Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ordaining a Faithfull Man

Newly Ordained Puerto Rican Pastor Nelson Westerband
 Today, I traveled to the mountain village of Aguas Buenas and had the privilege to participate in the ordination of a Puerto Rican pastor, Nelson Westerband.

He has been a faithful servant here on the island for many years.

But, even so, ordinations are tough and the council was thorough.

His doctrinal statement was 35 pages and it took us from 1 pm to 5 pm to go through it, with only a 15 min. coffee break. Then we discussed his answers and voted.

It went well.


It was a pleasure to vote "yes," and to sign his ordination certificate.

Puerto Rico is blessed to have a servant of the Lord of this caliber. May the ordination of this faithful man lead to the ordination of many more.

The 35 page doctrinal statement!

The Ordination Council

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Staying on Top of Our Biblical Roof Top

You may know that, in the Bible, roof tops were flat. Peter went up to pray on one (Act 10:9), and certain messages were to be proclaimed from them. (Matt10:27)

We understand those verses because, here in Puerto Rico, we have flat concrete roofs that can serve as an extension of the house.

But flat doesn't make for great drainage, and that means we have to be vigilant about any water damage to the roof. We noticed an area of concern and checked it out today.

Tina and I did find a spot that needs attention. Some previous owner installed a solar water heat, which is nice, but the solar water heater hugs the rooftop so tightly, we can't apply waterproofing under it very well.

So, we are going to have to figure out how to move it enough to scrape away the old and reapply the new.

It isn't rocket science, but it is what we need to do, and I am no plumber. So I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and our safety as we go about giving our roof the attention that it needs.




Thursday, July 28, 2016

Missionary Recipes Requested: Cream Cheese Flan & Peanut Butter Popcorn

Tina was asked for some of her favorite recipes. She has a 3x5 card box stuffed full of them. Here are a few of her favorites out of that box:

Cream Cheese Flan
Serves 16

This is a favorite dessert here in Puerto Rico, where we are missionaries. It is a way we can share a little bit of the good things Puerto Rico has to offer with our friends.

A. In a blender, combine:

1 - 8 oz package of cream cheese
6 - eggs ( or 7, if medium)
1 - teaspoon vanilla
1 - can sweetened condensed milk
1 - can evaporated milk

B. Pour into a 9x9 inch pan that was previously filled with caramel sauce (instructions below).
C. Place in a larger pan that is filled with 1 inch of water.
D. Bake 1 hour, 15 minutes at 325, or until firm and slightly brown.

Instructions for the caramel sauce:
* Melt 1 cup of white sugar on medium heat until it turns into brown liquid.
   Keep stirring until no lumps remain.
*Quickly pour into ungreased 9x9 inch pan.
   Be careful, it is extremely hot and turns solid quickly.

Peanut Butter Popcorn
Peanut butter is hard to find in some Latin American countries, like in Costa Rica, where we began our language training. Comfort food from home is missed. Fortunately, it is easy to find here in Puerto Rico.

A. Pop enough popcorn for 2 quarts
B. Heat to a rolling boil:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup or honey
C. Remove from heat and add:
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
D. Pour over popcorn, stirring to coat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bible Reading Checklist You Can Print Out - My Treat

I have made it a goal to read through the Spanish Bible and am keeping track of it on a checklist. I have a Bible Reading Log app that is OK, but I like the paper version a lot better.

Here is my favorite one. I put it on my Google drive as a PDF. Here it is if you would like a copy:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Open Home, Opened Hearts, Opened Eyes

Swinging hammocks and hot coffee is not what I expected.

Luis (one of our deacons) and I walked up to a home in Rio Hondo (Deep River) and we were greeted by a Miguel, who was working in his garden with a machete.

Miguel invited us to his carport, called a Marquesina here, and got comfortable in his hammock, contentedly swinging back and forth as we shared the Gospel.

The lady of the house came out later and started the second hammock going.

She said, "I didn't eat breakfast yet, but when I heard you were out here sharing the Bible, I decided to skip it. I can eat anytime. Besides, it doesn't hurt to fast a bit to hear the Bible."

She made us some nice Puerto Rican coffee and gave us granola bars for a snack as we left.

We prayed with them and were extended a welcome to visit again.

Please pray with us that we may see them make an important decision.

We were given the gift of hospitality. What a joy to be well received and find such open hearted people.

But it is even a greater joy to share a message that has the power to change lives and bring hope, comfort, and salvation to the people whom we have come to love.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Could We Visit You Next Summer?

Could you please do us a favor?

I hope to speak in a number of churches next summer to raise needed support for our missionary work in Puerto Rico.

We ask your help in scheduling meetings for June and July of 2017

Ideally these meeting would be:

1. In churches that are concerned with reaching the Spanish speaking population of the Unitd States

and...

2. Would like to support a ministry that could help them do that.

I was thinking of the Pacific Northwest, but I am willing to go anywhere that we can schedule two or more churches for meetings.

May the Lord Bless You and Yours,
(Dios Les Bendiga)

Steven Prelgovisk
Puerto Rico, USA

Support Address:
Continental Baptist Missions
11650 Northland Drive NE
Rockford, MI 49341
ph (616) 863-2226
cbm@cbmoffice.org

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Escalating Economic Crisis and Christ


People ask us about the economy in Puerto Rico, if it is bad and if it affects us.

I read today that our electric rates are being raised 26%.

So, Yes, there is an economic crisis in Puerto Rico, it is bad and it affect us. But there is another side to the story.

It is true that the sales tax has risen to 11.5%, home values are plummeting, and that the island is losing a doctor a day as they join the many Puerto Ricans who are leaving the island.

But, being shaken out of a comfortable and secure material existence has another side. It is in just such disturbing times that many people cry out to God.

It has always been our ministry to reach the immigrant population at its source. Because of missionary work done in Puerto Rico, in that stream of new arrivals are many good Christian men and women.

Both those arriving and those left behind face an uncertain future. In such a time as this, as financial foundations crumble, many may seek and find a firmer foundation in Christ.

We also are affected. Pray for us in this crisis that we might effectively reach more people for Christ. Please pray for an increase in our monthly missionary support. Also, for the safety of our family here as we minister in an environment of rising costs and among people who are in economic desperation.

Puerto Rico to hike electricity rates 26%

Friday, July 01, 2016

Straining: the Good Kind

Adventures in tropical living: 

Hurray! No bugs in my coffee today!

A strainer helps get those black bugs out of your black coffee. A little cream for contrast helps too.

The tropics may have "eternal summer," but that also means the bugs never die or give you a break.

Eternal vigilance, or at least a couple of good tricks like this, constantly applied, are what is needed to keep insect encounters to a minimum.

Prayer Letter, June 2016

Our June 2016 Prayer Letter. Please click on this link. It will take you to Scribd,  a site where you can download it (the big blue button on the right) or print it out (the printer icon near the upper right hand corner of the prayer letter). Please print it out and share it in prayer with the church. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Unwanted Russian Gift Finally Finds a Home

Puerto Rico found itself the recipient of an embarrassing birthday gift. When the gift was revealed, it turned out to be a super huge statue of Columbus. It is a 600-ton monument, which stands at 350 ft tall. It was given as a gift of friendship by its Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli in 1992 to celebrate the 500 year of the discovery of America.

Puerto Rico said: "Thank you," and then promptly hid it in a warehouse. Liberal activists pin many Puerto Rican social ills on Columbus, artists complained about the style, and the government complained about the expense of putting it somewhere. But no one wanted insult the giver of the gift, so it was just stored away.

One mayor thought to put it up in San Juan harbor as a tourist attraction, but there was a big backlash against him. The statue bounced from town to town and it was finally sold to a private investor. Once it was out of the hands of the government, things began to happen.

It has now finally been installed in the city of Arecibo where it is hoped it will become a tourist destination.  Despite the criticism of many about better use of scarce government funds, there were actually no public funds spent on the statue or it's construction.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Celebrating Scholastic and Spiritual Success


One of the things I do in Puerto RIco is teaching English to Puerto Ricans. Here are some 11th graders that I teach celebrating their success and promotion to the 12th grade. 

My favorite part of teaching them is the Bible lessons we share in the mornings. 

It can be exhausting teaching young kids, but it is also energizing as well. It certainly is well worth the effort. English may give them an advantage in life, but it is Christ that has the power to change those lives into something truly remarkable.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day


We had a nice Mother's Day service today. I preached a sermon from Judges 4 & 5 contrasting two notable mothers: Deborah, a mother of Israel, and the mother of Sisera, the oppressor of Israel.

One of our young ladies, Wilmarie Negron, did the shopping and prepared the dinner for her mother and the other mothers of our church. Thanks, Wilmarie!

Wilmarie


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Zika getting worse.

The Zika virus outbreak is getting worse . Even Time magazine is reporting on the spread of this disease.

I feel run down today and may have something. Pray for those of us who serve the Lord in the tropics. There is a lot of stuff here that is not much fun to catch.

Why Puerto Rico Presents Real Challenges in Fighting Zika



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cross Walk

Our town of Comerio, Puerto Rico  installed a lighted cross on one of the highest hills outside of town. It is a custom for Catholic church members to hike up that steep hill every year and pray at the cross.

The road is much steeper than any road would be in the US. Since there is never any snow or ice here, they can build roads at a much steeper angle.

They do that, plus some.

The missionary I worked with before did not like crosses on our churches. He was afraid it would identify us with the Catholics.

But,  a Puerto Rican asked me in a puzzled voice: "You are Baptists? What is that? Is it like Buddhists or something?"

I think I we might be better off with a cross than without one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How Puerto Rican Income Compares to the US

Puerto Ricans make about half the income of the poorest US state, Mississippi. Below is a link to a good article comparing both to the US general economy. Data from the 2010 Census says the per capita income of Puerto Ricans was $16,300. It was 48,377.39 for the US in that same year. Today, that ratio is roughly the same.

We are doing better than our neighbors in the Caribbean though, ranking 77 on the list of world economies. But what income is available is spread out into a larger middle class than anywhere else in our region. So, while there are still pockets of extreme poverty, it doesn't feel like such dire poverty as I have felt in some downtown US cities.


How Mississippi is Catching Up - and Puerto Rico Is Not - Puerto Rico Report



Monday, March 21, 2016

Dad Date

We are happy that our daughter Kristin has decided to come home and spend the time between her graduation and upcoming wedding with us.

The wedding day, June 17th, seems far away, but my wife Tina and Kristin are spending a lot of quality mother-daughter time getting ready for it.

Not to be left out, I am going on a few father-daughter outings myself.

Today we had some quality time at Ichiban, a nice Japanese restaurant in Puerto Rico. We had the Bento box lunch special. It was a nice casual way to talk and find out more about my daughter.

We feel so blessed that we have a positive relationship with our daughters, who in turn, love the Lord and have a positive view of us and the ministry.

They seem to have chosen some quality guys as well.

The future is uncertain, but from where I am sitting, it's looking pretty good.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Zika Virus and Puerto Rico

The Zika virus is here.  I have seen absences in our classrooms because of various tropical diseases, but this new one is more worrisome because of its association with birth defects.

Facing tropical diseases is one of the challenges that we face on the mission field.  We are facing it, but your prayers for our health and safety are appreciated.

Here is a good overview of the situation:

'Zika has shaken us to our core': Puerto Rico prepares for the worst as epidemic looms


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Putting the "Go" in "Gospel"

Today, I invited a student, Pablo Hernandez, to preach in our church.  Pablo came from Tampico, Mexico to study here at our Bible college in Puerto Rico.

He has a heart for missions and is currently raising funds to do missionary work in Northern Spain this year.

He did a great job preaching. I was especially moved by his sermon based on Ephesians 5:16 about "Redeeming the time..." He asked us to consider what we are doing with our lives, giving solid, scriptural ways to evaluate if we were making good use of the precious time that God has allotted to us.

I am happy that our Puerto Rican church is helping a Mexican reach the people of Spain for Christ. I am also grateful to those of you in the USA whose support has enabled us to help the gospel go to so many places.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Our Newest Prayer Letter

Here is our newest Prayer Letter. Please download, print and share. After you read it, please don't forget to pray!






Saturday, December 12, 2015

Puerto Rico Declared "Out of Cash"

The CNN article and video below has our governor declaring that Puerto Rico is out of cash and will likely default on its financial obligations early in 2016.

What does this mean to us?

On a daily level, life is pretty much the same. But unemployment and hard times do effect our missionary church and the people we minister to.

Hopefully, many will seek something better than material security in these troubled times.

Pray with us that we may minister effectively to those who fear for their future. We know God will provide for his children. We hope that many might be added to His family in the years ahead.

Congress is trying to get Puerto Rico out of its 'death spiral'

Sunday, December 06, 2015

How Puerto Ricans Avoid Going Totally Insane

Today, I renewed my driver's license here in Puerto Rico. The gruelling experience was made more bearable by an agreeable surprise.

Long waits and large crowds in government offices are not much fun anywhere. But here in Puerto Rico, the crowds seem larger and the waiting times longer.  After 3 hours, my patience was wearing thin.

Then this guy came in.

A street musician totally entertained us with one song after another, with a short pause in between for a poem and a joke.

Here is my loose translation of one of them:

"Love is blind, we are often taught,
But remember friend, the neighbors are not."

Thank-you Puerto Rican Government employees for not chasing him out of the building. I guess you too needed that breath of fresh air to keep your sanity.


The instrument is the Puerto Rican cuatro. It has 5 pairs of strings and a sweet ringing tone. 


Monday, November 23, 2015

Multiplying Missions the Fun Way


One of my favorite parts of the Church planting work here in Puerto Rico is preparing young people for the ministry.  I teach college students during the week, and during the weekends some of them work with us at our church. We go on visitation together and I allow them teach, preach and help with the music during some of our services. 

It is a lot of fun to work with college kids. I find their faith, enthusiasm and positive outlook encouraging.  We also feel blessed to be able to multiply the effectiveness of our missionary work through the help that we receive from them. I hope they are learning things from us that will multiply their effectiveness as well in their service for the Lord.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Soul Winning Day and the Empty Hearted Man


I invited the students of Puerto Baptist College to come to our church and help us evangelize in the neighborhood around us. About 22 students came and participated in this "Soul-Winning Day."

About 16 persons made some kind of profession of faith, and of those, 4 came to a special service that we held that same night.

One man, David Figueroa, told us that he had an "empty heart" that he was trying to fill with all kinds of things, but could never find anything to fill it.  

His yearning reminded me of what St. Augustine said of the human heart: 

"Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

David has been back twice since then. A grandmother and her granddaughter came also. The granddaughter brought two friends since, and one of them has made a decision for Christ.

We are very happy about all of this. 

Please pray for these new people in our church, that they will continue, and that we might minister to them effectively for the Lord.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Iguanas are on the Menu Here in Puerto Rico

We see very large iguanas here all the time, and often, unfortunately, as road kill on the freeway. They used to be a food item here and that idea is making a comeback.

I know people who say that iguana meat is very good, but so far have I resisted the temptation to try it myself. The large tails are supposed to be the main part of the feast.

They look too ugly to eat, but I guess turkeys aren't winning any beauty contests either.

They may end up on a plate here, but at least that would be better than the condition I see them in on our roadways.

Fine Dining May Solve Puerto Rico's Invasive Iguana Problem