Put on Sunscreen and Don’t Forget the Umbrella:

Today Was a Good Day


Maybe it was all the events and people of today or maybe I’ve been on an emotional upswing, but I was happy to take part in it.

The past few months have been some of the toughest months since leaving the states eleven-ish months ago. This past month probably being the worst. I’ve been experiencing a heavy amount of quitting days (what we in the PC call ET days — early termination days), and I’ve been wearing down; wanting to be back in the comfort of my comfort zone.

For me, when I get to this point, I start evaluating the pros and cons of quitting or staying the path. As much as I’ve had a recent hefty dose of emotional freak-outs, I’m pleased to announce: “I’m not beaten yet.” This commitment I made in the long, long ago is still worth it to me, and today shows me why.

As I write this, my neighborhood is shrouded in fog. The drama of the dimly lit scene reminds me of autumn in Washington, with the exception of the loss of a handful of temperature degrees. This is what a good end to a good day looks like for me. Days like these always evoke my spiritual side and make me smile to myself (kinda’ makes me wonder how many times my neighbors see me sitting, grinning to myself like a goon).

Today was a good day not because of corporeal, “pretty” things, but because of something more subtle.

I went to site today to help my counterpart (CP) with the Family Development Session (FDS). These trainings occur every month, in every barangay (barangay = neighborhood; we have 16), and they involve teaching some type of life skill to the beneficiaries of the 4Ps program.

Now, I should tell you that every time I get tasked with FDS — a very rare occurrence these days — feels a bit like jumping without a parachute. I’m unfamiliar with the style of teaching, which is only compounded by my inability to fluently speak Waray, my local dialect. This being the case, I was admittedly excited to help my CP.

People tend to surprise me, even when I think I have a firm grasp on who they are and how they behave.

My CP is wonderful and the beneficiaries are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. On top of this, they love the crap outta’ me, of course, and when I feel like life is kicking me when I’m down, this means more than anything to me.

I wish I had some dynamic event that occurred during our FDS that I could tell you about; some harrowing act of courage or amazing story that would blow you away, but dynamism and drama aren’t what commonly underpin my good days here.

What was novel for our sessions today was timing. We had two sessions with two different groups. What would normally be an all-day event amounted to just around three hours, about an hour and a half each session. What I saw at the end of these was the thing that thrilled me: the beneficiaries didn’t look rundown or beaten up, like they normally do.

I’m a firm believer that your outcome is wholly dependent on your input.

I know this may sound like really basic, simple common sense, but then I would have to ask why we expect better outcomes from inferior inputs.

The 4Ps beneficiaries who attend FDS are mainly women, for whatever reason that is. And the women in my community are nothing short of bad-ass. These women spend their days: shopping, handling the finances, doing laundry by hand, cooking, cleaning, and they often maintain some type of job. I imagine if I had to do what they do in a 24 hour period, I would quickly crumble into an uncontrollable, sobbing mess. I have trouble keeping up with most of these same tasks, and I’ve only got me to contend with.

This is all to say that I came here to help, right? Not to pile on. I think that’s what today was and what made it a day worth having for me.

With the unexpected combinations that this multivariable life creates, I got the opportunity to sit and speak with some of my community members for possibly the first time since arriving at site. I couldn’t help but feel a little thrilled about this as well.

Like I said, today was a good day.
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