Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Casita

Hey everyone!

Happy New Year! To answer your question Mimi, as to why we haven't isn't that we didn't want to, but rather heard from several of our followers that this time of the year was too busy for them and they couldn't find the time to keep up. So, we gave it a little break. It is nice to hear that you look forward to reading about our adventures, that was the reason we started the blog in the first place... AND it makes us feel connected to our loved ones.

This year has been full. We've been blessed and hopefully have blessed others along the way. We appreciate all those who have followed our journey and have helped with this mission, both in the U.S. and here in the Dominican.
This coming week we will be in a small town called Da' Jabon which borders with Haiti, and possibly at an orphanage in Santiago on our way back .

So, until then, from our casa to your casa..... Have a wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santiago or bust!

Seems like bust, to us. We were supposed to go with the musicians to Santiago for another gig.... (that's what we in the biz call it), but believe it or not we didn't fit in the van. They were celebrating the little town's independence. Everyone came out to partake in the festivities and the highlight of the celebration was Rosalee and her Grupo Lee. The van was like a mini van, which could somehow accommodate 12 people, but they managed to fit 17 into it.... and of course all of the instruments. There were drums, guitars, etc. You can tell how cramped it was by the picture of Marsia. I told them they were probably wondering why Rossy brought two gorditas when space was at an optimum as it was...... Anyway, it felt like deja vu all over again. All of this got us thinking how maybe next year it would be fun for all of us to pile into Evan's van and go to the coast. We don't have instruments, but we certainly could make room for our animals. What do we think? We've included some special pics for your enjoyment.

Marsia said the guy in the yellow was practically levitating trying not to squish her, the guy in the red took full advantage of the situation. Hard to believe there were other people in that row of seats.

Of course you have to put the music up as loud as possible, (Lisa would love that), and open all the windows. Here is how I looked after a mere 30 minutes on the road. You've gotta love the pics.

Just a short blog today, to let you all know we love and miss you! God bless you all!

Word of the day: Ya llegamos? Are we there yet?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh what a night!

Luis, Rossy and Family

Hello faithful followers!

For the past few days we have been staying with Luis and Rossy in the northern part of the city. Starting with the birthdays of Rosa Lee and Rossy this week, adventures seem to arise everyday here and it sounds like we have a lot more coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Before we came here to stay, we were in contact with a woman who was trying to put together a Christmas dinner for displaced elderly. She was in need of food, volunteers to cook and to serve. I called and signed up for at least food donations, with the hope of serving the 100+ elderly. Marsia and I had fun gathering all the right food together for their dinner. We're hopeful we will be able to make it tomorrow afternoon to serve. It is about an hour and a half away, so we shall see. If not at this Christmas event, then maybe another. There is so much going on around here, it is crazy!

Last night Rosa Lee and El Grupo Lee had a concert in a "city" about an hour and a half away. A taxi van was rented for the journey. We started with nine people piled in this van and a few instruments. We were told that we needed to pick up a few people along the way. All I could think was how are all these other people going to fit in here?

Basically, the driver would just go down the road, pull over to the side and someone would hop in with an instrument. The first guy brings a bass drum that takes up two seats and then there were guitars, keyboards, etc. The last stop is pick up a back up dancer. We get there and she is stuck in traffic somewhere and we wait about a half hour with 14 people crammed in this van for her to arrive. She gets there and we are off!

Once at our destination, we are escorted to the "V.I.P." section and served a massive platter of food (we aren't sure what it was and weren't very willing to find out). Of course I (Marsia) has to use the restroom from drinking all my water in the car ride over, so I asked for a bathroom and was taken out back. Fortunately, Jill told me grab a napkin on the way. I was taken to a "shed" built from sticks and a tarp for a curtain. The woman stood outside while I just went inside. There might have been a bucket or something but honestly, it was way too dark to see. It was a VERY rural part of town, needless to say. If ever I needed my "whizzies", this was the place.

Miguel from Monte Plata

The concert was great. The people in the community were excited to host the celebration. It was amazing to see kids of all ages (even toddlers) dancing in the streets until the wee hours of the morn. We all piled back in the van and dropped people off along the way.

Word of the day: Guira ... (gwee-rah) a guira is a percussion instrument which looks a lot like a cheese grater with a metal hair pic to "accentuate the beat of the music". No respectable bachata group would even attempt to play without a decent guira player.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saving Pollo Niyo!

Its hard to believe we've been here one month already! Looking back on all the things we've done, one of the best was saving pollo Niyo.

It started out with our small missions trip to San Cristobal, to visit a very large, needy family there. All the members of the family have built a home on the property and started their own family there when they marry. So aunts and uncles are all over the place, as are chickens, pigs, bunnies and birds.

The home is of a former baseball player who ended up fracturing his arm, thus ending his career. Sad, because I'm sure he was their hope. At any rate they all seemed happy, and we shared the afternoon together. They cut coconut from trees nearby and we drank the juice and ate the meat.

They also have banana, pineapple, guayaba and even a vegetable that grows way up in a tree, the size of bowling balls called Buen Pan. We ate some last night, and believe it or not, it tasted just like mashed potatoes that were slightly over-whipped. Go figure.

We spent time talking to all the family members and then gave out clothing, toys and little hygiene kits. We went for a little hike around the property and found all kinds of interesting things. We thought it was odd how they decorated the bushes on their property with the most random objects. And it wasn't confined to just one area, but throughout the property. Double click on these pictures, so you can appreciate their efforts to make their home beautiful and colorful. This picture is of a sun dried raisin box, a green lid, and a tube of Colgate toothpaste. They also use the egg shells as decorations.

The kids were happy with all their clothes and toys. It was a great time for all of us. When we left, the family couldn't find enough ways to thank us. They loaded us up with Buen Pan, oranges, plantains, coconuts etc. Right before we closed the back hatch on the SUV, they threw in a tied-up, live chicken. I could feel myself go pale. We got in, and were driving away when Nassuel started in asking what the plans were for the chicken. Milvia said she would make Sancocho. Nassuel started the chicken strike, by saying that he wouldn't eat it. Nasmil piped in "Ni yo!" (me neither).... then silence. I couldn't help myself and I said, "ni yo!" and explained to Marsia what was going on. Then she said, "Ni yo!". Nasu stopped the SUV and got out, gave them the chicken back and told them we would visit the chicken next time. We were all happy, and came back to Santo Domingo.
Word of the day: Ni Yo! or Me Neither! And so it would be that was the name of our chicken.... Niyo.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our first of many short mission trips!

I think if Marsia learned anything this week, it was that mission trips can sometimes be difficult.

We went back to Boca Chica in hopes of finding the young chicle vendor, Simon, to outfit him with his new school uniform that we bought for him earlier in the week. If we could find him and give it to him, he could start going to school like all the other 10 year olds in his town. Not so simple. Simon was nowhere to be found. And after walking up and down the beach on a lazy Tuesday afternoon, (a slow day for vendors), we ran into several people who knew him, but had not seen him since earlier in the day.

Word got out that the "Misioneras" were in seach of Simon. Soon his brother came running up and introduced himself to us. I couldn't quite understand his name and asked if he could spell it for me. He kneeled down and wrote it in the sand.... FRANK.

Frank turned out to be a wonderful boy. He earns $400 pesos every 2 weeks, and uses that money for school. $400 pesos is like $12. He spent the better part of his afternoon helping us find Simon, just because. He didn't earn any money for it, he just wanted to help us. He told me Simon was not in school, as he was, because he didn't have the necessary papers to register for school. They are both Haitian kids, and Frank is fortunate enough at least to have his papers. Simon is hoping to have everything in order to register for the next school year. We really hope it works out for him.

Frank got word that Simon was shining shoes at the gas station on the corner of the highway. He offered to take us to him. It was going to be quite a walk so he helped us take the bus to him. Once we got to the gas station, Simon had just left to return to the beach in search of the missionaries that were looking for him. We then walked back to the beach. At this point, it was getting late and about to get dark soon. Frank insisted on locating Simon for us and we agreed to meet the following day next to the barrier for our hotel's beach.

The next day, promptly at 12:30, we went to the beach and Frank was waiting, although Simon wasn't with him. He wanted to take us to his "house" (they sleep on the street most nights) so we could try to find him there and meet his other brother. We knew Nasu wouldn't go for that and would not be happy with us if we went there, as it might be dangerous. We told him we would like to but were unable. He then asked us to come back in one hour because he was going to scour the beach looking for Simon. In the mean time, we went back to the hotel and got some food to give to Frank and his brothers.

When we returned to the beach, Frank was back and unable to locate Simon once again. He took our phone number and wanted to call us when he found him. Jill informed him we had to get back to Santo Domingo that afternoon and weren't sure when we would return. Since he was so helpful and, we honestly had more time to bond with him than Simon, we gave him the supplies and food and told him to use what he needed. He was such a sweet boy. He assured us that he would pass the uniform along to Simon and has our number so once they connect, he and Simon will call us to let us know that the uniform made it to him. He is such a good kid and it's extremely unfortunate that he has to live his life the way he does. It just breaks our hearts. We will be looking for him everytime we return to Boca Chica just to chat and bring him some clothes or toys if we get the chance.

Our trip wasn't strictly business. We did manage to get a little sun and get a few scenic pictures for your enjoyment. The Hamaca hotel was beautiful, nestled in a serene, beachfront
setting. It was very big with several pools and restaurants. It was an all-inclusive resort that we picked up for $49 a night, which was a bargain! We felt compelled to eat all the time and try a variety of different things. We also got some time in to practice our synchronized swimming routine. It will be great and we look forward to sharing it with you all when we return. Fortunately, since we sleep in the same bed, we can practice/choreograph in the evening and sometimes while we sleep. Although, the launching portions have created some loud noises and messes in the wee hours of the morning. Below is the part of the pool where the magic occured.

Today we spent a majority of the day sorting and organizing all the clothes and toys that we brought and were sent. We arranged them by size and age. It was a time consuming process and we are glad to be just about done so we can get on with the missions.

Well guys, until next time...... take care, God Bless you all! Thanks for being faithful readers. We love your comments and enjoy sharing this experience with you all.

Word of the day: Bachata: This is the type of dance that the locals dance. Oops, I mean locals, and MARsia. :) Actually, I'm so proud of her Spanish. She's really doing well, and she's a trouper. She tries all the food and is having conversations in Spanish now. Can you believe????

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just a Quick Note

Hello everyone!

For all who were wondering, every box arrived to Florida for Jill to pick up in tact and containing all items. Thank you so much to all that helped get them there. We will soon be starting missions such as clothes and toys to people who need them. We will be traveling to various cities around the country in search of people in need. Of course we will blog about it once it's been completed.

Also, we have purchased a school uniform and had some supplies donated for the young boy, Simon, from Boca Chica beach. I hope we can help him get a better education and get him off the street.

We will be back online soon and update you on how our trip went. Miss you all and thanks again to our faithful followers!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Life without Jill (hecgkckghck) and other things...

Pachi, in my glasses. :)

I realize Marsia should be writing this, but she has her head in a book and I feel we need to reach out to our followers, NOW! I know she'll join me when she's done, but for now, suffice to say that she managed beautifully without me, but did miss having a personal Spanish translator.
Alfredo; MARsia and Random Baby #1; and Chanel, her new love

When I finally caught back up with her, I was amazed at how much Spanish she had actually learned this past week. She says she still cannot form a sentence, but is putting two words together now, and getting her ideas across. She has so many new words for the day, but is especially proud that she can say, "tu quieres jugar tarjetas?" or "do you want to play cards?". The things you learn with a 5 year old. She has actually fallen for this very cute, bright little girl, and has decided may want to have one child, (only dominican at this point), only from the ages of 4-6 yrs old, and who speaks only Spanish. Maybe only 4 days a week. Hey..... its progress. What was really funny is that I found several pictures of her holding babies, in bed with babies, etc. I'm coming to the realization she really does like children, she just puts up her tough facade.

Marsia aslo got to experience local live television when Rosa Lee and El Grupo Lee performed on an afternoon "talkshow". The show featured a local business owner, a real estate agent, Rosa Lee y El Grupo Lee, "la diabla", the devil stripper. Yes.... that's right. A stripper featured on a talkshow. Noticed the men lined up to catch a peek. They must be attracted to yellow hair and eyebrows. I believe they were all employees of the station. After the show, she went backstage and congratulated the group on an excellent performance. Luisa then had her "photo session" with Marsia as the photographer. And Rosy, and Sandy, and herself. Really anyone that was willing. She loves her photos! (Sorry, Luisa!)

We had the funniest taxi driver ever the other day. He was trying to flirt with Marsia...but had to do so through me, which made for lots of laughs. Dominicans cannot pronounce Marsia's name for whatever reason, so she is know to most as MAR sia. Before we ran out of gas in the taxi, our driver (Lievi) was working on my name. The best he could do was hecgkckghck (sounds a little like when you're going to cough something up. I believe it's a plus here that you negotiate your taxi fee before you get in because you never know what's going to happen to your vehicle. We tought him "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" when were going 7 miles an hour down the freeway into town. Here's MARsia doing a little driving of her own.

One little tidbit of info we forgot to mention before, while we were shopping for our Thanksgiving feast, we encountered a makeshift "salon" in the produce/meat department. Short cubicle style walls were put up, water tanks were brought in, and shampoo bowls and helmet hair dryers were running consistently. Dirty dyed rinse water was leaking under the walls and was beginning to pool by the frozen food bins. Is there a health department violation here? Tena?? Nick?? Extensions, weaves, weekly washings, and rollers were all taking place for bypassers to enjoy as they stocked up on squash and yucca root. At least we are playing estetician in the privacy of our bedroom, not at the supermarket. But who knows? Maybe we can start a new trend. I'd like it to be in the bread section though. It seems more tranquil.

Well, we are off to Boca Chica and will not be taking the laptop so you'll have to survive without the blogs for 4 or 5 days. But it should make for some entertaining stories when we return. Ciao for now!
Saying of the Day: O EH O EH Pan! Not sure the translation, but Pan is bread and it's what the street bread vendor yells several times a day when he passes.