It's been a whirlwind as usual over here! We last wrote the week of Easter. Since then Ray (barely) survived an ocean voyage to New Zealand, we had an awesome Easter assembly in the schools, volunteer Isaiah got baptized, we hosted Grace College (2 weeks) and welcomed the Edge Team (6 weeks). Isla lost her two front teeth, we celebrated 19 yrs. of marriage, and Eden started online high school. We are planning our USA trip for later this year, and God has brought a family to come to Fiji to look after things in our absence. Keep reading for all of the stories, and to learn how you can pray and get involved!
I'm so embarrassed that I haven't written a prayer update since Easter! (Sorry!) Thanks to everyone who prayed for the Easter assemblies, they were really good. The Greens are doing such a great job leading the children's ministry and getting the teams and children involved. It was cool to see our kids, the Jenyns kids and the Greens kids involved in the all-school assembly pictured above. It's such a precious opportunity to speak the truth to the kids in these schools (many Hindus), and we are praying that these seeds planted will grow into maturity in faith.
Every year for the last 7 years we have hosted a team from Grace College in May. We always look forward to this team, and this year was just as great as past years (and we love it when students return to Fiji, like Johnny did this year). This team helped in the children's ministry and at the farm, and painted some new signs for the farm (Oasis Farm sign pictured below). As the team plants at the farm, and we watch things grow, it's a parallel to what we pray is happening in people's hearts, including the lives of the precious kids and individuals in these photos!
Meliki Talolo (Liki) was one of Ray's Bible college students, and joined the ministry of Island Encounters one year ago. He was finally able to marry his sweetheart last month, after waiting several years for everything to come together. Liki and Ola wore traditional Fijian attire for their wedding (bark cloth decorated with Fijian tapa designs), and then changed into "Bula Wear" for their reception. For those of you who have met Liki, he is very happy!! Ola is wonderful. Please join us in prayer for the newly married couple, that God would continue to use them in their lives together.
We had the privilege of hosting volunteer Isaiah for several months with Island Encounters. He helped out at the farm and helped Uncle Tomasi and Auntie Sarina in Suva and up at their house in Rakiraki (still working on cyclone repairs!). It was literally so amazing to see a transformation in him as he pursued God's truth during his time here and gave his life fully to the Lord. Uncle Tomasi baptized him in the ocean. It was super special to witness this moment, and the symbolism of the reality of the new life Isaiah has in Christ. A really awesome, memorable moment!! Isaiah's back in the USA now and we're praying for him as he continues his journey walking God's path. Please also pray for his brother Ilias (who came on a team last year), who was in a very bad car accident today.
The Edge team is here for six weeks, and have started off strong. They help with farm projects, community help (pictured here fixing the roof of a handicapped family), and kid's ministry. We will take them to Homes of Hope in Suva next week. Our often-returning amazing volunteer Brent is staying with them and providing leadership at the farm, as are Uncle Tomasi and Auntie Sarina, and Liki. IE staff meet with the Edgers weekly for prayer and mentoring and we enjoy having them over to our house to get to know them. Please pray for them during their time here in Fiji, that God would work in and through them.
One cool story is that Courtney (pictured the pink shirt above, with Laura) was an Edger from 2011. During her missions trip with us she told us didn't have any interest in long-term missions. (Never say never!) :) Now here she is, stopping to see us on a layover in Fiji, on her way back home from her first 3-year term as a full-time missionary in Papua New Guinea! Courtney said that God used the seeds planted in her heart during her time in Fiji to grow into a calling to full-time missions. She'll return to the field for another term next year. THIS is one of those stories that reminds us why what we do is worth it--it's awesome to hear how God is using this ministry!
In April, Ray helped a friend sail his boat from Fiji to New Zealand. It was supposed to take 10 days, but ended up being a 16 day journey. Ray says, "We lost our wind 1/3 of the way and ran out of fuel motoring. We drifted for a day and then a 500 ft Freighter stopped and gave us 14 containers of fuel (an amazing feat of ingenuity in itself since their deck was twice as high as our mast) which was just enough to motor all the way to NZ against the current and head winds. All our onboard systems broke down so we were unable to get any weather reports but we made it." He was pretty dehydrated and shaky when they reached land. . .their water system broke down and he survived by drinking the juice and syrup from canned food. They missed a cyclone but didn't even know since their systems were down! We were all so thankful that he made it across the sea and that he was able to fly back home safely last month, after visiting some friends and supporters in NZ. God really took care of him and taught him some good lessons. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor." So he's a bit more weathered and wiser now. . .we're just thankful he survived! Speaking of boats . . . our boat here is STILL held up with repairs and registration. Please pray this through! We would like to get it going and start up the sailboat ministry this year. (Yes, Ray still wants to get back in a boat . . . but it's sure been a difficult journey!)
Thanks for reading this far, friends, I know this is long! We have just been so busy . . but life is good and God is good. Isla lost her top two teeth, Elani got to be a mermaid, and Eden started online high school. Karla, our amazing missions nanny, helps the girls with home-school every day (we are doing school through the USA summer so we can take a longer break in the fall/winter when we're traveling to the USA). She's doing online school herself and Isla & Elani do a CD-Rom program, so there are often four laptops on the table in our one-room school house (see photo!). We also welcomed Tara back into our home last month (missions intern who was also here last year with Karla) who has been a massive help to us with finances, shopping, logistics, and driving the team.
We are still planning our USA trip . . .it's a bit hard to know where to go and when! We are thinking we will arrive in Nebraska or Indiana in October, and drive around the northern states, fly down to TX for a visit, have Christmas in Nebraska, then fly down to Florida, then do Southern CA/AZ at the end of our trip in Feb 2018. We have a vehicle in FL but we still need one somewhere up north. We are deciding if we should buy and then sell one, or what we should do. If you have any ideas for us please let us know!
God has provided a house-sitter for us in Fiji while we are away! Brooke and Sammy found us through Pioneers and their availability fit our need exactly. It was 100% a "God-thing" and we are praising Him for bringing really awesome people to help with the ministry! Please pray for them and their 4 kids as they are preparing to come to Fiji, with the goal of a possible long-term role!
We are still praying for a "missions nanny" or helper for mid-Aug/Sept. before we depart. If anyone has availability and a heart to come and help, please let us know!
Thanks for praying for us, as we make it through a busy season with teams. Both our IE vehicles are broken right now and we are reaching the $6,000 USD mark on unexpected vehicle repairs due to these problems and the accident earlier this year. It's made it challenging to transport the teams.
Please see the box below for more ways you can pray.
Praise for the children of Fiji hearing the gospel in the schools and communities, pray for these seeds to grow in their hearts.
Praise God that Ray made it safely back from his ocean voyage
Pray for the vehicles, it's reached $6K US outside of our budget and neither van is working! :( (We're going through a total engine rebuild on the 15 seater van and accident involving the farm van). Pray for $ for a new van!
Pray for the sailboat to get registered and be use-able.
Pray for God to continue to provide the extra funds needed for our personal monthly support.
Praise for Isaiah's baptism, pray for him to continue to grow in the Lord.
Praise for Liki & Ola's marriage, pray for their life and ministry together.
Praise for a great outreach for the Grace team
Praise that Brent and Tara have returned as volunteers to help us with the summer team, pray for the Edge team here for six weeks.
Praise for Sammy and Brooke coming to house-sit, pray for their family as they prepare to come in late September.
Pray for a volunteer to help us with home-schooling the girls from mid-August through the end of September.
Pray for our need for a car in the USA and for us as we plan our trip.
"Fijian Focus": Pray for "Uday," whose roof the Edgers helped to fix last week. He is handicapped, his wife has been sick, and their grown daughter is handicapped and can't walk.
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 $1,000 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.