Category Archives: Daily Life

What You Need is a Nice Warm Goal, eh?

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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.

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Another gorgeous sunset from the rooftop.

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`Rainbow!

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.

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The beautiful Special Pioneer couple, Jonathan y Nancy.

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Left to right: Kellen, her mom Rosa and sabrina

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All the girls! Sitting outside the lobby at Bethel.

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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.

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El Salon Del Reino de Cienfuegos

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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)

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

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

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Emi, Sarah and Nikki in afternoon service.

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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!

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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.

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

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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

I feel…I think I may be homesick…or maybe its just a parasite….

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31 DAYS!!!  Today is the first day of the count down.  I have been so busy lately that I haven’t been paying attention to the date.  I have started working  for a second English teaching company, this one out of Moscow.  There is a lot more work involved with this company, but it is better pay.  Also, Teresa had corrective eye surgery done and so I took some of her studies for a couple weeks.  That is an incredibly easy sentence to type, but I can’t even convey how much work it involved.  When you do not have a car it is difficult to get to studies, and they are never close to each other.  Even with the conchos, there is a lot of walking involved.  And not to brag or anything, but it is still incredibly hot here.  Not as bad as the summer,but we went to the beach the other day and it was LOVELY! So taking these studies has been a nice taste of what my new focus will be starting May, once I move to the ASL.  I am looking forward to starting my own studies!

Now that Teresa is back and on here way to recovery she has taken back her studies and I’ve had time to take a breath.  So it would seem logical that this is the perfect time for my laptop to die.  Dead, as in super dead, as in ‘No soup for you!’ dead.  I mean, it really isn’t surprising, since I use it everyday for hours on end, either studying, teaching, blogging, etc.  But I was still completely shocked when it decided to pack up.  What had happened was I had just finished working all day teaching my classes and decided to look up a recipe for dinner.  I went into the kitchen and I heard it go ”etetetehh, sszzzweerrrrmmp!”…..I tried to turn it on…nada.  I probably sat and stared at it for a good hour before it really sunk in.  My whole life, just gone.  I had classes starting the next morning at 7 and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what a dead laptop meant for me.  So I finally snapped out of it enough to do what I always do in times of crisis: GO TO THE BELLS!!!  They helped me stay calm and made sure that I was able to make my classes, and then Gladys (probably the most awesome sister in the whole world) let me borrow her laptop.  I went today to have it checked out, and I was told, “No sirve” because it was just old….I think it may have been a little too technical for me….But I was able to get an enclosure for the hard drive, so at least I still have all my files.

On a lighter note, I gave my first talk last night!!! Whooo, I was soooo nervous.  but it went smooth, thank you Jehovah!  I had written the talk in English, then my house holder, Yasmeli, translated it for me.  Everyone was well impressed! It was a pretty exciting night because it was also announced that the congregation would be moving to the Villa Olympica Kingdom Hall because we were just too big for the current one.  It is very crowded, sometimes the chairs are so close together its difficult to stand for the song!  The first meeting at the new hall will be March 7th, so I will be able to go before my trip home.  They are also hoping to start a group in the Campo.  So some will be moving out to support that.  It is just constantly moving forward here!  If you have had a chance to read some of Aaron’s blog you can see the progress in the English, which is just awe inspiring.

Lately I have been making a special effort to improve the focus of my prayers, ever since the last assembly.  I have decided to make a list of the specific things that I am concerned about, what I think I need, and certain qualities I would like to improve upon.  In less than a month I have been able to check off:

-A second job (and it pays more!)

-Equipment for teaching in ASL

-More studies in the ministry

-Cutting out unnecessary stress

Everything that I am putting into prayer is being met with an answer.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this, its just wow!  Jehovah is awesome!  Also, when I receive an answer, even if it is not the one I was hoping for, it is so much easier to accept because I know that I have been praying about it and this is what Jehovah has provided.  Even with the dead laptop I feel I am being blessed.  How many people would lend their laptop to you in an instant for as long as you needed?  If I didn’t have Jehovah’s organization I would be so lost!

Well, with all of this action over here I almost forgot that I will be in California IN 31 DAYS!!!!  I have started a list of things I need to bring back with me, now added to that list is a Laptop.  Along with multi-vitamins, GSE, curtains, Hairspray, body wash, shoes (I’ve had to throw away 3 pairs already!) and a hot shower.  Oh, I guess I can’t bring the last one back with me….

I have been living in this country for almost 10 months, and I can’t say that I have felt homesick.  There have been times that I get overwhelmed with the language barrier, and I wish I could just walk into a store and communicate exactly what I want instead of causing a big scene because the American accidentally ordered a pig head instead of a ham and cheese sandwich.  And sometimes I wish the phrase “let’s go on some studies” would mean, “let’s hop in an air conditioned car and drive to a study” instead of “let’s walk for 20 years and then hop in a smelly, dirty, hot concho with 12 other people and then try to crawl out gracefully in a skirt.”  But these times are few and far between, and I can honestly say that all of it is worth it.  I am thankful to all those here who have made it possible for me to have such wonderful experiences.   It is heartwarming to watch the truth of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29, 30 come to life for me.  Even though I am thousands of miles away from my family it is as if I stepped right into another one here.  It truly is a blessing to be part of this international brotherhood.

So thank you Jehovah!  He is seriously working overtime for me it seems, I am overwhelmed with all of the blessings!  Like one brother said, if you stay at Jehovah’s table, you can’t run from a blessing!

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Out in the Campo on a Study

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Teresa and Yoanna

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The DVD player given to me by an amazing couple! I am soooo grateful!

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Can you believe we are swimming in the ocean in JANUARY!!!!

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Me, Nikaury and Yasmeli at meeting

Thank you for your emails! I love hearing from the friends and I always reply, so keep them up!  I am looking forward to seeing everyone back home!  31 DAYS TO GO!!

And So it Goes…

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It has been a while since my last post and so much has been happening, I don’t know where to start!  Let me first say that IT’S COLD HERE!!!  I can’t believe how cold it gets at night and early in the morning here.  Of course, its winter, but it’s the Caribbean!  Marty brought me back an awesome, fluffy blanket from the states which I love soooooo much! THANK YOU MARTY!!!

The semester at New York Center has been coming to an end, so I was able to attend the graduation for some of my students.  That was an event, let me tell you! So, it was last Friday.  Aaron, Graham and I all went out in service with Teresa and had an awesome time.  It was my last day with Pocket as well (happy/sad).  So the plan was that Aaron and Graham were going back to their place with pocket and I would get ready and meet them there so we could take a taxi together to the graduation which started at 6pm.  Good plan.

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I go home intending to study my Watchtower.  Apparently the moment I sat on my bed I died!  All I remember was waking up at 6:00pm to the loudest rain of the season and no electricity!  I was totally freaking out by then because this graduation is mandatory for teachers, as well as being this massively formal to-do and I look like a train wreck that just woke up!  So I call Aaron, and sure enough, they had been waiting for me.  So I tell them to go without me, I’ll come late with Bella and Isabel.  Turns out that the Bells don’t want to go out in the flood (understandable) and Aaron and Graham can’t seem to figure out how to get themselves to the place.  By this point I’m all done up to the 9’s (YEah!!) and there was no way I was going through all that effort for nothing.  So I call a cab and venture out into the storm, an hour and a half late.

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When I arrived they had not even began reading the names, it was all performances and introductions and speeches.  Apparently is 3 hour event.  It was nice to see my students who had worked so hard get to be recognized for their work.  They were all happy to seem me as well as taken aback since I actually looked nice, not the usual frump-rushed, half dead, sack of potatoes they are used to seeing teach them English!

After the ceremony and the 20 years of taking pictures, we made our way to the Teacher’s After Party! Whoop!  It was at a nice restaurant, open bar, dancing and dancing, and more dancing!  Seriously, they started dancing as soon as we got there around 9:30 pm and were still dancing when I left around 2 am!  2 AM!!??? Yes, that was because, apparently, here in the Dominican Republic, you don’t eat food until you have danced for a good 5 HOURS!  Yep, no food was served until well after midnight.  I was very upset, and hungry.

Henry, a brother from my hall was also there, and two other sisters at my table.  We had a good time, laughed at all the teachers dancing, and tried to hear each other over the ridiculously loud music.  And on sister was kind enough to take us all home.  It was good getting to know them better, they really are sweet.  One sister, Ann is from Haiti and has moved here all on her own looking for work.  She speaks English, Creole, French, Spanish and now is learning Portuguese!  These Haitians are language geniuses, serious.

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The next morning, I had promised Kimberly I would go and make Cinnamon Rolls with her.  So rise and shine!  It was fun, they are a sweet family that are very hospitable.  After I had finished there, (eating the rolls was the best part!) I decided to go for a walk.  I was already half way to the Monument, so I decided to go have a look around.  I haven’t been there, believe it or not since I’ve been here!  It was a gorgeous day, not too hot with a delicious breeze.  I was quite happy on top of the world.

Aaron steppin’ up to the plate!

Then, on Sunday Arron, Graham and I went out in service with Teresa again, but this time we went to the orphanage! It was amazing working with the kids and teaching them from the ‘Escuche a Dios” folleto.  The orphanage is run by a evangelical family, but they are very open to the Witnesses helping.  The main reason for our visit is a young blind girl Teresa calls on.  It was very interesting to work in this setting.

I was working with Ysmeli

This kid, Esteban, was so active. So I convinced him to ‘teach Graham Spanish’ and Graham was able to have him work on the Listen to God brochure.

Teresa Being a boss!

Only by Jehovah…

Graham lookin’ a lil overwhelmed!

On the way home we stopped at Bravo! They have a pet shop on the second floor.  That was fun.  I managed to take a picture of the tarantula, but just barely escaped with my life!  I wanted to take a picture with the BIG PARROT, but Bella told me no… 😦 said it could eat my eyeballs out.  After watching it eat a man’s button off his shirt, I agreed.

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And last but not least, Monday was BEACH DAY!!!  Isabel has two young sisters from her home congregation in Madera staying with here for a couple months.  Janet and Alexis, 23 and 21 years old respectively.  They went with Bella, Gladys, Marty and me to the Beach.  It was absolutely beautiful, but in the afternoon it rained a little and got a little chilly.  But I the water was warm enough to swim, IN DECEMBER! So I’m not complaining.

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So hopefully you enjoy the pictures!  And I will try to update more often.  Lot’s of love to all my readers! I love your emails, keep them coming!

Ummm….What’s a Pocket?

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Well I guess the news as of late is a small, fat, snorting ball of fluff named Pocket.  Pocket is a dog, and he is….here.  When Marty and Aaron headed back to the States to take care of their residency visas they left Pocket with Bella.   Well now that Isabel is back with Ringo, you can imagine the chaos the comes with having three house dogs.  Also, Pocket and Ringo are ‘varones’ so there is a lot of urination happening…Yeah.

Well I was asked to take care of Pocket until Marty and Aaron return, and I of course accepted.  Because, even though Pocket is severely old, smelly and constantly shedding…He is kinda cute, with his massive ears and his lil chunky self. But what gets me is just how weird he is!  He is always there under your feet and making strange noises and FARTING!  I know he can’t help himself really, I mean he did have excessive exposure to Aaron..(insert clever laugh)  Well we are getting on quite  well.  I just wish he would stop shedding.  But I think I’ve come up with a solution!

After just one night with Pocket…

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Tada!! NO MORE FLUFF!!

Thank You, Thank You, I’ll Be Here All Night!! *insert awkward bow*

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Last Tuesday Bella informed me that she had a demonstration the next meeting, and guess who was her partner?  That’s right, ME! I was obviously a nervous wreck thinking about it, imagining all of the horrible things that could go wrong…..like attempting to SPEAK SPANISH IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CONGREGATION!!! But with lots of prayer to Jehovah and a humorous look at it I was able to calm down.  I gave the part and, of course, butchered it and the congregation loved it.  Every time I speak Spanish they get all happy, like its their child’s first words.  So with the demo it was a frenzy of “Esa! Buen trabajo,” and “Ahh! Estas aprendiendo mucho eh?”  Hugs all around.

But the best part about this whole experience is that I have come to really understand and appreciate something: I DON”T SPEAK SPANISH!  So why am I always nervous about speaking and sounding like a gringo?  I am going to mess it up and its going to be hilarious and people are going to laugh, so I need to be one of them.  Now, I just go for it.  If my prepared comment is taken or if I’m not called on, I am just going to read something straight out of the paragraph…and badly.  I feel so liberated!

No me interesa porque ustedes no creen en Jesus Christo!

Yesterday was quite a day!  I headed over to Teresa’s in the morning to have a baking day.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  When Teresa bakes apparently she bakes for the next two months.  She stores it all because when she has people over she likes to be able to offer them something.  So by the time I arrived she was well on her way to baking every recipe in the book!  I was able to make a healthy granola and some cinnamon rolls for the little gathering we were going to have after the meeting for the new pioneers.

some of the goodies we be makin!

By the time I arrive home its around 4pm and I AM EXHAUSTED!  I take a short nap and get ready for the meeting.  Right when I was grabbing my bag to head out, I hear it: CRACK! Rumble….. and then the downpour began..When it rains here, well let’s just say you’ve never seen anything like it.  And with my stairs, they are right under the house ledge where all the water runs off.  So its like trying to walk under a waterfall..in meeting clothes with hair and make up all done.  Talk about frustrated.  I called Bella and she said she was waiting until it let up a little to leave.  So we waited, but it never let up.  Finally she calls and says she’s just going to make a run for it.  I gather my stuff and hold it tight and run as fast as you can down a flight of metal stairs in the pouring rain.  By the time I get out to the road and open my umbrella I am ABSOLUTELY SOAKED head to toe.

There were a surprising amount of people at the meeting, since most don’t have a car and have to walk.  But instead of drying out at the hall, I continued to get wet because the wind was blowing in rain and mist in through the windows and doors.  My Watchtower was soaked!  But with the final pray the rain stopped, so we were able to still have our little gathering.  It was really nice to encourage La Zurza’s four new pioneers and do something nice for them.

My Cinnamon Rolls were a hit! whoop!!

Left to right: Loreen, Me, Lindaura, Sorida, Maciel and Mari

Well that’s all I got for now, more to come soon!  Also, thank you everyone for the reviews on Expat Blogs.  However the the leading site right now has 16 and we need to beat them!! So please, if you like reading this blog and hearing all my misadventures, send some love and review! Thank you guys!

The Case of The Missing Photos…x

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I just got some photos sent to me that were from the congregation’s beach trip back in July.  So here ya are!

On the gua gua!

The Group

Me, Lindaura and Naomi

Also, here are some photos from today, just a bunch of insanity happening really…I blame the weather..

Oh Avocado Tree…few things are more beautiful than thee…

Dominican Recycle Truck

Yazmely and me at Square One