Saturday, June 30, 2012

Feliz Cumpleaños, Anna Rose

Feliz Cumpleaños, Anna Rose

On July 1, 1986,
Anna Rose Hammon entered the world
in Boise, Idaho, changing our lives forever.
Today, July 1, 2012,
Anna Rose Johnson turns 26-years-old,
is the mother of two absolutely beautiful children,
runs half marathons,
creates amazing projects for the ever-popular “How-to-gal” blog,
writes for,
serves in the Young Women’s in her ward,
plays the piano beautifully,
grows a fruitful garden next her back patio,
does anything she sets her mind to do,
and basically dazzles anyone who meets her.
But she is still our Rosie Cakes,
that sweet little girl who came to us, 
directly from our Heavenly Father, 
as a miracle and continues to be a miracle in many lives.
We love you, Anna Rose.
May you enjoy a most spectacular birthday!
Many Feliz Cumpleaños to you from the Dominican Republic. 


The Miracle

"The Miracle"
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

Elder Hammon and his new friend, Milagrocita

One of our most favorite humanitarian projects is with Innovación Ortopédica. We have talked about this one before, but we experienced another miracle. We went to another entrega (a handing over) of five prosthetic limbs to five people, including an eight-year-old little girl named Milagrocita (Little Miracle). She was so precious. She has had this disability since birth, including a gnarled right hand. 


Milagrocita and her mother

As I was talking to Milagrocita about her new leg and about school and everything else, she laid her right little stump on my hand and held my hand with her good hand. It was an emotional moment. I could only think: What is going to happen to this little girl? She comes from a very poor family. Her mother told me because she was doing so well in school, she didn’t have to take the final exam. I told her she needed to be the best student in class. She flashed her cute little grin and said she would. Often, you just want to take some of these young children home.

Albania and her mother Maria
Maria, a woman came with her daughter Albania from Puerto Plata, which is a city about four hours north of Santo and received her prosthesis during the entrega. What was unique about this woman is she was a referral from Sister Louise Zobell from Sterling, Canada. About four months ago, I received a call from her. She said she had seen the Church’s website and noticed we did prosthesis in the DR. She and her family have been coming to Puerto Plata for the past several years. They were introduced to María Silvia on their last trip. She needed prosthesis, but Sister Zobell didn’t know where to go. Then, she began looking on the website and found us. We had a wonderful visit, and I told her I would contact María and find out what was needed. Long story, short, I visited with her daughter, gathered the information, obtained approval through the Caribbean Area Office, submitted her paperwork to Innovación Ortopédica, and the rest is history. Sister Zobell wanted to come, but she couldn’t. I informed her that she could be there—via Skype. So, I set up the computer at Innovación Ortopédica and Skyped in the Zobells. She cried through the whole thing. That is why the Lord had someone invent Skype. What an incredible day!

Aren't Milagrocita's new shoes cool?

Recipients with Daniel on the left and Carlos on the right. Daniel and Carlos are the miracle workers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

“The Dr. Dave Dickerson Family and Friends: 50th Wedding Anniversary and Service

“The Dr. Dave Dickerson Family and Friends: 50th Wedding Anniversary and Service
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

Room is full
Have you thought about what you might be doing on your 50th wedding anniversary? Just thinking about getting to 50 is an amazing thought process in and of itself. Some might go someplace exotic. Others might stay at home, basking in the outdoors and even the backyard with the BBQ grill, some steaks sizzling on the open grill; others might even think about renewing their vows or being with all of their children at a nice restaurant.

Dr. and Sister Dickerson; Sister and Elder Snow

Then take the Dr. David Dickerson family and some of their friends. They decided to do something special for their parents. They planned a humanitarian dental visit to Consuelo, Dominica Republic, a small community about 1.5 hours from Santo Domingo. The community is poor; the sugar cane industry has almost died; and jobs are hard to come by. Going to the dentist is not the normal every-six-month routine that many of us are accustomed to. In fact, going to the dentist is a privilege, and not many have the opportunity because they don’t have money.

The person who had to give the shot....Sister Rogers

The Dickersons came with their 40-strong group, set up at the Catholic health clinic, which is next door to Consuelo’s Catholic Church, and began seeing patients. They started on Monday morning and did examinations, education, oral surgery, and fillings for three days. They had to take a break on Thursday because of the Corpus Cristi holiday, and then back to work on Friday morning. Literally hundreds of people showed up to see Dr. Dickerson and his friends. Most of them were in line way before the Dickerson group ever pulled up in their guagua (bus) and parked behind the clinic.

Ana Maria, her grandmother, and Mother (Maribel). Ana Maria helped Dr. Dickerson, and now she wants to become a dentist.

We went out on Wednesday morning because I had visited several times with Dr. Dickerson over the past several months. I wanted to see their wonderful work. Plus, we helped provide rides for several people from Quisqueya, a small community about 20 minutes away, who also needed dental work done.

Dr. Dickerson, his daughter, and I talking to a patient.

Dr. Dickerson involved me immediately by asking me to help translate during his examinations, which I did for a couple of hours.  Each person came and sat down in the chair. We asked them a series of health questions, and then Dr. Dickerson looked into their mouths, checked their teeth, made a diagnosis while one of his daughters wrote all of the information on pre-printed slip, and then gave the slip of paper to a “runner,” usually one of the grandchildren, who took the person to the appropriate station to have their teeth fixed.

Playing with the children

Very few had perfect teeth. The majority of the patients needed some sort of care—a filling or two, a tooth or two pulled, and education on how to clean their teeth. Dr. Dickerson’s granddaughters taught the participants how to brush their teeth and then gave each one a dental kit, filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and other dental accoutrements.  

Using dinosaurs to teach about cleaning teeth

While this was all going on, the Dickerson’s grandchildren and the children of some of the other dentists were outside, keeping the children busy. They were painting fingernails, playing baseball, chatting with their new Dominican friends, painting pictures, etc. These young people were having a time of their lives and experiencing things they had never experienced before. And now, they have made friends for life.

Friends for life

Overall, I was impressed with what I saw. It was amazing work, and I met some amazing people. Some of them were not too excited to see the dentist (doesn’t that sound familiar?). But they knew the ache that had been a part of their lives for several months needed to be taken care of, and here was an opportunity of a lifetime. Pain or no pain, they were stoic although more than skittish about the whole ordeal.

The Dickerson grandson who had served a mission in the DR
What was more impressive was how Dr. Dickerson and his wife spent their 50th anniversary with family and friends, helping people with dental needs. One of their grandsons had served an LDS mission in the area accompanied them; so, it was a “coming home” of sorts for him and another person who had come to help who also had served in the area.

Sister Hammon and I doff our hats to the Dickerson Family and their friends who spent a week doing a wonderful service to the people of Consuelo and surrounding areas. Thank you for being the kind of people you are and have been throughout your entire lives. You are the epitome of the wise words of King Benjamin in his speech to his people in the Book of Mormon: “…that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 3:17).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jamaica: Food Production and Training

“Jamaica: Food Production and Training”
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

One of the wonderful things we are able to do as Welfare Specialists is train Priesthood leaders on welfare principles. And sometimes we travel to do it. In the middle of May, we boarded an American Airlines plane, flew to Miami, and then on to Jamaica where we had two very different experiences.
Chicken project in Jamaica
The first experience involved pigs, chickens, and goats. The Church has a variety of food production projects in Guyana and Jamaica. Elder and Sister Whitehead from Preston, Idaho, were our tour guides and chauffeurs. They are the masters of food production, and the Church has several in Jamaica. We were able to visit just a few.

Loading feed for one of the chicken projects

The morning after we arrived, we rose early and went with the Whiteheads to visit some of the food projects already going. First, we went to ACE Hardware and picked up some chicken feed, about 25 bags. I was impressed with the store. It was like one of our stores in the U.S. They loaded us and off we went to another sister’s home. We dropped feed off and went down the lane to where the chicken coop was. It was poor. Her daughter, her nieces and nephews, and I think a sibling lived down the lane. The homes were just corrugated tin shacks, loosely put together.
Goat project
the gaggle of children
A gaggle of children followed us—nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and a daughter. We took a few pictures, and they had to see them almost immediately. They are definitely posers. I loved it. Afterwards, we talked about these kids and wondered what their lives were going to be like. Education was the solution, but they weren’t in school that day.
The next stop was the “Mustard Seed,” a compound of sorts where they house the disabled and those who are HIV positive. It was a fairly nice compound, surrounded by a fence. We drove back to the chicken pens to deliver the feed. Two disabled young men were there doing something. One of them was in a wheelchair. We delivered the feed, and then we looked around the pens: chickens, pigs, and goats. They had both broilers and layers for the compound.
Elder Whitehead and on of the sisters who guided us
Two Jamaican members. One on the right has the chicken project
We then stopped at one of the sister’s houses to take her with us to help us find another sister’s house. She led us right to it. We dropped off some bags of feed near a shed in the back of her house. She was going to receive some chicks the next day. She then showed us around her garden. She has an avocado tree, a pineapple bush, a plum tree, and banana trees. Plus, she had wild flowers and other things growing in her garden. When I asked her where she was from, she told me her father and brothers came from China and stayed. After this, we headed to Ocho Rios.

The drive was absolutely beautiful! We went through Fern Gully, a gorgeous gully with ferns galore—not just ferns but giant ferns. I wish we could have stopped just to walk through them. I doubt, though, we could have actually walked through them because they were so thick. As we drove through Fern Gully, we wound our way down off a hillside into this gully. Both sides were filled with ferns of all sizes. I was impressed with the number of ferns. Soon, though, we landed in Ocho Rios.

Young cook at Scotchies. Jerked chicken..Yum!
We drove over to Scotchies, an outdoor restaurant that featured jerked chicken and pork. Joanne and I purchased a ½ pound of jerked chicken and a ¼ pound of jerked pork and everything that went with it. We gathered up our food and headed beneath a thatched-roof place and began eating. The food was delightful. After eating everything, we thought we should have gotten another ¼ pound of jerked pork. They cooked it on an open grill, seasoned it with the jerked sauce, and then let it cook and cook. They placed a piece of tin on top of it to keep in the moisture and the heat. When they served us, they just lifted the tin and sliced off a chunk of whatever we needed.

Jamaican flower

After eating, we admired the flowers growing around the place. Incredibly beautiful! We then drove back to Kingston via another direction along the beach for a while and then back into the city. The views were breathtaking. Indeed, Jamaica is a beautiful island. The Whiteheads dropped us off at the Wyndham where we rested until dinner.

Jamaican flower
We met the Snows, the Caribbean Area auditors who had come to Jamaica to do an audit, in the lobby and walked over to a Chinese restaurant. It was delicious. We seemed to have more food than we needed. Ironically, Joanne and I thought we would be full after eating a late lunch with the Whiteheads. But we gobbled down all of the food placed before us. I guess we figured we didn’t want to waste it; so, we ate it all. I was actually impressed with the Chinese food, and it wasn’t as expensive as the lunch in the Japanese restaurant, and the food was way more plentiful.

The second experience was training Church leaders on welfare principles. On Wednesday morning, we went to the mission office and trained President Hendricks, the mission president, Brother Brown, and another counselor on welfare principles. They need to train all of their leaders on welfare principles and fast offerings and wanted us to train them so they could then go out to the branches in Jamaica and train their leaders. We had a great time with the mission presidency.
Jamaican sister, Sister Hammon, and Sister Whitehead
We arose early the next morning in order to catch the early flight to Miami. A taxi picked us up at the hotel. It cost us about $55 for the drive to the airport. He took us through the city without a problem. Thankfully, it was early, and there was no traffic. He told us about a few things along the way, and we appreciated his commentary. Finally, we arrived at the airport where we stood in line and then checked in. Our wait in the airport wasn’t too bad.

Huge tree in Ocho Rios with Elder/Sister Whitehead
The flight to Miami was a good one although short. The Haws picked us up at the airport and took us home where we hurriedly washed clothes and caught up before having to leave again tomorrow for Puerto Rico and a week with Dr. Bob and Sister Shannon Christiansen (For the story re: this adventure, please go to

Thank you, Whiteheads, for everything you do!