Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer 2011 - Light and Darkness

Finally! Electricity! We were without it since last Monday morning until we arrived at the beach yesterday. Apparently someone cut a wire while doing construction. The neighbors on our street got together and fixed it and we had a few hours of fan on Wed night. Just enough to tease us. I'm sure the "fix" is Dominican style and we may all blow up next week:) happy.

When I am THAT hot, it is so hard to even think. I wanted to read but I couldn't. All I could think of was "I'm so hot. Please let me sleep so I won't feel the heat". I see the women crouching over an open flame and a boiling pot, cooking their one meal of the day and I don't know how they do it. There is no glass on the windows here and everyone sits outside talking until late at night...and I understand why. It is too hot to go inside and lie sweating in the bed where there is no breeze. So you might as well be hanging with the peeps in the neighborhood and solving the problems of the world. It's good therapy. Even the dogs have loud heated discussions in the middle of the night.

We are at the beach right now. This is how God confuses us. He places this extreme poverty and suffering on this beautiful tropical island and you don't know whether to laugh or cry. To exclaim at the beauty or cry out at the ugliness. Today I am in awe at the breeze from the sea, the turquoise color of the water, REAL ORCHIDS growing on the trunks of the palm trees (will take pics for you), tropical colors everywhere. (I was reminded briefly of where I was as a rat ran thru the dining room - twice - last night!). This island is filled with such beauty and signs of God's love for us. I imagine Eden to be something like this (without the rats).

And then we are assaulted with the other side of this beautiful island. The barrios and bateys filled with people who cannot find work, who live in shacks where the water runs in every time it rains, where the children are covered with sores that are covered with flies and there is limited healthcare. Where they forgot to turn on the water to the community for a week and they walk for blocks carrying buckets of water from the one pump. Where the garbage has piled up for a month and now they are burning it and the black smoke fills the air with particles of melted plastic and Styrofoam. (The dying animals have consumed everything that is edible off of the garbage piles). Where you have to watch to not trip over the skinny, stumbling animals who do not even have the strength to bark or meow. Where I am daily confronted with someone saying "Please, Cindy, help us make more dolls or jewelry so we can make some money. There is nothing else for us to do". And I lie awake at night thinking about how I can sell more dolls, more jewelry.

The ugly, the beautiful. The dark, the light. The grieving, the celebrations. The laughter, the tears. every day is filled with some of both. Every person is filled with both gifts and shadows. It is life and God is present in all of it. We embrace it all and share the planet with these people in the darkness. Our light is dimmed because of their darkness. And our joy is multiplied when they smile.

I leave you with joyful moments in the dark Batey--2 beautiful young girls, Juana is 12, Milagros is 13-they have made their first sock dolls as apprentices. They are the next generation. (And they did an awesome job - they were so proud!) . The dolls even have arms and eyes!

Tuesday we will have a big Fiesta in the St. Luke Center for all the 5 yr old children who are "graduating" from the Healthy Children (Ninos Sanos) Program. Their mothers consistently brought them for "well child" checks and invested n the health of their children. (This is the program we work
with in the summer with the Canadian group). We will have cake and soda for the party (Not healthy, but it is a celebration!!) and they will receive certificates and be called up to get it, each one receiving big applause. (Will send pics!)

Thank you for your support for these people. For not forgetting them. For keeping them in your prayers and for working for peace, justice and love for all wherever you are.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Visit 2011

Day 1: Our readings this morning were about asking for a sign...and I remembered all the times here that I felt God was missing and asked for a sign and how often He did not rebuke me and went ahead and sent one....and then I remembered Jose. One of my teachers here. Paralyzed, dying in a dirty bed covered in flies. We decided to take him to the hospital and I was sure God would take care of him. We went from one hospital to the next and no one would see him- "He is dirty" "This is a clean hospital". I felt abandoned by God as we brought Jose home to die in his filthy one room shack. I could not understand where He (God) was. As I said goodbye to Jose, I looked into his eyes and I found God. God was not in the hospital, but in the broken, dying body of Jose. As I walked out the door , I heard Jose whisper, "Recuerda me, Cindy, Recuerda me". Remember me, Cindy, remember me. I needed to remember that today. God is never where we think He is, but always somewhere.

Cholera is coming back here. We are trying to be extra careful. It is hard to have to sneak around the corner and wash my hands after every handshake and hug.
Today we saw Adela-3 years ago some of St. Luke's donations went to help her get catarract surgery. She looked great and had big hugs for us. We have not seen her since we left. Your love at work....alive and well.

I found out about friends recently diagnosed with AIDS. A new set of twins were born last night ( one is still in the hospital). Crying one minute, laughing the next. That's what this place does to you. Lots of hugs, holding new babies, listening to their stories and crying with them, then laughing with them.

We are so blest to be able to spend this 2 weeks here. I am never the same when I leave here. Hopefully, I can bring back some of those blessings to you, my friends and family who hold us up and send us forth.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Water Flowing in Lechería!

It was a great week, although very tiring. Cindy and I did a lot of work ahead of time to get everything ready for our St. Luke team to return to the batey, Lechería. When we got there, we met up with a group from New Jersey and with a group from “Water Is Life”, a non-profit organization.

With the help of the Water Is Life guys, we coordinated with the local people to lay pipes for water throughout the community. By the time we left all the pipes were laid!

Another group from Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pompton Plains, N.J., went down this week to help cover the pipes and start the water running. It is quite a miracle to have running water through the community. Up until now, the people have had to walk a mile to the river to wash their clothes or walk a half mile to the pump and fill up jugs to carry back to their house. Now they will have water right outside their doors!

We also worked with groups of women who are continuing to make jewelry and sock dolls.

The amazing thing was the younger girls who are coming and wanting to is hopeful that we can get them into something to earn an income since jobs for women are scarce.

We were able to bring with us a donated autoclave (steam sterilizer) for cleaning medical equipment. We barely got it through customs, but it will help the clinic there to achieve licensing from the country’s public health department. (That’s Cindy in the picture)

We also did some repairs and “beautification”.

Most importantly, we touched and were touched by the people of Lechería. Their spirit of survival and reliance on God are always amazing. They are the reason we return regularly. Thank you for helping us show them that someone cares.

(Left) Greg with the Lechería community team

(Right) Baby Gregorio (yep, named after Greg)


Greg & Cindy