica… so hopefully we got that cleared up) and then they took off with the crayons. It was a struggle to keep everyone occupied, even with various groups reading books and playing games as well. At one point I had someone on my lap and 3 others leaning on me, and one boy “shampooing” my hair… he came over and started rubbing it and I was a bit concerned until he told me he was doing my hair. All the kids are infatuated with our hair (since it is a different consistency than theirs) and they all wanted to take off my headcovering so they could shampoo it better. I tried to tone them down. And then I got questions about why I had hair on my legs… what to do?;) I explained that when they were older than their current age of 5 they would too (yes part of it is that we don’t shave quite as frequently as the states but it’s not that bad!;). They were pretty crazy…high energy, lots of shouting, some crying when they couldn’t all sit on our laps or color with the markers, … I don’t know how their teacher does it!
Thursday night we headed out after dinner to the community talent show, which was outside at the Regatta. We were told it started at 7:30, but clearly it was 7:30 “island time” which meant 8:20. Our SFS group was definitely the only ones there for a good 45 minutes, and even when it started we were at least half the audience (and the loudest cheerers). It was a nice surprise to hear them start the talent show with a prayer and the first few song performances (by middle and high school girls) were all praise songs. Then they announced a “skit” which was actually an hour-long drama about everything you can think of. It was performed by the third grade teacher, the policeman, the fireman, and some other local adults and it was almost more fun to hear the community’s reaction to their acting… they were being complete goofs and the kids were dying laughing. By the end they had kids even crawling on stage to see them better!
We had a reading quiz the next day so after we came back (we finally walked out at 10pm but it was still going!) we all scattered around the center to do homework. Around 11 I was reading a paper and someone came up to talk and said we were only going to talk for 10 minutes (of course this always happens), and we got talking about church and then he started asking all sorts of questions… those that know me have heard how I have explained faith based marriage so many times and yes it happened again;). Another person who I knew was a Christian heard our conversation and came over to talk, and then someone else was heading to their room after reading the Bible for the night and ended up stopping as well. Charlie just kept asking questions and it was so cool to see how three of us, with totally different backgrounds, still had faith in the same God and based our lives on the same Word. It was so encouraging to have a spiritual conversation… I would say that is what I am homesick the most for—my young group and the wonderful spiritual talks we have. We ended up talking for hours and no one wanted to leave except we knew we should get some sleep (and finish our reading… oh the joys of school!;).
…Plus, some of us were getting up to watch the sunrise the next morning! I ended up getting 3 hours of sleep before waking at 5:30 to join a group of about 15 to drive up to the east side of the island to watch the sunrise. It was a half hour drive over a terribly pot-hole-y road and then a 10 minute hike over a dune to a completely untouched beach. We waded in the water and watched as the sun slowly peaked from behind the clouds and it was totally gorgeous.
We got back just in time for breakfast, morning meeting, and class; afternoon class had more fun in store: diving for research! We were doing a lionfish assessment because lionfish are invasive to this area, and that entailed each 4 person team diving along a transect and marking lionfish on our dive slates. While my group didn’t see many lionfish (actually zero), we did see a 6 ft stingray and a sea turtle! It was a new dive site—The Grotto—and all of the fish were supersized… regular reef fish were at least a foot wide and beautiful. It was fun to imagine this sort of scientist life… just another afternoon doing research! ;)
The rest of the afternoon—when I should have been napping—I went with Ross and Lisa to the Regatta to help with games for the local kids. They had no school that day and the teachers were running out of ideas; immediately when we got there they pulled us on stage, introduced us, and gave us the mic—pretty much saying ‘go for it!’’. We took turns playing MC with the microphone and running various games that got less and less structured until we were just doing whatever we could think of…tag, obstacle courses, red light green light, etc. The kids kept at it with suggestions and energy and smiles. When we finally petered out, there were many kids drinking out of my water bottle (and a couple dogs definitely licked it too) and tired bodies sitting on the stage. It was fun to learn more of their names and personalities… I know Laquacia has a lot of sass, Makia has a big attitude, Kylie and Kaylie are adorable but trouble-making twins…
We wrapped up the week with a night snorkel on Friday night (seeing jellyfish, lots of fish, lobster) and then watching the stars and lightning. There was crazy amounts of lighting for hours and some of us were about to sleep outside but headed in around midnight because the concrete was a tad bit uncomfortable (even with a yoga mat); thank goodness we did because that night we had a terrible thunderstorm that soaked everything, blew a ton of our clothes off the line, and leaked into some of the rooms. I love thunderstorms though so I thought it was awesome! It was a pretty great week in the community and a lot of fun experiences and good chats that I know will make awesome memories. God is watching out for me!
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.