Sunday, March 6, 2016

2 Weeks of Missionary Excitement . . .

So far one of our absolute favorite things is our monthly Newly Returned Missionary Seminar.
This time (Feb. 23) we were expecting 12 (but padded materials to 20) and 29 showed up!  We had to scramble to make extra
copies of things and the caterer pulled off the "feed-the-5,000-with-food-for-12".  The missionaries still had their glow
and enthusiasm and appetite.  Always the highlight is our Temple session together.

Brother Lugo spoke about PEF and Self-Reliance and demonstrated the activity on faith (blindfolding a person, standing them
on a table, then having them fall backwards).  This missionary's faith was really tested!  

Dad teaching 

After 2 full days of our Seminar, we took 30 minutes to help clean up then headed to Bani for a Self-Reliance group meeting
with Margarita.  She is such a sweetheart and has the group on track.  Here she is helping a couple.

Others of the group working

Sunday, Feb. 28 was another big day with Church that morning in Piantini then heading out at 2:00 for Azua SRS Training
and Devotional where about 60 people attended.  I usually sit back and enjoy the Spanish while Dad teaches, but
Bro. Lugo called on me to bear my testimony (Dad translated) then the District Pres. Brito asked me to play the
keyboard (no translation necessary).

President Brito and the Relief Society surprised us with a refreshing drink and sack lunch after the training at 9:00 p.m.
March 2 found us traveling to Azua to pick up a couple of missionaries to take them to Neyba for a SRS Devotional.
And this is the 2nd time we have traveled in that direction where we have had a mandatory "detour" because of a
strike/protest sort of thing where they burn tires, put up roadblocks, throw rocks at windshields, etc.  It added an hour
to our already long drive.

A road in the little town of Neyba.

Neyba's chapel

Dad teaching the beginning part of our training.

Dad helping one of the participants

Our hotel room at Los Hermanos.  I made a list of things we will need to take next trip we stay there (this is the best in town):
blanket, softer pillow, earplugs, shampoo, hand towel, washcloth, & 2nd bath towel, bathroom mirror, shower head,
toilet seat, hot water, food, electrical outlet - never mind, we found another one on the ceiling.  

On our way out of Neyba

Also on our way out of Neyba

When we returned from our trip March 3 (Jamie's birthday), we found Ben's message about Trent's emergency appendectomy and Jana's hurried email, too, giving us a little insight to what was happening.  We are so thankful that Trent is doing fine and all went well for him . . . and that Ben didn't pass out during the ordeal.  Jamie feels so blessed to have our family who pitched in and helped in every way possible.  Just having Staci there for moral support was a great blessing and all the other kindnesses from her brothers and sisters was touching to her.  Those were probably the best Happy Birthday presents you could have given her in her time of need.  Mission Blessings galore!  We are also thankful for our wonderful family and all you do and are doing with your lives.  Wouldn't trade any one of you for anything.  This is truly Christ-like love in action.
Love You ALL So Much,
Dad & Mom
Grandpa & Grandma

Sunday, February 21, 2016

                     More Work Begins . . .

Last Sunday our manager, Bro. Lugo, took us to Azua to train the SR committee..  While there we stopped to visit his relatives.  This is the home he helped build for his parents.
On the drive home we hit a nice size rainstorm which created a beautiful rainbow.

Could never get a really good picture of all the water from the storm, but this kind of shows what it was like.
While shopping for food Saturday in La Serena, my nose picked up a familiar smell - chinola!  Sure enough they were stacking in up fresh off the truck.  It's hard to find so, of course, we bought too many.

Dad wanted to make juice from it.  First you get the pulp out.

Then you blend it with some water.

Then you strain it and add more water and lots of sugar.  And I mean lots of sugar!

Taste test . . .

Lip smackin' good . . . has to be with all that sugar!
(But P.S. Dad has been staying close to the bano ever since)
Today we traveled to Bani for their District Conference and change of District President.  Guess who we finally found?  Dallin's brother-in-law Elder Mecham.  He';s been on his mission 18 months and looks like he's doing great.  Even though we had never met him before, it felt like "home."

And last of all my new buddy who talked my leg off after conference.  I told him I didn't speak Spanish, but it didn't slow him down.  He was very disappointed though when he counted to ten for me in English then kept going, "ten and one, ten and two, ten and three..."  and I told him how it really was :  eleven, twelve, thirteen.  He went back to jabbering in Spanish.

As for Monday through Friday, a lot happened just not picture-worthy (office work).  We had a nice 2 hour appointment with Bro. Alvarado who could tell things weren't going well for half of our companionship.  He created 2 assignments for me to tackle and now I have more than I can handle, but that's better than wasting time.  My first task is to teach Bro. Lugo better English.  The second task is to create a plan to reactivate returned missionaries from 10 years and more back.  The juices are flowing!

As someone special to me quoted this past week "With God, all things are possible."

We pray for all of you daily and appreciate the great example you are to us.

Dad & Mom
Grandpa & Grandma

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Let's start off with Dad getting into the Dominican spirit of things - he found out how to make queso frito.  Looks like he's enjoying his delicacy.

Sunglasses anyone?  No telling what they'll want to sell you when you stop for the extra long stop lights on the major streets in the city.  

We had a Job Fair one day . . . all day . . . from 9 a.m. to about 10 p.m.  This is where they started lining up in the garage under the Institute Building and our offices.  We made the mistake of not getting our car washed before parking it in here.  Some of the kids played tic-tac-toe on the trunk while they waited in line.

The building is 3 stories and this is the line from the garage, up the  first 2 flights of stairs, around the corner and up the next 2 flights of stairs and down this hall into . . . 

another room to sit and wait (one of 3 rooms where they sat and waited).  We had almost 1,000 attend.  During this time (the reason so many are in the garage) there was a protest across the street at the University with gun fire so they squeezed them all in to keep them safe off the street.

Last week-end we spent 4 days out and about  in the District.  Just wanted to show you  what we were shocked to see in the D.R. - cactus!  Some of the area is dry enough for cactus.

If we had been blindfolded and put here, we never would've guessed we were in the D.R.

We spent a few days with the missionaries in San Juan, the Arvigs who use to live in St. George and had Uncle Richard and Uncle Karl for bishops.  Small world!  Elder Arvig had a phone he can call the U.S with so Dad got to talk to Uncle Karl for a little while..

One of our duties was to train the SRS specialist in the San Juan District, Bro. Lopez.

We had fun with the Arvigs on their P-day Monday.  They took us to the Caribbean beach for a picnic and to look for Lorimar.  It's a beautiful blue stone only found in the D.R.  With a little help from some natives, we found a few on the beach.

Love the waves crashing against the cliff.

We also found a herd of rhinoceros iguana on our drive. 

Elder Arvig had them doing tricks.  

On Tuesday we left San Juan and drove to Barahona to train the District President Gomez on Self-Reliance.
 Loved his laugh.

This must be the banana capitol of the world.  Everywhere there are acres of banana trees.

I stand corrected.  They call them guineos here, not bananas.  And, yes, Dad bought a "bunch."

How many Dominicans will fit in the back of a pick-up?  Couldn't ever get a head count.

These are the fanciest drainage ditches all along the side of the hills.  Quite intricate.
Makes me wonder what's it going to be like when the rains come.

Didn't count all of these either.

One of our happiest times was taking Flat Stanley around with us and introducing him to the country thanks to Landen.  Here he is with a lap full of the larimar we found on the beach.  It brought back fond memories when Chauncy  sent him to us in Swaziland and we were able to find some "golden contacts".

Another special occasion was visiting Elder Cornish for our quarterly interview.  He was so happy when I asked him if he knew about Flat Stanley which he did.  And he was very excited to get to teach him some Spanish from the Book of Mormon.  He is such a wonderful person.

We had to get a D.R. driver's license.  Does anyone recognize this old man????  Can you believe the white hair?  This mission has really aged your dad!

And finally a good hearty traditional Dominican meal of rice, beans, and meat.
Dig in!

Is this anything like what you ate in Brazil, Chad?  I thought of you  :)

We had another busy day this Sabbath day going to the Piantini Ward this morning then taking off for Azua to train the District President and committee there in the afternoon.  It takes 1 1/2 hours of Dominican driving to get there (Bro. Lugo drove) so we were in the car more than training, but that's life here.  We are amazed at the warm, loving people here and the strong caliber of the leaders.  They are so anxious to assist and they want help for their people.  Our calendar is filling up fast and we haven't even started visiting the San Pedro District yet.  Being busy is good.  Thanks to all for your love and support and emails.  Would love to hear from Scott and his mission beginnings (hint, hint).  As for the rest of our tribe, we have a few who didn't get their name in on the guessing where Scott will go on his mission.  If you want in on it, get me your guess soon.  You are:  Jared, Candy, Trent, Halina, Isaac, and Grandpa.  Give me several guesses and I'll take the one that hasn't already been chosen.  Brandon guessed Canada, but I don't think we'll let him take the whole country!  Jana has Vancouver.  We are so excited for Scott!
Love to all,
Dad & Mom, Grandpa & Grandma..