The clouds rolling in behind our house - it's rained about 4-5 times per each day we've been here.
Since we are here for medical school after all, I'd say our first week has been, well, very educational. 

The night we arrived we were taken straight to the school where we fought to hold off a mutiny when (after 20 hours of travel) Solveig & Lincoln were asked to sit quietly through an orientation presentation.  But then came the food, oh, the food.  We've learned since that the chinese food we had that night is just about the only take-out option available on the island and we've now eaten it many more times during our first week.  But that night it didn't matter what it was, it was our first meal in a day and a half and it was demolished in about 60 seconds.  Eventually our land-lord (very nice couple with kids our age) arrived to take us (and our endless luggage) to our house where I was pleased to see it was exactly as good as I'd hoped (it is about $500 a month cheaper than the lesser-standard homes in the area so we'd been suspicious it might be too good to be true).  So PRAISE GOD we don't need to worry anymore about housing!

The next day we decided to time our walk to the school and were very discouraged to find out it was much further (and rockier, hillier, etc.) than we expected, until a Ross administrator who recognized us from the night before pulled her car over and called out the window, "I noticed you were taking a very long walk this morning…"  Turns out we had gone waaaaay out of our way and she showed us a quicker route.  But our daily hike to the school is still considerable (not to mention somewhat dangerous walking in the shoulder of a road without a speed limit!) which I both curse and praise every morning on my way in, trying to think of all the weight I just HAVE to be losing doing this every single day!!

Our neighbor the Rooster.
Jon has had orientation every morning this week, and the kids & I went to family orientation on Wednesday.  Our afternoons have been filled with grocery shopping, setting up cell phones, paying rent and unpacking.  Today we got to go to a class on local nutrition and learn a little bit about Dominican produce.  Tomorrow I'm excited that we get to visit the Portsmouth street market, despite the early hour (we have to get up at about 5am which is, for those of you keeping track, 1:00am PST!).  I'm really looking forward to buying some fresh produce and fresh fish to try my hand at some island cuisine!

I'm going to have to completely re-learn everything I know about cooking; fresh milk is very rarely available here, as are eggs, butter and (brace yourselves) ice cream (man, I knew I should have brought that ice cream maker!).  BUT, my Haiti mission team friends, remember that bread & nutella they served there?  Yep, they have it here too.  And there are lots of things I've never cooked with; dansheen, sour sop, papaya, custard apples (??), tamarinds...   And they call avocados pears here.  If you're curious about the exotic produce Dominica has to offer, take a look at this site, it's very interesting! 

We've also learned this week how to pre-pay for "units" of electricity at the convenience store down the street, send out our laundry (this culture generally doesn't have in-home washers & dryers or laundromats so we pay a service to pick it up & do it), and we've learned how to give directions to our house (since we literally don't have an address, our daily conversation with taxi drivers, take-out guys, laundry lady goes like this: "We're in Glanvillia.  You know the Mountain Breeze?  Yes, the bar.  Kind of by there.  Next door to Anita and Clive Rodney.  No, Clive Rodney.  Yep, the little green house."  Sometimes we don't even have to tell them that much; since there aren't many white American families here and the town is so small, I guess everyone knows who we are.

The view off our front veranda.
Solveig says she likes Dominica a lot.  She likes all the flowers and that it's sunny and that we live right by the beach.  She loved taking off on the plane.  She says she also likes that I don't have to work anymore!  --(haha, don't know about that, Lady, feels like I'm working pretty hard right now! ;) --  She likes her room (she gets her own room now) and there's a banana tree right outside her window.

Jon officially starts school Monday, so pray for him.  It looks to be a very demanding schedule and he's definitely in the minority here (everyone he meets goes "oh, you're the guy with the wife and kids, right?" ...there's 352 in his class and only 4 guys have families).  So he's very cognizant that needing to keep a balance probably means sacrificing better grades.  We're going to try the campus church on Sunday, but so far it sounds like there aren't a lot of members who are a little older or have kids so we'll see.  We finally got our barrels today (there was a cruise ship blocking the port so they were late) so now I'll be able to get our house a lot more set up and give you a tour soon!

Thank you all for praying and building us up!

1/4/2013 11:55:43 am

WOW!!! What an adventure so far! It sounds like they have a lot of resources for families to get acclimated to the new environment, that is helpful, even if it makes the first few weeks a bit overwhelming, hopefully, you will have some time to rest soon. What amazing stories you will have!!! Blessings and peace to all of you~

1/4/2013 01:13:59 pm

Oh man, no ice cream. Now I know you guys are really brave :)

1/4/2013 01:22:08 pm

What an adventure! Thanks for keeping us posted. We'll be praying for you!

Charity and Walter Feb
1/4/2013 03:41:48 pm

Praying for your high spirits to stay, girlfriend! Good for you, you have an awesome attitude. I love the photos of your house ... it looks so island-cozy, with the clouds rolling in. How crazy-different it looks there!!! It's going to be fun following you guys on this adventure.

Elise Strickland
1/5/2013 10:17:47 am

Thanks, Charity!
Yes, it was really stormy and rainy today and it felt just like home - I even made some hot drinks. And then we stepped outside and were hit with the humidity and heat! Oh, well, it was still nice! :)

Denice Dews
1/4/2013 05:40:46 pm

Thank you so much for the updates. What an adventure! Love you guys so much!!!

Jan Butz
1/5/2013 07:34:51 am

I'm really enjoying your news.

1/5/2013 07:43:01 am

Oh how I am loving these posts. Between you and Alyssa, I am getting my vicarious travel fix :) So glad to hear that the house is just a good deal and not in fact too good to be true. And Nutella! Can't wait to hear about the market.

Tania Hutchin
1/5/2013 12:09:58 pm

Hi John and Elise,
What an amazing adventure you are on! Hannah has been asking me a lot lately if we could go on a family adventure - this would be right up her alley! I will be praying for you. Please let us know if there is anything you need and the best way to stay in touch with you.

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