Huejotzingo VBS Day 4

Teaching the kidsThe usual pattern continued today, the 4th day of the 2018 TUtP VBS in Huejotzingo, Mexico—we again had an increase in the number of participants with a total of 44. We also gained one more worker. Your prayers are definitely making a difference. Thank you so very much. Because of you the lives of these young people are being positively affected for the sake of Jesus.

What with one thing and another, I got to bed at 1 a.m. this morning, so was a bit miffed (gross understatement) when at 5:30 a.m. the local church, as per their pattern of announcing their 6 a.m. mass, loudly broadcast panpipe music of “The Sound of Silence” over their loud speakers. I immediately thought that silence would indeed be golden.

The morning was a bit hectic getting ready, eating a somewhat hurried breakfast, washing and hanging up clothes, packing the car, taking everyone and everything over to the venue and then picking up the 5 children I pick up each morning. I got back to the venue as most of the children were signing in. I realized I had inadvertently left my camera at the TUtP Center. I also learned we had not packed the computer, which was supposed to be with all the other items by the front door, but wasn’t. Hurried 10 minute drive to pick up both items. Got back pretty much when the computer had become essential. So all was well.

Using a wig for a beardI am always amazed at how much joy and fun the kids display. Also I am aware of all that Abraham and Rachel do, how very creative they are in planning games and crafts that add to the teaching of the day. We really have a very modest budget and very simple things to use. I brought down a number of wigs and a fur stole I bought at an estate sale. I get a lot of items for our mission at estate sales. The stole, which was gray and white, became a beard for Paul. One of the wigs became a beard for Timothy. Both looked great. Rachel, who played a wealthy lady from Antioch who told the story of how Paul and Barnabas had come to their city and stayed for a year and how the Judaizing Christians came and tried to make the Gentile believers become Jews, requiring Paul and Barnabas to return to Jerusalem to settle the issue. She wore some of the costume jewelry I brought down. She really looked impressive.

Tomorrow is closing day and we expect at least a few parents to attend the closing ceremony at 2:30. Appreciate your prayers that a good number of parents will attend. We had a record number of parents last year. We recap all the songs and stories the kids learned throughout the week. Again, this is the most Biblical presentation most of these parents will encounter.

It’s getting close to 11:30 p.m., so I’m in for an early bedtime compared to the rest of the week. Rachel and Abraham will be up to the wee hours preparing the certificates of completion and the final poster that depicts the story the kids will hear tomorrow. The five posters, one representing the story told each day, will be awarded to each of the kids who can say all five Scriptures which they learned during the week.

2018 Huejotzingo VBS Day 3

The 3rd day of the 2018 TUtP Huejotzingo VBS is now in the books. Yesterday I said we had 38 kids in attendance. We actually had 34. But we increased to 38 today. I also mentioned that we really needed at least 2 or 3 more helpers. God answered your prayers by sending 3. Hooray!!

Because of all that we had had to do the previous afternoon and evening after VBS ended at 3 p.m. we were not able to do all of the shopping for today. So Abraham and I dropped Joyce and Rachel and the grandkids at the VBS venue and drove hurriedly into the outskirts of town to pick up the few things we needed. Short trips sometimes don’t work out to be as quick as one would hope. Two places we stopped at to buy glue didn’t have any. That meant going into the center of town (the sokolo).

I couldn’t find a place to park so I dropped Abraham off so I could search for a parking spot. Easier said than done. The 1st two places I pulled into turned out to be non-parking spots for regular cars. One was actually a cross walk, though it was not marked very well. Fortunately a car pulled out as I was circling the square. I parked and got out to go to the store where Abraham was supposed to be. He was no longer there. My phone had lost all power the night before and had not recharged, though it was plugged in and showing it was charging. So I had no phone and could not call him or be called by him. I finally spotted him as he located where I’d parked.

We had one more place to shop, but it was almost time for VBS to begin and I still had to pick up 5 kids. They are all in one family so all at one house. We were close to their location, so I dropped Abraham at the store, went to pick them up. Ten minutes later we were heading to the VBS location. We arrived just as VBS was beginning.

Most of the kids arrived a little late and were still outside registering, so we were O.K

It was another fun day with all of the usual activities. The kids were very enthusiastic. There was a great deal of laughter and commraderie, especially among the older kids. Everyone really enjoyed eating the snack of a blue jello sea with the cookie boat on top. We had more water balloons today as well. It was a bright, warm sunny day, so getting wet was really enjoyable.

After our late afternoon meal and some preparation for crafts for tomorrow I drove Joyce and the grandkids back to the TUtP Center and Abraham, Rachel and I headed for the Puebla Costco to pick up a number of additional items for the Center. Unfortunately the GPS wasn’t working right, so we missed a couple of turns and wound up in a location neither Abraham or Rachel recognized. We stopped at a gated business entrance and Abraham asked one of the drivers who was leaving for the day if he could give us directions. Better than that, it turns out he was going to pass Costco on his way home. All we had to do was follow him. Yes, in heavy going home traffic. Nonetheless, we managed to keep close enough to get there only about 45 minutes latter than we should have.

Thanks for your prayers and support.



Huejotzingo VBS Day 2

This is the end of the 2nd day of our 2018 TUtP Huejotzingo VBS. We had 34 kids today, a nice increase over the 1st day. Generally the numbers tend to increase each day as word spreads among the kids. The lack of helpers was more evident today. Those we have are great, but we could use at least 3 more.

The kids were very active today. Play time involved lots of water balloon games, which they absolutely love. Fortunately we had sets of balloons that can be filled in multiples, which saved a lot of time this morning. Unfortunately about 1/3 of them leaked out all their water before they could be used. Product design issues. Still, we had more than enough for everyone to get quite wet and thoroughly happy.

They sang songs, prayed, listened to the story of Saul telling how he was converted and how Barnabas helped him, ate yummy cracked snacks that looked like little doors (Barnabas opened doors for him to be accepted by the other Christians), and did multiple crafts while learning the verse of the day.

Pray for stamina, focus and for the presence of Jesus to be real to every child who comes. Pray for good health for everyone. Your prayers make a huge difference.

Thanks and Blessings!

2018 Huejotzingo VBS Day 1

Monday, July 16 was the 1st day of our 2018 TUtP Huejotzingo VBS. We had 28 kids who showed up. I drove to the home of 5 of them to bring them as it is too far for them to walk and they always come each year.

The kids played a variety of fun games, memorized the daily Scripture passage, heard the story of Barnabas showing true love and generosity in donating the profits from the sale of his land, prayed, ate snacks and generally had a great time together.

For almost all of these kids, this is the only contact they have with Scripture. Some of these kids attend our Sunday kid’s club and so are gaining a good basic understanding of who Jesus is and what the Bible teaches. They share what they learn each day with their family at home.

We have fewer volunteer workers this year. It’s a fair distance from Dios es Amor, the congregation we cooperate with for our VBS.. So it can be difficult for folks to take the bus or drive here each day. Please pray for at least another 2 or 3 folks to come and help each day.

It’s 11:23 p.m. and we’re almost done with preparations for tomorrow. We need to prepare all the items for the various crafts, fix the snacks and prepare the posters we use to display the songs and the memory verses. This is routine each night of the VBS. Pray for our health and stamina. Pray for good sleep once we go to bed. I’ve had a bit of difficulty with sleep this trip. For one thing a local church begins to play rather loud music at 5;30 every morning in preparation for their 6 a.m. celebration of mass. I have noise cancelling earbuds to insert after the noise wakes me. But it is hard getting back to sleep and I find I can’t tolerate the earbuds an entire night as they become uncomfortable.

So appreciate your prayers and the many ways you enhance and bless the ministry of TUtP. You make it possible for these kids to participate in our various programs.

Thanks and Blessings!

1st Report 2018 TuTP Huejotzingo VBS:

The neighborhood volcanoes

Joyce and I flew into Huejotzingo on Tuesday evening, July 10. Our flight took most of the day as we were routed through Monterrey for a layover before fling on to the Puebla International Airport, which is actually in Huejo about a 15 minute drive away from our center. It was the perfect flight. Totally non-eventful.

After a fairly good night of sleep we began shopping for items we need to help make our center more comfortable—some chairs, bedding, kitchen items, etc.

The center is located in a semi-rural area that is fairly rapidly becoming a village. Our compound is about ½ an acre in size. We have a cement block and chain link security fence around the perimeter. Some landscaping is already underway, but we went to an open-air flea market about a 45-minute drive away to pick up more plants. Those were planted immediately. I brought down a number of packets of seeds that are being planted today in the garden soil we also bought at the flea market.

The Flea Market was bigger than expected
Last night Rachel was up until almost 1 a.m. working on one of 5 posters that depict the theme of each day during the VBS. VBS starts on Monday, and we still have to replicate most of the drawings used during craft time.

Wow! This is big and impressive! Another visit may be needed. In the meantime…
Where are the plants in all this?
We so appreciate you and your prayers for Jesus to make Himself known to the kids who come. Pray that there will be a great turn out. Each year has seen an increase over the prior year. That is a real challenge as we may not have all the help from the congregation at Dios es Amor, the Church we partner with in this area. Some of the folks who have helped in the past are going to be out of town during the week. So also pray for replacement volunteers. It is good that Joyce speaks Spanish and so will be a real asset.

Thanks and Blessings!

Found the plants!

Fiji 2017 Thursday

It is after 11 p.m. on Thursday. Early this morning I flew the 45 minute over- the-ocean flight from Savusavu on the 2nd largest island in Fiji to Nausori on the 1st largest island. I then took a 40-minute cab ride into Suva, the capital.

Since my hotel room would not have been ready as early as it was, I stopped by the home of a pastor friend on the chance he might be there. I didn’t have his phone number because I don’t have the phone I normally use when I’m here.
Though he was at a funeral, his wife was there.

The family had been robbed recently and lost quite a bit due to a break in to their home while they were at church. This was an ongoing source of grief to the wife, who was not sleeping well as a result of the trauma involved. We had a chance to discuss the situation and to pray together for Jesus to bring her comfort and peace. When I have dinner with them tomorrow it will be interesting to find out how well she sleeps tonight. I believe this was one of those God appointments.

When I arrived at my hotel room, I took a very long, hot shower. Those who travel in areas where the luxury of hot water is not available will appreciate what that means.

I then called my long-time friend and ministry partner, Vuniani Nakauyaca to see if he was available to meet with me. I’ve known pastor Vuni since 2003 when I first began to come to Fiji. He is a phenomenal man of prayer who leads the Healing of the Land teams here. He invited me to have dinner at the HTL Center near Nausori this evening. Traffic has become so bad that the cab ride back out toward the airport took over 1½ hours. Then it was difficult to find the center in the rural darkness on the various dirt roads we were on. Thank God for a very patient and persistent cab driver and the extensive use of our cell phones to guide us to the right place.

Vuni, his son Sev and I had a lovely late dinner and then Vuni and I began to talk about some of the things we’ve done together over the years. Some dreams never grow old and never die. God gives a vision. We pursue it with all our hearts. We’re disappointed often, but don’t give up. Instead we tune our hearts to continue to hear what Jesus is saying to His church and what our part is in His strategies.

I have a copy of Vuni’s recently developed 5-year plan of ministry to reach every village in the nation. This includes the kind of community development I’ve been doing over the years. We discussed one particular aspect that has been on both our hearts from the very beginning of our time together—how to truly engage the local people and allow them to realize the fruits of their own labor. He and I will talk again prior to my departure on Saturday to flesh out a very practical idea.

God is so very good. He totally delights in seeing us delight ourselves in Him and His wisdom. We’ll see what comes of this other God appointment.

Thanks so very much for your prayers.

Fiji 2017 Wednesday

Early this morning Aisake and I drove up into the hills above his house to deliver some church supplies to one of the congregations I visited during my last visit to Fiji after Hurricane Winston. That trip we took up relief food to the church. This congregation has about 60 members, most of whom, like the pastor, are subsistence farmers. These folk so appreciate any help we can provide.

They have a 3-acre building site with a 180 view of the ocean and surrounding countryside. As we say in the States, “A million dollar view”. They need about $2,500 to build a pole building with half walls and a tin roof. When I get home, I’m going to try to raise the funds to complete their structure.

Right now I’m finishing my lunch in a nice restaurant in down town Savusavu. Just had a great Skype conversation with Joyce and Jessica. Miss them.

Tomorrow a.m. I fly to Suva to meet with various ministry partners prior to my return home on the 16th. So appreciate your prayers and support.


Fiji 2017: Kioia Island Days 1 & 2

This morning Aisake and I drove into Savusavu to buy the food supplies and the fuel we needed for our visit to Kioa Island. Kioa was devastated by hurricane Winston, the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the Pacific. That was over 18 months ago and the island, like many other places in Fiji, has yet to fully recover. Fiji does not have the resources or the resilience the U.S. has under similar circumstances. I brought fishing supplies and other relief aid to the island on my last visit and have brought more fishing gear this trip.
After making our purchases, we drove about ½ hours to one end of the island to meet a small boat that met us and brought us over to the island. We are staying with the same pastor we stayed with on my first trip. We were to meet the chief and make our traditional presentation of gifts prior to giving out any of the supplies I brought. Turns out the island was involved in Father’s Day celebrations so we can’t meet with the chief until tomorrow morning.

I walked along the beach while Aisake took a nap. A group of kids followed along and helped look for interesting items in the surf and among the rocks at low tide. Really cute kids. I’ll post pictures to Facebook.

Kioa is a lovely, small island that depends almost entirely on fishing to exist. We spent day 2 giving out the fishing supplies to the victims of Hurricane Winston to help them recover their ability to fish. The 300+ residents of this small island are totally dependent upon fishing to make a living.

Thanks for making this ministry possible.

Saturday in Fiji 2017

Have just completed the 2 hour drive back to Savusavu from Labasa. Many thanks to Chuck and Sue McCay for hosting me during the week of outreach. They have a marvelous farm and family. Chuck is in charge of all TUtP bee training and assets in Fiji. Could not have a better person.

Back at Aisake’s house I took some pictures of Chuck inspecting the TUtP and Aisake’s hives. They are in good shape, but since they were just split, they need to be fed sugar syrup for a period of time to build their strength back up.

I also took pictures of the chicken run, fenced in garden and green house at Aisake’s. TUtP provided funds to fence the garden and yard, build the chicken run and buy the hens. Now they have about 75 mature birds laying eggs which they can sell. They could not raise any garden before because the neighbor’s cattle and goats would come in and eat whatever they planted. Now they have several mature banana trees, papaya trees, tomatoes, etc. which they can eat and sell. The greenhouse is full of tomato plants.

It’s great to see this family doing so well. Aisake is a key person not only for TUtP, but for Gideon’s and other ministries. He just needed help to be able to raise food for his family and for selling. They sell about two trays of eggs a day (60 eggs) which provides some income and gives them eggs to eat every day.

Yesterday we concluded our 2017 medical and beekeeping outreach in Lewaki Village. We served 165 individuals with some form of medical, dental or eye care. We distributed 96 pairs of reading glasses after eye exams. Our dentists extracted teeth from 45 folk. 48 people accepted Jesus as Savior and 18 recommitted themselves to active faith.

We trained 56 in beekeeping. The women’s group in the village will take responsibility for the project and TUtP will mentor them over the next 18 months at least, leaving our hives in the village for them to use and to split so they have their own hives by the end of the initial phase of the project.

On Monday we go over to Kioa Island to take fishing supplies over to help the folks recover from the hurricane they suffered over a year ago. We’ll spend the night. Then on Weds. I’ll fly over to Suva to meet with our partners there to discuss ministry opportunities and renew friendships.


Hive work

Fiji 2017 Day 7–Beekeeping Training #1

Today was the 1st day of our beekeeping training. 60 people had registered. There were at least 55 there, but I could not get a solid count as people tend to move around a bit. They were asked to sign in so we would know who was there for future reference. Chuck did the teaching and his son-in-law Josh did the practical in-hive, hands-on training.

Tomorrow we will show them now to extract honey and how to set up their women’s group on a good business model to enable better success in the long run.

Appreciate your prayers. Blessings!