You know when someone asks you, “Hey, what’s your favorite ________?” (movie, song, book, seahorse), and you open your mouth to answer, but then realize that you’ve completely blanked on not only your favorite, but ANY __________? (food, family member, galaxy, prison) Well, that’s what happened to me when I sat down to write this blog. I KNOW I’ve been really busy and I KNOW Jacelyn’s been really busy, but when I think about recounting all of that busy-ness to you, all I come up with is THIS. (Problem is, that’s what pops into my head no matter what I’m thinking of.) Anyway, after looking through some pics I’ve taken, my memory was refreshed. So, here’s what we’ve been up to.
First a couple of tidbits that make me laugh. One of the workouts that we do weekly is walk the insanely steep hill right outside of our apartment 3 or 4 times. At one point on the hill, the road turns and, at the curve, you see this….
…which is only funny to me because, it’s a board, which looks exactly like a bike jump. And below it, is a valley. It’s a wonderful distraction from the thigh pain while we’re working out for me to picture this guy, mid-air, with not a care in the world. So, that’s tidbit #1. The second factoid today will introduce you to the Kenip, a Caribbean fruit that is quite plentiful and cheap down here. I’m planning a three-part series on local cuisine, and this is the first installment. Let me point out a kenip out to you.
Don’t even think about asking me about either of the other two fruits in the pic, because I’m not pointing at them, now, am I? The Kenip is one of the cheapest things you can buy at the market, but I’ve found it to be one of the most engaging and exciting fruits known to me. First, let’s get a bit closer, shall we?
I know what you’re thinking: “Wow! Did he actually hire a hand model for this shoot?” Answer: of course. There’s a local guy who does hand modeling for Caribbean Fruit Magazine Online, which showcases different Caribbean fruit online. He’s really unique because, though his skin is charcoal black, his hands are this perfect, peachy, fat-fingered Caucasion shade. He’s eccentric, elusive, and expensive, but you’re worth it. Anyway, the kenip. You twist the stem off, place the kenip between your eye teeth, and gently bite down until you hear/feel a little pop. (You’ll get no picture of that process. I tried, but because of a sad lack of eye-tooth models in the Caribbean, I had to try it and, believe me, you don’t want to see those pics. It looked pitiful and disgusting and just made the test groups want to pray for me.) Once you’ve heard the pop, you basically see this:
A little about the kenip’s inner texture. As you can see, it’s soft. What you can’t tell from the pic is that, when you put it into your mouth, it’s kind of like sucking on a marble covered in a durable algea/seamoss-type material. Keep in mind, it tastes NOTHING like algea OR seamoss; it’s very sweet and good, but the texture is reminiscent of how algea/seamoss would feel if you wrapped a marble in it and placed it in a hermetically-sealed skin. So, you kind of use your tongue and teeth to work at getting all the moss off the marble. (It may or may not surprise you to know that I actually invented, created, and marketed a game like that when I was seven, but, thanks to the short-sighted people at Mattel, Parker Bros, and Hasbro, it never took off) When the mossmarblealgea is finally gone, you are left with a seed, which you get to spit out/throw away. Here’s the start-to-finish of enjoying a kenip:
Picture all the fun you have while eating a kenip, or, “having a kenip-tion”, as I call it. Twist the stem, pop the skin, gnaw the moss, spit the seed. Twist, pop, gnaw, spit. TPGS. So fun.
So, this last week was fraught with tests for Jacelyn. Friday morning was the second mini, and Monday brought two different “Practicals”, which, if I understand it correctly, consist of identifying different things in different places. I think. Anyway, at the height of all the studying, she had set up the following work station:
Sometimes I walk in and it looks like she’s in some spy movie, trying to “hack CIA mainframe”. I want to just play the Mission Impossible music all the time. (Notice the full glass of water? Oh, the beverages she goes through) As tough as med school is, I still felt that Jacelyn was getting a bit soft and needed some challenge in her day, so I built THIS outside the front door. It makes it so she can’t slack off on the 15-minute walk to school in the sweltering heat.
I, on the other hand, set up a slightly different work space, with specifically-chosen tools. Though I’d prefer THIS, I usually end up with this:
Specifically-chosen tools, from right to left: Super glue, cell phone, coffee mug from world travels, first laptop to hit the market, tin foil, and cake (under the foil). Yes, folks this is my own little coffee shop where I give and take the orders. My own Starfruitbucks. My private Caribbeanbou Coffee. My li’l Dominicunn Brothers. (The last one was a stretch, I know)
The other day, I caught the Waldorf Posse hanging out. I was too far away, but I think I caught them smoking.
The blades of grass in the most foreground are called Lemon Grass. It grows everywhere on Dom and people make a nice tea out of it. When you pick it and crinkle/crush it, you get a really strong, refreshing whiff of lemon. Sometimes, I’ll pick a bunch of it and weave it through the bars on the window in our apartment. Then, every once in a while I’ll crinkle it and it smells….well, like lemon. When we were on a 1-hour van ride to the capital city of Roseau, at a particularly hilly and winding part of the road, the driver pulled over and picked a bunch of the lemon grass for people to crinkle and smell. Apparently, it helps with motion sickness. I DID feel better after he gave it to us, but that might have been because, while he was picking it, I was able to vomit out the window. Who knows, really.
I met with the youth leaders in the area last Thursday night and it went very, very well. They explained to me that one of their biggest problems is that they have very little structure or organization right now. So, the plan is to take the next year and make a concerted effort to get everyone on the same page as to focus, goals, and needs of youth in the community. We scheduled our next meeting for November 9, at which we’ll assign specific roles to everyone and then begin the process of leadership training. I’m really excited for the opportunities this will provide to use the training I’ve gotten in the last few years. As we talked, it was interesting to realize that, though Dominica has many cultural differences, youth ministry is not one of them. I broke out into a huge smile when one of the leaders was saying, “It’s just so hard, because I can’t seem to get them to want to DO anything. All they want to do is text and go on Facebook!” It was also sobering to realize that the ol’ 20/80 rule applies here, as well. In ministry, as in most things, it is generally 20% of the people who do 80% of the work, and vice versa. It’s the same here. From youth ministry to adult ministry to the church building project, its generally the same people, day in and day out, who carry the load. The difference here is that, while in Duluth, I had about 15 leaders to utilize for my 80-member youth group, on island I have the same number of leaders who need to cover an entire county of three or four churches. So, your prayers for wisdom for me and the DL’s would be great! On an up note, they very much liked the idea of the discipleship program like the one in Duluth. The idea of me teaching them adequately so they could then teach the youth was encouraging for them. It is perfect for this situation because they don’t know the Scriptures as intimately yet, and I don’t know the youth. This way, I get to know the leaders and give them what I know, and they learn what I know and give it to the youth they know. Win/win. Also, one of the mission trips is already scheduled to come here at the end of February!!!!! Go Team Kevin!
I will close with one last tidbit. A while back, I posted a pic, entitling it “The Suitcase of Broken Dreams”. I will now explain why I gave it that name. Med school is hard. It seems to be one of the hardest things out there, schoolwise. Each exam and each semester seem to bring to light more stress and weaknesses. Sadly, people often fail, be it one test or a whole semester. You hear stories of students who can’t take it and just walk away, buy a plane ticket, and go home, leaving all their belongings here. So, on the shortcut between our house and school, there is this suitcase. It’d been sitting there since we arrived, and we always just walked by it. Well, one day when Jacelyn and I were walking home, my curiosity got the best of me. We stopped, flipped the suitcase over, and unzipped it. What did we find inside? Notes. Med school notes. Slides printed off. Hundreds of slides. This was a suitcase filled with some poor student’s attempts to remember all the info they throw at you. One student likened med school to trying to get a drink from a fire hose. I don’t know the story of the student who left the suitcase. Maybe he gave up and just left it all there one day; maybe his apartment just got too cramped with all the stuff and, since they don’t have “NO DUMPING” signs, the shortcut was a great place to leave it. I don’t know. But I know what my mind WANTS the story to be.:
Sherman Dolenby walked back to his apartment, reeling from the ceremony. He was still wearing his cap-n-tassle to shield him from the hot sun, and his gown was getting drenched from sweat. He’d done it! He was a doctor. Dr. Dolenby. Nice ring to it, what with the alliteration and all. His first order of business as a doctor was to pack up all of his notes and donate them to the “Poor Freshman Fund”, which helped first semester students save money by giving them old slides. This would be his last good deed before heading to the airport early tomorrow morning. Sherman changed into his normal attire: green New Balance shoes, no socks, khaki shorts, and a t-shirt from his favorite diner back home. He packed his notes in his old suitcase, grabbed a cup of coke with ice, and set out on the shortcut, smiling widely at the irony of actually lugging luggage………
When the sun rose the next morning, the air was tense with rumors as to where Dr. Dolenby had gone. “Did you hear about Sherm? Never showed up for his airport shuttle this morning”……”I hear he went off-grid, man. Couldn’t take the stress”……..”He was such a nice guy. Let me use his umbrella all the time.”……..”I wonder who gets his Wonder Washer if he never shows.” He never did show. “The Disappearance of Dr. Dolenby”, as the biographical film was entitled, began and ended with one cryptic photograph, taken by a local deputy during the investigation:
If you pray,when you pray, pray for us.
On to the next thing…