Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 2: Easing into our surroundings

Sarah, Charlie, Annie, Kristin, Karen

Here’s a photo of our group (minus yo, the photographer) at dinner last night. Thank you, Karen and Charlie, for your wonderful hospitalidad!

We began today with Eucharist at 7:30. I enjoyed watching Padre Servio Moscoso preach, though I could only understand a few words here and there. I hadn’t even understood the Gospel, though I knew it was from John (San Juan). It turns out it was John 4:46-54. Annie had little trouble following the sermon; she explained to me afterward that Servio had invited people to think of miracles that had occurred in their own lives. Overall, it was exciting watching him interact with the crowd, who, a few minutes into the sermon, had no qualms about inserting their own commentary.

Two women in the cathedral courtyard (photo: Annie Pierpoint)
At 8:30 we fed bread and some sort of hot, creamy liquid to 35 hungry people in the courtyard. We also handed out the bags of food and clothing we had put together yesterday afternoon. Breakfast followed for us: an odd, oatmeal-like liquid called avena, which may take me some getting used to. There was fresh fruit: papayas, watermelons, etc., plus white bread, lunch meat and Velveeta slices.

The mini-library I brought with me
We met with Padre Servio next. He gave us the weekly schedule of the seminary, and we figured out when we’d be studying Spanish. It looks like Sarah and I will learn on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for an hour and a half each afternoon. Kristin and Annie will meet with the tutor in the mornings for more advanced lessons. We also met the other seminarians here: Vanel from Haiti, Jose and Luis from the DR, and Juan Pastor, who is Dominican but was living in Washington, D.C., when he was called to the priesthood. He is sponsored by the D.C. diocese.

Charlie and Karen took us to a place where we could exchange our money, and then we went to the diocesan office (where Karen works) and met with Bishop Julio Holguin. He welcomed us warmly and gave us a brief history of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic (you can read more here). The diocese is part of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. (TEC—he pronounced it “tec”). One major event in the history of this diocese is the hurricane that swept Hispaniola in 1930. At the time two churches had just been built, both called Church of the Epiphany: one for white worshippers, and one for black. The bishop half-joked that the destruction of BOTH buildings just before they were to be consecrated was a sign from God, who does not approve of segregation!

The cathedral, built 1512-1540
Home of the other Columbus
After lunch Charlie took us on a walk to the colonial district. We saw the historic Roman Catholic cathedral, and also the home of Christopher Columbus’s brother. On the way there and back we walked through a major shopping area. We stopped for frozen yogurt in one place and beer in another (Presidente Lite, which some of my Facebook friends had told me I must try).

We returned in time for Evening Prayer (in Spanish, of course) with the seminarians. Actually, we seminarians were the only ones present. It was a neat bonding time, and we bonded again over dinner, with Juan Pastor, Jose, Rémy and Luis talking with us in Spanish, English, and even a little bit of French. Kristin says that sometimes she wasn’t sure which language was going to come out of her mouth in the next moment.

It is such a privilege to be here. We have been so warmly received, and we are having a great time absorbing the language, the culture, and lots of “God moments.” Here are a few of mine so far:

(1) Last night at dinner, Annie said grace. I felt that we were all united in a mystical way.

(2) When dinner was delayed by an hour tonight, Sarah invited me into the women’s apartment for cheese, crackers and wine. It was just what I needed.

(3) Skype works here! (Mostly.) I’ve been able to talk to my wife and daughter, and also to see their faces. That's a pretty amazing and wonderful thing, and I'm grateful to God for it.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to post these updates. Y sus fotos son muy fantasticos!

  2. Josh, sounds like a rich experience of Santo Domingo thus far. How wonderful to meet with Obispo Holguin during your stay. Please do say hello to Karen for me and prayers for a great start to your tutoring. Peace!