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!

2018 Medical Mission to Montecristi, Dominican Republic

There are a lot of moving parts to a medical mission in the Dominican Republic.  There is much collaboration, coordination, and conversation in a cross cultural setting which has a high potential for chaos.

Thankfully, the mission becomes a dance of God’s grace.



Julia Jones brought a team of 10 from South Dakota and Minnesota that included three doctors and a 4th year medical student.  They were joined by Dr. Yovi, a young Dominican doctor.  The rest of us filled in as support staff: translators, pharmacist’s helpers, crowd control, and general service practitioners.

There are many special moments when each one of us catches a glimpse of God.  So many faces tell their stories without words, children with their natural radiance,





young mothers carrying the weight of the family,







the elderly quietly bearing a lifetime of hard work like trees that usually go unnoticed, and a special group we had not seen before, fishermen.



The fishermen had some common qualities.  They were early middle aged, physically strong like athletes, seemed content with their life and work, but also had the aches and pains that come to those who spend long hours on the water tending to their nets.  I think the only reason they came to the clinic was because lately the winds had been too strong for fishing.  I became aware that these men are paying a high price to help bring fish to our tables.  I was also reminded that Jesus had a special care for men like these and found that they have the character qualities he looks for in choosing disciples.  What a blessing to sit and talk with them for a moment.

Volunteer in Mission teams bring with them some of the best qualities; generosity, open hearts and minds, a strong work ethic, and a good sense of humor.







They also bring the faith, hope, and love of Christ with hearts of compassion.




Special thanks to the 2018 Medical Team to Montecristi: Julia, Dr. Cindi, Dr. Dale, Dr. Terri, Dr. Yovi and Dr.(almost)Kayla, the three amigos – Elliot, Chris, and Garrett; Mario, Ann Elise, Mike, Deisy y Lorenzo, Dairy, Lori, Loreidy, Juana, Rosmeri, Loli, Noemi, Yenesi, Ardell and Gordy.

Like green plantains cooked and mashed together for 10 days we became a most delicious mangú. 

Solar Ovens Return to Montecristi

April 30th to May 4th, 2018

Back to Montecristi

Our local team for solar ovens made a trip back to Montecristi last week.  Montecristi is a region in the northwest corner of the country.  It is very close to the Haitian border.

There is an excellent team of folks at the IED church there.  They have made many contacts for us and are great solar oven cooks.   We expected to be very busy, with a promise of lots of interest in two different locations.  But rainy weather came our way.

Our first day in the barrio of Guatapanal, we got to walk the community.   It’s a fairly new community with folks moving there from the countryside.  It was fun for me to see the activity in the neighborhood. 








We basically had to make up a plan B.  The people were going to come from the countryside but when it rains, the dirt road becomes very difficult to travel.  They told us the people would come walking but then they would have to figure out how to get their ovens home.  Consequently, they didn’t come.  We are strategizing about how to get the ovens to them in the future.

The youth from the area asked us to visit their schools.  There was enough sun one day to make an irresistible chocolate cake and delicious corn bread.  Teachers are great promoters for the ovens since they understand the appropriate technology and they have hearts to teach others.  This is an exciting contact.  Fifteen teachers received ovens and our cooks at the church pledged to continue working with the teachers as they learn how to cook with the sun.

For the first time we visited the mayor of Montecristi.  We have decided to visit the mayor of every town we visit in order to inform them of our mission and hope they will help us with promotion.   Everyone was nervous, including him.  Rev. Erasme made a nice presentation to him and we could tell when the mayor realized we weren’t asking him for any favors or money, that he began to warm up to us.

Solar Ovens and Mangos

Our local solar oven team is getting ready for a trip to Montecristi where it is predicted that we may distribute 160 ovens in a week.  That is a lot of ovens for us to handle.  So we have been preparing by going out to Baní where we have a storage container that was originally filled with 1100 ovens when it arrived from South Dakota.  Now it is nearly empty.

We assembled 100 of the remaining ovens ahead of time and will do the remainder in Montecristi.

The ovens are stored in Baní at the church camp of the Dominican Evangelical Church.  We use the cafeteria of the camp to do our assembly.  It has lots of room and plenty of tables.

Erasme, Mario, and I (Gordy) have become crackerjacks at solar oven assembly and we are especially productive in the wide open spaces of the cafeteria.

We rarely take a break but when we do we go outside to find ripe juicy mangos all over the ground.  This is mango season and the camp in Baní has an orchard of mango trees and the caretaker cannot keep up with the abundance of fruit all around him.  So we each pick out a nice mango off the ground and bite into the skin to gain access to the luscious fruit underneath.  Baní is said to have the best mangos in the country.

At the end of the day Mario and Erasme do a sweep of the area and bag up a harvest of mangos, bags and bags to take home.  Erasme climbs a tree and shakes the branches and mangos fall like fruit bombs.  Mario gathers them and backs up his van to load.  I would like to participate but am so bone tired and my back aches so I wait in the shade.  I can tell that this activity was one they practiced as boys growing up and their enthusiasm is that of gathering treasure.

I imagine that one mango tree in its season could feed a small village.  Alejandro the camp caretaker told stories of growing up on the north coast of the island.  He said there was always some kind of fruit in season and as children they only had one meal per day at home.  The rest of the day they ate fruit from the trees to keep their bellies full.  The trees produce extravagantly, more than enough to feed the people, the birds, and even the farm animals.

It is such a sublime picture of God’s abundant life, there is plenty for all and all are welcome.