Sunday, November 25, 2012

Faith or GPS

This was another exciting adventure in the Dominican Republic.
In an effort to find a good partner for a Major Vision Project, we visited with an organization called PATRONATO NATIONAL DE CIEGOS.  We didn’t take any pictures to show you, so we will describe in words what we found.  This non-profit organization has eleven offices in the Dominican Republic. Their mission is: “Providing comprehensive rehabilitation services to the blind and / or visually impaired to achieve their personal autonomy, family integration, social and employment, and to encourage the involvement of the Community through active participation in the prevention of blindness and all services that raise human dignity of blind people." This organization has been in operation for 46 years. They serve the poor by giving free services to the blind and a reduced rate for those who are not blind.  They offer Ophthalmologist examinations, classes on reading braille, classes on how to do routine jobs in the home:  cook, wash clothes, dressing, etc., training to become a massage therapist, and personal tutoring in the home. Another amazing organization in a country where there are so-o-o many poor!
We met with the director of a little hospital which is located in Paraiso near the far southwest part of the country.  The meeting was here in Santo Domingo, so we still haven’t gone to the hospital yet.  The church donated some badly needed equipment many months ago, which is still not installed or functioning.  We found out why.  The electrical system needed to have repairs.  They had to install new wire in conduit.  They ended up installing it 4 different times because it was stolen each time.  The electrical company presented them with a bill for $35,000 for electric usage.  This was a surprise to the hospital.  As it turned out the local citizens had tapped the electric line between the transformer, meter and the hospital, thus the hospital service line was serving power to a lot of the local citizens.  When the hospital removed their pirated taps, the citizens threatened to sue the hospital.  The hospital is in the process of moving the transformer and meter to an enclosed area so no-one can steal power.  They should be finished in March ready to install the equipment. 
In the US, we call what the citizens are doing “stealing”.  However, in the DR doing such things is a cultural thing that is looked at a little differently; we just don’t understand.  If your neighbor has something you need, then he should give it to you and vica versa.  Is this wrong?  Maybe this is the way it is going to be in a time when there will be no competition, no lust for that which you don’t have, no desire to rise above your neighbor, no building up of bank accounts, no bickering and bargaining, no bank interest to grind on you, no debt, but rather observing your brother and if he has a need, freely giving according to his wants.  However, there never will be a time when taking without permission or violently will be acceptable.

Since arriving we have driven a blue Toyota Corolla.  It has worked most of the time, but we often have to borrow a four-wheel drive to get into the areas we need to.  That happened this week.  When we called Caesar, the fleet manager, he told us that our blue Toyota Corolla was going to be taken away from us because of our poor driving record and we would be using Taxis and Guaguas for three months.  He is quite a tease!  Sure enough he took our car away from us!  But we were really surprised when he replaced it with a brand new four-wheel drive, double cab Toyota truck. Christmas came early!   Wallace was just feeling comfortable driving in the DR traffic, now it is more intimidating, because he does not want to put a dent in a new vehicle.  He also feels totally out of place driving such a fancy car around in humble circumstances where our car is as big as some people’s home.
We celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary climbing the hills in the little town of Parra located above the town of San Jose de Ocoa.  There had been recent rains and many of the roads were washed out.  Fortunately, road graders, big trucks, etc. were busily repairing the road.  We had a little bit of exciting time at one point where we had to pass the equipment on a narrow road and another time where the road was very slippery and steep drop-offs on one side.
Pres. Whalincon Mateo will be installing a water line as part of a humanitarian project.  We went to Parra to satisfy Wallace’s engineering worries about whether the system is going to work.  The water line will provide water to family gardens and potentially to a tilapia farm we are scheming about.
The above picture is of the location where the pipe will take water out of the river.  He will simple lay the pipe in place and place gunny sacks with a mixture of sand and cement on top of the pipe.  The cement in the sacks with set up forming a natural pool to capture the water.
Edith enjoyed the hike and was again thankful for her health and all that good Girls Camp training as there were some steep and rough areas to conquer. 

We followed a route Whalincon had selected.  It turns out he was just following an old abandoned canal someone had built many years before but had abandoned.  His logic is that if the water could flow in an open canal, it can sure flow in a closed pipe.  You can’t argue with that! 

Wallace commented to Whalincon that he does things by faith, but Wallace has to do things by GPS and a computer.  That is when Whalincon told us a neat little story of faith.  3 days prior to this, a single mother that lives in San Jose de Ocoa (about 3 miles away down the mountain) called Whalincon on his cell phone during the middle of the night.  She said she had a severe tooth ache that was giving her a lot of trouble.  She asked if Whalincon wouldn’t pray for her.  Whalincon is the president of the Branch San Jose de Ocoa.  He said he would.  He got out of bed, kneeled down and asked Heavenly Father to attend to this good sister.  The next day, Whalincon made his way down the mountain to visit the sister.  She said that soon after she had called Whalincon during the night, she was totally relieved of the toothache.  This would have coincided with the time Pres. Whalincon had been praying to Heavenly Father.
We just love these people.  They are simple people.  Their houses are small with no windows or locks, no running water, no bathrooms, and not much of anything we call “necessities”, yet I don’t think we have ever been more happy then they!  We are learning so much from them and are grateful beyond words for the opportunity to be here. 
It was a beautiful celebration of our anniversary.  We left Mesa, Arizona to come to some of the most beautiful country God has created.
Just as we finished doing our thing we arrived at the end just in time to see a bunch of the youth from the branch in San Jose de Ocoa loaded into the back of a pickup headed home from having a fun day swimming in the stream below Pres. Whalincon’s home.  Can you image the horror if the bishop in your ward loaded all the youth in the back of a pickup and head down a steep unpaved mountain road slippery from a recent rain!  The road was washed out several places and was just in the process of being repaired.  We had some nervous moments ourselves on the way down.  The rest of the adult members of the branch were waiting for a guagua to head to a party for the adults at the branch.  They didn’t think twice about the hazards.  To us it is just another sign that God himself is busy protecting these people on a day to day, moment to moment preoccupation.  If you feel He isn’t listening to you, it’s probably because He is busy in the DR!
An interesting sight was a pig family that crossed the road just ahead of us as we drove to Para.
This being Thanksgiving week, we participated in the family Turkey Trot.Here are some pictures of us doing our thing.Sorry the pictures are blurred because we are moving so fast.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is indeed one great adventure! I like this! Thanks for sharing your awesome experience!