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, 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.