Sunday, December 25, 2011

I think plastic chairs must be the most common piece of furniture in the country.

Dominicaners never throw them away.
They would make our grandparents proud who used to say "Use it up, wear it out, Make it do, or do without."

So many things in the DR seem to reflect this old-fashioned couplet as demonstrated here by this tree giving leg-up stability to an otherwise useless three-legged, one armed chair.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Look like fun? This fine example of a people mover is found in nearby Mirador Park. We often see people sitting inside, but the train never moves. It's a good way to save on fuel--and to avoid expensive tire repair expenses!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A common experience on Santo Domingo roads is sharing it with other types of transportation. Two wheeled carts pulled by skinny tired horses haul produce to some wide spot on the road where the guys set up shop to sell their produce. Maybe I should follow the example of this horse and wear paper plate blinders so I don't get so nervous in this crazy traffic!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

So many avocados on sale--and so many people buying that these bins prove to be very efficient. Note the platanos--same thing, staples in the Dominican diet! These huge avocados were 24 pesos each--about 75 cents.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Barahona platanos

A typical scene in the Dominican Republic is the sale of local produce. Sometimes it is platanos that grow in super abundance or it may be pineapple or mangos in season.
Sometimes it is a chicken or skinned goat. It doesn't really matter because except for the product, the scene is the same. People sit and watch and wait.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Children here learn to make their own fun where ever they can find it! This rock wall at the side of the church can be surmounted only by a running leap up the five foot wall. From there, the chicos can laugh and watch all the folks leave church.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Haina Beach

Haina Beach was our targeted area for clean up during the annual Church Helping Hands beach clean up campaign. Haina Beach is very close to Santo Domingo. It is not a beach frequented by tourists, though some of the locals were swimming and boarding here. We gathered tons of garbage, all of which had to be documented by law on paper, then weighed before it could be removed from the beach area. Plastics are the main culprit here--foam food containers in a myriad of pieces, plastic sacks, drink bottles and caps--all things that would take a hundred million years to disintegrate. There is no such thing as recycling here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I have so much compassion for this Mother dog. Those pups are about ready to take on a life of their own--and she will never be the same, either. I speak from experience! Mother dog lives at Bonao at the Church Camp. The missionaries there leave to go home tomorrow. Who is going to look after Mother dog?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tooth of the Dog golf course, one of the world's top ten courses, had just finished their annual upkeep when Hurricane Irene decided to move in. When we strolled unchecked across this beautiful golf course in La Romana, we were amazed at its beauty--every blade of grass was neatly clipped and every stray leaf was quickly gathered up. It must be a mess now with all Irene's wind and rain!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometimes I can't access this blog! I need a bridge like this to take me where I need to go!
I couldn't get my camera out quick enough to catch the first of two identical bridges that cross an insignificant river in eastern Dominicana. This second one should speak for itself, though, a very fancy, expensive bridge in the middle of nothing on the way to La Romana.
It sort of exemplifies the disparity in this country--excessiveness vs beggarness

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It seems half the people in the Dominican Republic are involved in security issues. Here we have barbed wire being added to a block wall around the back of the Mission Office.
There are guards everywhere at every apartment building, bank, public offices and in the parks. It's the culture of "if I see something I need, I should (and can!) take it".
It reminds me of the Book of Mormon phrase that things become "slippery" as the culture decays.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Monuments to peace seem to abound almost as frequently as monuments to Christopher Columbus
. This one overlooks the coastline in Santo Domingo and encompasses the world globe at its base and is in the center of a very busy traffic pattern. Not many people feel "peaceful" here as might be expected. Worse, though, is the uneasy feeling that seems to permeate that globe right now over the state of world economics. Why is living within a budget such a hard principle to understand?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My favorite color must be green because I'm always taking pictures of green things! This scene is an alcove in our living room. These things grow without much attention!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Altos de Chavon is a charming re-creation of a medieval European hamlet, complete with homes, shops, a church, statues, fountains, 5000 seat amphitheater and winding cobblestone streets that lead you to beautiful views of the flowers, trees, and the Chavon River gorge below-- and wondering how the vision for all of this came together in 1979 for a very wealthy man for his 16 year old daughter's birthday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What do we have--new style earrings? colorful weights? Or is this just some ordinary Dominican mangoes? You would have to taste these to believe how unbelievably smooth and sweet they are!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Swinging free and easy, leaving all cares behind. Life is good in a swing. Man is that he might have joy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bonao toad bites the dust: Top View---

Elder Ford tried to get a side view of this fated animal but he was loathe to bite the dust as well.

Monday, June 20, 2011

This is a pretty fancy tomb for the mighty sea going adventurer, Christopher Columbus. It's only half as big as his tomb in Seville--wonder where he really is? Dominicaners won't allow the contents here to be tested for authenticity, probably for good reason! Diego Columbus, his son, lies at rest here on this island without a doubt.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Could it possibly get any greener? This is a deep canyon that runs through the middle of this lush Botanical Garden. The tree in the middle is 50 feet tall. Light never reaches the ground.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Housing projects are the way to go in Santo Domingo, a city of millions of people--and birds! Pick your level--you''ll have lots of company anywhere you go!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

They say drug money has built these high rise buildings. In the last 20 years, such money has drastically changed the landscape to include such apartments as these all along the seacoast. Many are empty. Even with our millions of people here, most could not possibly afford to live in such luxury. This landscape here replicates reality-- the poor dead among the rich flamboyant.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We made it through a whole week with no power outages and no apocalypse! This was fortunate because we had guests for dinner on "dooms day" --the Temple President and his wife. We might have lost more than power!

Rodney is cleaning up our "invesor", our battery back-up system when power goes down. It keeps lights on, but is not sufficient to keep the refrigerator running. We're pricing some new ones; these are certainly past their prime!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Everything grows here.

  1. Beautiful fan palms like this on the Santo Domingo Temple grounds are only one variety of vegetation growing here that we never see in Utah.
  2. Children grow here--more children than we ever saw in New Jersey or in Spain--or even in Utah! They are beautiful children who have so little but seem so happy-- and I wonder about their future.
  3. It is growing more hot and humid here--more than any other place we've been.
  4. And sadly, the garbage is growing here--much more than we've seen in any other place. I don't know where they collect all the garbage I see thrown on the streets, empty lots, and byways. No amount of recycling in the US can make an iota of difference in the long run.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Merry Month of May

Adversity makes us stronger! We are experiencing this first hand! This is one of the Mormonads in the LDS booth at the hugest book fair in the world! It runs for two weeks and hosts thousands and thousands of people. Many people will visit this booth and will remember the feelings they receive from the spirit that is there confirming their beliefs that values matter.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

El trafico aqui es muy mal! The traffic here is very bad. Every kind of vehicle shares the road on space available status. This truck in front of us features quite a load of machinery upon which are seated two men on a cardboard seat. The bus to the right is listing to one side, over full with passengers. The truck to the left was belching black smoke. Right after I shot this, a moto with two riders wound its way up between the small truck and the bus.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter rolls represent the "good in the world"
as we turn a gooey mess into something wonderfully satisfying and rewarding.

Likewise, we sometimes can't see the end result of what the Savior is trying to do with our lives when we are "kneaded and molded" with His hands.
Let us remember His healing hands this Easter Sunday with gratitude that He has freed us from the bands of death.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We are told that this park across the street from our apartment will be green once the rains come. Right now, it doesn't look like a blade of grass could ever survive this drought! Still, people gather here to eat a picnic lunch in the shade while sitting on a cardboard-covered piece of "grass".

Space available is the rule of the road and the parking area! Maybe this gives an idea of how "tight" things are here in Republica Dominicana. Our parking space has to be entered and excited with very careful maneuvering! We've scraped the door only once.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

We met Magdala at a Villa Aura Ward "sea shell picture activity" Thousands of these art works have been decorated with shells gathered by a previous missionary couple to benefit the lives of members and their friends designed to bring the spirit of Christ's love into their homes. Without our new GPS, we could never have located Villa Aura in the outskirts of Santo Domingo! Magdala is a member preparing to serve a mission herself, but seven non members participated in this fun activity that cost them nothing but an hour or two. Hopefully they will want to know more about this spirit they feel when looking at their Gospel art picture.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

OK--just had to share this amazing quilt made from missionary ties by our Malaga Spain Mission Mom, Claire Mellor! They even have their names on them. So dang cute!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The sign says it is the world's only grotto disco. What it doesn't say how remarkable this grotto is! If you can imagine a coral reef being lifted up from the ocean floor by some incredible force to then become part of--or the whole of--an island, perhaps you can imagine the coastline of the Dominican Republic. This grotto is 15 meters or 45 feet below ground level and is large enough for 2000 fun-seeking, rowdy, dancing Dominicaners. It is the largest of many caves along the southern coast and is located within Mirador Parque where you may also see the place where this land was dedicated to preaching the Gospel. (See earlier post)... Mirador Parque is this island's version of Central Park, a beautiful green retreat stretching for miles along the coral encrusted southern coast.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

5th week

Our Los Arroyos Branch has enjoyed baptisms every week since we arrived. Duchni is from Haiti and is so happy to be a new member of our church! Her friend in pink is MariCarmen.

Next to our Temple
one of our favorite sites is the Japanese Garden. The whole Botanical Garden is a peaceful refuge from a country teeming with millions of people struggling to eke out a living, but the Japanese Garden is the most peaceful part of it.

Our outing to the Botanical Garden with our Canadian friends, the McDermids, didn't start out on the best note. Rodney and Neil changed our flat tire on Santo Domingo's busiest road, the Luperon, a dirty and dangerous job! The very kind owner of the car dealership in the background brought us some water to clean up. What an oasis is this Garden to the rest of this crowded, dirty city!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

4th Week--by the shore sites

When Elder Ballard dedicated this island nation to the preaching of the gospel, it marked the beginning of the end of oppression from Satan's grasp. It has been 33 years, and now this people have their own beautiful temple, several stakes in Zion, and an Area Office serving thousands of members.

An unfallen hero lost only his arm. He keeps the same old expression no matter what we said to him. He wouldn't even smile at my friendly gesture!

Monument to fallen heroes--they had it really tough under the terrible dictator ruler Trujillo. This is actually two monuments, one in front of the other--the woman in front (not me) and the man behind being blinded by oppression.

Elder Ford calls this a "quarter of a horse". He's tethered to a rock--can only eat what he can reach. Who gives him water? This is far from anyone who cares. Did you ever see such a skinny horse? Times are really tough for many animals as well as people. There are few dogs here--and most show their ribs just like this horse!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A couple of days ago these were just shells to me. Now I've been taught to be more observant. Each shell is different from any other created. Like a finger print, it identifies itself. Notice the shells with grooves going lengthwise as opposed to those going around. Did I ever notice that before? The spotted ones are called giraffe shells, each unique in markings as are those animals for which they are named.

Hna. Whitaker is wearing her "Amish" bathing suit. She and Elder Whitaker visit the DR's beaches nearly every week, searching for shells that they use to further missionary work on this island. Their gospel art, framed in shells, are an incredible labor of love that is reaping rich rewards. In their three years here, they have helped members and nonmembers create 40,000 pictures for their homes at a considerable personal sacrifice. Each missionary finds his own way in making a difference.

I think we are going to like it here!

Whitikers took us to a genuine little Swiss bakery. I couldn't resist that, though I had a hard time seeing what was really Swiss about their offerings. It's true true that the cinnamon rolls were sweeter than you'll find in Spanish pastelerias, so I guess it is from the Swiss that I get my sweet tooth. For lunch, we paid more than $15 for a hamburger and a ceasar salad. Though we see many rich villas, I don't know how the true locals can afford to eat, let alone eat out in this country!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Birthday Boy

Birthdays in the mission field are something else! Missions are not all work, as you can see.
At Family Home Evening, all the senior missionaries wouldn't let my better half get away without the hat and song thing! He always asks me not to let anyone know about his birthday, but this time I didn't have to say a word--they just knew!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2nd Week

We enjoyed dinner with two American couples our first Monday here at the home of the Berkleys from Brigham City , family history preservation missionaries who will be going home next month. The McDermids from Canada have been here just one week more than we; their calling is to serve missionaries with mental health issues. This is comforting! Most missionaries in this area live in the hostel by the temple which are very nice. It would certainly be more comfortable for us, both the facility and our shared language, but we know we are where the Lord wants us to be. We will be stretched.

We attended our new assigned branch this morning in Los Arroyos where we met many new friends. It is the only branch in the stake, but it is growing. We hope we can help them in their desires to qualify as a ward. One sister speaks a little English--thank goodness for her. I bore my testimony today and asked for their patience as we try to learn this language. I was also asked to play the piano for Sacrament Meeting (which I did perfectly in Spanish!) and to offer the closing prayer in Relief Society which I offered imperfectly in Spanish. We were impressed with the standard of dress for the young men--white shirts and ties who passed the Sacrament with awesome decorum.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Roman rules!

Couldn't resist sharing this adorable photo of Roman! He's such a happy good-natured little boy. He gets plenty of loving from three sisters and his parents, but we miss those squeezy hugs!