My first week at site, my counterpart had to be in training somewhere else for a week. Just as I got the guts up to start exploring myself after staying close to home to get to know my family, a festival began and lasted for 9 days - thus making it not much of a point to explore because everyone was at the festival. People certainly know I am there though after me dancing with other Female Community Health Volunteers and finding out a couple days later that 4 other people saw me dancing on television - one having seen it in another district. (Thank you, K for showing us how to Nepali dance in PST!)
I have visited two schools - one where my dai works as an English teacher and another in a different VDC where another volunteer Z lives. His VDC has a school where 4 other districts send their children who are blind for their inclusive program. Apparently, all of Nepal is inclusive of people who have disabilities. To what extent with each different type? I have no idea, but it was cool to see how the school has integrated everyone. Z is about 45 minutes walking away from me so we have seen each other frequently, but it has been intentional. At the moment, I think we haven't seen each other for about 2 weeks now.
This past week I have finally been able to visit mother's groups and other wards. Not that I couldn't before, but with the overprotectiveness and my thinking people expect me to be at the health post every day - I have not felt the freedom to explore my new community like I'd like. This next week I plan on exploring and building relationships with others. My Nepali is progressing. I mostly understood a mental health training done by a NGO, but I still have heaps to go for me to be able to say more than what I can understand.
My first feelings when I got to site were "What am I doing here?!" They have changed from being frustrated because I don't know where anything is to finally feeling I'm semi being productive when I discovered I have been to more wards than I thought, which in turn means I have been getting around my community. Really, you only are not doing your role if you stay in your room every day and don't interact but it does not feel that way sometimes!
I have gone through $20 in less than a month calling the States and sending SMS to other volunteers. My aunt passed away earlier this week and it has been hard. A few of us have come together for Christmas, which has been fun and really good for support as my emotions run the gamut. I actually ended up leaving some people I was hanging out with yesterday and got lost for 3 hours trying to get back to our hotel. It was just what I needed!
Early this morning, I read a blog about someone who also was having a rough Christmas. She lives in Hawaii and talked about the pigeon English used there and the meaning behind it. As I read it, God was speaking to me about how I could apply them to my life during this time. "No Can" means now is not the time and to try again later. "Try Wait" means slow down and enjoy the moment. "Fear Not" is what the angels said to the shepherds when they came to announce Jesus' birth and while maybe not said in Hawaii often - is in pigeon English form.
The other volunteers and I make jokes about Nepali time, which essentially is whenever everyone gets there something will begin...probably after another hour to catch up with each other. During these first months of being at site and me trying to figure out what to do...I should not get frustrated with myself that I only did one thing that day or something does not work out. That day was not the time to do it and I can try again later. Throughout my grieving process it is important for me to not expect me to be at certain places at a time. If I'm not there - it's ok. I'll try again.
Rather than me being frustrated at how I don't know where much of anything at my site is, what things are available, and etc. I need to slow down and enjoy the fact that I am there. It will come - I just need to give it time and in the process it is important that I enjoy my new community. I am so grateful that I got to spend time with my aunt before I left. My memories of her are good to hold close to my heart and review them.
Fear not. Those words about make me cry. The verse going somewhere along the lines of "Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand," flows into my mind. This is exactly what seeing the mountains outside of my house mostly every morning reminds me. God is with me. Despite all the turmoil of life, even death - our God is faithful even when it may not feel like it.
Thank You, Jesus!