Day 1: Spring Break in the DR with the USC Caruso Catholic Center Team


Breakfast at the mission house with our team before heading to church service on the top level of Tia Tatiana School.  Not everyone was up yet but in this photo around the table starting on the left: Elizabeth, Christina, Jenny, Roxy, Angela, and; standing; our Vision Trust team, Ramon, Alex and Jessica, then back at the table, Jay, Mary, Katrina, Alex and Taylor. Left of the table: awesome Dominican coffee!

It's always a joy to hear Doris sing and feel the love.

We set out from Tia Tatiana school to take a walking tour of Herrera after the Sunday morning church service. Left to Right: Drew, Ramon, Jay, Elizabeth, Jenny, Roxy, Christina, Angela, Taylor, Katrina and Alex.

Elizabeth and Mary chatting with some of the locals on our walk through Herrera.  The girls on the right remembered Jay took their picture last year.  We assessed what the kitchen at Tia Tatiana School needs and tomorrow we'll be getting to work.  We finished the day back at the Mission House with Nelson, Vision Trust's Director sharing his life story of survival and trust in God and how he discovered his life's purpose. We ended the day with delicious handcrafted burgers...or salads, for those who aren't a great local spot where we sat under a thatched roof and enjoyed the soothing Caribbean night breeze and felt blessed to all be here together.

November 13th Trip 6 Day 2 in the DR

Sunday is always busy because it's the day we spend with the children and leaders at the Remar orphanage.  We go to their church service that, thankfully, was held inside the main building of the orphanage instead of outside under the sun. Our entertainment portion of the service was a precious dance by 3 of the youngest girls.

Thanks to David Levinson and the Big Sunday volunteers, we were able to bring a whole new load of baby clothes to the Remar Orphanage store where they sell the merchandise to pay for expenses at the orphanage.  The store was sold out of almost everything for babies so what we brought was very much needed and appreciated.  Baby clothes at the store are a hot item.  We also found out today that there's a big demand for boys' clothes. When we come back in March we'll try to bring some of those donations as well.

Brooke and I did 3 activities with the girls today.  One where they learned about communication by sitting back to back with a partner-- one had to look at a picture and describe to the other how to draw it.  The girls did an awesome job!  The next project required working together to build a bridge across two tables and roll a ball down the bridge and have it land in a cup. Another successful accomplishment!  For the third project, Brooke showed the girls how to make Christmas wreaths out of sheets of colored foam. It was simple and beautiful and everyone, including Brooke and I, had a great time!

Jay surveyed the sports field from the roof of the main Remar Orphanage building and assessed how 2 tall nylon fences can be added to expand the area into a true baseball field and prevent the balls from getting lost in the thickets. Jay got his exercise giving pitching and hitting tips to the younger boys and he appreciated the help of Luis who seemed to magically know just where to find wayward balls.

Dinner was the ever-popular Dominican take-out Provocon chicken, rice & beans, yucca and wasa caca sauce.  Afterwards the boys each got a toy car, since they weren't involved in the craft activities, and everyone finished the day off with popsicles and finally good bye hugs until we return with the USC Caruso Catholic Center student volunteers in March.  Today was our only day to spend at Remar but we'll look forward to coming back and seeing a few improvements including the expansion of the sports field and, hopefully, some repairs to this kitchen in the main house.

Two surprises so far on this trip are the check that the 5K race generated for Remar--it comes out to over $45,000 U.S. dollars and it will go towards purchasing the main house so the orphanage has a permanent home.  The other nice surprise is the VisionTrust bus that was purchased over the summer and lets us all ride together in comfort instead of having to split into groups in multiple cars.

Hard to pick just one shot of the sky driving home tonight.  The clouds have been lingering.  Baseball game tomorrow night--the season starts in November in the DR. Let's hope for another dry night.  Lots  going on tomorrow with teacher training and activities back at Tia Tatiana School.