Summer of 2018

Gordy and I have had so much happen since May of this year.  It has been a very busy summer.  I’ve tried to share some of the activities with you in the following four articles.

The first article is an addendum to an earlier story from our blog,, an overview of the experiences of a South Dakota medical team in Montecristi.

El Morrow and Gordy’s fall

Gordys account:  We try to arrange an outing for every volunteer in mission team as a way to experience the natural beauty of this country.  In May 2018 we decided to take a South Dakota medical team to climb El Morrow, an imposing flat topped mountain by the sea on the outskirts of Montecristi.

It was my first time to hike up the Morrow and from below it looked like a walk in the park.  On  the way up we met two young women on their way down and they warned us that the path is slippery and dangerous.  They had turned back.  Wimps, I thought.

As we continued up the younger ones in our group took off like goats leaving the young at heart further and further behind.  The path was steep and full of loose rocks.  I fell once and scraped up my lower leg.  I fell again, extended my right arm to grab at anything and I felt something tear in my shoulder, and the pain was intense.  But after a few minutes to cradle my arm, I was amazed that I could still use it so continued on.

A little further up I it became clear to me that I was out of gas and still had to get back down so I too turned back.  At this point I was alone.  On the way down I slipped again, hit the ground with the same arm extended to grab a non-existent life line and I felt something tear in my shoulder again but this time the pain was extreme and I knew I was hurt.  I got back down very slowly more anxious than ever that I might slip yet again.

Fast forward 5 weeks.  I finally got to my doctor’s office and after a brief examination he ordered an MRI for my shoulder.  The results were not good news, the two main rotator cuff tendons are torn 90%, a muscle is torn, and the ball of the humerus bone is fractured.  I am headed for Atlanta for a surgical repair.

Fast forward another 3 weeks:  The surgery took over 6 hours and involved four screws, 2 washers, and multiple sutures to repair.  In the following weeks and months I must allow the natural healing process to take place and put in the hours of physical therapy that will be necessary.

I have been praying for some time that I might accept that I am growing older.  I have always had a lot of pride in being young and strong and often in my imagination I am still  somewhere between 25 and 45 years old.  In the real world I am closing in on 65.  Maybe I am afraid that as I advance in age I become worth less and less.

I wish I could say that after this incident the light came on and I learned my lesson.  One thing is for sure that I will never again try to climb El Morrow.  And the other day a young man offered me his seat on the subway,  I hesitated (who? me?) and then accepted it.  Maybe that is progress.  This world needs the wisdom of it’s elders.  I pray that my pride may soon take a seat and let this man come to terms with his age and perhaps become an elder.

Kennedy Martin

Kennedy Martin arrived four days after Gordy left for his surgery in Atlanta.   Her time with me was a whirlwind of activities:

  • visiting the Dominican Evangelical Church’s annual women’s camp,
  • to visiting the Chicago Cub’s training camp in the DR,
  • to building a parsonage with a Volunteer in Mission team from Iowa,
  • to traveling with Bishop Cancu and getting caught in the middle of a protest for two hours,

  • to assisting the leadership team at the annual adolescent camp,

  • to working with the national Solar Oven team in Pedernales.

Kennedy was able to have lots of conversations with Dominicans, to see much of the country, and to taste many Dominican dishes   It was very nice to have her along during all those times.

Thank you Kennedy for your openness to listen and learn, your willingness to be involved in life amidst all its messiness, for your heart of justice and for your love for all of God’s people.

Adolescent Summer Camp, Ardell writes:

And then began the Adolescent summer camp which took place at the IED camp grounds in Bani. In so many ways I am at a loss for words, which usually happens for me when I have no idea how to share with you all that happened at this camp.

Maybe I’ll start with a little background:

you already know that Jose Rafael Peguero, (the sociologist I work with at the central IED office) and I prepared the curriculum for the camp.  Through a series of meetings and conversations, we knew we wanted to work with the very painful topic of violence in the Dominican society.  Jose Rafael has a passion for applying our faith and Biblical truths to the reality we live in.

This was going to be a very exciting challenge.

AnnElise Bergstrom from First UMC in Sartell, Minnesota arrived with the South Dakota medical team in the midst of this preparation and lent her expertise with much love and enthusiasm.

Thank you again AnnElise.











We really had to trust that God would touch the hearts of these adolescent kids through these materials. We had two full days and two half days to work together.


Five team leaders were willing to direct the camp.



One of the pastors kept telling me to prepare for 75 kids and others predicted more.   I was never sure until we arrived and registered 116 young people.

I very soon realized the educational part would be balanced with recreation and, of course, the most delicious food that adolescent kids eagerly anticipated. The last night they all dressed in their most formal clothes and ate hotdogs with cabbage and fried plantains.

I shared with you in a previous blog some of the metaphors/similes we have used to try and open the hearts and minds of these young folks.

The main one being that we are like clay pots and God is working in our lives.

Each young person was given a clay pot, and they poured their hearts into decorating this pot,  which represented each one of them.

Then came the painful part, each child’s pot is broken with a rock, to  represent violence and the brokenness of the world.


But then they each glued their pot back together knowing Jesus can heal us and longs to do so making us whole beings once again.





A writer/ administrator is never sure when something is working because she becomes so involved in it, but by the end of the camp, there were some signs.

A mother, through her tears, came to share her story with me and the struggle her daughter is in and then shared her experience during the camp and her hope for their future.

One of the young 12 year old boys asked me where he could find the materials and activities we were using so that he could lead his church in a similar experience.


One of the group leaders stopped me after the camp had finished and said very somberly,  “Transformation has happened in this place.”

As we ended the camp with a communion service, we asked the young folks to set their broken,

but now glued pots,

some barely with enough pieces to hold them together,


yet now with a tiny candle burning in each one,   on the altar before they received communion.




Some of the leaders in the church then laid hands on each one and blessed them saying,

“Go forth to love and serve others.

You are called to be a peacemaker.”


As the service ended I went out first to try and organize them to take a group picture, which was impossible, so I settled on the red group’s picture.

Their group name was:  The Chosen.  Their symbol was an ‘illuminated person’ and the Bible verse they chose to guide them was Philippians 4: 13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  Their excellent group leader was Lili. After the first small group meeting we had, I found her in the chapel standing with her face in the corner of two walls.  She was sobbing.  When I hugged her, she said,  “I can’t bear that these kids are so young and have experienced such difficult things in their lives.”

Each student had carefully written their group name on one sleeve of his/her shirt, their symbol on the other sleeve and their Bible verse on the neck of their shirt.  On the back each one wrote,  “Our creation is broken,” with a drawing he/she chose to depict this and on the front each one wrote,

“I am Choosing a New Way of Life”,

together with a drawing of his/her choice.

Mia, from La Vega, came up to me to show me her drawing, which was a broken pot that had been glued back together and had a beautiful red flower growing out of it.



As I walked back into the now empty chapel to pick up the remainder of the supplies,

I realized that the alter was also empty.

There was not one broken pot left behind.

Solar Oven Demonstration in Pedernales. Ardell writes:

Last night the national Solar Oven team returned from Pedernales at 11:00 pm.





The seminars were different this time because the second day we encouraged the participants to build their oven on their own and then prepare a pot of food on their own to cook in it. Usually we walk them through these steps.  I really encouraged the team not to  ‘take over’ but rather to ask strategic questions.  This was so interesting to be a part of.  The discussions were very lively.


Not until after the seminar was over did any of us realize that among the participants were four medical doctors, the director of the local hospital,  two members of the region’s environmental group and one city commissioner.  They were all very happy with their ovens.

As they told us goodbye, one of the environmentalists told me that the next time we come,  they will help to organize the people and get the ovens into the hands of the most needy in that region.

Adolescent Camp Coming

The IED church will host the adolescent summer camp at the national camp groups in the city of Bani on Thursday the 26th of July.  It is planned to be a 4 day camp although someone realized the dates that were chosen fell on Father’s Day the 29th so no one is ever sure if the camp will continue through the 29th or finish on the 28th.   I hope we are allowed to continue through the morning of the 29th, there is so much planned for the camp,

I will be working directly with the camp this year alongside Rev. Betania and Rev. Carilina.  We have our theme and curriculum.  We have chosen the theme of “Violence” with fear and trembling.  This is such a serious issue in the Dominican society, the church asked us to begin addressing it.  This will be our first direct attempt.

Please pray for us.

There will be “walking the wooden planks”,



“breaking clay pots”,






gluing them back together again,




and walking the labyrinth (So many thanks to Carol, Wally, Lois,  Carol, and Jiggy for lovingly painting a labyrinth for us.).



These are all activities that will happen for the first time in this church.

I feel excited yet very nervous at the same time. I’ll share with you what happens afterwards.

A New Set of Sunday School Curriculum

We are celebrating:

Our fourth set of Sunday School curriculum is finished and has been sent to the publisher to be printed.  These lessons will help to provide spiritual growth for five age groups of Sunday Schools in the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana (IED) for the next six months.

These lessons are very challenging to produce:




The process involves working together in the midst of many theological differences among the pastors and teachers in the church.  The church has historical roots in the Methodist, Presbyterian, and the Moravian theological traditions.  Pentacostal influences have also been significant in the IED Church.



It has been a challenge to get both pastors and lay persons to write lessons.   Historically, the Dominican culture is more comfortable with oral expression and Dominicans in general have had less opportunity to develop their writing skills.




Another cultural obstacle is a reluctance to plan for the future and to set goals and deadlines. There is a common expression used by Dominicans when you refer to something in the future and that is, “Si Dios quiere” (If God wills).  In that sense the future belongs to God so God is responsible.  Deadlines create anxiety so it is best to put everything on God’s shoulders and avoid long range plans and regular deadlines.

The obstacles to writing curriculum convince us even more of the importance to do so.  How important it is for pastors and teachers to be able to verbalize their faith with the spoken and the written word.

I am always thrilled when we are successful in producing curriculum!