Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas in San Diego and Los Angeles

We had a great a week visiting between San Diego and Los Angeles seeing family this Christmas season. We received gift passes to see the famous San Diego Zoo, thanks to my sister Kris, and were treated to a tour and a train ride by my dad and his wife Susan.

We are now at my sister Danas’ house in East Los Angeles till Saturday. We enjoy all the good Mexican food and feel like we are in Puerto Rico when staying here.

Saturday, New Years’ Eve, we will travel to Porterville, about 3 hours north of Los Angeles. Sunday, we will be speaking (Lord willing) at:

Henderson Avenue Baptist Church, habc@ocsnet.net1876 West Henderson, Porterville, CA 93257 , Phone: 559.781.9358

Please pray for our safe arrival and that we might be a blessing to the churches we visit as we work our way up to Tacoma, Washington

A Funeral for Grandma

My grandmother, Margaret Long of Cleveland, passed away last week. She was 94 years old. We were not able to attend the funeral, but my brother and sister stood in for us. Grandma was from an immigrant family from Yugoslavia, spoke a good number of languages, was a great cook, helped the poor and bed ridden in her community and loved us very much. We will be in the Cleveland area in about 3 months and hope to see our extended family then.

Friday, December 23, 2005

They're Back!

Bethany and Rachel flew in from Pensacola Christian College Monday! I have a sister who works at Disney Travel and she got us all free guest passes for Disney and California Adventure. We are living out of suitcases with family down here in Los Angeles area and having a great reunion with everyone. Having family all together again is the best Christmas present we could have hoped for! We are visiting my father in the San Diego area this week. We also were treated to the San Diego zoo yesterday! We appreciate the generosity of family and friends that are working well this week to give us a very special time together. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 19, 2005

Missionary Road trip: From Long Beach, CA to Carpinteria and Oakview, CA

Tina, the Twins and I packed up Saturday and drove about 3 hours to the home of Steve and Kathy Button. Steve is the Pastor of the Carpinteria Valley Baptist church of Carpinetria, California. Tina and I had met Steve and Kathy when they lived in Martinez, CA. Once we even spent almost three weeks with them during our deputation travels many years ago. They graciously received us into their home and we enjoyed all the catching up kind of conversations we had with them. The church had a nice projection system and even a remote control device, so I was able to give our PowerPoint presentation without sitting at the computer. It was the first time we gave our presentation and put out our display, so I was a bit nervous about it, but all seemed to go well. We met a lot of friendly people and were encouraged by their generosity and good will.

Sunday afternoon we relaxed at Steve and Kathy’s house and then prepared to go to Oakview, a town near Ojai, about 15-30 min from Carpinteria. Just before we were to go, we found out that the Oakview church was having problems with their projector. Steve graciously offered to lend us their own personal projector for the day, so thanks to him we were able to give a slide show of our missionary experiences in the church at Oakview Sunday night.

The Oakview church proved very friendly and we were remembered by a good number of the people. Pastor Linn Carothers and I have some things in common (country churches, college professors, etc) and I enjoyed the time we had together, but wish we had more time to get to know each other better. That night we gave our presentation and were asked to give our testimonies, explain our call to the mission filed and share our vision for our future ministry. We had a good Q&A time as well, so the service went overtime, but everyone seemed happy and hung around for an after church fellowship. We were invited to a spaghetti dinner at the pastor's home after church and had a chance to speak to a group of teenagers that were there. When they found out that our daughters Bethany and Rachel are going to Pensacola Christian College, there was a lot of interest among the teens about why we picked that school and what was it like. We challenged the teens to consider going to a Bible College and missions as a possible life path.

The roads were clear late Sunday, so we were able to return to Long Beach in just 2 hours.

Bethany and Rachel are flying in from college to be with us Monday at 9 PM! It has been a LONG time since we have seen them! God is good and we are experiencing many blessings by meeting many good people and being able to enjoy some precious family fellowship.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Made it!

Friend, church member and shade tree mechanic Miguel assembled our car and gave us a ride in it to the airport, and we made it on time! I had my doubts if that thing would ever run again! It was a real grunt getting ready for this trip. The flu knocked me for a loop and took about 4 days out of my preparations for visiting the States. In spite of being sick, I managed to write a final, give it and get in all the grades Friday, leave Saturday and get into Los Angeles, California about 10pm. We visited with family till about 12 midnight, but because of jet lag, it was 4 AM to our tired bodies.

Just before we left, we got our first cell phone. Our number is: (787) 702-8790

The first order of business upon arrival was to buy a car. I learned how to use Kelly Blue book ( online to price and locate the cars. Then I learned how to use to get vehicle history reports on them. We narrowed in on a 1999 Honda Odyssey 7 passenger mini-van and were able to buy it. It cost $9,900, but with extended warrantee, tax, license, etc it ran about $12,000. We plan on driving it till the end of May and then leaving it for our college age daughters to use but available for us. The idea is that, instead of renting, we will have a car somewhere that we can pick up and use whenever we return to the States for meetings.

Today I hope to finish our Power Point presentation. This is my first one, and I am working with a lot of interruptions, but hopefully we will finish it before we need to show it this Sunday morning!

We will be driving to Carpinteria, California, about 3 hours North of where we are in Los Angeles (Long Beach) for a meeting here:

Carpinteria Valley Baptist Church
800 Maple Ave., Carpinteria, CA 93013
Pastor: Stephen R. Button
Phone: (805) 684-5014

Tina came down with a cold yesterday. Please pray for our health, energy, wisdom and opportunities for us to promote missions. Merry Almost Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I Think I’m Winning…But They Keep Moving the Finishing Line!

I preached my last sermon, taught our last Bible study and went on visitation one last time this week, so I ought to be ready to leave Puerto Rico tomorrow at 3:20 PM. I spent a LOT of hours grading Bible college final exams because of a record number of students (22) taking my classes this year. I just called in the grades, so I’m finished at the school too! Hurray!

Just a few days ago a gentleman gave me a call. He wants to study Greek with me in the Spanish language, but cannot leave his work to study with us during the day. So we have begun a personal course between us. I have taught the course in lecture format before, but this time I am going to teach it by use of a Wiki (a kind of a web page), audio and video clips and email. Once we get through the class, we ought to have a nice set up for others who want to study but cannot attend regular classes. In a way, it is forcing me to take another step closer to a vision I have for our ministry: creating an online seminary in the Caribbean to help train our people.

I got news this week that I have been accepted into a Doctoral degree program. The program was set up by a network of Bible colleges and Seminaries in India, who have many students who cannot leave their jobs to attend. The resulting structure is a perfect set up for people in my situation, and most of the program can be completed online. By going through a program like this myself first, I hope to pave the way and replicate on our field the good things others have created on theirs. By God’s good grace, I hope to study and do a lot of the work on the road between our scheduled meetings.

Sometimes it is hard to know when you are finished! I do not think we will ever be finished, but I do think if we keep in the race, we will find that we are on the winning side!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Up, Down, Up but Moving Forward!

With only a week to go before we leave for the States, our schedule was quite full and exciting. It even became more exciting when I fell ill with the flu! It basically knocked me for a loop for about 4 days.

At first, I just thought I was getting tired. I had to help about 22 of my students prepare for the final exams, so I dragged myself down to the college, taught, took a nap during chapel and then taught some more and came home and went straight to bed. Then the chills and fever came. Fortunately, I had planned ahead a bit and scheduled our deacon Wilfredo to preach that Sunday. It was my last Sunday AND my 51st birthday, so even though I was still wiped out, I went so I would not loose my last opportunity to encourage our people before our departure. I am over the fever part, and recovering, but still shy of the 100% rebound I was hoping for by now.

I will miss our church here. The people have become our friends and the simple pleasures of life on the mission field will be missed during our 5 month absence.

We will leave Puerto Rico (Lord willing) at 3:20 PM this Saturday and about 9 flight hours later be in Los Angeles. Please pray that I can make a rapid rebound from my battle with the flu, and we can all arrive in peace and safety.