Saturday, August 25, 2012

Storm Isaac

For Pictures only click HERE
A tropical storm has been brewing now for days to the east and is headed our way.  It is now noon on Friday when it was first predicted to hit and there is no sign of a major storm.  The waves are kicking up higher, but that is all.  We have moved valuables off the floor and have packed an emergency backpack.  However, I don’t know what good that would do because there is no-where to go.  There isn’t much excitement among the native people.  You ask them what we should do to prepare for the storm and they say, “Enjoy it”.  We called our short term specialist visitors in the US to reconsider their flight because it isn’t safe to fly and hazardous to drive on flooded roads, but they have decided to come anyway.

Saturday, 25 Aug update:  Our specialists got to Atlanta, Georgia and the flight was canceled.  So they returned to Salt Lake and will not come until October.  We are still getting rain.  It rained most of the afternoon yesterday and most of the night.  Some people have been flooded out, but we are dry, just stuck in our apartment with little to no internet service.  Our area did not experience high winds, so all is well for us.  (the garden box even survived!  see the next story).

GARDEN BOX                                
One of our assignments is called the “Food Initiative”.  We were asked to help people start home gardens.  We are finding this very difficult to do, but are doing our best.  We visited 3 different times with the Ministry of Agriculture to understand what they recommend for people here in the Dominican Republic and to determine what resources they have to teach people.  They gave us a video to use that shows how to construct an elevated box.  A lot of people do not have yards, but they have a concrete patio or roof tops suitable for an elevated box.  Their plan is to have people construct them from discarded loading crates.  Since every crate we see that we could get our hands on is covering big holes in the sidewalk or street, Wallace decided to use their design principles and build one as a demonstration garden. 

The box is a wood frame with wire support on the bottom, then plastic, then perforated plastic pipe for drainage, then the substrate and an adjustable top with a plastic grid to protect the plants from the strong sun around here and the heavy rains.  The top is lowered to the bottom to cover the seeds until they are sprouted.  The seeds came up in 4 days after planting and are well on their way.  We will see if the storm Isaac destroys it.
We are finding this project to be very difficult for several reasons.  1.  People eat rice, beans and chicken and then chicken, beans and rice.  They put in a few different things for flavor, but their diet is basically the same day in and day out.  Incidentally, the country has a very high incidence of diabetes.  Some people do have gardens, but their gardens consist of bananas, guineos, and mango.

It is very foreign to ask them to grow lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, chard, etc.  2.  It is a lot of work.  If you don’t understand or believe the benefits it is just too much work.    3. The distance between towns in the area we were assigned to go and the communication difficulties complicates things.  So far we haven’t started any gardens even though the Church is offering to purchase everything they need to do it.  We are developing processes to teach, manage and monitor the project as we go.

What people are really interested in are chickens.  If we were told to introduce a chicken project, there would be immediate interest.
We started a project with a new organization called “Rayos del Sol”.  It is an organization that takes in Down Syndrome children.  Typically these kind of people are pretty much abandoned and lead a pretty miserable life.  Buy Rayos de Sol has been having good success getting some of them back into the regular school system or teaching them a marketable skill such as these baskets made out of newpapers.


This is a picture of our wheelchair friend.  He is a gentleman with disfigured legs that is a recipient of a wheelchair donated by the Church.  It is amazing that he spends the entire day IN the street waving to people, smiling and enjoying or cheering up the world.  What is amazing is that he parks his wheelchair in the outsdie travel lane of a very busy street not at the side of the road or on the sidewalk, but in the street.  It is a miracle he isn’t hit.  Every time we go by he is so friendly and expresses gratitude for the wheelchair he got from the church.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


August 12, 2012
If you want to just look at pictures click:  HERE

This past week was very busy for us. Sunday we were back in Los Alcarrizos checking on our project with Conani (a day care for abandoned/very poor children). Monday we met with the West Mission Office to report projects we have in their area.  We joined in celebrating with Elder and Sister Ford, the completion of their mission. This was their 5th mission!
Batey Hoyo del Toro

Tuesday we rode Dr. Evenlyn Diaz, Ophthalmologist out to a very poor community called Batey Hoyo del Toro next to San Pedro de Macoris.  The people (mostly Haitians) were field laborers in the Sugar Cane fields.  The original owner sold the fields and the new owner no longer employed workers, using machinery instead, leaving people without employment.  There is one ray of hope for them.  A mining company is building a large power plant close by which will deliver power to their mines in the north part of the country.  They employee 200 people as construction workers on the new power plant, but there’s not nearly enough jobs to go around.  Many old people are abandoned by the young as they move to the city to find work.  Dr. Diaz is doing an amazing work in offering a free eye exam clinic.  She requires that they take training on eye care first and then will bring about 50 doctors in one weekend to serve the community.  They often see about 500 people and do about 50 surgeries during one of her visits.  The church donated the portable equipment that makes her outreach program work and we are trying to get our Church members involved in assisting her during her clinic visits.
ADR Bonao

Thursday we traveled northwest to a city called Bonao.  Here we presented some physical therapy equipment that we purchased for one of our partner organizations, Asociacion Dominicana de Rehibilitation (ADR).  ADR offers reduced or free services to the poor for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and special education and is one of our wheelchair distributors.  They have been remodeling their facility in Bonoa.  It was a nice ceremony—we call it an entrega here because it usually involves the delivery of something. There is always a lot of picture taking and big speeches.  A special part of the ceremony was a speech given by one of the youth from our Church telling about how it made him feel to give service to this facility.  Nineteen youth cleaned the facility and started digitizing all the patient records.  They plan to continue their service until all the records are digitized.  This is a big commitment.

Constanza Food Project
Saturday we traveled a narrow winding road up the side of Pico Duarte a 10,000 feet high mountain, passing through 10 little villages and down into the picturesque fertile valley of the town of Constanza. We were there to present the Food Initiative to the members. After our presentation, they fed us a big dinner, the “bandera”--rice, beans and chicken, the traditional meal.  Most people in Constanza are farmers.  We visited a tomato farm greenhouse covering nearly an acre of land.  It is highly automated and produces tons of beautiful tomatoes.  The tomatoes trunks are left to lie on the ground as the stem grows until some of the plants were at least 10’ long and still producing on the end of the plant.  They gave us some of their prize tomatoes.

It was a good week with a lot of traveling.  We enjoy getting out of the city and we enjoy coming back to our little apartment and no matter where we go it is always an adventure!

Almost a record
Wallace was a little slow on the camera trigger.  This moto family had just left off a family member before Wallace took the picture.  It would have been a record with 5 people riding a motorcycle at one time


Sunday, August 5, 2012


This was hospital week. 

If you want to skip the words and just look at the pictures---click HERE

We began Sunday with a visit to the Constanza Branch. Here we have a project to provide a surgery lamp, among other things for the community hospital.  The head nurse for the hospital (Vilma Ramirez) is a member of the Church and has been trying to get a project there for a couple of years now.  The old surgery lamp that is hanging above the operating table operates with a 100 watt light bulb because when the original bulb burnt out they had no funds to replace it.

This was one of the first hospitals that we visited when we first arrived in April.  Since then we have been trying to submit this project, but because of communication problems—no answer from emails and the inability to get information over the phone, the project is still pending to be submitted.
Unfortunately, in the meantime Sister Rivera’s husband was in a motorcycle accident and broke his leg.  The bone broke all the way through.  The general common policy is to amputate the leg.  Due to intervention by some good missionaries and some fast offering funds, Brother Cruz Rivera, was able to have a rod put in his leg to save it.   It is amazing to us how the doctor was able to even do this surgery with only a 100 watt light bulb!  Brother Rivera will have about a two year recovery, but he is doing amazingly well.
On Thursday this past week we visited a hospital that specializes in diabetics care, Instituto Nacional De Diabetes Endocrinologia y Nutricion (INDEN).  Their ophthalmology Department is busy with patients who experience retinal problems. Currently they can only perform one surgery a day.  Our project is to provide a Constellation vitrectomy system, which combines advancements in high speed cutting, intraocular pressure control, illumination, laser and other features to allow for more surgeon control during retinal surgery.  We are also providing retinal surgery equipment.    Along with the equipment a Dr. from the USA will come to do some training. The equipment has arrived and the Dr. will be coming the second week of September.  We visited with our contact, Dra. Rosa Fernandez, to sign an agreement so we can be ready by September.
On Friday, Dra. Evelyn Diaz met us on the Temple Grounds to receive the last piece of equipment that we had promised her hospital, Los Americanos in Alcarrizos.  We have mentioned this hospital before, but they provide low vision services for the very poor of the country.  Dra. Diaz told us about a new project she is organizing for the very poor in the Bateys near San Pedro de Macoris.  The Bateys is where the field workers live.  There used to be work for them on the sugar cane plantations, but when the owner sold his property, the new owner did not employ the workers that are living in the Bateys.  These people are so poor that they wake up in the morning no knowing where they will find food that day.  Many old people are abandoned by the younger generation as they go to find work elsewhere.  The only hospital is an old abandon trailer with little or no equipment.  The government employs a doctor, but does not provide equipment.  Dra. Diaz says that every time she has visited there is a sign on the door that says “Out to Breakfast” or “Out to Lunch”.  We have agreed with Dra. Diaz to go with her on this coming Tuesday to see these people first hand  and see if there is something we can do to help with a project.
This week was a little more relaxing and we were able to do some catch-up work in our home office.  We submitted two new projects that we have been developing (yea!) and we received word that the San Jaoquin School project was approved.  We are very excited about this one, because the community and the Ward are coming together to paint the school and build a fence. 
Other than that, Wallace had time to practice his Ukulele and learn some more songs from “Ukulele Mike”, who has about 185 lessons on UTube.  Edith had time to do a little Family History Research!