Our first outing in the Dominican Republic was on Sunday morning, November 21. We drove about one hour up into the hills to a small town called La Cienaga. It was raining and each time we made a major turn the road took a turn for the worse. We started on asphalt and by the time we got to La Cienaga we were driving on a muddy, bumpy road. What a beautiful drive! The Lunas had planned for us to attend church at Iglesia Christiana Victoria De La Cienaga. It was a wonderful small community at the base of the highest peak in the DR.
This post is longer than usual. It was such a different culture, that I was visually over stimulated. I could have easily taken 4 times as many photos as I did. These are a few from our Sunday morning in La Cienaga. Enjoy!
This is Pastor Pedro. He truly had a pastor's heart, warm and personable.
Here is Pastor Xiomara. She is Pedro's wife. I'm not sure if she actually has the title of Pastor, but she shared in the speaking equally with her husband. She is a loving and capable leader.
My 12-year-old son, Chris, captured this photo while Sean, Alan and I sang a simple hymn. He didn't get the focus right, but I like this photo anyway.
Alan shared from Psalm 23. Samuel translated line by line. It was really fun to hear a sermon in 2 languages. The small congregation was mostly children, so Alan kept the sermon short, sweet and to the point.
After church, one of the women began to make lunch for us (more on her later). We took a walk through town and up to the trailhead while we waited. It was quite overcast and rainy, but still beautiful.
I've never seen so many street dogs in my life. Not just in La Cienage, but on our entire trip. Everywhere we went, there were dogs just wandering around. They all had the same mangy look and just a touch of sadness in their eyes.
Bryan keeping dry as we made our way up the trail.
One of my goals was to capture someone carrying stuff on their head. As we were sitting on the porch, waiting for lunch, these guys wandered by and I whipped out my camera as fast as I could.
This is Kendra Luna (left) and Ramona. Ramona became a Christian a few years ago through a woman in Youth with a Mission. She told stories of physical healing for her sister and herself. She shared of her changed character and of her growing peace. She owns this little store in town that serves the people. She made us a delicious lunch of rice and meat. Really yummy!
This little kitten was so adorable. One of the guys called to the kitten, "Mishu, mishu" and it came over. "They don't respond to "kitty" here, but they do respond to mishu." We gave her a few grains of rice.
This is a pile of chayote. I lost count of how many piles of this vegetable we saw on the way up the hill. It grows from a vine and, apparently, it was harvest time. Our friend, Kendra, said that it doesn't have much taste. You can add butter and salt and it's like mashed potatoes. You can also add some brown sugar and cinnamon to it, bake it like a pie and it tastes like apples. The slang for it is "poor man's potatoes."
This is the hut where they boil the chickens to make them easier to pluck. It makes me very glad for Costco.
This is Lydia. She offered to make us some coffee. Coffee bean trees grow right there in their yards. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I tried it. It was very good...wonderful flavor...no aftertaste. I'm sure it rivals any gourmet brand we have here in the US.
This is the lovely table setting that Lydia displayed. It kind of reminds me of a Rembrandt still life...Dominican style.
We then moved on to this lovely woman's prep kitchen, where she showed us how the beans were prepared.
Here is the coffee bean on the tree (right outside Lydia's home).
This is the bean in its raw form.
These beans were in the process of being dried.
Once they had been dried and roasted, they were ground by hand.
See that beautiful, dark goodness in the bottom of the bowl? Fresh ground coffee.
Sweet little girl who stood by and watched.
A beauty shot as we departed. There is another woman hiding behind her. You can see her leg in the bottom right corner...shy I guess. They were all very hospitable and proud of their coffee process. It was an honor to be with them.
As we left, Samuel let the boys ride on top of the jeep for about a mile. It was pouring rain, but they didn't care. As I'll share in future posts, there are not many rules of the road in the DR. Every time you drive, you have a chance to say, "YIKES!" No boys were harmed in this process.
As we drove back down the hill, I kept my camera ready just in case. I saw a boy in the window of a small house. By the time I lifted my camera to my eye, he was gone. It was not until later, when viewing this photo that I saw that he was actually peeking out at us. I cropped it down so as to see his one eye. Cute!
I shot this through the front window of the van. I absolutely love this lady...such character.
Here's me doing what I love.
This is the Luna's son, Nathan, he wanted to pick this fruit to eat right then and there.
Well, if you made it this far – congratulations! There are more posts and more stories coming!