Sunday, September 16, 2012

Las Mariposas

Click HERE for pictures.

“LAS MARIPOSAS” means the butterflies.  So what is so special about that?  Well read on---it was something very special we did this week.
September 16, 2012.  This past week was spent with Dr. David Jacobs and his wife Jenny.  Dr. Jacobs provides medical and surgical retina care for the North Dakota area served by Trinity Health. As a Clinical Assistant Professor for the University Of North Dakota School Of Medicine he teaches residents and medical students concerning the management of ophthalmic disease. He came to the Dominican Republic to do lectures and perform retinal surgeries at the Instituto Nacional De Diabetes Endocrinologia Y Nutricion (INDEN).  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated a $60,000 Constellation Vision System to the hospital.  He performed 6 surgeries using this new piece of equipment and advised us as humanitarian missionaries for the Church if the equipment functioned correctly and if the hospital had what they needed to perform retinal surgeries.

While Dr. Jacobs was performing surgeries, we had the responsibility to drive him wherever he needed to go including a quick trip to delivery some needed surgical equipment.  We needed to be on hand, but we had a chance to travel with his wife, Jenny and visit some interesting sites. One of the first places we visited was the “Colonial Zone”.  This area is very close to our apartment and we walked the streets viewing the buildings from the Columbus era.  Unfortunately it was Monday and many of the sites were closed, but we did get a good feel for the architecture, statues and enjoyed eating dinner at the Plaza de España.

Tuesday we toured a local public hospital and school, visited the cave “Tres Ojos” and visited the “Faro de Colon” (Columbus Lighthouse). True to Dominican luck we arrived at the Faro when the electricity was off and were unable to go inside.  Someday when we are able to go inside we are going to give a full interesting report of the Faro de Colon.

The most meaningful sight-seeing trip that we have experienced so far happened on Wednesday when we, along with Jenny and our neighbors, the Hammons, drove two and a half hours to an area close to Salcedo.  Here we visited the house where the Mirabal sisters lived that is now a museum.  For those of you who do not know who the Mirabal sisters are, they are depicted in the movie “In the Time of the Butterflies, based on the novel by the same name written by Julia Alvarez.  These women showed great fortitude and courage as they took a stand against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, three of the sisters dying as martyrs in 1960.   They have one sister that remains alive today and is in her 87th year.  Dedé Mirabal lives about 2 miles from the museum, where she resides in her childhood home and oversees the beautiful flower gardens.  The Ecoparque de la Paz is a beautiful park a short walking distance away. As we approached Dedé’s home we noticed a guard entering the gate and asked about an interview with Dedé, which we had learned that she does on occasion.  We were invited to visit the Ecoparque after which Dedé would receive us.

As we approached Dedé’s outside veranda we felt the excitement of the moment.  A chance to meet one of Las Mariposas, a person who sacrificed so much during the ruthless rule of the dictator Trujillo.  Her sisters, nicknamed Las Mariposas, fought in the Underground movement against Trujillo  and represented the Dominican people in their quest for freedom, safety and love of all people.  It felt like we were about to meet George Washington!  We were not disappointed. Dedé embodied elegance, love and concern for all.  Our visit only lasted about a half hour, but shall extend in our memories forever.  She shared how she had raised 9 children; 3 of her own and 6 of her martyred sisters’.  She told how each morning she takes a walk in her garden and wonders which of “Las Mariposas” [butterflies] would be there today.  She said she was never disappointed and always received strength through her morning walks. She has shared her experiences with thousands including many schoolchildren who have visited her.  She tells them that she was preserved to tell the stories.  She certainly has had a great influence on a generation of children here in the Dominican Republic.  Their story was brought to life when we walked the movie, “In the Time of the Butterflies”.


  1. Nice pictures! We enjoyed learning about the Mirabal sisters and visiting their place while in the D.R. Did you see the cocoa trees?

  2. That was a nice visit to the Mirabal sister. A brave woman.