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Archive for the ‘Dominican Republic’ Category

Just returned from the medical mission in the Dominican Republic.  More on that later when I sort out photos.  In the meantime see our Hancock County Medical Mission Facebook page or hcmm.homestead.com.nick cave

Thanks to Kat, from Keep the Coffee Coming, for this one:  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow.”

The firewood pile is under there somewhere.  I have already found the truck.

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Thursday, 19 February 2015
Hello to all. All well here in Villa Vasquez, Dominican Republic. We’ve almost completed our first week and with no mishaps. The team (Hancock County Medical Mission) left Maine ahead of a major snowstorm and arrived smoothly. I came to the DR three days earlier with wife Jeri’s team, caught up with old friends in San Pedro de Macorís and saw how much the school Colegio Moriah and the Haitian Baptist church had grown since I was last there. On Saturday I met my own team members as they arrived at the airport.

We’re working in two medical groups as usual: the surgical team, which works every day in the local hospital and hardly sees the tropical sun, and the clinic team which goes by bus each day out to small farming villages and shamefully gets sunburned while doing general family medicine and occasional referrals to the surgical team or to Dominican specialists. Teo and Frida, the MMI directors, are also MDs and are treating patients. I’m translating for an MD named Ron from Saskatchewan, Canada.

Most of the days we set up clinic in school buildings, usually a kind of sprawling affair of long rooms separated by courtyards, secure for kids and also for a medical team. We’ve seen some beautiful places along the way, one of them about 1000 feet up with a view of the sea. Not too hot here, mid-eighties, and comfortable nights sleeping. Good hotel, concrete and tile with running water (usually) but no hot showers and no wi-fi. We eat in a rented house about four blocks away, meals cooked by MMI staff (that’s Medical Ministry International, our hosts) and the hospital is a few blocks from there, so it’s easy to walk around. Small town, easy to walk from one side to another, and friendly. We’ve gotten to know a few people in town—Andrea, the lady who owns the pizza place (best wi-fi AND best pizza around) and she speaks good English because she comes and goes from New Jersey.  Antonio, the security guard here at the hotel is also very friendly and we aren’t at all intimidated by the stockless shotgun that he carries around like a cane. Very talkative, and these people are great to learn from. Besides ourselves I don’t think we’ve seen anybody from the United States except for a woman with the Peace Corps. Villa Vasquez NOT a tourist destination.

Farming country nearby, lots of bananas, rice fields, and on today’s trip some tobacco. Sugar, but not so much in this area. Saw a few kinds of cactus on the ride today, and that area was very dry¸ many buildings with gutters and pipes set up to collect rainwater in cisterns. Old fashioned outhouses at the school where we worked today, and in some ways this is a step up from the proper flush toilets at the hospital—I’m told that there was no water at all there today and they had to lug buckets when the toilets got too foul.

Typical surgeries include hernia repair, gall bladder removal, lumpectomies. Probably other major surgeries like hysterectomies and tubal ligation but I’m not with that team this year [update: Charlie just confirmed all of the above, but said “lots of hernias”]. The hospital in Villa Vasquez has an OB unit so there have been two or three childbirths each day. Sarra, one of our scholarship students, has been with the surgical team, working pre-op and post-op, and has seen a few newborns, although not the births themselves. Taylor, our other student, has been with the clinic team and working with integrated health, which works as a waiting area after patients have seen the doctors and while prescriptions are being filled. During that time they receive a lesson in health care and hygiene and a gospel message, then instructions about taking their medications when the meds are ready. Taylor has been translating and assisting and she clearly loves kids. Also, there are three other teenage girls on the trip from Virginia. All are rooming together with an adult, an OB surgeon, to keep things on the level.

Food great, by the way. The MMI cooks have been doing this a long time. No chance of losing weight, especially with the pizza place as the wi-fi hot spot. Breakfasts include eggs, maybe bacon or sausage, fruit, choice of cereals and the best granola except for Jeri’s. We start breakfast with a praise song and close it with a short devotional by whoever had volunteered. My turn was this morning, and it was on Psalm 100. We also start the work day with an introduction to the people we’ll be treating, with a “circle time” that includes the song “Alabaré” (I will praise) and a prayer. The key is to be brief because it can be a long day.

I’ll close now, go over to the pizza place to connect and (try) to send this. Charlie and the gang are already over there. This time of evening I’ll walk past a bunch of older men playing dominoes on card tables on the sidewalk. You’d think it was a world-class chess match. Maybe it is, or better.

Thanks for praying. Keep it up for us, would you? See you next week in the snowdrifts.
Ted

PS—Also check out our Facebook page, Hancock County Medical Mission.  Charlie has been posting photos and videos of the OR team.  I’ll try to put this up on my blog, https://fromoffshore.wordpress.com and may include a few of my own photos in a few days.

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*and a cat.

Jeri and I have been married 35 years today and it looks like we’ll make a go of it. Jeri & Ted 35th anniversary brt It was chilly and breezy today, but not as cold as the 5th of January 1980—cold as a dog and the wind no’th-east, as Ruth Moore would say.  I have cousins here in Maine who still complain about how cold it was on the island the day we got married—and they go ice fishing and snowmobiling for fun. Today the wind was northwest, a clear dry wind, pulling arctic air after yesterday’s storm—but the temperature hadn’t fallen much below freezing after the warm southeaster—so it was a pleasant enough walk on the back beach.  We decided to take a few photos of the dead 36-foot humpback whale that washed up on Christmas Day.

Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 041

Left to right: Triomphe, Jeri

Triomphe, as he was called, was identified last week by members of Allied Whale and the College of the Atlantic.  He was born seven years ago in the Dominican Republic and likely would have gone back there this winter.  No indication yet as to why he died. How do they know one whale from another?  Barnacles.  Each whale has a unique barnacle pattern, unique as fingerprints; and the ones on the tail are often visible by boat and easily photographed.  Researchers can track migration patterns by comparing photographs from other researchers or even from tourists on a whale watch excursion.

Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 044

Enormous barnacles on Triomphe’s underbelly.

Triomphe had washed ashore here on Little Cranberry Island just to the east of the Old Coast Guard Station (now a summer home) but during the southeaster a couple of nights ago came adrift, made his way around the point (going over Baker’s Island Bar a bit) and nestled up against the stone wall at the foot of the Station.  I think we’ll need a no’theaster to set him adrift completely, but winter is made up of those.  In the meantime, he’s made the front pages of local papers and of course Facebook is fond of him. Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 047

The three on the right came after we got married 35 years ago.  They made the new guy wear a yellow shirt so he'd match.   No whales were harmed in the making of this photo.

The three on the right came after we got married 35 years ago. They made the new guy wear a yellow shirt so he’d match.
No whales were harmed in the making of this photo.

Photos - Whale Triomphe, Little Sal 031

Believe it or not, you can see the whale here. Click over the photo, then click again to enlarge. Triomphe is the dark mass just to the right of the stone wall at the Station.

* Here is a picture of the cat:

Little Sal on Heather's bed

Little Sal

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She didn’t give me a whole lot to work with, with that little point-and-shoot camera, and as she was busy working the whole time and trying not to fall off ladders (she’s OK now, thanks for asking). 

But I can’t say much.  I forgot my camera on the kitchen table when I left for Ecuador.   

So, after a little cropping, here we go:  Scenes from Colegio Moriah.

Men working on the roof of the school building

Using the uncompleted church building for classrooms while the school gets built. This is quite typical: first, move in; then, build. Each building or room gets used for whatever purpose best suited at that time. Eventually, with God's help, it'll all come together.

Sunday morning after church service, and ladies only in this photo. Jeri is on the far left in pink blouse.

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Jeri building a form for a concrete arch

I got my wife back again.  Jeri flew in from the Dominican Republic Monday, two days after I got back from Ecuador. 

We go on “separate mission trips together”.  I’m with a medical mission to South America (see previous blog entries) but Jeri co-leads a construction team to the Caribbean, to San Pedro de Macorís in the Dominican Republic.  For nearly ten years they have been building a school for the church Iglesia Bautista Cristo para las Naciones (Christ for the Nations Baptist Church) in a poor Haitian community in the DR.

Not only do they build the school, called Colegio Moriah, they also build the church building itself, to replace the previous one that met under tarps hung between chain-link fences at the pastor’s previous home.  In fact, one of the first buildings constructed on the new grounds became a house for Pastor Tanis and his family!   Whatever they build serves multi-purpose as the project develops.

Jeri is more or less the mastermind of the project.  In the first place, she designed the buildings; but since then she does a ton of fund-raising (for the yearly operation of the school as well as its construction), organizes much of the team’s effort to go there every February, and takes part in the cement-slinging and painting.  She fell off a ladder on the job but is OK now.  And taking a well-deserved nap as I write this. 

For more information about the project, visit http://colegiomoriah.org or the older site, http://www.colegio.homestead.com .

And as a matter of unabashed fundraising, please let me talk you into donating!  Among other expenses, the teachers’ salaries in particular are an ongoing concern, and we now have a matching grant from the RD Foundation (up to $5000 total) until the first of April. 

Anything you give before April will count double through the generosity of the Foundation.  Please click here.

Consider this:  a mere $250 pays for one high school student’s tuition, uniform and books for a year. 

A gift of $2,750 pays for one teacher’s salary for a year.  A year!  Amazing.  And those teachers really do deserve to be paid.

Think about it.  And thanks for dropping in.   

School under construction in 2009. Kids raising the Dominican flag in the morning as workers wait.

 

The school in June 2010. The two above photos were taken from atop the unfinished church building.

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