View all HANDS Teams
Friday, January 13, 2012

Home again...and everything else before that. 0 comments

Our Team:

Buenas dias!

First off, huge apologies for not posting anytime earlier this week. The internet at the mission center decided to take a leave of absence, and thus so has this blog. But now all of us have made it home safe and sound and are back to reality, with hundreds of memories to keep us company.So here's what has all happened since we last talked!

Monday and Tuesday found us back at the jobsite finishing up the work there. The load of blocks we recieved on Friday was gone by about noon on Monday, so while Bert and Gil put the finishing touches on the completed brickwork, the rest of us finished cleaning up the courtyard and the school. The classrooms were all reorganized and wiped down, dirt piles were flattened, and the concrete materials were moved to the far side of the schoolyard. (This included many many MANY wheelbarrow loads of sand and gravel...it was quite an accomplishment to move the entire pile of sand!!) This continued until noon on Tuesday, when we officially completed all the work we needed to do here!

We had a few other fun things that happened this week...first off being dinner at Mery's on Monday night. She is the principle of La Esperanza and we got to know her quite well. We had a fun night singing, playing games, and laughing (a lot!) with Mery and some of the other staff of COCREF. Definitely a big highlight for a lot of us and an awesome opportunity to get to know the Domincans better!

A lot of our spare time this week was filled with visiting other schools in the area. Tuesday afternoon we visited two schools a bit to the north of Santo Domingo...both in bates, small towns that were associated with sugarcane plantations and have an incredibly high poverty rate. We toured the schools in Moharra and Fao, and finally got to see some kids in the classroom.(Something we have been looking forward to this whole trip!) Wednesday was similar, starting with a visit to the San Pablo and Nuevo Creation de Fe schools. Each school gave us a brief tour, as well as a list of projects that they would love to be completed. It seems that the need for new classrooms and renovations is ongoing everywhere in the DR. We made it back to La Esperanza to catch the end of morning classes, where we gave a short presentation of songs, a skit, and a short speech by Bill. It was fun to see the school we had worked on full of children! We visited one more school after lunch, and then headed back to the mission center.

Wednesday night we were treated by COCREF to a pizza dinner downtown by the waterfront! It was a beautiful evening and we were able to catch the sunset over the water as we walked along the front. It was also good to have some delicious pizza (probably our only meal besides breakfasts that didn't include rice!) and we topped it off with delicious ice cream cones! And in honour of it being our last night here, we ended the evening with multiple euchre games and stargazing up on the roof.

Finally, it was Thursday, our departure day. We didn't have to leave the mission center till after lunch, so we packed and relaxed for the morning, enjoying the last bit of Dominican sun that we could! Our flights back were uneventful, and we even had time to eat at a restaurant during our stopover in Atlanta. We landed in Buffalo by 11pm, and from there we headed home. Only Jon and Lauren had another long bus ride ahead to Ottawa, but they said it would be worth it! I think that, for all of us, this trip was worth it in every way, with huge experiences that have impacted all our hearts, our actions, and our faith. We were sad to leave, but everyone was also looking forward to hot showers and their own bed!

That's about all that really needs to be said...there are hundreds of more stories that could be told, but there isn't room for them all and this blog is too long already! We will always remember the people of the Dominican Republic and of La Esperanza, probably more for what they gave us than what we did for them. God has blessed us so richly, and we pray that the work in the DR will continue, and the children of the schools and their families will continue to grow in God's love and grace.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. Please keep them ongoing...for all the people constantly at work with COCREF in the DR, for the teams that continue to go down and provide funds for the work, and for the people here in Canada who work to make this all possible, and most of all, that God's work will continue to be done everywhere in his kingdom.

Glori a Dios.

--the team

view full article…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Weekend 1 comment

Yesterday we got to sleep in, til 8 o clock!! We headed to Santo Domingo for a bit of shopping in a touristy market - where salespeople follow you around hoping to sell something. We all found a few things to take home as souvenirs and tried our hand at bartering.

We then headed to the beach, which was nice for about half an hour before the rain came and drenched us! But the water was beautiful and the jellyfish plentiful (not poisonous...just small and ...jello-ish...). We wandered along the shore for a bit too, and saw all the restaurants and shops backing onto the beach. We also discovered how persistant all the salepeople are along the beach, offering towels, massages, pedicures, jewelery, and much much more! But after the rains came, the drains carried a lot of very dirty water into the ocean, which was a tad gross. So we left, and had a relaxing evening at the mission center.

Today we experienced our first Dominican church service, which was very interesting and enthusiastic, to say the least. But we enjoyed it, although it would have been much nicer if we had understood the language! ...incentive to learn Spanish for next time, I guess! We had a nice, sunny afternoon playing soccer and reading, and that about brings us up to tonight!

No other news of great importance, so until next time!!

--the team

view full article…

Friday, January 6, 2012

Earthquakes, Work, and Other Adventures 1 comment

Hola!

Wednesday morning shook us out of bed...literally. At quarter to six in the morning, an earthquake woke us all up and we jumped out of bed and outside. Apparently there was no need to be worried, however, earthquakes are pretty common around here! But it was an adventure and a unique way to start our second day of work.

We have been making a lot of progress with the school. We laid a lot of brick yesterday...more than they expected us to. They even had to order a second load of bricks for us because we ran out! And we'll need more on Monday! So the building is going well. Today we also worked on the grounds, cleaning up the school yard, getting rid of used lumber/steel etc, and getting it ready for when the kids come back to school on Tuesday!

Yesterday we also had the privilege/experience of taking a short walk around the community near the school. It was definitely eye-opening to see the lives of the people here, and also of many of the students attending the school. We were continuously followed by kids calling us 'Americanos'...even though we tell them we are Canadians!!! The kids also love coming to the gates of the school to talk to us when we're working--they are very very friendly!

Last night we also visited the Dominican version of Walmart, called Carrefour. Seemed pretty normal....almost felt like we were back in Canada.

That's about all that's happened of note in the last two days...tomorrow we're headed to the market and the beach, with a church service at night. Should be busy, so we'll tell you all about it later!

Buenas noches!

--the team

view full article…

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Impressions 0 comments

Hello all!!

Sorry for the delay in blogging...technical difficulties and all that. But we are up and running...and working. So here's what's been happening!

Day One: Sunday/Monday...they kind of morphed together. It was a whole lot of travelling! More for Jon and Lauren, since they had to take a bus from Ottawa, but we all managed to make it to Buffalo by 3am. We arrived around 3:30 DR time (an hour ahead of Ontario time) into some glorious heat and humidity. Which, by the way, has stayed over 25 degrees during the day, and drops to a comfortable 20 at night. We hear it's frigid in Ontario.

Also, Gil wants everyone to know that the food is fantastic! We all agree...they have fed us incredibly well and the cooks are wonderful...for their food, graciousness, and hospitality. Everyone here has been incredibly welcoming, and we're learning to communicate with them despite our lack of Spanish.

And...the work. Let's say it has been an experience for some of us! There are many muscles in our bodies that we weren't aware of until yesterday. We have gotten a lot accomplished, however, and everyone is enjoying the work. They started us off backfilling trenches and mixing cement, and then we moved onto laying bricks and mortar. We've also enjoyed meeting our fellow workers as well as some of the teachers at the school.

Perhaps the most interesting part of our day is the drive to and from the job site. Daniel, our driver, gets us there and back safely, despite the insane traffic and driving that goes on around here! We get a fantastic glimpse of Dominicana culture through the windows of our yellow van, from the houses, to the cars they drive (and the amount of people they fit into them), to the roadside meat stands and the millions of fascinating things inbetween!

That about sums it up for now...we'll be back soon with more exciting stories to tell!

Hope all is well, wherever you are! Until next time...

Dios le bendiga! (God bless)

-- the team

view full article…