All posts by granerfamily


I am writing from my desk in our apartment on Avenida Mexico in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  We just got news this week that our 40 day quarantine is going to continue until May 17th.

Can we have hope?

We as Christians know that God is love and compassion and grace and mystery.

I think we are being given a second chance.

I believe that God is giving us another opportunity to live our lives in awareness and compassion, even as our present world is filled with silence, suffering, and death.

Gordy and I have had second chances in our lives.  We have been in crisis, confused and hurt.  God has opened new doors for us. We have walked through these doors in faith and hope knowing that God still loves us and so many great things have happened.

We are called to

Love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul,

and with all your strength, and with all your mind;

and your neighbor as yourself.”

And He said to him,

 “You have answered correctly;  do this and you will live.”

Luke 10:27 & 28 NAS

We get another chance.

We are to make choices every day.

Let us be on our knees to make the most life- giving choices for all the people of the world, especially those we tend to overlook.

The most vulnerable among us include our elderly who are so often neglected and forgotten.  How can we love them in this time of crisis?

We are challenged to choose life for the earth; the air, the water, the land, the plants, the animals and all people.  We are all neighbors.  We were created to live together and share God’s abundance.

God longs to move in our midst, to respond to the cries of God’s creation.

We are the hands and feet of God.

May we respond together. 

Everything must change.

(Ardell) I am sitting at my desk, in the office of our apartment in Santo Domingo.  There are no cars driving by which means very little black soot goes into the air and enters the apartment. We have been apartment bound since March 17th, receiving news 3 days ago that we will continue to be apartment bound until May 6th…….and then,  “We’ll see.”

I walked after the curfew let up at 6:00 am.  There were a handful of folks out.  Garbage is piling up. I can’t remember the last time the garbage trucks went by.  Yet it’s a sunny day and the birds are singing.

It’s Easter morning.  Holy week is traditionally an opportunity for everyone to travel to their villages of birth and to the beaches surrounding the country.  It’s a week full of celebrating and partying.  In the past as we’ve walked to church, we’ve seen children in plastic swimming pools that have been set up in the streets.  They’ve also blocked off major roads in the past, deposited sand on the road and set up huge plastic swimming pools.  Our Executive Secretary, who is the bishop of the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana has had the tradition to volunteer for civil defense duty along the beach in his hometown.  He tells us the purpose is to try and keep people safe from drowning.  He also watches for opportunities to share the Easter message with folks.

Today is very different.  No one is meeting for church, there were no sunrise services. NO one is permitted to travel anywhere. People are respecting social distancing. They are worried about one another.

One of the pastors from the IED church who lives across the parking lot from us has been opening up his tiny patio to play hymns and share a message over a loud speaker every day at 5:00 pm when the curfew begins.  The pastor I work with on a daily basis,  Reverend Betania and the other pastors of the IED church have worked hard to try and connect their congregants over social networks eg Whatsapp.  They are doing that today also.

Gord and I have been having our devotions from the book by Brian McLaren, “We Make the Road by Walking.”  What an excellent reflection and challenge this has brought us:

Maundy Thursday and the profound experience the disciples had with Jesus at the Last Supper, Jesus calling his disciples friends and then washing their feet.

Then Good Friday, Jesus suffering and death, with the heading of this reading being,  Everything must Change!

“God is not revealed in killing and conquest…in violence and hate.  God is revealed in this crucified man- giving himself to the very last breath, giving and forgiving.  And there could be no other way to show us what we are truly like.  We do not know what we are doing, indeed.  If God is like this, and if we are like this…everything must change.  Everything must change.  “                         taken from page 160

When I have had the privilege to write a children’s lesson, I try and challenge the children with what this means to them today, in their reality.  What their response could be and how we are called to be in commitment to God’s love every day.

Easter Sunday is life changing for all of us.

Today is a day to rejoice, in the midst of our reality of suffering and doubt.  We do not have to fear.  We are not alone.  We can have the courage to make the changes that are vital for life!

“When we remember Jesus, we are making space for his body and blood to be reunited and reconstituted in us. The risen Christ is with us, among us, and within us-…..This is what it means to be alive.  This is what it means to be in route, walking the road to a new and better day.  “                                                                                        page 170

In Ezekiel 37: 1-14 dry dead bones heard the word of the Lord, rattled, bone to its bone, received the breath of the Lord God and came to life.  They stood on their feet!

We can too!  Let’s do it together.

The Lord is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Solar Oven VIM team March, 2020

Thank you Marj, Connie, Larry, Scott, Colleen, Connie, Patty, Anna, Mya, Katie, Bella and Pangea.

For coming to reach out to us in need even as the coronavirus was creeping into our existence.  You came in boldness and faith in the midst of so much uncertainty.

Solar Oven teams are amazingly flexible.  We traveled to Villa de Anacaona, La Gorra del Partido and Partido; three pueblos on the northwest side of the country.  All of them are on the Dominican Haitian border.  Villa de Anacaona is actually 2300 feet above sea level.  It is a pueblo located beyond the Dominican border and before the Haitian border.  We could actually see Haiti from where we stopped.  That side of the mountain was completely brown, without vegetation.

It was raining that day and the following day so we arranged to visit two schools to share about the ovens with the teachers and the students.


The South Dakota SO team consisted of 5 young women between the ages of 15 and 21.  They were all a delight, worked hard and had wonderful attitudes.

At both of the schools they connected with the students so beautifully; all practicing their Spanish while the students practiced their English, sharing names, sharing likes and dislikes, braiding hair, taking pictures, giving hugs.  I felt God’s blessings to be a part of those moments.



We also walked through the Haitian Dominican biweekly market.  Always so interesting to see people buying and selling.

Many ovens were built, many talks shared, much food cooked and

enjoyed, many ovens distributed.

A very good time was had by all.

A Walk with the Coronavirus

The President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina declared social mandates for the country in response to the coronavirus 11 days ago.  The number I heard last night was that there are over 500 cases.

Businesses are open for a limited time during the week; there are workers who have been cut to half time; no meetings or gatherings are allowed; events have been cancelled.

Folks that usually sell to others from a cart on the street have eliminated their cart and are holding their coffee dispenser or container with sandwiches in their laps.

Last week a new mandate was added, there is a curfew from 5:00 pm to 6:00 am.

We went to the small grocery store close to our apartment.  There was no more hand sanitizer, little toilet paper and no plantains.

The church services have been cancelled during this season of Lent with Holy Week quickly approaching.

I have to continue to walk in the mornings even though others think there is a risk of contracting the virus this way.  This morning there were only a handful of people walking.   I passed one man right away.  He and I both felt uncomfortable, almost guilty yet we still greeted each other,  “Buenas Dias”.    I walked by 4 night watchmen who all had on face masks. I walked by a police man knocking down mangoes with a stick.  I walked by the restaurant Gordy and I eat at every once in awhile.  It is closed except for takeout.

There are only a few cars on the road.  This is the most uncommon site since there are 3 million people in this city and it seems like umpteen million cars and that many motorcycles. Pedestrians don’t have the right-a-way so we are always at risk.  Horn blasting is part of driving and very acceptable. And the fumes.  There is a thin layer of soot every day on our apartment floor.

I walked by a homeless man who could see I wasn’t carrying anything so I didn’t have any money to share with him yet he said,  “Dios es Bueno”,  “God is good”.

As I could see the ocean ahead of me, I realized something was different……. I could hear.  I could hear the silence.






I could hear the ocean. I could smell something.  I could smell the ocean ahead of me and






I could smell the flowers I just passed.







And then it was like a symphony of music and I could hear the birds……the ones close to me and the ones further away.  I had to stop walking.   It was incredible.  Almost like a wave of songs going through my body.

God is good.

There is so much uncertainty and fear while at the same time doubt and mistrust.  Everyone is  confused and susceptible.

Part of creation is suffering.  While another part of creation is singing.

Could we ever live in harmony together?

What would that look like?

Bethany UMC visits the Dominican Republic February 17, 2020

We welcomed with open arms our beloved covenant church from Madison, WI; Bethany UMC.  It was so fun and so encouraging to welcome folks we’ve been in relationship with for over 26 years.  We were able to receive them off their plane, spend the following morning with them as they had a session with Jose Rafael Peguero to learn about the history and reality of the Dominican Republic and then had lunch together at a restaurant close to their hostel.  We talked about our history together and what the week might look like for them.

Sadly, we them told them goodbye.  They went on to; Loma de Cabrera, Villa de lo Almacigas, and Arroyo Blanco de Santiago Rodriguez with the director of Solar Ovens in the Dominican Republic, Rev. Erasme Figeroa.

We flew to Minnesota and then drove on to Binford, North Dakota and Wilton, North Dakota to be with our families during the funerals of my sister, Rita Halvorson and Gordy’s step dad, Jerry Murrey.

Thank you; Steve, Connie, Mary, Jim, Gloria, Marjory, Ann, Morena, Gertrudis, Mario, Rev. Erasme and everyone at Bethany UMC for being a part of God’s mission in the Dominican Republic even in our absence.  We greatly appreciate your love and support to us all of these years.

Entered His Gates

Gordy and I are extremely saddened to share with you that we lost a beloved sister,  Rita Halvorson and a beloved step dad,  Jerry Murrey this past week.  We will travel to North Dakota to be with our families in this mourning time.  We would appreciate your prayers.

Ovens released & surveys done

900 Solar Ovens were released from the Dominican customs.  The Solar Oven team couldn’t be happier.  The government questioned and re-questioned our Dominican director, Erasme for many days before releasing them.   Money is always the deciding factor.

The following day Erasme motivated a team of 5 men to assemble 119 ovens in 2 days.  Many fingers and arms were sore.  He then traveled with a truck carrying those ovens to Santiago Rodriguez, Partido and Loma de Cabrera to distribute them.  119 people were very happy that day.




The following week, Gordy, Erasme and Jose Rafael Pegero traveled to the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic.  They trained 2 young people from the communities there to visit the homes of folks who have already received solar ovens in order to find out what has been happening with these ovens.  They traveled to five communities and visited 53 families.  The results of these surveys are extremely important for us as a team to know how to make improvements in this ministry.

Gordon’s Retirement

I have made the decision to officially retire from the General Board of Global Ministries effective September 1st, 2020.   However, I will continue to work with Ardell in the Dominican Republic as a volunteer.  My work activity will remain much the same, hosting volunteers in mission, solar oven mission, Church Development in the DR, and writing.

Ardell will continue as an official missionary with GBGM in her full capacity.

I am very grateful to all of you who have supported me over the past 31 years.  Your financial support, prayers, and friendship have made this journey possible and filled my life with grace.  It has been an honor and a privilege to be in covenant with you as mission partners.  I hope you will continue in your missionary giving and consider shifting your support to Ardell (Advance # 10836Z).

I will continue to write for our newsletters and for our website, so that we may remain in touch.

Ardell & Gordy return to the Dominican Republic, January 2nd, 2020

Dear friends,

Ardell and I have returned to the Dominican Republic after five months of visiting our covenant churches in the USA.  We also were able to visit our adult children (Hannah and Jenny are pictured), our extended family, many friends, and attend two funerals for our sister-in-law Susie and our brother-in-law Leroy.  The fullness of life includes death.  We are grateful to have been present with our families at this time when we could lean on each other and share our grief.

Visiting covenant churches has always been an important part of our missionary life and we are grateful for all the hospitality and joy of Christian fellowship.  We hope that we were able to communicate our shared mission and express to you the passion that we feel.  You have sponsored our missionary life over the past 30 years.  What a gift you have given us!


While in the US, one of my wishes came true.  I wanted to feel the cold of the North once again after being so long in the tropical heat and humidity.  I got in on the comforting cold of the fall and first stage of winter that makes me feel sentimental.  Later I also got a taste of driving on ice and through a snowstorm with a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel.  And finally I had some outings where I felt the sting of bitter cold while not properly dressed for the occasion.  That was a painful reminder that winter can be serious, fiercely cold.   But before the winter really set in we came south on January 2nd, 2020 to the warmer climate of the Dominican Republic with temperatures in the 80’s.

We were only back five days before taking to the road for a solar oven mission event near the border of Haiti in the region of a bustling market town known as Dajabón.  An UMVIM team of 12 came to us.  We, the Dominican team, were only 4 but together with our northern brothers and sisters we were enough.  We welcomed Marj, Karen, Ruth, Rita and Paul, Clinton, Susan, Harvey, Renae, Shirley, Gene, and Jeanine.  Gene said it best one night at the dinner table, “What a privilege it is to be with such good people!”  I second that sentiment and add, “Mil gracias!”  (a thousand thanks).

We are waiting on the release of a shipment of solar ovens.  They arrived about three weeks ago but Customs will not let them go without making the process frustrating and difficult.  Somehow they mislabeled the shipment of solar ovens, and categorized them as electric ovens.  And they want to charge us fees that are sky high.  So our boss here, Erasme is having to jump through all the old hoops and some newly invented ones.

We were counting on the arrival of the oven shipment to have enough to distribute at three new sites.  After working at the towns of Partido, Sabaneta, and Cabrera we took orders for about 200 ovens but only had 70 ovens available.  At all three towns we had to do a drawing to see who would get the 23 ovens/site now and who would wait until we get the new shipment.  The drawing created a atmosphere of excitement.  When the names of the winners were announced there were shrieks, applause, and laughter.  One woman even claimed that in her morning devotions God had given her a word from the Bible about winning something.  She literally jumped up and down and shouted for joy.

Questions and Answers   (historical fiction)

We had a number of retired teachers on the team, one by the name of Ruth.  I could tell she is a smart teacher by all the questions she asked me.  Questions that I could not answer properly.  My answers were peppered with, “I’m not sure…”  Or, “probably…”  Or “it could be that…”

Ruth called me to account, “You live here, how come you don’t know the answers to my questions?”

So I said, “OK listen, ask me a really hard question about the USA and if I can answer it then you have to stop pestering me.  Agreed?”  She agreed.

She thought for a while and came up with this question, “In the USA how many persons per year are struck by lightning while on a hayride?”

Luckily she had asked a question that was within my sphere of knowledge as I happen to be an expert on hayrides.

I answered with authority, “Three!”

Ruth’s jaw dropped and she said, “I cannot believe you knew that!”