ACTS 16:9,10: And during the night a vision appeared to Paul: a certain Mac‧e‧do′ni‧an man was standing and entreating him and saying: “Step over into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a and help us.” Now as soon as he had seen the vision, we sought to go forth into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a, drawing the conclusion that God had summoned us to declare the good news to them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Baby Steps and Mister Miyagi

   One of my fondest memories of Danielle's childhood was watching her take her first steps. We had noticed she was getting more and more active so we bought a camcorder to record the special moment. Then one day Suzanne, my Mom and I were excitedly watching and cheering for her as she took her first few steps on her tippy-toes before dropping to the floor. Undeterred, she got right back up and took a few more wobbly strides before falling again. I am so proud of her now since she has mastered this skill :-)
   I got to thinking about this whole learning to walk and baby steps metaphor of late. As I have mentioned in some earlier posts "the conquest" of the Spanish language is taking a little bit longer than I thought it would. For me, learning the language has been like learning to walk all over again; a slow process with lots of stumbles but I keep picking myself up and trying to push forward.
   One of those stumbles was attending our first Spanish language Special Assembly Day last month. To be honest I really did not learn ANYTHING. By the Baptism talk my brain was fried and I just shut down. It was so hard to try to keep up with the words. My head was tired from trying to translate and when I used the dictionary to look anything up, I would miss several sentences so that too set me back.
   There are, as well, those times when I want to say a few phrases to someone in the Kingdom Hall and even though I have practiced, somehow when it comes time to actually talk, the words just do not come out correctly. Or they come out sounding very "anglo style" and not authentico. Or the times that the friends do talk to us, but get impatient and say their thought in English because we have taken too long to reply in Spanish ( please hold for translation).
   For each of those "stumbles" however there always seems to be a little "pick-me-up" as well. For example after the session at the Special Assembly Day we got to talk to our C.O. and his wife for a few minutes. When he saw us he said: "I remember you, you are going to be needgreaters!" He then joked that I looked as though I were an overheated car with steam coming out of my ears. He and his wife were very encouraging and told us not to give up. His wife added that for her it took about 5 years to be entirely comfortable in Spanish, so definitely take a long term approach. We appreciated their comments, they are both Americans so for them Spanish is not their native tongue either. They reassured us that at the next assembly in Spring we would be able to understand more and would see how much progress we will have made by then.
  We also got a boost when we were visited by our new "old friend", Jenn Hirt (see July 2011). She was in the States and came by for a few days to visit us. Jenn is brave! She took a real chance coming here as we were all battling a nasty cold/flu thing and were again feeling a little bit down. At the time we were beginning to doubt whether we could really do this or even if getting to D.R. was going to be possible for us. It was such a pleasure to have her visit at that time though. Jenn has such a positive outlook and gave us little push in the right direction to help us get our thoughts back in order. I find it to be interesting how someone can give you that "just right" word at that "just right" time. What another fine blessing we enjoy as servants of Jehovah!
   Perhaps you remember the old Karate Kid movie. When Daniel was ready to quit his lesson thinking that he was just doing work for Mr. Miyagi and not learning anything. Miyagi then has him go through all the moves he had learned ("wax on- wax off, paint fence Daniel-san") Lo and behold he wasn't just doing the chores but when put into practice he was learning Karate moves.
   Not that I have such moves but I enjoyed such a moment a few weeks ago. One of my co-workers is from Cuba and is not very fluent in English. He also is active in his church singing in choir and such. Recently his mother had passed away and I had not seen him as he was away on bereavement leave. On this particular day I saw him in the warehouse and went over to express my condolences. He began to talk about how much he missed her but he knew she was "with Jesus". We then got into a nice discussion about the resurrection; I was able to quote him some verses from 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 21. He thanked me for sharing those thought with him and when I looked up we had been talking for about 10 MINUTES! OH YEAH AND IT WAS ALL IN SPANISH!! Okay maybe 80% kinda like a Spanglish but you get the picture. It was a baby step in the right direction and I thanked Jehovah that if only for a moment I was able to glorify him then.
   THOSE MOMENTS, are the ones give me hope for the future. Yes it seems as though we are now in an uphill climb, but others have passed this way before and so can we-at least that's what I keep telling myself. The friends in the congregation have been extremely supportive, "cheering us on", commending us when we make a comment or read a verse. Most of all, we are keep asking for of Jehovah's blessing. We know that with his backing and the blessing of his spirit and continued effort on our part nosotros hablaremos Espanol bien muy pronto!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Como Estan?

   Estamos muy bien, gracias! Two months into our new lives in the Spanish language and yes things are going well. We are making new friends, learning to communicate and as mentioned earlier I have been given a new apodo(nickname): "Ventana". It's all in good fun, so I don't mind.
   So, exactly how does one go about learning a new language without taking a formal class? Poco a poco (little by little). To be honest the process is much more difficult than I initially thought it would be. I remembered a few things from studying Spanish in high school and thought that it would all come flooding back to me in a couple of weeks. Oh, if only it were so easy. It seems that 20+ years has a way of making you forget things so we start anew.
   Each week we prepare a simple presentation for the ministry: A greeting, introduce ourselves, read a scripture and offer a piece of literature. Over time we have committed this to memory and are comfortable with those words and phrases. Meeting preparation is also a way of learning. We are making good use of The Society's audio recordings as they help us tremendously with pronunciation. Some things are more of a challenge for me though. For example the Service Meeting and Watchtower study are difficult at times. This is because not only are the words different but at times the thought is as well. Have you ever heard someone talking in Spanish and thought to yourself that it sounds like they are saying twice as many words as in English? Well, that's because they probably are. Spanish is a very rich, descriptive language, much less to the point than English is. As we study though we are getting familiar with word patterns and phrases-all part of the training! I see progress as the weeks go by though. It once took me over two hours to get through eleven paragraphs of a WT lesson. I am happy that I have significantly cut that time down!
   The congregation helps us out tremendously in our efforts to learn also. Many will offer us suggestions on how to better express something we want to say or simply offer a polite correction when we make a mistake. One couple has kind of adopted us so to speak and are really extending themselves to help us. I was having a conversation with Brother Bueno and telling him about our struggles and he offered to teach our family. Really? Would you? How can we pass that up! So, Saturday evenings we head over to the Bueno home where he and his wife give us lessons using the brochure Learn to Read and Write. The Buenos have been very hospitable to us, opening their home up and spending their time-a Saturday night no less- to teach us Spanish. Hermana Bueno also takes great delight in stuffing us with a tasty treat after the lesson is over. We were very surprised after the first lesson when she offered us a meal( I wasn't going to say no!) and genuinely appreciate these friends showing us such hospitality. It was very moving to me as we were talking after one of the lessons and she tells in that they are helping us basically because they know that we want to help others in the ministry; so they are offering to help us-in a way they're helping others too! What a loving gesture I thought to myself and one that will not be soon forgotten!
   The next few weeks will bring some "firsts" for us. I have my first assignment on the Ministry School in about two weeks. It is a Bible reading and I am already nervous over it. We also have coming up shortly our Special Assembly Day. This will be a test for sure. After some meetings I have such a headache from trying to pay attention. A whole day? My head just might explode; but we'll see how much we can retain. We are looking forward though as we realize that this is all good preparation for our future goal. So we press on Poco a Poco asking Jehovah to help us, just like he did for Bezalel and Moses and Joshua(WT 12/15/2011).     We are confident that with his spirit we will indeed reach our goals and continue to be "muy bien".
Hasta luego!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hermano Ventana

   I have often fancied my last name Windham, as an elegant, regal name. I imagine that there was at one time some royal rich dude-The Earl of Windham perhaps- who left England and sailed for the new world; landing in Alabama where many generations later my father would be born. By this reasoning I further imagined that back in merry old England there is a Windham Estate, long abandoned and waiting for an heir (me) to claim it. My visions of  "Windham Royalty" have been reduced these past few weeks.
   It seems as though when we have introduced ourselves to the Spanish brothers rather than hearing "Windham"(say wind-um- the h is silent) they were hearing "window". So for a while now I have been "Brother Window". ( I am fairly sure there is no window estate) Things reached a crescendo on Tuesday morning during the meeting for field service. Hermano Blanca was organizing car groups and he asked my name saying he had forgotten. I reminded him of my last name and he said : "Hermano Window". I kindly corrected him "Wind-um" and added "no ventana", ventana being the Spanish word for window. All of a sudden there were several friends saying out loud : "ooh, wind-um; no window, no ventana". This went on for about a full minute during the meeting for service. Afterwards, several friends came over and were like : "wind-um, si?" Needless to say at this point I'm thinking that I should have kept quiet and continued as Ventana, but things calmed down and now I can rightfully reclaim "my estate".
   Our first month in the new congregation is coming to an end and NO we still can't speak Spanish(well). One of the big frustrations has been giving what I call baby comments at the meeting-you know like "Jehova"-and feeling quite proud to have pronounced it properly. The experience is humbling but the friends here are super supportive. Many are immigrants to the U.S. and had to learn English as adults. They have been relating their personal experiences to us and encouraging us to stick with it and reassuring us that this can be done. One piece of advice that has been constant is that they all said watching tv and listening to radio helped them learn English. My Spanish hasn't improved much but I am up to date on Muchachitas Como Tu,  Caso Cerrado, and El Gordo y La Flaca  :-)
   We have had some ups and downs during this time. As mentioned comments are limited. The meetings are a challenge at times. It is quite frustrating to sit through a whole talk and not understand anything that was said. There are those moments though when you listen to the speaker and it just clicks! For now they are few but as the weeks have passed are getting more frequent. I am also appreciating that the way that different friends speak can have an affect on your understanding. We have a multitude of countries represented in the congregation and each has a slightly different accent and some different terms they may use that is unique to them. Then there are the ones I call The Fast Talkers. Imagine the scene- an auctioneer at the podium "five do I hear ten? Sold to the man in green!"-  Yeah now try to follow as someone speaks that quickly and you get the idea. This has stressed to us the importance of our pace and pronunciation- we want to be easily understood so even from now we practice speaking clearly and correctly.
  We have enjoyed the ministry here though it is a little different from the English congregation. The number of homes that are Spanish speaking are few in comparison to English. You may only have a house or two on a street to call on so the territory is much more vast than we are used to. Street witnessing is a big part as well. Last Saturday morning there was a group of 20 who went out at 7am. I joined them and was promptly thrown into the fire so to speak. I assumed someone would help me but no, the brother said "we go one at a time, you can do talk to those guys there". So here I wander over to the truck with the landscaping crew and first words out of my mouth? "Do you guys speak Spanish?" Duh! Yes they do-you don't- just offer them the magazines-I said to myself! I prayed all the way over to the truck and managed not to fumble the brief presentation thanks to Jehovah.
   All things considered this has been a good start to our time here. We are receiving a lot of help from the friends. Many know of our plans and have had only positive words of encouragement for us. We are enjoying the warmth of the Spanish culture as well. The friends are very welcoming. It is considered good manners to speak to everyone at the meetings, say a greeting, hugs and kisses, shake hands, etc. It makes it hard to leave quickly  but you can never get enough love you know. 
   Well, that's just a brief update from our first month. Jehovah willing we will enjoy many more as we press on to our goal of serving as needgreaters in the near future. :-)   

Monday, September 19, 2011

All Good Things Must Come To An End(?)

   I have been a bit philosophical lately, thinking about commonly accepted ideas and looking at them critically, challenging them if you will. Take for example the above statement. Most people are familiar with it, perhaps even uttering it once or twice. Why though do we accept it? Who was the first person to say this and why? Were they having a particularly tough day at the time, indeed what led them to feel that if something is good it won't last?
   I began to think about this after our recent district convention (no, I didn't take any pamphlets from the protesters outside). As mentioned earlier our family has recently changed to the Spanish congregation. Our recent convention was the last time we would be with the friends from Lake Mary for a while. So I guess you might say we were back on the emotional roller-coaster again: joyous to sad and back to joyous again.
   We thoroughly enjoyed the convention program. Having our convention in September, we had heard bits and pieces from about it from others in the months prior. Finally getting to go, we were not disappointed! What a great program! Reminders about seeking the kingdom first, our conduct as subjects of the kingdom, the final talk on Sunday and the dramas, oh the dramas! Yes, I am not ashamed to say my eyes got a little moist during Saturday's drama. We left feeling refreshed and spiritually well fed.
   So why the sadness? I guess the realization that this was truly "the end". We were no longer part of Lake Mary congregation, time to move forward. To make matters worse, the Sunday drama was performed by a number of friends from Lake Mary congregation. So there we are sitting in the audience watching friends we have known for years perform and thinking "we not going to see so-and-so". At the end of the convention, we sat in the car in the parking lot, not wanting to leave-it was a very quiet ride home.
   Things picked up midweek as we started attending the Spanish meetings though. As expected we were warmly welcomed and we "jumped right in" going in service with all our post it notes, dictionary and index cards with our presentation; was even able to make a comment during Sunday WT study. We have found a lot of encouragement from several friends in the congregation who also are not native Spanish speakers but have made the transition. It gives me hope, which right now is something I need. Nothing quite as frustrating as sitting through a talk and missing major portions of it, or everyone laughing at something funny that was said, but not understanding what's going on. Oh well, I guess Rome was not built in a day- hey wait a minute- isn't that another one of those "wise sayings"!
   So, after a week of emotional ups and downs and a new start in a new congregation what conclusion have I drawn? "All good things must come to an end". Whomever was the first person to utter this statement must not have been a servant of Jehovah. Why do I say that? Well I take our experience. Yes, we are missing our friends in Lake Mary already. We had a "good thing" there for ten years now. However we are now in Longwood Spanish and it is as if we have already been there for years, it's very familiar in a good way. I think also about the joys that await us when we finally get to DR, good things as well. Not to mention our hope as servants of Jehovah: life eternal in a paradise serving our loving heavenly father surrounded by brothers and sisters who love us. Everlasting life- now that's a good thing that will never end! "All good things must come to an end". Really, I think not.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Now What?

   We've been at home for a little over two weeks now and are back into the routine of work, meetings, service, etc. During this time we've experienced a wide range of thoughts and emotions; joyful reflection on our visit to DR and happy reunions with friends here in Florida, sadness at the possibility of change in the future. We have had numerous family discussions about our future and have finally reached a decision.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Old Shoes

    They're well worn, broken in and fit you just right. You've replaced the laces, taken them to the shoe repair and had them resoled countless times. They get scuffed and dirty but it's nothing a little polish can't fix. Even when you buy a new pair, you still hang on to these because; well,  they're comfortable. You know the ones I'm talking about, right?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home Sweet Home

   We're back at home! HOT SHOWERS! ICE COLD BEVERAGES! NO MORE CUBITOS!! Oh the joy that simple things can bring. One thing I did not miss was the early morning alarm to get up for work. I think I did good though as I only hit the snooze button one time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm Speechless (there's a first time for everything!)

   We made it back to Juan Dolio safe and sound on Friday evening. As I arrived here I experienced an odd  mix of emotions. I was happy to be back in Juan Dolio and see some of the friends we had made earlier. Happy to be in what has become a familiar surrounding. At the same time I was frustrated by the difficulty in travelling here (6 hours on a bus?!!) and sad that in two days I would be heading home.
   Upon our return to Juan Dolio we decided to rent a beachfront apartment for the weekend and take in some sand and sun. We went to the colmado to pick up some supplies and while we are in the store we hear a loud voice call out with excitement "NO WAY!". It was Sara, the sister who was our neighbor from the townhouse. She invited us to a fiesta being held at the house that night. Sara had held two of our suitcases for us while we were on the road so we figured we would just pop in, get our stuff, say hello and be able to leave quick.
   When we got there however, it was like being around lifelong friends. Some brothers were playing dominoes and invited me to play. I never knew how to but no problem, they'll teach me! Suzanne and Danielle were talking to some of the sisters and man time flew by. The evening was special because the party was for a brother and sister in the Kreyol congregation, it was their anniversary. They were married a year ago in order to qualify for baptism,and didn't have a party or honeymoon. Now the friends were helping them, and their newborn son to commemorate the occasion. We again experienced the joy and hospitality of the brotherhood and were made to feel at home.
   When it came time for us to go, we called a cab to take us to the apartment. We truly felt the love from these friends and it was hard to leave. All of them: Sara, Janai, Eloise, Laurence, and Nancy came to the gate and kept hugging us! We all exchanged goodbyes and promised to keep in touch with one another. As the cab drove away, they stood outside, waving as we drove off. We felt like royalty again thanks to my brothers and sisters.
   So, I am speechless now. Just think-three weeks ago I didn't even know these people and now I am truly saddened that I will not be seeing them again for a long time. I feel as though I am leaving my family behind. I also am sad at the prospect of leaving DR, but am eager to be back in Lake Mary, to see the friends at home there. Right now I am experiencing a confusing swirl of emotions. A happy/sad/joy/blues kind of mix I guess. I wonder, if this is how I feel now, what will happen if we decide to do this long term? Well, maybe this is a good problem to have- to experience too much brotherly love :-)

   On Sunday we will be back in Florida and hope to catch up with you friends there. We have been away from Lake Mary English Congregation for well over a month now. It will be a bit different walking into the hall on Tuesday but we really do miss you guys! Hope to see everyone then!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Serving With Santiago English Congregation

   This last leg of our journey has been a welcome treat. After two weeks of meetings in Spanish and Kreyol, it is nice to be able to understand everything that is said from the platform and give "grown up" comments. Adding to the enjoyment of our time here has been a visit by the district overseer to the congregation as well. Interestingly, the D.O. for the congregation was a Spanish speaking brother so all of his talks were translated. Nonetheless, his manner of speaking and his animation made the points easily understood.
   Going out in the ministry here is very reminiscent of service with the Spanish congregation back home. We worked in apartment buildings and for each building there is a list of apartments where English speakers were found during a prior census work. We go to these doors and preach. At times there may be no information about who lives in a particular apartment so these doors we would knock on, and ask if there are any English speakers in the home. As you can imagine many times people move about so the home where an English speaker once lived may now be occupied by Spanish speakers. There is much work to do here in Santiago English as the territory consists of preaching in the entire city.Yet with these challenges and others our brothers and sisters here are hard at work, trying to reach as many as they can with the message of good news.
   Suzanne and I had a happy encounter at the Kingdom Hall this week. To me, it was encouraging and really shows what a small world it is at times. A number of years ago when we were newly married we spent a few years living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Serving in the congregation with us was a Brother named Daniel Sogeke. Well, of all the congregations, in all the cities, in all of the countries in the world who should be here in Santiago with us? You guessed it! We got to catch up a bit with him and meet his wife as well. They have been busy declaring the good news abroad and are now looking forward to serving here in DR. Man, it's so encouraging to see folks from years ago still faithfully plugging away!
   So that's what's going on here in lovely Santiago, Dominican Republic. We head back to Juan Dolio in the morning and will make our way home this weekend :-(  Back to work on Monday  :-( :-(   Bright side of things: We can start working to save money for our next trip back here to the DR :-)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Blog, The Bag and Jenn

   Yesterday afternoon we arrived safe and sound in Santiago. There we finally got to meet Jenn, a sister we have communicated with for a few months now by email. How we came to know her is to me an example of the unity and love that is common to the brotherhood.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jarabaco-ahhhhh, Part Deux

Acts 16:15  Now when she and her household got baptized, she said with entreaty: “If YOU men have judged me to be faithful to Jehovah, enter into my house and stay.” And she just made us come.

   On Saturday we joined the Jarabacoa English Congregation in the ministry and met several of the friends from the congregation. One of the first we met was Sister Melanie Cole. She introduced herself and asked where we were visiting from. Not a minute went by before she invited us to dinner after the Sunday meeting. "Sure we'd be happy to", I replied and promptly forgot about the whole thing. Well this afternoon we arrived very early at the KH before the meeting- see photo below- and who is the first person we see? Sister Cole. She again asks us: "you are coming to my home this evening, right?" I tell you she and her family could not have been more hospitable. I was reminded of the example of Lydia, I felt like she did indeed just make us come.
   I am glad we did go. Not only did we get to have a fine meal and association but got to know another family of needgreaters (they are from Florida as well). The whole family was enjoyable to be around and their son Mason was a riot, cracking on his Mom and telling stories about her. As we headed home for the evening we were again refreshed by upbuilding association with our brothers and had that joyous feeling you always get inside when you've been with the friends.

early to the hall

Daniel, The Shoe Shine King

Lastly, I stand corrected. We were sharing our story about Daniel with some friends this evening and one of the elders described him perfectly and pretty much verified that his story is legit. He said he has used him several times to do his shoes since he does top notch work and he has been out there at his job for a while now. Lo siento, Daniel.

Tomorrow begins the last leg of our journey. We head to Santiago to join the English congregation there. We'll keep you posted....


Saturday, July 2, 2011


   WE MADE IT! Yes, we reached Jarabacoa (say ha-rah-bah-co-ah) yesterday evening, safe and sound. The bus ride was quite enjoyable and we got to see the beautiful countryside here in the DR. Jarabacoa is a busy town. There are motos everywhere so you've really gotta move it to cross the street; it is a big change in comparison to the sleepy village of Juan Dolio that we have spent the past two weeks in.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nou Pale Kreyol

(Zephaniah 3:9)" For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder."

   So yesterday morning we head to the Kingdom Hall for the 8:40 a.m. meeting for field service. Only when we get there no one is there from the Spanish congregation, apparently they meet somewhere in the campo on Wednesday mornings. So here we are us three Americanos speaking little Spanish and the friends from the Kreyol congregation. What do we do? -THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND- Of course we join them in the ministry, in Kreyol, for the day. IT WAS A VERY GOOD MORNING!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Visit to the Bethel Branch

   Yesterday we took a tour of the Bethel branch here in Santo Domingo. I only have three words to describe it: WOW!  :-)
    Over the years we have had the privilege of visiting Brooklyn, Patterson and Walkill, as well as branches in Jamaica, Germany and here in DR. While they are all beautiful, I truly think the landscaping and design here in DR is absolutely the most stunning of all the sites we have visited.

Transportacion en La Republica Dominicana

   From the earliest of times, man has searched for better, faster, more efficient ways to travel from point a to point b. Here in the DR, there are a number of interesting modes of transportation in the country.
   The first and most basic way is walking. We have probably walked more this last week than we have in the past two months at home. We walk to the meetings, walk in service, walk to the store. It is incredible how much walking you will do when there is no car available. Not in the mood to walk? For a few pesos this gentlemen will give you a ride on his trusty steed!

The most interesting and in my opinion, exciting means of getting around are the motos and guaguas. A moto is simply a small motorbike of about 100cc or so. It is the kind of bike or moped you have in the States when you first start learning to ride. Here in the DR it makes a perfectly fine family vehicle. It is not unusual to see 3 or more people riding around, sometimes with bags or other cargo on the bike. At times, depending on how far the territory is the friends will ride a moto taxi to the territory. They are an inexpensive and fuel efficient way to travel about.
Say "Gwah-Gwah"
So what is a guagua? Although it sounds like a baby crying, it is a small mini-bus that is used to travel along a bus route. We have taken them in the ministry, to go to the mercado for groceries and to travel to Santo Domingo to the Bethel branch there. Guaguas are fun!
 Especially when you take them on a Friday evening with 10 bags of groceries and the bus is overfilled with weary people coming home from work and you are standing up getting tossed around and the grocery bag is clobbering the poor lady sitting in the seat below you and the sharp frond from that fresh pineapple is sticking into the derriere of that woman standing up behind you AND THEN YOU FIND OUT YOU ARE ON THE WRONG GUAGUA???!!! "Juan Dolio? No senor Boca Chica!"                   
Alright! Front row seats!
   Thus, we learned not all guaguas go where you are headed. Note to self: ask before getting on! What I find truly amazing about the guaguas is how a mini-bus designed to hold about twenty people can routinely fit that many and hold a whole lot more. Man, can they pack 'em in! It is quite funny to see when a couple of them begin to compete for passengers. If you walk up to the bus stop they will literally grab you on to their guagua before the other guy can get you on his. They then will race down the street, cutting off anyone in their way to beat the competing guagua to the bus stop to get the passengers first. Quite a scene, kind of like a "Dueling Guaguas" if you will. 
   So, there you have it; transportation in the DR. Is it different? Yes indeed; but thus far we have gotten safely to every place we have started out for. Later this week we will be traveling  to Jarabacoa and Santiago to visit congregations there, so we will get to see more of the gorgeous countryside and no doubt find more interesting ways to travel about in the Dominican Republic.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Follow The Course of Hospitality"

   As we wrap up our first week here in the DR, we wanted to introduce you to some of the friends here in Juan Dolio. Somehow, whenever we are received hospitably by the brothers we are amazed; yet isn't that what we should expect of servants of Jehovah? Still, it is a wonderful feeling, to experience brotherly love and hospitality as we have here in Juan Dolio.
   First, let me introduce you to Hermano Jean-Luc and his wife Maria Theresa. No, that is not a Dominican name. He is in fact from France and his wife from Spain originally. They have served as needgreaters for several years and their travels have taken them to many places. They were in the Creole Language field, which is absolutely EXPLODING here but are currently in Juan Dolio Spanish Congregation. We were invited to their home for lunch last Sunday and got to know them a bit. They were encouraging us to keep reaching for our goal, but also gave us some practical information about serving here in DR that we found very helpful. We are grateful to have experienced needgreaters to help guide us along the way.
   While here in Juan Dolio we are renting a unit in a 6 unit town home that houses only Witnesses. It is great to be surrounded by brothers and sisters. Interestingly all of the friends here are in the Creole congregation, so we feel a little left out :-)  Last night we were invited to dinner by Nancy, a young sister from Quebec who is staying at one of the units here. She invited over some local sisters and we enjoyed a nice meal and good conversation; each of us sharing our story of how we came to serve Jehovah.
   Today after the meeting, again we received an invitation (wow, I feel so popular!) to a "pasar rato"; a get together or gathering at the home of La Familia Trinidad. We enjoyed a nice time with friends of various ages playing Bible games, talking, and of course a little bit of dancing. Man do the Dominican Friends love to dance! I tried my best, but just could not keep up with them. Interestingly we played a charades game with Bible characters, much more difficult in Spanish as all the names are different than in English!
   All in all it has been an enjoyable first week for us here. We've gotten our feet wet in the ministry, enjoyed the visit of the C.O. this week, and had some time to socialize with the friends as well. We are grateful that we have been kindly received by the friends here. The warmth and hospitality are very reassuring. There is nothing quite like a smile and a hug from someone you don't know or whom you cannot completely understand. Brotherly love, truly an identifying mark of Jehovah's people-and very much appreciated by our family.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nuestro Primero Dia en El Servicio

The "Gringo Fabulous" Look
   Today was the first day that we shared in the ministry here in the DR. This is a special week of activity for the Juan Dolio Congregation as we have the visit of our Circuit Overseer. So, you may be wondering, what is the ministry like here in The Dominican Republic? Well, I will tell you about our day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lizards and Skeeters and Spiders-Oh My!

   Last night I committed a murder. It was executed with malice and extreme prejudice. I have no remorse for this act as I was in fact defending my family, and my honor. Last night I killed...a tarantula.
   This was no ordinary spider. You had to see this thing, it was big and hairy, about the size of my four fingers extended. It moved with lightning quickness after I picked up my suitcase. Speedily it made its way up the wall pausing near the ceiling, glaring back at me, legs extended as if it were an old west gunslinger. "Reach for the sky arachnid" as I grabbed the can of bug spray, hitting my target. Down went the tarantula! As I went to get the obligatory tissue for the burial I noticed the prey again moving, up the ceiling on the rafters. This was one tough spider. Desperate measures were called for. I yelled for Suzanne.
   Broom in hand she came to my rescue. One strong, swift blow later, the offending insect was blown up into hundreds of little pieces. Final score: Jonathan 1-Tarantula 0 . Victory was short lived as I now had to clean up the mess.
   As I later lay down to rest for the evening, I reflected on our day. A flight into Santo Domingo, taxi ride into Juan Dolio, meeting the friends who will be our neighbors for the weeks we are here and being attacked by the locals(mosquitoes here are quite aggressive) one thought played in my mind: WHAT AM I DOING HERE!!!? Things are very different here from Lake Mary. New surroundings, stores, sites, and people. A simpler life- no a/c or hot water, no pizza delivery(oh the horror!)
   We are very excited about our "adventure" though. We are staying in a multi-unit town home. We are surrounded by our brothers and sisters and about a five minute walk from the Kingdom Hall. Most of the friends staying here are from Quebec and they attend the Creole Congregation. They are very warm and willing to help us get settled in. It makes us that much more appreciative of our brotherhood.
   The next three weeks will play a major role in the direction of our lives. Will we like it here? Will we be able to learn the language and adapt to the culture? Will we find a new home in the Juan Dolio Spanish Congregation? Most importantly; will the bugs finish us off? We invite you to follow us on our journey as we "spy out the land" here in the Dominican. Please join us as we experience what it would be like to live as needgreaters Declaring The Good News in The Dominican Republic.