Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our Neighborhood


Here is a link to some of  the places we are visiting in our Adventure MAP
We started the week out with a bang by taking a 1.5 hour drive to attend the La Colonia branch church Sunday meetings in Azua. 

                                                 Figure 81 On the road to Azua.  Area is a lot like Arizona

We had several reasons for wanting to visit them.  First of all this is the area where President Rodriguez of the Santiago West Mission suggested as a good place to start a Food Initiative project and it is also the same area where we have a Clean Water project.  We wanted the opportunity to scope the area out a little bit before the Food Short Term Specialists come in June and to get an idea what the area was like. 

                                                                Figure 82 Little boy in La Colonia Branch

The members in the little branch were wonderful.  They were happy and very knowledgeable of the scriptures and exhibited great faith in God.  We heard wonderful talks in Sacrament meeting and in the classes we attended.  They are a well-organized unit.

 We invited one of the Senior couples, Diane and Dennis DeSpain, assigned to the Temple to go with us.

                                                           Figure 83 Bananas on road to Azua
After the La Colonia meetings, Elder Roger and Sister Sherry Brown who are Senior Missionaries serving as member support in La Colonia invited us to their house for lunch.  Elder Brown also serves as a counselor in the Santo Domingo West Mission presidency.

We learned that no-one has gardens in the branch; there is approximately a 48% unemployment rate and great needs.  The Food Initiative seems a great challenge at this point.

One of the water projects is on up the road from the location of this picture about 45 minutes.  We understand the people are very anxious to have the project.  They have organized a Water Committee and have begun collecting money for the project for a while now, so we are anxious to get it started.
                                        Figure 85 Azua street; water project is the mountains in foreground
Pres. Ruddy Brito, Branch President of the La Colonia branch knows a lot about the water project and will be helping us with it.
                                            Figure 86 Elder Roger Brown, Pres. Rudy Brito and Elder Haws

                                                                        Figure 87 Azua Naval Fleet
The first part of this week has been a blur.  Monday we crashed and burned, that is Wallace was so exhausted from the activities of the last week we had to slow down a little bit.  In spite of it we did accomplish a lot. 
Monday we visited with the organization SUR FUTURO in their offices.  They have been in business for 10 years, and have accomplished some amazing things in their short life.  We were really impressed with the professionalism and talents.  They have several offices across the country and tackle water, hygiene, sanitation, farming, hydroelectric projects and probably some other things we aren’t aware of yet.  We are trying to team up with them on a water project in the little town of El Cigual.   Wallace was really impressed with their accomplishments in about the same time he helped create his company with the help of his partners.  You will be hearing more about this project in the future.
On Wednesday we went to the Santiago West Mission office and had a very productive meeting with him about potential food projects in his mission area.  Most of the people in his mission area live in small rural communities.  He told us his people have a very high unemployment rate, spend about 65% of their monthly income (about 6500 pesos = about $180) on food and usually do not have the ability to avoid drinking dirty water.  We explained the church Food Initiative to him and he invited to a District Conference in May to explain the program to the District and Branch Presidents.
                                           Figure 88 Wallace, Edith, Sister Rodriguez & Pres. Rodriquez
After our meeting we went to visit a potential project, Hogar Luby, a place that cares for extremely disable people.
The Food Initiative is a program where the local members figure out and develop a plan to provide better nutrition and diet for their families.  The church then enters the picture to help them with startup costs, expert help, planning and development over about a 2 year period.  We will be training the local leaders in the process development and helping them develop a project plan that can be approved by the church.
Wallace had the wonderful experience of going to the customs department to try and extract materials that had arrived in the country.  He took Albert from the Ministry of Health who is an expert in dealing with customs.  Wallace just about couldn’t get through the doors because they would not accept the laminated copy of his passport or drivers license.  Luckily he had his original International Drivers License and got in.
Wallace: “Once inside it was a full day of the most ridiculous process I have ever seen.  We were sent from one office to the next then back again.  At every turn, Albert had to pay some kind of “fee” until at the end of the day he had paid out over $6000 pesos before we got our stuff.  When we finally we permitted to inspect the goods, we inspected and counted every single item.  I thought when we approved the list we could just load up and go.  Now that was wishful thinking!  They tapped the box back up and sent us to another office.  I was pretty tired and ready to leave by the time we finished.”  As agreed to with the Director of the Ministry of Health we are going to keep the equipment we picked up in customs in the Bishops Storehouse where we live rather than deliver it to the Ministry of Health.  The reason is that there are national elections before we are going to be using this equipment and if the prevailing party does not win the elections there is a strong possibility we would never see this equipment again if it was sitting in some government office.
We try to go for a stroll in the morning whenever we can.  All of these pictures were taken on the same morning during a ½ hour stroll from where we live.
                                           Figure 89 Wallace in front of our home at Casimiro de Moya #5
There is a big metal sliding gate that is closed all of the time and a guard with a gun to protect the property 24/7.  

Figure 90 Apartments across the street from our house

                                                        Figure 91 Man sitting on wires to repair them
The above picture of a man sitting on the wires is not that uncommon.  Notice he has no cones to protect him from traffic.  This is a fair busy street.
The following picture is a typical water or sewer utility house connection location.  They never compact the soil around a utility trench.  The usual solution is to lay two reinforced blocks across the hole.  A lot of times there is just a big hole in the sidewalk.
                                                                            Figure 92 Utility crossing
                                                                        Figure 93 Street Scene
                                                                    Figure 94  Umbrella Tree
                                            Somebody left an umbrella in a tree.
                                                          Figure 95 Beautiful Lamp and Lighting Store
                                                                 Figure 96 Older Home
                                                                  Figure 98 Hole in Road that remains
                                                                  Figure 99 Monument to Duarte
All of these locations are within a 15 minute walk of our home.  Here is Edith getting our morning paper.  We increase our Spanish vocabulary reading the paper.
                                    Figure 100 Sign to remind us not to use tap water for brushing our teeth
We had to put this sign on the faucet because Edith was forgetting to not brush her teeth with tape water.  That is real bad.

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