Graner Itineration, September through November, 2017

August 25th, 2017

Dear Friends,

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:

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


Mission to Pedernales

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.




Solar Oven Partners UMC from South Dakota sent a team of volunteers to accompany us on this mission.  We held the solar oven seminars on the Dominican side of the border in an open field.

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.

Young girls in the DR

Young girls are at great risk.  This is a fact we have learned as we have been talking with and listening to people in the Dominican society.

Reverend Betania and I have been listening to these people for 4 years and have finally gotten a chance to respond.  We designed a 6 class workshop to have time to listen to, interact with and influence young girls in the IED churches and their communities.

We’ve been able to meet with some of these girls from Rev. Erasme’s church for the past month on Saturday afternoons as a pilot project for the future.


In the first class we were challenged with the theme of identity.  The second, our bodies and spirituality and the third, as an introduction to our sexuality.







The young girls who have come have responded enthusiastically.  They decided to invite their friends, many of them young boys and younger children. We didn’t turn away anyone.




The challenge is great in this area and we are eager to continue.  Please pray for these young people.

South Dakota Medical VIM Team to the Dominican Republic

Julia Jones from First UMC of Pierre, South Dakota brought her third medical team to the DR in May 2017.  Bishop Cancú of the Dominican Evangelical Church asked that we work in a town called Montecristi with Pastor Deisy and her husband Lorenzo.  Montecristi is in the extreme northwest corner of the DR very near to the Haitian border.  It is where Deisy and Lorenzo are planting a new church so hosting a medical team is a great way to demonstrate God’s love for this community.

We worked out of Deisy and Lorenzo’s parsonage which is also their provisional church building.  In a crowded space we had three doctors seeing patients, a pharmacy, and a small set up for distributing reading glasses.  Three fans saved us from the stifling heat.  One afternoon the electricity went out and we had to move the clinic outside and worked under the shade of a tree and a tarp.  Not ideal conditions but God’s grace made it all work like a fine tuned sewing machine.

The medical team provided medications, vitamins, new tooth brushes, and reading glasses all of which was received with gratitude.  But above all the team was care giving, sharing smiles, hugs, and words of assurance and hope.  In return the patients shared the very same things with their care givers.  All of us were touched by the presence of Christ.


We took a day off to tour an incredible event.  We drove to Dajabón, a nearby market town on the border of the DR and Haiti.  Twice a week the border is opened to allow marketing back and forth between the two countries and it is wild!  Deisy wisely made sure we were safe by sending a Dominican ‘body guard’ with each of us.  There was a crush of humanity that we could not have navigated without our helpers.  It was seemingly impossible to actually stop and shop and buy something and after about 15 minutes of being herded through the endless market we were all ready to leave or perhaps to flee.  It was one of those experiences that we really appreciated but do not need to repeat.

On behalf of the Dominican Evangelical Church, Pastors Deisy and Lorenzo, a host of Dominicans from Montecristi, and two UMC missionaries we would like to thank Julia, Kathy, Ann, Tom, Cindi, Nelson, Deb, Dairy, Loriedy, Dan, Terry, Carissa, and Mario for sharing their lives and talents with us so graciously.

Solar Ovens in Samana

Dear Friends,

In the first week of April we were able to carry out a string of solar oven demonstrations with our Dominican team.  These demonstrations were filled with enjoyable new experiences and also challenging as we were a small team of only 5 people.  But all the hard work was rewarding as the people who attended were so enthusiastic and receptive.

Our director Pastor Erasme, Rev. Maria, Gertrudis, Gordy and I visited three villages on the Samaná peninsula, El Limón, Villa Clara and Mt. Rojo.


After our final demonstration in El Limon, we weren’t all able to fit in the pickup with our supplies so our pickup went on ahead without us to take the load of tools and equipment to our next place which was Mt. Rojo.  The plan was that he would return for us in an hour.

In the meantime Erasme invited us to the local river.  The water was cool and clean and we were hot and dirty so we all jumped in with our blue jeans and t-shirts to play with the children and get totally refreshed.  The pickup didn’t return until 3 hours later.

Since we had sold all the ovens that we had made, we needed to assemble at least 15 more ovens to be prepared for the next morning. Instead of going back to Samaná to rest, we traveled directly up the mountain to where the Mt. Rojo church is located.  In the cool evening air Erasme, Gordy, myself and a handful of local volunteers built 20 ovens finishing at 10:00 pm.

We all know the ladies from the Mt. Rojo church, so they feel very comfortable with us.  When we arrived the next morning, over 30 of them greeted us, excited and ready to cook. They brought a bucket full of tubers with them wondering if the ovens would also cook these.  At that very moment there was a complete cloud cover.  Gertrudis said I kind of jumped with panic when they asked me, but I wanted to have faith the sun would appear so I enthusiastically said, “of course!”   We cooked mapuey, ñame, yautia, yucca, rice with coconut milk, tayota, moro with coconut milk, coconete, bread from their recipe and of course, platanos.

I am happy to report that the sun did come out, everything cooked just right, the women were in awe, and we all celebrated.

1st set of Extension Bible School curriculum

On March 23rd, a Tuesday morning, Rev. Betania and I took our first set of curriculum for Extension Bible School to be printed.

This set, with four months of lessons, has taken us 3 years to prepare.  We have visited many of the 39 Extension Bible School sites around the country that the IED church hosts.  We’ve watched the children and talked with the volunteer teachers and volunteer church members where the classes are hosted, always in a cramped space around the person’s home.

I even had the blessing of being involved with beginning a new Extension Bible School in one of the IED churches on the northern cost of the country.  It was held in the mom’s fluttered yard with dead tree trunks, branches and bushes everywhere.  There were approximately 20 children from ages 3 to 15 years old.  There were no chairs for the kids to sit in.  The class was totally dynamic and the children were thrilled and 100% engaged.

This series of classes is written to help the children understand their own reality in the Dominican Republic in the light of the gospel.  The teachers and church leaders shared 12 themes with Rev. Betania and I a year ago that affect their society and their children.

The four themes chosen to begin the series are:  Identity, Carnaval, Safe & Healthy Entertainment, and Education.

The methodology we have used for this curriculum is to focus on one theme each month.  The first week we address the reality of this theme.  The second week is dedicated to study this theme in the light of the gospel.  The third week the children are able to invite their parents and they are then able to formulate their learning and present it to their parents.  The fourth week they are involved in a mission in relationship to this theme.

Please say a prayer for these churches and moms involved in reaching out to their children.

Walking in Santo Domingo

Walking in Santo Domingo has many challenges. In this city of 4 million people, pedestrians seem to have no rights and there is a stigma against people who walk instead of ride in a vehicle.  We are considered to have no worth, second class citizens.

Gordy and I consider it a privilege to be able to walk here yet we are always aware of the dangers and difficulties: the broken sidewalks, posts sticking out ready to impale, random holes, and piles of construction materials.  The wide open storm sewers are filled with garbage belching out nasty odors.   There are garbage piles on the sidewalks which attract rats that occasionally run out in front of you.  And there seems to be no law against parking cars and trucks on the sidewalks.   In addition, the motorcycle drivers are increasingly using the sidewalks as their very own speedway.   And to cross the street, any street, most often means being on red alert.

But there are gentler times also.  One day as I was walking home, trying to be careful, a couple walked in front of me.  They were both blind, holding hands, with their guiding sticks in their opposite hands.  They were in a particularly tricky part of the sidewalk and were attempting to cross one of the very busy streets at the same time.  I stopped walking to see if they needed any assistance, while at the same time trying not to be maternalistic.  Others responded to the couple also and immediately came to their aid.

I understand that Lent recalls the time when Jesus was in the wilderness and there were many struggles and dangers that threatened him.  This was a time of growing and standing firm in His faith.  As I continue to wrestle with supporting the pastors and lay leaders with curriculum writing, I find myself struggling to find a way to share the faith and the Bible stories with the children of the church.  I think one of the strongest messages that God tries to teach us, and I always want children to realize, is that we are not alone as we walk.  There are many real hazards out there, yet God is always with us and we can encourage each other to keep on walking.