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!

 
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Website
Website
Email
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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!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December News: From INDONESIA!

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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Dear << Test First Name >>,

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  We are happy to send our Christmas greetings to you from Papua, Indonesia.  It is so fun to see Christmas being celebrated all around the world . . .it’s hot and humid here, and it may be snowing where you are, but around the world we celebrate the birth of the same Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Because of His birth, death and resurrection, whoever turns to Him, from any culture, is given the gift of LIFE! 

It's been a great trip so far.  Ray enjoyed the first conference/training this month, and we are looking forward to another one next month.  In the meantime we have one month in Papua, Ray's old home, staying with wonderful family friends, the Wileys.

Things in Fiji need your prayers as we are having some staff problems and other obstacles at the farm.  Please pray for some much-needed new local staff for 2015, both for God to bring the people as well as the finances to pay them!  Read on for more. . . 

INDONESIA

Selamat Hari Natal from Indonesia.  We started our trip on the island of Bali.  Ray attended a conference the first week, while the girls and Laura enjoyed some swimming and shopping.  Then we had a few days together as a family to rest and explore a bit before heading to Papua.  We did the Bali Safari & Marine Park together, which was the highlight of our time there.  Check out the photos below for some of the animals we got to hold and see!


We are now in Papua, (the western side of the island shared with Papua New Guinea.  This side is part of Indonesia).  We are enjoying time with the Wiley family, and have been able to see several other friends from our past.  We are just doing life and helping out where we can.  It’s great to have a much-needed rest and get away from all the busyness of our life at home. 

Next month we’ll head back to Bali again for another conference (which we will all participate in), and then we’ll head back to Fiji.   Speaking of Fiji . . .
 

FIJI HAPPENINGS

We were pretty exhausted by the time we got on the airplane to leave Fiji, but we were able to get all the most important things done before we left, including setting up the bank account, title transfer, etc. for the new non-profit in Fiji (Island Encounters Trust).  We are transferring the farm from our name to the name of the non-profit.  Island Encounters will hopefully be able to pay back our personal investment in the property over time.  We are praying for God to provide donations that could help to cover some of this as well as fund new local staff and ongoing and future ministry and projects for IE.

WE NEED LOCAL WORKERS!

Recently there has been some drama at the farm: continued theft, staff problems and such.  We really need new local staff to join our IE ministry team to help out. It is great to hire local people to help us in our ministry because they already live here and understand the culture. If we could hire another trustworthy local person or two full-time, it would give a deserving local person a rewarding job, help the ministries of IE advance, and greatly decrease our personal workload (and stress)!  We only need $400 a month in order to do this.  Please pray for God to continue to provide.  If just eight people give $25/month, it would cover this need.  If you’re interested in giving, please click the button below.
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters

ISLAND ENCOUNTERS

When we arrive back in Fiji at the end of January, we will have three short days to prepare for the LinkYear team (coming for four weeks), welcome the new volunteers (Peter, Lydia, Charisma and Jen), get our kids back in school, unpack, get over jet lag and deal with the usual backlog of problems that have built up in our absence!

In 2015 we plan to host at least seven missions teams (2-6 weeks long each), including a new group from CA.  We will also host several interns and volunteers throughout the year.  Teams keep us busy from Feb-Sept.  During the months of Oct-Dec we are due back to the USA for home assignment (we’d like to travel around and visit many of you to reconnect!).  However, we’ll need enough full-time IE team members on the ground in Fiji in order to leave, so please pray for local staff as well as the USA/Australian families that are seeking to come out to Fiji and join our Island Encounters team!  We are putting it in God’s hands and know that He is able to work everything out.
Here's a few photos from Laura's last underwater photography shoot in Fiji before we left.  She's started a new Facebook page that will include all her photography (not just weddings).  You are invited to click here to visit the Facebook page if you haven't already!

FAMILY CORNER

The girls have been enjoying our travels so far.  This is their “summer break” so they have been out of school all month.  They love spending time here at the Wiley’s house, which is complete with a kid’s library, dolls and doll clothes. We don’t have internet where we’re staying, so it’s been good to “disconnect” a little bit and focus on family during this time: just what we needed!
 
PRAYER & PRAISE
 
  • Pray for Lydia, Jen and Charisma, the volunteers that will be living with our family next year.  Lydia is coming for a year as IE staff.  Jen is doing a four-month internship through Grace College.  And Charisma is the new “mission nanny,” helping out Eden and Elani with their home-school until May.
  • Pray for For Peter Goehring, an alumnus who is coming back to help us out for the first part of February (to help run the LinkYear team).  
  • Pray for God to bring just the right local staff to join our IE team.  We are in need of at least $400/mo. to pay a full-time salary, and are asking God to provide monthly donations to cover this amount.
  • Pray for the drama at the farm to be resolved, and for Stephen and the Bjorks to have the wisdom to deal with everything in our absence.
  • Pray for our family; for health and safety as we travel this month and next.
  • Pray for the Wiley family and their ministry here in Papua (they are doing amazing things here through health care and education for the local people).

Would you like to read our 2014 Christmas letter?  Some of you may already receive it by "snail mail," but for those we are connected with electronically, click the image to the left for a PDF of our Christmas letter!  It's been an amazing year.
We pray that your Christmas is full of life, love and joy.  Thank you for your interest in our lives and ministry.  Thank you to those who have given financial gifts, encouraged us and prayed for us in the past year. We couldn’t do this without you—you are part of the team too!  We appreciate you all so much.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


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:  Dorm, Pay off the Land, Tractor, Renovate the Farm House


Thank you so much!