Sunday, April 12, 2015

March & April 2015

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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BULA once again from Fiji!  We're coming up for air this month after a very busy start to 2015.  After hosting the LinkYear team in Feb, we hosted a missions team from Capernwray Bible School in New Zealand in March (they come twice a year during their ministry weeks).  Now that it's April we're thankful for the opportunity to get caught up on all of the work that fell through the cracks during the busy months when we were hosting teams.  We'll have a missions team from Grace College joining us next month.  We had some great opportunities to present the gospel to Hindu children during Easter.  We've had some discouragements including Ray's chronic back pain, and someone we love making bad choices.  But God is faithful.  As we celebrated earlier this month, He holds the power over death and sin.  It is our prayer that He continues to be glorified in our lives and ministries despite the set-backs we face.  Please pray for encouragement and strength for us.  Read on for all the latest news!

MEET OUR TEAM!

 
Above you can see our amazing Island Encounters ministry team.  Tomasi and Serina (with us above left) usually live on the north of the island but they come down when we have teams to help us host them at Oasis Farm.  They stay at the farm to cook, host, help maintain the farm and just love on the students.  It's wonderful to us to see Island Encounters have more of a Fijian face, and we love the peace of mind knowing that Tomasi and Serina are more than capable to handle things when we are not there. They have such a huge heart for ministry and they make a lot of sacrifices to come and serve with us (leaving their own farm behind for a couple of weeks at a time).  Please pray for their health and for God to continue to enable them to partner with IE.

Top right you can see Jen (Grace College missions intern), Charisma (Mission Nanny volunteer), Stee (caretaker at the farm and IE student team leader) and Lydia (IE student team leader volunteering for one year).  The three girls live with us and Stee lives at the farm and looks after everything even when no one is there.  It's wonderful to have such a support network, and to see God working in and through each one.
 

CAPERNWARY OUTREACH

We are so thankful for an ongoing relationship with Capernwray Bible School in New Zealand.  Twice a year we host a missions encounter during their ministry weeks, and last month we hosted the above team for two weeks.  Jack, their team leader, has been to Fiji many times and is a huge help in running the team and helping us with the driving and logistics.  He knows the routine so well it's like having another very experienced co-worker during that time which is a relief for us.  We are always blessed to see the hearts for God that these young people have--a true hunger and thirst to know more of Him and to serve Him willingly.  Two of the boys on the team stayed on for a couple of weeks to help out at the farm, which was also a huge blessing.  Thank you, Capernwray team, for all of your hard work and the impact you have had for the Lord in Fiji!

EASTER ASSEMBLIES

After the Capernwray team left, our IE staff team had the amazing opportunity to share the gospel at two different Hindu schools the week before Easter (photos above).  The new government in Fiji encourages each school to embrace and appreciate all of the different cultures within Fiji.  As a result, Hindu schools have opened their doors to us to help their students understand more about Christian culture and holidays.  The two schools we work with when teams come (we teach a Bible class on Tuesday mornings) usually only allow us to share with the kids whose parents have marked "Christianity" as their religion on their enrollment forms. BUT during the Easter assembly, we were permitted to share the gospel with the entire student body (primarily Hindu).  We gathered in the assembly areas that are literally right next to the schools' Hindu temples.  And there we presented a message including the good news of the Gospel.  We were able to teach them songs, do a skit, and Laura did a magic trick (using chemistry, photo above right) of how Christ can wash our sins away.  It was an amazing experience and we're praying that God uses our continued visits to the schools to spread the good news!

CYCLONE PAM DAMAGE & OASIS FARM UPDATE

Last month we were thankful that Tropical Cyclone Pam only passed by Fiji, instead of hitting us directly (pray for the nearby island nation of Vanuatu, however, as they were hit more directly and there are still thousands in need of food/clothing/shelter).  We did get some heavy winds in Fiji, and as you can see the trees at the farm were affected.  You may recall that we planted half organic and half conventional as a demonstration/experiment.  The left side of the photo is our organic grove and the right side of the photo is the conventional.  Many trees were knocked down on the conventional side, but not a single tree fell on the organic side!  This is proof of the long-term soil improvement that organic farming provides.  (Unfortunately the market in Fiji doesn't care about organic fruit so we're struggling with the higher cost of maintaining the grove).  We continue to sell our papaya weekly to the local market which helps keep the farm and ministry going.  We are still struggling to make ends meet and pay off debt, however.  We had another theft this month again costing us hundreds of dollars.  We would like to purchase a shipping container in which to securely lock all of the valuable equipment.  If you'd like to help out with either the farm or the ministry please click the button below.
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters

SAILBOAT MINISTRY . . .
STAY TUNED

We mentioned in our last update that we were praying for an affordable sailboat that we could use to expand the ministry of Island Encounters to Fiji's remote islands.  We have been waiting on this dream for a long, long time and believe that the time is right and that God led us to the above boat, a 34', 1972 yacht that sleeps seven.  We were able to spend a couple of days sailing it with the owners.  It urgently has to have the engine repaired or replaced and the boat has to leave the country and come back before it's all official.  All these details plus customs and duty clearance fees have to be settled by August!  Parts and service are not cheap here or easy to come by, esp. for such an old boat.  We are having difficulties ordering the parts we need from the US.  We are trusting God for these details and the financing for this project, which is a huge faith-stretcher.  At the moment it's been one more challenge on top of other challenges but we have faith that one day we'll be able to get this boat out there and use it for the ministry.  Please pray for the needed funds for the engine repairs and for all the logistics to come together so that Island Encounters can purchase this boat.  If you're interested in helping us get this boat out on the water, please contact us for more info.
Happy Birthday Eden!  She is twelve years old now!

FAMILY CORNER

The girls have settled back into our Fiji routine of school, teams and such.  We just celebrated Eden's 12th birthday. (Can this really be her last non-teenage year??!!).  With 3 little girls and 3 college-aged girls plus Ray and I living in our smallish house (8 people in 3 bedrooms plus the tree house) we feel a bit cramped sometimes (and Ray feels rather outnumbered with seven females!) but we do enjoy having young people around.  One advantage is that there are plenty of people to help look after the farm, kids and ministry when Ray and I head off next week on a boat trip up to the northern islands of Fiji.  It will be a "working holiday." We will take photos for their advertising in exchange for a free cruise.  We're looking forward to that change of pace, as we've both been feeling pretty run-down and overwhelmed with all there is to do at the farm, ministry, business, non-profit set up, accounting, emails, discipleship, local ministry, consulting, taxes, boat problems, logistics, teaching, etc.  Laura's been blessed with quite a few photography jobs lately so that's been great but also keeps her busy.  Ray's back has been REALLY bad for two months.  We keep waiting for it to get better but it's just getting worse.  We are going to ask our insurance company what we can do--maybe a trip to New Zealand for Ray to get an MRI and get it checked out.  He's in constant pain and that just affects everything.  Please pray for him!  (We are also still hoping to come to the USA this fall for some medical check-ups and to visit family and supporters).
New pets at the farm!  Mia and Roxy the puppies and Simba and Nala the cats.  We lost three baby animals this year so praying all of these little guys make it.  The pictured animals replace our dog that was poisoned, and cats that were stolen or ran away.  
PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Praise for the children's ministry of IE and the Hindu kids that heard the good news this month. Pray for them to come to know Christ.
  • Pray for Ray's back:  for healing, and for wisdom for us to know how to go about getting help.  He's been in pain and very discouraged about this lately.
  • Pray for one of the girls we've been working with who is turning her back on Christ and making some bad decisions.  It's so hard to see this and to figure out how to love her through it all without supporting her choices.
  • Pray for Lydia, Jen and Charisma, the volunteers living with our family.
  • Pray for the Green family and the Jenyns family, both support-raising to come join the IE team next year.
  • Pray for continued funding for the IE ministry and Oasis Farm
  • Pray for God to continue to guide and provide with the sailboat ministry. Specifically, we need to get the engine fixed as a first step.  Costs for repairing the boat could go well over $10,000
  • Pray for a couple or family to help look after the home/farm/ministry in the fall so we can travel to the USA: we are talking to a family who is interested.
Thanks so much for caring about what God is doing here in our tiny corner of the world.  His message of hope and life is for all people and it is our heart that all would come to know Him.

It's wonderful to celebrate the resurrection of Christ in a place where we can literally see the powers of darkness at work and feel the discouragement that results.  We must remember to take our eyes off of the storms we're in and put them on Jesus who has it all under control. His power is greater.

In the glorious name of our risen Lord,

Ray, Laura, Eden, Elani & Isla Grace
 

Check out our Links:

Island Encounters Website
Island Encounters Facebook Page
Fiji Family Adventures Blog
Picasa Web Albums (Our Photo Gallery)
Give through Pioneers
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Website
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Facebook page


**NOTE:  Make sure to like our Facebook page in order to get more regular photos and updates of what is going on with Island Encounters and Oasis Farm!

 
Facebook
Facebook
Website
Website
Email
Email
Share
Forward to Friend
PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

Our family is in need of an additional $510 per month.
We are in need of both one-time gifts for current ministry needs,
as well as monthly support pledges.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT OUR FAMILY (tax deductible)

RAY & LAURA PITTMAN, ACCT #111546

Or print a response slip and mail to:
Pioneers, 10123 William Carey Dr., Orlando, FL  32832

************************************************************************************************************************

HELP FUND THE MINISTRY!

 
We are in need of funds to help the non-profit pay off the Oasis Farm property, and to enable further development so that we can expand the ministry.  We are looking for people to invest in God's kingdom and partner with us in this.

CLICK HERE TO GIVE TO THE MINISTRY (tax deductible)
 
ISLAND ENCOUNTERS, ACCT # 150658

OR GIVE TO THE OASIS FARM PROJECT OF YOUR CHOICE  
Biggest Needs:  Pay off the Land, Tractor, Renovate the Farm House


Thank you so much!
Copyright © 2015 Pioneers, All rights reserved.
An update on the Pittman Family serving with Pioneers in the Fiji Islands--thanks for reading!

Our mailing address is:
Pioneers
PO Box 10976
Nadi Airport 00000
Fiji

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

We're back in Fiji!

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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Bula from Fiji!  We know it's been quite some time since we've written, but we just didn't have much internet access while traveling in Indonesia.  Now that we're home it's super busy, but it's high time for us to update you on everything!  Above you see some photos from the LinkYear team (who we are currently hosting now), and below you will see some photos from our last month in Indonesia (we returned on Jan. 28th to Fiji).  Indonesia Low:  Ray got malaria.  Indonesia Highs:  We attended a great conference for Team Leaders in Pioneers. We also were able to visit some fun animal parks as the girls' Christmas present, and join up with Jenny (former Fiji volunteer).  Read on for more about Indonesia and Fiji both (including news about a sailboat . . .)

PAPUA:  MALARIA & MAMIT

We spent Christmas in Papua (where Ray grew up), staying with good friends, the Wileys.  Ray's unfortunate Christmas present was two types of malaria (including cerebral) mixed with a viral throat infection.  He suffered with throat pain, fever, and body aches (including some pretty interesting hallucinations from the fever and meds).  Poor thing!  Thankfully, no one else got it.  After a couple of weeks Ray was feeling better and we were ready to travel.  We were able to do a couple of fun trips to a river and a beach (we even camped on the beach one night).  We also went on a very significant trip up to an interior village called Mamit (photos below).
 

 

Laura was able to do some photography and make a video for the ongoing projects in Mamit, including a school and a clinic.  Look at the faces below.  Each one tells a story of beauty, poverty and need.  It's hard to see the needs and just walk away.  This is why we want to spend our lives on behalf of the poor, whether it be in Fiji or Papua.  Our hearts were touched by our time in Mamit.

BALI

After over a month in Papua, we flew to Bali.  We had a week before our conference started, and we chose to travel to Ubud (rice paddies up in the mountains), Kuta (shopping and cheap hotels) and Balangan (isolated beach with bamboo shack restaurants) for a week of holiday.  Jenny joined us (Australian missions volunteer who has lived with us twice in Fiji), so that was super fun (she's just like part of the family).  The girls used their Christmas money to visit two fun animal parks, which was the highlight of their time in Bali (all the girls are huge animal lovers).  Here's some shots of our family enjoying the wildlife!

TEAM LEADERS TRAINING

We really enjoyed the training/conference for Pioneers Team Leaders in the Indo-Pacific area, held in Bali.  Our speaker was Duane Elmer--an excellent communicator and the author of many books on intercultural studies and cross-cultural communication (if anyone has ever taken a Cross Cultural Studies class--including the ones we've taught here--I'm sure you know who he is).  We were also encouraged to meet other leaders of Pioneers teams around this area of the world--to hear what they're doing, to learn, to pray and to fellowship together.  The kids also had their very own program, staffed by volunteer churches from Australia!  They all had a great time. 

ISLAND ENCOUNTERS

Three days after we arrived back home in Fiji, we welcomed the LinkYear team from Kanakuk (Christian camp in Branson, MO).  This is our second year to host them, and it's so much fun to show them around Fiji and provide the opportunities for them to serve here.  We especially love seeing how God changes their hearts and moves in and through them during their time in Fiji.  The team has been doing things like:  neighborhood Kid's Clubs, tutoring at Loloma Home, farm projects, museum, excursions, etc.  Right now we're in Suva where they are volunteering at Homes of Hope and the Gospel School for the Deaf.

Special thanks to Peter, a former student of ours in Fiji who came back after 11 years to help us run the LinkYear team the first two weeks.  We're also thankful for Lydia who came with LinkYear last year, and this year will stay one year to help us out.  Tomasi and Serena, a dear Fijian couple from the north of this island, have traveled down to Nadi to help us with the farm and the cooking for this team--they have been an absolute blessing, along with Stephen who continues to work at the farm. We just said goodbye to Phil and Anneliese Bjork last week, after their two-year term with IE.  Please pray for them as they travel.  To say it's been kind of crazy lately with all of this transition would be an understatement, but we know God is in this ministry and will continue to guide and provide.  If you'd like to partner with Him in helping us keep moving forward, please do!!  We really appreciate your prayers, and if anyone feels led to help out with much-needed finances click the button below.  
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters

SAILBOAT MINISTRY?

Yes, you read that correctly. . . we are in the process of praying over the purchase of a sailboat for Island Encounters.  Ray has had the vision for over a decade to expand our student program and community development ministry by adding a sailboat on to the ministries offered by Island Encounters.  We'd love to offer an intensive student discipleship program on-board (for a small group--the boat we're looking at sleeps seven).  We'd also love to bring groups out to the remote islands and bring Christ's love using community development.  An amazing opportunity has arisen to purchase a 34' yacht.  Buying a boat here is no easy venture.  While we have funds for the asking price, all the "extras" (duty/fees/repairs/mooring/new motor) are going to cost more than we have at the moment.  However, we strongly feel God's leading in this and are praying for Him to guide and provide in this venture as well.  Please pray with us and if anyone feels this touches their hearts, or if you have any positive advice for us, please let us know! 
From Indonesia to Fiji, these three girls love life!

FAMILY CORNER

The girls loved our travels but we are all so glad to be home.  Isla has started Kindergarten at the little Christian school on our block. Eden and Elani continue to homeschool (just starting 7th & 5th grade) with the help of Charisma, our new mission nanny.  Joining our household is also Jen, a missions intern from Grace College.  We also have Lydia living with us (she's volunteering for one year with IE).  We love having a house-full and appreciate your prayers for God to be glorified in and through our family.  We've all been sick lately (not really surprising with all the travel and transition), and Ray's back has been bothering him a lot lately (he lifted a tractor implement and it went out last week).  Laura has had low energy off and on all year and this week the doctor confirmed that it is still after-effects of dengue fever which she had last year.  We are still hoping that we'd be able to visit the USA this fall in order to visit many of you as well as get some much-needed medical check ups done.  (we need someone to look after things while we're gone, so we're praying for that).  Below you can find some more photos of our animal adventures in Bali.  Click here or on the photo below to go to our photo gallery for all the amazing photos from our trip!
 
PRAYER & PRAISE
 
  • Pray for Lydia, Jen and Charisma, the volunteers living with our family.
  • Praise for For Peter Goehring, an alumnus who came back to help us out for the first part of February (to help run the LinkYear team).  He flies out tonight.
  • Pray for continued funding for IE: most urgently for local staff ($400/mo.) and paying off the farm van ($5,000).
  • Pray for God to continue to guide and provide with the sailboat ministry.
  • Pray for the Bjorks as they travel in the USA.
  • Pray for our family; for health and Ray's back.
  • Pray for a couple or family to help look after the home/farm/ministry in the fall so we can travel to the USA.
Thank you so much for journeying with our family on this adventure of faith.  While it can be scary sometimes (when we look at the lack of resources, staff, etc.) it is the most rewarding life ever and we wouldn't change it for anything.  Following God as He leads, watching Him provide, and being blessed by the unexpected things He puts into our lives makes for an amazing life--one that we are truly thankful for.

It's been a while since we've been in the USA and connected with many of you.  If you get a chance, drop us a line and let us know how you're doing!  I promise we'll write back.  :)


Because of Him,

Ray, Laura, Eden, Elani & Isla Grace
 

Check out our Links:

Island Encounters Website
Island Encounters Facebook Page
Fiji Family Adventures Blog
Picasa Web Albums (Our Photo Gallery)
Give through Pioneers
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Website
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Facebook page


**NOTE:  Make sure to like our Facebook page in order to get more regular photos and updates of what is going on with Island Encounters and Oasis Farm!

 
Facebook
Facebook
Website
Website
Email
Email
Share
Forward to Friend
PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

Our family is in need of an additional $500 per month.
We are in need of both one-time gifts for current ministry needs,
as well as monthly support pledges.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT OUR FAMILY (tax deductible)

RAY & LAURA PITTMAN, ACCT #111546

Or print a response slip and mail to:
Pioneers, 10123 William Carey Dr., Orlando, FL  32832

************************************************************************************************************************

HELP FUND THE MINISTRY!

 
We are in need of funds to pay off the Oasis Farm property, and to enable further development so that we can expand the ministry.  We are looking for people to invest in God's kingdom and partner with us in this.

CLICK HERE TO GIVE TO THE MINISTRY (tax deductible)
 
ISLAND ENCOUNTERS, ACCT # 150658

OR GIVE TO THE OASIS FARM PROJECT OF YOUR CHOICE  
Biggest Needs:  Pay off the Land, Tractor, Renovate the Farm House


Thank you so much!