Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happiness and Heartache in Paradise (Micronesian Summer, Part 3)

June 27, 2006

Right now I am sitting here in the room with the rainy jungle out the windows behind me. It is really hot and muggy and my legs are sticky so I am making sure they aren't touching, but it is good. I can hear the basketball being dribbled as the bigger kids are playing and a little girl is giggling really loud. Oh, and now Caiti is giving her world class laugh along with her. It is a good sound. I have had not had that much time to stop and write in a journal and this afternoon I scheduled it in only to find that my journal disappeared out of a broken zipper-compartment on my suitcase. So, I guess my blog will be my journal. Which may mean these will be the longest blogs ever, but since it is mostly for my benefit, that is ok :)

I have been storing up so much in my head that I wanted to put down on paper (now Caiti's laptop to be transferred to the computer with SLOW internet access) but time has kept marching, slowly as it does in the islands, but filled with more things I think I want to write. The other night we went to the jail with cookies and lemonade to just hang out with the inmates and let them know someone is thinking of them... these guys are intense. And not in the way you would think. They aren't dangerous really (most were drunk when they committed the crimes) and they aren't crazy. Just regular guys. Well, regular guys who have killed or raped or stolen something. But they don't seem much different from the people you meet on the streets. I say these guys are intense because I have never seen people so interested in life. We had a movie to watch with them and they were so helpful, carrying the projector and other equipment back to the van, shaking our hands, and thanking us for coming. I know some of our group were a little nervous to be around the prisoners, and although everyone was kind, you could tell there was some hesitancy from our side. But the respect they showed to us was so much more... giving up their seats so we would have a place to sit, putting the fan in our direction and enduring the heat themselves. These men who have killed and raped and stolen things showed us what kindness and love look like.

It only took a couple days of living in Paradise to remember this place, like all others, is not perfect. For all the happy smiles and giggling little girls, heartache is so prevalent. In one day I heard stories of two people that made my heart hurt. One girl, who I have been sitting with and talking to a lot, has a beautiful 3 year old daughter (who, I must add, loves me and follows me around everywhere). This lady got pregnant when she was 15, was married soon afterward, and then after giving birth to her daughter, gave up her husband to jail because he committed a hit and run while he was drunk. He is now in jail for 20 years. Another family's son got high and raped a little 5 year old girl when he was 16 years old. Since there is only a jail and no juvenile hall, he is under house arrest except for school or work, and then on his 18th birthday he will be taken into custody to serve out his sentence.

The difference for me with these stories than with most is I have seen how it impacts both sides, the victim and the person who has committed the crime. I see the son everyday as he comes to visit [our host family] Manny and Betty since they are neighbors.  Every morning I see him come and join their family worship. I met the husband of my friend and heard how he aches to see his daughter, who I play with everyday. And I feel for the family of the woman who was hit in the car accident and cannot imagine what trauma the 5 year old will have to suffer because of someone else's action. There is definitely pain and suffering everywhere, but there is almost no family on this island who is not hurting from the suffering of their loved ones, whether that person was a victim or they lost someone to jail and have shame when they face their neighbors.

barefoot basketball

learning to weave baskets

But the islands are still wonderful. To hear the voices of children singing and laughing, to see the beauty that is surrounding us, to just soak up the life here... it is amazing. Most of the children who are coming to camp this week dont speak English, so it has posed a challenge for us, but we have great young people helping us with the activities and translating. I ate my lunch today (tuna sandwich, rice, and white squash) out on a log under a coconut tree with Nellyn, Leoni, Shra, and 2 of our girls, and we learned that the same things that make you laugh in America make you laugh in Kosrae. Grocery shopping is quite an experience here because there are so many little stores, but no one big store that carries everything. So you have to drive around from store to store to get everything... it takes forever! And since the island has run out of many things (onions, rice and fish included) it takes more effort to put together a meal. And gas... the island has run out of gas (which is why there is no fish since the boats cant go out). Yesterday there was this long line of cars (about 40) waiting in line for this one gas station so we thought the gas had come.  Yet it had not.  We found out the reason this particular gas station had gas because the people don't like the gas pumps. They would rather put gas in their gar the Kosraean way with a milk jug filled with gasoline and a funnel! So when all the gas was gone, it was the new-fangled fancy gas stations that still have it left over :) 
back of a rusty truck -- our transportation of choice

it rained so hard you could literally take a shower in the rain

My food blog has been bit by a travel bug.  Follow along as I let my words from the past answer the question, "What place(s) have you visit that made the most impact on you?"  I am too busy enjoying summer to be whipping up anything good in the kitchen anyway... ;)

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1 comment:

  1. I'm just loving reading up on your trip to Micronesia! It sounds like you were able to touch a lot of different people with a lot of different stories.


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