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!”