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!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Of Storms and Hope: November 2014

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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Dear Ray Pittman,

Happy *almost*-Thanksgiving!  Thankfulness is a great way to combat discouragement: to take our eyes off of the storms around us and put them onto our Savior. What are you thankful for today?

We've battled a few storms recently, but we have so much to be thankful for.  We're thankful to report on another full and meaningful month here in Fiji.  We're thankful that we've seen breakthroughs in the lives of some of the women we work with, replacing the lies of the Enemy with God's truth.  We're thankful for progress in figuring out our organizational structure (our non-profit in Fiji is official!). We're thankful for rain after many dry months. We're thankful for renewed hope in the midst of a lot of stress lately. And we're also thankful for our upcoming missions/training trip to Indonesia, and some much-needed family time.

The "storms" this last month included our dog Sophie being poisoned and dying a slow and horrible death alongside Rusi's two dogs, and a theft at the farm; over $3,000 worth of equipment was stolen from our shed, and eggs from the chicken coop.  Please pray for God's provision in replacing the funds for a weed-whacker/brush-cutter to keep the grass mowed. We are also in need of fundraising for the ministry in general; to pay off debt and transfer the property to the non-profit.  Please do keep this in your prayers (and that we would continue to trust the Lord and not worry!). Read on for more, and if you'd like to help out, just click the button below.
Click here to help support Island Encounters

POISON, THEFT . . AND HOPE

When you're trying to reach out to the neighbors and do a good thing for the poor of Fiji, it can be discouraging to have your field burned, your dogs poisoned, the shed and chicken coop broken into and eggs and tools stolen (yes, all of this just happened to the tune of over $3K!).  Our remaining dog, Shasta, did not bark or alert our caretaker Stephen to any intruder, so we're wondering if it was someone familiar coming on to the property.  We're also losing chickens (we have 30 in the big coop that are fine, but the 20 younger ones have some kind of infection and are dropping like flies just when they're beginning to lay. . . ).  Please do keep the farm in your prayers!  On the upside, we know God is in control and that this is His ministry, not ours. We know that our hope in Him will not disappoint.  He is more than able to provide not only for our financial needs but also our staff needs. (We are reminding ourselves of this daily)!  We were also very happy to host Anthony from Australia this month (as a possible missionary to join us on our ministry team along with his family).  He would be great addition to our IE team: to manage the farm and the farm local ministry--please pray for God to guide and provide for his family.

INDONESIA

We will be traveling to Indonesia on November 29th, and will be gone about two months!  We will first fly to Bali where we will attend a missionary training called "Strengthening Your Interpersonal Skills", then travel to Papua (used to be Irian Jaya--where Ray grew up) for one month.  In Papua, we will stay with the Wiley family (like Ray's second family when he lived there in high school--here's a flashback photo to his graduation in 1991!), and spend Christmas with them as well as come alongside their ministry and help however we can.  In January we head back to Bali for 9 days of vacation before attending a Pioneers Team Leader training.  We are looking forward to serving, learning and spending quality time together as a family away from the busy-ness of everyday life in Fiji.  Please pray for our trip--for God's provision financially, for safety, health (there is malaria in Sentani where we will be staying), and for us to be blessed and be a blessing.  This is a very meaningful trip to us, as Papua is where we fell in love with each other (summer of '96) and felt called to full time missions work.  Pray also for Island Encounters Fiji in our absence.  Our teammates the Bjorks will stay in our home and manage things while we're gone.  When we return we'll have just 3 days to prepare before farewelling the Bjorks and hosting the first missions team of 2015!
Island Encounters exists to demonstrate the love of Christ by meeting practical and spiritual needs across cultures in the context of relationship.  We do this through:
  • training programs for local people, children and international students
  • consultations and partnerships with other organizations and
  • sustainable development and among our local community.

ISLAND ENCOUNTERS

What is our ministry all about?  What is Island Encounters?  You can visit our website for more details if you haven't already.  It's all about "equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters."

Oasis Farm is a branch of IE.  Our student programs (mission trips, internships and (hopefully soon) study-abroad programs are a branch of IE.  Laura's part-time photography business is a for-profit branch of IE that helps to fund thousands of dollars of the ministry side.  (Click here for the photography website or here for her Facebook page).  We'd also love to start some new branches, like adventure discipleship and even a sailboat ministry (should we be able to source funding).  

 
We thought you might enjoy a glimpse of Laura's latest venture:  underwater photography!  Her beautiful model here is Lauren, our current mission nanny.  Laura also does these sessions with a bride and groom in their wedding clothes the day after their wedding!  Click here to show support and "like" her Facebook photography page!

OUR VISION & NEEDS

We have so many ideas and so much vision, but feel limited by funding.  Right now we need to raise enough money to pay off the loan for the guest house at the farm so that we can put the title of the farm in the name of the registered non-profit.  We've stepped out in faith and used quite a bit of our own money to fund the ministry over the past two years, and we're hoping that there would be enough to pay some of that back as well.  Please pray for God's provision in all of this.  We were so touched to read a recent blog post by one of our summer outreach participants, writing about how her time here touched her life (click here to read).

Please also pray for God to bring a team of people around this ministry and vision to free us up to expand (and not burn out!).  We're fighting off the anxiety, and daily have to choose to trust God when we think about starting next year on our own after the Bjorks finish up their two-year commitment and leave Fiji in early Feb.  We have two interns interested in coming out next year (Lydia and Jen), a family from Australia (we mentioned Anthony above), and one family interested from Texas.  Would you please pray specifically for each of these potential helpers, that God would guide them as to what His will is, and if it's for them to come to Fiji, that He would provide what they need as far as timing, logistics, funding, etc.  Maybe there's more people out there interested in coming to join our ministry. . . so feel free to forward this email to anyone who you think may be interested!


 

FAMILY CORNER

Isla turned five on October 5th, and celebrated with a few friends.  She is such a joy to us and continues to enjoy pre-school at a little Christian school just a block from our house.  Eden and Elani continue to home-school with the help our Lauren, our mission nanny, who is here until the end of this week.  Eden is finishing up 6th grade and Elani is finishing 4th grade (We follow the Fiji school year in which we take a long "summer" break over Christmas and then begin a new school year in January).  We said goodbye to Grammy last month (right after Isla's birthday), and we miss her a lot.  We are hoping to make it back to the USA a year from now and see her again, along with friends and family we missed seeing on our short trip back last Christmas.

Ray has been working on our house lately--we rent this home and our landlord lets us use the rent money to improve the house, so we're turning the attic into an office (pictured below).

Laura is finishing up the year teaching at International School Nadi, grading exams and printing out school photos for the kids.  Tomorrow is her last day at the school:  she's decided that she's just too busy to handle this next year along with doing all the administrative work for Island Encounters, photography, and mommying.  It's a bittersweet thing to close a chapter like this--she'll miss her kids a lot.  Laura was able to bring all the kids she teaches out to Oasis Farm this month to get a glimpse of some of what we're doing there now (comparing organic and conventional farming methods, learning about moringa (the miracle tree), honey, aquaponics, composting, fruit drying and egg production). Educating young people is part of our vision for the farm.

On a personal note, life has been busy these past few weeks and there's days we wonder if we'll get it all done before we go to Indonesia. . setting up the non-profit and all the finance/logistic/administrative tasks have been quite heavy lately and we've been stressed.  We're very much looking forward to coming up for air soon--getting on a plane with our beautiful girls and heading to Indonesia for a change of pace for a while!
PRAYER & PRAISE
 
  • Pray for God to provide the funding we need to pay off the dorm, and get our non-profit kicked off in Fiji, as well as funds to replace the stolen equipment at the farm.
  • Pray for those who are in the process of considering joining our ministry team.
  • Praise for rain!!!  It's raining now after five very dry months!
  • Pray for God's provision and guidance as we head to Indonesia
  • Pray for the Bjorks as they handle the ministry and farm in our absence.
  • Praise for the recent graduation at the Fiji College of Theology and Evangelism where Ray teaches. We were happy to cheer on his past years' students as they finished up! Please lift up the graduates as they head out into ministry.
  • We have an editor interested in submitting Ray's book to a publisher (he wrote this book years ago but never did anything with it).  Pray that it will be accepted for publication!  ("When the Sharks Come")
  • For God to continue to provide for our personal support as we are still lacking (see below) as well as the ongoing needs of Oasis Farm.
"If Grace is an ocean, we're all sinking. . ." (David Crowder)

We'll try and write again from Indonesia, although I don't know what our internet connections will be like.  Thanks so much for all of your love and prayers!


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 $580 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 dorm & land, and to enable further development so that we can continue and expand this ministry in Fiji.  We are looking for people excited to invest in God's kingdom and partner with us in this work.

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!