Thursday, March 31, 2005

Dominican Republic Trip: Day 1

We arrived late at night in Santo Domingo after a full day. In the morning, we had to finish packing after being interrupted from doing so by lightning striking our house last night. I also wanted to finish writing a song to Jeremiah 29:11-14, post a description on my blog of the lightning strike, and take a shower, all in the midst of showing the house to sell it. I got it all done, at the expense of making us leave 40 minutes late, but we still made it to the airport on time.
Results of the lightning strike: The bricks from the chimney exploded off in all directions

Mom couldn’t go past security with us to go to the gate, so the three of us ate lunch together in the check-in counter area. She was going to wait for the plane to take off so that if there were any problems, she wouldn’t have to come back all that way to get us. We didn’t want her to have to wait all that time by herself, so we didn’t go to the gate until the last minute before boarding.
At the gate, there were 26-30 high-schoolers, all with light blue shirts on that said, “Dominican Republic 2005” on the front and a verse about preaching the gospel on the back. We talked to one of their chaperones for a while, and she said they were from a Christian school in Watervliet, MI.
The group was seated ahead of us on the plane and they behaved themselves very rowdy and foolishly. Or maybe I should just say they were lively and in high spirits.
Our flight from Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale was 3 ½ hours long and the most turbulent flight I had experienced. It seemed to be over very quickly though, and after picking up some dinner at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, we were back on the same plane, headed to Santo Domingo.
When we got to the airport, we had to circle around in the air 2-3 times before landing, and we saw several large fires burning in different areas. Later they told us that they have had 7 months of drought and hundreds of acres are burning in the mountains.
Finally we landed, made it through customs, and saw the smiling faces of Pastor José, his wife, Tati, and his brother-in-law. They loaded our luggage into an SUV and took us to a 3rd floor, 3 bedroom apartment. We met Pastor José's sister, Pina, and her 3 children, Emily, Liliana, and Frank, and they showed us to our room.
It is probably 9x10 feet, painted yellow, with two wooden single beds, a bookshelf, and a plastic chair. The beds are covered only with two sheets and no blankets (and believe me, you don’t need them! The weather is so great! Mid-80s with high humidity, better than we got all last summer!) The two windows have no glass or screens, but instead slats about 3 inches wide that can be turned with a crank to open and close. I think this is a security feature, as it can’t be broken or climbed through, but still lets in the air.

There are a lot of security features here on people’s houses. This apartment has an iron bar gate at the bottom and another iron gate with at least two locks on it outside the strong wooden door of the apartment, which has about six locks on it. Around all the patios and balconies there are strong bars, too, curved outward so that you can look down to the ground.

Before we went to bed, they showed us the bathroom. They apologized that we would not be able to bathe ourselves that night, because there was no water in the tank. A “shower” is pouring water from a small plastic basin over yourself. The water comes out of a rusty pipe protruding from where the faucet would be, dribbling constantly because the one working knob won’t turn all the way off. This is all collected in a large blue bucket and saved for flushing the toilet (which otherwise would have no way to flush), bathing, washing hands, cleaning floors, or whatever other use they need water for.

We went to bed about midnight after saying goodnight to everyone. We’re not ones to lose sleep on a strange bed, so we fell right to sleep. 

This is the first post in this series. 
Keep Reading: Dominican Republic Trip, Day 2

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