In an attempt to stay connected to life in the D.R. I have been checking in with my friends there whenever I have a little extra cash, listening to Spanish music all the time and trying to stay up to date on D.R. news. Something that surprised me in one of the past news updates is that Dominicans pay taxes that go towards electricity. The paper reported that Dominicans are paying for electricity, which is calculated in the 16% ITBIS tax. "When people say they do not pay for electricity, it is only that they think they are not paying for it," as reported in Hoy. "But they pay for the service when they buy beer, milk or rice. A third of the tax that they pay everyday covers the electricity that they steal."
So I guess I’ll no longer say that Dominicans living in barrios are “stealing” electricity. Actually, in the barrio where they seemingly pay a very minimal amount for electricity, they probably pay a lot in the taxes being that they consume a huge amount of rice, beer and milk.
DR1 Daily News -- Wednesday, 27 October 2010
57,000 more illegal Haitians
Statistics released by the Department of Migration show that after the 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, some 57,119 Haitians who crossed the border to the DR on market days have stayed on in the country illegally. A spokesman for the department told Diario Libre that the figure probably does not even account for 50% of those who have entered illegally. The Migration Department says that 83 inspectors have been dismissed in the past 14 months for complicity with people smuggling, serious faults on the job, allowing the departure of people with legal exit restrictions, administrative corruption, forgery of documents or links to drug trafficking networks.
Every once in a while I’ll see something on the floor or the wall which slightly resembles a lizard or a gecko. It’s strange, but each time I’ve taken a closer look I feel disappointed to find out that it was merely a fuzz ball or a smear. So basically what I want to say is that I miss everything about the D.R. I miss the people, the warm weather, the noise and even the lizards.
I’m officially a student again! I didn’t really know what to expect but I am realizing that I expected it to be a little easier than it is. Being able to read all the information, come up with a view, and write about it is something that seems to come naturally for me concerning the bible and religious things, but incredibly hard on other subjects. I laughed the other day when I read Johann Herbart’s definition of “interest”: a person’s ability to focus on and retain an idea in consciousness. According to that definition I must not not interested in many things, because I’m having the hardest time focusing on and retaining anything right now. Thankfully though, I’m told that it get’s easier as time goes on. Eventually I should get used to all the reading and writing. But for now I am really missing the freedom I experienced in the D.R. of only studying things that applied to the present situation I was in. I’m also really missing my little neighbor friends.
It might surprise you, but lots of people returning from the mission field have trouble adjusting to their home culture. Feelings of loneliness, depression, and disorientation are all common. Thankfully I have a number of good resources, like a book called Re-Entry by Peter Jordan, and people I can talk to if things get difficult.
One thing I have noticed is that I feel sad whenever I have to drive somewhere by myself. Though the picture above is not very common, it was common for me to travel around on the back of a motorcycle taxi while in the D.R.. Every time I went to town I had the driver to talk to. Or even if I walked to town I would never make it all the way there without being stopped by one or two friends who were also walking somewhere. So yes, getting around in the states is a bit lonely for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to find someone to carpool with soon!
I went to visit my dad in the recovery area after his successful back surgery when I suddenly felt a bit dizzy. I tried to stay focused as the nurse gave me care instructions but when everything went fuzzy and black I interrupted her and found a place to sit down. After a few minutes I felt fine again yet I was a little disturbed as to why I got dizzy.
The nurse laughed at me when I told her I might have an allergic reaction to hospitals, and yes I know it sounds a bit bazaar. Yet the only times I can remember getting dizzy or sick like that during the past three years have been when I was with someone else in a hospital. Once I was with a team leader who had kidney stones, as the nurses were caring for her I suddenly felt sick and quickly occupied the other bed in the room. Another time, a few months ago, I was caring from my friend at the hospital, but about midnight I got sick and spent the night emptying out my stomach as well as trying to be a help to her. And then once again yesterday, while getting instructions on how to help my dad. Is there any connection here? Could I be allergic to hospitals???
I’m back in the U.S.A. now, slowly getting rested up and attempting to transition into the American culture. Here’s a few of the the things that have stuck out to me so far……
So many paper towels: Lots of my friends who have returned from overseas get overwhelmed in grocery stores, by the vast variety, especially on the cereal isle. I’ve never really had this problem. However, during my first trip to the closest Fred Meyers I was a little shocked that half of a very long isle was full of paper towels options. Why would anyone need so many different paper towel choices!?!
Seat belts!?!: My dad was speeding in a construction zone so it made since to me why the police officer pulled him over and asked for his license, but why did she ask for mine? She informed that I didn’t have my seatbelt on right and could give me a $200+ ticket. I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t realize there was a wrong way to wear a seatbelt. I thought as long as it was buckled in it was the right way. Well now I know, a new law was passed a few years ago and it’s highly against the law to put the seatbelt under you arm!
Bathrooms and faucet water: A little thing that makes me happy every time I leave the D.R. are the bathrooms. Even the bathrooms on airplanes are great; warm water to wash your hands with, clean water to brush you teeth with, and decent tubing which allows you to flush t.p.!
Noise Please: The peace and quiet is almost annoying. I’ve been at my dad’s house for a few days now and haven’t seen any of his neighbors, their pets, or moving vehicles. It’s almost hard to sleep without dogs barking, music playing, or motorcycles buzzing by!
Good Eats: One thing that I definitely love about the states are all the great food options. I’ve already had Korean barbeque, fish and chips, an espresso milkshake, and some tasty salads. I look forward to Thai food, Indian, Moroccan, and so much more!
Even though I’d already said goodbyes to all my friends in the Travesia a few weeks ago I couldn’t pass up getting a ride up there to say goodbyes one more time. Bau had to check on a work project up there, so nine of us headed up in the giant red ministry truck for a quick day trip. I visited as many people as I could, drank lots of coffee, ate lots of bananas, took some pictures, and enjoyed a great rice and beans lunch. It was a beautiful day up there (cloudy but no rain)…. so glad I got to go up there one more time.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping, crying at any mention of my departure, and feel very overwhelmed with the idea of packing up my messy house. I’ve become very comfortable here. Despite the the loud barrio noises and all the other negative things I’ve complained about in the past, this is my home now. And I love it here. This is my comfort zone. The USA is no longer familiar and comfortable to me. Why then am I leaving? It’s hard to explain, but just like when I first moved down here, I feel like I’m doing what God wants me to do. I’m not excited at all right now about leaving, but somewhere deep inside, underneath all the sadness I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for my future. I will miss all my Dominican friends and family tremendously though. Here’s just a few of the people I’ll miss……
While Bau was working hard with the team from NY I got to join the TEARS school teachers on an overnight camping trip to northeast corner of the island. We hiked to beautiful waterfall –El Salto de Limon, camped on the beach, and spent the day at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world- Playa Rincon. Our guides made the long hours on the road fun by teaching us what makes the provinces we were passing through unique, teaching us fun games and songs the teachers can do with their students, and by stopping to buy specialty foods in each city – breads, cheeses, and sweets. So much fun!
The other day I found out that the liquid within a young coconut is one of the richest sources of electrolytes known to man. That the water, or milk, as some call it, is nearly identical to blood plasma. And that when you drink fresh coconut water, it’s as if you’ve given yourself an instant blood transfusion.
So, after being in a country full of young coconuts for nearly ten years, I thought it might be good to buy one and try this miracle drink for the first time. I found a guy in the barrio who could get me any amount of coconuts I wanted, so I had him bring me ten. It literally took me an hour to get the liquid out of the first one. For most of the following nine coconuts I was fortunate to find people who know how to use a machete who helped me get the miracle liquid. It is so much work, yet I must say it’s well worth it! I’m giving credit to the young coconuts for my good health these past few weeks. And now I’ve learned that the coconut salesman can peel them a little bit so they’re easier for me to open.
If you haven’t tried a young coconut before I highly recommend it!
The new Governor of La Vega will be taking office on August 16th, so as expected here, the present Governor has pretty much stopped doing his old responsibilities. For example, the garbage men only pick up garbage if they are given funds to do so, and supposedly he hasn’t been giving them the money. We went well over a month in the barrio without getting our garbage picked up. It was so bad that it was not uncommon to see up to thirty rice sacks full of garbage stacked up in front of a vacant house. Others even made a small business of carrying people’s garbage off to the nearest garbage bin in the city.
I’m looking forward to seeing if things get better when the new Governor takes office.
According to a recent article in DR1 31.4% of the Dominican population "lives together", 18.5% of the population is married (by law or by the Catholic church), 1.5% is divorced, 5.2% is widowed,12% are separated, and 31.4% are single. The statistics show that 2,155,144 people are living as couples without being married and that the percentage of married couples has declined since 2005 (20.9% were married and 30.6% were living together).
“Living together” here is a little different than in the states, in that most everyone refers to the couple as husband and wife not just boyfriend and girlfriend or partners. Also, typically a couple only moves in together once they are planning to stay together forever, they’re not just trying things out to see if one day they’ll “get married for real”. This raises a lot of questions for Christians here in the barrio though. Being in a poor area where roughly only 20% of all couples have been married by the law, it’s sometimes hard to know what’s right and wrong. Some think all Christians must get married by the law or else they have fallen into sin, while others feel certain that they should be devoted to one person their entire life and don’t understand the big fuss about getting married by the law. What do you think the most biblical thing is to do?
"El Dominicano no compra candado hasta que le roban".
”A Dominican doesn’t buy a lock until after they’ve been robbed”.
This very common Dominican expression is a good description of me and my neighbors. It wasn’t until our water pump was stolen last Friday night that we decided we should buy a lock and put it in a more secure spot. Fortunately, three days after our loss, we purchased a new water pump for a good price and our friend The Welder made an almost thief proof place to store it!
It was heartbreaking listening to Idekel yesterday share about how he stood up to his mom’s boyfriend and kicked him out of their house. The boyfriend had been defiantly unfaithful to Idekel’s mom, was no longer helping pay for all the food, and was fighting with everyone in the house. His mom had only stayed with him so long because she couldn’t provide for her family on her own, but Idekel let her know he would support her and his three siblings. The very next day he started working full time.
It’s so hard watching a fifteen year old take on these types of responsibilities and part of me wants to rescue him from this situation. Yet thanks to good books like When Helping Hurts by Corbett & Fikkert I’m reminded that my good intentions of giving out handouts or trying to take Idekel out of the situation could actually do more harm than good. So what should I do? I’m not exactly sure, I haven’t finished the book yet (hahaha), but I do know that being in a relationship with the whole family is very important. I’m praying for wisdom as to how I can best help the entire family long term, that God will give Idekel strength through this tough time and use it to make him stronger in the Lord, and that God would become more real to each family member as they learn to depend on Him more.
I’d never heard of people only eating raw foods until I met a couple who own a “raw” restaurant in Baja California a few months ago . Intrigued by the idea of “eating raw” I bought a book about it and found out that the raw diet is made up of lots of seeds, nuts, and dehydrated foods as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Since then I borrowed a dehydrator from a friend and started experimenting. I’ve found it to be a bit challenging here in the D.R. being that some recipes require 36 hours of dehydrating and I’m only likely to get 8 to 13 hours of electricity a day. And a lot of the recipes call for special health food ingredients that don’t exist here. However, it’s fun to experiment!
So here’s what I’ve been eating these past few days.
My first meal after a seven day fresh juice feast: “raw” banana bread, fruit salad, and carrot juice. (Raw Banana Bread: 1 cup ground flax seeds, 1 cup ground sunflower seeds, 3 bananas, and a little honey; mixed in the food processor and then kept in the dehydrator for roughly 18 hours).
My second raw meal: a tomato cheese sandwich on onion bread and a green salad. (Raw Onion Bread: 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds, 1/2 cup raw ground sunflower seeds, 1/8 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos, 1/8 cup olive oil, and three small onions sliced thinly; all ingredients mixed in a bowl and put in the dehydrator for 36 hours). (Sunflower Seed Cheese: 1 cup raw sunflower seeds soaked for 6-8 hours, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 clove garlic, and a few tbsp’s water; blended together until creamy).
My third raw meal: vegetables with hummus and mini veggie & cheese sandwiches on onion bread.
(Raw Hummus: 1 cup sunflower seeds soaked for 1 hour, 2 cups zucchini peeled and chopped, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 2 teaspoons salt; mixed in the blender until creamy).
Yes it’s actually possible to make raw chips to go with your fresh salsa, and it’s really easy too. (Raw Corn Tortilla Chips: I put 3 cups frozen corn, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 medium sized onion, 2 tbsp lime juice, 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cayenne powder, and 2 tsp salt in a food processor and mixed it until smooth…. then added 1 cup ground golden flaxseed and 1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds, mixed until smooth, spread the mixture out as thin as possible and then put it into the dehydrator for roughly 12 hours.
(Raw Carrot Cake: 1/2 cup raisins, 3/4 cup shredded carrot, 3 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1/4 cup homemade dried coconut, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tbsp honey, 1/4 tbsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ginger, and 1/4 cup chopped sunflower seeds blended until all ingredients are well combined and then put in the dehydrator for about 4 hours). (Raw Sunflower Seed Frosting:1 cup raw soaked sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp water, and a pinch of salt; blended until smooth and creamy).
(Raw corn tortillas -for soft tacos and wraps: 2 cups golden flax seeds soaked for 4 hrs, 1/2 cup ground flax seed, 1 cup corn, 1/4 ripe avocado, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds soaked for 1 hr, 1/8 cup chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp sea salt, and 1 tbsp lime juice all blended in the food processor, spread into thin circles and dehydrated for roughly 4 hours).
My favorite raw foods treat, chocolate coconut balls. (Raw chocolate coconut balls: 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 cup cashews, 1 cup pitted dates, 1/4 cup cocoa or carob powder blended well in the food processor, shaped into balls and rolled in dried coconut).
So in conclusion of my raw foods experiment, I think everyone who likes to cook and wants to be healthier should try it for a week or two. I personally feel a bit healthier and have been surprised by how good raw food tastes!
Yesterday people all over the country were going to schools and public buildings from 6am to 6pm to vote.
The two main parties here are the Purple party or PLD (Dominican Liberation Party)
and the white party or PRL (Dominican Revolutionary Party). Most people are very dedicated to one or the other political party, not because they share the same beliefs or think their candidate is the better man for the job. But because they’re more likely to get a government job or financial help if their political party is in power.
Today, the day after the elections, there’s a lot of noise in the streets as people celebrate whenever their political party is announced to be in the lead.
However, all the celebrating is a bit premature as the votes from each community are still being counted. Hopefully by the end of the day we’ll find out who actually won.
The final results:
About four days after the elections some officials finally announced that the Governor for the purple party (the one responsible for paving roads in the barrio) had won by more than 1000 votes. I think they new the final results sooner, but due to fear that riots and fights would break out they decided to wait. The purple party won in almost every province in the country (governor, mayor, etc.) and now holds 31 of the 32 senate seats.