Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 2015: Welcome Edge Team!

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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BULA once again from Fiji!  Yesterday we welcomed a group of students from The Edge (here for six weeks on a missions trip) and the Green family (here to help out for the summer).  Last month we hosted a group from Grace College.  We said goodbye to volunteers Lydia, Jen and Charisma and we have welcomed Jessica and Mackenzie  for the summer, as well as several other shorter term visitors.  Life never seems to slow down here and we're just keeping up the pace as best as we can!  Ray and I celebrated our 17th anniversary yesterday. . . how does time pass so quickly?  It seems we blinked our eyes and now our kids are so big . . . our ministry is growing . . . and we have more on our plates than we ever dreamed.  It's exciting and exhausting all at the same time!!  Please read on for more details on the past two months and how you can pray for our family (including the latest with our kids) and the ministry of Island Encounters Fiji.

GRACE COLLEGE


We always look forward to hosting our annual team from Grace College in Indiana.  Deea and Steve have been here multiple times and are good friends of ours.  They do a great job leading the team and set a solid example for the students.  We enjoyed the team a lot . . . vinaka vaka levu Grace team, for all of your hard work and great attitudes!  The team helped with quite a few projects at the farm including expanding the chicken shed for our new chicks!

HELLOS & GOODBYES

We farewelled Charisma (mission nanny), Jen (missions intern) and Lydia (IE volunteer) last month.  Each one had become a part of our family and we found it so difficult to say goodbye after sharing life together all year.  (Here's all of us above).  We now have Mackenzie from Gordon College serving as our missions intern (she's been living with us and blessing us for two weeks but is now joining the current missions team).  We also have Jessica as our Mission Nanny, who has been a huge answer to prayer as we weren't sure who would be helping us up to the last minute.  In Fiji we do school through June/July and have our long break over Christmas, so the girls are doing school with Jessica's help.

This month we got to see Cassiee and Titus, who were kids when we first came to Fiji with their family to start up the ministry that eventually evolved into Island Encounters.  They are all grown up now and we had a great time reconnecting with them.  We are currently enjoying a visit from Heidi and Marcus as well. . .Heidi was a student of ours in Fiji 11 yrs. ago with EduVenture and has come back with her husband for their 10 yr. anniversary (which they are enjoying spending helping out with the team and at the farm!).   This is the third EduVenture student to come back and visit Fiji this year, and another one planning to come later this summer!

THE EDGE TEAM

Every year we host a six week long team through Pioneers called The Edge.  This year we have 7 young people on the team (plus Mackenzie for a total of 8).  They are university aged students from all over the USA.  They live at the farm and usually do a half day of work at the farm and a half day of kid's ministry.  We'll also take them around Fiji and introduce them to different ministries and ways of doing missions here in Fiji.  They just arrived yesterday, so we are looking forward to spending the summer with them, discipling them and seeing how God works in and through them.  It's always so nice to have a group here for a longer period of time.  We'll keep you posted on their adventures!

OASIS FARM

We have new chicks at the farm! We've found there to be a huge market for free-range eggs, so we've purchased another lot of chicks to expand our egg business.  The farm continues to produce papayas, but production is slowing down as we head into a very dry spell (predicted to be worse than last year).  The trees are also nearing the end of their expected two years of peak production.  We have plowed another field in order to plant some more trees and crops, but the problem is that the seedling supply keeps falling through so we have nothing in the ground yet.  As a result we are expecting a decrease in the farm's ability to financially sustain itself, until early into next year.  We are counting on our first harvest of honey from our honey bees and our laying hens to help us get through the slump.  Please pray for the farm.  We really need to hire another worker.  We're praying for financial provision as well as for us to have wisdom in what to grow, and for the baby chicks to make it (we've already lost a dozen or so. . .).  Click below if you'd like to help us out!
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters

SAILBOAT MINISTRY

The sailboat saga has been a mixture of highs and lows.  We are encouraged that we've been able to meet several others here in Fiji who have a similar vision and want to partner with us to go out to the outer islands with students (we could go as a group to provide Biblical training, community development in the villages and do discipleship with a small group of young people along the way).  However, we have found that the engine on the boat we are buying needs to be replaced.  It will cost us $10,000 USD to buy an engine and ship it to Fiji (an unexpected expense).  Even before we asked, we've seen God provide $1,750 of this!  If anyone is interested in partnering with us in this need, please reply to this email and ask us how you can get involved.  We really need prayers for everything to come together . . . it's a huge leap of faith. 

EDEN, ELANI & ISLA

I hope you enjoy the above photos of the girls!  Eden is 12 and loves animals, reading and art.  Elani is 9 and loves playing, cuddling kittens and making everyone laugh.  Eden and Elani both home-school.  Isla is 5 and loves snuggling, laughing and playing with her sisters.  She is attending a little Christian school down the street from our house.  We are so blessed by our girls, but do feel a little overwhelmed lately and would ask for your prayers for them.  Eden is in 7th grade and we aren't sure what the best option is for her education next year (and on into high school).  Elani has been struggling with perfectionism and some stomach aches/fear/emotional issues.  Isla is testing the limits of what she can get away with as far as exerting her will when she doesn't get her way.  They all have amazingly sweet and loving sides but also can be strong-willed at times.  Lately it's seemed a bit overwhelming along with all the busy-ness of life.  The girls as well as some of the rest of us have been struggling with nightmares, poor sleep, etc.  It feels like we're under attack and we would appreciate your prayers.

17 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Yesterday Ray and I celebrated 17 years of marriage.  It's fun to look back and see how far God has brought us and how He continues to lead and guide us into amazing, faith-stretching situations.  Usually we are hosting teams over our anniversary so we don't get to do much to celebrate.  However, we were blessed this year to be able to do two fun trips, one of them the week of our anniversary, free in exchange for photography through Island Encounters Photography.  We traveled up to the Yasawa Islands with Blue Lagoon Cruises, and we also were able to stay at the amazing Namale resort (up in Savusavu where we used to live on the other island when we ran EduVenture).  Above are some of the photos from our cruise up to the northern islands of Fiji and below is Namale.
www.islandencountersphotography.com
What a blessing this photography business has been, enabling us to provide further funding for the ministry as well as enjoy some time together this year!  God is good.
PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Praise that we got our tickets and we're going to the USA in the fall!  
  • Pray for the Edge Team and for volunteers Mackenzie and Jessica.
  • Pray for Ray's back:  for healing. The insurance company has not been very helpful.  He's slightly better than last month, but still in a lot of pain.
  • Pray for one of the girls we've been working with here who is facing many difficult challenges.
  • Pray for Eden (wisdom for future school options), Elani (stomach aches and emotional issues) and Isla (for her to choose good attitudes) and for the poor sleep and nightmares to discontinue.
  • Pray for continued funding for the IE ministry and Oasis Farm, especially as the farm is brining in less money lately.
  • Pray for God to continue to guide and provide with the sailboat ministry. We have faced a lot of obstacles in getting the engine replaced and need $8,250 USD to do so. Praise God for future networking opportunities in sailboat ministry.  We also need prayer for all the paperwork and customs and duty fees.
  • Praise that the Borg family is coming out to look after the house, farm and ministry while we are away in the fall, and prayer for them as they raise support to do so.
Pray for the Jenyns family, as they raise support to come next year, and as they are dealing with the imminent loss of a parent. Anthony is passionate about farming ministry.  We really need him to come and can't wait to meet his family.

Please also pray for the Green family, who arrived yesterday from Texas.  They will be here over the summer to help out with the ministry with the goal of returning next year.  They have a heart for kid's ministry and discipleship.
We are looking forward to the opportunity to return to the USA for 3 months in the fall.  We'll be in HI, CA, TX and FL.  We don't have firm plans yet but if you want to see us let us know!

We're thankful for the Borg family, who will be coming to look after things in our absence!  It's wonderful to see how God is working everything out and we trust Him to continue to do so.

Thanks for caring about us!

Much love,


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
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Website
Website
Email
Email
Share
Forward to Friend
PERSONAL SUPPORT NEEDS:

Our family is in need of an additional $510 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 help the non-profit 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!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

March & April 2015

Equipping students and the poor for greater life encounters.
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BULA once again from Fiji!  We're coming up for air this month after a very busy start to 2015.  After hosting the LinkYear team in Feb, we hosted a missions team from Capernwray Bible School in New Zealand in March (they come twice a year during their ministry weeks).  Now that it's April we're thankful for the opportunity to get caught up on all of the work that fell through the cracks during the busy months when we were hosting teams.  We'll have a missions team from Grace College joining us next month.  We had some great opportunities to present the gospel to Hindu children during Easter.  We've had some discouragements including Ray's chronic back pain, and someone we love making bad choices.  But God is faithful.  As we celebrated earlier this month, He holds the power over death and sin.  It is our prayer that He continues to be glorified in our lives and ministries despite the set-backs we face.  Please pray for encouragement and strength for us.  Read on for all the latest news!

MEET OUR TEAM!

 
Above you can see our amazing Island Encounters ministry team.  Tomasi and Serina (with us above left) usually live on the north of the island but they come down when we have teams to help us host them at Oasis Farm.  They stay at the farm to cook, host, help maintain the farm and just love on the students.  It's wonderful to us to see Island Encounters have more of a Fijian face, and we love the peace of mind knowing that Tomasi and Serina are more than capable to handle things when we are not there. They have such a huge heart for ministry and they make a lot of sacrifices to come and serve with us (leaving their own farm behind for a couple of weeks at a time).  Please pray for their health and for God to continue to enable them to partner with IE.

Top right you can see Jen (Grace College missions intern), Charisma (Mission Nanny volunteer), Stee (caretaker at the farm and IE student team leader) and Lydia (IE student team leader volunteering for one year).  The three girls live with us and Stee lives at the farm and looks after everything even when no one is there.  It's wonderful to have such a support network, and to see God working in and through each one.
 

CAPERNWARY OUTREACH

We are so thankful for an ongoing relationship with Capernwray Bible School in New Zealand.  Twice a year we host a missions encounter during their ministry weeks, and last month we hosted the above team for two weeks.  Jack, their team leader, has been to Fiji many times and is a huge help in running the team and helping us with the driving and logistics.  He knows the routine so well it's like having another very experienced co-worker during that time which is a relief for us.  We are always blessed to see the hearts for God that these young people have--a true hunger and thirst to know more of Him and to serve Him willingly.  Two of the boys on the team stayed on for a couple of weeks to help out at the farm, which was also a huge blessing.  Thank you, Capernwray team, for all of your hard work and the impact you have had for the Lord in Fiji!

EASTER ASSEMBLIES

After the Capernwray team left, our IE staff team had the amazing opportunity to share the gospel at two different Hindu schools the week before Easter (photos above).  The new government in Fiji encourages each school to embrace and appreciate all of the different cultures within Fiji.  As a result, Hindu schools have opened their doors to us to help their students understand more about Christian culture and holidays.  The two schools we work with when teams come (we teach a Bible class on Tuesday mornings) usually only allow us to share with the kids whose parents have marked "Christianity" as their religion on their enrollment forms. BUT during the Easter assembly, we were permitted to share the gospel with the entire student body (primarily Hindu).  We gathered in the assembly areas that are literally right next to the schools' Hindu temples.  And there we presented a message including the good news of the Gospel.  We were able to teach them songs, do a skit, and Laura did a magic trick (using chemistry, photo above right) of how Christ can wash our sins away.  It was an amazing experience and we're praying that God uses our continued visits to the schools to spread the good news!

CYCLONE PAM DAMAGE & OASIS FARM UPDATE

Last month we were thankful that Tropical Cyclone Pam only passed by Fiji, instead of hitting us directly (pray for the nearby island nation of Vanuatu, however, as they were hit more directly and there are still thousands in need of food/clothing/shelter).  We did get some heavy winds in Fiji, and as you can see the trees at the farm were affected.  You may recall that we planted half organic and half conventional as a demonstration/experiment.  The left side of the photo is our organic grove and the right side of the photo is the conventional.  Many trees were knocked down on the conventional side, but not a single tree fell on the organic side!  This is proof of the long-term soil improvement that organic farming provides.  (Unfortunately the market in Fiji doesn't care about organic fruit so we're struggling with the higher cost of maintaining the grove).  We continue to sell our papaya weekly to the local market which helps keep the farm and ministry going.  We are still struggling to make ends meet and pay off debt, however.  We had another theft this month again costing us hundreds of dollars.  We would like to purchase a shipping container in which to securely lock all of the valuable equipment.  If you'd like to help out with either the farm or the ministry please click the button below.
Click here to give: tax-deductible gifts to Island Encounters

SAILBOAT MINISTRY . . .
STAY TUNED

We mentioned in our last update that we were praying for an affordable sailboat that we could use to expand the ministry of Island Encounters to Fiji's remote islands.  We have been waiting on this dream for a long, long time and believe that the time is right and that God led us to the above boat, a 34', 1972 yacht that sleeps seven.  We were able to spend a couple of days sailing it with the owners.  It urgently has to have the engine repaired or replaced and the boat has to leave the country and come back before it's all official.  All these details plus customs and duty clearance fees have to be settled by August!  Parts and service are not cheap here or easy to come by, esp. for such an old boat.  We are having difficulties ordering the parts we need from the US.  We are trusting God for these details and the financing for this project, which is a huge faith-stretcher.  At the moment it's been one more challenge on top of other challenges but we have faith that one day we'll be able to get this boat out there and use it for the ministry.  Please pray for the needed funds for the engine repairs and for all the logistics to come together so that Island Encounters can purchase this boat.  If you're interested in helping us get this boat out on the water, please contact us for more info.
Happy Birthday Eden!  She is twelve years old now!

FAMILY CORNER

The girls have settled back into our Fiji routine of school, teams and such.  We just celebrated Eden's 12th birthday. (Can this really be her last non-teenage year??!!).  With 3 little girls and 3 college-aged girls plus Ray and I living in our smallish house (8 people in 3 bedrooms plus the tree house) we feel a bit cramped sometimes (and Ray feels rather outnumbered with seven females!) but we do enjoy having young people around.  One advantage is that there are plenty of people to help look after the farm, kids and ministry when Ray and I head off next week on a boat trip up to the northern islands of Fiji.  It will be a "working holiday." We will take photos for their advertising in exchange for a free cruise.  We're looking forward to that change of pace, as we've both been feeling pretty run-down and overwhelmed with all there is to do at the farm, ministry, business, non-profit set up, accounting, emails, discipleship, local ministry, consulting, taxes, boat problems, logistics, teaching, etc.  Laura's been blessed with quite a few photography jobs lately so that's been great but also keeps her busy.  Ray's back has been REALLY bad for two months.  We keep waiting for it to get better but it's just getting worse.  We are going to ask our insurance company what we can do--maybe a trip to New Zealand for Ray to get an MRI and get it checked out.  He's in constant pain and that just affects everything.  Please pray for him!  (We are also still hoping to come to the USA this fall for some medical check-ups and to visit family and supporters).
New pets at the farm!  Mia and Roxy the puppies and Simba and Nala the cats.  We lost three baby animals this year so praying all of these little guys make it.  The pictured animals replace our dog that was poisoned, and cats that were stolen or ran away.  
PRAYER & PRAISE
  • Praise for the children's ministry of IE and the Hindu kids that heard the good news this month. Pray for them to come to know Christ.
  • Pray for Ray's back:  for healing, and for wisdom for us to know how to go about getting help.  He's been in pain and very discouraged about this lately.
  • Pray for one of the girls we've been working with who is turning her back on Christ and making some bad decisions.  It's so hard to see this and to figure out how to love her through it all without supporting her choices.
  • Pray for Lydia, Jen and Charisma, the volunteers living with our family.
  • Pray for the Green family and the Jenyns family, both support-raising to come join the IE team next year.
  • Pray for continued funding for the IE ministry and Oasis Farm
  • Pray for God to continue to guide and provide with the sailboat ministry. Specifically, we need to get the engine fixed as a first step.  Costs for repairing the boat could go well over $10,000
  • Pray for a couple or family to help look after the home/farm/ministry in the fall so we can travel to the USA: we are talking to a family who is interested.
Thanks so much for caring about what God is doing here in our tiny corner of the world.  His message of hope and life is for all people and it is our heart that all would come to know Him.

It's wonderful to celebrate the resurrection of Christ in a place where we can literally see the powers of darkness at work and feel the discouragement that results.  We must remember to take our eyes off of the storms we're in and put them on Jesus who has it all under control. His power is greater.

In the glorious name of our risen Lord,

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 $510 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 help the non-profit 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!
Copyright © 2015 Pioneers, All rights reserved.
An update on the Pittman Family serving with Pioneers in the Fiji Islands--thanks for reading!

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Pioneers
PO Box 10976
Nadi Airport 00000
Fiji

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