Showing posts from November, 2018

That One Time When I Turned 32

My first birthday in the DR was memorable in all the best ways: good friends, good food, and good times. After a morning run at the botanical garden, I worked most of the day amidst numerous (welcome!) celebratory texts, Facebook messages, and visitors. Then, about a dozen fellow missionaries, seminary students, and seminary family members gathered at my house for "Friendsgiving." If you're unfamiliar with the concept, check out the entry here . Basically, it's another excuse to eat turkey (or in our case, chicken). Instead of pumpkin pie, we had chocolate cake! Me with Alba (wife of Peruvian seminary student Elvis) and fellow missionaries Jo, Jamielynn, and Natalie.  You can have tacos for Thanksgiving, right?  Yay for IKEA dining room tables that come with two  leaves and an empty bonus room adjacent to my dining room.  I was serenaded with multiple traditional birthday songs in two languages. Nefta's rendition of Las

Vacuum Therapy

It's true that my first Thanksgiving in the DR started with worship.  It's true that we had turkey and all the fixings (I made a pumpkin cheesecake and a pumpkin coffee cake ).  Most  of the seminary students.  We went all out with tablecloths and centerpieces! But while I did enjoy a sunset stroll through the botanical gardens with much of my DR family as per last night's  Facebook post , my holiday didn't really  end there. I went home and vacuumed!  That wouldn't normally merit an exclamation point, but the vacuum is a new toy and I'm beyond thrilled at the ease of getting it here. For most Dominicans, mops and brooms alone suffice for keeping floors clean. I have two rugs, though, and with a cat that's going to shed like mad in this heat and humidity, a vacuum was non-negotiable. After learning that another missionary family with two dogs and carpeted stairs had ordered a vacuum from Amazon and used Mail Boxes Etc.  (

Back in the Saddle

An appropriate title for a post about the week I just spent in Puerto Rico, given that roadside horse sightings were unexpectedly common. We even drove by an abandoned school being used as a stable. But enough about equines...I just spent a week in Puerto Rico! The title of this post is also apt since the chief purpose of my visit was to assist with my first bona fide LAC short-term team. Having coordinated teams for the entirety of my 2009-2011 stint as a GEO in El Paso, TX, picking up the reins (no pun intended) - and picking up a drill! - was just like riding a bike. Although some aspects of the experience varied drastically from what I knew, some were exactly the same; I felt so in my element whenever I was planning for or spending time with the group members.  I also aimed to get a feel for the Church's work in Puerto Rico and to do some assessment that'll be invaluable in mapping out teams for 2019 and beyond. Imagery will tell the story best: CARD ( Casa d

The Missionary as Learner

Missionaries must be Learners. It's critical that we approach things with open minds, cognizant of what we don't know and ever receptive to the wisdom and instruction of others. I'm going to be exploring this aspect of my vocation this week. First, I leave for Puerto Rico in a few hours. I fly from Santiago to San Juan and then 76 miles from San Juan to Mayagüez - on a Cessna! It'll be my first time on the island, for no other reason than to be a Learner. My trip coincides with a short-term team from Hope Lutheran Church in Wake Forest, NC, a congregation with a long history of serving in Puerto Rico independently. This is the first time they've elected to align their work with OIM, so navigating the waters of our working relationship with the team members will be a learning experience for both me and the PR-based missionary team. Speaking of which, they're obviously far more knowledgeable than I am, so while I'm happy to lend "leadership" howev

Gettin' Jazzy With It

I like jazz. I can't tell you the first thing about the genre, musically, or name any particular artists, but the strains of The Jazz Groove frequently fill my home (like right now). As I learn more and more about the cultural side of Santiago, mostly thanks to Instagram, I wanted to share two recent opportunities to take in live jazz music. Both were thoroughly enjoyable and helped endear me to my new hometown in a big way.  1. Dominican Republic Jazz Festival: an annual, FREE, outdoor concert with stops in multiple cities. I felt like I was back in St. Louis where there's a free concert, movie night, etc. pretty much every night during the summer...except it was October and there was a giant palm tree next to the stage. There were two acts, a local guy and a Chilean group. During one of the former's songs, it seemed like everyone in the packed house started singing along and pulling out their phones to record.  2. Lunes de Jazz: a weekly live performance, ty