Friday, August 30, 2013

Los Butterflies

Us at the Mirabal Sisters Museum.
Hola all . . .                                         August 30, 2013

Audit report . . . 80% of the Caribbean Area units have started their audits and 65% are finished!  They have a couple more weeks to complete them. 
The experience of visiting The Mirabal Sisters Museum is one of the most interesting we have had.  It is dedicated to the memory of 3 sisters that are heroes in the Dominican Republic.  These women showed great courage as they took a stand against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the underground movement against his regime that represented the Dominican people in their quest for freedom.  "Los Butterflies" was their underground name.  Their story is depicted in the movie "In the Time of the Butterflies."  They died as martyrs November 25, 1960 when an accident was fixed and they were taken to a field and killed.  Trujillo was ultimately assassinated on May 30, 1961.  A fourth sister Dede is still living - she is 87.  She raised her own three children and also the 6 children of her sisters after their death.  The Mirabal family home is now the museum.  Dede often receives guests and school groups at the museum.  There are wonderful manicured grounds with lovely flowers and huge trees around the home that cause it to be an inviting and peaceful place of reflection and full of butterflies!

Obelisk that Trujillo built to himself -
now the people have painted it as a monument
to the Mirabal Sisters.

We left our apartment Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. to pick up Lorenzo Castillo who is one of our bosses in the office finance department.  We were headed 2 and a half hours away to the Sabana de la Mar Branch of the church.  There are many concerns there and not just with the finances.  We can empathasize with these outlying areas having lived in rural Arizona for 33 years.   Wednesday Chuck and Lorenzo went back to try and meet with the Branch President and verify some of the expenses in question - he was not willing to meet with them.  The missionaries took them around to try and talk to some of the people.  It appears this situation will not have a good ending. 

The first ever multi-stake youth conference was held in Haiti last week.  There are 4 stakes of the church in Haiti.  Almost 400 youth attended with 75 leaders that were mostly young single adults.  The site itself was a miracle to obtain - after almost a year of trying to get permission to use the government owned and operated facility.   It was a fantastic opportunity for them to have fun together and feel the spirit of the gospel with their peers.  Only the area presidency went from here - without their wives.

Serving a mission causes us to miss many family events . . . this week it is the 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration for Dick and Nancy.  We know all those gathered will have a great time . . . remembering . . . . XOXOXOXOXOXO
One way to take two cows . . . somewhere - they were alive! 
Rice field workers - beautiful - looks like a pretty daunting task!   

Love you all sooooooo much and pray for/think about you daily!!!!  LOVE, Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa    

Friday, August 16, 2013

25% Audits Complete!

Hola to family and friends . . .                                                     August 16, 2013

We are in the mid-year audit cycle.  Out of the 15 areas of the church throughout the world - as of a couple of days ago our Caribbean Area was leading with about 25% of audits completed.  We have about 409 units that need to file an audit - stakes, districts, wards and branches.   Lots of work going on by the leaders to make it happen!   We were in Bani last Sunday with Rolando Marte helping with their audit and doing training of the District Audit Committee.

Our friends the Rees' are headed home Tuesday.  We admire them so much for the work they have done here in Santo Domingo with church music.  He is a rancher from northern Utah and not a musician - she says she played piano a little.  There is a great need here for people to lead music and play the piano in the congregations.   They have truly magnified their calling.  He taught himself to play a few hymns on the keyboard and then to teach classes - he does have fluent Spanish.  He was known to bribe w/chocolate!  They have taught 14 groups the 6 month course - about 230 students from ages 10 to 70.  They started with the conducting course and then a smaller percentage learned to play a hymn - all of course with varying degrees of success!  Last Sunday evening we went to a recital they held for a group of about 20 students finishing a course.  It was fun to hear the students and the Rees' were like proud parents!  WELL DONE . . . now home to the cattle!

Rees' with their kids before the recital

Chuck was out driving with Ray Johnson - serving here as a lawyer in the area office.  They got stopped by the police for running a yellow/red light.  You have to understand the driving here is  c r a z y  and the rules are pretty much just "suggestions" - however, if the officers are hungry or bored they will look for someone to stop.  At first the amount was 5,000 pesos - $125.00.  Chuck got it down to 800 pesos - $20.00 . . . he after all was feeling guilty.   The officer wouldn't take the money from his hand or even when he sat it on Ray's leg.  He wanted it to sit on the seat and then he reached in with his hand to pick it up under his cell phone - so others wouldn't see him taking a bribe.  My question is . . . who was the one being bribed . . . hummmmm?

Anna - our friend on the corner selling papers

Every morning we buy a paper from Anna down on a corner by our apartment - she is always chatty and friendly and glad to have a little package of cookies we give her.   She has given us mangoes, avocados and cantaloupe on occasion that she picks out special and says to eat that day!  She is usually happy and is a fun greeting to our day. 

The Crismons have returned from being home with her broken hip - we are glad to have them back as our office partners!  They are the Area Welfare Missionaries so are in charge of some emergency relief projects.   This last week we were down in the large meeting room helping them pack 250 kitchen kits.  These are to be given when a family loses their home through flooding, hurricanes or whatever.  They would be awesome to receive if you had that need.  Items are packed in a five gallon air-tight bucket and contain:  4 plates, 4 cups, 4 small bowls, utensils for 4, two large cooking spoons, large pan w/lid, mixing bowl, can opener, lighter, candles, small metal pitcher for hot water, a sieve and a roll of toilet paper.  They figured the cost of each bucket was $34.00.   It was fun to help get these ready to go if there is a need. 

250 Humanitarian Kitchen Kits line the halls

MTC Elders getting some of the white shirts and ties sent from Jenna's ward

Summer is flying/flown . . . lots of memories we have loved hearing about!! 

Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandpa and Grandma

Friday, August 2, 2013

800 Chicken a Day

Us with Dick and Nancy in beautiful green mountains of a drive to Constanza.

Hello to all . . .                                                            August 2, 2013

We had a wonderful visit from Dick and Nancy (my brother) - it was a long and tiring trip for them but we had a great few days.  They got to see some sights and some of the island scenery.  I think they especially enjoyed seeing things that their grandson Jed Buehner will be around when he arrives here for his service in the DR East Mission and his time at the MTC.  When we were touring the area office our friend Henry even looked up Jed's info for them.  He is the guy that handles visa's etc.  It was fun to see his name on the records as "arriving!"  Thanks kids for the effort to come visit us!!!

The week before we were at an event "Clog America" - a dance group from the states that put on a great show at the Ministry of Culture Auditorium.  Chuck got his "pocket picked" as we were leaving.  At least we think that is when it happened - we remember getting jostled at that time.  He didn't realize it until we got home and he was taking things out of his pocket.  He went back and looked in the car and I went to check the computer and we already had two fraud alerts from the credit cards.  Such a pain!!  They were good . . . 

I wrote about our trip to Sabana del Mar last time but there are two more things I need to remember about that little jaunt.  We were sitting outside at a big round picnic table for dinner one evening and thought we had bad mosquitos around our ankles and feet so we went inside.  Turns out we were FLEA BITTEN - we each have at least a hundred bites on our lower calves and feet . . . miserably itchy!!!

Guy picking up his chickens from the store . . . .
That "hotel" where we stayed looked out on a street with a chicken store.  We watched as motorcycles and scooters would come and get black bags of chicken - five dead and defeathered chickens in a bag tied with their feet together and sticking out.  Some bought up to 8 bags.  It was the market where restaurants etc. went to pick up their chicken to be used that day.  Some of the men from our group went over to investigate and said it was quite a sight behind the store where they were processed . . . they sold over 800 chickens a day out of the place!   Ugggggg . . . . .

Last weekend there was the first ever encampment that would be the equivalent to a Scout Camp in the states - it was held at the church family camp here - Bonao.  They had 600 young men age 12 and 13 with 150 leaders.  Our friends the Dunfords got to go as their assignment with Public Affairs to document the event.  They report it was a fantastic experience and memorable for the young men.  Leaders had planned all year to make it happen and it was worth it!

Sunday we picked up our assistant Rolando Marte and his wife Fanny to go to San Juan de la Maguana for their Branch Conference and then some training of leaders.  We were invited to the District President's home the Segura's for lunch - always an interesting experience.  His wife was a delight to be around - very happy and positive.  She is also legally blind but we didn't realize it until halfway through lunch.  They continue to work on the building of their own home and were very proud of it being "the prettiest one on the street!"  The oldest of their three children was just home from the encampment at Bonao and had a great time!  San Juan de la Maguana is 3 hours away . . . it was a long day! 

Segura family in San Juan de la Maguana - she is legally blind -
Fanny and Rolando Marte on the left.  Notice their finished ceiling.
Chuck was having some discomfort in his back in the kidney area.  He has had kidney stones in the past so discounted it being that as he knew what they felt like.  After a med series from the area doctor of anti-inflammatory and another of cipro it was decided to get a CT scan of what was going on.  He of course had a blessing from good brethren.  Turns out it is kidney stones rolling around  - we were grateful it was that and not something more worrisome.  Now he gets to wait . . . for them to do something!!!

Love hearing from you when you have time . . . KEEP THE FAITH AND LOVE TO ALL  XOXOXOXO - Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa

Daughter's home of the man that took us on the Haitises Park boat tour.