The {La Tienda} Experience …

So we are HERE! We are in the village of  Montellano…. in Dominican Republic, for {Project} La Tienda. I’m sorry I couldn’t blog earlier, as you can imagine, internet is hard to find in the village where we are staying. I’m very excited to find a source of internet (and power!!!!!) to update the blog!!!!! 

Tamara and I prayed long and hard that none of our suitcases would be confiscated while traveling through Cuba and into the Dominican … and so far, everything – even from the wonderful-Dominican-transportation that we had the lovely privilege of experiencing (I think the Dominican men want to marry and whisk Tamara away – she was getting a lot of offers …. !) has gone very smoothly and according to plan.

First off, can I just say this is a very hard post to blog about … I don’t even know WHERE to start …I didn’t think it would be this challenging to write and explain what we’re doing but I’m going to try. Please be patient with me as I fumble through this post.

On the first day, we were able to hand out the items you all donated for the women at La Tienda – it was so exciting to be able to hand out all the goodies for the women. They were so incredibly blessed by all the donated gifts you guys sent with Tamara and I. As soon as we arrived, Rachel, Tamara and I went through all the donated medicine, tylenol, vitamins, toothbrushes, toothpaste and MORE and divided all the goods up into 27 different bags for each La Tienda women. 

Here’s Rachel, the 27 year old art co-op genius :), in her Dominican home, reading through the notes and packages that we delivered. Rachel has been here five years, raising two orphans and caring for all of La Tienda – she cannot receive mail or packages unless someone hand delivers them to her … her mom can’t even send her a care package.  We made sure there were some goodies in the suitcases that would cheer her up (like peanut butter) …


getting the goods unpacked to take to the village ….


All the goods, getting organized to deliver to the ladies (Thank you to Annette and Soyna for lending such BIG suitcases for our trip!) …



So we jumped into Rachel’s truck, along with her two year old adopted son, Jonathan, and her 13-year-old adopted daughter, Rosairi and drove into the village where the art-cop of La Tienda is located. Right away, we were able to meet the 27 women who make all the lovely jewelry of La Tienda and were able to hand out the bags of items to each women. They were very shy, very modest in their thanks, but you could tell that they were extremely grateful and happy to receive such presents  … one women left the store very quietly with her bag of shampoo, deodorant, a toy for her children, a comb, some pads, and three head scarves … within minutes she returned to the store, sat down at one of the art-cop tables with her beautiful head scarf tied carefully around her black hair. It was precious … 


This is Livi …mother to eight children … she makes the coconut candles and bottle-cap earrings …



Here is Marianna – she makes the necklaces out of seeds and found objects …



Here are some of the women at work in La Tienda … they received their paycheck and just turned right back around and went back to work making more jewelry …



They are so beautiful … these women were so excited to have Tamara and I there – at first, they were unsure but then when Rachel explained what we were doing, they were very excited to have their photo taken …



inside the store … 



Tamara and one her new friends … 


These are the home surrounding the village where La Tienda is located … there truly are nothing more than a shack … the floors are covered in garbage and dirt … 

This is Francia …



absolutely heart-breaking … I don’t even have the words to describe this image …



some of the children …



such gorgeous souls ….




yes, playing in the garbage dump …



Tomorrow is Sunday … so we are going to the church in the village and then we will spend the day photographing the store and the jewelry that they have made. By Monday, we hope to be photographing each women in their homes and spend more time meeting their children and getting to know everyone on a personal level. 

Not sure when I will be able to blog again but hopefully within a few days, I will find internet access yet again … the electricity is inconsistent so we’ll see where the next few days take us.

June 9, 2009 - 10:18 pm

Jeanne Harper I feel like this blog has become my latest addiction. Just like a good book you start to feel like one of the characters and that is how change slowly happens, when people are faced with realities they never imagined then they wake up one morning and realize they can identify or even better that they want to be a part of the larger picture. Some may think that this is on the other side of the world and forget about it while they order a large latte and flip thru a magazine waiting for their hair appointment but I think your living proof there are people who care and I think this is just the beginning.:)

June 9, 2009 - 8:08 am

Heather wow. as allways your photos are amazing. you have such a gift for capturing amazingly soulful shots. btw… about your computer… high temps and humidity can cause stuff like that… give it a few days to acclimate and then see! Im having a blast here in Mozambique. There is a professional photographer visiting the mission for a week and he is giving me free lessons! A dream come true for me!! wooohoo.

June 9, 2009 - 7:41 am

Tine what a beautiful thing to do…God bless you! these shots are absolutely STUNNING!!

June 9, 2009 - 2:40 am

lovelyn oh the tears. i don’t have words right now…i just can’t. thank you for serving.

June 8, 2009 - 5:24 pm

Sarah @ These photographs left me breathless. Wow…

June 8, 2009 - 5:10 pm

Rose No words have to explain these pictures Gillian, they are stories within themselves. I am sitting here listening to my daughter screaming with glee in the comfort of her home and then I see the pictures of the children there…tears fill my eyes and heart…if only we can take those children and give them a fraction of what we have here. We need to count our blessings!
Thank you for sharing their stories by pictures, very powerful.

June 8, 2009 - 9:33 am

Carry Aultman Teary eyed and speechless. As always stunning pictures Gillian.

June 7, 2009 - 1:40 pm

Chantelle As my two little boys are snuggled up in their cozy beds having a nap, I am brought to tears by the pictures you have posted. You, Tamara and Rachel are absolute angels, making us aware of what adversity others face elsewhere. I have no words to express what I am feeling…

June 7, 2009 - 10:13 am

Evelyn Thank you Gillian, Tamara & Rachael for your hearts of compassion on the women & children of La Tienda…these pic’s have given me more insight on the adversity they must face and that I need to get on my knees and pray for these precious people. It breaks my heart to see such poverty when in other parts of the world we live in such abundance…help us Lord to have hearts of compassion! Praying for strength & protection for you girls…may God order your steps! BE BLESSED 🙂

June 7, 2009 - 9:27 am

Brenda (Gillian’s mom) What can I say, after seeing those pictures, especially the little child sleeping on a mat! Gillian, I am so proud of you and Tamara and the “small” sacrifice which you are making. I know that your lives and hearts will be changed forever. Rachel is such an inspiration and I admire her tenacity and willingness to be God’s hands, feet, mouth and heart EXTENDED! Bless all of you and may the Kingdom grow because of your upcoming project from La Tienda! Love you xoxo

June 7, 2009 - 8:43 am

Catherine You are doing such important work. I too am haunted by the photo of the boy sleeping outside on the mat. Tears came to my eyes as I think of my own boys….

June 7, 2009 - 5:41 am

Lisa Piellusch Such a great thing you’re doing. Fabulous photos! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next post.

June 7, 2009 - 1:44 am

Mich Gillian & Tamara, this journey you are on is so incredible and I feel so glad that I am able to be on it with you from a far, learning about these special women and all the wonderful work that La Tienda is doing to make their lives better. I too, feel so blessed for what I have and for my family. Thank you for reminding me of that. Your photos are so powerful and yet so heartbreaking. I wish you both continued safety and blessings on your journey.

June 6, 2009 - 11:37 pm

Jeanne Harper I am so grateful that you are there Gillian, I am haunted by the image of that little baby boy and I think how my sisters in motherhood across the miles and miles that separate us are doing such a wonderful and amazing job, they truly are inspiring and examples of all that is strength and beauty and most important love and faith.

June 6, 2009 - 11:31 pm

Melissa You are truly doing a wonderful thing. That picture of the little boy laying on the mat breaks my heart

June 6, 2009 - 11:19 pm

Melanie WOW, Gillian, those pictures are breathtaking. The image of the little baby just melted me to tears.

June 6, 2009 - 11:16 pm

Lita Gillian wow, what an experience..Thanks for sharing this, it really makes one feel fortunate for what we have. Glad to see you are safe – continued safe travels to you both!

October 4, 2009 - 12:12 am

Help. » Gigi Blog […] you have just started following this blog, you should read a bit about La Tienda here and […]