Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guilt and Gratitude

Cale Fixing the Jeep

When we left for Samoa our friends and family could not have been more supportive. We had pared down everything we owned to fit in the bed of a pick-up truck and then we left those precious few possessions with our parents. Some in my parents' closets, some in Cale's mom and Milton's extra bedroom, my quilt collection to Cale's dad and stepmom, Cale's tools with Josh and Charlotte. Rob and Jason agreed to care for the other living member of our family, our cat Smack, for two years. Even though we have returned to America, he still lives with Rob and April, as we have no where to keep him now. My dad became our power-of-attorney. We left him with a checkbook and a debit card and the charge of our personal fortune (a couple thousand dollars).

This support continued for the next two years. We were at the top of the list of most frequent package receivers. Granola bars and tea and other reminders of home found their way to us quite frequently. Cale's mom came to visit and fed us delicious food, bought me a tattoo and gifted Cale's school with a camera and saw blades and more. My parents came to visit and fed us delicious food, bought Cale a tattoo and gifted my school with a camera and hard drive and more. My mom raised money from friends and family and sent us 35 thumb drives in the mail for our thumb drive drive. Every time my dad received a bill for my student loan in the mail he paid it, out of his account, even though I told him not to, even though it was in forbearance and he decreased my student loan while I was a way...something I had expected would increase while I was gone because the interest was still accruing.

From thousands of miles away our friends and family did all they could for us. Taking our calls and emails and responding right away to our strange, distant requests.

Then we came home and they didn't stop.

We've stayed at my parents' house rent free for the last two months and will continue to for the next two. I know their utilities have gone up because they raised the temperature in the house to 70 for our poor frozen bodies and we have a space heater on in our bedroom constantly. We eat their food (I replaced that entire box of Wheat Thins I ate in one sitting) and watch their TV and occasionally borrow their car. Cale's mom gave us her Jeep Cherokee to drive the first month we were home. After the first snow, she had to drive to her patients' homes in her Corolla because we had her four-wheel drive vehicle in Indy. Then April gave us her Jeep Wrangler. Let me repeat myself. April GAVE us her Jeep. I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. Granted, she had another car she was trading in for a new car and she didn't want or drive the Jeep anymore. But to just give it away? Mind-boggling. For some strange reason, I find that harder to understand than giving up two years of your life to join the Peace Corps (though I don't consider it giving up two years).

I have never been good at getting presents. I like to give gifts way more than I like to get gifts. It is a purely selfish thing. I like the way it feels to give people presents (especially when they are good ones). I am overwhelmed by all these people doing nice things for me. I am incredibly grateful, but I am also a little bit guilty. I feel as if I am cheating a little. We could pay our own rent and buy our own car. We have a little money and jobs. But we are saving all the money to on an awesome trip to Southeast Asia. Every time someone pays for me because I am the penniless, returned Peace Corps I feel a little guilty. You bought me dinner, I just bought a new lens so I can take pictures of temples.

I guess this all boils down to the one thing that I have been meaning to say and that I haven't said enough:

Thanks guys. You are all great and appreciated. We love you all.

— Sara

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dogs

I am not a dog lover. In fact, I am slightly afraid of most bigger dogs and slightly irritated by most smaller dogs. There are three dogs in the entire world that I have met and liked. Dogs whose very existence have almost made me consider the possibility of one day thinking about considering looking at owning a dog. These dogs are as follows:

Spot
Spot (the dog that thinks he is a cat)

At Teresa and Mike's House
Harley (the dog that doesn't know he is a vicious breed and desperately wants to be your friend)


and Ralphie (the dog that never barks and sits on my lap)

Recently we were at my sister's and I got to witness the hilarity that is Harley Vs. The Tree. There is a tree in the back yard with a branch at just a height that he can jump up and grab it with his teeth. I believe his goal is to bring down the branch or the tree. Instead, after grabbing on to the branch he ends up riding it like a rope swing. It is the best entertainment. Way better than the Super Bowl.

Harley Vs. The Tree Harley Vs. The Tree Harley Vs. The Tree Harley Vs. The Tree

— Sara

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Readjustment: Beds

We Gave Up On The Bed

We finally gave up on the bed.

For the previous two months we have been sleeping on my youngest sister's bed in my parents' house. The bed was just so soft and squishing and bouncy. It was strange. It also had a valley in the middle from my sister sleeping there. It's funny, we went from the mountain in the middle of a foam mattress in Samoa to a valley in the middle of a real mattress in Indiana.

Finally we could take this first-world comfort no longer and Cale bought a futon mattress off craigslist. He dismantled the bed (as you can see, we have the mattress and box springs propped against the wall) and laid the futon mattress out on the floor. Now things seem back to normal.

— Sara

Monday, February 8, 2010

$5,400

Cale and I did our taxes. You're looking at our combined incomes for 2009. Who knows, maybe we'll double that in 2010!

— Sara

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sometimes Sustainability Takes Its Own Form

Cale is talking on facebook chat with one of his former students. That alone is pretty awesome. However, his student got himself a job at an internet cafe in town where he has been learning a lot (on top of all he learned from Cale). That too is extremely awesome.

Last school year, Cale trained a graduating year-two student to take over as him as the computer teacher. When we left in November, it was still unclear whether or not the Methodist school board planned to hire him. Rumor has it they had requested a JICA volunteer to replace Cale, something we found upsetting. It seemed incredibly counterproductive to take a job that a Samoan was trained to do and give it to a volunteer from a development organization. That was one of the problems we saw with international aid, why pay for something when you can get it for free?

Apparently, there is no JICA volunteer, because the former student working at the internet cafe tells us that the former year-two student has been showing up to school every day to teach the computer classes, even though the board hasn't agreed to hire him and even though he isn't getting paid. He shows up every day and does his job just to do it.

It's hard to explain how this makes me feel. It's pride. I know that. I am proud of Cale and I am proud of his kids. But it is the strangest pride I have ever felt. Whatever it is, I like it.

— Sara

P.S. I forgot to mention. I saw my students PSSC scores. No 1s, but enough 2s to go around. I am pretty proud of those kids too.