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, www.granerfamily.org 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!”

Busy Christian Education season

Dear friends,

We are preparing to come and visit the second half of our covenant churches and are very much looking forward to another visit this fall.

This is the busiest time of the year for us in Christian Education.  The children are on school vacation and the IED churches are busy planning and preparing for Vacation Bible School and summer camp.  We have also received the fourth set of Sunday School curriculum which just arrived from the printers in Korea.

We have been holding training sessions for the Sunday School teachers and preparing them to use this curriculum.  We are also in the midst of writing new curriculum for the Extension Bible School programs that reach children with the good news of God’s kingdom in their own neighborhoods.

Thank you for walking with us in this ministry.

Reading Between the Lines, South Dakota Medical Mission to the DR

What happens when a team of 7 volunteers from South Dakota come to a tropical island, the Dominican Republic, to do a medical mission in a town called Montecristi?

 

We could write a 40 page treatise on this experience that would give all the details, names, and statistics.  That might be interesting to anyone with the time and patience to read it but it might not get to the heart of the story.  To uncover or discover the heart of the story it is often necessary to read between the lines.

 

 

 

In the book of Matthew, Jesus calls us to seek first the kingdom of God and God’s justice.  The mission of Jesus was to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to all people but especially to the poor.  “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20.  In other passages the kingdom of God is like the tiny mustard seed, like searching for a lost coin, like yeast spreading    through bread dough, and it is here and now but somehow not yet.  It seems that the kingdom of God is near to us, all around us, but at the same time hidden from us until we search for it.  We have to read between the lines.

 

 

The medical team had four doctors, two from South Dakota and two from the the Dominican Republic.

 

 

As a team they saw more than 600 patients in 6 days.  That is a statistic, impressive but we must go deeper.

 

 

 

They also had the privilege of looking into the faces and deep into the eyes of many people who bear the heavy weight of poverty.

 

They came to the our medical post for some relief.  The doctors heard their spoken words and they also read their unspoken words between the lines.   You may ask the doctors what they ‘read’ and I would guess that in many cases they could not tell you.  Sometimes communication is deeply spiritual and there are no words except these, “I was sick and you visitied me”.

In our time together, all of us participated in the work of the clinics in our various capacities.  We communicated with each other and with the Dominicans with words, laughter, prayers, through shared meals, shared stories, hugs, basically through all of our physical and spiritual senses.  We became more familiar, more family, with each other.  But because there are language and cultural barriers we often had to read between the lines.  Our hearts are filled with all that we ‘read’.  We will try to tell you in words about our encounter but we may not be able to find the words.  Maybe all we can say is for a time we entered into the kingdom of God.

There are so many people to thank: Julia, Noel, Terri, and Terry, Francesca and Ana and Ann, John and Chris, Erasme, Maria, and Altagracia, Gordy, Ardell and Deisy and Lorenzo, and Dairy, Lori, Kris, and Loreidy, Loli, Genesy, and Noami.  Urania and Damary and Juana and Julio. And Mario too.

Blessings abundant to all you servants of the Lord.

Devotionals for Pastor’s Retreat on the Theme of Violence

My little room had 3 mangos on the bed, geckos running around on the walls, tiny mosquitos everywhere that bite like monsters, horrendous heat and humility  and a fan that sounded like a roaring train coming at ya.

I was asked to lead a series of 3 devotionals during a pastor’s retreat where the theme was violence in the society.

I decided my goal would be to try to get them to connect with their context in the Dominican Republic and to the power that God gives us all to respond to the issues around us. We especially wanted to focus on the reality of violence, which they are very concerned about.  One of their statistics is:

The Latin American Bureau:  “domestic violence, the biggest source of violence against women in the Dominican Republic”. 

The latest data from the Procuraduría Fiscal del Distrito Nacional (Santo Domingo) puts the number of complaints of domestic violence in the past two years at over 15,000, with this type of crime making up 23% of total offences reported in the capital alone – the single most reported offence. Of the 199 femicides in the past 12 months, 46% were as a result of domestic violence

Gordy made me a wooden frame measuring 16 feet X 3 feet X 6 inches deep.  We used 2 of the heavy solar oven tables to hold it.

I chose items from nature to represent the dynamics of the devotionals, such as:

Soil represented their culture, the context in which they live.  They had a lot of fun with this part of the dynamic as they named historical facts, political facts, the religions on the island, the languages spoken, the different groups of people living here, the geography and environment, the agriculture and of course their music and food. With every example they shared they put a glass full of soil in the wooden frame.

They then filled tiny glass vials with water and placed a leaf in each one as they shared about words that describe God’s character, Jesus actions with people, and the Holy Spirits presence with us all.

Rocks and stones were placed in the structure as they shared the issues they deal with every day. Shredded garbage was distributed in the scene as they began focusing on the types of violence they all experience and wilted petals were spread to represent specific people and families they know who are suffering and struggling in the midst of the violence.

We then placed each of the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana churches,  little wooden blocks with painted windows, in the scene with their crosses made from tiny branches woven together with yarn.  Different types of seeds; tiny pine cones, rice seed, pia pia seeds and cashews seeds were used to represent men, women, children and the elderly in their congregations.

Each one then light a candle, made a vow of committed to their churches and communities and placed themselves in the midst of the scene as we bowed our heads and listened to the prayer of Teresa de Avila,

“Christ has no body but yours. 

No hands, no feet on earth but yours. 

Yours are the eyes with which He looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. 

Yours are the hands with which He blesses the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

 

North Dakota, Minnesota, Florida; Methodist and Lutheran Team to the DR

February, 2019:  Every volunteer in mission team is unique.  They bring something new which we get to discover as the week unfolds.  How to put that new thing into words will always be a challenge and never capture the full picture, like any photograph which only catches a momentary still shot of life.

Even when our great plans go awry, God blesses our best intentions to serve with all of our being.  There are times in solar oven demonstrations that the sun is blocked by clouds and we begin to worry.  In addition there are times when the multitudes we expected to attend don’t appear leaving us with a small circle of local people, and we begin to fret.  In times like these we seek courage and comfort in remembering that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.  It is so very small as to seem insignificant.  But somehow this small seed can achieve something great in spite of its size.

A team of five Americans, namely, Carol, Lois, Wally, Jiggy, and Grace joined with our Dominican group of five, Erasme, Mario, Gertrudis, Louisa (Ardell), and Gordy.  A group of 10 which at times was reduced to nine and then eight, took on a labor of love.  We did solar oven demonstrations in Neyba and Tamayo, two small towns in the southwest of the Dominican Republic.

These towns are located in a dry, sunbaked, thorn infested region that seems more suitable for goats than people.

 

 

In spite of the odds against us we planted our mustard seeds in faith.  God was with us and we were met with the smiles, the excitement, and the hopes of God’s children that we had the privilege to meet.  We served them and they blessed us and the joy of God filled our souls.  We have confidence that these mustard seeds will grow and bring life.  Something new has happened as we have loved one another as Christ has loved us.

Our thanks to you who came from afar to share God’s love in action.