February 26, 2010

Republica Dominicana Project #2

Okay, so the Dominican trip wasn't all fun and games, cleaning water, and church services .... unless you call this part "The Painting Game". I like the sound of that!

Come to think of it... they DID hand me a machete and a shovel as well as paint, brushes, and rollers. And that ramp to the roof could be a slide of sorts with only a 50/50 chance of sliding right off and twisting or breaking something...

And leaning over the side of the roof to reach the top of the wall could be a balancing game of sorts. You just don't want to lose your balance because, well, you could end of losing a lot more. Loads of fun!

Notice that Holly spent some precious painting time dancing around when she thought no one was looking. Okay, maybe I made that part up; we knew that she knew that we knew that she was dancing. It was all part of "The Painting Game" I'm sure. Maybe she was practicing her brush stroke technique.

Hm? What was the shovel and machete for? The machete was to cut back the trees and other growth from the walls we were to paint. Then we lost it. So I "borrowed" some one's shovel that happened to be laying around and dug up the weeds that were growing on the roof. That's right. Weeds. On the roof. And I made the ants really mad too. You can see the pile of dirt, weeds, and ants behind the dancing Holly. No, you can't really see the ants; but you can see the dirt in which they live. It's the ant penthouse.

This is the wall beside the water filtration building. Beautiful, yes? No? Micah cleaned it up and painted it too.
Tah dah! Now there is a freshly painted, clean wall next to the freshly painted, clean water building.

This is one of the outside walls of the church/school and that is the path to the water filtration building. We cleaned the wall, swept the path, and then painted the wall. Since we had already played the "balancing over the side of the roof game" with this wall on the first painting day, we remained on the ground this time.

A little story on the side: There was a bird that kept whistling at me, so I whistled back and forth with it for quite some time. My competitiveness took over. I had to outlast the bird! My whistler was getting so tired... and then the bird... I think he started mocking me. He did learn a new whistle from me though; if he ever migrates to my house, he can call my dog.

After we ran out of white paint and the wall/path was sufficiently finished, I helped Holly do the finish work on the water filtration building. Those poor brushes! Brush work just isn't the same when you're working with bricks. I felt a little bit sorry for them.

What? Yes, those are the same jeans I wore the first painting day. No, that's a completely different shirt. Did I wash those jeans? Um, no. Were they disgusting then? Wow. You're really asking some personal questions. Um, yes they were disgusting but not SO disgusting. I sprayed them with Febreze the night before and once again that morning for good measure. So although they were disgusting, they smelled fresh. Now while you're at it, why don't you give me a paper cut and pour some lemon juice on it? Did I bring those jeans home? NO! They told me that they wanted to stay and be a missionaries in the D.R. so I let them.

I consider "The Painting Game" to be won. Yes, it was a team game. Us against the walls. We won.

February 25, 2010

Good Times

Once upon a time a sister and a brother walked and talked.

Sister told Brother how funny it was to her that Husband tried to answer bra questions when he obviously knew nothing about bras (except that he likes what they hold). Brother laughed with Sister.

Sister wondered aloud whether she should tell Husband to stop trying to talk about bra sizes as if he knows anything about it or whether she should teach him so that he could be informed.

Brother stated that learning is good. Too many people don't know about bra sizes including many women.

Sister stated that there are stores to which women can go and get a professional bra fitting.

Brother said he wanted to work there.

Sister said she was telling Brother's Wife.

And there was much laughter.

*Any resemblance to actual persons may or may not be completely coincidental.

February 24, 2010

Republica Dominicana Project #1

So one of the main projects of this trip was to build and install a water filtration system in the town of Baitoa. Two teams had already arrived and started on this before our arrival early Tuesday morning. (We were supposed to arrive late Monday night but that's another story.)

This is the church/school building. The water system was to be installed in a small building behind here.

All these parts have a specific purpose. It looks sort of like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle. I'm just glad that there were people who knew what they were doing. I asked Jim why the pipes go up and down in that pattern. The answer is that the ozone needs 30 feet of vertical pipe to rid the water of bacteria.

There was trench digging, pipe laying, trench filling in, pipe building, pipe installing, door and track building, and much cleaning and gluing and following of instructions.

This is Leo. He is married to my friend, Cheryl. Charro in Spanish. His full name is Juan Leonardo Perez Sanchez. Doesn't that sound cool? Well, he is cool. And he's the man in charge.
The cement thing in the background is the water cistern with regular water. The water is pumped up to the roof where there is a holding tank which is run through the filtration system. I was told the water will go through the system several times.

Micah, my brother, and Dave, the master builder, tested the weight holding abilities of the counter that they built before painting it. Test 1- Successful.

We called in more volunteers. Test 2- Successful. The counter will easily hold the big jugs of water.
Now for the finishing touches.

Tah dah! The water filtration system is complete!
These were the water tests. Each bag was filled with water then a chemical to make those pesky, invisible, deadly bacteria show up. The first bag of unfiltered water turned black within 24 hours. The second bag was partially filtered and turned yellow within 24 hours. The third bag was absolutely clear. Jim drank the water. And since Jim is still healthy... Success!

The last item of the water project was the installation of a small cross which Dave's neighbor had sent with him to leave on one of the projects. Little did we know that it would take some ingenuity to install it; small nails weren't readily available so Dave made staples do the job.
With this system in place, people will be able to purchase clean water for 70% less than the normal price allowing them to use clean water more often.
And more encouraging news: the mayor of Baitoa is excited about this project and wants to have ten more installed around the area!
Any questions? I may know the answer. If not, I know who to ask.

Friends Don't Leave Friends in the Dark

I've been thinking about where to begin this tale of travel. After much consideration, I decided that I would start somewhere in the middle and work my way around sort of in a spiral pattern. Beginning to end is so overrated, isn't it? No? Oh well.

The five of us that traveled together are my dad, my brother and sister-in-law, Dave, and me. Now for some reason Dave felt the need to look out for me. Probably because he's a dad, husband, and grandpa AND he didn't want to answer to John if anything bad would have happened to me. Little did he know that I'm pretty independent. Not careless. I just know when I'm capable of doing something without assistance. But I humored him a bit and let him do his guardian duties .... sometimes.

Dave is the one looking at the camera instead of the view.

One dark rainy night when the power was out, Dave waited to walk me across the street to the house in which we were staying. Thanks, Dave.

Since there was no power and neither of us had flashlights with us, the house was very, very dark when we got in there. So I did my trick.

As I started walking to my room, I told Dave, "Just shut your eyes real tight then open them again and you will be able to see better...." and I went to my room, climbed in bed and went to sleep without a second thought.

The next day I learned that Dave hadn't heard me and spent some time getting his phone out and trying to use the light of his phone as a sort of flashlight and continued stumbling through the house to his room after realizing that I had already vanished. (I will admit that I laughed upon hearing this.)

"What? Really? You don't know that trick?" Apparently more moms than dads use that technique when entering a dark room....

Micah and Holly informed us that pirates would wear those eye patches for just such a reason. They would flip up that patch when raiding a ship in the dark and be able to see perfectly. And it must be a true story.... it was on Myth Busters. And to think, I thought those pirates were just clumsy and frequently poked their eyes out.

Maybe the next trip I'll bring my own eyepatch... or get one for Dave at least.

February 23, 2010

Anyone There?

*tap tap tap* Hello? Is this thing on?

Testing. One. Two. Three....

Hi. I'm back from the Dominican! There are many, many stories and an abundance of pictures I have to share with you. In fact, there are so many that I think I will piecemeal them out to you. After all, it wouldn't be fair to overwhelm you with all 388 pictures in one sitting...

The trip was a great success. I loved the Dominican people and the country is so beautiful! Learning Spanish is now on my to do list so that I can communicate better the next time.

There. That's one of the views I enjoyed on Friday. I'll tell you the story about that place soon. Right now, I've got some boys here that have missed their mommy and I'm to enjoy their stories and hugs for now.

February 14, 2010

No, I Did Not Learn Spanish Yet

There is only one short night of sleep before I begin my journey to the Dominican Republic. Really short. Super short. They are picking me up at 6:15 in the morning. I don't usually see that time of the day. Por que? (See? I threw in a little Spanish already!) Why would I wake up so early in the morning? Why leave behind all my gentlemen? Why go to the Dominican? Why, oh why, go to a place where you may see creatures like that!? Inside the HOUSE!?

Well, I'll tell you.

*cue the music* tu-du tu-du tu-du

No! No! Not like that!

Fine. I won't sing it.
(My apologies to everyone who has not seen Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail. I'm truly sorry you have not seen the funniness and the line memorization possibilties that movie has to offer.)

We going there to serve and encourage Leo, Cheryl, and Zamar. They are missionaries in the town of Baitoa; their ministry includes three churches and a school. We plan to do whatever needs done including painting, building, speaking to the school children, putting on a conference... I may even be able to help Cheryl with her blog.

We will also help install a safe-water system. There are three big manuals of instructions. With this in place, the people will be able to get safe, clean drinking water. (It's a good thing there are women on the team so that the instructions are read. What? What did I say?)

One or two days will be spent in a particular valley where a particular former Franciscan monk lives and works. His name is Pastor Reuben; he loves Jesus and loves people. There is such poverty in this valley that after visiting there, my dad told me that it is the worst poverty he has ever seen -- and my dad has seen poverty in Haiti and in India. So far I haven't been able to imagine worse poverty. We are delivering to Pastor Reuben the Cash for Cluckers money that was raised. This Kids Church class collected offerings each week since October in order that Pastor Reuben may buy chickens for the people of the valley. Chickens for both meat and eggs. Have you ever thought you couldn't do much because the need was too great and there were so few to help? It's amazing what can be done when you step out and start. These children raised $1,258.20. That's worth about 175 chickens! (give or take a few cluckers)

So. Those are the reasons that I am leaving on a jet plane. (I do know when I'll be back again.) My bags are packed. After checking off all the items on my "Don't forget this stuff" list, we did the weigh-in. Just under 40 pounds! Woohoo! I still had ten pounds to spare.

That means I get to wear my lightweight coat to the airport instead of furreezing. You see, it's light enough to pack into the bag so Little Brown Coat can take a joy ride to the Dominican and back.

I'll take a lot of pictures! (including pictures of the plane as requested by Josiah)

February 11, 2010

Cuddles Are Priority Today

I'm "working" with one arm (and some times less) today. You see, I have this little boy who feels yucky and who needs that aspirator a.k.a. The Snotter but refuses it. He's very good at duck and cover. He also needs Tylenol but he spit it out or more accurately, he let it all fall out of his mouth and onto his shirt when he bawled about me giving him the stuff in the first place.

He doesn't want to eat. He doesn't want to play. He does, however, want to remain in my arms and rest his head on me. Both arms. He wants both arms because everyone knows that when you are feeling sick only full attention will do.

There are a lot of things I wanted to accomplish today. Okay, there are a few key things I wanted to get done. Right now though, I'm just hoping for a shower. How quickly priorities can change!

February 10, 2010

Because I'm Sure You Want to Know...

I am aware that lately I've left some things hanging. You're probably just barely restraining yourself from asking me what's up. Shh. I can have my delusions and feed them too.

Tatatatata DAH!

Last week my dad had a showdown with Tim. Yeah... Tim didn't stand a chance and has been banished NEVER TO BE HEARD FROM AGAIN.

In December I asked Santa for a few highly reasonable items for Christmas.

1. Vacuum- preferably one that would recognize Legos and spit them into a separate compartment so that I can rescue them without all the bending and crawling currently needed to avoid sucking them up.

2. Carpet Cleaner-
Is there a super fast model? One that dries as it goes too? Or maybe one that
vacuums, saves Legos, cleans, AND dries? That would be good. Then you could skip

I didn't receive either of the models I asked for but I did get some new vacuum bags.

Oh well. At least my vacuum still sucks.

In other news...
After being missing in action for nine days, Cai showed up and was instantly welcomed back into Noah's arms. And there was much rejoicing. The dog, also called Cai, who filled in for Cai may need counseling due to feelings of abandonment. But don't worry; we have a Woody doll and everyone knows that Woody takes good care of all the toys.
Note: No one received the promised reward since it was Noah himself who found his Cai.

Speaking of dogs...
Miss Hepburn, my fabulous seasoned citizen client, moved and DID get to take her dog with her. And there was much rejoicing.

Regarding the boobies discussion...
Apparently Josiah is correct. It seems that John may have what can be categorized as "man boobs". I felt obligated to tell you this since it is ... uh... well ... just HILARIOUS to me!

That about wraps it up. In the words of Paul Harvey, Now you know... the rest of the story.

February 8, 2010

Side Games

During the big game day yesterday, we had some other games going too. Multi-tasking, you know. We even did a game within a game. Amazing, right?

While we played Apples to Apples, Josiah and I had a little spur of the moment game. First, I put a sour head candy in my mouth. whahaa! Those things are insanely sour! Then it was Josiah's turn.

I will admit that he kept his sour head candy in his mouth longer than I had kept mine.

I think losing that particular game was worth it. Who came up with that stuff as a candy?! It could be a torture device. And be careful when taking it out! If it touches the end of your tongue where sour is registered..... well, just be aware that you don't want that to happen. *shudder*

February 5, 2010

Wishing for the White Stuff

I am hearing rumors of "snow fatigue". These reports are coming out of areas that don't normally get a lot of snow.

People are saying that they are *gasp* running out of stuff to do. *shocked face*


You've got a winter wonderland just on the other side of that door!

People are reporting that they have cleaned house, baked, cooked, read books, organized, done laundry, painted, done crafts, sewn, yada, yada, yada, and more. REALLY?

I live in an area where our average yearly snowfall is well over 100 inches....
and I still manage to get nothing done. Seriously. What are they trying to do?

We have a measly 3 inches of snow left on the ground that has been melting down from the couple of feet we had a while back. I didn't appreciate it while it was here. Usually our snowfall just. keeps. coming.

Personally, I am hoping for more. Oh yeah. LOTS more. Why? Because I haven't yet recreated some awesome Calvin and Hobbes snowmen scenes. That's why.

I feel the NEED to get creative in our snow play and I really want to see what Josiah would come up with. Think of the possibilities!

Life Lesson: Don't take your snow for granted.

Of course... our front yard isn't big enough for multiple scenes. We may have to "borrow" some more lawns. Coming Soon to a yard near you....