Shock Value

I’ve delayed a bit in creating my final blog post but am now sitting down to write you all an electronic letter. I am back in Nebraska, but have my 2 last days in the Dominican Republic to report.

This post’s title seems a bit emotional, but it’s tied to the weather on my trip home. Simply put, I boarded my Delta flight in Santo Domingo on the afternoon of February 12th; it was 84 degrees. I got off the plane about 9:30pm in Omaha; there weren’t no degrees; yup, it was zero. That qualifies as “shock value” in my book.

Tuesday involved a Villar Hermanos breakfast with my fellow DDG Board members, some work time and a major planning session with M(elvina) & M(iguelina). We locked-down some details for the May visit of the Education Mission Team. As you can see, we sure worked hard, smiling all the way. Such a good team to work with.

Wednesday, on my way to the airport, Miquea Saintivil and I stopped at Colegio San Jose, Boca Chica, to help plan the June mission trip of young people from St. Matthew’s Church, Lincoln, Nebraska. Plenty of ideas, written down as extensive notes, with time for a group photo. A very productive morning.

My DR work continues even as I spend a quiet evening at home. Lots to do with Colegio Kids and follow-up from my mission trip. The blog will go to “quiet mode” until I’m further notice, but I will keep you posted on significant developments in the progress of our Dominican education system.

Gracias y Bendiciones+

The DDG Rides Again . . .

Many Dominican Development Group (DDG) members arrived in Santo Domingo late Sunday night . . . or was it Monday morning early? Anyway, the decision was made to delay our meeting a bit Monday morning to allow all Board Members to begin the meeting fully awake. Someone was making good choices.

We welcomed a number of new Board members and whether it was their “newbie excitement” or a sense among the veterans that this meeting offered possibilities for revitalizing the organization, a lot got done; projects were launched, fund-raising options were discussed, Jason Roberson was inaugurated as our new President (though no one sang “Hail to the Chief”) and thanks were heaped upon departing Board members and our retiring President, Ed Miller.

These photos capture much of the meeting. Bishop Moises outlined Diocesan goals for 2020; Executive Director Bill Kunkle reported his report; new Secretary Rick Lopez typed notes like a banshee; participants listened, posed for the official group picture, commented frequently and asked questions regularly (with an occasional sidebar). We even took time to celebrate Board Member/now Treasurer Sally Thompson’s birthday. It’s all in these photos, folks; every single thing you might like to know; all right here.

One last item to report from yesterday. Ever curious, I wondered what had happened with the reconstruction of the pipe organ at the Cathedral, happening during my last visit here. Well, it’s nothing short of a miracle. Here’s the proof.

Today holds more meetings in store and some serious “packiando” for tomorrow’s flight home. Bendiciones y gracias.

Any Given Sunday

The titles of not-so-wonderful sports movies have once again been drawn upon for “innovative” titles for blog posts. The “Given Sunday” in question was yesterday. There are several events to present:

  • A mass celebrating the life of a long-time parishioner at Iglesia San Andres, who was the mother of a singer in the Christian rock group, Adonai; as the service began, Madre Juana Maria led the opening prayer (note the banner above La Madre, translated as “A Church Moved by the Holy Spirit”, which is the Dominican Diocese’s motto for 2020); Adonai provided inspirational music throughout the service; a moving experience whenever the group rocks on.
  • The welcome dinner for the DDG Board Members arriving for tomorrow’s meeting; Bishop Quezada hosted our group at Angelo’s, a great Italian restaurant in Santo Domingo’s Old Town. Notice the smiles all around a very long table.

Back to the apartment for a good night’s sleep. The DDG meeting awaits us in the morning. !Hasta Manana!

Convention Adjourned

We stayed in Santiago for a half-day Saturday as the convention concluded with a prayer session and a “lunch of many colors” (pork, mangu, potato salad and tossed salad). The convention has been described with words like: “productive”, “wonderful”, “spiritual” and “moving”. My small part in the proceedings (sitting, listening and schmoozing) went very well.

Here are some photographs that capture a convention high point — Morning Prayer.Iglesia La Anunciacion was as full for morning prayer as it had been Friday.

I made a video of Padre Alvaro preaching his heart out; this is not, repeat not, a scene from the film, Elmer Gantry.

Next came a financial report. Followed by committee reports. Followed by the award for “Priest of the Year”. Ballots for electing delegates to provincial and national conventions were counted carefully by a team of counters (notice my complete command of parliamentary terminology).

The convention concluded with a prayer service in which the Bishop blessed the attendees and received a “confirmation of faith” from a number of attendees. Followed by quite the lunch.

One more task remained. The Anunciacion Rector, Padre Tony, supervised clean-up activities and awaited the arrival of a youth baseball team to transfer sports equipment donated to area youth. Many thanks to the Padre for his hospitality.

The day concluded with a drive through the mountains — gorgeous country on a lovely, sunny afternoon. Then, a “napocito” in the recliner to end quite a Saturday.

Today Is Convention Day

The day dawned earlier than I’d hoped. The first day of a Dominican Diocesan Convention starts early (breakfast at 7:00am) and runs late (back to the hotel after 9:00pm). As the delegates kept telling me: “Es un dia largo . . .” Yup, these conventions have looooooong days.

First off, people began to arrive in serious numbers and line-up just outside the pavilion. I have an easier time getting through Migracion and Customs in Santo Domingo than the delegates had receiving their credentials.

The day officially started with Oracion Matutina (Morning Prayer); the Bishop blessed the convention and its participants; our hosts, Padre Tony and his wife, Iris, welcomed us and explained what we could expect in terms of meals, bathrooms and moral support. Their staff (including several teachers that I’ve met during workshops at Anunciacion) posed for a group foto. Let the business of the Convention begin.

We shifted right away from standing in lines and greeting each other to conventioneering; for those of you who’ve attended Diocesan Conventions, this will come as a “big surprise” — we listened to reports, read Constitutional amendments, sat and listened, sat some more listening, took lots of snack breaks, had a terrific lunch and sat for a while. We concluded by sitting.

The day concluded with a very Dominican supper (yucca with pickled onions, platenos, fried salami) which I believe might have pushed me over the Weight Watchers point limit on my diet. In what might become a tradition starting with this convention (the 62nd, by the way), two new deacons were ordained in a spectacular service. The sacred nature of an ordination demanded incense (which appears in at least one foto as a light gray cloud).

A quick story to explain why this service was so special for me. Likely you’ll be surprised to learn that I even got “all misty” as the ordination was confirmed (ha, ha, ha; remember that my daughter once said: “My Dad even cries at baseball movies”).

My first extended stay here was for orientation and language study. I did that by auditing seminary classes and taking meals with the seminarians. I was in a state of confusion most of those 5 weeks. A seminarian, Domingo German, took me under his wing and made sure that I was OK. Tonight, Domingo was ordained as a transitional Deacon; he is now Reverendo Domingo, fulfilling his life’s dream; his mother (I believe in her 90s) watched the ordination from the front pew. I’m not surprised to learn that Domingo’s ministry will focus on the poor and homeless in San Francisco de Macoris; his special gift is teaching reading/writing to his flock. What a night!

I’ll close with my contribution to furthering the understanding of North American Episcopalians about how Dominicans pass the peace. Check out this video.

A Little More Wandering . . .

Wandering while I wait for the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic (IGLEPIDOM) to begin. I had some work to do, algunos espanoles para estudiar and a few errands to run. And, some photos crying out to be taken along the way.

First of all, the weather was “mahbellus” — lower temps than usual, as lot drier than it could have been and a very, very nice breeze (as seen by the flag in the photo, with the moon looking over its shoulder).

Second of all, we did us some driving (using some Delaware/Indiana grammar here). We crossed several ridge lines and a number of agricultural valleys, with mountains in the background. Then, we checked into a very nice hotel in Santiago de los Caballeros, about 2 hours north of the Capital. The name is Hotel los Jardines (The Gardens Hotel), locally owned, professional run and an economical place to stay.

Third of all, we headed to Iglesia La Anunciacion to see how the preparations for the annual convention were coming along. Of course, they were about finished, except for that final walk through inspection. Notice that this year’s gathering is being held outdoors, under the new pabellon which serves as a multi-purpose room for the school. Quite an accomplishment for Colegio La Anunciacion.

Tomorrow, the Convention begins with breakfast, followed by Morning Prayer, followed by reflections on the theme/mission for the coming year. Let the fun begin!

Brings Back Memories . . .

Still in my “coupla meetings, some walking around and working on my Spanish” mode here in Santo Domingo. I spend days at the Oficina Diocesana and evenings in my usual apartment. All is going well. Tomorrow, we drive the 2 1/2 hours to Santiago for the start of the Diocesan Convention. The pace will pick-up dramatically.

Curiously, I have had a couple of “blasts from the past” while spending these three days at a slower pace. For one, I ran across this VW Bus; exactly the model and pretty close to the colors of one my father-in-law owned when Meredith and I first got married (his lacked only the phony surfboards).

Second, I had a chance to watch two road crews repairing city streets between the Seminary and the Office. They brought me back to my childhood in Boston. You might be wondering: How could that be? You’ve got different cultures there. Well, for two reasons.

  1. This is an election year in the DR. Politicians everywhere, but particularly in Boston during the 1950s, suddenly realized the need for extensive public works projects when an election loomed.
  2. The make-up of the work crews. Exactly like those employed by the Boston Department of Public Works. A crew consisted of: a guy working, a guy supervising the worker, 3-4 guys watching the supervisor supervise.

Yup, those were the good old days. Seems that they never really left us.

Tomorrow, I’m into the guagua (a 10-passenger van) for the drive to Santiago. It’s a lovely drive north — across mountains with some spectacular scenery. The Diocesan Convention begins welcome activities tomorrow evening with the opening ceremonies on Friday morning.

!Hasta manana!