Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Final Report

Whale watching boat holding the only whale we saw that day!
Rosalind and Jay Sorensen
Saying farewell
Jerald Taylor and Lorenzo Castillo (our bosses) with the beautiful plaque we received from the office. 
                                                                                                         January 28, 2014
Hola for our final mission report in the DR - unbelievable that the time is here!    

Recently we met and helped train the Bawdens - a couple that is now assigned to the ABC Islands - located right above Venezuela  - they are in for an adventure.  They will do a little bit of everything and were excited to get to work!  There are about 20 single missionaries on the three islands and 4 or 5 branches of the church.  He spoke Spanish but there is a lot of Dutch down there also.  Just a faithful couple here from New Mexico. 

We learned that we are in the temple district for the new Gilbert Temple in Arizona.  We will arrive home in time to take our neighbors to the open house and also enjoy the cultural celebration with grandkids participating and then the actual temple dedication March 2nd.   We hear reports that it is spectacular and impressive! 

There is a whale watching season here - we scheduled an excursion along with about 20 other missionaries.  Turns out it was the season's first time out w/guests for the boat.  They had numerous whale sightings in the days before we went . . . however, on our appointed day the whales seemed to not get the "show up" message and blew us off!  It was 4 hours on rather rough seas - I chummed the fish along the way and was miserable for a little while.  It is great PR that they give you back your ticket for a return trip if you don't see whales - we gave ours away as they said anyone could re-use them.  Would of been an awesome sight to see those hump back whales surface . . .

A month ago I was able to be the escort at the temple for a young wife/mother here from Antigua.  They have been visiting family in Haiti and returned last Saturday to be sealed in the temple with their little girl.  The temple has been closed but President Flake opened it so this couple could have this wonderful blessing before returning to Antigua.  It was a wonderful experience to witness this occasion with them. 

We picked the Sorensens up at the airport Saturday at midnight - they are ready to take over!!!  It is has been great to be with them these last few days of transition.  We have greatly enjoyed doing all of our "lasts."  The office had a farewell of sorts for us . . . we appreciate the friendship/love of all these beautiful Dominican people.  However, we have become readier and readier to return home to our life and family.  Missions are life changing and we feel blessed to have been able to serve. We return home somewhat different in outlook and attitude because of the experiences we have had and learned from.   

We are so honored by the goodness of the lives of our children/grandchildren and the joy this brings to us!  How thankful we are to have the gospel of Jesus Christ to guide our lives.  We trust and pray this small sacrifice at this time of our life has been a worthy offering of our love and gratitude to our Lord and Savior.  Can't wait to get those hugs on our return!!   

Thanks for reading my mission letter ramblings and LOVE TO ALL  
 XOXOXOXOXO  Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Yeah for 2014

Hola family and friends  . . .                                                       January 13, 2014
2014 things to consider improving on:  meaningful conversations with loved ones, whom do I owe apologies and always tell and show those close to me how much I care.  Yeah for 2014!!!
Yeah also for a mission departure date of January 30th - the countdown is on.  We will spend a few days in Florida with Justin and Lori's family and then fly to Salt Lake for a short visit with Jenna and Lane - drive on to St. George to see Jera and Jordan and travel to Arizona Tuesday, February 11th - stop and hug Jason and Angela then to our house in Maricopa!!  It seemed crazy to fly to Phoenix and then shortly get on a plane to go back to visit Florida kids.  This way we will of seen the family and can settle into some health care surgery that awaits us with Chuck's eye and my hip.   It is nice that we both don't fall apart at once . . .
We had a pleasant New Year's Eve Dinner with the Marte family - total Dominican food and tasty!  We had roasted pig - very crusty/crunchy on the outside.  Fanny Marte made sure everyone got a little of the crunchy - think that must be the favorite for them!  We shut down and headed home about 9:30 but their young adult kids were headed to the church for an all night dance and then somewhere to watch the sun rise over the ocean.   There was an hour of fireworks at midnight but not an all night thing like we anticipated. 
The office has been very quiet the last couple of weeks and people we need to deal with have been on vacation.  There are 7 holidays when the office is closed from Christmas Eve day through January so employees tack those days on to vacation . . . not much gets done!  However there have been several situations come up with our work that will keep us busy to figure out and try to not hand over too many problems to our replacements. This training of leaders is always ongoing to teach correct financial procedures and their importance.  Chuck has been to some great trainings lately that the audit committees are doing themselves - progress!!!
I love the tradition January 6th of the Feast of the Three Kings Holiday. This is the major day when the children receive their holiday presents. The tradition is for them to leave goodies out for the Three Kings that will leave them their gifts.   They also leave a glass of water and some grass under their bed for the camels!! 
Our temple service here is over as it is closed the last two weeks of January for maintenance and cleaning.
I am not taking about a third of my cloths home.   I will take them in for the office girls to have anything they might want - they will make the rest "go away."  Chuck will also leave some of his ties and white shirts. 
We are so grateful for the protective care of our grandson Jaren with a 4-wheeler accident.  The bike landed on top of him and he walked away.  We are feeling blessed and have such gratitude that he wasn't badly hurt.  Best of all good things to each of you . . . MUCHO LOVE FROM US   Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa    XOXOXOXOXO
Pictures . . .
Visited an aquarium and this camouflage sting ray could certainly be a great object lesson!!!
Beautiful green mountains here in the DR . . .
Us by the Marte family door and their Santa they made this year for decoration! 
Chuck . . . admiring and thinking . . .

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dominican Republic - December 27, 2013

Hola to all -                                                        December 27, 2013

We trust you have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to celebrating a New Year!  We have had fun activities to keep us fairly occupied and memorable experiences. 

A sad event was going to the office on the 10th and learning our friend Aydy's baby had passed away.  Her desk/office is right across from us.  He was about 8 months old and had been born with some heart issues he could not overcome.   The graveside service was to be that morning - we and the Crismons attended.  I have never seen a more lovely cemetery - it truly was luscious green, serene and well kept.  We are told it is tradition to wear white for a funeral and it was so perfect to see Aydy, her mother and little girl all in beautiful white dresses with flowers and ribbons in their hair.  I loved it. 

The Dunfords came to stay with us the last couple of days before they flew home.  It was so fun!  They had to be out of their apartment and we so enjoyed having them!  We will look forward to seeing these good friends another day!  The night before they left we went to a mall where the West Mission missionaries pulled off a flash mob of Christmas caroling.  It was a great experience and we loved watching it. 

Our assistant from Haiti - Jean Rossely Bernardo couldn't get his visa to come to the training held in November so last week he was finally able to come over for two days so Chuck could teach/train him.  He speaks English well enough that it wasn't a problem - Chuck's French is lousy!  It was a privilege to be with him in the temple as he was able to participate in doing the work for his father. 

Last Monday there were about 15 of us that went out to a small housing area in the cane fields called a batey.  Haitians live there - about 40 families and work the cane.  They are extremely poor - there is a tiny school building and some housing - all in the dirt.  We took lots of items that Crismons and others had gathered - each couple also took rice, beans and oil for 5 families.  We expected it to be a marvelous experience . . . it turned out to be rather chaotic and we didn't feel much gratitude.  It continues to be such a problem with how to help people without making them totally dependent on that continued expectation of help.  Much of the time you just have to give and then let it be in the Lord's hands.  That is why in the Church we try so hard to train the leaders in the proper use of funds to help people be able to help themselves.  I also had my camera stolen while there . . . bah humbug! 

How wonderful to have visits with all the family - technology is so awesome.  Chuck even got to narrate the nativity via Facetime with the Florida kids as they acted out Luke 2 Christmas Eve!  Christmas morning the senior missionaries played Santa elves and gathered to put together a goodie plate for each missionary at the MTC.  Each couple took 45 "somethings" - we put one each on 45 plates - wrapped them in cellophane tied w/ribbon and went singing to the cafeteria where they were all gathered.  We sang to them - they sang to us and even though a little homesick rejoiced that we get to spend Christmas in the Caribbean! 
We also delivered the 90 baby kits we had put together . . . indeed there were more than 90 babies at the hospital that morning.  We got to walk through the rooms singing and wishing the mothers "Feliz Navidad" - lots and lots of tiny babies and mothers - some didn't look like they felt too well and we almost felt like we were imposing but it was a wonderful experience. 
A favorite sighting this week was watching a man trim/shape a small tree with his very large and sharp machete - definitely is a tool of choice for all things here! 
Greatly missing home at this time of year but enjoying counting our blessings here in the Caribbean!   LOVE TO YOU - Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Gma and Gpa    XOXOXOXOXO

Pictures -
Goodies for the missionaries at the MTC - Chuck is far right
Haiti Nativity sets . . . do you see and love the giraffe with the cow and sheep??? 
Batey kids lined up for gifts
A new baby and mother at the hospital with one of our newborn kits. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

Dominican Republic - December 6, 2013

Hola family and friends . . .                                            December 6, 2013
One morning last week I was sitting as assigned by the chapel door here in the Santo Domingo Temple.  There was a hymn softly playing and no one was coming or going.  I was alone in the corridor and the whole temple seemed quiet.  I had the thought that there were probably more worthwhile things I could be doing.  Then the thought came to me from a poem where the Savior says "There, tend that for me."  I thought of all the places in the world including our homes that people are "tending" for the Lord and the work can be lonely or invigorating but all needs attention and care.  It was a moment that caused me to pause/ponder and I have thought of it often.   
On a lighter note . . . we had a tasty and fun feast for Thanksgiving.  Wow - all these "grandmas" know how to cook!  I scattered DOTS candy (acorns) among the fake fall leaves - that and Crismon's sea shells were a hit.  It was a fun gathering. 
There are several events planned for the Christmas season - we will take advantage of them all to keep our minds off thoughts of events we are missing at home!  Last Sunday evening we had a concert from the acapello men's group that we have heard previously.  They are wonderful to listen to!
There is a large park across the street from the temple/Casa/ MTC compound.  They have been making improvements outside/inside the park for months and stringing Christmas lights (it has been advertised as 26 million) and a lot of other decorating.  They turned on the lights last Sunday night.  We were afraid that all the area electricity would blow - and it did for a brief minute but then it was fine!  The park is rather more Mardi Gras looking with a Christmas theme - most of the trees are wrapped with orange, green or purple lights.  The Dominicans do love Christmas - decorations started going up in early October - those millions of lights . . . it could be true!   
Jill Dunford, Joy Crismon and I all each baked 100 cookies and we took them around the office Monday singing and giving Merry Christmas wishes.  We did this last year and it was fun to do again.  Everyone enjoyed the mid-morning snack and probably thinks we are a little wacky!
Our auditing work is low key at this time.  Chuck is working on getting some regular training in place for leaders on the dispensing of welfare funds.  That seems to be the area where much of the misuse of funds happens.  If it is misunderstanding of the proper procedures that is one thing - but, a small percentage is intentional wrong doing.  Those are the sad situations that we have to deal with.  Another aspect is that the stake audit committees need to understand to be able to discern proper procedures. 
I have thought much of my Aunt Sybil this week. She passed away Tuesday, December 3rd.  I have wonderful memories of family gatherings growing up in Missouri.  Her husband, Uncle Buddy, is my Mom's only brother.  We will miss being with loved ones to celebrate her good, long life. 
Know you are enjoying the season - it is wonderful here also!  LOVE TO EVERYONE - Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa
"It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags. . . What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
Thanksgiving feast - we added more leaves after this was taken - Caribbean festive!
Lights in the park taken from the temple driveway . . . . just a little corner of the park . . .
Cookie delivery in the office w/Jill Dunford and Joy Crismon 
Trash to be picked up - crazy system - animals and people go through it and scatter it everywhere!