Jenny is at our temporary home down the road with Annika, Keila is with a friend who offered (!) to spend time with her yesterday evening, and I am on the second floor of a guest house that is near the top of a hill in the southwestern corner of Barahona. I don't have a camera with me, but I will take a photo soon to post here. From this vantage point, I have 180º of ocean vista--Caribbean blue ocean, with mountains in the background.
Barahona is on the western side of the Bahoruco bay in the southwestern corner of the DR. From here, we are about 60 miles to the Haitian border. During the next three years, I expect to get to know those 60 miles very well as I travel between Barahona and several different parts of Haiti as I continue serving with MPP, helping to develop programs of intensive yard agricultural production.
I had a chance to visit this site in December when I spent a few days here in Barahona, with fellow mission co-worker, Jo Ella Holman, looking at housing possibilities. This section of Barahona was attractive to me because of the view, and because it is away from the noise and the sense of city down below. It is, however, one of the more isolated sections of the city, which has proved to be challenging as Jenny and I have worked to secure housing.
The guest house, or "casa misionera" where I'm sitting is part of a neighborhood church, one of three churches here in Barahona that are part of the Dominican Evangelical Church (Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana), or IED. It is with the IED that Jenny is beginning to serve, sharing her skills as a Medical Lab Technologist at an IED clinic serving a Haitian community known as "Batey Seven." Batey Seven, and other bateyes in various parts of the Dominican Republic, are settlements of Haitians who have come, or been brought, to the Dominican Republic to cut the sugar cane. IED has been running the clinic in Batey Seven for over a decade.
The batey's have a complicated history. With a brief google search, I did not find anything definitive. For more information, try using these key words: dominican republic, sugarcane, haitians. Jenny has also done some research which I will try to share in another blog.
After one week in this guest house, we accepted the invitation of member of the local IED church, here in the Cassandra "barrio" or neighborhood, to move temporarily to a furnished house owned by a Dominican woman living in Spain. "Don David" or Mr. David, was recommended to us the pastor of the Cassandra IED church as someone who could help us with transportation. Mr. David has become more than that to us. His home, 50 yards or so down the rocky street from our temporary home has become a key entry point for our immersion into the life here. When we visit in the late afternoons, Annika goes eagerly to the hands of his daughters, and Keila plays with his grandchildren. Mr. David wife runs a small cafeteria and he works construction, when he can get the jobs. But Mr. David grew up in a farming family, and he also grows fruits and any number of crops on half an acre of land adjacent to his house, which he built himself with help from a Dominican branch of Habitat for Humanity.
And finally, what is at this moment the most pertinent news! After nearly a month in country and more than three weeks here in Barahona, we have finally located a suitable house, with Mr. David's help and Jenny's ingenuity (who knew real estate agents could work here!). We will be living in a neighborhood called Blanquisales, close to the road that will take Jenny to her work twice a week in Batey Seven, and me on my way 60 miles to Jimani and the border crossing to Haiti. Jenny will have her first work days at the clinic next week, even as we begin furnishing the new house and make our (by God's Grace) final move. I will head to Haiti for my first trip from the DR sometime around April 12th or 14th.
And that is the news from this piece of the world. Thank you all so much for your prayers. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we work to furnish the house. Also as we search for a good person to help us with Keila and Annika. Especially that!
Greetings to you all,