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Solar Oven Partners hosts virtual mission experience

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communication, Dakotas UMC

In this recent video from Solar Oven Partners, Director Marj Evans-de-Carpio and two volunteers from Brooklyn UMC in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, traveled with a group to make parts for solar ovens to be distributed in the Dominican Republic, the Navajo Nation in the Southwest US, and in Sierra Leone, in West Africa.

A mission team of ten United Methodists from the Dakotas, Minnesota, and East Ohio Conferences connected virtually to learn how solar ovens help change families' lives. 

"It was an in-depth exploration for each of the participants about culture and God," says Marj Evans-de-Carpio, who serves as the director for Solar Oven Partners. "Each person took the responsibility to engage in understanding the culture and needs of the Dominican Republic.

The mission team met throughout eight days by video conferencing, e-mail, phone, for devotions, cultural experiences, and individual sessions with partners at the Dominican Evangelical Church. Participants found out details about volunteering with Solar Oven Partners by working at a workshop in the Dakotas Conference, sewing potholders, or going on a mission journey.

There are two main workshops where solar oven parts are built. In Raymond, South Dakota, there is some manufacturing and a lot of wrapping and boxing of the parts to prepare them for shipping. A spool of reflective metal material goes to a stencil. It is sliced, punched, bent, and riveted into the reflectors in a workshop, soon to be relocated to Rapid City, South Dakota.  

Sewing potholders is a welcome addition to a solar oven. People who receive a solar oven after two days of training also receive a pair of potholders. Sewers are asked to follow the same pattern closely so that all receive the same size and shape and style of potholders. Volunteers are free to choose cotton prints, colors, or even quilt blocks of the correct size.

The mission journey trips to distribute solar ovens usually happen throughout the year, to the Dominican Republic, the Navajo Nation in the Southwest US, and in Sierra Leone, in West Africa. Mission teams have not made any distribution since March of 2020, and teams are currently not planning on traveling to the locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual mission team is launching a ministry for the delivery of food baskets in the communities where solar ovens would have been distributed. Team members are thinking of creative ways to raise funds to send to the Dominican Republic to provide food baskets to people in need.

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"People have lost jobs or informal opportunities to earn income in the Dominican," says Evans-de-Carpio. "They need a boost. This ministry is working on getting cash donations to our partners at the Dominican Evangelical Church, so they can purchase items and deliver food baskets."

There have been a total 11,340 ovens distributed to date. Income for the ministry is down, but travel and distribution expenses are also down. If you would like to learn more about Solar Oven Partners visit their website or Facebook page. Or, contact Marj by e-mail or phone (605) 692-3391.

Solar Oven Partners is one of the mission ministries that will be supported by your gifts to the 2020 Miracle Offering. Begin to prepare your hearts and minds for how you can live out God's call to generosity.  
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