Hello Again


Wow, it has been a while since I visited this old blog.  I do still receive emails from those ones seeking any helpful information on visiting the DR, and it fills me with joy to offer what assistance I can.  I have since moved back to California and for the past year, Texas. I am proud to be serving once again as a pioneer in a Spanish congregation and am grateful to all my loving brothers and sisters who have been a lifeline to me. I simply wanted to close this chapter in my life and share my new blog that I will now maintain for my general musings as well as my travels: http://www.tothelaughingcity.wordpress.com

Still, feel free to contact me with any questions regarding the Dominican Republic. I would be happy to help in any way that I can. To all those who read this blog and offered their comments: thank you. Your words and support continue to warm my heart.


She·nan·i·gans: Silly or high-spirited behavior; mischief


Alright, so let’s recap. Goal number 1: Spend 100 hours preaching for the month of July. It is the 23rd and I am only at 60 hours. Well that gives me 8 days to get 40 hours….Can it be done? We shall see what will become with Jehovah’s help. Goal number 2: Be more creative. Well I started my statue sketch, knitted 1 baby shoe and did fancy nails twice. I think that is a good start. I don’t want to be too focused on this goal seeing as it can easily get out of hand.


I started my sketch!…..probably won’t finish it…


Studying our Watchtower in La Sirena as a form of table witnessing.

Goal n umber 3: Go on an adventure. Well this goal can be emphatically checked off with rainbow colors and little stars. My goodness yes. And so it is this third goal I shall relate into you. 


Nikki and I left Sunday right after our meeting to the gua gua station to meet up with Joseph and his brother Dan. Of course we were well packed with sandwiches, chips, oreos and soda. The bus ride was outrageously long, just over 5 hours. However we did have Joseph to keep us entertained with his crazy self as well as our reading material and music. It was wonderful to arrive in Samana and to get out of the cramped gua gua. I love the feeling I get when I go back to Samana, like greeting an old friend you no longer keep in touch with, but no matter how much time passes it will be as though you were never apart. I have many good memories from this small town. After all, it was my short stay there that made me fall in love with the island and decide that I would come back one day to stay. Its familiar little streets and easy, small-town feel make you feel right at home.

When we arrived we called Ginger and Pepper so they could show us where they lived. Joseph was making everyone dinner which made us all feel very spoiled. It was nice to hear Ginger’s and Pepper’s experiences living there in Samana. They are sisters from Texas and are serving in the Campo congregation in La Pasquala, about 20 minutes from Samana. They are a true inspiration! The next day we went to Las Galeras to enjoy a long beach day. Its about 40 minutes away from Samana and only 100 pesos to ride in the back of a truck.

Tuesday Nikki and I went out in service with the Spanish congregation in the morning. I forgot that Samana is all hills, so service is definitely an adventure. We met two Haitian men who invited us in and had a very nice spiritual discussion. The one had said he believed in God, but didn’t believe you could put faith in any one religion seeing as there is so much hypocrisy. Funny enough, that is the theme of this month’s Watchtower offer.  The Governing Body are so in tune to what people are looking for these days and it is amazing to see Jehovah’s hand.


Climbing “steps” up a hill in the territory.


Joseph on a broken down boat improving and entire musical starting him as all characters….ya..


Beautiful Samana


The path to the beach after miles of DEATH ROCKS!!!


Finally made it to the beach! So worth it!


We arrived home Wednesday afternoon, just in time for me to see Bella before she left for her visit to the States. It is so nice to visit the Bells; I don’t see them as much anymore now that I am quite far away. I was able to go out in service with my old congregation, La Zurza that evening and see some familiar faces. When I finally arrived home Wednesday evening I was just in time to greet my new roommate. Well, he thought he would be my new roommate. People don’t believe me when I say that the creepy crawlies follow me. But spend a little time with me and you will soon see that its true. I get home and I’m talking to Dana as I put my things in my room, on my way out, out of the corner of my eye I see the BIGGEST spider I have ever seen. I thank Jehovah every day for Dana! She can always remain calm in the face of evil insects and without her I would have simply closed my bedroom door and never go in there again. Well, after about 4o minutes of chasing the spider, tearing up my whole room, (and many screaming, freak-out, run-for-your-life moments) we called Obed, one of our elders who lives below us. He comes in, and with one thwack with the broom, ya! Problem solved. I seriously can’t handle many more of these home invasions. Just a couple days ago I had a flying cockroach swoop in through my window and try to attack me! WHY DO THEY FOLLOW ME????



Well, this is all I have to update ya’ll on. I am just going along and loving every minute of serving here in the Dominican Republic. I have had many, many emails from hopeful needgreaters and I love hearing your stories! All who have come have not been disappointed. They tell me of all the amazing things they saw in Jehovah’s service and how they hope to return. So if you want to expand your ministry and to see brotherly love in action, then make it a matter of prayer and Jehovah will give you whatever you need. You just have to make yourself available!



Roldith (on my left) helping on M’s study.


Dana and Roldith


Beautiful day out in service.

What You Need is a Nice Warm Goal, eh?


Goals!  I love goals! July is going to be all about goals. For example, I would like to try and make 100hrs preaching.  I have never, in my 4 years of being a pioneer, made it past 90.  I just want to see if it is possible.  Second goal, I want to start being creative again.  Art and craft supplies have been a luxury I have not felt necessary since I have moved to the D.R.  But I think it is time to spend a little time being creative again since it really does make life so much more interesting.  Third goal, I must have an adventure.  Now it’s true that pretty much every day here is adventure.  In fact, it is very much like a video game.  Ask anyone who has been to the DR.  It doesn’t matter if you are walking or driving, getting from point A to point B can be an obstacle course, and it would not be out of place to have the Mario brother’s video game music and sound effects playing in the background.  No, I mean a real adventure where I get to see new things and explore.  The middle of this month Nikki and I plan on going with Joseph and his brother who is visiting from the NY Bethel to Samana where we’ll be staying for a couple days with my friend Lauren.  I am sure that will qualify as an adventure.


Another gorgeous sunset from the rooftop.



This past month has been extremely busy with all kinds of activity.  The beginning of the month I had the pleasure of visiting Bethel with a few from the San Jose de Afuera (the campo) congregation.  There are two sisters, Kellen and Sabrina, who moved here from New York area to serve there.  Rosa, the sister I stayed with in NY is Kellen’s mom and she was here visiting, so of course Bethel was on the agenda.  Also at the last minute the special pioneer couple in the congregation, Johnathan and Nancy, decided to join us and we had a wonderful time at the branch.


The beautiful Special Pioneer couple, Jonathan y Nancy.


Left to right: Kellen, her mom Rosa and sabrina


All the girls! Sitting outside the lobby at Bethel.


Nancy trying to get mangoes from the tree.

Also, last week we had our C.O. visit from Ricardo and Waleska, a very sweet Dominican couple.  I am really loving the ASL congregation.  I feel like ASL is so different from everything else I have done and I am constantly having to change the way I think in order to become a better teacher.  During the C.O. visit I found a deaf call of my own!  The woman is very kind and hospitable.  She currently attends a deaf church here and so she actually knows ASL quite well, which is not very common.  She said I could visit her, so on Friday we covered the first lesson of Escuche a Dios.  I am so happy to have my own calls and to feel like I am actually being useful.  It is so true that Jehovah gives us exactly what we need when we need it.  Being in a place to see so much of the work being done with such positive results is a true blessing.


El Salon Del Reino de Cienfuegos


Dominican kids playing checkers made with bottle caps!

Teresa has left to the States for her annual visit and so I have the responsibility of keeping up with her Bible students.  And so that is definitely keeping me busy.  Yesterday I worked with Dana all day! We only did four studies; my call, Teresa’s student Sara, and two of Dana’s students.  We started at 9 and didn’t get home until nearly 7pm!  We traveled all over because being in ASL, our territory is quite large.  It includes not only all of Santiago, but many of the neighboring campo towns.  Last week I went with Joseph and Emi to Navarette to help them find their Chinese calls and to ask for deaf.  I was told about a few deaf who live in one of the barios, so I will try and visit again next month.  It takes about 40 minutes to get to Navarette and the guagua is 120 DOP for round trip (about $3USD)


None other than our very own Teresa! Check out the Watchtower for her article.


Out in the Campo walking the dusty, long road to Dana’s study.


Emi, Sarah and Nikki in afternoon service.


Afternoon service with these guys is a blast. It is amazing to be preaching in Chinese, Spanish, English and ASL. Really whatever happens to come our way!


Sarah’s last night before she headed back to New York. A wonderful sister with a big heart and a true inspiration. Love you Sarah Bear!

Well basically I am loving ASL, my new living arrangements and generally being here in this crazy and interesting country.  Having said that, I am very much looking forward to October!  It is my parent’s 20th anniversary and so my aunt and her family will be meeting my parents and I in New York where we will take a cruise and then return to gallivant around the city and tour Bethel, the museums, etc.  I am particularly thrilled because I will have an autumn this year! And not just any autumn, a New York autumn! Saying that I love that time of year would simply be a gross understatement.  I ADORE autumn, with all its colorful leaves, spices, pumpkins, hot coco magnificence.  Last year I missed out because here in the DR the only marking of autumn is the greater possibility of a hurricane or tropical storm.  So this October I hope to overdose on everything that is fall and autumn.  We have such a wonderful creator who would give us such beauty and the capacity to appreciate it.


Taking a shortcut home through the old airport where the grass grows tall.

Is it Bewilderment or Straight up Hilarity?


Wow…. All I can say is wow. District Convention 2013 is where it’s at!!! Now don’t worry, I’m not going to send out any spoilers. I won’t tell you anything about the AMAZING talks, or the wonderfully presented experiences, or how that one of the new releases is the best thing the faithful slave has ever put their name to….EVER…well, except for maybe the NWT of the Holy Scriptures. I suspect that as these conventions roll out, many, many people are going to be finding their way back to Jehovah and his organization, at least I hope so.


A recent paint job totally brings the SDQ Assembly hall up to date!


The Samana Crowd, and Joseph. Left to right: Lauren, Ginger, Victor, Pepper, Natalie, Alisa and Joseph.



Josefina and Kimberly made it for the Sunday

Well I better stop before I say too much, but I just have to take a moment and marvel at how the Slave is just so in tune to what we are facing in these last days. I truly feel blessed to be apart of Jehovah’s people. And I can’t wait to hear your comments about the convention. Also, one other thing to mention is that the English conventions here are seriously off the charts. I don’t know if I said it in my convention post for last year, but it is true. The level of appreciation and love for Jehovah is just so high and concentrated into one area, that it truly takes your breath away. Everyone there at the English conventions wants to be there. They have made sacrifices, traveled hundreds of miles, fought unbelievable obstacles and trials just to be there. It’s a beautiful experience.


These brothers be taking the DR by STORM!

I just have to say to all the recent visitors one thing: Don’t forget.  You may feel like you could never forget such a wonderful experience and you are all fired up to share this rekindled zeal with everyone back home.  But, just don’t forget.  It is VERY easy to slip back into the place where you were before.  Not that that is a bad place, but remember that there is so much more.  Remember the level of love and appreciation for Jehovah you saw in the congregation.  Remember how it feels to find someone in the ministry who asks YOU for a Bible study.  Remember that Jehovah is reaching many hearts and there is so much work to be done.  Do not let the apathy that seems so overwhelming make you feel that it is not worth your effort to continue in the ministry.  You’ve read experiences in the year book, but now you’ve lived them!  Remember.


We went out to eat after and this poor Dominican girl was just trying to have a party and I walk in WEARING THE SAME DRESS…..I forced her into taking a picture with me.


TGI Friday’s after Saturday’s program.

Ok, we’ll enough about that. Last Friday was probably the funniest days of my life! We took a group to San Francisco de Macoris to help the Chinese congregation do some canvassing. It’s about 2 hours away and so we had to start early that morning. We met at 7:30 am at the gua gua station and the 12 of us subjected those poor passengers to 2 hours of complete chaos! There are two English brothers visiting Santiago as well as Nikki and Joseph. That is enough to start some shenanigans. But then we also had Catherine, Emi and Sarah. We did a lot of walking, and stayed until 5pm!


Left to right: Emi, Me, Tracy and Melody.


Left to right: Nikki, Sarah, Catherine and Joseph


Danny, Navid, and Akane

It is really quite funny the reaction we get during this work. You simply say, “Hola, buen día. Somos testigos de Jehová y estamos buscando personas que hablan chino. Hay alguien en su casa que hablan chino?” But instead of a simple yes or no, I get one of two reactions: the person cracks up and thinks its hilarious I’m asking then if they know anyone who speaks Chinese, or nothing. Simply the most bewildered, blank stare. We have to ask again and then they respond. It cracks me up every time!


After a delicious lunch ready to hit the afternoon heat!


One of the groups had a really good experience of a Chinese woman who was very interested in traveling to Santiago for the Chinese meeting. We headed back and went over to Nikki’s for dinner with some from our group and, of course, the hilarity continued.

I wanted to share a link for a wonderful sister’s blog. Ashley’s parents are here serving in the Creole, but they have traveled and served many places with many experiences. Recently Ashley has moved to Taiwan and this blog shares her adventures, so check her out!

I’m very excited because I snagged a lunch invitation at Bethel for this Friday. Rose, the sister I stayed with in New York, is coming to visit her daughter Kellen. So it will be us three and Sabrina.

Well, I’m waiting to meet up with Teresa for our study with Nichole an its starting to rain. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated with the work going on. I think it’s about time for another stab at recruiting!

He’s Pretty Awesome, This God We Serve


Have you ever stopped to look at your life only to realize how overwhelmingly happy you are?  I have been doing that a lot lately.  I am so very happy to be in ASL.  I am so happy to be in my new apartment, rooming with Dana.  I am happy for the association I have and that I can keep in touch with friends from back home often.  I am happy to be here in the Dominican Republic, enjoying the most rewarding service days I have ever had.  And it is all thanks to the wonderful God we serve.  He is so patient, so loving and generous.  It is enough to make you  feel embarrassingly undeserving.  But we are.  He knows that.  Yet, still our lives can be overflowing with his blessings.

Let me try out my Spanish! ok:

Me gusta mucho la estudia de la Atalya de la semana pasada.  El texto en Salmo 119:165 es muy bonito: “Paz abundante pertenece a los que aman tu ley, y no hay para ellos tropiezo.”

Not sure how accurate that is, and I am much too lazy to check!  So anyways, we can fall many times, but if we love Jehovah and honestly try to give him our best He will make sure we get back up.  All he wants is our best, and really that is the least we can give.  Sign Language can be truly beautiful.  The sign for ‘support’ is a fist coming up under the other, like reinforcement. And that is what Jehovah does for us; His support is lifting and powerful.  Sometimes words just can’t express, and Sign Language is just so…so…filled with emotion.  Beautiful.

The Watchtower study for this week was just as beautiful.  Jehovah will give to us a heart to know him.  How often I have just wished that Jehovah would take my heart and fashion it in a way pleasing to him.  Just take out any inclination or desire that could separate me from him and be done with it!  Well, unfortunately it doesn’t work quite like that.  But he can give us a heart knowing him.  Then all we must do is be receptive to him and his principles.  I’ll take it! But I am still looking forward to the day when we will not have to constantly battle a treacherous heart.

Well Sunday was my first night out at the movies in the Dominican Republic!  It was the 3rd attempt at seeing this movie, but we made it and it was fun.  When I first started this post we were planning the second attempt, however it was raining pretty bad so it got cancelled.  But I wasn’t too bummed because I got to spend time with Gabby, Dana’s Bible student instead.  She came back with us after meeting and we had lunch together.  For a couple hours she just sat there looking though all of my photos (and I have hundreds!) and telling me stories.  I was amazed at how much Sign I know, but how much I need to learn at the same time!  She keeps me on my toes! If I nod like I understand she checks to make sure!  And if I don’t, well then I’m trouble.

Today I snuck over to the English because Jeremy was giving the talk.  He did very well and it was nice to be able to see everyone.  I think what I miss most not being in English is not being able to sing to Jehovah in my own language.  I’m not very good at signing the songs, but that is a small sacrifice I am happy to make.  Besides, we have the English convention coming up next weekend, so I can get all of the English spiritual food I want!  I am very excited.

Well I’m signing off, but before I go, here are some videos of Clara Luz for her study.  This is what it takes to prepare a comment for her.  Hope you enjoy!


The Slow Chug of an Old Engine…

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7 am walking along the beach.

Wow, April is almost over! It seems like it has gone by so slow, yet so fast at the same time.  I had some spare time today and that got me to thinking about life and stuff.  Many of you know that in order for me to function, I have to continually be out-smarting myself.  But really I think it is a pretty common tactic among us humans.  For example, how many of you set your clock at least a few minutes fast?  This is so, even though you know the time is incorrect, for some reason it will motivate you to hurry up.  I do little things like this all the time.  Another one is to set dates for certain goals.  When I first moved to the DR, I set a goal of almost a year and that would be in the Spanish Congregation.  My mind was made up and my return ticket was purchased and that was set.  A few months in, I realized that I wanted more than a year.  So I set the new goal of returning after a short trip home and I gave myself the remainder of April to get prepared for whatever lay ahead.  And so now, Starting May, I have my new goal of at least a year in Sign Language.  The thing is, even though I gave my self the remainder of April to get prepared and moved and whatever else needs to be sorted out, I am so anxious to be doing 110% now!  ARRGGG! I need to work on patience.

I think part of this anxiousness is also due to my 4 day vacation at Lifestyles in Puerto Plata! I mean who takes a vacation 5 days after a vacation??  But it was planned ages ago and so I was forced to sit in a beautiful resort and to live like a queen for three days….But seriously, the  beaches were beautiful, the food was amazing and never ending, the drinks were included and also there was plenty to do or not do.  But the company is what made it worth it.  There were so, so many witnesses there! In our group we had The Bells, Teresa, Britney, Marty, Aaron, Graham and his two friends, Sally, Adrean and Mario, and their two friends from Virginia Jeremy and Anthony.  Then we also ran into the Strongs, the Barons, a recently graduated couple from Gilead and on their way to Haiti, as well as many, many others.  It’s hilarious how we made sure to carry along at least a watchtower with us to attract any Witnesses.

We Jehovah’s Witnesses pull some funny moves to see if someone else is a Witness! One was, “Umm, excuse me, what Bible translation is that?” Or maybe we see a possible Witness and we start to say certain words really loud to see if we get a reaction.  Words like, “convention”, and “meeting” and “kingdom ministry”, etc.  That was actually how we met the Gilead couple.  Marty, Aaron and I were having dinner at one of the many restaurants and we saw them sitting at the table across from us.  So we start talking, very loudly, about the upcoming English Convention and how we were looking forward to it.  But maybe the restaurant was too loud.  So then Marty pulls out her Jeremiah book she just happened to have in her bag.  Along with her Bible, and her Study Watchtower and puts them on the table.  Eventually the brother looks up and catches Marty’s (probably very creepy) stare and then his eyes move the the library she has displayed on our table.  It was pretty hilarious.

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Sally and Mario lookin fly!



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After breakfast we heading to the beach beds and did the Bible reading!



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Fun in the sun



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This kid was teaching me to boogie board…I failed miserably.



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Two brothers from Virginia visiting. Anthony on the Left and Jeremy on the right. Along with Marty these guys are the Spade champs!


But the resort was well worth the incredibly cheap price.  It was a little frustrating that I showed up at the resort and realized that I needed my passport, which was conveniently left in my room back in Santiago.  Without it they would have charged me $40 extra per night! So I had to go all the way back and get it.

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On my way back to the resort after picking up my passport. I saw a tiny glimpse of what I like to call “Jehovah Rays”!

So now I am wrapping up April and all the slacking off and I am so ready to start May of with a BANG!  The Sign Language congregation is wonderful and I am so happy to be apart of it.  Today I went out with Nikki, a sister originally from Florida, but she has been here many years.  And a Dominican sister named Judith.  It was a great morning, we did some street witnessing and also one of Nikki’s Bible students.

Well that is all I have for now, but I hope you enjoy the pictures! WHOOP!

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Teresa and Britney



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The view from my beach bed



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Glorious morning walk

Mowgli Returns


Ok, I have a new appreciation for Mowgli. As soon as I arrived in the airport I felt so out of place in its unending hallways surrounded by concrete and metal and man-made things. It’s the most surreal experience I have ever had and I felt constantly overwhelmed with the abundance that is America. When my mom showed up with my lil Ronna I felt like a wild animal taking its first step into civilization. Now I know that is a little extreme, but the contrast between the DR and the US is remarkable. And being away for so long had definitely altered my perception of “home.”

I was happy to see my friends and family and it was comforting to see some familiar sights, but what surprised me was my lack of desire to stay. My journey in the Dominican Republic constantly surprises me and demands my love for its foreign ways, but I was a little scared that my trip home would make my return a struggle. I was relieved to find that although I love my old congregation and I miss them dearly, I was desperate to return to my strange little island.

Every one back home was so supportive and it warmed my heart to see the pride in their eyes, even though it felt undeserved. My parents have been a brick and I feel overwhelmed with their love and support. I hope they can come visit me next year and see the wonder that is the DR.

After I left California I stayed for a couple days in New York. I was planning to do a whole bethel/ New York trip with my friend Dawn Rae, but decided to postpone it until October. However I wanted to meet up with a few friends from there that I had met in the DR. One of the sisters staying in my studio while I was away offered for me to stay with her mom, Rosa, in Woodhaven, Queens. She is so sweet! And they have an amazing dog named Mia who is now my most favorite dog in the world!

I arrived late Wednesday in JFK. When I went to claim my baggage it was no where to be found! I asked someone who worked there and he said they took all the San Francisco luggage and put it in a room. It was so lovely and sunny out that I wanted to go get dinner and walk around, so I asked if I could just leave it there for a few hours and the guy was like, “sure”! Sweet! No charge too!

So I got to look around, walked the Brooklyn bridge, saw the Bethel (I wasn’t prepared for how excited that made me!) visited both museums, walked Central Park, traveled up Long Island, etc. I was very much in love with New York, it has always had a place deep in my heart. But it was time to go home.

I am now rooming with Dana, I moved everything the day I flew in! I am very happy with how it’s all working out. I went out in service today for the first time since I’ve been back and it is such a breath of fresh air. This is what I want to do for a very long time! Now that I am back I will do my best to post regularly. I appreciate all the comments and emails, sorry it took me so long to respond!


View of the Brooklyn Bridge



Walking around Brooklyn



Brooklyn Bethel! Stopped my heart!




When the heavens decided to open up and dump on me. Thunder storms in NY, what an experience!



My first train ride from Queens to Port Jefferson!



Best dog in the world! (sorry Max….)







Long Island Rail Road




The Met was AMAZING!




Truly amazing




Just outside Brooklyn Botanical Gardens




Lovely day, but FREEZING!




This painting of Joan of Arc took my breath away…the clarity..wow



DINOSAURS!!!! (yallz know how much I love Dinos)




Central Park stole my heart….20130419-165438.jpg





Emi and Catherine at our Rooftop Party




My knew apartment!




Crazy Joseph