August 3-12, 2021
A group of Christians gathered to practice solar oven mission in the Dominican Republic. We traveled by bus to the western border to a region in and near a village called Loma de Cabrera. This was our first solar oven outing after 17 months of Covid19 restrictions. It felt good to get out again and continue to practice our solar oven workshops.
I consider mission work to be similar to a sentiment I once heard about golf that went something like this, ‘golf is an activity that can never be mastered, it can only be played.’
The group of Christians that gathered were a blend of volunteers from the US and volunteers from the Dominican Republic, 22 of us in all. The US volunteers included Minnesotans: my brother Steve, his son Luke, and Luke’s son Jaxon. There were two long time friends from Reno, Nevada: Monica and her daughter Kyra. And two additional long time friends from Miami: Cynthia and her daughter Mariana.
Part of our mission was to include the participation of youth, to introduce them to solar oven mission and to guide them in evening discipleship workshops. The US youth were complemented by Dominican youth from local churches: 3 young women from the north in Samaná , Noelia, Elia, Abril, and Joendy from the south in San Cristobal.
Our group also included our Solar Oven director, Rev. Erasme, our Social Action director, Rev. Maria, our sociologist friend, Jose Rafael; our driver and fellow missioner, Mario; our chief solar oven cooking expert, Gertrudis; two team cooks, Laura and Cesar, two children belonging to Erasme and Laura, Ezra and Brianna; and finally two seasoned GBGM missionaries, Gordy and Lousia (aka Ardell).
Mix us all together and put us to work practicing our solar oven mission and what do you get? Laughter, joy, frustration, order and chaos, hard work, new friendships, peace, and abundant life in God. We distributed 139 ovens in three locations: Villa Anacaona on the Haitian border; Manuel Bueno, (from our base location it was only 9 miles as the crow flies but seemed like 90 miles by road); and Barrio Legión in Loma de Cabrera. Obscure and remote places for most of us but no longer. Now we are linked with new relationships through a tangible expression of God’s love and provision, the solar oven.
Ardell led the youth and adults each evening to explore our distinctive cultures, our identities found in God and forged in the places where we grew up. Each one of us had a small jar of water that represented each of us as individuals. In a moving expression of complementarity we each came to the center of the circle and poured out our jar of water into a common basin. Each one expressed what was on their heart in this expression of our common origin in God. We concluded by refilling our small jars with the water now united. We sang, we prayed, and made room in our hearts for the love of our neighbors.
Each time we return from a solar oven mission event we evaluate the whole process. There are so many moving parts, so many unknowns along the way, and plenty of obstacles. We try to iron out all the wrinkles and make improvements for next time. However we know that next time there will be new challenges so we will continue to practice our faith.