Good Morning Friends,
As I write this, Gordy and Erasme are in Neyba doing a second Solar Oven demonstration. Neyba is one of the cities on the southwest side of the country where we went for the first time in December with our U.S. Solar Oven director, Marj and the international team. Neyba doesn’t have an IED pastor but they do have a dynamic lay leader who all week long holds services in the tiny church, built with wood slats that can’t keep the rain out.
As I write to you this morning I remember January 5th and 6th, which is All King’s Day around the world. We were in Tamayo, sharing a second demonstration with folks who requested a second visit. This was our first follow-up visit and we had an amazing time.
The second day of the demonstration, we got to cook with ladies who have become familiar with what the ovens can do, confident even. They were both serious and happy to be with us. We could tell they were soaking up as much as they could and asking lots of questions in order to work with the ovens they would receive.
The day prior, the sun was hiding behind clouds. In lieu of not having our primary energy source, we walked through the workshop and then went to visit folks who received ovens when we were first there in December. Jairol, Pastor Elsa’s husband, knows everyone and took us to visit six different family homes. These times were incredible. It was so humbling to be received in their homes and hear about their experiences with their ovens.
At one point I had to laugh hearing Jairol tell about how one person after another brought their solar-oven-cooked-food to share with them:
They ohhed and ahhed at the ginger cookies Jaciline baked,
Migilin showed off her fluffy rice,
and one day as Jairol was walking by Abuela Jovani’s house, he yelled in,
“The chicken on your roof sure smells good!”
As we finished our family visits, we arrived at Jairol’s gate. Elsa came out of the house to meet us. Jairol stopped and said very seriously, “Now you have to hear about our cooking.” We burst out laughing. He then turned to Elsa and said, “Tell them!” Elsa proceeded to tell us everything Jairol had cooked in the past three weeks in their new oven.
Today was a pastor’s dream Sunday, but it wasn’t Sunday, it was Friday December 22nd, the Friday before Christmas. Gordy and I rode to Monte Cristi, a 5 hour road trip from the capital to the far northwestern part of the country, with Rev. Cancu, who is the Executive Secretary (Bishop in United Methodist terms) of the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana(IED). .
This is where Deisy and Lorenzo are now pastoring a new IED chapel church.
They were able to build a new sanctuary with the help of Kim Bland and Volunteers-in-Mission from the United Methodist churches in the southern U.S. The new sanctuary has a tin roof with open spaces between the roof and the walls. Lorenzo had fallen off the roof during construction and slit open his foot. He had to receive surgery and stitches in order to begin healing. There was a home-made wooden cross on the altar that Lorenzo made, and a smaller cross on the pulpit with words in English from Psalm 23 that a medical VIM team brought from Pierre, South Dakota.
Julio was painting the words:
IGLESIA E V A N G É L I C A DOMINICANA
on the front of the church as we drove up. There were about 50 second hand chairs set up and Loredi and Dairy, 2 of Deisy’s children had gone to find more plastic chairs. As the church filled with children and moms, many were standing outside.
Kim shared the sermon. Rev. Cancu dedicated the new sanctuary then blessed and dedicated 8 small children. He baptized 10 youth and then lectured them about the meaning of their baptism and his expectations for them. He welcomed 2 new members from other churches and accepted their transfers. We all shared communion and sang lots of choruses. Rev. Cancu then introduced the missionaries to the congregation and prayed for everyone.
As we left the service we received little packets of broken candy canes and crackers. Deisy and Lorenzo took all the children home in many trips in their little car because by the time the service finished it was dark and it wasn’t safe for them to walk.
We ate boiled bananas, boiled yucca and scrambled eggs together.
Pastor Deisy shared with Gordy and I that many of the children and youth who came are very poor, some live in houses with dirt floors, and some are orphaned. She shared that the group of 10 who were baptized are very committed to the church already. She has many dreams for a community library and a Solar Oven ministry.
Let’s be in prayer and solidarity with Rev. Deisy and Lorenzo.
Ardell and I arrived back in the Dominican Republic on Monday, December 4th in the afternoon. A solar oven team from South Dakota was due to arrive that same night but they got delayed by a snow storm and did not arrive until Wednesday afternoon, December 6th. That delay gave us a day at home to begin to resettle, a blessing for us but a pain in the neck for the South Dakota team.
When the team arrived we decided to go directly to the worksite in Tamayo, about a 5-6 hour drive to the west. After dark we arrived to the home of Pastor Elsa and her husband Jairo and were served a light meal of plantains and yucca with passion fruit juice. Plantains and yucca are the Dominican equivalent to our potatoes. And passion fruit, well, we have no equivalent to that intensity of sweet and sour. We ate our fill and bedded down at the local econo-hotel.
The following night our team was visited by a prowler at 3:00am who stole a wad of cash from two rooms of team members while they were sleeping. There was quite a stir that began about an hour later with the arrival of police, detectives, the town mayor, and other official types. A chunk of money was lost but no one was hurt and so we checked out of the inhospitable inn and found other accommodations about an hour away in Neyba.
Elsa and Jairo were grieved over the incident and so ashamed that we got robbed in their town. But we assured them that we were ok and would not be deterred from our mission. The work of a solar oven demonstration is intense and requires a singular focus of thought and energy as to leave no room for rumination over small misfortunes. We moved on and had a great week of solar oven activities.
God is gracious and always present with us but that doesn’t guarantee that we will not hit some jarring potholes in the road. Remember the journeys of the Apostle Paul who was often in danger, whipped, beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked. It seems that our resolve to follow Jesus will be tested from time to time. When we get knocked down, we hope to get back up, dust ourselves off, and continue on, not discouraged but rather blessed.
How would we best describe this time? Looking back one might say it was intense and yet restful, stressful and yet refreshing, feeling homeless yet always welcome in the homes of family and friends, wild and fearful driving in big cities and then long stretches of road across the prairies that would bring sweet memories of times past.
In our 3 month journey there was a quiet flow of goodness through our lives, the grace of God that came to us through other people – local church congregations, family, and friends. Maybe it’s a sign of age but life seems most abundant when we listen to one another’s stories. Most of our conversations are stories of one sort or another that we need to tell in order to feel that someone else understands and cares. We had lots of conversation on this trip, time to listen and to tell. And now that we are back in the Dominican Republic we can unwrap and enjoy these stories and memories like Christmas gifts.
We told our mission story many times but it did not become tiresome because you listened and you asked questions. You are interested because we are connected by a common desire to be in mission together. What we have to share is not earth shaking but rather a quiet good news of God at work in the Dominican Republic.
Thank you for all your hospitality: for opening your homes, for sharing meals (especially all those wonderful potluck feasts), and for giving us space in your churches and your schedules for our presentation. You made us feel welcome and we hope you found new information and inspiration.
August 25th, 2017
We are on our way home to visit some of our covenant churches. We leave tomorrow morning. We are very happy and excited and thankful for this time, to see many of you and to express our gratitude and appreciation for your support and prayers for us in Bolivia and now in the Dominican Republic.
Together with our General Board of Global Ministries we have decided to organize our visits to our covenant churches in multiple groups. We will be visiting you every other year. We will come for a shorter time and visit more often while also not being away from the Dominican Evangelical Church for long periods of time. We feel badly that we won’t see many of you this itineration but two years passes very quickly and we will be happily knocking on your door.
We are so thankful for your support and prayers for us. We will continue to communicate with you through our newsletters and through the web page: www.granerfamily.org
We are so happy to be together with you in Christ’s mission,
Ardell & Gordy
I am attaching our September through November visiting schedule below.
|Name of Church||City & State||Date|
|Trinity UMC||Atlanta, Georgia||Sunday, August 27th|
|Flame of Faith UMC||West Fargo, North Dakota||Sunday, Sept 10th|
|Faith UMC||Fargo, North Dakota||Monday, Sept 11|
|Lisbon UMC||Lisbon, North Dakota||Tuesday, Sept 12th noon|
|Evergreen UMC||Wahpeton, North Dakota||Tuesday, Sept 12th evening|
|1st UMC||Fargo, North Dakota||Wednesday, Sept 13th|
|Emmanuel UMC & Ebenezar UMC||Medina, North Dakota||Thursday, Sept 14th|
|Calvary UMC||Bismarck, North Dakota||Sunday, Sept 17th|
|Mandan UMC||Mandan, North Dakota||Monday, Sept 18th|
|McCabe UMC||Bismarck, North Dakota||Tuesday, Sept 19th|
|UMC||Tuttle & Steele, North Dakota||Wednesday, Sept 20th|
|Legacy UMC||Bismarck, North Dakota||Thursday, Sept 21st|
|1st UMC||Aberdeen, South Dakota||Sunday, Sept 24th|
|Redfield UMC||Redfield, South Dakota||Monday, Sept 25th|
|1st UMC||Brookings, South Dakota||Tuesday, Sept 26th|
|Iroquois UMC||Iroquois, South Dakota||Wednesday, Sept 27th|
|United Methodist Church||Faulkton, South Dakota||Thursday, Sept 28th|
|1st UMC||Sartell, Minnesota||Sunday, October 1st|
|Belgrade UMC||North Mankato, Minnesota||Thursday, October 5th|
|Fairmont Ave UMC||St Paul, Minnesota||Tuesday, October 3rd|
|Centennial UMC||Roseville, Minnesota||Sunday, October 8th|
|Graham UMC||Rice, Minnesota||Monday, October 9th|
|Peace UMC & Grey Eagle UMC||Long Prairie & Grey Eagle, Minnesota||Tuesday, October 10th|
|1st UMC||New Ulm, Minnesota||Wednesday, October 11th|
|Mora UMC||Mora, Minnesota||Thursday, October 12th|
|Fridley UMC||Fridley, Minnesota||Sunday, October 15th|
|Resurrection UMC||Hastings, Minnesota||Monday, October 16th|
|Immanuel UMC||Corcoran, Minnesota||Tuesday, October 17th|
|Eden Prairie UMC||Eden Prairie, Minnesota||Wednesday, October 18th|
|Stewartville UMC||Stewartville, Minnesota||Thursday, October 19th|
|Hillcrest UMC||Bloomington, Minnesota||Sunday, October 22nd|
|Albert Lea UMC||Albert Lea, Minnesota||Monday, October 23rd|
|North UMC||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Tuesday, October 24th|
|Minnetonka UMC||Minnetonka, Minnesota||Wednesday, October 25th|
|Grace UMC||Fergus Falls, Minnesota||Thursday, October 26th|
|St. Matthew UMC||Mesa, Arizona||Sunday, October 29th|
|Steamboat Springs UMC||Steamboat Springs, Colorado||Monday, Oct 30|
|1st UMC||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||Sunday, November 5th|
|Montevideo UMC||Montevideo, Minnesota||Monday, November 6th|
|Webster UMC||Wester, South Dakota||Tuesday, November 7th|
|1st UMC||Pierre, South Dakota||Wednesday, November 8th|
|Belle Fourche UMC||Belle Fourche, South Dakota||Thursday, November 9th|
|Open Door UMC||Wells, Minnesota||Sunday, November 12th|
Bloomington Normandale Hylands UMC Bloomington, MN November 27th
Red Rock – Jeffers UMC Sanborn, MN November 28th
Cornerstone UMC Marshall, MN November 29th
Pedernales is a small border town in the southwest corner of the Dominican Republic. Haiti shares the border with the DR. Just across the river on the Haitian side lives a refugee community of Dominicans of Haitian descent. They were deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti even though they have never lived there. These Haitian-Dominicans have nowhere to go so they have set up a refugee camp called K-2 just over the border. They are basically living on the scraps of life, living from hand to mouth.
The people of Haiti have been cutting trees and making the wood into charcoal for years. This has left their land deforested and them vulnerable to climate change, flooding, and landslides. We decided to make an attempt to offer the people of K-2 a chance to have an alternative to cooking with firewood and charcoal, the solar oven.
Shade was scarce, heat and humidity were intense. We attempted to create some shade with tarps with limited success. But in spite of the conditions we had a crowd close to 100 for each of the two days. There was plenty of sun to cook the food and at the end of the two days we distributed 70 solar ovens.
The team went on to two other sites and distributed nearly 50 additional ovens. These are the best results we have ever had for a week of demonstrations. Solar oven ministry is very demanding on a team but we have recovered and are grateful to God for the opportunity to participate in God’s mission.
Many thanks and much appreciation to the solar oven team: Marj (the new SOPUMC director), Gloria, Ron, Zona, Chris, Rita, and Pastor Scott along with the Dominican group, Pastor Erasme, Pastor María, Gertrudis, Mario, Ardell, and Gordy.