Purpose v
This is Dominican Trip Journal to describe my (Tom Dierkes) reactions to events during our Missions Trip from Nashville to Santa Domingo, San Francisco De Macoris, Santiago, and their Chistian Camp. I have 3 purposes for putting this in electronic form.
  1. To answer the questions from people who want to know, what happened. I can’t be more accurate than this.
  2. To help those who are undecided about taking a Missionary trip.
  3. To share the needs with those who cannot take a Missionary trip.
This is not a research paper and there will be inaccuracies in this. I am from Tennessee and these are my reactions to events and a different culture.

Would I do anything different the next time? Yes. I would take a flashlight, get my tan started before I ever left the states, take my ball glove, and take my acidophilus pills regularly.

July 7, 1997 Monday v
Got up at 3:40 (hit the alarm once) and got ready to go. For some reason (perhaps because I had reconciled to a 10 day diet) I checked out the kitchen, as if I ever bothered with breakfast, and found it eerily empty. There were a few breads, milk, which won’t keep and not much else.

I made a vain attempt to raid the whip cream. If I could have removed the lid without breaking the seal, I would have. I almost succeeded.

Well, wasn’t hungry anyway. Might as well get use to this. Going to lose 30 pounds on this trip. Just know it.

4:40 AM v
Still amazed that 30 people are needed for 10 days. I’m a systems person. I tend to think that if you work on the system and identify essentials, people can be eliminated. We’ll see.

5:40 AM v
We are at the air port now waiting for our flight. My wife, Beth, said I was funny. She wasn’t smiling, though.

5:41 AM v
Kassie pretends to be reading the paper. Tossing down in disgust when she finds no funnies.

6:05 AM v
By now my voluntary diet is still intact. Kids and Beth have all raided their carry on snacks as we wait for our 7 o’clock flight.

Not that this is a real sacrifice. Peanut Butter Ritz and the other choices are right up there with chicken casserole with my favorites. Yep. I’ll just let this one pass. Eventually, I’ll find a poor native to give my stash to.

11:00 AM v
As soon we were on the plane, the kids needed more snacks. Figures.

The in flight meal was a muffin and a rotten banana. Kids must have known that.

When we attempted to board our flight in to Santa Domingo in Miami, everyone crowded around the boarding area. And this was before the flight arrived!

Once we started being boarded I became apprehensive. They called for those with children first and there was such a crowd they couldn’t get to the gate. When our rows were called, we had the same problem. People who were not read to board pushed to the front of the line.


Was there something going on here I didn’t know about? Was this first come, first serve? Did everyone know something I didn’t know? What would happen if we missed our flight?

There was a lot a Spanish (I think) being tossed around, by passengers and by the American Airlines crew. Or what would happed if we were separated (only room for 4 or less and we a group of 5)?

When we finally found our way to the plane we found it was a wide body - 9 seats across. What was the hurry?

Meanwhile, Kassie’s attitude has been going south faster than we are. She has been leading the way through the terminal and when we needs to wait for Mom and the tickets and all us slow pokes, she comes unglued.

In the plane she resisted putting on a seat belt and finally put it on at it’s largest setting. Her problem is?

The Plane had headphones, which the kids latched on to immediately. They make me feel so square sometimes.

1:15 PM v
Dominican Republic - Showing Major Cities Surprised when we came over the Dominican Republic that the ground was cut up into square swatches just like in the USA - farmland and fields. I guess I expected all jungle.

Passed over many islands and reefs on the way in. You can see subterranean mountains and reefs because the color of the ocean changes - from dark black/green to ,b>aqua blue. NOW, I see were the color aqua comes from (and all this time I thought it was from swimming pools).

Could usually see all the islands with water and shores. But, after a few minutes in Dominican Republic, we saw no more ocean and still we flew on and on. This island is appreciably larger.

On the way down we hit some turbulence. People shouting all about. It was like a roller coaster. Kids should be having fun.

Getting through customs was fun - NOT.

Place filled with people checking through. Last air conditioning was in Miami.

Got 9 bags from luggage area and it was an hour before the 10th bag showed up. Mine. (So we waited).

During the long wait for the luggage I got a bloody nose. If this is an omen, I better be on my guard.

5:50 PM v
One thing I noticed when we came into Miami were the complexes. There would be 6 buildings, all alike. Then, there would be 2 buildings - same design and color. Then there were 8 buildings, all the same color and design. Some of the buildings were grand and some were not so grand. One set of buildings were cross-shaped. Another set of buildings were hexagon shaped. Yet, another set of buildings were long, skinny things.

Well, there I only one style in Santa Domingo, near where we landed - Shantytown. Slums from one end of town to the other. But, there certainly is a lot of free enterprise. Stop your car for a minute and they’ll attempt to sell you something, including water.

Kassie, Lori Klein, Clint, Scott, & Alberto Rivas in ambulanceOh, and I am not driving. It’s a free for all. Everyone drives fast and there is no respect for space. They switch lanes or take 3 lanes. They don’t care.

They honk and take to the shoulder and basically, there just are not any driving rules that I can discern. Not that are obeyed or that I have noticed, anyway.

We are at Gary Klein’s home. He actually has 2 of them. One he uses for his family and one for both his clinic and for visitors.

All the homes in the neighborhood are the same. Built by Hong Kong people making their exodus some years ago. 3 bedrooms and bath on the 2nd floor, and a couple rooms (kitchen, dining, living) on the 1st floor. Walked out onto the roof. I bet the homes in the Old Testament were similar to this, as far as the walk on roof goes.

All the homes have something else in common. They are bared. Iron fences. Iron gates. Rod iron over the windows and patio doors. The Kleins also have tin covering the patio so no one can climb the iron cage and get in.

I don’t know that I could live this way.

6:12 PM v
The power just came back on. The ceiling fan feels real nice. Alberto says they only get power in this building for about 30 minutes a day. Window air conditioning is in the clinic and they keep it closed to preserve the cool air.

July 8, 1997 Tuesday v
> We did get some work done last night. We sorted all the donated medicines into plastic bags of 20 pills and labeled them. Nothing goes out under the manufacture's label, but all the medicines get their own label, in Spanish.

Scott went to sleep yesterday afternoon, got up shortly for dinner, and then fell back to sleep. Missed 9 AM breakfast.

I was tired and Clint said he wasn’t so, I let him work in my stead while I went to bed. Clint went to bed later and also could no rise before a 9 AM breakfast of Cream of Wheat.

Dinner was fine with barbecue chicken last night. Also, sleep was easy with the big fan blowing over heard. About 7:30 this morning the fan quit as we lost power again.

There is not enough power in the country to go around. Therefore, the Power Company blacks out a grid at a time.

A lot of people toss an electric wire over the power lines and steal the electricity. It’s not a sure thing when you do have power that it’ll be enough (low voltage is common).

Gary Klein has 6 kids and they are all super kids - helpful, respectful, and well mannered. Might it be all the Christian tourists / workers coming through? (I jest, of course.)

July 9, 1997 Wednesday

7 AM
Everyone ready to get into BusWe drove up into the mountains to an out of the way place. Our Christian Camp is nearly in the center of the country and it is fairly close to Cotui.

Once we turned down our dirt road, Alberto had to go onto the top of the Ambulance so we could pick up power lines while we went under them. Remember, not many actually pay for their electricity and that includes the Christian Camp. As Gary said, electricity hasn’t come this far out and so the Dominicans go and get it for themselves. Enterprising, aren’t they?

After unloading here at camp some supplies and 2 passengers, we took on more helpers and went to a nearby village (a string of houses on both sides of the road for about mile). We setup to show the Jesus film for about 40 people. 50 counting ourselves.

5 people wandered off at various stages and 2 elderly ladies showed up just in time for the scouring. They took 2 little children home. I would suggest this was unfortunate timing.

3 people came forward last night. Once was William. (I don’t know Spanish, but I attempted to learn the names. His was easiest, as it was a common English name.)

I’ve been here long enough that I am beginning to see some nice homes. They were all shanties when I came, but now I see there are variations in shanties.

Last night you could see through some shanties. That would be one example of ‘degrees’.

Woke this morning to roosters - and, not just a couple, either. There were roosters crowing all around us.

9:15 PM v
I grit my teeth for a cold shower this morning and it wasn’t that cold (overly cold), but it had some pressure. Blew through the curtains and right onto my clothes and towel.

But, tonight, there is no water.

I went with the ambulance today. We pulled out a frame and opened the side and setup a tent. The tent was approximately 15 x 15 and had a floor as well as screened sides. It attached to the side of the ambulance and, basically, extended the ambulance out the 15 feet.

The tent on the other side of the ambulance was open and stretched about 60’. The open side had a VCR and microphone and seating. While people were waiting to see the nurse Gary Klein, there was evangelizing and entertaining on the other side.

The first thing we had to do was break out all the medicines, which were in plastic bags, so the tables had piles of medicines, grouped by skin, eyes, stomach, antibodies, etc. None of the plastic bags were emptied. Just opened by rolling the opening inside out a couple turns. Many plastic bags were not opened because there were more medicines than space.

When Gary saw someone, he would call out the medicines he needed. Mostly Kassie and Lori would fetch the medicine. Other Americans took turns fetching medicines so as to get a feel for this part of the ministry.

Sometimes the clinic arrives in time to provide life saving measures for someone. But, it isn’t the goal for the Clinic to be the Dominican Republic's health department. They visit all their sites about once every 2 years. The clinic provides relief and assistance, but certainly not dependence.

My job was to watch the door. Only the next person (or family) were outside the door. Alberto would send them from the other side of the ambulance, as needed.

We constantly had to a problem with people looking at the line and attempting to start a new line right at the door.

Sometimes, it worked.

Scott was given a bottle of parasite pills and told to give every person 1 pill. He was given the Spanish phrase and off he went. Many grabbed more than one and some got mad if they couldn’t get more than one. One lady took 9 pills. Remember this and see if you can connect this with something revealed on Monday.

Later, an elderly man was picked up and run around to the Clinic entrance with a lot of commotion. It was all the guy could do to pick the guy up, much less run with him and he stumbled into the gravel with the guy. I immediately thought of the parasite pills. Gary seemed quite unconcerned.

Alberto came running around hollering something. I would have brought him in immediately, but Alberto was bent on establishing order again. Shortly, the old man, despite his cane, was crouched outside the door. Stayed crouched a long time, talking to people. I’m much younger and I could not crouch that long without my legs fussing on me.

At the end of the day we just stopped. And, boy, were the people upset.

Starting around 3, I noticed Gary was starting to get a little cynical. Seems the Dominican’s would come out and tell what symptoms will get what medicines. They’d show off their plastic bag of medicines as if it were a great prize or trophy. From some point, Gary’s patients no longer had ailments he could help with but were playing a game attempting to get the most medication they could from him.

When the clinic was closed, there were some angry Dominicans. Some Dominican's were very angry. In a similar position, I would have been very frustrated myself. What after having sat in line for so long, only to have the line collapsed on ya. Especially if you were next.

One lady wanted new glasses. Gary told her he wasn’t that kind of doctor anyway. Well, she’d take Gary’s glasses and, if they were better than her own, she’d keep them and he could get new ones.

Do you sense a lack of respect for others here?

July 10, 1997 Thursday

6:50 AM
Power went out last night and the roosters and peacocks woke me at 6:15. So I am finishing this in the morning.

While reading my bible I’m hearing a gray haired Dominican man holler and yell and who is obviously upset. I hear Gringo and Americana and USA occasionally. One can conjecture at this time as to what is going on. I wonder if Kassie and Lori’s disappearance through the trees last night had anything to do with this? (Trespassing)

One thing I read during the heated, loud argument (been going on a long time. Dissipates, catch their breath, and off again they go) was Luke 6:27-37. Interesting verses to read this morning. Love your neighbor and if he wants all you have, let him have it.

Been an hour now and the guy has gotten down the road a few times and comes back fuming.


I did eventually hear what the dispute was about. The new fence on our adjoining property is 3 feet closer to the road than the old farmer things it should be.

I noticed, sadly, that the camp has a barb wire gate and a padlock. Also, the buildings being built have locks. Everything has locks. Locks are not the answer. That is treating the symptoms (stealing). The answer is to treat the problem (immorality, lack of respect).
We saw on the way here the US is sponsoring detention areas where cars can be pulled over and searched. Presumably, all of them. This is something that would not be tolerated in the USA. But, our government has no problem strong arming a 3rd world country into doing this very thing. (And we have the nerve to complain about human rights in these countries.) And why?

To search for drugs here is another symptom. The morality issue is America’s problem. We need to first cure our morality problem with our need for drugs and the drug traffic will quit. Even those in the world should understand how Supply and Demand works here. Quit worrying about everybody else (supply) and get our own house in order (demand).

I heard that things are like this because they have so many babies. They just don’t know when to stop. (Single Keokuk person.) Most kids I have seen is a family of 5. I have that many children myself, so naturally, I’m going to disagree with this theory, but I'll not enter the debate here.

I just think the selfishness and the thievery is just sad.

Someone else says it is because they are so poor. I don’t think so. I think it is a morality issue. One can be poor and still be honest and respect their neighbor.

During the Jesus film on Tuesday night I was impressed with something disturbing. The people in the Jesus film were MUCH better off than the people watching the film were.

2,000 years and things look worse. Not every door turns on its hinges. You don’t drive animals down a dirt road without dust and dung. Not all clothes fit nicely and appear to have just been washed.

Even the poor scenes in the Jesus film are too orchestrated. Too neat and clean.

Then, there is also the unevenness of the poor. Same here as in the USA. Buying TV or other necessities when they still don’t have the basics. Well, we all have problems with priorities, sometimes, don’t we? If I had back every dollar I wasted I’d be a rich man.

Scattered about are progressive homes where I think we have someone who knows how to manage their time and resources.

Not that the Dominican’s aren’t a hot bed of enterprise. They’ll sell anything, including your luggage. I am not sure why this hasn't turned into a higher living standard for them. The encyclopedia says it is because of inept leadership. Thought that a strange thing to read in an encyclopedia. It bothers some of my economic theories.

Oh, we disassembled the Ambulance in less than an hour. Saw 217 patience. Lost a lot of good will when we shut down.

1:25 PM v
Just finished my 2nd coke and a big lunch. I’m eating 3x a day. So much for losing weight. Cokes cost 6 pesos, which is about 45 cents.

I haven’t worked up a sweat, yet.

This morning we went on an evangelism trip. We divided up into groups of 3. 1 Spanish speaking evangelist and 2 Americans.

Actually, Gary, David, and Lori Klein were counted as Spanish speaking evangelists.

Each group got 4 - 6 people to come forward or commit.

My problem with this is we don’t seem to be attacking the unchurched, but perhaps Catholics. I’m always bothered or concerned about advancing God’s kingdom by raiding another Church. There is a fine line (to me) with attaching someone’s faith, then rebuilding that faith into our own Christianity. What if we only manage to destroy what faith they have and not rebuild it? Are they better off?

And how much do we really advance God’s kingdom?

Of course, I’ve already been noting the moral decay. So, one could argue about a need for a revival of some sort.

2:00 PM v
Our Evangelistic effort of 48 coming forwarded netted 3 baptisms. How many open fields I don’t know.

Custom down here after a baptism is for the baptized to make a speech. At least, I think so. These guys came out of the water with a speech ready. No surprise that I could not understand a word said.

William, our host for the Clinic and Jesus film, was one of the 3 baptisms and he offered some land for a new church. Currently, meetings are being held at his house. (Wife, Maria, is a wonderful, kind, Christian).

Maria disappeared half way through the Jesus film and fetched a chair for Bill Abbeglan to sit on. She also got me a chair on several occasions the next day during the clinic. I said she was considerate.

8:50 PM v
So much for getting a book read down here while not working. After dark there are electric lights, sometimes. And that light is infrequent and poor. I can hardly read what I am writing in this light.

Lights get dimmer, brighter, done, on. Get the journal; put the journal away. Get it, put it away.

Forget reading trade magazines.

I finally got to work in the afternoon for a while. I am off the ambulance mission and into camp work. I dug a trench in the hard gravel for an electricity conduit and carved out space for the electrical box in the wall. I also helped put an electric outlet box or two. It is a little different carving a hole in concrete, putting in the electric box, and then plastering cement over it.

Then, we played baseball. I did OK. I sure was glad we won and I didn’t have to take my last bat. I was beat. It is harder than work.

And now I have a limp.

I will be sore tomorrow and it’ll have nothing to do with my working too hard.

July 11, 1997 Friday

6 AM
What a terrible din! I’ve always heard that the roosters crow at dawn, but I knew better. Grandparents and my uncle both had chickens and roosters and, although they was more clucking than one supposed, the roosters were mostly quiet.

However, when you have hundreds of hen houses within earshot of each other, it is a different thing. Remember, we are in the mountains (about 600’), and you can get more chickens and homesteads if the landscape is up and down than on the plains. They do crow at the crack of dawn and then re-crow after every rooster in earshot crows.

They have a type of hen around here that make even more noise that the roosters. It is called the Guinea Fowl. It originated in Africa and is a close relative to the peasant. Farmers value them as "watchdogs".

One (a normal one, Scott still perseveres) can not sleep through all this commotion.

And, I was rested and restless, so, perhaps that is why they woke me today at 5:45 instead of 6:15.


Found the camps sanitation. It dumps out at the edge of the property. Sewage, and what they toss.

Although I believe the ecology wachos go overboard way too often (if they truly believed, they’d not have cars and other conveniences) this place could use a strong dose of them. Not to the point of mountains of regulations, but at least some common sense.

The Dominicans understand some of this because most deal with bottled water if they can afford it. But, perhaps they either don’t understand cause and effect or their options are limited. Probably the latter.

No trash service. No electric service (legal). I’m not sure yet where the water is from, but it seems to be tied to the electric (pump).


Found they have both local water and a well. The local water comes and goes, like the electricity. And, it normally has no pressure. They can use the well when they hook up the generator.
Oh, and it is between the Guinea Fowl and the peacock for the most noise from a single bird. The rooster only by 'concert'.

5:30 PM v
Too tired to play softball today. Instead, I took a shower.

As I’ve said, they like to play baseball. They really get into their game, arguing over many calls. You almost wonder if they can still work together after arguing so strongly over "He’s safe!”, “He’s out!".

One of our ladies came back displeased. It seems they would not let her play. She didn’t want to go into the outfield and Kassie had agreed to run for her. All she wanted to do was hit and they wouldn’t let her.

I don’t think she understood that the softball games were NOT for the American’s benefit. This is a Dominican game and the Americans can only play if they can help them win and field a team of 9 players. Otherwise, "no play".

We got the electric wiring done in the main room. We also got the cement done in the shower and a beam the length of the building.

They are only allowing for 60 amps, which they think is plenty, for that new building. It isn’t by a long shot. But, for that matter, nothing else would be enough either.

If it truly is going to have 500 hundred people running through there daily, then we are going to see all sorts of kitchen appliances that use electricity. Electric toasters, roasters, etc. It may be true that other Dominican establishments don’t, but, they aren’t relying upon Americans and entertaining Americans. They should not discount the American influence here.

Somewhere along the line someone will donate a big dishwasher. And, if they do, it won’t be a new, energy efficient one.

Then, there is the stage. There will be spotlights, stage lights, microphones, and amplifiers. None of these things should a Dominican builder know about. But, someone should enlighten them that these things will be in that building in a few years. And, they’ll pull more than 60 amps.

But, here is why it is frustrating to install more power. They plan to also run power from the new building to the basketball court underground. This will be about 200’. If it can initially handle this (probably with no load), they’ll find it convenient to hook a dorm up to the basketball court. Remember that the Dominican’s are experts at tapping into the nearest hot electric line. Voltage and amperage aren’t in their vocabulary. If it works, hey, it works.

The Dominicans are so much more enterprising than we are. They make it work with whatever is at hand.

The beam was interesting.

We already had a concrete block wall 10 feet (well, there was a beam through this at 4’). Wooden forms were nailed to the concrete block wall on both sides and then rebar was bent into a long, rectangular tube.

Some steel posts of about 15' were placed in upright for the roof beams to lay on.

Then, the bucket brigades. I should mention that they mixed the concrete on the ground, never in a wheelbarrow or mixing machine.

Scooping the cement into a bucket and hand it to the guy next to you. This person spins around and hands it off to the next. If you catch the bucket high, then, when you spin around, your arm swings down and then back up again. There is almost no effort to hold or lift the bucket except by the first person in the chain unless the chain breaks. We had a human chain passing buckets from the cement pile to the ladder. Then up the ladder and then dumped into the trough (form).

The bucket was then dropped to the inside, somewhat looser chain, and those on the inside tossed the empty bucket from one to the next until it was back at the cement. That would have been a very expensive feat in the USA.

There was a funeral today for a preacher’s wife so the VBS was rescheduled for Monday. She was in her lower 20s and had been married about a year. She got pregnant in December, discovered she had cancer in February, and then died today. Many of our Dominican helpers went to the funeral.

July 12, 1997 Saturday

6:40 AM
Well, I would estimate that the crack of dawn is about 6:20, +/- 5 minutes. However, 5:45 is the earliest one can read a watch in the dorm.

At, we’ll say, 5:30, I could hear some roosters far away. The din came closer until I could read my watch. Then it was all around me.

Could have slept through the din this morning if I’d really been tired. It’s real quiet today, in comparison. Guinea Fowl were quiet yesterday, but very vocal on Wednesday and Thursday.

I was sitting here doing my Bible Study and moving by crossed foot back and forth. The young goats came up to check my moving foot and butted their heads to it. So, I sat there, pushing one goat one way and the other goat the other direction.

They take their female goats and their cows and tie them up in strategic locations. The young stray, but not far.

I’m not sure I understand why, yet, but, grasses just aren’t dong well here.

It appears to me that little boys run around naked until they are potty trained. No diapers. (Floors are all smooth concrete, so, no problem with clean up.) I never saw any baby girls running around, without, so, I presume they are born potty trained.

We plan to work until lunch today and then go into Santiago to the York’s home.

People here work Mon. - Sat. noon. They traditionally get paid at noon on Saturday. Once paid, they are gone. They also often have a slow Monday and Tuesday. We just a have a slow Monday mornings.

Cactus fence around a Domincan home.Gary pointed this out when I noted a sharp increase in commerce on Wednesday morning.

This camp is going to be a center of mucho Christian activity. They have a VBS for kids in the neighborhood (about 95) this week.

95 kids? Are we in the country or the city? Country. Farms here are pretty small and families live on both sides of the road. It doesn’t look crowded. I’d make a wild guess at several acres per home, going straight back. But, the homes on the road might be 20’ to 60’ from the next home. Sometimes further.

Some farms are quite a bit larger. On these farms there are often a couple homes (Junior, I suspect) clustered together. All farmland and homes are fenced. This includes this camp. They put in a fence of barbed wire and then plant bushy cactus below it. Then, the bushy cactus grow up into the fence and it makes a formidable wall. I should know as I retrieve a couple things carefully from the fence and was scarred on each occasion. Infrequently, they used round cactuses. These cactuses look sharper (appearance), but I’m not certain they are sharper (pointy). Cactus Fence with palm hills in back groundNow, try this one on for size. We bought 1 acres across the road. That is where the boy’s dorm will be.

They will put in a bridge over the road to connect the two properties. Why a bridge?

As an alternative, they would have to put in 2 more locked gates and have 2 more guards to sit by the gates. This lack of trust is rather disturbing. With such an environment they could have an honest government and wouldn’t know it. May have had. How would they know it?

It was observed that dusk came soon down here. By 8:15 it is getting dark, fast. Why was that?

I figured June is the time for longest days in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest days in the Southern Hemisphere. So, along the equator, the longer days should occur 2x a year as the sun moved from the North to the South and South to North.

Got it?

There is another theory that we are on the western edge of the time zone (Atlantic Time) without daylight savings time. But, hey, whose theory you going to believe?

2:30 PM v
We had to work some this morning. I used a shovel for a gravel and stuff for mixing the concrete on the ground. That’s about as close as I get to that portion of the concrete work.

We finish concreting around the plug in boxes and conduits leading from the floor to the boxes. Fun and interesting work.

One of the Dominican boys has been especially ornery and one of the kids just picked him up and dropped him into the baptistery. Well, that started things. They began catching and tossing into the baptistery just about everyone they could lay their hands on.

They got Scott. Scott was too light to offer any resistance, but, he did have the forethought to hook his arm around one guy’s neck and his tormentors went in with him.

The biggest guy tossed into the baptistery was Mike Burdette. He didn’t have to be. He ran for the dorms with only a foot or 2 to spare. But, then, he came back out as if he thought it were all over. Not so.

I am sure Rich was a popular idea, but, it took more than being popular. It had to be doable (the bigger they are the more dangerous this little game). Frankly, I am surprised they got Mike Burdette. Probably wouldn’t have if his son (already wet) hadn’t been gunning for him.

At first I was concerned that someone would hit their head, but shortly, I discarded my unusual consideration (I am normally more thoughtless than that) and went to the far picnic benches and sat behind Proctor. He has an air of respectability I could use about then.

2 girls got dunked and Sue Abbeglan, who has had a great time watching people get dunked, said no more girls. Seems mighty convenient, sometimes.

After lunch we cleaned up to go into ‘town’. They hooked the generator up to the water pump and we had water pressure. Except for the 1st shower I had here, they’ve been just a little stream and, on one occasion, a bucket of water did for my shower.

There was water pressure and Stan thought this was just Heaven on Earth. When I took my shower I lost my breath again and, once I got it back, declared if this was Heaven, then I’d have to reconsider how I want to spend eternity.

This afternoon we went to Rick York’s house. We took the bus and our luggage (for 1 night’s stay) was in a pickup. The bus was designed for people of 175 pounds and smaller and we could sit 4 across. However, in order for everyone to fit, we had to sit 5 in some cases.

Clint was stuck in the back row, 5 across, with a couple ladies. This appears to be the best part of this trip for him. 13 years old and this trip has done a lot to knock some rough edges off of his behavior. Not bad behavior, but, rather, immature. As you might expect for a 13 year old boy.

Rick York’s place was an oasis in the middle of a ranch. Beautiful place. Like a resort inn without the swimming pool.

The Cacatious Tree in Dominican Republic. No, the Giraffe is NOT part of the Domincan Republic. There are cacatious trees growing on the ranch, like those in Africa that the giraffes eat. They look like Mesquite trees to me.

The house has 'green grass' and a view of the mountains beyond the ranchero (actually, all around).

I noticed the concrete fence posts and I was reminded that wood was expensive and to be avoided because of termites. Yes, even the electric posts are concrete (although, I also drew an opinion when I noticed 3 out of 5 electric posts in the brand new subdivision were already leaning).

Once again, the security concerns around here are disconcerting. The gas tank and generator are chained to the metal bars around the windows.

Although there are no bars before the front windows, there is a spike metal fence and a wrought iron gate in the stair well leading up. On the spacious upstairs balcony there are also metal grates before the windows and patio doors.

I don’t believe we were meant to live together this way.

Yes, Rick York’s home is like a resort without the swimming pool or ocean front. It’s too bad that all the empty lots around will someday be developed. Some of the bigger homes and yards by Dominican standards, but its cluster village (once developed) acre lots.

Most of the crew are currently in town shopping. I’m on the balcony in the shade and breeze.

6:35 PM v
We went to see the mission school. I was impressed. It was a campus with aqua and pink (trim) buildings. They have about 450 kids there and it is an English Speaking School.

Think about it. Average education around here is 3rd grade. And, here is a school that takes the kids all the way to high school and the resulting education is a bilingual Christian. How many people would love to have their children educated and bilingual?

Some US interest could do well polluting the mind of millions with their goal 2000 thing in the 3rd world. Just for the opportunity to learn English. But, I digress.

8:50 PM v
We all went out for ice cream. It was Baskin Robins in a large National Food store. Ever hear of them?

How about a guard milling around with a sawed off shotgun? Saw another when we came into town. Beginning to sound like an old western.

I also learned that Rick also has a Haitian that watches the place and stays in the servant quarters. Servant quarters are common and consist of one bedroom and a bathroom with an outside entrance only.

Anyway, back to National. Kids stocked up on snacks (more than they could possibly eat in 1 or 2 days, I should think) and wanted to rent a video. It certainly didn’t take us long to fall back into the USA pattern.

When we came back to Rick’s home, the Haitian came out to see who was coming down the road and when he saw that it was us, returned to his room. Every time I have seen him before he has been sitting on the driveway unmoving.

10:10 PM v
I was enjoying the view this afternoon with all the mountains all around us and especially the mountains above the ranchero. We are in a basin, or valley, ya know.

At any rate, I was surprised to see some of the mountains alive with lights. They had appeared to be a jungle (oh, cultivated banana and palm trees, I’m sure).

Looked some things up in the encyclopedia and I see there are 400 people per square mile in the Dominican Republic. This compares with 600 people per square mile in Haiti and 68 people per square mile in the USA.

Statistics were admittably dated.

Haiti is the rest of the island and they speak French or Creole and there are not nearly as many Roman Catholics.

Had an incident tonight where Beth pulled Clint and Kassie away from a movie (Temple of Doom) we didn’t approve of. That ruined their night for them.

I was content to allow them to watch because every Christian missionary in the place thought it was just fine, but it was with a sad heart. Yes, adults succumb to peer pressure too. Way too often, actually.

My sadness was I had hoped my kids would have better judgement and / or backbone. I hadn’t yet realized that I had compromised as well until Beth took action. So, 3 cheers for Beth for having the gumption and conviction to take a stand. Beth 1, kids 0.

11:30 PM v
Kids pizza finally arrived. As I said, they quickly moved back into the world when given the opportunity.

A tamer movie was rented and started quite late. Most of the kids were not interested in it. Sigh.

July 13/97 Sunday

6:30 AM
I thought I was going to miss all the farm animals this morning. How would I know when to wake up?

I slept on the front porch and was bothered with an occasional buzz (Nathan Shultee was also bothered with the buzz, so he sprayed Off into his hear). The bugs bothering me were in cahoots and tried to time it just right so as to visit me when I was just about gone. But, I fooled them and went to sleep anyway.

Little did our group know that the mosquitoes go indoors at night. Some of those in the house became dinner, and we on the porches had only buzzing noises to contend with.

There was music from a club or disco nearby for a while. The loud music didn’t keep me awake either. I’ll share my secret on that later.

I did wake briefly at 3 and heard a rooster in the distance. No one answered, so it wasn’t the beginning of a crowing contest. At 5:45 AM, I heard the roosters crowing. Even in this city, there be livestock.

Funny thing, I noticed. 2 kids had 2 mattresses. 2 kids slept in chairs. Funny how things work out that way!

7:25 AM v
On Wednesday night we were wrapping up the Clinic I went around and picked up all the trash. Another worker eagerly jumped in and helped. Like, it was a good idea. Once he had gathered his armload of trash, he shoved it into a bushy cactus fence across the road.

"WHO!" I exclaimed. I braved the thorns and returned the worst of it (and a reminder of how good these fences are). Even with the language barrier, he should get the message. I put it in the trash bag inside the Ambulance.

This morning the Hatian watchman gathered the trash and took a stroll. I watched and, sure enough, he went to a nearby dry creek about 3 lots away and dumped it.

Now, it is my turn to get the message, despite the language barrier. The purpose for the trashcans is to move trash a suitable distance from the house.

No wonder there is so much trash around. Everyone dumps their trash away from their house. It is almost like the neighbors have trash exchange.

Why was I thinking there would be a trash disposal service? (There is, I learned later, a recently negotiated contract with an English Company in Santa Domingo, but it isn’t going so well yet. This is Santiago.)

They are serving breakfast this morning. I must admit the call was tempting. But, we, as a family, haven’t had Sunday breakfast for years. Just helps us set the mood for Church. So, why change now?

Noticed my kids were at the front of the line. I wonder how many of our values will successfully be transferred to these kids. Experience tells me they will deviate to the left until their 30’s. And, then some lessons may come back.


1 PM v
Went to a simple English speaking service this morning. Surprisingly simple. Our numbers about doubled the attendance.

Amazing how a common band of Christendom can transcend cultures.

We then went to a Dominican church. It is somewhat unusual for me, at least, to see a church in the third floor of an office building.

Unlike the service at camp, I felt their choices in the Dominican church was beautifully done. I felt I could understand the message through the songs, even through I did not understand the words.

A soloist also sung 2 songs that also seemed to deliver a message that transcended language barriers.

Stan Smetzer sang a special as well and the Dominicans surely enjoyed the song. I don’t know if they received a message, but they liked the song.

Our group sang 3 English songs for them. I tried to object to the songs (a voice in the wilderness) because I was conscious (?overly concerned?) that they would be largely meaningless to the Spanish patrons. I was especially critical of Amazing Grace. It tells a beautiful story, but it is the story, not the melody, that is beautiful. How inspiring would it be if we just hummed Amazing Grace to someone who didn’t know the words?

The guitar player played along with out Amazing Grace, so, I guess I was misguided. They must know the story anyway. Good thing I was ignored, huh? Well, never said I had the market cornered in wisdom.

Bill Abbegglon had a good message with his interpreted sermon. Speaking a phrase at a time and then waiting for Rick York to interpret was undoubtedly difficult. I think he repeated himself more often than he intended to at first, but he got adjusted.

Noticed sometimes the translation was considerably longer than Bill’s part. Sometimes it was very short. Made me wonder if the Spanish has a word for a complex thought sometimes and, sometimes, the translation was perhaps simplified.

"Gibeon’s army was a large enough to wipe the Midianites off the face of the earth."

Possible translation.

"Gibeon’s army could whip the Midianites." After church we walked to a Dominican Fried Chicken place (I want to say Kentucky Fried…). There was only one thing that made the restaurant distinctly Dominican. The sign in the rest room warning patrons not to flush toilet paper down the toilet.

I noticed some of the mountains were much closer now. They appeared to be partly or wholly cultivated. Even on top. OK, cultivating with something other than fruit trees. I gather that someone owns and farms almost all fruit trees.

There doesn’t appear to be forests like we have in the States.

This town is fairly progressive. There is a fair road out here and a lot of modern conveniences and construction (excusing the toilets).

And yet, in start comparison, Santa Domingo, the nation’s capital, was not. I wonder if we were tunneled through the darkest part of Santa Domingo on purpose? For Effect?

Median income in the country is $3,200. High School tuition at the mission private school is $4,000 and I’d have to say most here seem to be above that.

One explanation I heard for so many poor people n Santa Domingo was, if you couldn’t make it anywhere else, you went to Santa Domingo.

I’ve been contemplating the density thing. If the US is 68, Dominican Republic 400, and Hatia 600 people per square mile, then how reasonable is Brentwood’s 1-acre minimum per house?

Myself? I’d like everyone to be able to have a homestead on 5 acres apiece. What is there? 640 acres per square mile?

July 14, 1997 Monday

6:30 AM
I find some strange things to wrap my ego around and one on this trip has been an early riser.

The barn animals seemed to start a little earlier this morning and I could just here people moving into the showers and getting up (flashlights). I was determined not to get up until I could see the hands on my watch. Oh, that it pained me to lie there. Didn’t these guys know it was too early?

Yesterday afternoon was slow and quiet. We weren’t going to leave Rick York’s until 4:30 and it was only 1:00 PM.

For some, a nap was in order. For others, watching Ann of Green Gables was OK (movie was fine, but I didn’t want to rejoin civilization quite yet). However, after updating my journal and recognizing any reading material I could read was at camp, I know I had to do something. If I didn’t, I would be one more to fall asleep. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Got some kids interested in Trivial Pursuit so I could observe? I don’t like to play TP myself, as I don’t seem to have a mind for that sort of thing.

After a while, Rick York took Bill Abbeglan and myself out to see a church being built. It certainly appeared to be a small church. Not much lot, either. It is a new church and they need an some American help. The church is suppose to seat 250 people, but I couldn’t envision it.

The land was donated by the city and is right next door to a home for home for retarded children. Wonder what the significance of a new church next to such a home is? A ministry opportunity?

No parking. No parking except for the street.

Seems to me to be a future concern. True, a couple public buses and pickups can easily get everyone to the Church and the street is mostly empty (new development). But, eventually, there will be maybe 10 homes to the acre in the neighborhood and a projected 250 people in the church?

And naught but street parking?

I suppose if the church patrons were nearly 100% from the neighborhood, then most could walk. If 250 people need transportation, though, they’ll desperately need the parking.

We went to look at some larger homes. Green grass in yards. Must be some of the rich folks.

The style of home for the peasants (those who can afford concrete block and stucco) and the rich are two things. The size of the house and the materials ordinating the yard. Possibly, the richer have tile floors (marble style) and the poorer have a smooth, marble sheen. Can’t say on the latter. Only walked into a few poorer homes and the rich guys didn’t partake of the opportunity to invite me it. Their loss.

The poor use rocks (some painted) and some vegetation. The rich use lots of vegetation and, of course, the green grass.

Oh, and there also weren’t any extra wires on the electric poles in the rich neighborhood. Now isn’t that interesting.

Wonder how things will be effected with no one can afford a houseboy or security guard?

I don’t know if it was because of the long bus ride ( 1 hour) at 5 across (seating is for 4 across), or a hot day, or a hot service, or what. All I know is, the Service in San Francisco De Macoris was way past my limit. I was so hot. So thirsty. So tired. The service drug on for 2 long hours.

I thought of Jesus asking Peter and John to stay awake with him while he prayed In the Mount of Olives, and, after an hour and a half, I didn’t care anymore.

I think, because Keokuk is their main supporter that every one waxed long as we put on our best show for the others.

There were a lot of specials. A couple Dominican’s sang a song in English and in Spanish. We sang our 3 songs. Bill definitely waxed long. He had a fine message, but there were a couple convenient closures that he bored on through.

I started looking at the roof instead of paying attention and envisioning a few vents here, a ceiling fan there, etc.

The Dominicans before me were no better off. I thought the Dominican ladies were going to pass out. So much for getting used to the heat.

Afterwards, they fed us. Spaghetti, bread, water, and a juice drink. The juice drink was excellent.

Rick was serving and so be warned. If you ask for a little, it’ll be a full helping. All I asked for was enough to be polite.

Rich has 2 good helpings (he is very polite) for himself, so, he really did provide a small portion. Just not how I envisioned it.

Camp CookingI suppose I should point out that the Spaghetti, Dominican style, wasn’t bad. I’ve had similar spaghetti a number of times before in Church functions in the USA. It may not the way my Mother used to cook it, but it may be the way yours did. I’m just not much of a spaghetti or lasagna eater.

By this time we already had one sick lad. His being sick had nothing to do with San Francisco De Macoris, except that the outhouse and newspapers did not seems like the best place to deal with this sort of think.

I heard Rick admit that if someone is going to have troubles that this was out the time for the problems to start showing up - about 5 days after arrival.

The good Lord smiled kindly upon me and I didn’t get the trots until we got off the buss and back at camp. How convenient.

Now, I admit that I only took about 7 Acidophilus pills before coming down and one, belatedly, last night. I don’t think there are many of us who have plumbing problems (too often or not at all). I’m confident I’ll be in good shape shortly. It isn’t like I have never been inconvenienced in Tennessee.

There are 30 of us, so I hate to give the impression that visitors to the Dominican Republic get sick. A few are inconvenienced, but, only one admitted to not feeling so well, and they were in seemingly good shape in 24 hours. Besides, I at least admit not to taking the acidophilus pills as prescribed. A couple others admitted to me they either hadn’t taken any pills or had taken 2 or 3, daily.

2 or 3 a day? Do you remember the parasites pills incident? Looks like that mentality isn’t restricted to Dominicans, does it?

While we are on these sort of sordid subjects, I might as well get entirely blunt.

Although the newsletter said toilet paper and / or newspapers would be provided, toilet paper was always available, except, perhaps, in San Francisco De Macoris. I did not stick my head into the only outhouse to find out. I do suspect the source for the toilet paper is what each visiting group leaves behind.

San Francisco De Lacoris had the only outhouse.

One thing I have noticed is one tends to urinate infrequently and it is a dark yellow. Not being a doctor, I don’t know the significance, except, it seems unusual.

Although the newsletter said we should only put on our plate what we will eat, and eat all of it, Sue was very adamant that everyone get a little of everything. She reminded us of this most every meal.

Just the same, I have had nothing with rice in it. Kids have gone back for seconds; so, you can’t let me be a judge of what is good or bad to eat.

All in all, I may be gaining weight. I’m surprised at how much good food there is. Beets and cabbage are big here, and, I believe, safe.

Several kids sounded glad to be back at camp. Anxious to bet back to work on Monday, as I know I am. I guess Rick York’s vacation was just the right dosage we needed.

Tarantula in the ShowerOne of the ladies confronted a tarantula in the showers. About 2'. I suggested he take it to Santa Domingo (far away) and let it loose. Then, I returned to the dorm.

What I heard, though, was that they poured gas over the giant spider and set it on fire. I’m not an animal rights person in any sense but I fretted over out Christian witness again. Or, lack there of. Regrettable. Surprised the Dominicans allowed this. Kids thought it was hilarious. (I was to hear Kassie boasting of this to her friends in the states later, so, I may be the only one with regrets.)

But, there was something much more fun about to happen.

A Guinea Fowl was sitting in a tree and relieved itself while one of your youth sat below.

"Look Out!"

"Too late."

Now, that was funny.

Someone else threw a Guinea Fowl or chicken on another youth’s head. Undoubtedly inspired by the previous performance. There was more retelling of that story so I would guess the 2nd youth was more animated in their reaction than the first.

This is an after thought, but yesterday’s service in San Francisco De Macoris didn’t have music that spoke a message despite language barriers. The Dominican church yesterday morning must have really had some special talent. That isn’t to detract from the Church in San Francisco De Macoris. It’s been that way in every Spanish service except that one.

I mention that in case on thinks we were just getting used to the music. Might be, but that wasn’t entirely it.

Most everyone went shopping Saturday. Dedra got her mom a basket. I keep checking to see if the handle is still upright and attached. Don’t suppose I’ll know how this works out.

Most of the youth and some adults bought watches. Imitations of the originals like the Swiss Army watch and such. They all looked nice. Clint’s watch broke the same day. A couple more broke on Sunday. Warranties were not included.

Seems the ladies were spooked with the tarantula business. We were speculating they’d be using long sticks to pick up heir clothes and prod their suitcases for a while. They have also discovered cockroaches longer than an inch.

Why does that make me smile?

6:50 PM v
Last day of work camp, so to speak. I felt blisters on the back of my neck and decided I best skip the V neck tee shirt and went back to a traditional shirt. It isn’t uncomfortable.

Guys are currently putting together the bon fire for the night and chairs for service. Because of our late running ball game I would guess dinner is also delayed.

There is a fruit around here called Lemon Ciloes that is very popular. When people get them, they hide them under their shirt and sneak off. But, once someone spots a bulge under the shirt they know exactly what it is and come clamoring after it.

They are about 1" round green balls that grow in loose clusters. They say it tastes like a mushy grape and it coats the throat. Naturally grown candy.

Not sure if Ciloes are raised for market, or even could be. They are so popular and fields would probably be robbed blind.

Clint has turned his recent energies to drawing. A fair way to deal with these new feelings. And the ladies have been giving him positive encouragement. I’ll make a guess that this is going to be THE summer Clint never forgets as he moves into adolescence.

Kassie has been wonderful with everyone. Naturally. She can display super social skills at times.

I went outside and there was some cement for the basketball court. Wet cement.

I wrote my name, Dierkes ’97. Sue Abbeglan saw me and retrieved a new trowel from the girl’s dorm and wiped it out. She tactfully told me I was like a college kid.

And here I had visions of my great, great, grandchildren someday tracing his roots and discovering this landmark in some ruins in the Dominican Republic.

Wouldn’t that have complicated their family tree?

July 15, 1997 Tuesday

6:22 AM
I was determined to catch the sunrise finally this morning. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

I went in to exchange my Bible for the Journal and when I came back out, the sun was half way up. Completely exposed in 2 minutes.

Every morning there are clouds above the mountains that hide the true sunrise. This morning, the clouds arrived just minutes ago as if they were scheduled to arrive before the sun to lay their billowy cushion.

I’ve no idea how late the kids stayed up last night, but it was a long time. And, as youth, there was no consideration for anyone else who might want to sleep. They were in pursuit of fun, ya know.

As if to impose their revenge upon us (I suppose the kids kept them up as well), just about every barn animal in the country was going at it this morning. What a racket.

I’ve slept well this week - every night, without exception. I prayed that I would not be irritated by snores (that is my normal reaction), that I would have God’s peace, and that I could be his servant according to his will (the best servants get their sleep). I mixed into that "The Lord’s Prayer". Lots of repetition of something I know easily by heart without thinking. I chased out any daydreams and stray thoughts. And the Lord granted me peace and a good night sleep every night.

I don’t get that many good sleep at home.

I see this morning one hen has 5 new checks following her.

I also have noticed 2 roosters are normally caged while a 3rd meanders around and appears to be older and bald. It has no feathers on its neck. Especially on the back of its neck. Presumably it came out the losing end of too many battles.

I’ve seen the cat come in with a rat and a lizard as big as the rat. Most every other lizard we have seen have been 1" to 4" long. They eat insects and, since I’ve hardly been nibbled on here at camp, they must do a good job. They say there are a couple in our dorm.

There were more than a few lizards in Rick York’s flowers (goes all around the yard). Teddy attempted to catch them, and the only one he did catch surprised him so that he dropped it.

Bill Abbeglan said the service would run long tonight. He wasn’t kidding. The generator (lights) kept fading in and out and they kept fiddling with it and eventually, it died. But, that didn’t stop our service or fun.

Kassie sang a song. It was in English but she claims the Dominican’s all know the tune.

Kassie was picked as the most playful girl later on. A dubious honor for a working trip, I suggest. More on that later.

Stan Smeltzer sand a song for us and we snapped our fingers and rocked right and left. "My Turn Now". The Dominicans are not familiar with snapping the finger. Some attempted to get the snap working. It was the Missionaries kids (MK) who instigated it. In fact, they liked it so much they called for an encore. Stan ran off to the dorm and returned with the "On the Rock" tape and gave us an encore.

Stan was later nominated as strongest man and another presentation shortly after.

After the Service was done they brought in a bunch of balloons. Each balloon had a piece of paper within with a statement. After sitting on the balloon to pop it, the paper was retrieved. You had to pick the person best described by the piece of paper and kiss them on the cheek.

That is where Kassie got picked as most playful and Stan the strongest man. I think when the Dominican soloist was going to do the choosing (kissing), she was going after Stan no matter what the description has been.

Heidi kissed Clint as the one she daydreamed of. A new experience for Clint and if he was a confused chuck of emotions before, this just about did him in. It was a beautiful thing for Heidi to do. As a 17-year-old, I know she must have been embarrassed too.

Lori also chose Clint with a kiss on the cheek, but I don’t remember what that was for. I don’t think it was as meaningful (or confusing) as Heidi’s peck.

After we ran out of balloons an opening was made in the circle of chairs. 2 people balanced an egg in a spoon held in their mouth and ran to Louise (most playful male) and back again. The loser got asked a question which they had to answer.

They forgot to interpret these questions so I basically missed out on this.

After that we went to the bon fire. All Spanish, but you could feel the comradely.

Then, it was ended (11:30) and we could do as we liked. Fire was blazing heartily and there was a new group coming in at midnight.

The kids started leaping over the fire (inspired by the MK again). Everyone thought it was great fun (perhaps nervous laughter). (This is the first questionable judgment made by the MKs. They have been a dynamic source of energy and encouragement all week.) Times sure have changed since now I am concerned about people getting cracked heads in the baptistery and burned by fire. Something wrong with this picture.

Well, I just went to bed.

I had neither flashlight nor lights so getting ready for bed was mostly by feel. While struggling, Antonio came in to get something and I surely used the shadow of his light beam while the opportunity was there.

1:30 PM v
Sometimes I regretted the language barrier that kept me from expressing some emotion with a Dominican. That is, presuming I wouldn’t get cold feet and let the moment pass.

Antonio, when he came in last night, observed in the fringes of his flash light, the newly arrived keyboard was on the wrong luggage and also lying partially on my mattress. David Klein had arrived in the afternoon and he deduced which new mattress on the floor was being David’s. He fetched the keyboard and put it on David’s mattress and then continued on his way. In similar ways I have noticed Antonio is an observant and considerate man. Like to have told him that.

The next group was supposed to get in last night at midnight. It was closer to 1:30. It is a good thing I didn’t attempt to stay awake until they arrived.

It must have been a rough trip because when we left the Christian Camp around 9 this morning, only one of the new group’s leaders had come out of the dorm. They must have been purposely staying in the dorms so as to help us get off smoothly and without more confusion than there already was. Sure hope they don’t miss lunch. They missed breakfast.

Oh, the kids eventually did come to bed. They said it was around 2:30 or so. They watched Project X (Spanish rendition) in the breakfast area. (This kept them away from us in the dorm, but kept the Camp Director up.) After the apes were turned free and the hero and heroine did NOT kiss, they went to bed, disgusted.

We managed to pile 20 people into that short bus when we left for the Klein’s. Actually, the feat wasn’t getting 20 people on a 24-seat bus. The feat was doing so after loading the laundry (luggage). That took up 2 full rows of seats and swiped some legroom as well.

I was the first on, but, after sitting in a decent seat, groaned and moved to the window seat with a suitcase occupying all the leg space. It was not working. And 2 hours of this seemed like a mighty long time.

We made a quick stop at William and Maria’s house. I spied William in the back and it was several minutes before he appeared. He went into the house and changed clothes.

Even after speaking to Bill and reminding Rick, we told Micelle, our driver and friend, he forgot. But, we reminded him from the back of the bus. It was only 4 miles of gravel road.

We thanked William and Maria personally (well, Micelle did while we looked from the bus) for their hospitality in sponsoring the Jesus Film, the Clinic, and the Evangelist effort.

Then, we left.

Found, eventually, that the suitcase between the seat and the next was empty and Scott had the idea of standing it up by the door. Ahhh, feet room. Pulled my sockets back together and put my shoulder out the window and everyone was happier. If only the bus came with an armrest outside the windows. My arm was asleep and complaining before we ever reached the Klein’s.

The extra open house at the Klein’s sure is nice. Not nice as in Rick York’s house beautiful home, but nice as in open, roomy and with fans and a breeze.

Even now I am struggling mightily in order to stay awake. And this time, I have no one to lure into Trivia Pursuit. Just about the whole bunch left about 1 PM to go shopping. From there they were going to hit the beach. Neither activity exactly trips my trigger. As Beth says, I am easily amused.

July 16, 1997 Wednesday

8 AM
Slept a little later today. Our comrades were to leave at 6 AM this morning (they ran a tad late) and I didn’t want to get up in the middle of that activity. Best to pretend to sleep through it.

Yesterday I spent much of the afternoon helping Gary repair the air conditioner that sits on the top of the Ambulance. The Ambulance tends to be tall and much of this country wasn’t built with that in mind.

There is a definite lack of quality in this country. And no forward thinking, either. Good enough is, well, good enough. This has got to be driving Beth crazy. Her motto is “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”. If I haven’t adopted that motto myself, I’ve at least been driven down that road more than a few times.

I think the only decent road I’ve seen all week was in Santiago. A 2 lane divided road. Not limited access thought. Rick has to make a U turn in it just about every time he leaves or arrives home.

Lack of planning is not unique to the Dominican. We have plenty of roads in Williamson County made for the current traffic load and then populated with dozens of housing developments. Duh! Don’t new houses normally equate to 2+ cars? And weren’t the neighborhoods planned when the road was done?

Like I suggested, no monopoly there. Exasperating.

After everyone returned yesterday we had soup. Lentil or vegetable soup. After dinner the Proctor’s (were the Proctors ever anything but quiet?) went in and quietly started the dishes. Well, being a veteran (we started our adventure with the Klein’s) I have been sliding into a "do this" and "do that" role. Helpful, up to a point.

I stopped the Proctors from doing the dishes. I explained the maid would do that. That is their auto dishwasher. You see, Cindy Klein and I had already gone through this last week.

Later, I told Cindy of the Proctor’s good deed and explained that I had stopped them. After all, it is the thought that counts and I wanted Cindy to know. She shot me a look and I suddenly knew I had stepped over from being helpful to, well, downright rude and intrusive. I absolutely had no business intervening in the Proctor’s clean up detail and the Klein family business.

How do I walk into these things? I attempted some apology, and, her good kids eventually finished the kitchen (without a grumble or a discouraging word for face).

Can you imagine raising children and holding some semblance of a family life together while 10 groups of tourist / Christian workers enter and exit through your home every year? It had to be incredibly difficult when the Klein’s did not have this 2nd home for their Pharmacy, equipment, and missionary quarters (signed a lease for this building less that 1 month ago). It must have been nearly as hard for the York’s when their house was incomplete or in their former adobe (recently finished the upstairs).

Some kids put in the big screen and watched a video downstairs and we also had a video running at the Klein’s home. (Just because they have a mission house, it doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t walk into and settle in the Klein’s home until it’s time to go to bed.) It was when Gary, watching a movie he clearly enjoyed, left to perform parenting roles, and Mom too, that I woke up to how disruptive we had to be.

When Gary says enough movie and it is time for bed, and the kids clamor for more, you got to know our presence creates a sort of peer pressure on him. It is difficult to be firm or to apply discipline with other adults casually standing by.

10:00 PM v
I think I saw a little different view of Santo Domingo today on the way to the airport. Saw some taller and more modern buildings. I may have been this way before, but I don’t remember them.

The driving here is really scary. Try this.

You are at an intersection with a short bus. There are two lanes of traffic going both ways and a 4 foot meridian between the lanes (hey, a good road!). As soon as traffic stops coming on the left, you move out. A line of cars from the other lane start making their left turn. You turn on your horn and poke your nose strategically between two cars. The guy turning can’t get around you anymore so, you now have the right of way (his fault, he left 2 feet between his own car and the preceding car). You can now finish your turn. Oh, and you aren’t concerned about the oncoming traffic on the left. They can’t get through you so they’ll stop (horns a blaring).

Once we are at the airport we said goodbye to Micelle and made our way though the Spanish speaking nuthouse without an interpreter. We were able to get our bags taken care of (Lots of people would like to help. Say "No Paso" and they’ll scatter.) because the American Airlines MIAMI was quite readable. But, after handing off the bags, we hadn’t a clue were A3 was. I was looking for a sign that said, "Hey, Gringo. Over here."

We had 50 minutes to get through a line where they could stamp our passport. At 5 minutes a piece, I was getting worried. Kassie was more than worried. She just knew that every line was moving faster than ours was. If it weren’t for her, I could never relax. I just told her if we didn’t make the plane we’d just go back to the Klein’s for another day. I felt better already.

Not everyone was 5 minutes, fortunately, and we did get through. We delivered a processed paper to another man who was 5 feet away who verified that the person in front of him gave it to us.

Once we found A3, we gave our 50 bucks and showed our passports again.

I started to remember Miami.

As one group, everyone moved to the boarding area. I hadn’t heard a thing. Once again, I started to get anxious because I started to imagine they knew something I didn’t. In this case, they were calling out rows, not too loud, and in Spanish. Gee whiz.

Got this strange urge to go talk to Kassie about this. I know that will take care of MY anxiety.

Eventually, we gave our boarding pass and walked down the boarding ramp. At the end of the boarding ramp there was left turn before going into the plane. There was a guy there checking all the passports. And, as he checked mine, not 15 feet away at the entrance of the plane, I could see them checking things again. I’m beginning to suspect the USA government influence in this. This country couldn’t have dreamed up such bureaucracy.

Oh, was I every so happy to arrive in Miami. So happy (but not as happy as run ahead, glaring, and anxious Kassie). First thing Scott said when we got off the plane in Miami was, "I’m hungry. Where can we eat." That started a chorus, of course.

Customs for American’s was a ‘cake walk’. Obviously, Immigration understands VOTERS. But, I’m not forgetting those retention areas in the Dominican Republic highlands (non-voters).

We had dinner in Burger King in the Miami Airport. Kassie laid back and was eating French Fries and said this was Heaven on Earth. I said if Heaven was sitting back in a fish bowl (what is might appear to those walking by outside Burger King) eating french-fries, then I’d have to reconsider how I want to spend eternity.

Later, once we got home, I flushed a roll of toilet paper down the toilet (just because) and took a nice warm shower. "Ahhh. Heaven on Earth."

Visited by people since 12/20/1997