Thursday, November 27, 2008


After reading our previously written post titled "Darkness," my dad thought that we were deliberately refusing to pay our power bill. Afraid we were serving as a bad example to others and worse, a poor witness to Christ, he called me out. So, just to clarify, we were not refusing to pay for our consumption, but rather, were not given any opportunity or means to pay. In retrospect, I suppose we could have estimated our usage costs, gone to the power company's office and handed them cash. The truth is, for better or worse, that option never crossed my mind until now. Anyway, Tuesday a team of sub-contractors installed a watt meter on our home, so we're now officially within the electric company's grid, and regarding this matter, I think above reproach. That's good. I'll make a comment on this post when we get our first bill…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

English Night

There are lots and lots of youth learning English in the communities where we live. So, we thought we would take the opportunity to help them practice...and give us a break from having to speak Spanish :) Last Sunday, we hosted the first of many "English Nights." About 25 people showed up! Some are just starting out in their English studies, and others are pretty muchfluent. We wanted to encourage them in their studies, and give them an environment to practice what they are learning in their classes. The only rule for the night...NO speaking Spanish...3 strikes and you are out. The activity for the night was charades!! None of them had ever played before...but Dominicans love drama, so they caught on really quickly. We tried to introduce them to some new words they may not be learning in class...some more useful than others...popsicle, rainbow, first date, telephone pole (Elliott's idea), garbage truck, etc. Then we ended the night with an American favorite...Bomb Pops!

Our next English night is scheduled for December 7....Christmas theme! Anyone have any ideas for games or activities??

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tales from the Campo Part 1: "La Bestia"

I was absolutely fascinated with life in the Campo.  As I rode the bestia through winding trails and over log bridges, into the lush foothills of Vallejuelo, I honestly thought, "This is a highlight of my life."
There's much to write regarding Vallejuelo, our bus rides to and from, harvesting crops, and the gracious hospitality of our hosts, Paco's family.  Nevertheless, I must begin the debriefing somewhere, and the bestia seems like the perfect spot...

When I asked Silvilio, Paco's father and the unmistakable family patriarch, what type of animals they used to subdue the land he answered, "Burros (donkeys), mulas (mules), caballos (horses) y bestias (beasts)."  To which I thought, "Beasts!  What kind of genetic engineering are they doing out here in the campo to produce such a laborer and what does the 'bestia' look like???" 

"What is a BESTIA?!" I asked.  Unfortunately I didn't understand the answer, so my vision of a cross between a mule and Sloth from The Goonies continued to pervade my imagination.  Then, on our way to bathe in the river, Paco mentioned that his brother was going to meet us there.  He was going on the bestia.  "Now, I will see the beast!"

As you can imagine, I was quite surprised (and rather disappointed) when Paco's brother, son and cousins arrived at the river on an animal that looked to me like a small horse.
Turns out that "bestia," although it's not listed in my spanish-english dictionary, is the name given to female horses here in the Dominican Republic (and for all I know anywhere spanish is spoken- bloggers feel free to comment).  Basically a "bestia" is a mare.

The story would be quite disappointing if it ended on this note, but, fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, I ended up spending considerable time with the bestia and she and I became fine friends.  After loading her down with water and slop to porter to the pigs in the highlands, I mounted the bestia and headed out of town and into the foothills.
Riding a bestia is waaaay better than driving any type of vehicle.  I would love to be friends with our car, but it's never going to happen.  However the bestia and I connected.  She responded to my encouraging words; she carefully carried me over bridges, through rivers and up muddy ravines.  I cared for her so much that I even felt bad that her hair was dirty and knotted.  Now that's love.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Off to the Campo

We are leaving bright and early tomorrow morning on a 5am guagua (bus) to head to our friends "campo" (farm) for 2 days. Our friend Marlene went to her husband's family's farm a month ago to have her baby...and has been there ever since. We will be traveling with her husband Paco and her grandmother Mercedes to visit Marlene and meet Paco Jr. The farm is about 4 hours away from Santo Domingo outside of San Juan de la Maguana. We are really excited, and a little nervous....its our first trip to the campo and we don't quite know what to expect (will we have to share a bed with 3 people we don't know?). But, we know we are in for an adventure. We will post pictures and stories from our little trip when we get home. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008


This morning while we were at church our area of town finally received power. We typically only have "street power" for about eight hours each day, which is sufficient to charge our inverter that provides us with electricity for the remaining sixteen hours of the day. But, after losing power early Friday evening our inverter discharged over the ensuing 24 hours and by 7pm last night we were in the dark.

According to the local press, the Dominican energy sector is on the verge of collapse and blackouts have been far more widespread and extensive than the power companies are reporting. The companies report several reasons for going "offline," including insufficient fuel supplies and insufficient payment from customers. The biggest delinquent customer is the Dominican government, which owes the generators at least $US354 million. Other delinquent customers include the vast majority of Dominican residents, including your's truly. However, how can we pay our utility bill when the power company neither meters our consumption nor provides us with any system of payment??? We'd far prefer to pay for what we use and have dependable power!

We remain very grateful for the electricity that arrived this morning and has been recharging our inverter all day without interruption. We are thankful that our water service remained constant through the blackout. It's one thing to sleep in the tropics without a fan. It's another thing to sleep in the tropics with neither a fan nor a cold shower to cool you down through the night. We are thankful for the ridiculous amounts of razor wire, metal arrows, window bars, steel gates and two dogs that protect our home from intruders. Especially when it's dark.
Most of all we are thankful for the promises of God, given through His word, secured through his Son. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. --1 John 1:5-7