Pedernales: A bustling border town

Monday, October 29, 2018, Gordon Graner writes:

On market days this dusty town on the Haitian border becomes a beehive of activity.  But instead of bees there are hundreds of motorcycles at work moving people and goods to market.

We were working out of a church building on the main route to the market.  We had to dodge the motorcycles as we were constantly crossing the street to set up and use 12 solar ovens.

We had relied on a pastoral couple to gather what was promised to be a large group of people who wanted solar ovens.  However, while those who gathered were enthusiastic, many were adolescent girls and just a handful of women.  With hopes somewhat deflated I asked the pastor what we could do to attract more people.


His answer was to go immediately to the radio station and broadcast a message about solar ovens and invite the masses.  So we did.  We drove to the radio station, hopped out of the jeep, and marched directly into the radio booth.  Three men were seated at three microphones doing a live broadcast and were unfazed by our sudden presence in the room.  In less than two minutes I was invited to sit at a microphone to tell our story, live.   We had no appointment, paid no money, and apparently only needed the pastor there to authenticate our mission.

It was so cool.  I could only laugh at what seemed both marvelous and ridiculous at the same time.  When we got back to our solar oven site, I told the crew that I was just on the radio.  What I wanted to say but did not say was that we should prepare ourselves for perhaps a hundred women for tomorrow’s demonstration.   Inside my soul I was excited about the possibilities.

Next day the same group of women showed up, perhaps one or two more.  This was far short of the 100 women I had envisioned.  But we went ahead with the demonstration taking full advantage of the clear skies and hot sun.  Oven temperatures went as high as 335 degrees F.


Then about 11 am an apparent VIP appeared with his entourage.

He is famous in these parts as a journalist who has put Pedernales on the map.  He was very friendly to us and recorded the entire solar oven cooking scene for about 20 minutes.  Why did he show up all of a sudden?  Could it be he was listening to the radio the day before?  Stay tuned.

Back in the Dominican Republic

On Oct. 3, 2018 I arrived back home to the Dominican Republic after a 10 week stay in the US.  I was in Atlanta where I underwent two surgeries to fix my right shoulder that I had injured last May while hiking.  The torn rotator cuff has been repaired and seems to be reattaching to the bone.  Now it is a matter of allowing the healing to continue while at the same time doing physical therapy to recover my range of motion.  I will not be able to do any heavy lifting for some months which will limit my usefulness for solar oven demonstrations.  But I can accompany the teams and lend a hand (my left).

Christian Education in Samana, Dominican Republic


Rev. Betania and I rode the Caribea Tours bus to the Samana peninsula to share a Christian Education workshop with the IED teachers and leaders there.  It was pouring rain for the whole weekend yet folks still came out and it was an amazing weekend.

Rev. Betania shared about the liturgy of the church, which is always a hot topic for them because the Dominican Evangelical Church was born of three mothers, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Moravian.

I intended to share five Sunday School lessons with them so they could learn the format we are incorporating into the children’s lessons.   I walked through one lesson with them from Mark 7: verses 24-30.  It’s the passage of the Syrophoenician woman talking with Jesus.  The lessons for children 3-6, 7-12 and the teenagers each involved a different dynamic or activity.  By the time we had done all three of these dynamics, they had so many questions and comments and got so involved in the lesson that we had no more time to walk through the other four lessons.  I guess this was a success in spite of the time limit.  Without a doubt though, we all learned a lot.

We were then invited to attend the harvest festival at one of the country churches up the mountain in Monte Rojo (Red Mountain). You can see the Caribbean Sea on one side of the mountain and almost see the Atlantic on the other, just on the other side of a lush green valley.The service rocked, almost literally from the beginning to the end with the rhythmic choruses sung with fervor and gusto.  The harvest crops decorated the whole sanctuary lying on the alter and hanging from the ceiling (ayame, platanos, guineos, ñame, yautia, ajis, yucca,batata and coconut) as a testament to the blessing of God.  The topper was a drama with the ladies of the church portraying

the 10 virgins in the passage from Matthew 25: 1-13 about having oil in their lamps.

A serious passage but homegrown drama is always good for some sidesplitting laughter.

Betania and I traveled back to the capital in Caribea Tours with joy and satisfaction in our souls.

Summer of 2018

Gordy and I have had so much happen since May of this year.  It has been a very busy summer.  I’ve tried to share some of the activities with you in the following four articles.

The first article is an addendum to an earlier story from our blog,, an overview of the experiences of a South Dakota medical team in Montecristi.

El Morrow and Gordy’s fall

Gordys account:  We try to arrange an outing for every volunteer in mission team as a way to experience the natural beauty of this country.  In May 2018 we decided to take a South Dakota medical team to climb El Morrow, an imposing flat topped mountain by the sea on the outskirts of Montecristi.

It was my first time to hike up the Morrow and from below it looked like a walk in the park.  On  the way up we met two young women on their way down and they warned us that the path is slippery and dangerous.  They had turned back.  Wimps, I thought.

As we continued up the younger ones in our group took off like goats leaving the young at heart further and further behind.  The path was steep and full of loose rocks.  I fell once and scraped up my lower leg.  I fell again, extended my right arm to grab at anything and I felt something tear in my shoulder, and the pain was intense.  But after a few minutes to cradle my arm, I was amazed that I could still use it so continued on.

A little further up I it became clear to me that I was out of gas and still had to get back down so I too turned back.  At this point I was alone.  On the way down I slipped again, hit the ground with the same arm extended to grab a non-existent life line and I felt something tear in my shoulder again but this time the pain was extreme and I knew I was hurt.  I got back down very slowly more anxious than ever that I might slip yet again.

Fast forward 5 weeks.  I finally got to my doctor’s office and after a brief examination he ordered an MRI for my shoulder.  The results were not good news, the two main rotator cuff tendons are torn 90%, a muscle is torn, and the ball of the humerus bone is fractured.  I am headed for Atlanta for a surgical repair.

Fast forward another 3 weeks:  The surgery took over 6 hours and involved four screws, 2 washers, and multiple sutures to repair.  In the following weeks and months I must allow the natural healing process to take place and put in the hours of physical therapy that will be necessary.

I have been praying for some time that I might accept that I am growing older.  I have always had a lot of pride in being young and strong and often in my imagination I am still  somewhere between 25 and 45 years old.  In the real world I am closing in on 65.  Maybe I am afraid that as I advance in age I become worth less and less.

I wish I could say that after this incident the light came on and I learned my lesson.  One thing is for sure that I will never again try to climb El Morrow.  And the other day a young man offered me his seat on the subway,  I hesitated (who? me?) and then accepted it.  Maybe that is progress.  This world needs the wisdom of it’s elders.  I pray that my pride may soon take a seat and let this man come to terms with his age and perhaps become an elder.