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!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some people travel this way. . .

Our first Transfer day at a nearby chapel where all those receiving a change of assignment as well as our 11 new missionaries met at 7 a.m. this morning. Note the fans and pillows--standard new issue for all incoming missionaries. They and their luggage will be piled into 2 small pickups to be delivered around the country.

And some people travel this way. . . One to drive and one to hold. Note the size of the celery and the traffic