Arrival – One Week

I’ve officially been in the DR for one week and boy, has it been a whirlwind. I will attempt to share a few highlights about my time here so far just to keep people posted!

So far probably the hardest thing has been the language barrier. Although I took Spanish in high school and 3 semesters in college, it has been more difficult than I thought to not be able to communicate everything I want to say, simply because I don’t have words in the correct language to be able to share them. Many of the women who live or work at Lily House have a basic understanding of English, and a few of them are quite good, which has been so helpful when I’ve needed to ask “Como se dice (insert word) en Espanol?” But they have all been extremely gracious, and have encouraged me not to be scared to speak but to just try. I have been learning to give myself grace and not put too much pressure on myself. I have only been here for 1 week, and no one – the ladies, the SCORE staff, or the Lord – is expecting me to be able to communicate perfectly already. I know it will get better with time, and I have been trying to listen as closely as possible when conversations are happening around me.

I am pretty settled in Lily House. There are currently only 4 women and 4 children living in the house, plus a Dominican on staff with SCORE who spends Tuesday through Saturday morning at the house. I only have 1 roommate currently, but the other 3 women and I’m not sure how many children who are normally living there all stay in the room I’m currently in, so that will be a change when they return to the house. I’m already used to not flushing the toilet paper and not drinking the water!

The weather is very warm, but not unbearable. I’m so glad I decided to cut 9.5 inches off my hair BEFORE arriving, though! And considering I’ve worn a headband almost every day since I’ve arrived, I don’t think I was crazy for bringing 15 with me πŸ™‚ There is no hot water at Lily House but I actually appreciate a cold shower, after the first initial shock of getting my hair wet!

The two SCORE staff women who work with Lily House the most are Erica and Megan, and they are both wonderful women. Erica has two daughters, Mali and Brinkley, who are 6 and 4 and just started their school year (Brinkley is in school for the first time, so that was exciting for her!). Megan has a daughter Lia who is 3, and her son Andrew is 3 months old. So both of them are busy moms, but have been such an encouragement when I have needed to seek them out to talk, ask questions, or cry on the couch. I am excited to work with both of them over my 4 months here and am sure I will learn much from them.

I had a really great night at the house on Friday night. When I got back from eating dinner at SCORE (which is a short walk, about a block, from the house, and I can walk it by myself as long as it is light outside and feel perfectly safe), some of the women were just spending time on the back patio and I joined them. We listened to music in Spanish, then some worship music in English, I asked them how to say a bunch of words and phrases, I showed them the photo album I brought with me – and it was just an answered prayer to be able to have good time with them and start to build relationships.

The SCORE hotel is about 2 blocks from the beach, and I was able to go on Monday with some of the missionaries and other interns. It was beautiful, but we didn’t get to play in the waves because of the beach we were at, and I got a bit sunburned, but it was great to experience! I will definitely be asking to go to the beach where you can play in the waves πŸ™‚

I hope to update on Wednesdays, my day off, as much as possible. Here are specific ways you can be praying for me, and please let me know either in a comment, e-mail, or Facebook message ways that I can be praying for you, as well. I appreciate your love and support so very much ❀

Please pray for:

  • Continued ability to understand and speak Spanish; for grace to give myself when I am frustrated or mess up; for conversations to happen despite the language barrier.
  • For my weekly schedule: that I would get used to my routine. Specific prayers for Tuesday and Thursday afternoons when I will be helping with the kids and trying to teach them some English, and for times when I will need to plan activities (crafts, sharing a hobby, doing a devo, teaching about hygiene, giving ideas for things to do with their kids) especially when I am doing those things without some to help me translate.
  • For my personal walk with the Lord: that I will bring everything to Him first in prayer; that I will walk with the Spirit daily and remember to ask for Him to fill me and use me; for boldness to do things that scare me, especially in regards to Spanish; for knowing when I need to take a step back and spend time with the Lord by myself so as to receive refreshment and rest from Him.
  • Prayers for my fellow Spartans as school starts soon! Freshman move in on Sunday the 25th – please pray that those who are already believers would get connected with campus groups and that those open to the Gospel would meet someone during move-in, in their dorm, in their class, or anywhere the first week of school who would love them and invite them to learn more about Christ. Specific prayers for Cru’s Prayer and Praise night on Monday the 26th, my friend Anna who will be leading girl’s study in Holmes Hall, my friends Carley, Marie, and Emily who will be leading girl’s study in Akers Hall, and my friend Tori who is an RA in Akers Hall.

Thank you again for your prayers, love, and support. Please feel free to comment – I’d love to hear from you or hear specific questions you might have! Also, no, I have not taken any pictures yet, but I think I am settled enough to begin taking photos soon πŸ™‚

In Christ, Karleigh Jean

5 thoughts on “Arrival – One Week

  1. Karleigh!

    I am so proud of you! πŸ™‚ we miss you here! I can completely relate on the ability to understand Spanish, but not speak it! It’s frustrating, but I know exactly how smart you are and I have full faith that you will be speaking Spanish like crazy when you get back! Juan can help you keep up on that! Please keep posting! I LOVED reading this πŸ™‚

    you are doing awesome, amazing and POWERFUL things.
    I love you Kar!

  2. So good to hear about your experiences so far. Pictures will be great to see. Continued prayers. Stay strong in faith- he’s with you always! Hugs. Mom

  3. Hi KarleighJenko, it sounds like you are adjusting well. We are so proud of you. I know you will be a blessing to the women and children God puts in your path. My favorite verse that gets me through tough spots is I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Know that your physical family and church family love you and will be praying for you. πŸ™‚

  4. Hi Kar,
    I loved reading about your first week.
    I have one practical suggestion for you to deal with the temporary language challenge. It carried me through a few times when I was on a short term trip in Mexico. Learn one simple, common, worship song in Spanish. A song that you already know in English, so you’ll know the melody and the meaning. (I learned “Shout to the Lord” & ” Open the Eyes of my Heart”.) I wrote the Spanish words on paper and sang it over and over and everywhere until I had it memorized. Then you’ll have something to share with the kids, and the women, until you can communicate larger ideas in Spanish. I also learned a really basic VBS tune. There are many important Christian truths in those simple songs! I’ll bet the SCORE staff know a couple that they could teach to you.

    xoxo K

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