Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Update

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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We returned to Fiji from our trip to Asia about a month ago, and are thankful to be home.  We are praising the Lord that Ray's health concerns were resolved!  From stage 3 kidney disease, to kidneys functioning just fine . . . God is good.  The Green family and the Jenyns family are here and settled in, and we're kicking off the year with a two week vocational farming class at Oasis Farm.

Ray took the photo above the other night at the farm as we joined together for fellowship with our Island Encounters team.  A rainbow appeared in the sunset like a promise of hope for the new year . . . read on for more!

ASIA TRIP & RAY'S HEALTH

We last wrote from Asia, where we spent several weeks traveling, meeting, getting some medical testing done, and also took a two week holiday over Christmas down to the islands.  Some Thailand highlights included riding an elephant, and the girls got to hold a baby tiger!

The low was being told that Ray had a serious kidney condition.  Ray had felt something was wrong most of last year, and so he underwent some intensive check-ups.  The doctor told us he had stage 3 kidney failure.  We spent the next 3 weeks praying, and Ray did all he could to get his health in line.  Before we left Thailand, we went back to Bangkok and got a second opinion.  God gave us exactly what we prayed for!  When the test results came back, they said his kidneys were fine!  God is so good.  We are completely in awe.

Some of you may remember, Ray had a heart condition in his 20's and God gave him his life back through a successful surgery.  It felt like that all over again.  We are thankful and humbled, and glad for the wake-up call to get and stay healthy.

ISLAND ENCOUNTERS TEAM

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for the Greens and the Jenyns in their journey to get here to Fiji to help us with the ministry of Island Encounters.  They are all HERE!!!!!!!  (We are so happy).  The Greens arrived in November and looked after the ministry while we were away in December.  The Jenyns arrived in January.  They got off the plane on Monday and their kids started at local schools on Tuesday!  We also welcomed Karla back this month.

The photo above was taken last weekend of the new Island Encounters team! All together we are 21 people including kids. (*Photo is missing Sarina).  We are so thankful to have the extra help this year.  Please pray for the Greens and Jenyns as they unpack bags (the Greens have been living out of suitcases for 1.5 years!), and get their children settled into school, etc.  Just living here is challenging sometimes, so everyone is taking this first month just to get settled in and adjusted to a new place and culture. (And the humidity/heat we have this time of year!).

"WHEN THE SHARKS COME"

Ray wrote a book about ten years ago about his life and faith journey.  The title above is based on a quote by Apa John, a beloved fisherman friend here in Fiji: "When the sharks come, you really pray from the heart!".  After finding an editor and spending some time searching for a publisher, we just got busy with life and the book was forgotten.  During this time, God put it on the heart of Ray's editor Kathy Groom to help Ray finish his book.  As an amazing gift, she and her husband Tom flew out to Fiji to spend an intensive week working on the book, and they intend to publish Ray's book!   It's amazing how good God is.  Ray was given his life back (again), and now given the chance to see his book released. We hope to have it finished and for sale by October.  We are praying it is a great evangelistic tool, as it communicates Ray's story as he finds Christ.  Thank you so much, Tom and Kathy!!  We are so encouraged and blessed by you.

VOCATIONAL STUDENTS

Ray has been a lecturer at the Fiji College of Theology and Evangelism over the years, and now serves on the committee and teaches a class for their Vocational School, which is an outreach to young men in need of a practical education.  He usually goes up to their campus to teach once a week, but this term we are hosting the students at Oasis Farm each day for two weeks for an intensive block class in farming.  It's great to have activity at the farm and have it used as a place for training, discipleship and growth.  Anthony Jenyns is already hard at work helping us in this arena, as well as Liki Talolo.

FAMILY CORNER

It is good to be home after all our travels.  We enjoyed being able to have some adventures with our kids, and it was fun to be able to take some travel photos (and bless some other ministries with photography).

As we mentioned above, the trip was overshadowed with concerns for Ray's health, and wondering what that would mean for our family in the future since the medical care here is not very good. We are still kind of reeling from it all and just so thankful that Ray is okay!

The day we were due to fly back to Fiji, I (Laura) read the time incorrectly and we missed our flight!  It was terrible because our airline would not reschedule us, and we were forced to buy five one-way tickets in order to get home.  It was so expensive!  I am thankful for God's grace, grace from my family, and for those who have encouraged me and helped us in this time.  It did put a damper on the end of the trip, to say the least.

Now we're back into home-schooling all 3 girls.  Karla is back as a volunteer to help us with home-school (she was with us this time last year).  We are so thankful for her help.  The girls are doing great so far!  Isla has begun 3rd grade, Elani 7th grade, and Eden is finishing up 8th grade.  Karla is doing some college classes online as well.  It's like a "modern day" one-room schoolhouse with all four of them on laptops doing school together!
Do you like our umbrella Christmas tree?  This is what we used to celebrate Christmas at our hotel in Thailand.  :)

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  It really means the world to us.  We have updated the praise and prayer requests below, and ask that you continue to intercede on our behalf.  


In Him,

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
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Website
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Facebook page


PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Praise that Ray's kidneys are working fine after our big health scare!  Pray for him to continue to get healthy (he is still having  problems with back pain)
  • Praise that the Green and Jenyns families are here.  Pray for their adjustment.
  • Praise for Tom and Kathy Groom and their gift to us of getting Ray's book finished and published.  Pray that God would use this book!
  • Pray for God to continue to provide the extra funds needed to pay Fiji's tax on our USA support.
  • Praise for safe travels.  Prayer for financial concerns caused by our unexpected expense of plane tickets at the end of the trip.
  • Praise for volunteer Karla helping with home-school.
  • Pray for the upcoming teams and volunteers preparing to come later this year.  Our next team is in March from Capernwray Bible School.
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PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

With the recent tax change (we have to pay Fiji tax on USA support raised), our family is in need of an additional $400 per month.
We are in need of both one-time gifts,as well as monthly support pledges.
All gifts are tax-deductible.


CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT OUR FAMILY 

RAY & LAURA PITTMAN, ACCT #111546

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

Ministry Funding Needs:


Click the button below to give to Island Encounters through Pioneers (tax deductible)
or contact us for more ways to get involved.  
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Joy To the World!

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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Merry Christmas!  We wanted to take the time to send our love and thanks to you for your prayers and support.  We appreciate each one of you that care about our family!

We are in Thailand at the moment.  We've just come off a week of medicals and such, and request your prayers for Ray's health.  We will have more specifics later when he has some follow up appointments in Bangkok next week, but there do seem to be some concerns there and we would appreciate your prayers.

It's been a full and busy year!  If you don't receive our paper mailing, please make sure to click on the Christmas letter below to view the PDF of our 2016 highlights:

HERE'S OUR CHRISTMAS LETTER!
Click on our Christmas letter above to view a better quality version.  If you're not on our annual mailing list and would like to be, just let us know!

TRAVELS IN THAILAND

We're currently in Thailand where we've been taking some time to get away from our busy year, get some medicals, visit some friends, and have some family time.  We return to Fiji after New Year's.  Please pray for continued safe travels and that we would really make some great family memories.

FIJI FLOODING

It seems like every time we go away something happens!  (Last year at this time a fire nearly burned the farm down).  The Greens are staying in our house and looking after the ministry and the farm.  Recently they have faced heavy rain, a cyclone warning, and flooding across Fiji. Welcome to Fiji, right?!  Our house and farm were fine, but please pray for the people of Fiji who have been affected by this.  Some of the flooded areas were the areas hit the hardest by Cyclone Winston earlier this year.  3,000 people are still homeless (living in tents) and now face this additional difficulty.  The sun is now back up in Fiji for a warm Christmas, but please pray for those who have been hit so hard just ten months after the cyclone. (For a news article click here).
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

FAMILY CORNER

It's been great to travel around a bit with the kids and "leave it all behind."  We worked so hard to get everything done before we got on that airplane!  We are thankful for a chance to step back and re-evalualte.  We realize that we can not maintain the pace of this past year, so we are extremely thankful for the two families who have joined us.  The Jenyns family work permits have been approved and we are looking forward to welcoming them in early January.  The girls are enjoying seeing different parts of Asia, and visiting some animal parks/zoos along the way (they love animals).  
We are missing our families this time of year, but are thankful that Christ is our home, no matter where in the world we are.  Christ's birth makes our life possible, as well as the hope of eternal life for all who know Him.  It is for this cause we live our lives.

Thanks for partnering with us!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  We'll write again from Fiji.

Much love,

Ray, Laura, Eden, Elani & Isla Grace



Check out our Links:

Island Encounters Website
Island Encounters Facebook Page
Fiji Family Adventures Blog
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Website
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Facebook page


PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Pray for the people of Fiji after the flooding.
  • Pray for the new health concerns raised by Ray's recent physical: more info. coming soon.
  • Praise that the Green family has arrived and are looking after everything in our absence. They are taking over leadership and expansion of the children's ministry.
  • Praise the the Jenyns family visas have been granted. Pray for their transition to Fiji in early Jan.  Anthony is taking over the leadership and expansion of the farming ministry.
  • Pray for God to continue to provide the extra funds needed to pay Fiji's tax on our USA support. Laura worked hard to make up the difference this year through photography, but cannot maintain this pace long term, and would like to be more available for family and ministry.
  • Praise that we are able to take some family time after a busy year. Please pray for our continued safety in travel.
  • Pray for the upcoming teams and volunteers preparing to come in 2017.
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PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

With the recent tax change (we have to pay Fiji tax on USA income), our family is in need of an additional $400 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!


Click the button below to give to Island Encounters through Pioneers (tax deductible)
or contact us for more ways to get involved.   
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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Happy Thanksgiving (a little late)!  We are so thankful for each one of you, who care about our family and ministry here on this little island nation in the middle of the Pacific. We appreciate your prayers and your encouragement, and are thankful for God's provision through you. There's a longer list of what we're thankful for below!

Since we last wrote, we have hosted the Jenyns family on their survey trip, said farewell to two volunteers, and kept busy with the farm, children's ministry, relationships, photography, and office work.  Somehow it's always full-on busy, and we are looking forward to a change of pace next month when we travel to Thailand.

We are so excited that our Island Encounters team will be welcoming two new families soon!  The Greens arrive next week and the Jenyns in the new year.  Read on for more!

WE'RE THANKFUL FOR . . .

  • Prayer and financial supporters (many of you)
  • A year packed full of teams and students that encountered God and missions on a trip to Fiji with us.
  • Children coming to faith in Christ and being discipled through our IE ministry.  Laura meets weekly with a group of children and is helping one girl who is 13 learn how to read.
  • The Greens who arrive next week with their two daughters, to carry on IE children's ministry. (more below)
  • The Jenyns who arrive next month to help us grow the kingdom impact of ministry through Oasis Farm. (more below)
  • A chance to go to Thailand next week, to bless some missionaries with photography, to get some medical check-ups, and to have a family holiday.  We have had a busy year--we are tired and so looking forward to a break!  :)
  • Our kids are learning, growing and love the Lord.  They help us in our ministry and are growing up so quickly.  They are now on "summer break."
  • Our marriage, which we are trying to prioritize after a very busy year of just "keeping our heads above water."
  • God's grace and faithfulness, which we fall back on EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  He is so good to us and we are forever thankful.

THE JENYNS FAMILY

We have been talking with Anthony and Jacqueline Jenyns about coming out to help us with the farming ministry for some time.

Anthony visited us in the past and we got to know him (and heard about his wife and six kids!).  As veteran missionaries from Bangladesh, with a background in farming, aquaculture and discipleship, they seemed like a perfect fit for our needs.  Definitely a "God thing" as we see how the Lord brought them to us to meet the needs that we have.  They have been faithfully raising up their support and preparing for a move to Fiji throughout a difficult year including Anthony losing his parents and their family going through a lot of transition.  Thank you for those of you who have been lifting them up in prayer.

We were thrilled to finally meet Anthony's family last month on a survey trip.  They are such a wonderful fit with our team and we can't wait for them to get here.  Their work permit is being processed right now.  Would you please pray that it is approved before Christmas so they can buy tickets to Fiji?  They're hoping to arrive in early January.

Praise the Lord that they will be here soon to help us expand the farm and the ministry through discipleship, training and community development.

THE GREEN FAMILY

The Greens came out on a family missions trip that we hosted about four years ago.  God really got a hold of their hearts for Fiji, and when they read in our update several years ago that we needed helpers, they responded to the call.  They have been faithfully raising support, taking Bible classes, receiving training and living in transition over the last year, after coming here to help us out through Summer 2015.
Their family will be coming with their two daughters and their oldest son will stay home in Texas for college.  The Greens will be helping us with children's ministry.

When we have a team here we do daily children's ministry including school visits where we teach in the classrooms, after-school kid's clubs, and school assemblies.  We also do tutoring and discipleship at Loloma Home (a home for single mothers and their children, and orphans).  When teams go home it's hard to maintain this pace.  The Greens will help us keep the children's ministry going throughout the year, and the short-term missions teams will plug into this when they come.

We have seen a lot of fruit in children's ministry in Fiji, and find it to be very strategic to focus on the children here since the adults are very much steeped in their culture and religion.

Please pray for the Greens as they transition to life in Fiji. They will be staying in our home while we go to Thailand and will be looking for a house to rent after they arrive.  

TIME TO GET DRESSED UP

This month we attended a Muslim Indian wedding (almost half of Fiji's population is Indian (originally from India)).    The weddings last three days, and men and women are separated.  The first day yellow turmeric paste is applied to the bride to make her skin glow.  The second day henna is applied to the hands and feet.  The third day the groom comes to take the bride away.  Each of the three nights includes a meal of Indian palau.  It was a great time to build ties with our Indian neighbors and deepen the relationships there.  There are so many here in Fiji who don't know Jesus and we pray that we continue to be a light.

We also got dressed up to attend a fundraising 20 yr. anniversary banquet for Homes of Hope, a home for single mothers that we have supported throughout our years here through bringing teams of volunteers to help out and providing some consultation.  Laura helped with photography and we enjoyed a chance to celebrate the ministry of our friends who have persevered by the grace of God to make this amazing ministry what it is today.

FAREWELL TO VOLUNTEERS

It seems we're always saying goodbye to people here!  We have so many people who come out to volunteer and to bless our ministry, and we are so thankful.  But it sure doesn't make the goodbyes any easier!

This month we said goodbye to Darcy, a missions intern from Grace College who was with us for 3 months, helping with everything.  We also farewelled Grace, a mission nanny volunteer from Oregon who helped out with  the girls' homeschool as well as the farm ministry and children's ministry.  Both girls have been living with us over the past few months, Grace in the treehouse and Darcy in the upstairs attic office (I promise the accommodations are not as shocking as they sound!).

We love this part of our ministry that includes our life at home, and are looking forward to next year when Tara and Karla return (the nanny and missions intern from last year!).  Our worldwide family grows with each new "daughter" that we "adopt" into our Fiji Tribe.  Thanks so much to Darcy and Grace, we love you!

FAMILY CORNER

Isla turned seven last month! She had an "animal party."  She is doing so well.  She has been at a local school down the street but this month transitioned to home-school.  She is reading well and very bright.  She brightens up our days in many ways!  :)

Elani (11) just finished up 6th grade, so now we have two middle-schoolers.  She loves our pets (dogs, cats and guinea pigs) and makes us the sweetest cards.

Eden (13) is doing online 8th grade and enjoying it.  She loves to read, paint, and help Dad with the boat (which we are still fixing up).  The girls are happy that they are now on summer break (2 months off)!  They work through America's summer so they can take this time off during Fiji's summer.

Ray has been working on fixing the boat quite a bit this last month, and we have been working on remodeling our rental home for the landlord (part of our deal for good rent). He's also been helping another ministry with their boat and working on collaboration and vision-casting to build the boat ministry in the future.

Laura has been busy with office work (financials and non-profit stuff) as well as photography, kid's ministry and the girls' schooling.  Plus just feeding everyone and living life here in Fiji is a big job!  :)

All of us are excited to travel to Thailand next week.  We are looking forward to some quality family time and a chance to see some new places, meet new people, and be refreshed after such a busy year.

We are planning to bless different missionaries and organizations with photography, get some training as well as get some much-needed medical stuff done (quality care is cheap in Thailand), and just take a break.  Please pray for our safety in our upcoming travels.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving remembering all that you have received from the Lord.  We are thankful for you and don't take you for granted!  It's humbling to know we are here because of His provision through His people.  THANK YOU!

In Him,

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
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Website
Laura's Island Encounters Photography Facebook page


PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Praise that Ray is feeling better, and that we are all healthy after over a month of sickness.
  • Praise that the Green family is arriving next week and that they were able to get their support up in order for Pioneers to release them to come.  Pray for their transition to Fiji, and for them as they take over the ministry while we are away.
  • Praise for a wonderful survey trip for the Jenyns.  Pray for the Jenyns work permits to be approved before Christmas, and for their transition to Fiji to go smoothly.
  • Pray for God to continue to provide the extra funds needed to pay Fiji's tax on our USA support.
  • Praise that we are headed to Thailand!  Please pray for our medical check-ups, family time, and general safety.
  • Pray for our caretaker Talolo who is now engaged and planning a wedding for May 2017. We are happy for him!
  • Pray for the upcoming teams and volunteers preparing to come in 2017.
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Website
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Share
Forward to Friend
PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

With the recent tax change (we have to pay Fiji tax on USA support raised), our family is in need of an additional $400 per month.
We are in need of both one-time gifts,as well as monthly support pledges.
All gifts are tax-deductible.


CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT OUR FAMILY 

RAY & LAURA PITTMAN, ACCT #111546

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

Ministry Funding Needs:


Click the button below to give to Island Encounters through Pioneers (tax deductible)
or contact us for more ways to get involved.  
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters
Copyright © 2016 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