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Day 7

In order to get out to Hoya Clara we had to have an early start so it was good that Wilson's friend arrived right at 8 and we were on the road by 8:15 taxi to Joel's house.

After a quick inspection of the job site we were off to Hoya Clara but first a quick stop for food for the four families. Our friend and guide Carlos was one of the truck drivers that came.  He grew up and has family in Hoya Clara so we relied on him to tell us what the families needed most.  There are four large families that live out there so we made sure to buy four bags of rice, dried milk, salami , sugar, coffee, beans and oil. Carlos and Joel thought that the market we were at took charge cards but, surprise, no charge.  The team pooled our cash and we piled into the trucks to Hoya Clara. The closest family area is only five miles off road but it took an hour in the two trucks. Heading there was a real adventure as we were tossed about like a sneaker in the dryer. 
The men in the back of one truck serenaded us with songs from the past which helped pass the time on the steep ride in the hot sun. On our way, in the middle of the lush landscape, a church appeared where Carlos' Mom went when she was a child. The church building is still used on Sundays but the Sunday School building is in rough shape and hasn't been used for years.  The entire area was covered in a short grass that doesn't need to be mowed and its existence in the middle of this harsh terrain gave it a peaceful almost surreal presence.

After another 20 minutes we arrived at the foot of a hill where we parked the trucks and started off on foot with all of our supplies. Carlos shouted out our arrival and a few of the men came to help.  It was a 10 to 15 minute walk over steep coral pathsbut the scene that greeted us was well worth the effort.

The entire camp was surrounded by large fields of beans; the same beans that Sue and her team brought it August.  Where there had once been an unsuccessful Yucca crop was now a healthy cash crop that would single handedly be able to sustain the family for more than 10 months.  Carlos explained that each of the thousands of seeds had been hand planted by the family that lived there by pressing their finger into the soil, placing the seed and covering it.

Once inside the camp we were greeted by all four of the families many of which we had met on previous trips.  Everyone helped divide the food, medicine, and school supplies between the families while the kids enjoyed the candy we handed out.

The groups happiness was tampered when we discovered that one of the women we had met last January had given birth to a baby who is now seven months old but was born three months premature leading to severe neurological problems causing the baby to have little control over his body.  At one year's old he will need an operation on his hernia and medicine for his spasms.  Even with the best medical attention the child's life will be a difficult one.  Jen was able to provide the mother with some much needed relief by caring for him while we were there.

After the supplies were given out we were treated to a lunch of yucca and spaghetti, which we all enjoyed.  It is difficult to express the wonderful calm in this place that time forgot, it was  peaceful and authentic.  They have no electricity, no running water, and no plumbing and yet none of us wanted to leave.

The dirt road we took out started with a steep rocky descent but was pretty flat after that.  This meant that on our way out the hardest part of the trip would be right at the end.  The second larger truck we had planned on using had broken down so we were forced to borrow a small two wheel drive Mazda pickup.  The deisal Toyota climbed the hill with no problem but the smaller pickup only made it half way before stalling out in a pile of boulders.  The people in the back jumped out of the vehicle and Carlos who was driving the bigger truck backed down the hill where some of the men used some old rope to tie the trucks together.  The rope didn't last long before snapping but it did its job before it broke.  We were able to make it the rest of the way with some team pushing.  After almost 20 min of work both trucks finally made it up the hill and we were on our way to Joel's.

Some of Joel and Elizabeth's friends and neighbors had been working on the garden while we were gone.  Where sharp coral and scrap metal had been was now a grassy yard where the kids could safely play.  Hector and his workmen had also been hard at work, the walls were all standing and they had made significant progress in the final coat of cement.

The long day spent in the hot sun had taken its toll on the group so we all climbed back into the trucks for the trip back to the hotel.  Soon after we arrived back we met with some Haitian refugees who Sue and Jen had met with on another trip.  We had bought them some rice, beans and oil as well as medical supplies that the children very much needed.

As a final dinner together we had made a reservation at the Mexican restaurant at the hotel.  We gathered around the table and although we would be sad to go we are all excited to get home.

Tomorrow will be a day to pack and catch up on writing and pictures.  We will also say goodbye to Joel and Wilson.  We are proud of what were were able to accomplish, getting even closer to our Dominican family, building a classroom and garden for the new church, a roof for Wilson that will survive a hurricane, a new roof for the mountain family, school supplies for two schools, relief for they adults, joy for the children, subsistence for a remote village and a light of hope to those in need.

Thank you for everyone who made this trip possible.

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