Monday, September 30, 2013

We Made It to La Vega in the Dominican Republic!

We arrived in Santiago safe and sound.  We had a wonderful flight and everything went as planned.  Santiago is beautiful and full of all different types of trees and plants.  I wish I knew the names of the plants, but I did see lots of banana trees.  We are told that the bananas are harvested four times a year, so basically there are fresh bananas all year round.  There are lots of little roadside stands where you can buy fresh mangoes, pineapples, avocados (that are about eight inches long and about 4"-6" diameter).  Oh my, are they delicious!

There is a great deal of poverty here.  There are chickens running around the streets, stray dogs everywhere and we even saw a man driving a wooden cart, pulled by a donkey.

Everything they told us about the traffic here is true.  Yes, there are traffic lights, but if you don't feel like waiting for the car in front of you, you can pass the car in front of you on the left and pass right through the intersection. Oh, by the way, no need to wait for the light if you don't see anyone coming.  All of that while you are dodging the little scooters carrying three or four people on them.  I was told that you will even see a family of six on a motor scooter.  The crazy thing is that it really just works for the people here.

As we were driving down the highway we saw trucks with people sitting in the bed of the truck.  They were sitting on top of whatever they had loaded in the truck.  I don't think there are any speed limits and even Dad thought they drove fast.  Dad has driven in lots of crazy traffic situations, but even this environment makes him a little nervous.  Really, there are so many people that are in the streets and are flying around on their motos (scooters)
Driving in the rain on his moto carrying an umbrella
you have to continually be aware of all four sides of your truck.

A word about their streets.  Many of them are dirt roads.  It also rains a lot here (that is why it is so green and beautiful).  So you can imagine that with that rain on the dirt roads and all of that traffic, there are lots of potholes!  Even on the roads that are paved, there are lots of potholes.  I don't know if they have repair crews.  I will think twice before I complain about University Avenue or construction delays:-)

Our first Sunday at church at the Conani Branch in La Vega.  The leadership in the district was muy animada (animated, happy) to see us.  They have a great vision for their people and want to build the church up in the area again.  We were able to go into the Gospel Essentials class where they taught a lesson on Eternal Marriage.  The instructor was so happy to have a couple that was married in the temple for 36 years in the class.  Dad did a great job of visiting with the people and reading scriptures in class and just being himself.  I smiled a lot, said a lot of "holas"and gave a lot of besos (kisses) y brasos (hugs) to the hermanas.

Sister Douglas, the mission President's wife came to church with me to help with my transition into the branch. During Sacrament meeting, they needed someone to play the piano/keyboard so Sister Douglas volunteered me. When I went to play the keyboard, they couldn't get a plug for it to turn it on.  So they did what they do every week. . .the conductor says 1, 2, 3 and everyone starts singing.  They sang whatever notes they wanted, but everyone sang with spirit!  It was awesome!  So I am getting a keyboard from the mission office and will be playing the piano for the Canoni Branch until I can teach some of the members to play so they can serve the members in their own branch.

We were invited to dinner at the District President's home with Sister Douglas.  However, we went to his mother's home because the District President and his family of 5 live up stairs and their home was too small for three more adults.  He is in the process of building a home over by the chapel.  

In His mother's home, all five of us could not fit into the living room.  She raised eight children in that home. . .boy am I brought to a state of humility.  She had four children of her own, her neighbor had four children and abandoned them, so la Senora Diaz (la madre del Presidente Diaz) said she would take them and raised them as her own.  Such is life here in the DR.  It is not that way for everyone, but it is not uncommon.

We ended our first Sunday at 9 pm after a mtg. with the District leadership so we could meet them and learn about future plans.  Mom bore a beautiful testimony during the meeting that gave everyone great hope of the missionary couple that has arrived.  They understood her English perfectly and felt the spirit of her testimony. It was a great day.

Well the "office" missionaries have brought us our truck, (a white 2014 ISUZU 4WD diesel, with an extended crew cab and short bed}, cell phones and they are ready to take us to our new apartment in La Vega and do some shopping.  More on our adventures next week.


  1. So happy to see you arrived and all is well, going to be fun to follow you around the D R on your mission.

  2. So happy to hear about your safe arrival! Love the idea of the blog! Helps us to stay connected. Blessings to you both.

  3. This is wonderful, when we get to Fiji we can swap stories, I am sure we will experience some similar things. May the Lord be with you till we meet again...