Thursday, April 19, 2012

Influential People in Our Missionary Life

Father Sandino Sanchez 

ELLEN - One of the first priests that I worked with on mission team plans was Fr. Sandino Sanchez.  He is a small man with a very stern but kind face.  He speaks very slowly.  I was not sure if that was because my Spanish was so bad at first or if his profession as a teacher made him speak with authority.  I soon learned that his faith is very strong.
Fr. Sandino Sanchez
     This is one of those times when words cannot express how deeply I feel for this man and how much respect I have for him.  He speaks very little, but when he does speak, people listen.  His depth of faith and strength is so profound; you can feel it and see it in his face.  He is a good friend and a spiritual confidant.
  He never ceases to come see me when I am struggling spiritually.  He always has a bible verse or bible story to guide me when I am struggling.  He has been  a good friend all the years that we have been here.  If I need someone to discuss a difficult issue with, he is the person I turn to.  My husband is always my confidant, but Fr. Sandino has been a confidant for both of us.  It goes both ways.  He has shared with us some really difficult things with us too.  Because of that confidence, we have grown very close to him and his family.  Even as I write this, I feel a tug on my heart for this special, special man.  

BOB - The Dominican Church has many excellent and dedicated clergy.  But Ellen and I grew up as missionaries at nearly the same time as Fr. Sandino grew up as a priest in this diocese.  When our daughter led a team to the DR, they decided to help complete the church in Santa Maria Virgen in Montellano where Sandino was the priest.  Earlier his ordination to the priesthood was the first we attended in the DR.  When Sandino was invited to preach at my daughter´s church in Dallas, we were invited to come with them.  It was Isabelle´s first trip to the USA and it was a joy to see her experience the USA for the first time.  The trip to the USA cemented our relationship.
     Father Sandino is an exceptional man and priest.  His wisdom is far beyond what I have experienced with other people.  There is little doubt that his wisdom is spiritually connected.  He is a special friend.

Hijas Del Rey or Daughter´s of the King

ELLEN - Before we left the States, I was trying to find a chapter of Daughters of the King.  I was not successful.  When I arrived in the Dominican Republic, I became so busy, that was not one of my priorities.
     Then a small group of women from South Carolina came and offered to do our first three lessons to become Daughters of the King.  We had a large of group of women who started out.  I think we had almost 20.  We continued with the lessons until we finished.  We then asked to be installed.  Those women came back with the National President at that time to install our first chapter. 
     Since then, many chapters have been started.  The driving force behind this organization has been Virginia Norman.  She has been training people to start chapters all over the diocese and has been to almost every installation.  She was a member of our first chapter installed here and she will be training Daughters until she can’t physically do it anymore. 
     The Daughters have been an inspiration to me.  They have challenged me to move and do things that I might not have done without their help and encouragement.  They are a wonderful group of women that get things done.  They think with their hearts.  They try to help in every way they can.  They have done some amazing things. 
They will sacrifice a lot to get to a meeting or to help with a project.  They are my inspiration.
Virginia Norman

ELLEN -When we first arrived in the Diocesan Office, one of the first people who spoke English to us was Virginia Norman.  She was and is the grand dame of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic.  Virginia is a remarkable person.  She knows the history of the church because she was involved in its history since at least the 1930’s.  She was originally a school teacher in one of our oldest schools.  She has always been active in the Women’s activities.  Bishop Kellogg asked her to work in the diocesan office and she was the first women treasurer.    She has held offices in the National church for decades.  She was on the Church Pension fund for many years and she served on the Executive Council. 
     I have stood beside Virginia and observed her faith and her wisdom for 16 years.  She has been patient with my Spanish and she has always been courteous and kind.   I have great respect for this wonderful lady.  I am not the only one in this diocese who respects her.  Bishop Holguin listens to her.  She is slowing down because of health problems and her age, but she is still as sharp as can be and is still going strong.  She is one special and blessed person.  Anyone who is around her can feel her specialness.

BOB – If Virginia were a baseball player, she would be the BABE RUTH of the Dominican Episcopal Church.  This school teacher from San Pedro de Marcoris has been a tireless servant of the Lord for more years than she will tell me.  However, she taught Bishop Telesforo Isaac, the first resident Bishop of this diocese.
     Virginia is a walking history book.  Ask her about any priest who has served in this diocese, and she can give you their biography.  Asked her to talk about Bishop Kellogg, the first diocesan Bishop, and the revolution which took place shortly after his arrival and she can tell you.  As Ellen indicated she was the ¨first¨ of nearly everything.  The first Dominican to do this, the first woman do that. 
     But this is what makes Virginia special.  She has the respect of many, many bishops, priests, and lay people, because of the Christian love and confidence she exudes. She speaks English, but in our first couple years, not to us, unless she thought we did not know what was being said in meetings or conversations.  She took the time to kindly correct our Spanish.
     Thank you Virginia.  Thank you for what you have done for us, but more importantly what you have done for this church. 

Tatica¨s Family
ELLEN - She has been known by that name ever since she started to work for us.  Like many Dominicans this is a nickname and nicknames change.  At first I had to be convinced to hire her.  She needed a part- time job.  I was a typical North American housewife, wanting to do it all by myself.  One of the other missionary wives explained to me that if I hired her it would free me up to do other ministry and to help a Dominican with a living wage.  So we hired her part time.  That was 16 years ago.  She is now part of our family.  She looks out for us.  She pays our bills.  She stays in our apartment when we are gone.  Her youngest daughter is our God child.  We know all our children by name.  Some of them have come to visit us.  We pray for them when they have problems.  We wouldn’t know what to do without her. 
     She is not only a good friend, but she is an example to me.  She is always kind and humble.  She is a great mother, who talks to her children.  She never speaks in a sharp voice always in a gentle but firm voice.  If Tatica would have had an opportunity to study, she would have been a successful and bright student.  But she has always served her family with dignity and pride.  She is full of wisdom and gentleness.  I know that God has blessed her and us.  She is my hero.

BOB - Everyone needs someone to take care of them and teach them, when they are learning about and adjusting to a new culture.  Our Lord put Tatica into our lives.  She not only took cares of us but she taught us about her culture. Within a short time she became a part of our life and thus a part of our family.
     When she asked us to baptize her children, I knew she saw us as part of her family.  She invited us to her daughter´s quienze anos(or 15th birthday) a special honor for us.   When we arrived we were the only foreigners and the only people with light-colored skin.  They gave us special seats to view the activities.  Ellen and I both felt uncomfortable in being given this special attention.  But, it became apparent that they were showing us their love and acceptance.
     We have a granddaughter named Emily.  When we returned from our fall trip to the USA Tactica had given birth to a daughter.  Ellen and I were surprised when she told us the name of her daughter was Emily.  When I said Emalia, the Spanish name, she corrected me and said Emily.  She has become our granddaughter in every way, but blood.  She has come every Saturday since she was old enough to walk.  We both look forward to seeing her.  Tatica and Emily, two very special people who taught us the Dominican way.  Oh, Tatica is a tremendous Dominican cook.  And both mother and daughter know how to pick out the best fruits and vegetables.

Church Family in Azua

A special moment in Azua
BOB - Azua was a favorite stop on my tours of diocese.  When I scheduled a stop in Azua there were always lots of kids and several adults.  Those with me were always impressed by the friendliness and spirituality of these people.  Most of the people in the congregation were poor in material wealth, but rich in the spirit.     The church was their most valuable possession.  They willing gave what they had to those who they judged had a greater need.  With active evangelism of Fr. Alvaro and his wife Angela, the church grew from less than 20 to over 100 in a year.  They were indeed a family. 
     Others in the community saw what they had and wanted to join in.  In Azua I saw the living gospel.   I learned from them the art of Christian  giving.  A gift of heart and spirit is more valuable than a gift of silver and gold.  If the Episcopal Church wants to grow, they need to study the two Episcopal churches in Azua.  The Azua Church family cannot be described with words   To understand why I have included the Azua Church family, you need to visit there and experience their love.