Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Work, Less Vacation...

Today's writing definitely calls for some orange - my favorite color. Yesterday I spent some time driving in the car with some "first-timers" (they had never been to the D.R., let alone a 3rd world country). It caused me to think, trying to remember what I felt when I first visited here in 2007. These two women who were in the car with me were asking all sorts of questions that I thought were really weird, but then it brought to mind - I wonder what kind of silly or weird questions I asked when I first arrived. It's amazing to think about humans adaptability... what used to be odd to me is now just the "norm".

After I dropped them off and headed back home I spent some time trying to recall "un-normal" things. Chickens running around all over the place, unreliable electricity, loud music and vehicles everywhere, crazy driving, lizards, random wandering cows and horses, I'm sure the list goes on but I'm having trouble remembering more.

Yesterday evening we received some very exciting news, all of the staff who are interested get to go on a very short mission trip to Haiti! I am so excited. There is a man in our town, Samuel, who is partnering with an organization in Haiti to help. So we are going to lend our assistance. Lowell, Cheryl, Nate, Maggie, and Samuel just got back yesterday from a "vision trip" to see what we can do to help, especially since we are only going to be working with them for 2 days. There is a tent community of 200 families that we are specifically going to work with. I can tell you briefly what I know now, and fill in more detail later. Our dentist is coming and will work on people's teeth for free for 2 days; Maggie, Cheryl and I are going to teach the woman how to bake bread, this will then give them something to eat and sell; there will be a team to play with the kids (these people literally have nothing, no toys, no balls, no clothes, no dishes, no entertainment), so for these kids it will be a huge blessing; I'm sure about the other teams yet, but will learn more tomorrow in the meeting. Besides the day activities we are going to show a movie one evening (we just have to find one in French) - we will bring a generator and sound system (there is no electricty in this tent city). I'm SOOO excited!

At Bible study last night we had a Haitian guest speaker who shared about the history and culture of Haiti so that when we go we'll have a better understanding of the people. Haitians speak Creol and many French as well, but no Spanish or English, so the speaker is going to come back and for 2 hours teach us a little about Creol. Neat, eh?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Vacation" Day 2

The title I chose may have been slightly deceiving as Josh and I are not technically on vacation. We are on a break from teams, which feels like vacation, but we still have planning and administrative tasks to do. One of the perks of being "on break" is that we can work from home. The photo below is our "home office". This is where all the great thinking takes place *wink wink*.

Tuesday was a great day. The morning we spent reading - I'm reading a new book called "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan, he is the author of another book I loved - "Crazy Love". My brother Stephen told me about them. I completely recommend both books, they're amazing.

Following a lovely and relaxing morning of reading and laundry we played games, took our car into the car wash - it's only 120 pesos ($4.00) to get the car cleaned inside and out! After lunch we went to work in "our office" where we enjoyed the gorgeous day of 86 degrees (in the shade).
The rest of the evening was great and relaxing, we watched the movie "Fools Rush In" - funny movie.

Josh is sitting in "our office" waiting for me to work, so off I go to join in!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vacation Day One Adventures

The day started off at the wonderful hour of 5am. As the alarm went off - quickly followed by the whines and jumping at the door from our dogs, Lucy and Snickers - we sleepily rolled out of bed, grabbed our shoes and keys, and walked outside to take the dogs for their regular morning walk when we realized that we lost Snickers collar the night before as we had left it on the back of the CRV and then went out. What could have been a huge crisis was quickly adverted by our quick thinking, suprisingly our minds were still working, and we found a substitute! We made one quick lap with the dogs, hurried through the shower and hopped in the car. We picked up our traveling companian, Lowell, and then began our trek down the mountain and to the capitol for their (Josh and Lowell's) 8:30am appointment with the US Embassy. Josh had a few things to do for our residency process, and Lowell needed more pages in his passport, so we decided to go for the adventure together!

We made great time getting to Santo Domingo 1 1/2 hours, but then something happened... traffic! And not just any kind of traffic, Dominican traffic... the worst kind! We thought we would be okay, that we would make it right on time because we still had one hour - who knew it would take us 1 hour 20 minutes to go 10 miles. But the fun doesn't end there - who knew that the directions from the embassy website would be incorrect! So, once we found the embassy another suprise was awaiting us, the embassy was not where we were suppose to go, we were suppose to go to the consulate (none of these buildings were clearly marked). Once the embassy people directed us to the consulate building we were so worn out just from trying to find the embassy AND parking, that we disappontingly staggered our way down the street to the consulate - really frustrated that we drove all this way and probably would not get assistance.

Once we finally made it through the first line (which is outside in like 110 degree weather) to went to the second line, Lowell remembered something... no cell phones allowed. Just as he said that, the woman who was checking my purse said I'm not allowed in with phones (as she's saying this Josh and Lowell handed me theirs and walked through to the next room - boys). They direct me back outside and tell me to come back when I have no phones. Great! All I could think was "I'm alone, in the capitol, I'm American, and I'm a woman... awesome." So after I thought over my options I decided I would walk back to the car, lock the phones inside, and try to get back in even though I have no paperwork and no passport. Once I returned to the consulate the guards decided that they "didn't remember me" (I had only spoken with them 5 minutes ago) and they made me go stand back in line in the increasing heat. After about 5 minutes a guy came to tend the lines. When he got to me and I told him what had happened (with the phones and all), he didn't believe me and thought that I was lying. At long last I was able to convince to speak with the woman who had helped me before, once she noticed me she said that I could go back in.

After I made it in, I wasn't sure I really wanted to be there, the waiting room was like something out of a movie... only worse. It was hot, the air was muggy, and there were probably 200 people waiting in uncomfortable chairs just sitting and waiting for their situation to be addressed. After I looked around a little, I remembered overhearing what the attendant had told Lowell earlier on and recalled that he and Josh probably wouldn't be waiting in this room. I found my way through the sweaty crowd to - at long last - find Lowell and Josh. The process was a little crazy, but both Josh and Lowell were tended too, even with having missed our appointment.

The experience in the consulate is something I hope never to repeat, it was insane. But one thing I really do appreciate is how friendly the Dominicans are, even the ones who work in jobs like these. I can recall every visit I have made to the DMV in the states, and each attentand was rude, appeared to be annoyed just from the sight of the people in the room, and short in their dealings with me. The attendants here, aside from the guy outside, were all friendly and patient.

And this was the start our first full vacation day... oh the adventures*

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First Blog Question

Can you tell us about your friends there, and what you like to do with them in your free time?

There is a saying among missionaries, "you don't get to pick your friends, your friends are chosen for you". I think this saying created because when you work so closely in ministry away from what is normal and familiar, you draw close to those around you, and in our case that is the other missionaries that we work with. If all this is true, then God has been very good to us because we absolutely love the people we work with and we have made friends with everyone, some more closely than others which, I think is to be assumed.

We have made good friends with another couple on staff here; their names are Ryan and Caroline. (Ryan is the leader and pioneer of the microfinance site and Caroline works in one of the social work sites.) We get together when we have time and play games typically. A few nights ago we got together and had a "cook out" - and for you west coast people this is what we call a BBQ. Ryan and Josh play ping-pong almost everyday... and currently Josh is the champion.

I have a cooking/baking buddy that I hang out with often, her name is Chastity and she is one of the MK's here (missionary kids). We usually bake something delicious, talk, look through cooking magazines like Bon Appetite, and watch movies. Our goal is to never make the same thing twice, an idea I got from my grandma. This new baking mission has pushed us to try many different and fun recipes.

Last - but definitely not least - is Lowell and Cheryl. Lowell is the director of the Dominican Republic branch of SI and his wife Cheryl does so many different things that it would take paragraphs to explain - she plays a huge role here. We love to go to their house and just hang out... our conversation never ends, when we leave their house we're still talking as we walk out. We all play games together and have dinner together a lot. Whether we're working or just hanging out, we're constantly joking around and having a really good time together. Because the 4 of us are all on the leadership team, our schedules and situations all mesh together. We can discuss things with them that we can't with any other person, and we usually have the same free time - or lack of free time.

We have several other people that we enjoy getting together with, but it happens less frequently and isn't as intentional as it is with Lowell & Cheryl, Ryan & Caroline and Chastity. There are a group of people that we play ultimate frisbee with. Over the fall/winter we played every Sunday, but since our schedule hasn't been consistent we haven't been able to get it going routinely since Christmas break.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Idea

Hey readers, I am so sorry for how quiet the blog has been lately, we have been slammed here... even finding down time for ourselves has been quite the puzzle lately. In the midst of such craziness a friend of mine made a fun suggestion for the blog. He thought it might be a neat idea for you as the reader to send in questions that you have for Josh or me and then we will twice a month use a blog to answer the incoming questions. Please send questions to me at:

Meanwhile, a little of what has been going on...
We have been busily working with teams; we are on our 3rd and final team of non-stop back-to-back teams. We have had the priviledge of working with college, high school, and adult teams from all of the States. This past week I got out into the communities that we are working in to visit with some of the Dominican's and I had a great time hearing about their lives and how God has been providing for them. Our construction team spent last week working on a guy's house. The house has been standing incomplete for 3 years and our team pushed the house production into the next phase which was really incredible.

I visited with a woman , Franci, and she told me that her husband died in a moto accident in December. She shared with me all about how God has been providing for her. She has been so blessed that she was even able to fix her house - now when it rains she shouldn't have rain water running through her bedroom and kitchen. Amen!

Due to the crazy schedule, I have to go for now, but I will try and get a better up-date soon.