My favourite colour is purple. I like most colours, except that I'm not too fond of yellow. I'm a teacher, a student, a wife and a step-mom to four young adult-ish kids. My favourite room is my craft room. I like to play with photography, paper, scrapbooking, book and card making. Thanks for checking out my blog!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

a thrill of HOPE, the weary world REJOICES!

Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

Hark the herald angels sing, 
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Oh, what a beautiful morning. Christmas morning. The messenger comes with beautiful feet, says the prophet—beautiful because they carry a message of good news: God is made known at last. The Lord has bared his holy arm so all nations can see it—no mistake. But, surprise! This bared arm turns out to be a bare arm: the bare arm of a baby in a manger, the bare arm of an innocent man nailed to a cross, the bare arm of one who will bear sins but who will refuse to bear arms. A different kind of ruler to usher in a different kind of rule, a different kind of world. A world where salvation extends to every nation and every people. Oh, what a beautiful morning! -Fred Gaiser

Isaiah 52:7-10 (NRSV)

7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."

8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion.

9 Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.

10 The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

signs of HOPE

a bird's nest in a bare tree, a blossoming tree, flowers in unexpected places, denim coloured mountains,
are images of hope to me

Fear Not

I worked on this page in my faith art journal in August and September. When my faith journalling group got together, we started out with reading some different lines of scripture. Then we did a 12 minute free write, where we wrote whatever was on your mind. Then we tried to make a visual page of what came to mind. We also wrote a found poem, choosing lines and phrases from our 12 minute write and put them into a poetic form. 

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pg 1, with a pocket for the writing I did
pg 2, Dominican homes

Isaiah 43:1
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
You are mine.
Twelve minutes of writing. Three minutes of percolating over a verse. FEAR NOT...why is it that I always find fear when I face new things? Unknown things? Things that I chose for myself and put into motion and things that I long for and am glad for, but still, there is FEAR when I think of starting something new.
This verse talks about being redeemed and that is the reason not to fear. It talks about being SUMMONED by name and that is the reason not to fear...God says “You are mine, Joan.” That is the reason not to fear. It doesn’t talk about absence of things to be afraid of. It just says “You are mine. I have called you by name. I have redeemed you. Fear not.”.
Names- it was in Nigua that people called me by my nickname- for that is how they knew me. The look on their face when they saw me coming down the path to their house with Rafaelito...saying, “Yo si se quien es que me viene a PINCHIE!” Normally I cringe at being called that name of my childhood, but on that day it was special. It was tender and endearing and reminded me of this strong connection I have with this person, this place.
Why is it that I get so emotional when I start telling the stories of our trip? How will I share in front of a larger crowd? It is the feeling of being so full, full of joy, full of memories, full of remembrances that spill out of my eyes and trembles my voice. I don’t want to hide that feeling, but I want to be able to share it in a way that can be understood. Do tears help us to be understood by others? Do fears and tears unite us in deeper ways than language?
I loved the homes of the DR- the vibrant colours, the clean floors made of dirt, the wooden windows, open to the outside, the front room for visiting, with lace curtains hanging. I am trying to remember the visuals of my photos...did I take too many? Should I experience more of the moment instead of hiding behind the lens all the time, trying to capture moments to look at later instead of really seeing it in the now? Pink and green walls, blue and white walls, brown no paint walls. Always motorcycles buzzing by.

 face new things
I long for
the reason not to fear.
You are mine.
Tender and endearing.
Strong connection:
full of joy,
full of remembrances
that spill out of my eyes and tremble my voice.
Do fears and tears unite us in deeper ways than language?
Vibrant colours of home
experience more of the moment
see it in the now
Always motorcycles buzzing by.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Warmth and Colour on my computer screen

These are beautiful children! I look at them everyday and get lost in their precious, deep eyes. I have this photo on my computer screen saver as a reminder of my trip to Nigua this summer. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's good to be home.

I want to redirect you to my husband's blog. This entry powerfully tells one of the stories of our trip. He did the writing and I made the video. I think it's precious.

Friday, July 29, 2011

La Posada

On Sunday, July 17 we met up with my good friend, Carmen. Carmen says we are hermanas de crianza, sisters through being raised by the same parents. She and her sister Clara lived in our home when I was very young. I don't remember a time without loving them. They have always been a special part of our family. I was born on Carmen's 14th birthday. I had not seen Carmen for about 20 years. We were both visiting our native land at the same time, so we coordinated a trip out to a very special place.

La Posada, the Inn, was my home from the age of 2-11. It is located on the shores of the Caribbean ocean, about a 30  km drive out of the capital city. As a child, it was paradise! I remember most of my time being spent outdoors: swimming in the pool, swimming in the ocean, collecting shells and hermit crabs and colourful rocks, climbing cashew trees, tree house in the mango tree, watching piglets grow up,  and lots of interacting with the people who worked there with us.

It was the center for the Medical Group Missions, from which grew Medical Ministries International, the group that Barry and I participated in this month. We had many, many medical projects all year round. Even though I was shy, I loved having groups of people come for two week intervals to do medical, dental, surgical and eye projects with the communities of the country who didn't have access to health services due to lack of resources and opportunity. I don't remember a time when I wasn't involved in this service. It was a really fun way to grow up.

In 1979 we experienced first hand the destruction of our home and most of the buildings of La Posada when Hurricane David devastated the area. My family moved into Santo Domingo after this and so did the main operations of the work of MGM.

Various groups have moved in and tried to use the main building for different purposes, but no one seems to have made a lasting, permanent use for the area. 

I have been back to visit La Posada every time I have returned to the country. It is a favourite place for me. You know how there are some special places where you feel most at home? Where you know just what colour the sky turns when the sun is about to disappear? Where you can see a storm approaching by the darkening colour of the water on the horizon? When you know the sound of the pounding surf and can time the next wave crashing into the reef, engulfing it? Where you know where the frogs and crabs hide at night and how to avoid them? Where you know the cracks and ledges in the stone wall and just what place you are able to scale it if you put your foot in the right place? Where you watch the waves glittering in the sun as if the ocean water had diamonds floating just under the surface? That is La Posada for me.

As Carmen and I were getting all caught up in the back seat, Nicio was trying to find his way driving through Boca de Nigua. The town has grown, though I could see land marks that I recognized. When I saw a familiar stone wall, I knew we were approaching the grounds on the side of the river. My heart started pounding and I was straining to see through the front cracked windshield to recognize more.

It was a really hot day. The sky was beautiful and clear. The ocean was exactly the same as it always is. We got out of the car near the main stairs going up to the main building, near where the entrance of the swimming pool used to be. We went to the pool and my eyes were drawn to the ocean. There were two young boys playing in the dangerous pool, but they were staying by the little sandy shore part, rolling in the waves in their underwear. Their dark heads were shiny in the bright sun.

We walked down the road by the stone wall, towards the motels and the area of our home. There has been more deterioration of the buildings. I immediately saw the ground under my feet and remember it well, though it wasn't something I was looking for. It had green, black, grey stones cemented in. 

When I reached the remains of the foundation of our home, I  just started crying. It wasn't sadness really, more like a very strong nostalgia. I could see the tiles on the floor of what used to be my bedroom, the yellow tiles of the living room, some white ceramic tile  from the bathroom or kitchen. I stood in the living room and stared out at the ocean for a long time. When my vision became clear again, I was able to take more of it in, and was startled once again at seeing how small our home was!

It was fun touring the area with Carmen and sharing memories with Barry. We were able to go inside the main building where the dorms, kitchen, dining rooms, meeting rooms, and pharmacy storage were. Some of the areas have been totally fixed up, while other rooms are still in a dilapidated state.

When we came out of the main building, we could see that a van load of people had unloaded and were headed to the beach. A man invited us to join in on the celebration of some baptisms. Because it was so hot we decided not to go down to the unshaded beach area, but we did watch from afar. It was a beautiful thing to witness, in this abandoned place of my childhood, and I thought to myself that there are still sacred moments happening, even though this land is still scarred from destruction and neglect. 

We spent more than an hour here, but the heat was almost unbearable in the approaching noon day sun. I stopped to pick up some reminders of this place- a small piece of red brick from the old pool, two pieces of tile from the house, and three beautiful stones from the beach. 

Besides participating on the Monte Plata medical project, this was the experience I was most looking forward to sharing with Barry. I am thankful for this place and how it formed me. I am thankful for the chance I had to visit and remember. 

the stone wall
the pool was my second home. 

my home!

I love this reef!

main floor tile from my home, white tile is either from the bathroom or the kitchen.

the view from our living room, minus a few trees that never grew back

the floor tile in our living room. It is the most intact part of the flooring.

standing in my bedroom

with Carmen, standing in my parent's bedroom.

pointing towards the main building of la posada

the marble staircase that hid us from the strongest winds of Hurricane David, inside main building

The floor tile from one of the main rooms in the big building.
I remember playing on this floor and tracing the designs with my finger.

View from one of the meeting rooms in the main building.

the kitchen. Stove tops replaced by open fire cooking methods.

What used to be the main dining room, where we lined up for food in the left hand side of photo. 
view to the rooftop balcony

on the roof top

the stone covered stair

the baptism

the ground outside my house
Barry and I, sitting on the ledge of my brother's bedroom

this tree is near the place where my dad had a workshop

If you double click the video, you can watch it through youtube and then expand it to view full screen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Barcelo Capella

Then we headed to the resort. It took over an hour to check in. There was a YWAM group just checking in as well. We explored the grounds, found our way to the beach and walked along the sand. It was nice to just sit on a chair and relax a bit. It was overcast. Walking into the buffet dining area was overwhelming. All of us just looked around and we didn’t know where to start. We finally found a table near the water and then started in. It was an absolutely gorgeous setting, with white table cloths and white cloth covered chairs, overlooking a grey blue ocean with white sand. A bit surreal. While eating, the clouds finally gave way to a torrential down pour and they had to draw the curtains so that the water would stay out. We waiting out the storm there before walking back to our sleeping area. It’s a large complex.
We stayed two nights here. The beach was lovely. Sitting on the beach chairs under a palm was a great way to reflect on the project. I talked to a lot of people who worked on the beach selling things. It was interesting to hear their stories. I had a pedicure on the  beach. Barry and I did beach aerobics to try to work off some of the food we were eating at the all inclusive...
It was all very beautiful to be there...but to quote Niki, There’s nothing that compares to serving God along with other people. There was a certain emptiness there after having such a fulfilling week.

cafe con leche on white linen coth with a beach view = sheer bliss for Joan

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

shopping in Santo Domingo

July 13, continued.

We drove into Santo Domingo. I loved seeing the ocean again. The drive in from the airport into the city always has that mezmerizing view of the ocean. Blues, greens, white spray, dark and corally rocks. Endless horizon.

The entrance into the city was unrecognizable to me. We went to the Mercado modelo for an hour to do some gift shopping. This was as I remembered, just a little re arranged.

After being in the touristy part of the market we went outside around the side and I took lots of pictures of the spices and vegetables all laid out in the sun. Bags of rice, sacks of beans, lemons in small piles and small red peppers in little groups. I loved this part. Barry thought it was just like Chinatown.
Then we walked from there down to the colonial zone, for lunch on a corner right across from the parque Colon, in front of the cathedral. It was fun to walk these streets. This hasn’t changed much. I guess because it’s been around for over 500 years... I took a  picture of Los Muchachos, a shoe store that I bought shoes at when I was little. Outside the restaurant, we ran into Madonna Yates and her family, along with Joey Hunter and Nicio. It was great to see Madonna again.
I had mangu con huevos y cebollas with a side of avocado salad. Barry had a goat stew with rice and a zapote milkshake. It was all very tasty. From there we headed to the airport to send Cindy off on her way.

these are the largest cinnamon sticks I have ever seen! Cinnamon branches, more like it!

the tail end of mango season is upon us

There are some smells you just never forget.