Friday, November 18, 2011

My Second Day

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I slept from about 11 pm to 6 am overnight, which I considered pretty incredible, considering my long afternoon nap. I got up at 6:30 and went to the salon grande to do my devotions. I read the Bible for about 25 minutes and prayed for about 5 minutes. Then it was time to get dressed and ready.

Breakfast was at 7:30 and consisted of pastries, cereal, coffee, and galletas (slightly sweet crackers or lightly sweet cookies, however you want to look at it.) I had time for about 3 galletas, a pastry, and half a cup of coffee before breakfast was over. That was the worst way to break a fast I've ever tried. I was jittery, slightly dizzy, and slightly nauseous until at least noon. Oh well... I had determined I was just going to eat what was served without making them give me special treatment. But oh, it sure makes me miss a nice omelette or my usual bowl of oatmeal.

I was assigned the job of "campaña" with C, who had led devotions the day before. Everyone said C was the best at campaña, which consisted of going from shop to shop and soliciting donations from the shopkeepers for a calendar.

After devotions, I boarded one of the white vans and we headed out. I sat next to Marlene, who is here as a short-term missionary from Mexico. She and I had a wonderful conversation. She is 22 and is full of power in prayer.

I kept paying close attention to the roads so I would know how to get to the Betel center, but then our driver dropped us off at a Renault car dealership. "Oh, so much for that," I thought.

Oh! But on the way, along the highway, we got pulled over by the police for speeding (7 km/hr over). While we were sitting there, someone looked back and a second Betel van was right behind us, pulled over, too. Later, we found out that a third Betel van had gotten pulled over right behind that one. Whoever is driving the Betel van has to pay the fine for speeding or parking tickets...not the Betel office.

Anyway, we walked into the Renault dealership. I was with C, my roommate R, and E, who is the youngest girl in the house (17) and doesn't come from a background of addiction, but from an abusive family situation. We sat down in the waiting area because there was no one at the reception desk. I assumed we were starting there to do our campaña. The other 3 ladies got a cup of coffee, I got a glass of water, and we sat around waiting for about 15 minutes. Finally, R got up and went to the bathroom. When she got back, we waited some more.
Here we are waiting around.

A little later, 4 or 5 guys arrived in the reception office, and R went to talk to them with a calendar in her hand. She came back, still with the calendar, and I thought we would be moving on to the next office. But she said something like, "It's not done because the tracks aren't working." From this rather cryptic message, I finally gathered that we were there to get the van we were supposed to drive to our campaña site. More than an hour later, the guy came up to us and said the van was ready. We got up and went outside to wait for it.

It seemed like we stood there for about 20 minutes while we waited for them to bring the van out. All that time, C and R were discussing something in rapid-fire Spanish that I could only follow insofar as they were figuring out what to do and had some sort of logistical considerations that I didn't know about, so I just kept my mouth shut. Finally, the van came and we drove off. If they had come to a conclusion during the discussion, I don't know when, but as we drove off, they both knew what they were doing. (Maybe they knew all along and were just arguing about it to pass the time. It's very Spanish to argue just for the sake of arguing.)

We dropped off R and E on a certain street, and C and I drove a few streets over, where we found a parking place. By then, it was 12:00, and we only bought a parking pass for one hour, because we figured we had to leave by 1:00.

I followed C from shop to shop, listening as she said, "Hi, we're from Betel, and we're doing our calendar campaign like we do every year. Would you like to collaborate a bit to help people from the street, abused women, and drug addicts?" Everyone said no, and we would go to the next shop. Finally, C turned and looked at me and said, "Ahora--tu." (Now--you.) So in the next shop, I  greeted the guy, said basically what C had said, only in worse Spanish, and--he gave us a euro! I was pleasantly surprised, as I didn't expect a success on my first try.

So we went from store to store, and every now and then, C would turn suddenly to me and say, tu (you). And I would talk there. but mostly, she did the talking. We got 10 euros all together (about $12) in this way.

By the time we got back to the van, it was 1:15, and we had already gotten a ticket for parking there past the time our pass expired. C went to pay the ticket, which was 3 euros. Then we got in the van and drove off, but C almost immediately exclaimed, "Oh! I forgot! We were supposed to stop at the pharmacy!" There was no chance to park again, but at the next intersection we saw a pharmacy at the corner. Carmen stopped at the red light, put on her flashers, hopped out of the van, held up her index finger at the driver behind her, and scooted over to the pharmacy. Of course the light turned green while she was in there. It was only a 2-lane road, and our vehicle and a hill impeded the view of the drivers behind us from taking the opposite lane, so no one moved. Then I saw flashing police lights behind us. "Aaaah!" I thought. "Three times in one day! What am I going to say to the guy?"

The police car was about 3 cars behind us, waiting at the red light, and he had merely turned on his lights in order to make a Y-turn and go back down the street in the opposite direction. What a relief! How curious, too, that the policeman just took our little Stop In The Middle Of The Road as a matter of course, not worth bothering about. As soon as he left, a great honking of horns commenced, and little by little, the traffic trickled around us, braving the unknown in the oncoming traffic's lane. C came out and had to wait a minute before she could get back in the car, because there happened to be quite a flow of cars going by just then. I wouldn't have liked to have to face them.

We drove into another confusing maze of streets, and C stopped to ask two people where a certain street was. When we got pretty close, she parked in a handicap spot and left the engine running while I waited. Of course, by now, the whole time, I was looking for someone giving out tickets, but no one came. She went down the street and came back and said, "They don't have it."

"They don't have what?" I asked. "La colonia," she said. I thought colonia meant "colony," but that must have just been a false cognate.

"What's colonia?" I asked.

"Un perfume," she said.

"Ohhh... colonia = cologne. Makes sense," I thought.

C continued, "But they have it at Mercadona."

"Okay," I said.

"We might be late for lunch because we have to pick up the cake, too," C said.

"That's okay," I said. I didn't know what cake, but I was already lost a long time ago and just decided to go along for the ride.

We went to Mercadona and looked at the cologne. I guess it was more expensive than C wanted it to be (16 euros), and she called A to check if it was okay. It must have been, because we bought it and two cakes.

"What is this for?" I asked.

"For J's birthday," she said.

"Today?" I asked.

"Yes," C said.

Oh. Shows how much I knew.

We got back to the house at 3, and I ate a quick lunch. It was lentil soup, curry chicken, and bread. Yummy!
At about 3:15, we both lay down for a short nap, and C came to wake me at 4:00, because we were supposed to go together to clean an elementary school at 4:30.

C told me that there was a pretty landscape on the way to the school, and when she got there, she stopped the van so I could take a picture.

I love the Spanish village with all the red tile roofs. (Click on the picture to see it better.)
Then we got to the school, just a little village school with one classroom for each grade. We went first to the utility closet, where C showed me how to fill the mop bucket and spray bottles with the right stuff. It was all the same pink soap, just with more or less water added, that we used for everything from mopping floors to wiping tables to cleaning chalkboards.

There were no whiteboards or smartboards in this school--but the other educational materials they had and the kids' projects on display made me think the kids were more advanced than our kids at the school where I worked.

C said we would work together on the first classroom, and then each do our own once I knew the routine. We sprayed and wiped down all the tables and chairs, putting the chairs upside down on the tables. Then we swept, and there was quite a lot of sand everywhere.

"Do they clean here every day?" I asked.

"Yes, but thee play area is sandy," she said. (Later I saw it. There was no grass, just some sandy ground and a concrete patio that could be used for basketball or soccer.)

Well, to make a long story short, I ended up crying because I couldn't do it exactly how C said, and she kept correcting me even though I thought I was following her instructions precisely, and that frustrated me.

Then we went to the Wednesday night service at church, and the girls asked me how I was, and I started crying again.

I felt stupid for crying over such a stupid thing. Stupid and weak and ridiculous. But oh well, it happened...

So we showered and went to bed.

Oh, but I do have to tell this little detail. When I went to clean a classroom by myself, C said, "Oh, by the way, I noticed that there's a rug in that room. Just make sure the mop is kind of dry when you mop over the rug."

So... I mopped a RUG. :-)

Previous Post: My First Day
Next Post: My Third Day

1 comment:

  1. Sounds a little crazy haha :-)


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