Thursday, April 6, 2017

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

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