Thursday, June 30, 2005

College Helper a Big Help

Leann helped Tina a lot today down at the church and freed me up to write 5 sermons for Kids camp next week. Leann has started her own blog , so you can learn about her missionary experiences in her own words and pictures. Take a look at our work through the eyes of a 19 year old college girl from upper Michigan! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Showing Off Our Mission Field

We took Leann DeWeese, our summer intern, to see our capitol city, San Juan. We took the ferry because it is the cheapest way to get to town and a lot of fun too! For 50 CENTS(!) you can take the ferry and pull into the same docks that have cruise liners full of people who paid a lot more than 50 cents to be in the same place! Now, don't you wish you were supporting a missionary you could stay with and get in on a good bargain like that! Well, it still isn't to late! Posted by Hello

Happy campers Tina and Kristin smile as the ferry nears San Juan. Not a very fancy boat, but the price is right (50 cents)! It is kind of like a floating bus, but with a lot better view! We like it when people visit us on the mission field. It gives us an excuse to take a day off from our regular work and show them our island. Posted by Hello

Keeping in touch for free?

Skype - The whole world can talk for free.

On our visit to San Juan, I overheard a store manager speaking to a friend in Colombia, using his computer microphone. He told me that the call was FREE and that I could do it too. All I needed, he said, was to have my friends get a free program from and then we could chat all day long for nothing.

Anybody want to try this with us? I am willing to make the experiment if you are!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Big Changes from Personal Evangelism!

We went to San Juan Friday for a family field trip and passed this Catholic Church. They were holding a service honoring John the Baptist and the doors were opened for all to visit, so I took a peek inside. Twelve years ago 85% of Puerto Ricans were Catholic and the other 15% "Evangelical" (a term they use meaning "all other Christian groups."). We have seen a great shift here during our last three terms of missionary service. Now, in just that short of a time the Evangelical church grew and the Catholic Church declined so much that Puerto Ricans are now only 50% Catholic and have risen to be 50% Evangelical. This is a tremendous difference in such a short time span.

I know our church and Bible College are part of this change, but we cannot account for such a large shift in the culture here. A lot of work has been done by a great many people each doing their small part in their own private and personal sphere of influence. Every effort in one-on-one evangelism helps. People practicing personal evangelism have changed the demographic of our island by reaching one person at a time. All these small efforts have certainly added up to produce some great changes here in Puerto Rico. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Great Present!

Great Fathers' Day Sunday!

Our attendance has been low this hot summer, but not this last Sunday! I asked our older men to tell their kids this:

"For Fathers' Day, the best present I could have is if you came with me to church."

Well, it worked! One older man in our church brought in ten visitors, all family members! We had other Fathers come also we had not seen for over a year. Pray for us as we visit in the homes of those who visited our church this week. Posted by Hello

Study Books or Hang the Hammock on the Hooks?

So much study to do this week and it is so very hot! I try to switch between deskwork and more active work to keep my energy up during the day. I prepared for my Greek class and read a students Biology project on Organic Chemistry today, both in Spanish, but then went outside and read a bit (NOT Greek, Biology or Chemistry!) in the old hammock. I found this poem that expressed some of my feelings about being at my desk for long stretches at a time.

The Tables Turned -Wordsworth
Up! up! my friend, and quit your books,
Or surely you'll grow double.

(Note: I think this mean you get fat if you don't ever leave the desk!)

Up! up! my friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble. . . .

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous forms of things--
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art,
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

Soul-Winning Stories: Freeing Slaves of Self Indulgence

"I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years ...Yet was I sore adread, Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside... - Francis Thompson (1859 - 1907)

We went "Soul-winning" Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. A modern way of expressing it might be: "Visiting people in their homes and encouraging them to respond positively to the claims that Christ makes upon our lives." But whatever you call it, it should be done and we are trying to do it here in Puerto Rico.

We stopped by a woman's house that we had led to the Lord about a year ago. She hardly ever leaves her bed, so she invited us into her bedroom to visit with her. Her problem is that she is so heavy that she is housebound. Because we visited in her neighborhood, we were able to bring the gospel to her. She attempted to heal her hurting emotions with food instead of God, and now instead of liberty, is a prisoner in her own home. It is sad to see the bondage that people come under when they seek freedom outside of the will of God. We had a bible study in her home and her adult son listened intently and avidly read a tract we gave him. The woman and her family has passed through a lot of depression, but they can see that Jesus has a better life for them, They are encouraged by the words of hope we share with them from God's word during our visits.

We visited another lady, who came to Christ a few months ago and is also suffering. Previously, she and some family members sought freedom outside a number of the boundaries set for the family in God's word. Last week many harmful patterns begun before her conversion reached their apex. We found her sitting alone in her apartment Tuesday night in the dark without her daughter, husband, money, electricity or water. After a number of visits, lots of prayer and council, she too has made some progress. She has been attending church, reading the bible and making progress. The department of Social Services will allow her daughter to come to our church Sundays, and we hope that the family will be rebuilt around Christ as the center and foundation.

People are afraid that having God, they will somehow lose out on pleasure in their lives. But I know that if the service men fear to give God is given, they will find that they will enjoy life instead of suffering the oppression that comes from seeking joy apart from the Author of all good things. We are enjoying our relationship with Christ. We hope you are too and will pray that the joy that is in Christ will become a reality in the souls we are witnessing to in Puerto Rico. Posted by Hello

Too Hot for Thought!

Today I am writing my Children's Camp sermons, but it is so hot and humid today that it is hard to keep focused. I guess I shouldn't try to write six sermons in one day! But today really was the best day for me to do them because it is one of the few days I can work all day at home.

We avoid air-conditioning because electricity is very expensive in Puerto Rico. Just one airconditioner set at a reasonable setting can use $200 worth of electricity every month. To stretch our missionary dollars, we have decided to limit ourselves to just using fans. Most of the time it is OK, but on days like today they just blow hot air and don't cool you off anymore! Remember in the Bible where it says that by the sweat of our face, we should earn our bread? Well, just sitting here at my desk I am fulfilling that verse! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What Were They Thinking?

Some gifts just don't work! We get books like "How to train your Chihuahua" donated to our college! Well, what to do? No one wants to throw away these gifts, but keeping them fills up much needed space on our library shelves. I had thought of listing them on eBay and selling them, but just never had the time to do it. Fortunately, we have a college girl, Leann DeWeese, working with us this summer. I took her to our Puerto Rico Baptist College yesterday and she spent a lot of hours working in our library.

Our Puerto Rican college president, Dr. Casillas, was impressed with Leann. He asked her to transfer down and study here with us. Leann said she can't because we don't offer "Piano Pedagogy." Dr. Casillas said "Well, come down here and teach it when you graduate!" If she returns, we will be happy to have her here. But return or not, we are grateful that she is helping this summer by turning books like "How to train your Chihuahua" into funds to buy books our college students can use in their studies. Thanks Leann!

PS. To People who want to donate books: Please sell them at home or on EBay and then donate to proceeds to our Library Fund. It works out better that way! Posted by Hello

What was I thinking?

In the next two months, besides our regular church planting work, reporting to our supporters and planning for our upcoming furlough, we have many activities and much to do. I will do, Lord willing, a Vacation Bible school, a Fathers' day event, preach in Summer camp, teach "Intro to Biology," prepare a curriculum and lesson plans for my classes in "Intro to Chemistry" (one in English and the other in Spanish) and develop a Biblical Greek course in Spanish for the night-time Bible Institute.

We need your help and prayers! Please pray for our health, energy and the resources we need to do the work. I believe that God has given us all the time we need, but that we must be "16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."(Eph 5:16) We invite you to help us with the resources we need to redeem some more time and use what has been redeemed efficiently. Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Crisis Averted. Time for a Break

I got the water leak fixed during the first hour of the VBS, so we survived that emergency. A Puerto Rican pastor had four members to baptize but his church is under construction and has no baptistery, so we invited him over. After the baptism, he said: "I forgot to bring a change of Clothes!" Well, I got some of my clothes and they were a perfect fit for him! I saw him drive off 6 days ago wearing my clothes and haven't heard from him since. O well, they looked better on him anyway!

We took the family and Leann on a mini vacation Thursday and Friday to see the Rain Forest and Culebra Island. The Twins and I are about to enter the Forest. Posted by Hello

Where the Rain Forest Rain Goes

Tina and the Twins at a water fall in the Rain Forest of El Yunque Mountain. It is about an hour hike round trip from the picnic area. Posted by Hello

Forest, Food and Fellowship

Here is Leann under a Breadfruit tree with Sarah and Kristin. Captain Blight went to Tahiti to bring these to the Caribbean. Tina makes a scalloped potato recipe using breadfruit. Yum! Later that day we stopped at a restaurant and had fried bananas and Calamari (squid) rings! Life can be quite an adventure on the mission field! Posted by Hello

Bleary Eyed Students and Distracted Church Members Tell Us Who is to Blame: Cell Phone and Text Messaging have Invaded Puerto Rico.

From the falling grades of some of our students, I find it very easy to believe this report I read in a Florida news paper:

"Study finds technology can lower IQ" - St. Petersburg Times

A study commissioned by Hewlett-Packard has found that excessive day-to-day use of technology - whether it's sending e-mails or using mobile phones - can be more distracting and harmful to the IQ than smoking marijuana. The study called this condition info-mania. The study, conducted in Britain this year, involved 80 volunteers who took part in clinical trials and interviews with 1,100 subjects. But the study said "an average worker's functioning IQ falls 10 points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails . . . more than double the 4-point drop seen following studies on the impact of smoking marijuana." The research found that 62 percent of adults are addicted to checking e-mail and text messages. Half of the workers would "respond to an e-mail immediately or within 60 minutes." One in five is "happy to interrupt a business or social meeting to respond to an e-mail or telephone message."
Add "Happy to run out to the church parking lot during the Sermon to answer the cell phone" and the article would describe what I see here in Puerto Rico. I have often wished that the Puerto Ricans would adopt some of our US customs. Well, they have! But they adopted the wrong one! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Water Pipes Burst and VBS here Tomorrow! Ackkk!

The UN-romantic part of being a missionary!

Some pipes in our bathroom were giving us problems today and finally burst, sending water spraying in every direction. I put my finger in the source of the fountain of water, like the little Dutch boy in the story, but with less success. I called for help. Leann came running and took my place. I ran for a pair of vise grip pliers and then ran down the street, trying to find the water turn-off for the house in the dark. I had to feel down a length of grass covered pipe to find it. I got the water turned off in about 5 minutes, but it was a pretty long five minutes for Leann, who was trying to hold back the flood. It is amazing how much water can come out of a pipe in 5 minutes!

We are hosting a VBS at our house tomorrow, but now our bathrooms don't work and all the stores are closed. I guess we will be up early tomorrow and up to our elbows in the bathroom plumbing before all the kids get here at 9am.

We will have to go back to hauling water and boiling it on the stove top for our baths and washing dishes tonight. Will the bathrooms be working when the kids get here? Will we be clean and cheerful when they come? I hope so! Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Good News and Long Days!

Three Puerto Rican men from our second largest city, Ponce, told us they feel God is calling them into the ministry! Not only that, but they have enrolled in our night-time Bible institute!

I teach discipleship classes Monday nights for those students who cannot attend during our regular classes. To train these new men, I plan to drive to Ponce Monday nights, about a two-hour drive. It will make for some long Mondays for me, as I will be teaching about three or four hours Mondays at Puerto Rico Baptist College during the day. Fortunately, the church in Ponce has a Prophets chamber (ie: small sleeping area) where I can spend Monday nights and return to Comerio Tuesday mornings.

The first class this fall semester is Greek! I have taught it in Spanish before, and even though it is really hard to teach Greek in Spanish, it has always been a blessing.

This week, Tinas' birthday, a youth activity Friday night, a Pastors' Fellowship Saturday evening, Fathers' day shopping for the church and a sermon to finish that night made for a couple of looong days!

We get tired, but it is a good kind of tired. We are happy serving the Lord here in Puerto Rico! Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Prayer Works!

Our prayers ascend to heaven's throne
Regardless of the form we use;
Our Father always hears His own
Regardless of the words we choose. -D. De Haan

We saw some prayers answered Thursday, one for our Puerto Rico Bible College and the other for our church.

A computer service gentleman from Pennsylvania sent us a gift of RAM chips so we could double the memory and speed up the computers available to the students for their college pojects. With 55 students enrolled, speeding up eight computers will make a big difference! Maybe they will get their homework in on time!

The chips came in the mail, but not the computer guy! I had to install them. I took our summer intern, Leann, to the college to help me. I showed her how to install the Ram on the first one and she did all the rest. Thanks Pennsylvania and thank you Leann! Leann is also helping us in the college library, and with a childrens camp this summer.

Wednesday afternoon, my deacon called and asked:

"Pastor, could I teach prayer meeting tonight? I just invited two of the young men we led to the Lord to prayer meeting and want to give them a discipleship lesson in church."

I said, "Amen!"

We led Victor and Fernando, both in their mid-twenties, to the Lord and we were discipling them in their homes. We invited them to prayer meeting before, but did not tie it in with the idea of a new believers discipleship class until last night. Well, they came! It was a precious sight having them in church for a mid-week service. We scheduled a Youth/College and Career outing for Friday night and they are going on that also. I must say, I feel encouraged about their progress.

Prayer works! Posted by Hello