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!


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.


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!).


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.


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.


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

  • 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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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.



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