Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jarabacoa Getaway

Ariel and I are in Jarabacoa to take care of the Trautwein house while they're away for a few days. For those that haven't been here, Jarabacoa is up in the mountains and it is lovely and cold. Minutes after we pulled in it started raining to welcome us in. This morning it started raining again and we are now in sweaters and slippers and using full's like visiting winter for awhile.
We had the best dinner last night when we went to a restaurant we've never been to before called Aroma de la Montana. It is literally straight up the mountain and so worth the fear of falling off the side! The view was incredible and we got there just for sunset (although it was behind clouds) and then watched the city sparkle. The chef is American and had those portable heaters and we actually used it! It was so beautiful and we talked so much about having our families there and how much everyone would love it...cause we sure did!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meet Yuriel

The baby is here!!! Ruben and Yubi are offical parents of a little boy named Yuriel. Sorry it's taken so long to get photos up, but finally! He was born on Monday, Dec 21st around 3pm. He was about a week late so they did a c-section, but all went well. He weighed 7 pounds and is healthy and hungry. Ruben and Yubi are adjusting well to their new little man and getting used to sleeping less! Congratulations!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And so this is DR Christmas!

So today is Christmas Eve. Traditionally a cold, maybe snowy day where we all get together and have a Dixon dinner and then listen to the kids beg my parents to open presents until they give in and we spend the night in gifts. But today I woke up to full sun and 70 degrees at 7:30 am. We will have a family dinner, but it will include roasted pork and moro (rice with beans). I'm making mashed potatoes and stuffing and apple pie because, well, I'm American and it's okay to want those things.
It's been a time of homesickness like crazy, but I guess that's to be expected. Ariel has been so good to me when it all hits and he takes me to the "big city" Santiago to see Christmas lights and go to the mall and eat Taco Bell and see New Moon. He is a good husband. So good. Yesterday we went to pick up the mail that arrives into Santiago by plane every two weeks. I truly now feel that Christmas is here!! Opening packages of wrapped presents just waiting until we can rip into them tomorrow. There isn't a tradition of gift-giving to grown-ups here, just for kids. Like I said, it's all different. Ariel and I will be having an "American" Christmas morning where we exchange presents and open all the excitement that we've received from the States. We're going to have pancakes and bacon and hash matter how weird it is to him!! And that'll be Christmas. A little, well, a lot different, but I'm happy to have stayed this year to see what it's like and mostly, to spend Christmas with Ariel. Now we just continue praying that we can be in Oregon for the next one...come on visa!!!
Happy Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Central Park

The Central Park in Puerto Plata is very decorated and festive and definitely welcoming lots of visitors wanting a bit of Christmas spirit. We are frequent flyers to the park and love to just sit and talk and see the lights and decorations. We took the neices and nephews there the other day and had a lot of fun but also learned that we probably can't handle having 4 small kids! They're pretty great though, and it was such fun to go out with them!

Christmas Party at the Care Center

We had such a fun day at the Care Center for our last day of presentations and a Christmas feast! The kids loved all the food and were able to take some home to their families as well.

They did such a great job with their poems and skits and songs. It's always a lot of work for them, but they LOVE being in front of the whole group and presenting what they've memorized! We had 50 kids receive and award for perfect attendance, which is no small miracle in itself!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Ready to Party

We filled Christmas bags and decorated the school in anticipation of the Christmas party tomorrow. The kids have been preparing songs and pantomimes (what's a party without a pantomime??!!) and skits for the big day. The kids will come to school around noon for a special lunch, then head back to their house to bring back a guest for the presentations. After it's all over, the guest gets a little gift (cake and an apple) and the kids get a big bag full of goodies. The bags are filled with treats that they most likely otherwise won't see, like apples and grapes and raisins (Christmas essentials in the DR). They also get a bag of sweets and 2 pairs of brand new undies! For many kids, this will be their Christmas. As money is often non-existent, Christmas gifts and presents just can't be bought. So we do our best to meet a need (Christmas is kind of a need) in their lives and love them by giving even the non-essentials.
It's a big day. I love it. I love the smiles on the kids face because they're getting something new. I love all the work they put into their presentations and how proud they are to bring someone with them to school to "show off" a little. Yah, it's a lot of work getting ready, but it's worth it for the little bits of joy!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


So we used to have the lovely, thin blue van. The same one that got stolen, was found in Haiti, and is now back serving in Constanza. In its place, we got a full size massive beast of a van that rarely sees me driving it (too big for me on the DR streets!). Well, it often breaks down and it just so happened that this week it did that again and was in the shop. So what did we get to school in? This little van. Mind you, the van has no back seat, one row for 2-3 people behind the drivers seats, should fit a max of 5 people, including the driver. So how many did we fit in?? 10!!! Incredible. It was a tight right but we made it in, even crossed the river which I didn't think was going to happen.

Jonathan visits!

One of the hardest things about living here is the constant coming and going of friends. It seems just when you are comfortable in a friendship, they are gone! It's just part of the lifestyle of living abroad though, as often people have contracts for 6 months, a year, 2 years, etc. Thankfully though, sometimes those friends come back! Jonathan was here with Kids Alive for over 2 years, but left to serve with KA in Africa 1.5 years ago. His best friend was Anyelo (see previous post) who was getting married to Leona, so he was able to be here for the wedding. After the wedding he stayed a night with us and visited Caraballo again, and we even found some time for carne salada, Yogen Fruz, and a trip to Puerto Plata.

Anyelo and Leona's wedding

On Saturday evening, we got to go the wedding of Anyelo and Leona. Leona has been here for years and works near Jarabacoa with Kids Alive in a Care Center called Palo Blanco. She and Anyelo are now in the club of Dominican-American marriages, and it's a great club to be in! There were lots of people there to celebrate and it was nice to be a part of their big day!

Thankful in Jarabacoa

On Friday afternoon we headed up to the mountains of Jarabacoa where it was amazingly cool! Ariel went crazy for sleeping with all the windows open and only a sheet, while I was bundled under 3 blankets! We had a nice time with all the Kids Alive folks and got to see many that we don't often see. After a huge dinner cooked by a team, there was singing and then the rain called the kids (and some adults) out to play on a make-shift slip and slide, then more singing and even a fire! It's always great to get away, to be with others, and feel the cold again!