We’ve completed our second day of medical outreach. There has been a delay in getting a count on what we’ve accomplished as the paperwork got a bit messed up among the volunteers who are keeping track. By tomorrow everything should be worked out. I know we’ve served over 130 individuals. We’ve provided dental help to over 33 patients and have given out over 60 pairs of glasses. We’ve also had at least 22 people accept Christ as their Savior.
I would call that a very good couple of days work in the Kingdom. God is so very good.
My health today has been excellent. The brief episode yesterday with a visual migraine was dealt with through prayer. For those of you who don’t know, a visual migraine does not cause pain. It does produce a bit of fatigue. What it mainly does is create visual distortion. Yesterday’s episode I think was provoked by being slightly dehydrated and hot and in fairly bright sun without using my sunglasses. Appreciate all your prayers and expressed concern.
Tomorrow we start our beekeeping training. We moved another hive to the site this morning after we learned we would have 41 participants. The extra hive will allow more hands on experience for our trainees. By the end of the day we had 60 signed up. So we will also take an extra trainer with us.
We are working with the women’t group in the village, as I mentioned, because we have found that the women are highly motivated and very likely to succeed long-term.
This is the first day of our medical outreach in a rather remote Fijian village. While I don’t yet have all of the numbers, I am confident we provided care to at least 80 individuals, many of whom were Indian Hindus. We are showing them the love of Jesus in a very practical way, as we have been doing all around this lovely nation since 2004.
We wound up temporarily with 3 dentists on site. The ministry of health unexpectedly sent one of their dentists, a man who had been a student of our dentist, Dr. Reggie Jr. He had already done a few extractions by the time our team assembled. Jr. was much better equipped to carry on, so the other man assisted him for the remainder of the day. Jr. brought another dentist, a friend of his from Labasa town along as well. Both of them were steadily engaged in pulling teeth throughout the day.
At the end of the day I went in to see how they were doing and to let them know it was time to quit. Turns out Jr. had been working for a long time on a very difficult extraction of a rear molar. The tooth broke and he could not get the roots no matter what he tried. There is no x-ray, no way to do any of the things that would be routine in office in the city. As in past situations like this, I laid my hand on his shoulder and began to pray out loud that he would get the roots out successfully. Within a few seconds, one entire root came out. The other dentist took over and I prayed for him. A few minutes later the last root came out intact. God is good. Our dentist from past trips, Dr. Larry Rizzo will recognize this story.
I called Joyce and spoke with her briefly. Within seconds of hanging up, I began to experience an aural migraine. I’ve had these a couple of times some years back. This wasn’t as bad as the previous ones, but I immediately called Joyce back so she could pray with me. Within minutes the visual distortions stopped, though I was left a bit tired. Thank the Lord for swiftly answered prayers. So appreciate all of you who are praying
We will begin again tomorrow at 9 a.m. and anticipate another very good day serving as His hands extended. The team from Downey CA is doing a fantastic job helping with a variety of tasks, including giving out reading glasses.
Today, Monday is my 4th day in Fiji as we prepare for our TUtP 2017 medical outreach and bee keeping training.
The day began at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast as Aisake, Pastor Joshua and I got ready to travel back to Labasa to meet up with various team members traveling from a number of locations. The two hour drive was uneventful, though through quite beautiful countryside. We drive over the spine of the mountain that divides the island, so we have quite the view.
Once in Labasa I first had to resolve the issue of the non-working modems so I could be sure to have access to the internet over these next few days. That was accomplished fairly easily and I now have two modems, each from a different phone company, working on my computer. I’m able to use the one with the best connection depending upon where I can get the best signal.
we will have two counselors to talk with those who come through our program. Pastor Joshua is one of the counselors. The second arrived fairly quickly after we got into town. We ate lunch and drove out to the site where our 10-member team from Downey CA will be bunking. The site is a nice 2-story building on the edge of town. Lovely view. Great breezes.
The pastor of the church that operates this guest facility was waiting for the team to arrive. However unknown to us, the team had decided at the last minute to drive from the ferry into Savusavu where we had driven from, to leave some items at an orphanage before coming to Labasa. We didn’t find this out until the pastor called us at 7 p.m. asking if he could go home for his evening meal as the team had not yet arrived. We were a bit embarrassed that the team hadn’t called anyone to let us know of their change of plans. This meant that the host from the village where the outreach will be held had to make his way back into town in order to get the team settled in and provide them with directions to the village. Hopefully everything has been sorted out.
In the meantime, I met up again with Chuck, our bee keeper trainer and drove back to his farm where I’ll be sleeping throughout the outreach. I really appreciate Chuck and Sue. He is tending the TUtP beehives as well as conducting all our training. We should not have to bring anyone from the States anymore unless they want to come. It’s always helpful, though.
I trust all the pieces will come together in the morning and we will have an incredible opportunity to serve the people of this area and share the love of Jesus with them in very practical ways over these next three days.
As always, we so appreciate your prayers.
This is Sunday, my third day in Fiji and a day of rest.
I taught this morning comparing the stories of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus asking Him to deliver her daughter from a demon. Two diverse women in two very different locations and situations, both encountering the Lord of Life and presenting specific needs which He met. Interesting reflection on their similarities and differences and how Jesus showed love to both. Had a good discussion afterwards with some of those who heard the homily.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I had quite bout of acid indigestion. Haven’t had that problem for some time. Sudden extreme variant in diet, I’m sure contributed to the problem. Good old baking soda helped considerably once I was able to get some and take a couple of teaspoons in water. Still it was some time before I was able to sleep. Have tried to doze a bit this afternoon, but I don’t do well sleeping during the day. I should sleep very well tonight.
It is a gray rainy day. It poured on and off all night long with quite a strong wind. I’m staying within a stone’s throw of the ocean. I’d hoped to walk on the beach today but the on again off again rains don’t allow it. It has been fun hearing the rain beat down on the tin roof of the house. Those who have had the blessing of living in houses such as this can appreciate the pleasures of the unique sound this produces. Very evocative of past places where I’ve lived. Brings up many nice memories. The sound of the surf is also very calming and pleasant.
We leave in the morning to drive back over to Labasa. We’ll meet the other 10 members of the team from the States. They arrive by ferry from the main island tomorrow. We’ll all go out to the village and begin our setup for the medical outreach. Our bees have been in the village since last Thursday. It takes a few days for them to settle down enough to be worked during the training.
I was not able to get the modem I bought yesterday to work. Appears it is defective. Will have to return it and get another one that hopefully will work. Otherwise I’ll be cut off from communication while in the village. Hopefully at night I’ll have access from the farm where I’m staying each night.
It has been interesting spending time with Aisake and his family. TUtP invested a lot in his compound to enable him to raise chickens and plant various crops. Things are going well. His bees have thrived and he’s been able to split our hives. We’ll see at the end of the week what kind of honey flow he has when our bee keeping trainer visits.
We’ll be targeting the women’s group in our bee keeping training. We have found over the years that working with the women produces more lasting results than working with the men.
So appreciate your prayers that all will go well during this outreach.
This is my second day in Fiji. I’m still having difficulty with the internet but am temporarily on a very slow connection modem I bought today does not seem to work. Since it is Saturday night here I’ll have to wait until Monday to try to rectify the problem before the outreach starts and I’m in a rural area with no way to get onto the internet to send updates. Pray all works out.
Drove 2 hours from Savusavu to Labasa to buy supplies for the outreach and meet with some of the key participants in the program. Quite a hot, muggy day with rain during the 2 hour drive back. But we accomplished what was needed. All our supplies should be in place when we begin the medical and beekeeping programs on Tuesday morning.
I was also finally able to reach Joyce on the phone after repeated attempts over 2 days. Great to hear her voice. She’s also on the road visiting friends.o
End of 1st very long day in Fiji. 10 hr. 45 min. plane trip. Uneventful but virtually no sleep. Lots of preparatory shopping today in Savusavu town helped keep me awake so I should sleep quite well tonight. No access directly to the internet yet due to modem issues I plan to resolve tomorrow. In the morning will drive to Labasa town near where the outreach will happen. Already checked in with our dentist who arrives in Labasa tomorrow a.m. Am hit & peck 1 finger typing this on a very small phone screen. Appreciate your prayers. Greatest blessing.
We just completed a record breaking Huejotzingo, Mexico TUtP VBS. The fewest kids we had any of the 5 days was 41 on the 1st day. On Weds. we had 55. We could just barely fit them into the activity room and courtyard. We had a total of 62 different children who came over the entire week. Some of these kids hear very little of the Bible at any other time than when they are involved in one of our activities.
The crafts each day are geared to the Bible story. The kids are supposed to tell the story to their parents when they get home. We know some do. A record-breaking 13 parents attended the last day when we gave diplomas and gifts to the kids. They heard a total recap of the theme story as their children answered questions about the week. For many of these adults, this is the only Bible they will hear.
Each day there were lots of games, Bible memorization, crafts, eating and a dramatized Bible story. The theme for the week was about forgiveness as demonstrated by Joseph in the O.T. Despite how his brothers betrayed him, he knew God had had a plan to work out as a result of their actions, and he was more than willing to forgive them their past evil actions. God through Jesus similarly forgives us because He loves us and wants to have us as His children in a healthy relationship.
I was the taxi driver, driving the Dios es Amor Church van to three houses each morning to pick up various children and adults who lived too far away from the center to walk. At the 1st house, no one was ever home during the week. We kept going just in case as the parents had indicated their kids would come at least some of the days and they have previously been part of our activities. At the 2nd house I usually picked up one adult and two kids. The 3rd house usually yielded 4 youngsters.
We faced some technical challenges as our printer did not always want to print properly. We print out 1 copy of what we need and go to town each afternoon or evening to get all the copies we need for the various crafts. This is cheaper and faster than trying to print out everything at the TUtP office.
At the end of every day, we debriefed our helpers, all of whom were simply marvelous this year. There are a few wrinkles each day that need to be worked on for the next day so we can be constantly improving what we do. This is especially helpful in dealing with a few kids who are disciplinary challenges. Some come from very difficult home situations and thrive on attention. They just don’t always use appropriate ways of gaining that attention.
On the final day, everyone had cake and ice cream. The older girls all got a brand new, lovely doll. Each of the little kids got brand new Beanie Babies. The older boys got spinners and a pen. The dolls and the Beanie Babies I bought at estate sales around Long Beach CA. I can get them so very inexpensively that way. The kids and their parents were absolutely delighted.
Construction on the buildings Abraham and Rachel are building is going well. This will be our new TUtP center in Huejo. They hope to move within 8 weeks. Construction methods are different there than they are here, especially the pouring of the concrete roof which involves a continuous pour on a single day to avoid any leaks or other structural problems. Fascinating.
I leave for Fiji August 30, returning September 14. We will do a medical outreach. Then I head to Romania from September 28 through October 9 to do a seminar on prayer for Romanian pastors. Please pray for stamina and effectiveness. Thanks and blessings!
For about a year, my mother-in-law´s house in Puebla was listed for sale. In January of this year, it finally sold for the asking price, and my mother-in-law moved in with us in Huejotzingo while she and Abraham looked for land to buy. They found four well-priced lots ten minutes by bus outside of Huejotzingo and spent some time negotiating to buy. The land is surrounded by corn fields on three sides and a dirt road in front. We will have neighbors across the street, but on our side, no one lives yet.
Once my mother-in-law Six paid for the land, we contracted a man we have known for many years to build our houses. Don Ezequiel has almost a life time of experience with construction, is honest, and does not drink or allow his workers to drink. He also works very hard and had Six´s house walls completed within two weeks.
At present, he and his crew have finished pouring the concrete roof on Six´s house, has begun the walls of our house, and is working on the cistern we will share. When Six´s roof has cured, a process that takes about two weeks, he will be ready to do our roof. In about a month, if all continues well, Six will be able to move into her house.
Progress has not been without problems. Frequently construction sites are vulnerable to theft. Wooden supports, castillo wire, anything left at the site has a way of walking off. Typically, neighbors by the construction site will agree to watch for potential robbers in exchange for some payment. Our soon-to-be neighbors did agree to that, but it has been difficult with them, because they pass by very frequently to ask for money from Don Ezequiel or from us, if we are there.
Also, several kilos of rebar was stolen one night. The happy resolution for that theft is that the rebar then mysteriously reappeared soon after.
However, as I write, there has been another theft. Don Ezequiel called Abraham, who is in Puebla for the day, to tell him. The call kept cutting out, so Abraham couldn’t hear details. Abraham called me, but we still don´t know exactly what is going on. Please pray.
Activities in Huejotzingo continue as before. We have Bible studies at a few houses and kids´ club every Sunday afternoon. We raise our two rambunctious kids and keep house and work at Puebla Christian School part-time. Very soon we will celebrate Leilani´s second birthday, and within a year we will start homeschool with Abishael.
A few weeks ago, I began a pencil drawing class at Dios es Amor for anyone over the age of 10 interested in learning. So far we have only had two meetings, because of different activities at church. There are five, or perhaps six, students. I emphasize that drawing is not a mysterious gift that only a few people have, but that anyone can learn how to really see in order to capture their world on paper.
Also at Dios es Amor, preparations have begun for the church Christmas presentation. This year there will be five scenes from Jesus´ life presented in different areas of the church property. Abraham will be one of the three narrators who will be guiding visiting groups through each of the scenes and reading the Biblical accounts of each part of Jesus´ life. Leilani and I have the role of shepherds, along with two other children from Huejotzingo. Abishael will be part of the group of angels, and Six will be one of the Magi. Four other children from Huejotzingo also have roles in the first scene as angels and Magi.
In a previous post, I wrote about several people who needed prayer for serious health problems. Aaron continues to receive chemo treatment for the tumor in his chest. He has been able to spend days at home between treatments, and so far hasn´t suffered nausea from the medicine. Fani decided to try alternative treatments for the tumor in her brain rather than have surgery immediately. Hortensia is now completely free of shingles. Alan has returned home, but is still very ill and must undergo more testing.
Another person who needs prayer is Martha, an older widow with reduced income. A few weeks ago, she was bitten by a black widow spider and went to the hospital for treatment. The treatment was effective, but the doctors warned her to stay out of the sun for a few months – apparently the venom remaining in her system can be reactivated by sun exposure. This restriction is difficult for Martha, because she lives in an isolated area, and her only means of transportation is walking. Needing to stay out of the sun makes getting to work difficult or impossible.
Please continue to pray for healing for these people and for continued health for all of us. Pray for us as we decide what curricula to use with Abish for his homeschooling. Thank you for your partnership with us.
We have an update for the people on the prayer list. Luis does not have leukemia. He just has some anemia.
Irma passed away late last week.
Hortensia is much better, and we will return to Bible study with them again this week.
There is a new person to add to the list. Aron is a 7th grader at PCS. His mom is the secretary at the school, and three of his brothers graduated from PCS in the last few years. His mother was diagnosed with Lupus last year, and now he is undergoing many medical studies for a tumor that was found in his chest last week.
Please continue to pray!