Year One

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The Dock at Belmont

We’ve been here for about a year now and think we might have discovered a sense of normalcy for us here – whatever that means. Looking back at the 12 months there were many frustrating days that seemed to linger (especially those really hot and humid, sometimes no power days).  Other times the novelty and excitement of the adventure passed over as quickly like a traveling thunderstorm.

Christmas Eve at the downtown Sav-la-Mar night market
Christmas Eve at the downtown Sav-la-Mar night market

As a volunteer, your concept of time changes from counting minutes, days, or months and instead you think of things in regards to moments, situations, and special memories. You think of the concept of time as what is going on currently but more importantly, all the things you missed out on back wherever you call home. Though I should be used to being away, I feel like a space traveler, or trapped in a weird sci-fi movie because I get to observe life back at home via FB and see the life that I could have lived had we not moved. It’s heart breaking at times.

I wish I could have been there at certain times, that other, might-have-been life. There with my family during their transition and challenging moments. There to celebrate the unions of amazing people vowing to partner in life together. To be with friends as they welcome new lives into their families. There to be the Uncle and Aunty to their children that we love to be. To be the present friend that I used to be, not the catching up friend that I am now.

What must it have been like for volunteers before technology and Facebook? Michelle’s Uncle was one of the first volunteers who went months without contact from home. His family would record messages on tape and mail it to him – only so that he could listen to them 2-3 months later. I wouldn’t have been able to do that.  I bet there are still volunteers in the world that have limited access to their loved ones. To be honest, most days, we are OK, more than ok. We are doing good. Most days I am caught up in the steady beat of routine here. Most days I find myself finding new things I love about the people and culture of Jamaica (among the things that drive me crazy). Most days we are thankful to be here and for this experience.

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Michelle’s parents came to visit us to kick off the new year.

And of course Michelle and I have had our rough patches as well. Days when you’ve had enough with the cultural differences. Your annoyed that yet again, you have to explain your story of why you are here and what you are doing to someone you know doesn’t really care. Days when you wonder whether or not its worth the energy just to even feel upset regarding ignorant and childish behavior directed at you. Too tired to “small up” in a bus or taxi where you have to sit on an make believe chair. To weary because of another night where dogs, goats, cats, toads, and crickets join together in what seems like a planned attack against our sleep.

We are trying to learn to relax like our host family's cat.
We are trying to learn to relax like our host family’s cat.

That’s when you have a night like this one to write. Calm, peaceful, and strange. I haven’t had a night like this in a long time. One to look back at the last couple of months and see how much I’ve grown:

IMG_3205I’m more direct now. I have a bad temper when it comes to whiney(sp?) children and adults that act like children. Overall I might be more patient. I believe that things will happen, when it’s suppose to happen. I enjoy working with the elderly. I am definitely more patient. I love to teach. I love observing everything. I’m obsessed with all things cooking. I believe in the power of communication and mutual respect. I am growing up, getting old, getting sore and tired. I am loving adventure. I am seeing how my past has prepared me for what I am going through today. I am thankful for everyone who has prepared me for what I am going through today.

And in all of this, these last 12 months, though I have grown, I am still very much me. Still long winded and random, trying to connect so many thoughts all at once (like this post). I’m still trying to make sense of everything. Thankfully, I guess I still have another year.

Looking to the future. This girl is acting as a "loader or ducta" man on the bus to town.
Looking to the future. This girl is acting as a “loader or ducta” man on the bus to town.
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4 thoughts on “Year One

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  1. I am a personal fan of your long winded-ness, Jedd. That is one thing I hope that never changes. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I am reminded of those days when just going to the mainland was an adventure. I used to tape record messages to send to the family in Japan as long-distance telephone charges were too expensive, and snail mail was the only way of communicating. Things have change, but then, things have not. Family and communication are still important!

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