Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm Married!!! Mrs. Ginger Ranae Rowlett de Martinez!! November 7th, 2009, Ramfis and I celebrated in a perfectly us fashion on Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador. We were so blessed because most of my family, and a few of my closest friends were able to attend (a huge blessing). Also, that weekend there was a strong hurricane passing, and there was quite a bit of destruction and disaster in the country. The thing is, we had no idea because God blessed us with safe, beautiful skies for the ceremony. Granted, I was a bit worried before the wedding, thinking that our cool wedding inside the lake was going to be ruined. But, right at 3 p.m. (the hour we were supposed to start), the clouds parted and it stopped raining. There was even a little bit of sunshine. What's crazy is that before 3, we couldn't even see the mountains or the lake because it was all covered in a thick fog. So, we count the weather a miracle.

We got started late (no one was surprised :) ) because Ramfis' brother had carried the microbus to pick up some people, and he didn't have the ownership card. So, when the police pulled him over, they were going to take the car from him and fine him a lot of money. Well, I had the card, so they had to come get it from me without me knowing all of the chaos. I had no clue, but was upset that his brothers and people were late cuz we couldn't start. But, everything worked out fine, he didn't have to pay a fine, and we got married - regardless of the hour.

I entered the lake with my dad in a row canoe. The ferry boat thingy was already in the water, and Ramfis helped us onto the boat as my sister sang At Last with Ramfis'brother playing guitar. There started more disorder because I noticed that my decorations weren't how I'd put them, and they'd put this ugly green tent thing where we were to be married (from water falling down), and there were tables at the entrance!!! I was thinking, hello! How did the 3 hours that I wasn't present create such a mess??? But, whatever - supposedly we needed the tables for the Civil ceremony. But, I didn't like them. But, finally, after deciding where to stand and what to do with the tables in my way, we finally started the civil ceremony with a very nice lawyer that has become a friend of ours, Saul. See, in El Salvador, the civil wedding in mandatory, and the religious ceremony is optional. So, we had to have 2 ceremonies. Pastors and priests aren't authorized to marry here. Another cool thing is that we had 3 extra small motor boats circling our ferry boat full of friends that couldn't fit on the ferry because of the weight restricitons. It was funny and cool. They were floating around taking pictures.
We kissed our "first" wedding kiss, and then signed our papers. Then, preparation for the REAL wedding ceremony. I walked to the back with my sis and my Dad, and we waited for the sound to work and all to get settled. I had a chance to look around at the scenery, and I was in awe. It was perfect. We were on the water, with most of my favorite people, one of my favorite places, my favorite colors, beautiful climate, and to see the man I love hugging his Dad as tears run down his face. It's a lovely day. The song begins, and I walk the "aisle" down the boat. What's funny is that once again there was disorder because Ramfis, Uncle Mitch, and Mr. Mauro had put themselves outside, where no one could really see us. I'd appointed a place under the palms to get married. So, my dad and I stopped where I thought we were going to get married, and we waited on them to change positions. It was funny....I don't think anyone will forget this wedding.

Once we were in position, from there on out, it was smooth sailing. Uncle Mitch spoke wonderful words of wisdom, and shared passages of the Bible that I love, like 1 Cor. 13, the Love Chapter. Then, my Dad gave us his blessing, we wrote and said our own vows (loved it!!), exchanged rings, and then we did something special we wanted to do. We washed each other's feet in on the side of the boat to show humility and servitude to one another. This also gave us the chance to talk to each other a bit. It was our favorite part. As we performed this act, my Uncle Bubba sang the Lord's prayer. It was beautiful. We took a long time, so he probably could have sung another song, but it was great.

Then, we did a tradition here in ES. The lasso of unity. We elected my Nanny and Grandaddy to put the lasso around us, since they represent a marriage based in love, faith, respect, and service for 50 years! Mrs. Olympia (Ramfis'mom) explained the ritual, and my grandparents placed it on us as they whispered a quick blessing in our ears. Now, we were pronounced Mr. and Mrs, and we kissed.....again!!! Yeah!!!
The trio we hired began to play, and champagne and wine were served for a brindis, and we also took advantage of photo opps as we headed back to land for the reception. We had our first dance there on the boat. They say the boat went down on one side because everyone went to get wine and chat. But, I never felt it. They were freaked out about it, but I had no idea!!
As soon as we got into the restaurant for the reception, it began to rain again - perfect timing!! They announced us, and my Uncle prayed over us again for those that only came for the reception. Then, Alfredo Ramfis' other brother, came out to give a brindis and said he was going to give us something that truly shows unity. He then cuffed us!!! He had bought real handcuffs, and we had to be together all night!! We ate like that, sang and danced like that, etc. It was hilarious!! The food was delicious.....carne asada, baked potato, vegetables, sausage, bread and drink. Then, coffee and our cute cake with candies my mom made, and also some typical ones from here for dessert. We had a big shindig with different people playing instruments, singing, including some Southern Gospel with my grandparents and uncles. It was fun!! Then, started the disco party with dance music, Mardigras hats and stuff, and disco lights. That was a surprise for me, and it was a good surprise!! Fun!

I threw the bouquet, and Ramfis threw the leg thingy. His act was so original and funny. He had me stand on a bench, and he was looking under my dress, like that he couldn't find the ligo. Then, he comes out and has some granny panties!! He throws them and keeps looking (head under my dress)...then, he comes out with little girl panties!! He throws them again and they land on his nephew's head!! It was funny. Finally, he found the ligo and he took it off with his teeth. My friend Casey caught it, and my friend Jenny caught the bouquet. The funny thing is that they don't really get along, so it was ironic!!
We loved our wedding and our party. A huge thank you to my family and friends that traveled many many miles to attend and share this special day with us. Also, thank you for your patience with us, as it is a very different culture and time is looked at differently.
Another huge thank you to Julio, Don Julio and Alfredo for helping with transportation and logistics. Also, camera and photos. Couldn't have pulled it off without them!! To see more pictures, go to my facebook page. They're mostly all on there.

We love each other, we love you and we're so happy to begin our new life together!!!! God Bless!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

So, I'm back in El Salvador, this time for reasons other than humanitarian services. :) Oh, the grand welcome that I received!! I've never felt so surprised and undeservingly doted upon. Ramfis and his "crew" arrived all dressed up, saying that they were coming from producing all day. They had the film cameras, the production lights, etc. there at the airport. I think that the people there thought that I must have been someone famous. So, anyway, we start going, and Ramfis tells me that he has to go by EduClase to give some tapes that they're waiting for to show to a client. So, they were driving super fast, had someone calling the phone every 10 minutes, and me thinking that the client was mad because they left him waiting to pick me up from the airport. But, what happened is that Ramfis had rented a house right next to the EduClase building. So, we pull up, and all of a sudden I see lots of people I know....Ramfis' friends, family, my friends, etc. Then, I'm like, hey....this isn't EduClase. This is a house. "Ramfis, where are we?" And he stays quiet, just smiling. I get out of the van, and this guy's singing "Welcome back Ginger, welcome back Ginger, Welcome to your house...., Welcome back Ginger." The first time, i didn't hear it. But, the second time, I was like...what did he just say? Really?!? So, Ramfis says yeh, this is going to be your house, and I start jumping up and screaming. Hugs, smiles, tears, kisses all around to everyone that had made me feel so special. We enter the house, and there are balloons, a big welcome back banner, etc. In the backyard, there were tables and chairs, and a big barbeque with tenderloin, chicken, ribs, etc. Also, he had set up his production lights to highlight a band that sang in English. It was so cool.

So, since I've gotten back, I've been helping to fix up the place, mainly for the office of MOSH. We'll be operating the business out of the downstairs, and living upstairs. Everything's going really well, thank God. Today we had our first business meeting, defining everything. It's exciting, but I'm tired. I haven't even had time to really enjoy being with Ramfis because it's been go go go go since I got here. Hopefully next weekend we can have a romantic dinner or something like that. But, all is well. I just miss everyone, but God is blessing us here.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

This is an extension of my last blog, regarding Federal Government and their desire to control. I want to apologize for my anger getting the better side of me. I've allowed them to "control" me in a sense already just from my anger and growing synicism effecting my moods and tongue. Instead of trashing the gov. or getting all mad and bitter, it's come to my attention that I need to see our leaders, and our nation, through God's love them (we're supposed to love our enemies and friends), and to pray for their decision making skills. So, although I still want them to stay out of my life, everytime I watch the news or get angry about an issue, I'll remember to talk to God, and ask Him to give guidance and work some kind of a miracle to retain our country as a free one, and also one Under God.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What the crapt is our country doing to itself?!?! Am I seriously still in the land of the free??? Today Congress passed the Cap and Trade Bill, and I'm furious to say the least. Why in the H should I have to have a federal agent enter my home to make sure it meets standards before I can sell it? Why do my housing standards need to be the same as California's? TN doesn't have wild fires. I, Ginger, am not an idiot (although some may disagree). I, Ginger, have been raised and educated by my family and much schooling to know how to make a wise decision. If I, Ginger, decide unwisely, it is my decision; my fault; my consequences that I must face. If I, Ginger, were to make, and continue to make poor choices, I have many friends and family, and the local police force, to hold me accountable. We also have State governments, which are increasingly losing power.
Note to Federal Government: Stay out of my frickin' life!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

As of Wednesday, June 24, 2009, I am officially an aunt!!! That's right....I will only go by "Aunt Ginger" from now on out. ;) It truly is a blessing, though!! Easton Kydon Bowen was born at 8:08 p.m. and weighed 8 lbs. 8 oz. He was 21 1/2 in. long, and has sandy colored hair. He's healthy and beautiful, thank the Lord!!! I love him soooo much already! Sheena and Kydon are so excited, and will be fantastic parents. I'm proud of them. Just watching them in these 4 days has been fun. I'm learning a lot for the future. :) Thank God for babies!!!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I just put up some new pics....check 'em out if you want! :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This is what I sent in as my final report. Hopefully it will give you a good idea as to what I did in El Salvador. Thanks!

Ginger Ranae Rowlett

Ginger Rowlett was chosen to serve as a Rural Health and Sanitation Volunteer in El Salvador. Upon arrival on February 7, 2007, Ginger began a ten-week pre-service training program which included instruction on sanitation infrastructure construction and participatory and health education techniques. In addition, Ginger received intensive cultural and language training through formal classes and community immersion activities. She lived with a Spanish-speaking host family during training, which provided her with the opportunity to practice her language skills and learn about local culture.

On April 24, 2007 Ginger was sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer and began her two-year service in Potrero de Joco, a small agricultural village with poor crop return and little health education.

Ginger’s major work accomplishments can be divided into three main categories: youth development, health education, and infrastructure construction. Soon after her arrival in Potrero de Joco, Ginger had formal meetings with the ADESCO (local development association) and the Mayor regarding a possible health clinic and land options. After several months of research, bids, and ADESCO training on how to prepare a budget and solicitude, Ginger arranged for the buying of land for the future construction project. The Mayor’s office bought the land in the name of the municipality and donated it to the community. Although a Health Clinic was denied, the ADESCO is in the process of soliciting for a Community Center on the donated lot.

Wanting to assure that the community members knew of illnesses and prevention of those illnesses, Ginger formed a Women’s Health Day held once a month in her home, creating a comfortable environment for the women to ask questions and speak freely about the issues at hand. She made 86 house visits each month to follow up on the talks given, and also to invite the women personally to the health days. A few examples of sessions taught are: cervix cancer, breast cancer, urinary infections, yeast infections, STDs (including HIV/AIDS), diabetes, etc. Ginger was happy to know that after two years of giving health presentations, the nearest health clinic noted an increase in gynecological visits from Potrero de Joco, the majority being young ladies under the age of 25.

After completing a thorough census of her village, Ginger was ready to address the apparent need of a sanitary means to dispose of human waste. She gave talks in General Assemblies on the problems of exposed waste, along with the detailed explanation of how bacteria are transferred by flies, and the dangers of stomach and intestinal infections/diseases. After a month of preparation, the members of the village agreed to the project, and those interested signed up with a compromise to dig their own hole before December. Ginger wrote letters to friends and family in the U.S. to sponsor the project, and with their help, along with the cooperation of the Mayor and the Ministry of Health, 34 latrines were dug and built, providing a dry and more sanitary place to use the restroom. Along with the project, Ginger and the Ministry of Health provided training on proper latrine use and proper latrine maintenance. According to the mid-service census, there were fewer reported cases of diarrhea.

Noting an ongoing need for health preventative education, as well as a need to solicit health campaigns and other projects, Ginger interviewed and selected six members of the community that showed an enthusiasm and true interest in the village’s well being to form a Health Committee. These members were also well respected among the community, making it easier to do house visits. Ginger focused on capacitating the members for the first four months in First Aid, Reproductive Health, CPR for adults and children, and how to give a health presentation. The committee also received training from Intervida and Centa on child and maternal health. The committee was quickly welcomed as health volunteers for the aforementioned organizations, and Ginger oversaw the electoral proceedings of the board of directors. With the health committee, Ginger organized a grass-roots trash campaign to educate families on proper trash disposal, the environmental effects of waste, the respiratory infections caused by smoke, and how trash thrown on the ground calls more flies, mosquitoes, and rats: all vectors of disease. The community reacted well to the house visits, and all participated in the cleaning of the village. The Mayor agreed to send a garbage truck once a month for free; a first step toward a cleaner Potrero de Joco.

Wanting to concentrate more on youth development, Ginger formed a girls’ softball team a couple of months after her arrival. Using softball as an excuse, Ginger was able to give life lessons on leadership, responsibility, teamwork, and self-esteem. Enjoying her work with the youth, Ginger met with the school director and ACE to coordinate a “Como Planear Mi Vida” (A Life Skills workbook provided by Peace Corps) class for the 9th grade. Ginger began teaching the sessions in February of 2008, discussing topics such as how to make goals, self-esteem, how to communicate with others, sex education, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS education, interview skills, how to choose a job that’s right for you, among others. She completed the semester with a Career Exposition for the entire “tercer ciclo” (7th, 8th, and 9th grades) with games, lunch, and prizes. Ginger invited professionals for an afternoon to explain their career paths, and their educational history. This proved to be a very inspirational event for the students to want to pursue their education. Present were the Mayor, a Psychologist, a TACA flight manager, a Secretary, a Shop Owner, and a Producer/Editor/Designer.

The school proved to be an excellent work base, and Ginger decided to put more efforts in the school’s infrastructure problems, as well as how to provide a more exciting environment for the children and youth to want to attend their classes. She worked hard to attain a SPA fund from USAID to re-cover the school’s roof. The roof was extremely damaged, and the school had to close often during rainy season. Thankfully, the Ministry of Education was able to give aid as well, and men from the community donated their labor to re-roof all of the classrooms and kitchen area. In the midst of the roof project, Ginger was busy bringing home two computers for which she had solicited many months before that were donated by local businesses for the school’s use.

Wanting to help a young girl in 9th grade continue her education, Ginger used the WYD Peace Corps Scholarship to ensure that the young lady would have a high school education. When the student didn’t win the scholarship the second year, Ginger initiated a community scholarship fund for young women with funds donated by friends and family in the U.S. The scholarship gives girls with a desire to continue their studies, but without the means, the opportunity to continue their education beyond ninth grade.

Ginger also taught English to six young people interested. The class, which met once a week for two hours, has gone from knowing nothing to being able to have a basic conversation with an English speaker.
After two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small rural village in El Salvador, Ginger feels more aware, more courageous, and ready for whatever life presents her. She is extremely grateful for the challenges faced, the goals met, and the failures. The endless list of life lessons learned will undoubtedly serve her well in the future. Not only is Ginger leaving the Peace Corps with new development skills and ideas, but also with a better understanding of human nature, and friendships that will last regardless of frontiers.

My apologies for there being such a loooooonnnngg pause between the blogs. A lot has been going on, so....that's my excuse. :} Ramfis and I just got back from 11 days in Guatemala. It was really fun, and despite it being an incredibly dangerous country, thank God we were safe and enjoyed good company the entire time. We visited Antigua, climbed Volcan Pacuaya, went to Semuc Champey, Rio Dulce, Livingston, Playa Blanca, and Esquipulus. It was packed, but at the same time very relaxing, and I enjoyed getting away from the drama and stress of everyday Salvadoran life.

Well, congratulations to me....I finished Peace Corps!! I finished in March, and went to Tennessee to visit for 2 weeks, and now I'm back in El Salvador again. It's wierd; being a former volunteer. I've had experiences and lessons and trials that no one at home can understand, no matter how much I try to explain. Then, I feel wierd around the present volunteers and PC staff because I'm not "one of them" anymore, technically. Then, I'm living in the capitol as a normal Salvadoran, but I'm clearly not. It's like I'm half foreigner, half both countries. The plan was to work and see how all of that goes, but I can't really do my job yet because of some asuntos. However, I have been helping out with Ramfis' business, and organizing, planning, etc. I'm just waiting for all to be ready for me to visit busineses and sell. We'll see. But, I'm also open to other options right now. Honestly, I need some money. I can't complain, though...God has been very generous to me, and if the life of a volunteer paid for life, how great that would be, no?!? So, anyway, now I'm just rambling. I am excited, though, about what's to come. I'll be an aunt soon, will get to see all of my old friends and classmates at the 10 yr reunion, I'll dance this summer :), etc etc. I'll be travelling through the States this summer, seeing friends and family that is long overdue!! Then, we'll see what God has in store. Obviously, I have my plans, but since things are apt to change in life, it's better not to tell the whole world just yet. I'll keep you posted.

But, before I close, I'd like to say thank you to all who have supported me in this journey. Thanks for prayers, cards, comments, calls, packages, etc. God has truly blessed my time in El Salvador, as well as made me a stronger person from failures and lifes' struggles. I don't think I really understood pain before coming here, and maybe I still don't. But, life isn't all peaches and cream. It's hard. Most people in the world suffer....and not just because someone's sick, or the occasional boy/girl drama. I'm talking extreme daily suffering. Thank God I haven't known that life, but to have seen a glimpse of it, I can appreciate it and hopefully not take my life, nor luxuries, nor necesities - for granted. Or even better; live a full life, without necesity of luxury. Solo Dios me puede ayudar.