Monday, August 26, 2013


Occasionally we encounter examples of the Indomitable Spirit of Man.  This man had a terrible accident at work in which a machine cut off his left leg, his hip, his genitals, his anus, and a lot of his intestines.  How he is alive is a miracle in and of itself.  Not only did he survive but Innovacion Orthopedica figured out how to give him a prosthetics that allows him to walk on his own.  The weight of the left side of his body is transferred to his rib cage and his left arm pit which makes it possible for him to walk.  You can see the tube for urine and the bag for colonoscopy.  He is very happy to walk again.  He was married with one child before his accident and his wife remains true and faithful to him.  Don’t complain about your problems!

We finally managed to tour the famous Cuevas Maravillas, natural limestone caves.  It was a fun trip with James and Joy Crismon, the missionaries who live in the apartment next door in the Bishop’s Storehouse. Taking pictures was prohibited inside the caves, but we were able to take some at our entrance and exit.   The path was completely lit with movement sensitive lights.  It was beautiful inside and well worth the effort we made to view this marvel.  We had our own private tour guide, which made it possible to enforce strict adherence to the rule to not touch any of the formations.

We traveled to Higüey to help with the Vision Project.  The doctor was late so Wallace challenged the students to learn how to add faster.  It really caught their attention when Wallace would add up the numbers even before they were written down.  The student would write one 5-digit number on the board, Wallace would write the answer to the summation problem, then Wallace and the student would write down 4 more 5-digit numbers and the sum always came up to the answer Wallace had previously written.  They were impressed and learned how to add fast!

Dra Evelyn Diaz is the champion of our vision project.  She is conducting six trainings with the goal of teaching 300 people to be Vision Health Promoters, who go out into the community and find those that may have vision problems and urge them to be seen by a doctor.  Blindness caused by cataracts is the number one cause of blindness in the DR.  May times people do not know that there is anything that can be done to avoid going blind.
It was so good to see our friend Walincon Mateo again.  He has started a large garden that is feeding his relatives that live in a community on the hill called “Parra”.   We went to check on the status of the garden project and urge people to continue building their gardens.  Everyone got excited when Wallace started passing out free seeds.
While in Ocoa we held a Closing Ceremony to celebrate the delivery of some physical therapy equipment that was donated by the Church.
This picture of the water truck doesn’t give the full effect of the experience, but it represents what happens when you are waiting for construction.  The water truck with its sprayers at full blast came by and gave all the stopped vehicles a shower while they were waiting.    I suppose it was to keep us all cool!
We discovered Jagua this week.  This fruit certainly has a taste all of its own and is different from anything we have tasted before. 


Sunday, August 11, 2013


After a meeting this week with ASODIFIMO, one of our wheelchair partners, they surprised us with a an amazing gift.  They gave us, refusing payment of any kind, a beautiful painting called “CARAS SOñADORAS” (the dreamy faces).  Bernardo Montero in the blue shirt  left front is the primary artist though everyone at ASODIFIMO each took the brush to place a little dab of paint.  These faces are seen a lot in pictures across the country so it will be a wonderful reminder of the Dominican Republic when we return home in 6 months.

We also attended a conference sponsored by ASODIFIMO and listened to 4 hours of long winded, flowery, passionate speeches of which the Dominicans are really good at.

The only other thing of significance is that Wallace drove to Monte Plata by himself and worked some more on the 1st chicken coop with the Guerrero family.  We got the concrete floor poured, the door installed and chicken wire in place.  The coop is turning out very nice as planned including the cost being very close to what we predicted.
Unfortunately there was no water in the public water pipes the day of construction so we used the water in the 55 gallon barrel the family always keeps on hand due to frequent water outages to mix concrete.  The water ran out right during the middle of a pour and in the process of trying to smooth the concrete surface.  With concrete hardening, the family and Ramon got in a big discussion about the problem.  They turned to Wallace for a solution.  He said, “No, it is not my project.  You can figure it out-- Work together to come up with options to solve the problem and recommend what you want to do.”   They started working together and figuring out solutions.  One solution proposed by a brother was to use the water that was running in the ditch at the bottom of a ravine right next to the house.  There was indeed plenty of water.  But the lady of the house said “No Way!  It is contaminated!”.  That is very true.  The water is filthy and probably carries a multitude of diseases.  So they ruled that option out.  Option 2 was to ask the neighbor for water.  They did and the neighbor brought some bottles with water that had been taken from the same filthy ravine!  So that option was ruled out.  The 3rd option was to put the empty 55 gallon barrel in Wallace’s truck, go to the church that has its own well and transport water from there.  The group agreed to that solution.  We hauled water in the truck and saved the day.  It was nice to see them working together on a common problem and coming up with a joint solution that worked.  The rest of the day went well.
The above picture is leveling the floor before pouring concrete.  The next picture is how they mixed the concrete directly on the sidewalk in front of the front door.  They wouldn’t even consider using the wheelbarrow to mix the concrete.  At least they didn't mix dirt with it this time. They used the wheelbarrow to haul a very stiff concrete mixture to the back yard where they dumped it into the coop floor area.

Sister Guerrero putting the finishing touches to the chicken coop.  The men did the work.  She got the glory.  She is very very happy about her chicken coop!

Monday, August 5, 2013


 The real Dominican meal-not bad tasting, but watch out!
Although this past week was calm compared with last week, we ended up eating more meals prepared by Dominicans than ever previously done within a seven day period.  Edith usually prepares the meals at home and it is not easy to find foods that we really enjoy when we go out to eat in restaurants.  Tuesday we were invited to the Reyes home to discuss the chicken project.  We had a great meeting, and then at 8 p.m. the food started to appear.  8 p.m. is pretty much normal time for a family to eat their evening meal here.  Hermana Reyes prepared a meal of chicken in a traditional sauce, a mashed plátano casserole (mangú) dish with cheese over the top, leaf lettuce salad (only leaves with a dressing) and French bread (I haven’t learned what they call it here).  Tasty although it was quite sweet.
Thursday we were back in Monte Plata pouring cement.  Ramon showed us the Dominican way to mix concrete.  They pour the bag out directly on the ground and add sand and water.  “That’s the way it is done here!”, he said.  Wallace about had a “heart attack” when Ramon used a pick to dig and mix including plenty of dirt from underneath.


Since everyone else was busy with the cement, Wallace decided to build the door.  He was pretty proud of himself when he had it framed out.  This is his first door to build.  How about that!
We thought we would sneak out before an invitation to dinner arrived, but as we were loading the truck to leave, the oldest daughter called Edith into the house and next thing she was told to sit down and handed a plate of rice, beans and chicken (“the bandera”).  The meals are served without anything to drink, but that is okay with us.  The Gerrero family is one of the few that have a running water hose just outside their kitchen door.  We’ve learned too much about the water, which many natives here claim is potable. We always bring our own water.  Poor families do not have money to buy bottled water. 
Saturday brought an all day trip, traveling two hours Northeast of Santo Domingo to the community of San Francisco de Macoris. The Stake President there asked us to come check out two new projects.  The Hospital San Vincent de Paul is a public hospital that we did a project for last year.  Both photo therapy lamps that we donated are not working.  To us it appeared that the fuses had been burned out.  The real problem may be the electricity.  With electrical surges and unexpected outages, medical equipment can be quickly and easily damaged.  The hospital has been unsuccessful getting the vendor to check the equipment.  A good brother in the Stake will check out the electrical outlets.  If the electricity checks out okay, we will talk to the vendor.

This pre-mature baby has a place to lay its head and has a fighting chance for life because of the equipment we donated to the hospital.  It kind of helps remind us that maybe we are doing some good.
We visited a young man in the psychiatric ward of the hospital who grabbed hold of us and insisted that we pray for and bless him.  President Garcia and one of high council members anointed him and gave him a priesthood blessing.  We left him grateful and a good feeling that comes from good experiences.
Hogar Crea was the second project we looked at.   Hogar Crea is an addiction recovery group.  They requested materials to help them get started in a mop production project.  Their goal is to become self-sufficient through making and selling “suapes” (term for mops). 
Wallace might have gone crazy, but we took out a little time to relax at the Cacao (Coco) Farm where they grown the cacoa bean and make their own delicious chocolate.
Our missionary friends, the Dunfords came with us and we had a great time touring the farm and of course ate our third Dominican meal for the week!
This meal was actually very delicious—rice, chicken, lasagna and shredded cabbage with tomatoes and cucumber.  Most amazing was the chocolate fountain that drizzled chocolate over different kinds of fruit for dessert. 

Chocolate covered mangoes----really good!  Fresh chocolate is really good!
Here are few pictures taken during our tour of the cacoa farm and chocolate factory.

A cacoa bean pod still hanging on the tree.  They grow right out of the trunk of the tree or branches.
 The following is a ripe pod with beans ready to eat.
And here is Edith sucking on a bean.  They have a sweet pleasant flavor.
Edith and Jill Dunford watching the finished product being put into plastic molds.