Sunday, December 9, 2012


This week was the week to advance our Food Initiatives.  Mesopotamia is actually the name of a branch of the church located in San Juan de la Maguana, a 3 to 4 hour drive (depending how early you leave to miss the mess in Santo Domingo).  We actually started them on the path to prepare a food project proposal 2 months ago, but they have been floundering and getting discouraged.  It is mostly our fault because we were struggling with understanding how to implement a food project.  We have come a long ways in our methods, presentation and processes. 
We visited with the Branch President and the heads of 3 different families to review the food project again with them.  We are excited about the possibilities and the direction we are going.  The following shows how one family is already enthused and has started a few little boxes on their roof.  The home belongs to Simon Ramirez, standing in the picture.  He is a member of the church who will also service as the expert in gardens.

The next picture is of the Marcilino Apio family who have cleared a spot for the construction of their 40 laying hen project.  Each member is required to make a major investment in their own project.  We believe what will happen, each member will find a way to build their own chicken coop which will save the church a lot of money and help the member take responsibility for their project.

This family has an irrigation ditch running right through their lot that will provide an abundance of water for the chicken coop.
The next picture is of a sister in the branch who got excited and has already built her own little garden which seems to be doing very well.  She was really excited about it.  She is even trying to grow some vegetables in an old tub.  Unfortunately, she is using soil directly in the tub that is getting really compacted.  She needs a little help from the church for fertilizer and soil amendments.  Again she has made a major contribution.  We feel a project with her will be successful.

The above picture is of Noel De los Santos and his son standing in front of a chicken coop he built after he heard about the project.  He built the project using materials he found lying around that didn’t cost him anything and a little bit of cash outlay from his own pocket.  He is a perfect example that our concept of having the members make a major investment in money, time and energy is key to making the food projects successful.  We have no doubt he will be successful.  He needs help from the church buying chickens to get him started.  Every project will include discussions on ways to make the project sustainable.  They will need to sale eggs and save money for the day when they need more chickens.
We took the following pictures as we were walking through Noel’s neighborhood.  It is a good example of how most people live.

The following pictures were taken during our introduction of the food project with two different branches located in the little town of Nizao about 1.5 hours west of Santo Domingo.
Elder’s Quorum President, Wallace, Branch Pres. Aguino, Branch Secretary
Pres. Aguino has been unemployeed for 3 months.  He is pretty typical of the members in a country with about a 40% unemployment rate and a 60% underemployed rate.  A food project with his family would bless their lives greatly and gives us a lot of satisfaction.  It is a difficult tedious process, but we are determined they get trained, plan and design their project, get cost estimates from vendors, build their project and show how it will be sustainable.  We are determined we will not be the ones who purchase, haul and help build anything. Training includes financial concept and getting a 3 month supply of the food they eat every day (mostly rice, beans, salt).
This picture was taken during our introduction of the food project with the Don Gregorio branch presidency also located in Nizao.  Pres. Ortiz is standing on the right.  They are excited to get started.  We are scheduled to go visit 3 families in each branch this coming week to talk to them about the project and take pictures of them and the location where they want the project to be.
We attended a Christmas program prepared by the children of the San Joaquin School at which we also formerly close the humanitarian project we had with the school.  The project included the construction of a block wall, purchase of a battery-backup, locks, a pump and a new flag for the school.
They asked Wallace to say a few words at the program.  He surprised everyone by presenting them a brand new Dominican Republic Flag and started to sing to them their own National Anthem.  That was a big surprise which they really liked.  Fortunately they all enthusiastically joined in before Wallace ran out of the few words of the hymn he had learned by memory!
It is difficult to describe the conditions under which the teachers teach and the students endure in a little way overcrowded school, with no AC, no water and just recently, no bathrooms.
These pictures were taken in the only place the kids have to play or hold programs.

It was another great week.  We are happy and feel so blessed to be here.  We should probably do a better job telling about the real lessons we are learning about faith, hope and charity because we have grown a great deal since coming here.  We thank each of you for your faith and prayers.


  1. Love reading your blog. You are doing great work. What a blessing for the people there to have good missionaries to love and guide them.

  2. I bet the Care For Life people in Gilbert, Arizona would love to compare notes with you about food projects. They are working with communities in Mozambique, and they encourage family gardens as part of the "Food Security and Nutrition" aspect of their Family Preservation Program.