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2011 January Trip

Day 7

posted Jan 1, 2012, 4:59 PM by Ernie Begin

Our last full day was a slow day but still filled with many treasures.  We went to Macao in the morning which is a beautiful beach surrounded by cliffs on one side.  Wilson joined us for a swim and we all got our necessary sun-burns / tans so we can gloat when we get back.

We wanted to go to Juanito’s church in the evening which meant we would miss dinner at the hotel, so we went out to a place that Wilson suggested.  It was quite an experience.  Wilson told us that all the flies on the sea food meant it was good.  We were skeptical but the food was good.

Then we were off to church.  Joel and his family joined us and we went to the tiny church down a long dirt road across from the resorts.  Everyone had arrived before us and looked forward to watching the movie we brought.  Ernie set up the projector and they hooked it up to the sound system.  Joel picked the story of David and Goliath to show them.  He explained the meaning and just before it started Manuel came walking in (crutch free!).  He looked great!  We took some photos that we will post shortly.  We gave out the rest of our supplies and it was time to go.

Tonight when we got back we talked a lot about the week and what it meant to us.  We each had our own experiences and are so grateful to the people here to invite us into their homes and lives.

Another successful trip, tomorrow will be filled with sad goodbyes.

Day 6

posted Jan 1, 2012, 4:58 PM by Ernie Begin

So this morning Wilson picked us up as usual. However our ride to Higuey was very energetic for 9 am because Wilson bought a Backstreet Boys CD. All the girls (and Conner) sang all the way to Wilson’s village. When we arrived we were greeted by only a few residents. But as we took the backpacks and army bags out of the van we were surrounded by many ecstatic moms, dads, grandparents and many many children.

After handing out pencils, paper, scissors, soccer balls, and most obnoxious of all kazoos, we sat down to lunch that Wilson’s wife had cooked us. While we were eating a girl about 5 years old showed us her feet. They each had 6 toes on them and her right hand had an extra finger. She explained her left hand used to have 6 fingers but fer family cut it off. “Lots of blood” she told us. We also met another boy who showed us what looked to be a cyst on his stomach and leg. Sue made the mother promise to bring the boy to the clinic and gave her money to cover the cost. 

After lunch we played soccer  with the children and talked to a lot of people in the village. All of them were extremely welcoming and happy to have us there. A family invited Helen into their house and gave her a homemade candle the daughter had made. The people and the atmosphere of the entire community was amazing.

When we left Wilson’s village we picked up the two missionaries and drove to the orphanage. We were suprised to find the place in very good condition. Compared to what we had seen it was large and very clean. We gave out school supplies and showed more Bible story videos. They seemed to really enjoy it. There were 17 boys that lived there between the ages of 5 to 15. All of them were just happy and cheerful, also very well mannered.

Before we headed home we traveled to Wilson’s grandmothers store where we gave his family more medicine and vitamins. Just like everyone we had met in the Dominican, they were extremely grateful and happy to see us. 

All in all it was an extremely successful day. We are sad we only have one day left but plan on making the best of it.

Btw Ernie didn’t feel like writing today so this is Helen (:

Day 5

posted Jan 1, 2012, 4:58 PM by Ernie Begin

Today was action packed.  The first destination was the nearest city Higuey.  It took us an hour and a half to get there on all back roads.  We had written a long list of things that the people we met yesterday needed.  Sadly when we arrived at the pharmacy / supermarket the prices were much higher then we expected.  Almost everything was the same or more then it was in the US.  The only exception was the medicine, although we wanted to buy a lot so it added up quickly.

On the way there Wilson was saying that he wasn’t feeling too well because of allergies so Jen gave him a Claritin Melt-Away.  Wilson put it under his tounge and then started to laugh and ask us where it went.  It worked right away and he was absolutely amazed.  We tried to get some at the pharmacy but they didn’t have the melt-aways so we got him some of the pills.

All told we spent $298 at the pharmacy.  Reciepts will follow.  While Jen and Allison were dealing with the medicine everyone else had their jobs.  Helen and Kim were responsible for the family we met near the clinic where the single mother was raising 6 kids.  Sue, Connor and Corey worked on things for the clinic, pre-school & everyone else.

Not to be repetitive but we continued to be amazed at the prices.  Some of the people had asked for diapers but the cost of them was equivalent to a day or two’s work.  We bought as much as we could, but wished we could do more.  The bill for the supplies was $280.

We had a quick stop off at another pharmacy for insulin and then headed towards the “mountain school.”  Everyone was really excited about bringing the things we brought to the family.  We were able to get them shoes, some clothes, rice, beans, rope for a clothesline,  and other little things.  The mother wasn’t home but the oldest daughter and the next door neighbor were so happy.  We left the supplies and then went to the clinic.

At the clinic another doctor was there who spoke better English.  We got all of the diabetes supplies working and left them along with the stuff we bought at the pharmacy.  We spent a lot of time making sure the doctor understood everything and then it was to the school for a quick stop with some crayons and medicine for the teacher.  Jen explained the dosage and he was very happy to see us.  We realized when trying to explain the medicine that for the most part the people here don’t have the concept of preventative medicine.  He understood that he should take it when he was having trouble breathing but he had a hard time getting that he should take some every day to prevent an asthma attack.

It was too early to go to the pre-school so we stopped again at Wilson’s grandmothers to visit the village across the street.  We met some old friends and found more things they needed that we would need to buy tomorrow.  Jen was able to find the new born that we met last year.  He is now a healthy one year old who is very adorable.

The day ended with the preschool, we ended up staying for nearly 3 hours.  We showed a movie of David and the Lion’s Den with the projector and made necklaces and gave them crackers with nutella and peanut butter.  The kids were so cute and happy.  We had a hard time leaving but eventually had to go.

A long but good day.  Pictures and movies to follow.

Day 4

posted Jan 1, 2012, 4:57 PM by Ernie Begin

We were up early to get some breakfast before meeting wilson at 9.  We filled the van with 15 backpacks and off we went.  The first stop was the clinic in the mountains as we call it.  There was a nurse there who was very happy to see us.  We had some difficulty explaining what all of the different medications were for so we decided that tomorrow we would buy a medical dictionary to help us.

The kids at the school remembered us and the teacher was so kind.  We gave out calculators and notebooks, pens and pencils.  Today is about finding out what people need so that when we go to Higuey we can buy only what is needed.  The teacher said that more crayons and large paper would help.  The clinic only asked for a few things mainly they just needed tylenol.  On our way out of the school Wilson asked the teacher how he was and he mentioned that he was having trouble with Asthma so we will get him an inhaler tomorrow.

On the way to the preschool we saw some children watching us and decided to stop and give them some school supplies.  Their mother came out and we asked if we could come into her house.  She invited us in and we took many pictures and ended up giving her many of our home supplies like blankets and pillows.  She was a mother of 6 and there father was gone.  We asked her what she needed and all she said was formula for the youngest so we will get that in Higuey.

Our last stop was the preschool but we were early so we stopped off at Wilson’s grandmothers.  As always she was glad to see us and we all sat around talking and drinking sodas from her store.  We told them we would come back again and headed towards the preschool.  When we arrived they still hadn’t started so we sent someone looking for the teacher.  One of the kids from last year recognized us and collected the other children.  Before we knew it we were surrounded so we all piled out of the van and started taking pictures and giving out supplies.  The photo printers we brought were a big success.  They take a while to print but the kids were so happy to have pictures of themselves.  Once the teacher arrived we headed inside to paint and play with bubbles.  We quickly ran out of stuff and decided we would have to visit again tomorrow.

Day 3

posted Jan 1, 2012, 4:57 PM by Ernie Begin

As we mentioned in the last post we invited Joel and Elizabeth as well as Wilson and his Wife Amirillis to join us at the Resort for the day.  It is interesting, both Wilson and Joel live so close to the ocean but they never get to go there.  Joel is normally a very serious, collected person but once he put on his swim trunks he was like a little kid.  He was doing flips into the surf and playing with all of the kids.  Wilson has three children Michelle and Alberto and a new born Winsor, and Joel has two sons Christopher and David (Davy).

We played in the sand, swam in the ocean and ate a big lunch.  After lunch we took the kids up to our room and painted pictures.  The whole day we all took turns holding little Winsor who always seemed happy no matter what.  Then it was back to the beach until around 5 when we started packing up for the day.  The kids had so much fun and so did we.  We really felt like one big family for the day.  Tomorrow it is off to the schools and clinics to find out what is needed.

Day 2

posted Jan 1, 2012, 4:56 PM by Ernie Begin

Ends up it is a holiday weekend in the Dominican, some sort of political holiday.  This means that there is no Church in the morning and that the clinics are closed both today and Monday.  We spent the day acclimating and making friends.  In the evening Wilson met us and we were off to church.  The second we arrived at the church (the one by the Burger King as we describe it) Joel was there to meet us.  It was so good to see his smiling face.

We were a few minutes late (Wilson works on Dominican Time) so Joel had to make us some room up front.  Everyone was so kind and welcoming to us.  The man preaching was very passionate but we understood very little.  Towards the end of his sermon Joel leaned over to tell us that next we would be talking and that after we said a few words we should sing a song.  We were very surprised and nervous that we would be in front of everyone.  Sue talked about how this was her Dominican church and how happy she was to be there.  She said that kids are the same everywhere and that we are all God’s children.  Then there was a moment of panic as we tried to pick a song everyone knew.  We settled on “this little light of mine” and the second we started singing the band jumped in and everyone started clapping.

It was late but Joel and Elizabeth invited us back to their house and we couldn’t say no.  We arrived to find that in the past year Elizabeth has been very busy painting and decorating, the house looked great!  Unlike last year their children Christopher and David were no able to stay with them so we finally got to meet them.  Christopher is ten and very serious while David is around 5 or 6 and very outgoing.  We shared stories and decided that since Monday was a holiday we would invite Joel and his family as well as Wilson and his family to the resort for the day.  Normally we would do this at the end of the week but it seemed to make sense.

More news to come

Day 1

posted Jan 1, 2012, 4:55 PM by Ernie Begin

Our first day was a rousing success.  For the past few weeks we have been attempting to contact our driver Wilson without any success.  So we printed a picture of him (and his grandmother) and got on the plane with faith we would find him.

The flights were slightly delayed due to fog in Miami but otherwise uneventful.  We arrived at the beautiful Punta Cana airport and found our bags had arrived safely.  We were just about out of the airport when a customs agent stopped us and asked if he could search ALL of our bags.  Sixteen fifty pound bags to search through.  We told him what the supplies were for but they started the search anyway.  About 15 minutes later they were searching the fourth bag and found some of the tylonol, asprin and vitamins.  They insisted on checking each bottle’s expiration!  after another 10 minutes of going through a tenth of what we brought they had found only one bottle of tylenol that had expired.  The customs agents looked at the rest of the bags, looked at us and just gave up and let us through.

On the way out the airport Sue saw a taxi cab driver and decided to show him Wilson’s picture.  Wouldn’t you know that not only did he know Wilson but Wilson had just been there.  After a quick radio conversation Wilson returned to the airport.  Ernie stayed behind to wait for him and everyone else went in the hotel van.

Wilson arrived and had all sorts of news to share.  He was very eager to tell us he had just had a baby boy Winsor.  Apparently he had tried to email us but it must have been caught in the SPAM filter.  Wilson let us know that Monday is a holiday here so there is no school and because of the holiday the church we normally go to all went to Santo Domingo for the weekend.  So for Sunday there isn’t much to do other then visit with Wilson and go to church later tonight when everyone returns.

On a side note Kim and Helen met another group of people from Minnisota who are here to do the same thing.  We have been talking to them and we may join them for some of their excursions and they may join us.

The place we are staying is very nice, ends up it is apartments they are renting out as hotel rooms to try to get people to buy them.  So the sales pressure is a bit much but everyone is nice.

All of our supplies made it here in good shape, we got organized and pictures will follow shortly.

God Bless

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