Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bday flowers

These are very special flowers that Alberto, the dad of the family I'm staying with, brought for my birthday this morning. This family is so great and really supportive and loving in everyway. They know just what I need and are so faithful to listening and knowing God. They inspire me in many ways by how they live and the lives they lead. It has been a very special day for me, filled with lots of love and hugs and smiles.

Alberto with the flowers (and yes, that's my blackboard in the background in my room...just in case I feel like practicing my letters or something!)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


We went to La Vega (about 1.5 hrs away) last night with Alberto and his family to stay with (and meet) his parents and siblings. All of February is Carnaval month, celebrating the independance of the D.R.
This morning there were parades from all of the schools in the city. It took me back to high school dance team all over again, marching in the Starlight Parade with equally horrendous blue outfits. Lots of drums and heat and sun, but it was fun to watch it.

Painted faces

The bottom two pictures didn't turn out amazingly well, as you can see, but basically these people celebrate carnaval every weekend in Feb. wearing these costumes and big masks/headdresses, but always having their faces hidden. On the last day (today) they take off their masks and march once more through the city showing who they really are. They also have some tradition that they carry these big mace-like balls without the prongs and they whack anyone they want...especially tourists and people taking photos. We managed to escape without getting hit, but mainly because I was hiding.


Candace and I have had an exciting couple of days! I was staying with her in a friends house in Montellano that she is house-sitting. Well, we had fun cleaning up puppy poo (from 2 new puppies) and deciding that we will NEVER have puppies in our house, nor any animals for that matter! So then it started raining, and when it rains RAINS! The water was rising higher and higher outside the house and we had no choice but to start bucketing water onto the street, otherwise it would have flooded the house as it has done in the past (and is even more of a hassle). Needless to say we were soaked through and through only to get back in the house and find we were out of water to shower. We rememdied that after a few minutes of filling the tinaco (water-holder that sits on top of the house) from the cistern and were in business.

Waiting patiently, soaked, for the water to fill up for the house.

After a tough weekend of caring for the animals (2 cats too!) we decided we needed a trip to the beach, and being only 15 minutes from it, we were off! It was a bit of a disturbing ride on public transport, sitting next to a prostitute-my eyes were opened wide as to the need and despair that exists here.
As we were walking onto the beach scoping a nice spot to spend the day, there began a lot of hussle towards the water. A man had been seen bobbing in the water and so a group rushed out and pulled him in. They tried CPR on him for several minutes, but he was already dead. It was horrible and hard to believe it had happened just a few feet from the beach where all the people were sunbathing, literally right before our eyes. The wife of the guy that died was in total shock which was fully understandable but hard to watch. How we never know what the day before us holds, lessons learned.
Candace and I continued onto the beach and were so baffled by the strange events of the day that 2 hours later, with no sunscreen, we left with some nice red bodies! I still hurt and it is 2 days later. We have been using Solarcaine, after sun, and aloe, but relief has yet to come. Hopefully soon we will be feeling better, but I fear peeling is the next stage. I will be wearing LOTS of sunscreen on my next beach visit.

Monday, February 26, 2007

More to come...

It has been a whirlwind couple of days...I'll update this blog soon, I promise. For now, a little photo to keep you interested and coming back here. Lots of interesting stories and things taking place, but little time to tell all of them for right now.

I'm off to La Vega to celebrate a day of something, maybe independence (?), for tonight with Alberto and his family, and Candace of course. No classes tomorrow so we'll be back in the evening. Hopefully it's cooler there, I'M SO HOT and sunburned too!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Meet Wilson

This is our friend Wilson, he's 15 and fantastic. Yes, he's wearing a pink necklace, but he's a guy and we really like him. He's learning to speak English and loves practicing the things he has learned, some of which he's picked up from the village and we are deterring him from! He's a great kid though and I feel like he is my own because I really want him to do well and continue in school and become the pilot/cop/lawyer that he wants to be...but the obstacles ahead of him just make me want to cry. There is so much to overcome. My heart breaks for these kids, for the lives they have already lived, for the things that they face in the years to come. I want to take each of them and just show them how special they are, how much they are loved, for them to truly understand that they are so is quite a task and one I wish I could fully accomplish.

House visits

This is a little 5 day old baby girl we visited in the village on Saturday. She is so little and lovely...I really have the best place to work in the whole world! She still doesn't have a name, so I'm pushing for Jessi. We'll see how it goes!!! Look at all her hair.

Her story is a bit sad though because her young mother already has 3 children and isn't able to care for this little one, so she will be living with her cousin (who works at the school) after she's a few more weeks old. Maybe I'll get to keep her a few nights if I'm lucky. She is precious.

Monday, February 19, 2007


So they came to pick up the jeepeta today to take it to the school in Constanza. It'll be worked on at the vocational training shop that Kids Alive has there, so hopefully some kids can learn helpful things about repairing, or should I say making, a car! To see them hoist this car onto a flatbed truck was incredible. They hooked up a whench to the roof, then hand-cranked the chain that pulled the car up, then pushed and pulled and moved the car around with large sticks, backed up the truck, pushed some more...and eventually it was on. What work!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why I can stand...

"With precious, wobbly steps, we draw closer to Him. For a season of surprising strength, we stand upon his promises. It doesn't make sense that we are able to do this. We don't claim to be worthy of such an incredible gift. When people ask how in the world we can keep our balance during such stormy times, we don't boast. We don't brag. We point unabashedly to the One who makes it possible. Our eyes are on him." (Lucado)


Faith is often the child of fear (Lucado)

Where I live

So this is the house where I live for now in Puerto Plata. Today the Trautweins met us in church as they're up here on the north coast visiting and working. We had an amazingly big Dominican lunch afterwards and sat and chatted and played.
This family is so encouraging and loving, I only wish to share with others the openness they have offered me. It has been such a privilage to live with them as they continue to teach me about so many things. I never thought I would love it here this much, but I do more than I can even share or put words to. The sense of belonging and being and knowing is incredible. I know that this is where I need to be, what I need to be doing, and am so excited to be a part of this.


So the family got a kitten. He's a street cat that the boys found on the way home last night, but everyone is quite excited he's here...or she, not really sure! Anyhow, hopefully he'll be a good mouse catcher!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

To the mountains and back again

It has been a busy week with so much going on. The school continues to grow and change everday. I have been getting into the village and the houses daily now to get more information for child histories which has been eye-opening. The stories these families tell are incredible, the immigration from Haiti, the conditions they live and have lived through, the children they have...I stand in awe.

I spent the last two nights with Candace in Jarabacoa at the Trautwein house. It was a nice time to catch up with the family, meet new friends, and fit into the flow of the Trautwein days! It's amazing how much cooler it is there than down here on the coast...I was actually cold at night and had to pull up the blankets (as opposed to it being 8pm now and I'm in a tank top, windows open and still sweating!).

So now I'm back in Puerto Plata at Alberto & Lydia's house. Our search for a place to live continues, as it seems EVERY apartment or house to rent is full. We have expanded our search to include Montellano and Puerto Plata, both options would work out really well. The places we have wanted have seemingly fell through, but we continue to hold out for something that we hope is amazingly around the corner. But as my things continue to hang out at the Santo Domingo customs dock, I'm not in too big of a rush yet. It's only been there for 2 months now, so what's a few more weeks (hopefully not months), right?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Just in case you weren't following the weather as closely as you should be for the D.R., it was 86 today (30 Celcius). Yah, it's warm. And it's February.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I can handle anything...

None of life's precipices is too overwhelming if we have the proper attitude of trust in God.

(Pillars of Christian Character)

Why I love the Dominican Republic

Putting on bug spray as a nightly ritual (how much DEET is really safe on a daily basis?)
Bucket showers
Losing electricity
Being too hot to sleep
Hearing the neighbors like they're in the same room with me
Rain on the tin roof
Plantains and green bananas
Chicken feet (okay, not really, but they keep trying to make me eat them...I haven't even progressed from breast meat yet.)

And I learned recently that bug spray takes of nail polish, who would have thought?

New paint

The group that was at the school all week left on Saturday, but not before leaving a beautifully painted cafeteria. It looks so nice, I can't believe the change a bit of paint can make. They managed to finish almost all of the inside on Friday when the kids weren't there, so we're very thankful for the pretty building they left us!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pobre Jeepeta

What happens when you have an 18 year old in the village drive to the river (20 yds away) to wash your car?

Changes to Caraballo

There are some exciting things happening in Caraballo! We got new palm trees to line the entrance and it is so pretty. I love the little changes like that because it makes such a difference. There is also a team in the village who wanted to help at the school, so they are painting the new cafeteria. After much talking and discussing and looking at all sorts of little papers of paint, we decided on the colors last night, and I think it looks so good. I'm looking forward to seeing it all done by the end of the week and all the other changes that are taking place in the months ahead.

More wedding photos

Just a few more photos I've uploaded (or downloaded) from the wedding day on Sunday. The above one is me and Erica and Candace...some of my favorite girls.

How amazing is this photo...I just love it! And I thought I might have had some rough bridesmaid dresses! And the guys with sunglasses on kept them on throughout the whole ceremony. Beautiful, the whole experience was great to be a part of.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Village weddings

I got to be a part of something so fun on Sunday...a village wedding! Weddings happen a few times a year at the village church, so there were 4 on Sunday. I can't even begin to describe it all, from the groomsmen dancing down the aisle with sunglasses on, the whole family walking down the aisle, the singing and was very special to be there. I will have some more photos later, but for now these can be a little taste of it.

Weekend at Crossroads

I got to spend a really nice weekend with a team from St. Mary's (in CA) that have been here for a month. They have been doing soccer with the different Kids Alive sites in the D.R. and ended up here in Caraballo. We stayed the weekend at one of the most beautiful places with lots of areas for reading and thinking and talking. The sunsets and sunrises, as you can see from the photos, are brilliant. I found that, contrary to previous posts, I can have incredible talks even when not drinking Chai tea!


I'm officially a sugar cane eater now and have become fairly addicted to it! Even as I type this I continue eating it! I tried it last week for the first time and it is fantastic! Candace said it right though, "kind of like eating wood"! The chewing and spitting aren't the most attractive, but it sure does taste great!
Candace and I got to hang out together at the Care Center and organized the office, she did an amazing job of putting pencils in a box. We hope to be moving in together sometime this month, when my things finally clear customs and we find ourselves an apt.

Leaving Jarabacoa

This was a little going mini-fiesta right before I left Jarabacoa for Puerto Plata. So it was discovered through talking and shopping trips that I like strawberry-anything. My favorite seems to be strawberry wafers, but I don't mind really what it is. So Josie found these amazing Strawberry Shortcake party hats at the store and then gave me everything else strawberry related! It was very sweet, literally, and a fun send-off to the north coast. I truly already miss these girls and hope to have some visitors soon.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Puerto Plata

I've officially made my way to the north coast now and am staying for the moment in Puerto Plata. It's only 10-ish minutes from the town I'll probably live in, Montellano, then another further 10 minutes through sugar cane fields to the village I'm working in-Caraballo. Just wanted to throw all those names into once sentence to see if I couldn't really confuse you.

It is still incredible to be here. I wish I could truly share the depth of what I feel being here and a part of all of this. I guess it is just beyond words.

I'm now staying with Alberto (the director of the Caraballo care center) and his family, who are all amazing. I'm learning Alberto-fast Spanish which has been good and continue to be challenged to know more! As they live a few blocks from the beach, we've gone on walks the last two nights on the boardwalk just talking and enjoying the ocean.

I'll put some pictures on once my camera cord catches up with things seem to be all over this island!