Thursday, January 28, 2010

La Represa

Today has been a day that we will never forget. It has been a day where we have felt a stirring inside of us that we have never experienced before.... a calling, yes. When people say that they felt called to do so-and-so... this must be what they feel.

We woke up early and took a walk around the oldest section of Santo Domingo. We strolled by the ruins of the oldest hospital in the New World.

We ate breakfast: salami, ham, cheeses, papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, assorted breads, jellies and omelets. The coffee tasted like dessert; Joe, my non-coffee-drinking husband, had two cups. We also enjoyed fresh fruit juices.

Melanie Spence, with World Servants, drove to pick us up at our hotel. She brought along Daniel who works with Vision Trust and helps coordinate child sponsorships.

These people are precious.

We drove to La Represa.

First, we visited the children at their school.

We were able to find Inoel there. He is the little boy we sponsor through Vision Trust. He was so shy at first.

The kids loved the camera.

We met Pastor Tomas, the leader of the church in La Represa, and his wife.

This is the kitchen for the school children. Our sponsorship ensures that they will get a hot meal at school everyday, usually rice & beans and a multi-vitamin.

We were invited to spend time with our sponsored child Inoel (5) and his family -- his mother Joleni, his father who goes by "Gringo", and his two sisters Jokairy (9) and Giselle (7). Other children from nearby huts came to watch us interact by filling up the doorway or looking in the windows.

We gave Inoel an outfit, shoes, underwear, baseball bat, baseball glove, and a couple of baseballs as a gift. He didn't even take the time to remove the plastic wrapper on the bat, but Joe said not to worry, it'll come off soon -- as Inoel went right to work swinging at balls thrown to him by his father in the street.

We also brought new bath towels for the family. For Inoel's sisters, we brought them each underwear, a shirt, art supplies and a washcloth. They are not currently sponsored so it was a big treat for them. Joe and I shared a little moment of comic relief when Inoel's dad pulled out his cell phone to snap a picture of us. Hilarious... "Can you hear me now?"

We shared with them how our church back home loves their community and prays over them. We let them know that our desire to love people as Christ does has led us there.

After leaving Inoel's house, we passed these children eating oranges, sitting on top of a chicken coop.

These kids here were bathing in the bushes with a hose.

We passed some banana trees...

We saw some harvested rice...

Then, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a chunky little piece of new life there. This baby is one of Inoel's cousins.

There is a major problem with clean water. You can see here a plastic pipe that has a crack. They have "repaired it with some tape, but it still leaks and is laying in standing water. I can't imagine the sorts of bacteria introduced to the water source through this sort of issue... and you see it everywhere.

Sitting on a rock wall outside of the school, we gave out peanut butter crackers individually to the children, who devoured them. We learned later that peanut butter is very expensive in the Dominican Republic and very sought after by the people. It's an easy and effective way to make friends with the little ones!

We visited the little government-run clinic in the village and were amazed at the lack of supplies and simplicity of the place. This is it.

We spoke to the nurse about what was needed there and what they treat most often. We have made a list of the most frequently used medications and are trying to wrap our minds around setting up the much larger clinic down the road that the town has already started building. It is basically a concrete slab with a basement type area underneath. We are curious to learn what the people of La Represa envision for this clinic. From the photo, you can see that we are in the very beginning stages.

We would like to set up some sort of wellness week for the community and bring in some other physicians to help. The need a dentist desperately, as well as an optometrist. The men need exams for prostate health and basic physicals, as well as the women. Joe should be able to handle that. We also need a pediatrician and pray that Dr. Jeremy Harrison, a lover of missions and children, can assist us with that part!

Pastor Tomas shared with us his vision of making a business out of producing concrete blocks with the old piece of machinery. He is renting a flat piece of land to run this business on. He believes that it will be great for creating jobs, building new block homes and selling these blocks in the city to bring income into his community.

On the way out, we walked through a cacao orchard and met a lady who harvests cacao beans. As chocolate lovers, we were very impressed.