Hi everyone! Comin @ ya live on this lovely Monday night. I have been in Sydney for 9 days now and it has been absolutely incredible. I am exhausted, but I am soOOooo00000oooo full of joy and gratitude.
Let me just tell you about my class. These 9 boys are beyond amazing. They are smart, creative, and can be extremely entertaining. I am learning so much at St. Lucy’s. To give you an idea of the class structure… There are always 2-3 teachers present (plus me) with the 9 students. Each day is a little different but has a routine. The boys have a lot of one-on-one time with the teachers. They do some writing, vocabulary, science, etc. depending on the day. They go to music, library, PE, and art classes throughout the week as well. Most importantly, they have 2 thirty minute recess times to play outside. My class is special and gets an extra 15 minutes outside to start their day! St. Lucy’s is big on keeping the kids active and engaged. Sometimes they take little trips out on the bus, go to a park, or take a walk to go shopping. In the beginning of the week, we took our class shopping. Each boy chooses either chips or ice cream, pays for it himself, and thanks the shopkeeper. It takes a while and may be a little stressful, but it is so awesome to see the increase in confidence and independence in some of these boys. Later in the week, we practiced during “class shop.” The boys do the same thing but in the classroom with a teacher. The activity teaches them skills to do everyday activities (buying things), to think quantitatively (understanding money), and to increase social awareness (being polite and kind).
The boys are so gifted and so beautifully made & my heart explodes with joy and pride every time they accomplish something new. It is the best feeling to see the Lord working and SHINING through them. Story time!! On Thursday, the boys were instructed to trace their names inside an outline on the Smartboard. One student (we’ll call him M) is advanced academically and does not need an outline to write his name; however, he did not want to do the writing activity any different than his classmates. He stubbornly exclaimed that he draws with lines, not without. We tried encouraging him, telling him he could do it without the outline, but he was having none of us. Eventually he picked up the pen and started drawing his name in bubble letters on the board. I knew exactly what he was doing and I couldn’t help but smile at his strong will. Sure enough, he picked up another color and started tracing his name within his own handmade outline. M is SO innovative. I was (and still am) so proud of him. The best part is that I didn’t do anything. Neither did the teachers. This was alllll M. I feel so blessed that I am able to watch M and his classmates grow throughout the next few weeks.
I see a lot of myself in my boys. Some of them love to climb things, especially things they know they shouldn’t. One of them laughs when his classmates gets in trouble. Actually, he takes it a step past giggling. He waits for me to look away and will dash over to a distressed classmate, poke him, and wait for the reaction. To be completely honest, it is very hard not to laugh. Maybe I shouldn’t be that honest here. Okay moving on…
On Friday, Sister Rose Mary, O.P., my primary contact for the Dominicans in both Sydney and the Solomon Islands, organized a day for Solomon Islands orientation at Santa Sabina (a Dominican all girls high school). I was joined by Dan Arteaga (’19) and Tommy Heavren (’19) who are spending their full 6 week fellowship in the Solomons. It was so awesome to spend the weekend with them! During our orientation we were able to talk to alumni of Santa Sabina who have visited the Solomons, see some handmade goods (bags, jewelry) that Sister Rose Mary brought back, look at pictures and watch videos, and learn about the culture and customs of the islands we will be visiting. Dan, Tommy, and I learned a lot. I am not sure if it is possible to be truly prepared for this adventure, but I am confident I will stay safe and healthy. A few earthquakes, malaria, and war canoes are nothing to worry about! Hahahaha again, moving on…
That night, we met for dinner at Adrianna’s host family’s cafe and went to the first night of VIVID. VIVID is essentially a light festival times a billion. Sydney lights up every night for 3 weeks and draws some huge crowds. It’s pretty cool –> check it out!
Adrianna, Dan, Tommy, and I got up bright and early Saturday morning and took a 2 hour train to the Blue Mountains. I loooove hiking and this place had views like I have never seen before. First, we explored Scenic World in a cable car, train, and sky lift. We were pretty high up and could see the gorgeous blue mountains (hence the name). We then took a bus around to a few more lookouts and ended up at some waterfalls. I convinced Adrianna, Dan, and Tommy to hop off the path and explore a little. Side note, the three of them genuinely thought I would die by the end of the day. But hey, you gotta live a little. The railings are just for aesthetic purposes, right?
After Mass on Sunday, I met Adrianna at The Rocks, an area by the Harbor Bridge. We walked around the markets, ate some corn on a stick, stopped for lunch, and tried some street food. There was a lot of eating involved. Dan and Tommy met up with us for dinner before they had to leave for the Solomons. Again, lots of eating involved. There were lots of laughs and I am so grateful our time in Sydney overlapped! After they left, Adrianna and I stayed to walk around during sunset. We ventured across the Harbor Bridge and got some cool pics of the Opera House.
At the current moment, I feel content. I feel happy. I am joyful. But more on that later. Joy is a special thing & I think it deserves a whole blog.
Thank you for reading this & coming along on my adventure. I wish I could hug all of you. Sending lots of prayers & infinite love your way!!!
vibes of the week