Friday, September 8, 2017

One last update before our travels . . .

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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Bula from Fiji! July and August flew by, including the last few weeks of The Edge team, our summer interns, and a visit from Laura's family.  We are now working hard to tie up loose ends and prepare everything for our upcoming trip.  We are planning a longer "Home Assignment" trip next month, which will take us to Australia for a couple of weeks and then on to the USA for a few months of travel, visiting family, catching up with supporters, and trying to build some new connections.

Please keep us in your prayers this month as we are hosting a 2 week team from Hervey Bay Bible Church, Australia, and welcoming the Patel family who will stay in our home while we are away and assist the rest of the Island Encounters team to keep the ministry going while we are away.  We have a lot to do before we go!

Read on for what's been going on lately in Fiji with our family and ministry.

SUMMER TEAM 

Thanks so much for your prayers for the Edge team who came to us through Pioneers for six weeks this summer.  We really enjoyed this team, with their willing hearts to serve. We are pictured here dressed up in Indian clothes ready to go visit our neighbors for Eid.  In early July we took the team to the capital city of Suva to visit Homes of Hope (a home for single mothers) and the Gospel School for the Deaf.  We even shared some fireworks and a bonfire with a Fijian version of s'mores with some of the moms at Homes of Hope on the 4th of July, which was fun.

SUMMER INTERNS

Callie came as a media intern to help us create a video for the new Island Encounters website that is being built.  Anne-Marie came (back to us for the second time) as an agricultural intern and helped to revive our aquaponics system at the farm (growing fish and vegetables together).  We also enjoyed having Tara living with us as our summer missions intern for the second summer in a row, helping with finances, driving and logistics.  We were blessed to have newlyweds Anthony and Bre helping out here for a month for a ministry internship for his seminary degree.  Brent stayed through the summer to lead the team.  We loved seeing so many people learning and working together to advance the Kingdom.  God really worked in and through each one.  Thanks to all the Island Encounters volunteers, we appreciate you all!

FAMILY VISIT

One of the hardest things about living overseas is missing our family in the USA.  It's always been our dream to have everyone come and visit us, and for the first time all the family on Laura's side was able to come to Fiji together!  Laura's mom helped to make this whole trip possible including a few days out on an island!  It was a busy time full of little cousins laughing, and everyone enjoying exploring Fiji together and catching up. The trip was an amazing blessing and we are so thankful.
Click here for some more recent photos!

HERVEY BAY BIBLE CHURCH

Next week we will welcome our last team of the year from Hervey Bay, Australia.  They will be with us for two weeks, helping out at the farm and with the children's ministry.  Please pray for the team and that God would work in and through them.  Please also pray for us, that we will give 100% during a time when we have a lot going on.  We are so very thankful that Brent, our often-returning volunteer, is coming back to help us host the team.  It's going to be a busy couple of weeks for us, because just two days after the team departs, we also depart for our five month trip!

UPCOMING TRAVELS


Every two years we take a trip to the USA for Home Assignment.  We are planning our trip for this October, and will be traveling for five months!  (Please pray for us!!)

Before we fly to the USA, we will fly to Australia for 2 weeks, including Pioneers Team Leaders meetings in Brisbane and visiting one of our past volunteers in Melbourne.  From there we'll head to USA and on to Nebraska where Laura's mother lives now.

We are planning a trip in Oct/Nov. that will take us through Branson, MO, Siloam Springs, AR, and down to the Dallas, TX area.  Another month-long trip in Nov/Dec will take us through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

After Christmas in Nebraska, we'll visit Ray's father and the Pioneers headquarters in Orlando, FL, and then finish up with some time in CA, AZ and NM through the end of February.

We are happy that God has provided a vehicle for us to drive for the Nebraska and Florida portions of our trip.  We are still needing transportation for the west coast trip in February.

The goal of this time is to connect with friends, churches and supporters, to make some new connections, to participate in some training time, and to just enjoy time with family.  If it looks like we'll be in your neck of the woods, just let us know if you'd like us to meet up, or if you have an opportunity for us to share/connect with a group or a church.  Thank you!

ISLAND ENCOUNTERS TEAM

We are so thankful that while we will be traveling, there is a team of amazing people here in Fiji that can carry forward the ministry with confidence.  The Jenyns (farming ministry) and the the Greens (children's ministry) have each proven to be an incredible asset this year towards expanding the ministry of Island Encounters, along with Liki & Ola and Tomasi & Sarina at the farm.  We are also looking forward to welcoming Brooke and Sam Patel and their children, who will be traveling from the USA to stay in our house while we are away and assist with the ministry.  It is truly miraculous to us how God brought them to us, and we ask for prayer for each of these families as they transition into the months ahead.

GOD IS FAITHFUL

We had a couple of tough farewells last month, as we sent off Tara and Karla our "dream team" nanny and missions intern who served our family both last year and this year (pictured above as honorary Pittmans).  They were a huge help to us in home-schooling the girls (Karla) and helping Laura keep everything running in the office and logistics (Tara).  They had become a tightly knit part of the fabric of our family.

It was tough to say goodbye, and it was tough to know that we didn't have anyone to help us for our last six weeks before our travels.  To be perfectly honest, I (Laura) was fighting off panic as I considered all that I had to do before we left, and how little help we had to do it, plus hosting a team, etc.  We were also praying about financial concerns as we have lost some supporters this year.  It all just seemed impossible.  But we kept praying.

Why do we ever doubt Him?  God is more than able to meet all of our needs, and able to do what seems impossible.  Just a couple of weeks before we needed someone, Sierra from North Dakota contacted us and let us know that God was leading her to come help us as our mission nanny to help homeschool the girls for the last six weeks in Fiji!  She is here now and doing a great job!

Brent committed (in faith) to come back and volunteer again to help us with the Hervey Bay team (he has been here so many times that he knows what to do and is a massive help). He arrives next week.

About the same time, we had a one-time donation given that blew us away . . . it covered our lack as well as provided some much-needed funding for our USA trip as we are buying tickets, and setting up all our travels.

We found a car to drive in Nebraska, after much prayer and searching for this need as well.

Plus, God is moving behind the scenes in others' hearts to possibly come join our team.  It's all just so encouraging to see Him calling others to come and help us and this ministry, filling specific needs that we have been praying about.  He is so good.

FAMILY CORNER

One again, if you have made it this far, thanks for caring!  We are in the thick of it right now, trying to get the kids through the bulk of the school year (so we won't have so many school days as we travel), getting our house packed up and ready for the Patel family, (welcoming them on the 21st), preparing board reports and financial reports, re-doing the website, and making sure everything is registered, insured and up to date before we leave.  Plus hosting the team up until two days before we fly out!

As far as Eden, Elani and Isla go, they are not super excited about this trip.  To them, Fiji is home, not the USA.  Also Laura's mother has moved away from her home in CA (the main place they've known as "USA home") to Lincoln, NE. So basically we are asking them to leave their Fiji home to go to a new place, do school on the road, say goodbye to their friends, and enter into the unknowns of visiting families and churches that we may know, but they don't.  Please keep each of them in your prayers, and pray that God will encourage them throughout our travels.  We will try to do some fun things for them!

Ray is still experiencing significant back pain.  He has decided to try chiropractic care rather than surgery while we are in the USA, so please pray that this will be enough time for the treatment to work and that he would see improvement in his pain.

We all have a lot to do before we go, but God is faithful!
Thanks for praying for us!  We appreciate each of our prayer warriors so very much, and we can see God answering your prayers!  It's such an encouragement to us. We will probably write again from the USA!

Please see the box below for more ways you can pray for our family through the transitions ahead.  


Thank you!

Because of Christ,

Ray, Laura, Eden, Elani & Isla Grace



Check out our Links:

Island Encounters Website
Island Encounters Facebook Page
Fiji Family Adventures Blog
Our  Photo Gallery
Give through Pioneers
Island Encounters Photography Website
Island Encounters Photography Facebook


PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Praise for Sierra who is serving as our mission nanny through the end of the month, pray for her time in Fiji.
  • Pray for the vehicles; our team van is fixed but it's been extremely expensive and far outside our budget. (To help, click the link at the bottom of this email).
  • Pray for the sailboat to be registered. We need this to be resolved within the next month! (We can't insure it until it's registered and we need to insure it before we go!). Pray also for a safe, free place to moor it while we are away.
  • Pray for God to continue to provide the extra funds needed for our personal monthly support.
  • Pray for the Hervey Bay Bible Church team arriving next week for two weeks.
  • Praise that Brent is coming out to help us again with the team.
  • Pray for a van in CA for our family to drive in February.
  • Pray for the missions teams for 2018.  We just heard that several are unsure if they are returning, and we really need the help!
  • Prayer for our family as we travel to Australia and the USA.
  • Pray for our girls through all of the transition.
  • Praise for Sam and Brooke coming to house-sit with their 4 children, pray for their family as they prepare to come in late September.
  • Pray for new churches and individuals to choose to partner with our ministry in Fiji.
  • Pray for the families considering joining our Island Encounters team in Fiji.
  • "Fijian Focus":  Pray for "Luisa" who prayed to re-commit her life to Christ last month. Her life has been difficult and she has an injured leg.  Pray for her faith to remain strong through trials.
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PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

With the change in Fiji's tax laws (taxing us on our support raised in the USA) and the recent loss of some supporters, we are in need of an additional $1,000 per month .
We are in need of one-time gifts, and especially monthly support pledges.
All gifts are tax-deductible.  Please click the blue button below to give.


RAY & LAURA PITTMAN, ACCT #111546

Or print a response slip and mail to:
Pioneers, 10123 William Carey Dr., Orlando, FL  32832
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to our family & ministry
Or, click here to give to Island Encounters (Vehicle Repairs)
Copyright © 2017 Island Encounters, All rights reserved.
An update on the Pittman Family serving with Pioneers in the Fiji Islands--thanks for reading!

Our mailing address is:
Island Encounters
PO Box 10976
Nadi Airport
Fiji

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Monday, June 26, 2017

June 2017

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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It's been a whirlwind as usual over here!  We last wrote the week of Easter.  Since then Ray (barely) survived an ocean voyage to New Zealand, we had an awesome Easter assembly in the schools, volunteer Isaiah got baptized, we hosted Grace College (2 weeks) and welcomed the Edge Team (6 weeks).  Isla lost her two front teeth, we celebrated 19 yrs. of marriage, and Eden started online high school.  We are planning our USA trip for later this year, and God has brought a family to come to Fiji to look after things in our absence. Keep reading for all of the stories, and to learn how you can pray and get involved! 

EASTER ASSEMBLIES

I'm so embarrassed that I haven't written a prayer update since Easter!  (Sorry!)  Thanks to everyone who prayed for the Easter assemblies, they were really good.  The Greens are doing such a great job leading the children's ministry and getting the teams and children involved.  It was cool to see our kids, the Jenyns kids and the Greens kids involved in the all-school assembly pictured above.  It's such a precious opportunity to speak the truth to the kids in these schools (many Hindus), and we are praying that these seeds planted will grow into maturity in faith.

GRACE COLLEGE

Every year for the last 7 years we have hosted a team from Grace College in May.  We always look forward to this team, and this year was just as great as past years (and we love it when students return to Fiji, like Johnny did this year).  This team helped in the children's ministry and at the farm, and painted some new signs for the farm (Oasis Farm sign pictured below). As the team plants at the farm, and we watch things grow, it's a parallel to what we pray is happening in people's hearts, including the lives of the precious kids and individuals in these photos!
Click for more photos of May and the Grace Team

LIKI & OLA'S WEDDING


Meliki Talolo (Liki) was one of Ray's Bible college students, and joined the ministry of Island Encounters one year ago.  He was finally able to marry his sweetheart last month, after waiting several years for everything to come together.  Liki and Ola wore traditional Fijian attire for their wedding (bark cloth decorated with Fijian tapa designs), and then changed into "Bula Wear" for their reception.  For those of you who have met Liki, he is very happy!! Ola is wonderful. Please join us in prayer for the newly married couple, that God would continue to use them in their lives together.
Click for more photos of Liki and Ola's wedding

ISAIAH'S BAPTISM

We had the privilege of hosting volunteer Isaiah for several months with Island Encounters. He helped out at the farm and helped Uncle Tomasi and Auntie Sarina in Suva and up at their house in Rakiraki (still working on cyclone repairs!). It was literally so amazing to see a transformation in him as he pursued God's truth during his time here and gave his life fully to the Lord. Uncle Tomasi baptized him in the ocean. It was super special to witness this moment, and the symbolism of the reality of the new life Isaiah has in Christ. A really awesome, memorable moment!! Isaiah's back in the USA now and we're praying for him as he continues his journey walking God's path.  Please also pray for his brother Ilias (who came on a team last year), who was in a very bad car accident today.
Click for more photos of the baptism
Click for more photos of the Edge Team!

THE EDGE TEAM

The Edge team is here for six weeks, and have started off strong.  They help with farm projects, community help (pictured here fixing the roof of a handicapped family), and kid's ministry.  We will take them to Homes of Hope in Suva next week. Our often-returning amazing volunteer Brent is staying with them and providing leadership at the farm, as are Uncle Tomasi and Auntie Sarina, and Liki.  IE staff meet with the Edgers weekly for prayer and mentoring and we enjoy having them over to our house to get to know them.  Please pray for them during their time here in Fiji, that God would work in and through them.

One cool story is that Courtney (pictured the pink shirt above, with Laura) was an Edger from 2011.  During her missions trip with us she told us didn't have any interest in long-term missions.  (Never say never!)  :)  Now here she is, stopping to see us on a layover in Fiji, on her way back home from her first 3-year term as a full-time missionary in Papua New Guinea!  Courtney said that God used the seeds planted in her heart during her time in Fiji to grow into a calling to full-time missions.  She'll return to the field for another term next year.  THIS is one of those stories that reminds us why what we do is worth it--it's awesome to hear how God is using this ministry!

RAY'S JOURNEY

In April, Ray helped a friend sail his boat from Fiji to New Zealand.  It was supposed to take 10 days, but ended up being a 16 day journey.  Ray says, "We lost our wind 1/3 of the way and ran out of fuel motoring. We drifted for a day and then a 500 ft Freighter stopped and gave us 14 containers of fuel (an amazing feat of ingenuity in itself since their deck was twice as high as our mast) which was just enough to motor all the way to NZ against the current and head winds. All our onboard systems broke down so we were unable to get any weather reports but we made it."  He was pretty dehydrated and shaky when they reached land. . .their water system broke down and he survived by drinking the juice and syrup from canned food.  They missed a cyclone but didn't even know since their systems were down! We were all so thankful that he made it across the sea and that he was able to fly back home safely last month, after visiting some friends and supporters in NZ. God really took care of him and taught him some good lessons.  As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."  So he's a bit more weathered and wiser now. . .we're just thankful he survived!  Speaking of boats . . . our boat here is STILL held up with repairs and registration.  Please pray this through!  We would like to get it going and start up the sailboat ministry this year. (Yes, Ray still wants to get back in a boat . . . but it's sure been a difficult journey!)

FAMILY CORNER

Thanks for reading this far, friends, I know this is long!  We have just been so busy . . but life is good and God is good.  Isla lost her top two teeth, Elani got to be a mermaid, and Eden started online high school. Karla, our amazing missions nanny, helps the girls with home-school every day (we are doing school through the USA summer so we can take a longer break in the fall/winter when we're traveling to the USA).  She's doing online school herself and Isla & Elani do a CD-Rom program, so there are often four laptops on the table in our one-room school house (see photo!).  We also welcomed Tara back into our home last month (missions intern who was also here last year with Karla) who has been a massive help to us with finances, shopping, logistics, and driving the team.

We are still planning our USA trip . . .it's a bit hard to know where to go and when!  We are thinking we will arrive in Nebraska or Indiana in October, and drive around the northern states, fly down to TX for a visit, have Christmas in Nebraska, then fly down to Florida, then do Southern CA/AZ at the end of our trip in Feb 2018. We have a vehicle in FL but we still need one somewhere up north.  We are deciding if we should buy and then sell one, or what we should do.  If you have any ideas for us please let us know!

God has provided a house-sitter for us in Fiji while we are away!  Brooke and Sammy found us through Pioneers and their availability fit our need exactly.  It was 100% a "God-thing" and we are praising Him for bringing really awesome people to help with the ministry!  Please pray for them and their 4 kids as they are preparing to come to Fiji, with the goal of a possible long-term role!

We are still praying for a "missions nanny" or helper for mid-Aug/Sept. before we depart.  If anyone has availability and a heart to come and help, please let us know!
Thanks for praying for us, as we make it through a busy season with teams.  Both our IE vehicles are broken right now and we are reaching the $6,000 USD mark on unexpected vehicle repairs due to these problems and the accident earlier this year.  It's made it challenging to transport the teams.

Please see the box below for more ways you can pray.  


Thank you,

Ray, Laura, Eden, Elani & Isla Grace



Check out our Links:

Island Encounters Website
Island Encounters Facebook Page
Fiji Family Adventures Blog
Our  Photo Gallery
Give through Pioneers
Island Encounters Photography Website
Island Encounters Photography Facebook


PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Praise for the children of Fiji hearing the gospel in the schools and communities, pray for these seeds to grow in their hearts.
  • Praise God that Ray made it safely back from his ocean voyage
  • Pray for the vehicles, it's reached $6K US outside of our budget and neither van is working!  :( (We're going through a total engine rebuild on the 15 seater van and accident involving the farm van). Pray for $ for a new van!
  • Pray for the sailboat to get registered and be use-able.
  • Pray for God to continue to provide the extra funds needed for our personal monthly support.
  • Praise for Isaiah's baptism, pray for him to continue to grow in the Lord.
  • Praise for Liki & Ola's marriage, pray for their life and ministry together.
  • Praise for a great outreach for the Grace team
  • Praise that Brent and Tara have returned as volunteers to help us with the summer team, pray for the Edge team here for six weeks.
  • Praise for Sammy and Brooke coming to house-sit, pray for their family as they prepare to come in late September.
  • Pray for a volunteer to help us with home-schooling the girls from mid-August through the end of September. 
  • Pray for our need for a car in the USA and for us as we plan our trip.
  • "Fijian Focus":  Pray for "Uday," whose roof the Edgers helped to fix last week.  He is handicapped, his wife has been sick, and their grown daughter is handicapped and can't walk.
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PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

With the change in Fiji's tax laws (taxing us on our support raised in the USA) and the recent loss of some supporters, we are in need of an additional $1,000 per month .
We are in need of one-time gifts, and especially monthly support pledges.
All gifts are tax-deductible.  Please click the blue button below to give.


RAY & LAURA PITTMAN, ACCT #111546

Or print a response slip and mail to:
Pioneers, 10123 William Carey Dr., Orlando, FL  32832
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to our family & ministry
Or, click here to give to Island Encounters (Vehicle Repairs)