Thursday, April 6, 2017

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

WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We have moved forward in our plans to build a dorm/guest house at Oasis Farm, but we are still in need of $40,000. By faith we intend to break ground this month (in order to finish it before a large group arrives in February next year to stay in it)!

Would you be willing to consider coming alongside us in this fundraising effort?  Help spread the word? Share to your church?  Come and build? Help with grant-writing?  PRAY?  Advise? No donation or role is too small . . . If God puts this on your heart, we would love to have you join in this vision with us.  We are fairly limited with what we can do from here and need your partnership.

Our vision is to use this place to host missions teams, disciple students and locals, and provide training in vocational skills specifically to those who are in poverty.  We are in this for the eternal impact this property has the potential to offer.

Please click the button below for tax-deductible donations (or direct giving through PayPal).  
Click HERE to support Island Encounters (tax-deductible) or Oasis Farm (donations through PayPal). Either way will get us closer to our goal of getting the guest house built!

NEW HOPE

Earlier this year we were blessed and humbled by a generous donation from a youth group in Australia.  The kids worked hard to raise funds to send to us for the vision we have for students and the poor in Fiji.  (A bake sale is pictured below). They didn't just give out of their excess, either--they gave sacrificially.  One boy gave up the money he had intended to use to buy a new winter coat.  Another gave up a Justin Beiber concert to send us the money.  These acts of kindness, self-sacrifice and generosity gave us a huge dose of new hope that we needed at just the right time.  This also gave us the confirmation we needed to step out in faith to tackle some of these financially daunting projects.  We really believe this is what the Lord wants us to do and that He will provide for the rest of the project funds.  We are doing everything in our power to come up with these funds and trusting God for the rest.

AUGUST NEWS

  • The girls are enjoying home-school
  • Laura was able to lead two women to the Lord this month
  • Ray spent two weeks in Suva helping Homes of Hope build fish ponds to help provide food for the single moms and kids that live there (he learned a lot, too)
  • Laura has been working hard to complete her MA degree final project this month!
  • Emily (mission-nanny) is doing great and is a real blessing
  • Laura continues to teach and do photography part-time
  • Ray continues to teach the book of John at the Fiji College of Theology & Evangelism
  • We've enjoyed taking several visitors and our kids out to volunteer at Loloma House (a home for single moms and orphans close to Oasis Farm).
  • We planted over a thousand papaya trees at Oasis Farm; hopefully they will bear fruit next year as well as funding for Island Encounters! The watering is a big job right now. (Click on the photos below for more pictures in our photo gallery!)

CAPERNWRAY TEAM

We will be welcoming another two-week team from Capernwray Bible School in New Zealand tomorrow.  This is their third time to send us a team and we are looking forward to it.  We'll be hosting them between our home and our teammates home and the team will be working at Oasis Farm as well as doing Kid's Clubs and volunteering at Loloma House (a home for single mothers and orphans).  Eden, Elani and Isla have given up their bedroom for the team and are looking forward to having college kids around again for a while.  Please pray for the team that they would be blessed and be a blessing to those they meet!

HELP WITH STUDENT PROMO

Another way to help us out right now is by handing out some little business cards we've designed to promote our student program for next year (see below).  Please reply to this email to let us know if we could mail you some of these cards to pass out to friends, or put out at your school, church, camp, etc.  We have an awesome program to offer students, but it's hard to spread the word when we're on the other side of the world!  Please let us know if you can help.


Thank you for your partnership and interest in our lives and ministry here in Fiji.  Sometimes we feel a bit alone out here.  We are hoping to hear back from you on this email, please let us know if you read these updates, pray for us, want to help us spread the word or have some other great idea to help us out! If you'd like to give, click here.

Because of Him,

Ray, Laura, Eden, Elani & Isla Grace



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

March News from Fiji

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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It's been a hot and humid start to the year here in Fiji, along with way too much rain and the resulting flooding . . . dengue fever has hit due to standing water breeding mosquitoes (Laura got it last month which is partly why this update is late in coming!).

We are currently hosting a missions team from Capernwray Bible School in New Zealand.  They are giving us a big boost in all areas: children's ministry, farm projects, building projects, community projects, etc.

At the same time we are battling disappointment at the loss of some supporters of our ministry and family . . . we are falling into God's grace right now and trusting Him to raise up the support that we need.  Living on faith is not easy sometimes but we are confident of God's faithfulness and that He can make all things work together for good.

We have another busy year ahead in Fiji and are excited to have the Greens and Jenyns with us working to grow and expand the ministry of Island Encounters.

We're planning a longer trip to the USA this fall for "home assignment."  We are in need of some new contacts and supporters, as well as a place in the USA to call "home," something we don't have at the moment.  Please join with us in prayer for this, as it's really on our hearts right now.  

CAPERNWRAY BIBLE SCHOOL

Every year around this time we welcome a team from Capernwray Bible School in New Zealand.  This year the team members are from Germany, Paraguay, America, the UK and Canada.  We love having teams come to help out, and we're more organized than ever this year.  We have Anthony Jenyns in charge of the farming projects, the Greens in charge of kid's ministry, Brent back volunteering to help with anything and everything (welcome back, Brent!), Saki heading up the construction projects, Tomasi and Sarina cooking/hosting at the farm, and Ray heading  up a small group working on the boat.  I (Laura) keep the logistics and finances in order and help to coordinate the activities each day.

The team is doing a great job, and all have amazing attitudes. Quite a few of them are battling sickness this week (there's a nasty flu virus going around Fiji). I've taken five to the doctor so far.  Please keep them in your prayers, that God would work in and through them during their time in Fiji and that they can finish strong despite the sickness/setbacks.

The team has helped with several community help projects as well, including putting in a cement floor and roof for a family that was cooking outside in the mud, and building bunk beds for a poor family with five kids, who were sleeping on the floor.  We have several other community projects lined up for upcoming teams this year.  It's amazing to see the tears, the joy, and the thankfulness of those who are blessed, and also to see the way these connections with the poor bless and change the young people on the team who are helping.  One Capernwary student from several years ago just wrote to tell us that God has called her into missions and it was during her time with us in Fiji that He first put it on her heart.  We hear this often, and it encourages us to keep on doing what we're doing!

DECK ADDITION:

A NEW PLACE TO HANG OUT

Thanks to a grant from Kingdom Missions Fund, we were able to build this awesome deck extension on the guest house (where we house the mission teams), above.  We really needed a screened-in area in which to eat, and for the teams to spend time together in the evenings (when they do team-time, worship, and we have guest speakers sharing with them).

The hut on the hill has served this purpose in the past, but it's been so hard to eat and focus when the bugs come out and are dive-bombing in your face.  With the recent dengue fever outbreak (spread by mosquitoes), it's even more important to have a safe screened area for teams to gather together.

The deck extension was started last year in May, and each consecutive team worked on it last year, along with other awesome volunteers in our Fiji community.  Saki, Ray, Liki and the crew finished up just in time for the current team.  The Capernwray team is helping to put the finishing touches on it, like a ceiling, and helping to begin a small extension so we can also have a kitchen area down at the guest house.  We are thankful!

VOCATIONAL STUDENTS

Ray has taught at the Fiji College of Theology and Evangelism and/or at their vocational school outreach for close to 10 years.  The campuses are 45-60 minutes away from us, so this year they decided to send the vocational students in the farming class down to Oasis Farm for two weeks of practicals and instruction (instead of Ray going up every week).  It was great!  The students helped out with a fencing project around the chicken coop and some agricultural projects with Anthony.

It always brings joy to our hearts to see Oasis Farm as a point of connection, as a bright beacon of hope and light, and a place where life-giving skills are being learned and applied.  With Anthony here helping with the farming ministry, we are looking forward to more training, more points of connection, and more ministry in the future.

BOAT MINISTRY

It's been a bit of a journey but we keep on getting closer to getting the boat fixed up!  We have been encouraged to learn of more needs in the South Pacific for sailboats to bring the gospel to remote areas that are only accessible by boat.  We also continue to hold on to the vision of brining young people out to the remote areas of Fiji to help with discipleship, community development and encouragement.  It's a vision that has to see Ray through the hot sweaty work that we are in the midst of right now.  We are thankful to have help right now to get a new coat of paint on the boat.  Ray is also planning to get some practical experience with a sailor who has asked him to help him sail his boat to New Zealand.  

FAMILY CORNER:
A PLACE TO CALL HOME?

If you've made it this far you must really care about how we're doing, so thank you!  In all honesty, it's a bit rough right now.  We have heard from some of our biggest supporters that they can no longer support our family and ministry.  We have seen supporters come and go over the years, and it's all in God's hands, so we are trusting Him through this . . . but it's not easy.

We have been in Fiji for over 16 years.  We've welcomed our 3 daughters into the world here, and built a life here.  We are dual citizens of Fiji/USA and we are blessed to call Fiji home.  However, one of the downsides to putting down roots in Fiji, is that our roots and connections in the USA are not very strong.  In fact, we are not sure where home is.  When we go "back home," we are not sure where that is.  Ray grew up on the mission field, and I transferred between five different schools growing up because my family moved a lot.  Since we've been in Fiji, both of us have lost a parent, and our remaining family have moved to new areas--places that we are not familiar with.

As we plan our "Home Assignment" trip back to the USA in the fall, we are hoping for some new connections, some encouragement, some feeling of belonging in a place that our family isn't familiar with.  We are planning on visiting states from CA to FL between Oct 17 to Jan 18.  If you have a place that you think we could connect (either to a church, a fellowship or a family), please let us know!

We are also putting the word out to see if there is anyone who would like to come to Fiji to house-sit and volunteer in the ministry during that time period.  Let us know if you're interested!

And please do keep our family in your prayers regarding our financial support, our need for encouragement, our Home Assignment trip, and our kids who don't want to leave home (Fiji) for such a long time.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  You are a tangible reminder of God's faithfulness to His promises.

We have updated the praise and prayer requests below, and ask that you continue to intercede on our behalf.  Vinaka!  (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
  • Pray for the Capernwray Bible School Team that is here right now.  Pray for those who are sick, that they would feel better soon.  Praise the Lord for the way He is working in and through them, in Kid's Ministry, Community Projects, Farm Projects, and the boat ministry.
  • Pray for our family's encouragement as we consider the recent loss of supporters, and the need for a place to connect to in the USA.
  • Pray for God to continue to provide the extra funds needed for our monthly support.
  • Praise for the Greens and Anthony Jenyns who have settled well and are a huge help on our Island Encounters team.
  • Praise for volunteer Karla helping with home-school--the girls just had a short break during the team's visit, but are back at home-school again.
  • Pray for the upcoming teams and volunteers preparing to come later this year.  Our next team is in May from Grace College, followed by Pioneers Edge team in June/July, then an Australian youth group in September.
  • Pray for us to find someone to look after our house and pets while we are traveling Oct - Feb.
  • **New Item** "Fijian Focus":  Pray this month for Bunku, a down-syndrome Indian boy who wants to attend his special school but it's hard for the family to afford the bus fare for his mother to take him there each day.  This is the family that we helped with bunk beds this week.
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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 $900 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

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
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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