Friday, March 29, 2013

It Might Be a Dog!

 Hola to family and friends . . .

We are at the audit deadline and are just about to get them all in - 409 units throughout our area.  This happens every six months and this is our second one to get through.  Chuck answers a lot of questions and makes calls to "get them in" and sometimes has to do some "signing off" for complicated situations but it is good to have that done again.  We also continue to work on "fraudulent situations" and trying to discover what is happening with funds in a few units.

It was fun to have the World Baseball Classic going on and the final being played between Puerto Rico and the DR.  Many in the office were up late watching the games and so excited when the DR won!  It was a resounding victory for the Caribbean either way.  We get a paper from a cute gal on the way to the office every morning and I had given the sports section to a guy here that taped the winning pictures to his door.  I wish I had a picture of them gathered around celebrating the championship!

The senior couples are having an Easter Dinner Sunday.  I have been in charge of having people sign up for food assignments and will do simple table decorating.  There will be about 60 of us - it is always fun to get together. 

Tip of the week - don't buy a cooked/roasted goat for Easter without the head - it might be a dog. Also, check if there is stitching around the neck - sometimes they sew a head on.  Good to know!!

For Easter there is a traditional drink or maybe it is a kind of soup as we ate it in a bowl with a spoon but others we have seen drink it.  It is cooked pinto beans run through a blender and then chocolate, milk, and sugar to make a thin creamy mixture with diced potatoes and raisins.  It was served with small little shortbread cookies floating on the top - ahh, very different.  There have been many parades this month - usually on Friday afternoon/evening with Carnival - not sure the association all of this has with Easter but they are colorful, sometimes scary costumes and huge crowds that we try to steer away from! 

Carnival character at my car window!

The two lane - one way road in the front of the office is torn up because they are laying a new water line.  It is a mess - the first time we left the parking lot we drove on the sidewalk.  Now they have dirt somewhat packed down but I still think we may high center and get stuck before it is all over - if the 2 foot wide/5 foot deep trench doesn't get us first!

Driving on the sidewalk away from the office - you can see the soft dirt to drive on and the trench is far left. 

Aydy is a secretary across the "aisle/hall" from our little cubical.  She speaks perfect English, is expecting her second child and is a fun new friend.   She has a lovely singing voice and her husband performs in the acapellamen's group we saw at Christmas.  She isn't due for another month but her doctor put her on rest and so she left last Friday and won't be back until August.  She is tiny and looked huge/uncomfortable carrying her baby.  The picture doesn't look near as big as she really is. 

Aydy and Vickie

We have been asked to let missionaries at the MTC practice teach us on Mondays before family home evening.  We will be in the computer lab.  They  needed more "investigators" since there are more missionaries coming all the time.  It will be fun and we will try to not give them too hard of a time.  The humanitarian service couple gave us a presentation at FHE Monday of their work and projects they are doing here in the DR - what we did in Argentina.  Yep, we were jealous . . . such great work!  They showed us a little video of a man with only one leg and arm dancing - he had turned down a wheelchair saying he didn't need it - would only make him dependent on the chair and he was doing fine w/out it!  That is what the work is about - to help be more self reliant.

New letter address -  (packages are another address and I don't know how to prepay delivery - so no pkgs. please)
Dominican Republic Pouch    
Elder and Sister Charles Rucker
Office of the Caribbean Area Presidency
50 East North Temple 3WW
Salt Lake City, Utah 84184

Have a wonderful Easter all of you - we love you gazillions and beyond!  Thank you for the blessing you are to our life.  Keep in touch xoxoxoxoxo Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa 
Fruitstands are so pretty - mangos are in season but not the huge ones yet. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Welcomes and Farewells

 Hola to all . . .

We had three new couples arrive this week - Walkers as Area Doctor, Wegners as PEF and Crismons as Welfare - they are our "wall partition neighbors" at the office.  It is always fun to welcome and hard to tell the others goodbye!

We are thrilled with the announcement that Mauricio Munive assigned here in the office from Mexico has been called as one of the new mission presidents to begin service in July.  He works with us here in the Finance Department and is a wonderful man.  He has a daughter going to school at BYU Idaho - Emily was a temp here for a while and is a doll.

Last Sunday we had two disciplinary counsels to attend in case Chuck needed to verify some information that might be needed.  We realize it is a minuscule percentage where this is necessary and much less that most organizations but it is still heartbreaking.  Both men were excommunicated for their abuse of the financial responsibility they were entrusted with.

We were at a beautiful new chapel that was just dedicated in November.  It was interesting that the building didn't have electrical hookup to the city.  It is run totally off it's own generator.  The electricity is so sporadicthat it was decided to just see how the self generator would work.  The electricity goes off in our apartment at least twice a day - gratefully it usually comes right back on.  It goes off often at the office also. 
It was pointed out to me the other day that out of all of the Caribbean Islands only three speak Spanish - ok, so it is the largest ones but still only three - DR, Puerto Rico and Cuba.  The others are English, Dutch, French and some other dialects.  Nice there are many people that are good at languages!

Chuck gets called occasionally to go to the foyer and help Alicia, a receptionist that is rather short, change the music CD's for the office.  It is a pain for her to drag something to stand on and she thinks it is wonderful that he can do it so easily!  
Chuck helping Alicia w/the CD's

Chuck's favorite thing to see this week were two motorcycles pushing a truck - sorry no pic.

Elder Cornish of the Area Presidency spoke at our Devotional (held every Tuesday) this week.  It is broadcast from this office all over the Caribbean to different sites.  He was talking about faith and telling the story of Peter when he went to meet the Savior walking on water . . . and Peter started to doubt himself . . . and Jesus said to him "Oh ye of little faith."  He asked us how many would of even got out of the boat?  He gave us many things to think about concerning our faith.
Our weather is gorgeous for now but we hear the heat is coming again! LOVE TO ALL you good people - Mom - Dad, Chuck - Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa  XOXOXOOXOXXO

We were parked by this door and it facinated me so I took a picture . . . such security! 

This little boy was just a few feet from a busy street - working hard.

These ladies are carrying their store with them.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Counting Our Blessings

 Hola again . . .

We often are placed in situations that remind us of where we are serving even though our personal circumstances are comfortable.  I was visiting with someone the other day and commented on how this mission is more expensive than we had anticipated.  They responded with "That is because of your standard of living."  It is true . . . we live in a nice apartment, for the most part we eat the foods that we would at home, go out when we want and have a car.  The extremes here are great - perhaps a lot of drug money they say.  There are expensive shopping areas and apartment buildings and then extreme poverty.  Counting our blessings.

We visited Ocoa Branch an hour and half away.  Parts of that drive are beautiful in the mountains.  We had to go see about the travel funds that the branch is turning in - highest in the area.  They hire a bus or taxi to take everyone to meetings and activities.  The members aren't having to figure things out for themselves - it is just all provided.  No one has a car and it is a difficult situation but that is not the way to solve it.  When they get home late the Branch President has to walk home 3 and a half miles however because no transportation runs to where he lives.  We don't have an answer - but the Lord will and the members will be better for it.

There are about 220 chapels built by the church in the DR and another 100 rented facilities.  These are all so well maintained it is like finding an oasis when we turn a corner in these neighborhoods and see beautiful chapels.  I love it!  Anytime we are outside you can usually hear roosters crowing - a happy sound. 

One of those pretty chapels - Nizau

Lady at the gate of the chapel - just carrying her stuff to sell.

We hosted a small group at Family Home Evening on Monday.  I was leaving with a large bowl half full of salsa with lot of avocado in it, I also had tortilla chips, carrot sticks and cucumber slices - healthy huh?  A group from Haiti was in the foyer of the Casa - having just arrived after 9 hours on a bus to come to the temple.  Sister Cuenot had been talking to them in French and came over to me and asked if she could have the food for them.  They had no money and had not brought any food with them.  Perhaps this happens often but we were not aware of it - nor is there a solution.  They just have such faith that if they can get to the temple things will be better.  Their thoughts are only for the day.  We were told about a young missionary that wouldn't eat at the MTC because he had such guilt with all of his plenty and knew his family was hungry at home.  It really is pause for thought to think of these situations all over the world.

What an awesome thing last week the announcement of 58 new missions throughout the world - two in Arizona!  This also means a great need for couple missionaries!  It is pretty unbelievable and exciting to watch all of this unfold.  Our MTC will soon have 105 and the previous limit was 55. 

Wednesday the office was closed - it was their Independence Day - 27th de Febrero.  We went over and helped in the temple as they were busier than usual with people off work.  We had planned to go whale watching - a 7 hour round trip and 4 hours on the boat . . . talked ourselves out of it as it just sounded like an ultra long day and we weren't sure if the whales got the memo to be active!  Yesterday at noon the office had a really fun little celebration for the holiday and a real Dominicano buffet - it was good . . . however, not sure I will yearn for any of it when we leave!

Dominicano Buffet . . .

Office people singing at celebration for Independence Day.

Dancers - fun to see office people having fun.

LOVE TO ALL . . . WE'RE THINKING OF YOU OFTEN!!!  XOXOOXXOXO  Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa xoxoxoxooxoxxooxxo