Sunday, January 20, 2013


There are a lot of things in this country that just seem to be plain miracles!

A truck like this is a common sight.  It is packed full of vegetables including a stack of eggs that seem to always get to where they need to go without one cracked egg.

We inspected 200 wheelchairs constructed at ADR and paid for by the church and donated back to ADR.  ADR then gives the chairs at no cost to persons in need.  Wallace is trying one out.  He is holding a transfer board used to help a person transfer himself/herself from the wheelchair to a chair, etc.  We didn’t know we were going to be wheelchair inspectors!
We traveled to Santiago this week for the closing of one of our projects for a Therapy facility.  The stake president, (Almonte) is in the white shirt and tie, to his right is the president of the organization and a member of the committee and the lady on the end is the Vice-President.  They are standing in front of the electrical generator we purchased for them

Lady giving speech therapy

This man reminded Wallace of the many hours of torture he went through in therapy after his broken arm.
Lady that befriended Edith

Wallace talking shop with a fellow Civil Engineer
Ronny Rosario, Elder Rob Dunford and Wallace standing next to a painting of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic.  We visited this school in La Vega to see what we could do to help them.
This school would like to have some bookshelves to create a library.  All the books stacked on the tables were just piled in the corners of the room three weeks ago.  Ronny, a new teacher at the school organized them with the help of the students. We will see if we can get a project approved to buy bookshelves, a computer, printer, projector and microphone for this school.
This is only a part of what we did.  It was a fun busy week full of Adventure---of course!
Wallace forgot to mention in the last blog that Ken Kartchner, Short Term Water Specialist, announced at our training that the church no longer requires water projects to meet a $10 per beneficiary requirement!  This recognizes it is not possible to build a water system for $10/person unless you are simply putting in a bore hole or a hand pump.  This is important to us because here we can usually find a perfectly good clean and reliable source of water out of the side of a mountain a couple of kilometers away. But it costs more than $10/person. Now we can evaluate water projects on the basis of merit and achieving the goal to relieve suffering and build self-sufficiency. 
We have been struggling for months to figure out how to present generate Food Projects.  We have made a lot of mistakes.  Our presentation has been too complicated or something.  Wallace worries about this day and night.  By calling on the skills we learned as Cub Scout leaders and in leadership positions over a lifetime we think we are finally starting to explain the project in a simple way as we teach welfare principals and providing in the Lord’s way.  The people are starting to take ownership and management of their own project.  The following picture is Wallace explaining the project to the Bani 1 Branch Council members using pictures and asking a lot of participatory questions instead of just lecturing.  We think the meeting went very well.

Our current goal is to prepare projects in 2 phases.  Phase 1, pays for a technical advisor to train the people how to manage a chicken or garden project, then help them design it, get a list of materials, feed, etc, figure out where to get it and how to get it there, get cost estimates, fill out forms and make a formal commitment with the branch president. All of that has to be done before you go to phase 2.   Phase 2 provides the funds to build their projects, report on the project ever 6 months and get a final report at the end of 2 years.  We feel pretty hopeful Bani 1 got the idea.

We reached a major milestone recently to set up a new method of finances where the branch president can purchase his own materials and manage the project himself. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Success vs Failure

So, how does one measure success or failure?  What would be your criteria?  We had time to ponder those questions this past week.  It was fun to review the memories and remember the people and projects we have experienced during this past nine months (How time flies!)

This is a summary of our humanitarian efforts since arriving April 2012.

1.     We completed 20 of the 21 projects that were on the books when we arrived in April.

2.     The El Ciqual Water Project is the only one not implemented, because of design changes we are still working on.

3.     12 new projects were approved since April or we finished 3 in 2012.

4.     Approximately 750,000 people have or will benefit as a result of these projects.

5.     We spent about $695,000 in Humanitarian Funds in 2012.

6.     In additional to the above we have 41 other projects we worked on.  Some will never develop into projects and others will carry on into 2013 before they become approved projects.

We have driven roughly 10,000 miles on the craziest roads and hazardous conditions of our entire lives with only one ticket, one almost ticket, one accident that had to be reported, numerous dents in the vehicle, untold near misses, 3 armed stops on the highway, one attempted stop by hoodlums, and 8 river crossings.

No wonder we are so tired!

Area projects are those developed in the Dominican Republic by local people to bless the lives of local people.  This year we had 6 hospitals, 7 schools, 1 nursing home, 1 physical therapy facility, 1 prosthetics facility and 1 fire department.  In addition we are in the process of working with 2 more schools and 2 more physical therapy facilities in the DR.

Major projects are those that are planned according to the major initiatives designed by our headquarters in Salt Lake.  We implemented or completed 8 of these projects:  2 vision, 1 neonatal, 4 wheelchair and 1 water.  In addition 3 more projects were approved to be implemented in 2013:  1 wheelchair, 1 food, and 1 water. 

The yearly Welfare/Humanitarian Training Conference for the Caribbean was held January 9th and 10th. We enjoyed “rubbing shoulders “with the other Humanitarian Missionaries in Haiti, Guiana, and Jamaica and receiving instruction. 

Julio Acosta; Murdocks (Jaimica); Cook (Gaiana); Haws (DR); Hammond; Bennie Lilly, Berthany Theodor (Haitii)

One of the things we learned was the difference between the poor and the needy.  Poor are those that do not have the skills to become self-sufficient, while being needy is a temporary condition due to losing a job, becoming ill, or an accident or similar condition.  The poor will always be with us, so we are focusing on how to implement welfare principles that help people help themselves.  This is our main goal as we continue to work among the people of the Dominican Republic.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Out with the Old

Out with the old—in with the new!  2012 is over---2013 is here, believe or not.  Time is flying.  We have now completed 9 months in the Dominican Republic.  Christmas is celebrated in the Dominican Republic until 7 Dec when the 3 Kings show up with more gifts for the children.  Christmas songs are still going strong.  We discovered it is very difficult to get anything done between 25 December and 7 January so this week was pretty uneventful.

Sheredith and Wesley were here until Tuesday afternoon so we have an opportunity to take them to Tres Ojos, a cave in Santo Domingo and to the Colonial Zone and one last dinner at Andriannes Tropical, a restaurant on the shore of the ocean where they were able to experience eating mufongo and tostones.

We really enjoyed our time with Sheredith and Wesley.  We doubt they will ever forget their visit to the Land of the Free!

Rosa Paulino, the Public Affairs person for the Restauradores stake invited to lunch at her house.  Sancocho (Dominican Stew) was cooked over an open flame in the back yard.  Later we ate inside the house adding rice to the sancocho.  She just kept piling on the food until we had eaten it all and felt like fat pigs when we left.  Between other missionaries and other people we eat with in their homes, we find it very difficult to control our diet or our weight. 

We’ve started a new exercise routine.  We’ll see how long it lasts.  We walk 1.5 miles to a park directly across from the Temple where new trails and exercise equipment have been installed and then walk 1.5 miles home.  It takes us an hour, but we feel the investment in our good health pays dividends in a better attitude and abilities during the day.

We finished the week by driving to Nizao to attend regular church meetings and to check with the 2 branch presidents who meet them to see how they are doing on the food project.