Sunday, December 29, 2013

131229 Christmas

Our second Christmas in the Dominican Republic was an interesting and fun time. This year we participated in several activities that show the importance of Christmas to the Dominicans.
Monday, 23rd of December we took a 45 minute drive to a Batey.  (A Batey is where the poorest of the poor live.  They are of Haitian decent and not recognized as citizens here because the government does not allow them Birth Certificates or other ID papers that would qualify them for medical, educational or other government services. They are allowed to live in Bateys to work the sugar cane fields or sell or beg on the streets.) This community was expecting us.  We went to take Christmas gifts of toys, school kits and food that were collected through a service idea conceived by the Crismons and Wegeners who had some of their family here to help with the project.  Several Missionary couples went along to help. Thanks to a volunteer school teacher and a member of the Red Cross, the community was organized to receive the items.

Wallace accompanied some Christmas carols with his Ukulele and then one of the youth of the community surprised us by sharing a song he had written.

Wednesday 25th of December started early.  We were at the “Casa” at 7:30 am to prepare goodie plates for all the MTC missionaries---a total of 45.  Wallace helped as the ribbon holder while the ladies wrapped the plates and then we took them to the dining area and surprised the Elders with their gifts and with Christmas Carols.

At 9 a.m we visited “Maternidad  Nuestra Sra de la Altagracia” a maternity hospital where we delivered 100 new born kits to the new mothers.  Unfortunately there were more than 100 new mothers there, but we left our good cheer and sang was we walked the halls.  Dr Reynaldo Jimenez showed us the path and helped us with the singing.  It was a fun Christmas morning activity


In the afternoon we enjoyed the company of a few missionary couples for a Christmas Day meal at the Almacen de Obispo where we live.
The National Choir and Orchestra performed at the 1st  Catolic Church built in Santo Domingo (abt 500 years old) in the evening and we were able to enjoy an outstanding program Christmas Night.  It was a full and wonderful day.

We revisited the 5 families in Monte Plata who built chicken coops and have chickens growing.  They also have started their gardens!  So far our little food project is having success

Wallace changed the coop design to use 1"x12" wood planks instead of plywood to improve durability.  We helped the branch construct the first of the next 10 coops.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

11222 Faro De Colon

This week we took advantage of the opportunity to visit significant historical sites we have not seen so far.  We hope each of you is having a great time with your family. 
After 3 prior failed attempts to visit the “Faro de Colon” (Columbus Lighthouse), we finally succeeded in paying a $100 pesos each to take a self-guided tour of the Faro de Colon, a monstrosity of a building dedicated to Columbus.  Dominicans claim to have the remains of Columbus locked up inside a metal box in the center of the monument.

“The monument's lighthouse-style features projecting beams of light, forming a cross shape, which are so powerful they can be seen from neighboring Puerto Rico. Constructed of concrete, the monument is 680 feet (210 m) long, its architecture is cross-shaped and represents the Christianization of America.  Construction began in 1986 using plans drawn by Scottish architect J.L. Gleave in 1931, in time for the 500th anniversary of the Discovery of America, the monument was inaugurated in 1992. It was funded by the Latin American states and the total cost of construction was approximately $70 million.”  Wikipedia

Many countries from around the world contributed to the museum items inside the Faro.

Edith in front of metal box containing Columbus remains.

Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina  THE LAST OF THE DICTATORS
Trujillo “nicknamed El Jefe (Spanish: [el ˈxefe], The Chief or The Boss), ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in 1961. He officially served as president part of the time and later, ruling as an unelected military strongman under figurehead presidents. His 30 years in power, to Dominicans known as the Trujillo Era, is considered one of the bloodiest eras ever in the Americas.   It has been estimated that Trujillo's tyrannical rule was responsible for the death of more than 50,000 people.  Trujillo's rule brought the country more stability and prosperity than any living Dominican had previously known. The price, however, was high — civil liberties were nonexistent and human rights violations were routine. On Tuesday, May 30, 1961 Trujillo was shot and killed when his blue Chevrolet Bel Air was ambushed on a road outside the Dominican capital. “  Wikipedia

On a windy rainy day this week we visited the monument constructed on the spot of his death.  The rainy day and the monument seem fitting to his deeds against his own people.

We visited the residence of Diego Colón (Christopher Columbus’ son) in Santo Domingo, El Alcázar de Colón.

“Diego Colón, a son of Christopher Columbus, was born in Portugal, in 1479/1480.  In 1509, he was named Governor of the Indies, the post his father had held. He established his home (El Alcázar de Colón), which still stands, in Santo Domingo.  The first major slave revolt in the Americas occurred in Santo Domingo during 1522, when enslaved Muslims of the Wolof nation led an uprising in the sugar plantation of admiral Don Diego Colon. Many of these insurgents managed to escape to the mountains where they formed independent maroon communities among the Tainos.  Diego died in 1526.”  Wikipedia

This is what sheet music looked like from the period.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

131215 Lights of Chrismas

This was a grab bag of activities this week starting with an after-dark visit to the national park across from the Temple.  The park is the most lit-up Christmas scene of any we have seen anywhere.  The following photos really do not do it justice.

We are collecting supplies for ten more chicken coops and gardens in Monte Plata.  Wallace unloading the truck to store supplies until we get them all together to be transported.
We participated in a birthday party for Jill Dunford.  Jill and her husband Rob completed their mission this week and returned home to Georgia.

These two gentlemen attend us frequently when we get fuel.  Wallace tried to research where the DR gets its petro.  The answer is difficult to find, but he thinks it comes from Venezuela.

We attended a luncheon going away party for the Dunfords at the Area office and heard a group of youth on tour from Puerto Rico give us a bell ensemble.


The highlight of our week was driving to La Romana to help in the vision health promoters’ workshop.  This is a project Edith has been working on for several months.  This is the last workshop of this project.


                                                                  BOLA (by Wallace)

In my vocabulary and that of many of my friends, the word “BOLA” is the title of a game I invented that is played using bowling balls.  I thought I had invented the word and didn’t know it actually meant something until I arrived in the DR.  Now I know what it really means and want you to know as well!

We had no idea what was going through the head of that little boy!  About 12 years old, he looked like most every other Dominican street rascal; black hair, dark skin, ragged clothes with a big smile.  He would have gone practically unnoticed, and soon forgotten, except for what he was doing.

When I get behind the steering wheel to drive our vehicle on the streets of Santo Domingo I feel like I am stepping beyond the confines of my protective little village into the jungle wilds beyond the fence with nothing on but a loin cloth, a sharp knife at my belt and a long spear in my hand.  It is an adventure!  My motto is “Be Alert!” or be gobbled up by any one of a number of monsters. 

We, my wife Edith and I, drive in a big truck, windows up, AC on, inside our protected little bubble.  We are in the jungle, but prefer to just drive carefully through the alphabet soup without contact and just observe the wild animals outside like we would in one of those big drive-through zoos.  We cringe at the possibility of actually be physically engaged with any part of the jungle beyond our windshield.  Today though, that one little boy about 12 years old, who normally would not merit more than a brief glance, was destined to penetrate our little glass bubble.

Up ahead a “guagua”, an elephant on wheels, bullied its way down the street, fast, then slow and sometimes stopping without warning.  More like a pile of junk metal, it lumbered about the street with total disregard to any other animals on the road, man or beast.  Then like a small rock flipped up from the asphalt, we noticed the little boy of this story sitting/clinging on the back bumper of that monster.  With barely room enough to sit and with nothing to hang onto, the little boy performed a balance act of surprising dangerous dexterity.  To our amazement he jumped on and off the bus with its starts and stops dodging trailing traffic.  We were sure he would be creamed!

Suddenly there he was face to face with Edith on the passenger side.  The little scamp was pounding on our window yelling bola!  In Dominican talk that means, “Give me a ride!”.  True to the “rules” of the jungle, not waiting for an answer, he scrambled into the bed of our truck.  The traffic was moving, there was no time to argue, the little leech had become part of our world!

 Just another day in the Dominican Republic and now you know the meaning of the word “Bola”.