Monday, January 9, 2012

Merry Christmas--a Trip to the Dominican Republic

John and I had saved for and planned our trip for a few months, but Taylor had no idea he was going until Christmas morning. He opened his one and only present--a trip itinerary and a passport. His first response was pure SHOCK! But he got over that and was pretty excited for the trip.

We left for the DR the following day and enjoyed an AWESOME vacation. The best part--we got to spend lots of time with my parents. Here's a few pictures of our fun times.

Me and my mom, standing on her balcony. Love Love Loved having time with my mom.

Spencer (my baby brother), me, Taylor, John and my darling dad.

One of the most memorable things we did was serve in an orphanage that housed children ages 3-12 boys and 3-18 girls. There were about 50 children all together. Taylor and his uncle Matt made some good friends while playing basketball together. Taylor was impressed that although he couldn't speak their language, they still had fun together. And body language goes a long way in basketball.

I can't speak very much Spanish either. But that 7th grade Spanish class amazingly made an impression. These girls laughed at my limited communication skills, but nonetheless became my favorite amigos. I learned about them and shared a lot about me and my family. It was a neat experience for me.

Here's a line of children waiting for their main meal of the day at the orphanage. We served them beans, rice, carrot salad, rolls, juice, and a cookie.

And here's the line-up of workers, serving the plates of food for the kids.

No where in the city of Santo Domingo did I see any kind of mowed lawn or manicured bushes, plants, etc. Except for the temple. It definitely sets itself apart from the rest of the city because of how clean, orderly, and beautiful it is.

We spent an afternoon visiting the church-owned property/camp that is used for youth camps and hopefully something like EFY each summer. It was surrounded with lush jungle. Lots of vines hanging from all kinds of trees, massive leaves, lots of flowers. Compared to the AZ desert, it was BEAUTIFUL! This picture doesn't do it justice!

It was rewarding to do baptisms for the Dead in the Santo Domingo Temple with Taylor. Something he'll never forget!

A few people have asked me if the water really looks like it does in all the pictures. No, it's better in person. We were amazed at how clear the water was. Hardly any waves. We spent a day snorkeling around some remote little island and had a grand time. On our way home, the driver of our boat dropped his anchor in what is called "the World's Largest Swimming Pool". In the middle of nowhere, the depth of the ocean was about 4 feet deep, completely flat, and covered the size of about 5 football fields. It was amazing. We jumped out and swam for a while. Here's a picture of John, Taylor and Grandpa holding up a few starfish they found at the bottom of the "pool".

My brother Matt and Taylor, ready with gear on to snorkel.

We spent another day learning about Christopher Columbus and his exploration of the New World. Santo Domingo was the first city in the New World, even before he found America. This is my brother Spencer and Taylor with tour headphones on, hanging out with some coat of armor guy in a Christopher Columbus museum.

A day at the beach. Missing it already!

Notice the difference in the water color behind us. Some parts are very light blue/green while other parts are darker. It's not shadows. While snorkeling, we found that the darker parts are where lots of seaweed/plant life has grown in bunches. And the lighter parts are white sand.

Because the water was so clear, we could see lots of sea life from the boat. I spotted a shark a few feet away (only a bout 2 feet long). We also saw sea turtles, star fish, lots of Nemo's and Dora fish, eels, and lots of other big schools of fish swimming together. Pretty awesome.

I took this picture of the temple from my parent's balcony. You can see the ocean directly behind it.

Taylor at the Christopher Columbus museum with some new friends.

The building/cathedral was built under the direction of Christopher Columbus in the 1500's and is the oldest standing structure in the "New World" and throughout the Americas. The inside structure was more impressive than the outside. Thinking of how they built such a big building without cranes and modern-day tools just blows my mind.

We had great experiences there and enjoyed learning about the culture, people, their language and history. And spending time with my parents and brother was priceless!

All in all, I came home with a renewed commitment to never complain about anything in my life. I have so much and am so blessed--so many comforts and conveniences, so many opportunities, and most importantly, I have knowledge of the Gospel of Christ and a safe and happy family--that's what makes my life wonderful.


  1. So glad you guys were able to take this trip. Looks like you had a ton of fun and made some awesome memories. And, I've never known you to complain in the first place, but I'm inspired by your renewed commitment! :)

  2. Wow! I had no idea you did this!!! That is so awesome! Amazing for Taylor - what a neat experience!!!!!