Saturday, March 3, 2012

Almacén del Obispo (a.k.a. "The Bishops' Storehouse)

Almacén del Obispo “The Bishops’ Storehouse”
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

For those of us who grew up in Idaho, Utah, and other parts of the U.S. where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is prevalent, you have probably spent some time in the Bishops’ Storehouse, probably providing some type of service. I was always amazed at the number of products, both canned and fresh, that were available to those who were in need. At Christmas time, our two daughters also spent some time in the Bishops’ Storehouse in Linden, Utah. They commented how they were impressed with the number and quality of food stuffs available.

Almacén del Obispo

We also have a Bishops’ Storehouse or Almacén del Obispo here in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It is housed in the old Santo Domingo East Mission home, located in Gascue on a short street named Casamira de Moya #5. It has a beautiful front gate that can only be opened by an automatic door opener. Then, there is the gate that has a padlock to just get to the Almacén del Obispo. Once you arrive at the front door, there is another lock on the door. But then you enter a home that has several rooms dedicated to Almacén del Obispo, including a large storage room where the bulk of the 13 items are stored.

Yes, the Santo Domingo Almacén del Obispo has just 13 items:

13 Items

Leche de Polvo         Powered milk
Aceite                        Oil
Arroz                         Rice
Habichuelas               Beans
Harina                        White flour
Avena                         Oatmeal
Harina de Maiz           Corn flour
Jabón                           Soap
Spaghetti                     Spaghetti
Sardines                       Sardines
Chocolate                     Chocolate
Azucar                          Sugar                                                          
Sal                                 Salt

This list of 13 items may seem small compared to what many of you have seen in the Almacén del Obispo in the more heavily populated areas where there are lots of members of the Church. Interestingly, though, these 13 items are the staples in the lives of the Dominicans. As you can imagine, the rice and beans are probably the most important items on this list.

The beans and white flour come in 100-pound bags and are re-packaged into smaller three-, five-, and ten-pound plastic bags. Volunteers come each Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and then on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and help those who need help, re-package the beans and flour and sometimes the rice, stock shelves, and do general cleaning inside and outside the Almacén del Obispo.

the sealers and volunteers
The Almacén
We have four package sealers at the Santo Domingo Almacén del Obispo. They have developed cardboard models for each of the sizes of bags. They then have a huge roll of plastic. They place the model on the plastic and then cut the right size. After cutting the right size, they seal one end, fill the bags and weigh them on the scales. Once appropriately weighed, one of the volunteers uses the sealer to seal shut the plastic bag. Then, another volunteer writes the weight on the bag. The permanent marker barely has time to dry before it is whisked off to the actual Almacén where it is placed on the shelf.

Volunteers at the Bishops' Storehouse in the kitchen
Since our apartment is above the Almacén del Obispo, we often arrive home when the members are here serving. I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is for Sister Hammon and me to greet and visit with the members who come, whether they are volunteers or members who have come to obtain a few of the food stuffs to take home. They are a wonderfully happy people, eager to serve and be a part of the Bishops’ Storehouse in this part of Zion, the Dominican Republic.

We marvel how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides for the poor and the needy through Bishops’ Storehouses. We testify of the importance of these Bishops’ Storehouses and how they help people in their time of need as they become more self-sufficient. This is the Lord’s Way, and we are humbled to be a part of it.

Gracias a todos que prestan servicio en el Almacén del Obispo en Santo Domingo, República Dominicana. Serán bendecidos por su servicio.  
Two sister volunteers

Other volunteers

Another view