Friday, December 25, 2009

Pictures of our new home

The move was a real grunt. We switched houses with the previous owners, so we could move in faster. But that meant we had to get everything moved and leave the house completely clean in one day. We never could have done it without the help of three hard working college students, Nancy, Christian, Bairo and Sarah's boyfriend Mario all of whom worked all day Monday.

We left our home clean but found a LOT to do in the new house. The house was all empty except for quite a bit of dust and grime.Tina said that she had heard of "Dust Bunnies" before, but she encountered a "Dust Monster" left under the bed by the previous owners. The first couple of days we lived among the boxes. The twins slept on mattresses on the floor until we got their bunk beds put together. The animals (two cats and a dog) made the trip fine and did not get lost. The cats helped by sleeping on the new boxes to mark where we had to unpack next.

The house came with some unexpected pluses. The owners left behind an installed video projector, some nice furniture, an above ground pool, and a 750 watt power generator for those days when the power goes out. We have a banana tree and some nice flowers in the back yard too. Very nice.

Christmas Eve came and we had our bathroom, living room and two bedrooms set up. We got a tree and Tina and the girls decorated it nice late last night on Christmas Eve.

Horray! We are celebrating Chistmas today, a bit worn out, but very happily from our new home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We are IN!

We are in our new house! We moved! What a day!

Two college guys, a high school student and a college girl helped us pack up two minivans and move all our furniture, boxes and odd things into our new house. After ten hours and many multiple trips, we called it a day. We were exhausted and treated the crew to a Taco Bell feast.

Tina gave me some Ibuprofen for my back, but besides a lot of sore muscles, I think we didn't suffer any major damage to anybody or anything.

Now for the fun of unpacking and trying to find the coffee...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Big Move is Underway!

We are living among and out of our moving boxes in our old house, waiting for the people in our new house to leave. They were having trouble doing this, so we offered to switch houses. They liked the idea. So today, we took the first load of boxes over to our new house. I got some help from some of our Bible college guys, to help them and to speed things along for us. We hope to finish up Monday, the 21.

I don't think the reality of owning a house has sunk in yet. But it does feel pretty good seeing those boxes finally move out the door.

Our new address is:

Steve & Tina Prelgovisk
33-15 CALLE 31
BAYAMON, PR 00961-4365

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Busy Week

Busy week: I graded about 300 student papers and got the progress reports done two days before they came out. We are preparing the house for a move. We hope to sign the closing papers on our new house this coming Friday.

I visit on the weekends with 3 college students and we also are re-starting our youth group, adding a Friday night meeting to our already full week. I am also preparing to teach a new Science class at Puerto Rico Baptist College. It will likely be a Chemistry class that I will teach in Spanish.

My doctor said I should walk an hour a day.

I am not complaining..MOST of it is a lot of fun, or at least exciting. But, I sure would appreciate your prayers for our stamina, energy and wisdom to know when to say no!

I am thinking there is a great deal of wisdom in the old Latino custom of the "Siesta." I believe I will practice some of that cultural wisdom as soon as I can.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Unexpected Fireworks: An Unplanned Revival, a Fire and an Explosions

Unexpected Fireworks: An Unplanned Revival, a Fire and some Explosions

The week started one of the highest points we have EVER had. It ended with a BANG. Literally!

The Unplanned Revival:

I invited a man I led to the Lord eight years ago, (and baptized, and helped through an Alcohol rehab program, discipled, participated in his wedding, and trained to help in church services, etc) to preach Sunday.

The word got out and many of his friends and relatives came to hear his “debut” as a preacher. Our regular attendance has been in the mid-twenties lately, but shot up to forty for this special day. Well, it was great, more than great. He (Miguel) told of how he lived before, how he met Christ and the difference it made in his life. There were a lot of tears.

He ended by saying, “I will now wait here for the next few moments for anyone who wants to make a decision like I did.” We waited for about two minutes in silence. THREE adults came forward, asking how to be saved! About six more came for prayer. One of the adults was the boyfriend of Miguel’s sister.

What a day! I had them sit in the front pew, opened a bible and showed them all how to accept Christ as their Savior AND THEY DID! After our prayers, we hugged (Puerto Rican style). Tears were running down their cheeks. Our church people were defiantly REVIVED. The drive home from church Sunday was filled with animated discussions and praising God for what happened.

The BEST PART of the whole day was that someone I led to the Lord and trained actually preached and won others to the Lord. And did it in our own church! Wohoo! Opps, I mean, “Amen!”

I was up late Thursday night, getting paperwork in order for a house we are trying to buy. I heard and felt a violent BOOM. I thought it was thunder. But it went off about six times and was so violent it felt like someone was shaking your body.

Tina came running out of the bedroom, “That can’t be thunder! What’s going on!”

We put on the radio, fired up the Internet and looked out the windows. We could see towers of flame and thick smoke. It looked like Mt Saint Helens going off. Everybody was calling everybody and guessing about terrorists, meteors, etc.

We got on Google maps and saw a gulf oil refinery tank farm about where the flames were coming from. Sure enough, that’s where it happened. About seven giant oil refinery tanks exploded in a chain reaction. Someone just told me it's up to seventeen now.

Last night five neighborhoods around our Christian school were evacuated for fear the toxic cloud might shift that way sometime today. They are letting it burn itself out. The fire is currently spewing out great cloud of smoke and will likely keep it up for two or three days more.

We are safe right now. But it is hard to plan or even sleep when a change in the wind direction might mean a mass evacuation. We are OK here for the time being, but we have to ready to leave on a seconds notice.

Please pray for us! We like the FIRST kind of fireworks , but the other kind, not so much!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Explosions, Fire & Smoke

Big bangs shattered windows. Pillars of fire and smoke last night came from giant gas tanks ( the kind bigger than houses) at a Gulf oil refinery exploding. Eleven tanks are in flames. There are 40 tanks in that tank farm, some with jet fuel, others supply the islands electrical system. They are just going to let it burn itself out.

Our school is canceled for today. Stay home kids. Everyone here is safe, we hope you are.

We might have to mass evacuate our neighborhood. The pillars of smoke from the oil refinery fire may descend to ground level during the cool of the night. We may just grab some blankets and food and head to the mountain to avoid the toxic smoke.

11:59PM Fri

Some of my students a few miles north of here were just evacuated to a hotel. We are waiting to see if the police come to our neighborhood. I am canceling visitation tomorrow, as everyone is uncertain about which roads are open, etc. We will try to keep the family together in one spot in case we have to move suddenly.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A better home for us...

The house we are trying to get is NOT the auction home we mentioned earlier. We found a better house.

We decided not to go for the auction house because it was too expensive and had some major possible problems (leaky roof, electrical and plumbing etc.) After looking at a few other houses we found one that is a lot nicer and at a better price.

It's a cute white house with a bright blue awning on the porch. The new house has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, great floors, four air conditioning units, ceiling fans, tons of windows for ventilation and natural lighting. It comes with a stainless steel fridge and washing machine. It has a nice landscaped yard with a small above ground pool and fruit trees. The house has been well maintained and has no repairs to make.

The location is ideal. It is on a quiet dead end street and it's a four minute walk from Tina’s work as a cook at the Bible College. The students can come over without us having to go get them in our car also.

It has some unusual extras. The owners are leaving behind a full house generator for when the electricity goes out (regularly), a solar water heater and a cistern. The large carport comes with a surprising feature. It has an outdoor theater projector installed and a 6x4 ft. screen near the back wall, perfect for college classes, church fellowships or just having your own semi-outdoor theater.

The only drawback is the small but very cute kitchen. But Tina says she does 90% of her cooking at the Bible College anyway. We only eat breakfast at home.

The price started at $166,000 a year ago and the buyer agreed to sell it to us for $152,000. We're hoping for a good interest rate from the bank. Our credit score is great. But the question is the down payment and closing costs. The more we put down, the less our monthly payments will be and it will make it easier to qualify for the better interest rate.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Help us get a house! Strategic Giving

We found a very nice home at a good price and are hoping to buy it. We just met the owners and of the house and their real estate agent. It is a lovely home and only a FOUR minute walk from our Bible College.

If you ever thought of helping us financially, now would be a very good time. Gifts received or money lent to us in the next few weeks would lower our monthly payments, and maybe even free us from paying mortgage insurance.

Please consider helping out a little (or a lot) extra right now. An extra gift this month could mean 30 years of saving every month.

Monday, October 12, 2009


This story reminds me of the sacrifices made by Military families:

Four-year old Paige didn't want to say goodbye to her daddy before he was shipped off to Iraq. Paige said later, "I didn't want to let go of him."

No one had the heart to pull her away.The commanding officer allowed Paige to say goodbye as her dad prepared to ship off from Fort Dix.

It is a touching story. Families go through this kind of pain because their loved ones go to war.

We Christians are in a great conflict also. We serve a different Commander-in-Chief, but the sacrifices are just as real. Please do not forget your missionaries, as we too have had to leave country and family behind to do our part.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Prayer Alert! Bargain House Opportunity!

House Auction

Last week Tina saw a public auction notice on this house two doors down from the house we are renting here in Bayamon. It has been empty for at least a year and a half after being repossessed by the bank. They tried to sell it for $178,000, then lowered it to $160,000 but still couldn't sell it. Now it's up for auction.

Tina has had her eye on this place ever since we moved here a year and a half ago, but it was always out of our price range. Is this auction an opportunity for us to get into home ownership? Or could it be a house that falls apart and costs you a fortune in repairs, like in the movies?

On the positive side, the house is huge for Puerto Rico (2,311 sq. ft.). It's really a house with two apartments in the back so it has five bedrooms and four bathrooms (3/2 in the main house, 2/1 in one apartment and 1/1 in the other). The two bedroom apartment is bigger than the house we are living in now! We could even rent out rooms to some of our college students or teachers.

We had no problem getting pre-approved for the home loan. What we need now is the $10,000 for the down payment. PLEASE PRAY that the Lord will show us if this is the right path for us and that the funds needed for the down payment will be provided.

The auction will be November 7th.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I think we really are making some good progress down here...

I think we really are making some good progress down here. We have:

Progress in our Church
We painted the church basement and are close to finishing up. Thank you, Alpine Baptist youth group and Pastor Scott Florida from Michigan. Now we are almost ready to move our small Sunday School down there. Now we can work on making our small Sunday School into a BIG Sunday school.

We are training 3 new students this year in our church. They doing visitation with us, teaching, helping with the music and doing a lot of the painting. They are: Jose Ivan, a Mexican from the San Fransico area; Laura, from the cloud-forests of Colombia; and Ashley, from Mexico.

Progress in Our College
I am taking our Christian education majors from Puerto Rico Baptist College in everyday to a Christian school for teaching experience. Tina is cooking for the college this year. We get free lunches! Yeah!

Progress in Our Family
Our 17 year old twin daughters are doing great in our revamped homeschooling. And our granddaughter is getting cuter every day. Our Oldest daughter Bethany is preparing for her Masters degree art show in Pensacola, and we will proudly attend.
They are good kids, getting smarter and better looking every day.

I think that is enough to make anybody feel like they are making some progress. It works for me!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Soul Winning Day"

Books and study are not everything!

It is important for the students at Puerto Rico Baptist College to have social outings, work projects and group activities that involve helping others. One of these activities provided by the college is called "Soul Winning Day."

All the students, plus our 17 year old twins, Sarah and Kristin, went and participated in this just a few days ago. They all got in the student van and went to a small church pastored by Rosendo, a young Mexican student I trained and who served as my assistant pastor for 2 years. There they passed out tracts and invited people to the church. It was a great experience for everyone. Sarah and Kristin had a great time, Rosendo's church got some help and the college kids got the satisfaction of helping a fellow student.

The picture is of another outing we had, but it gives you an idea of how full and how fun the van can get!

I confess, Sarah and Kristin's attitude toward all this was my main concern. I am happy my daughters enjoyed serving others and got a little appreciation for what their dad does during the week.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Cramming and Commuting

Early in the mornings and late in the afternoon, I fill my van with student teachers. I take a group of six of our Puerto Rico Baptist college kids to a Christian school so they can get experience teaching. It is a lot of fun to hear their excitement, eagerness and youthful kidding during our daily commute. It is a real trill to walk on that campus with students I have personally taught and see them go and teach others.

Saturdays, I take three of them to visit with me for our church. Sundays, the same three go with me to teach Sunday School, help with the song service or fill in where needed.

So our we keep our car busy hauling college kids all week long. We enjoy them when we they are with us. We are proud of them too. Great job guys! Keep up the good work!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Power Problems. What to do?

The electricity has been going out a lot lately. I don't mind getting out the candles and the Coleman lantern that much. It is kind of adventurous and reminds me of camping out.

What I DO mind is trying to work and sleep in Puerto Rican heat and humidity with no fans, no ice and no cold drinks. Sleeping in damp sheets is no fun. One or to days of this is tolerable. But once we we without electricity for AN ENTIRE MONTH.

We are thinking of getting a power generator, but they run around $800. I guess we will just have to sweat it out and be philosophical about it.

We are thinking of getting some sort of emergency food supply for those long power outages. I came across "Canned Bacon" the other day, but I think we will just stick with extra tuna fish cans for the time being.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Near miss by Hurricane Bill and Storm Ana

Thank you to those of you who prayed for us and expressed concern about the approach of TROPICAL STORM ANA and HURRICANE BILL. Just a few days ago, the weather forecast had them heading straight for Puerto Rico.

We felt like the number one pin in the bowling alley watching these big monsters rolling towards us. But little by little, like bowling balls that curve away just inches before a strike, these storms veered away; ANA to the south and BILL to the north.

The good news is, they missed us. Hurray! The bad news is, many people had to prepare for the storms they didn't know were going to miss us. So, we missed some key people Sunday. But we got through the week, thankful for being spared a very nasty encounter with HURRICANE BILL.

It has been very hot here lately. The heat index (opposite the "wind chill" index) has been 100 or more almost all week. It seems odd that at night, when the temperature drops to 75-80, we feel cool.

We keep working, visiting, teaching and preaching. Tina is cooking in a hot kitchen at Puerto Rico Baptist College during the day. We try to find ways to keep cool. But we are happy in our work and feel blessed. We are content to sweat a little to get the job done here in Puerto Rico.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Unexpected Interuptions

Saturday evening, the weather charts had THREE hurricane/storms heading directly for Puerto Rico. A lot of panic ensued and a good number of people in our church stayed home to prepare.

Even though we had low attendence today, there was a good spirit in the service. The non-Christian brother of a member came and seemed to enjoy the service.

The funeral home down the block had a large funeral at the same time as our service and their music blasted over some big speakers for the entire neighborhood to hear. It was tough singing in competition with that, so we just had one song and went right into the sermon.

The people hung around for about an hour after the service and we enjoyed fellowship with them all.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hurricanes on the way

Three storms looking to become hurricanes are in the North Atlantic. Ana, Bill and an unnamed one. Already I am getting calls of people not coming to church to prepare for a possible hit.

Ana looks like it will hit us head on.

Bill looks like it might just miss us to the North, but it could be trouble if it hits us.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Working with what we have...

Visiting people on an island suggests the idea and usefulness of a boat. But our island is so big (35 x 113 miles: Population 4 Million) that there is enough for us to do without visiting the more inaccessible places by boat.

We use what we have, but could use better equipment to extend our ministry.

We are happy, for example, to work with 3x5 cards and rubberbands. But being supplied with some better technology, such as an Iphone account and phone, wouldn't hurt either

The better equipped we are, the better we can serve. It can be fun being creative, but there is a lot to said for doing a quality job with the right kind of tools.

Is one more bite of ice cream really worth all this?

I just got some lab results back from my physical exam. For the most part, they look pretty good. The doctor said the EKG was perfect, BUT the blood sugar test result suggests I may be heading for the "pre-diabetic" zone, if I don't make some changes.

I like change and challenges, but...I also like those Reese's Peanut Butter Cups as well. I guess I will have to develop some new habits. We have already begun making some new patterns. Tina and I are walking more and plan to add more walks to our schedules every week.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prov 3:25 Be not afraid of sudden fear...

I had some great news and some potentially bad news today.

The great news:

1. I spoke with a 16 year old young man named Peter today for about an hour in his home. He shared some of his problems and I shared some of my life experience and we read together what the Bible said about it all.

After reading a number of scriptures, Peter asked to accept Christ as his Savior. We prayed and he did! Peter then said he would be in church Sunday and offered to help as needed in our church.

2. There is an unemployed college age young lady named Michelle in our church that needs some financial help. I needed help advertising our upcoming VBS. I thought, well, maybe we can help each other. She came by the church today with her mother and I offered her the job of passing out advertisements 3 hours a day for the VBS.

She said "Yes."

When I left town a few hours later, I saw her and her boyfriend going door to door passing out the pamphlets. It encouraged me to see them helping us by "walking the walk" and not just "talking the talk."

The Bad news.

Peter's mother came home just after I prayed with him and told me that she had a bad day at work. She works with the Health dept and said there was a Swine Flue panic in town today. She said 300 people came in all at once for help, shots or information. Apparently, a women who works at a local restaurant might have got it, so all the town was in an uproar. Two people just died of this recently here, so they were pretty exited about it.

I was suddenly afraid how this might affect us. I thought, "Well maybe this will hurt our VBS." But then I remembered that God has asked us to sow and to serve, it is His job to grant the increase. Some other scripture came to mind: Prov 3:25 "Be not afraid of sudden fear..."

So...should we rejoice or worry? I think we should do the following:

We will visit and enable others to visit. We will prepare as well as we can. We also will come with paint, sandpaper and brushes. If the kids come, we will have a great VBS. If they don't, well, we already have seen results in our visitation and will get out those paint cans and make something happen for the good of the church one way or another.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I would love to come & help...exept for the heat and humidity.

We get a lot of questions about the heat and humidity. Here is a little Q&A on this popular topic.

Q: Is it hard to work in the tropical heat and humidity of the Caribbean?

A. Well, living in the heat of the tropics in a concrete house can really sap your energy. But we have found ways to get the job done, regardless.

Q: Why not just use air-conditioning?

A: I wish we could. But in Puerto Rico, all the electricity comes from gas fed turbine generators, and is VERY expensive. One small room air conditioner all the time can raise the electric bill $200 a month. At our current support level, the cost of cooling the house is just too much

Q: How do you cope with the heat then?

A: We do have some strategies to keep tolerably cool. We have lots of fans and two small air conditioners for the bedrooms. When the heat and humidity get really unbearable, Tina goes into the smallest bedroom, sets the air conditioner to about 78, puts the Algebra books on the bed and homeschools Sarah and Krisitn in there.

We drink a lot of ice filled drinks. I mix diet Sprite and grapefruit juice or get some Crystal Lite Ice Tea mixes. Peach Tea and Green Tea/Mango are my favorites.

Some days it is too hot to study at home, so we might go to the food court of a mall for a break in the heat of the afternoon and study or do things there.

Keeping things dry is a challenge. Many things, like flour or pancake mix go into the frig so the heat and moisture won't hatch out weevils.

Q: Is it always so hot?

A: No, usually it is plenty warm here, but there are a few month where we begin thinking of the beach or some games involving water. When it gets REALLY hot, games like this begin sounding like a good idea.

Here is a game I learned from our camp councilors:

Water Balloon Relay:

Fill a kiddie pool with water and different color water balloons. Put an empy can under a plastic chair with slats in it.

1. Bob for a water balloon.
2. Run to a chair.
3. Sit on water balloon
4. Run back and tag a team member
4. Continue until one team fills the can and wins the relay.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Sweet Fellowship for a Sweet 4th of July

We are hosting a BBQ for the 4th of July for a few fellow church planters and some Puerto Rican pastors.

We do something like this once a month to encourage new pastors. But I think we get as much or more out of it than they do. When things get discouraging in a new work, there is nothing like hearing good reports regarding a church that was planted from a pastor whom we helped succeed.

But meetings like this also mean cleaning the bbq grill, spring cleaning the house, painting, decorating and yard work. Between visitation, VBS and fellowship preparations, we are getting quite a workout. I guess I shouldn't complain. At least being active in the ministry saves us the cost of a Gym membership!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

You never know what you might end up doing in a day...

Usually I preach Sundays and know what to expect. Today was different.

This Sunday, I gave one of our deacons an opportunity to preach in the morning service. I thought I would sit and enjoy his sermon. Before he began, my wife Tina called me aside.

She said, "There are a few small kids in church today. How about you telling them a story during Wilfredos' sermon?"

I felt a pang of nervousness, because although I am bilingual, I usually go to church well prepared to speak in Spanish. I thought I would keep it simple, so I took the kids over to a table in the back of the church and thought to get out some coloring books and chat with them.

A little girl named Joyce looked at me and said, "Pastor, I don't want to color! We want you to tell us a story!"

Well, how can you argue with that? I took an illustrated Bible and told them the story of Creation all the way to the Tower of Babel. I had a story book on Naaman being healed by Elijah. They smiled and nodded their heads all the way through the lesson time. I really enjoyed their interest and smiles.

After that, I thought to have a time of fellowship and a snack with our people. But just then, I got a phone call from a member who lives close to the church, a Mr. Soto.

Mr. Soto said, "Pastor I am in pain...come to my house."

I told Tina to inform the church and I just ran over, thinking he might be in trouble. He was OK, but in pain from a tumor that is to be removed tomorrow. He wanted his pastor to pray with him. I stayed and prayed and comforted him.

I came back and almost everyone had left...and had eaten all the sandwiches! Before leaving, I opened some mail and found a bill for over $200 for water. That is ridiculously high down here. So my deacon Luis and I looked for, found and uncovered the water meter outside the church. I read him the meter numbers and he wrote them down. We plan to check the numbers again Wednesday night to see if they change. If so, then we know we have a leak somewhere.

So..from a surprise lesson, to a surprise phone call, visit and prayer time, to a surprise water/financial emergency...all goes to show that you just never know what you will face in a day, when you are in the ministry! But, in each situation, we found that we had or were given what was needed to succeed. Amen!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Just finished teaching Summer School for two weeks..and now for our vacation.

We are painting the eaves, moving furniture, redoing the yard, visiting shut-ins, and generally catching up... I guess we are taking, not a "vacation" but a "staycation" where we stay put and regroup for next months VBS, mission team arrvial and further ministries.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Big Plans for the Summer...

By faith we are making some big plan for this Summer..

Pastor Scott Florida from Michigan is bringing about 15 members of his youth group to help us down here in Puerto Rico. We hope to keep them all busy doing things that will enhance the work of missions here and will give the youth group an enthusiasm for missions that can be caught by others back home.

We have in mind: Painting the church, sanding and painting the fencing and protective iron work around the church and our Bible college, visiting an orphanage, holding a "Super-Saturday" one day VBS blitz, taking them out to pass out tracts and of course, visiting a beach, eating some Puerto Rican favorite food, seeing some sights and doing some shopping in Old San Juan.

One thing I like about visitors is that it gives us an excuse to have some fun down here! We sometimes go years without visiting a beach, etc.. So it is fun for us to revisit and show others some of the neat things on our mission field.

We are looking forward to a great time of ministry this Summer.

Please pray it will be so!

(Jas 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ALMOST everybody is happy...

I will be giving final exams for the next two days. Most of the students are happy with their grades...but for the rest, well at least it's Summer, so take a break and better luck next year.

I took the twins to the Mall today, just for some family time together, so they could have a break from homeschooling.

Tina should be coming back in a week. That will make it a month she has been gone. Her absence sure has been felt in our church, the college cafeteria and in our home.

Hurry on home Honey! We all miss you.

PS. Here is a song about a man missing his wife that I like, sung by a very talented street musician:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Mother's Day in Puerto Rico too.

We had a good Mother's day today in our missionary church up in the mountain region. What really pleased me is that everybody did a little something and that it all came together for a great Sunday.

Our Deacons' brother, Manuel, has been attending for about 2 months now, and he surprised me by showing up with a strawberry cheese cake and a box of red roses. He said, "This is something I got for the mothers of the church today." He brought a boom box and a CD of Mothers' day songs that was actually good and was pleased when we thanked him for contributing something to make the day more special for everyone.

A college girl brought an acrostic poem that spelled "Madre" and we read it during our announcement time. Her older sister bought the gifts for me. We called on kids to come and pass them out to the mothers. A woman and her two adult daughters decorated the church. Another family brought rice, beans and turkey for a luncheon. Almost everyone got to do something. It made for a good service and a lot of good feelings.

Hannibal Smith of the old "A Team" series used to say: "I love it when a plan comes together." I agree. But it is even better when we have a day when the church members make the plans and it all works out. Today was one of those good days.

PS. My mother passed away and Tina is still in Florida with our new grand-daughter, so Mother's Day in our home today is pretty low key. I did enjoy listening some Mom's day humour: here is a video of all the advice your Mother gives you in a day condensed to 2 min. 55 seconds and sung to the "William Tell Overture"

Friday, May 08, 2009

Final Exam Week. Are We Having Fun Yet?

School: Final Exam week.

Students may think I am mean, but they leave and I have to grade all of those papers! I am REALLY looking forward to the end of this school year. Then all I have to do is church planting, evangelism, mission team coordinating, Vacation Bible School...well, at least we will have some variety, if not a vacation this summer.

Church: Mothers Day

I am planning Mother's Day for our church, but without Tina here, it is challenging. It is dangerous to send a man on a mission to buy gifts for ladies. Believing this, I delegated the gift buying to a woman in our church. We are having a small catered luncheon, so the ladies won't have to pretend they like what the men make for them. Sometimes days like these do more for our church growth than our door to door visiting, so please pray all will go well.

Planning activities like this reminds me of Pascal's Prayer: “Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with Your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in Your name.”

Family: Anniversary

It's our 26th Anniversary! BUT...Tina is not here! Come home soon! I love her so much. Besides, I can't find my other sock!

PS: We did talk on the phone. I sent her some Chocolate Covered Strawberries and we shared some videos like this one.

Warning: May contain Sunlight and Sweetness.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

No Swine Flu in Puerto Rico, but...

Dear People Who Plan on Visiting Us in Puerto Rico this Year,

There are NO cases of Swine Flu here. Puerto Rico is a lot further from Mexico than most of the US.

However, don't get overconfident, please take SOME precautions. Pack some Mosquito Repellent, Sun Tan lotion and whatever you usually need.

If you forget something, don't panic. We have WalMart, Walgreens and most of the other US type stores and we use the US dollar, so you can get what you need here.

Looking Forward to Your Visit,

Pastor Steve

Saturday, May 02, 2009

New Arrival

Our Big News

Our big news! We are grandparents!

HANNAH FAITH KENNEDY was born at 8:35am in Pensacola, FL.

She is 7 lb. 2.8 oz and has long black hair. Mother Rachel and new Grandma Tina doing fine.

Friday, May 01, 2009

This Little Light of Mine...

This frog just tried to eat a lightning bug, like he was supposed to do. He followed the light, partook and felt a nice warm glow inside. Maybe it is a deep spiritual metaphor, or maybe it just means people leave their Christmas lights out way too long!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No Guts, No Glory

What does it take to succeed as a missionary in Puerto Rico? I would like to say it is intellegence and skill. But mostly it is getting outside and meeting new people.

It can be pretty scary sometimes to just walk up to someone and share the gospel, especially when you anticipate a negative response. But if you don't have the guts, they won't get to glory!

I was inspired by the nerve of some street musicians, who risk (and get) ridicule, but keep at it. My favorite is Grandpa Elliot. It just goes to show you, that even an old guy can get a message across, if he has the guts to do it.

PS. Our anniversary is coming up (May 7th). Grandpa Elliot and other street musicians do a great version of "Stand by Me" a favorite song of Tina and I when we were dating.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Six countries for lunch

We don't have to go far to have a missions conference at our Bible college. Here are five of my students having a little informal fellowship. These five come from five different countries. Add a teacher from the USA and we can have a mini-missions conference every time we have coffee together!

These are just 5 of the 40 or so students we have this semester. They are great guys and give us hope for the future of missions. The future looks bright with quality students like these in our classes.

Please pray for them. They need about $500 a month for room, board, books and tuition. This is a bargain by today's standards, but still pretty steep for many of them.

From left to right:

Ricardo - St Lucia. Trilingual. Christian ed major, talented cook.
Goal: Christian business man. Hopes to have a 5 star restaurant

Dave - Born in Paraguay, raised in Nebraska. Great at personal evangelism. Mechanic also.
Goal: Missions

- Colombia. Talented preacher.
Goal: Missions

Roque - Puerto Rico. Father is a pastor and licensed psychologist.
Goal: Christian School teacher.

Irving - Born in Peru, raised in Spain.
Goal: Pastoral training AND Secondary Education. Great with Youth groups.

Monday, April 06, 2009

College Kids Having Fun

College kids are under a lot of stress, so it's nice to have some fun once in a while. We have a couple of "crazy days" during the year to help them have that fun. We had an "Animal day" and a "Super Hero" dress up day this last school year.

The kids loved it and it really boosted their morale. The French call it "Esprit de corps," but we just call it "cheering up the students." Whatever you call it, even Bible college kids need some fun once in a while! I'm glad they had a good time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Odd Compliment

This week has been busy. It started with a funeral and sharing the Gospel with some people and ended with a field trip with my daughters. In between, I taught at our Bible College, taught some High School, and wrote a sermon. I also did the glamorous missionary work of picking beer bottles and trash out of the churches' flower bed, all the while being careful to not to encounter hypodermic needles that are found all to often on the ground.

Today, Sunday, I preached about Christ being with us in our ordinary days. After the service I went to shake hands with a church member and he said, "Hey, give me a hug. That was a great sermon!" I usually don't expect an after sermon hug, so that was a new one for me.

On the way home my wife said, "I only got 3 hours sleep last night because of a sewing project. But your sermon was so interesting, it woke me up and kept me awake all the way to the end!"

Well, if you get hugs and can keep your wife awake during your sermon, that means you had a good day. They come by once in a while. I'm sure glad they do.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting More Then Expected

We had a good service Sunday. Among the 31 people in the service were a couple I had been visiting for years and finally came. Not only that, they came back for the next service. When I introduced the couple to the congregation, they spoke up and said they planned on being with us on a regular basis!

There was a surprise waiting for me after the service. One of our lady members asked to speak to me after the church service. She is an older woman who cleans the church Saturdays, and recently we decided to give her some financial help. I expected her to talk to me about some financial need. Instead she gave me something.

She said, "You were with my father when he died. I found this when I was cleaning out his things. I would like you to have it." She handed me a small guitar case. Inside was a Puerto Rican Cuatro, an island instrument that is like a cross between a guitar and a mandolin.

I was stunned. I have wanted one of these unusual instruments for years, but could never afford one. And here was a woman we were helping, who in turn gave a totally unexpected gift. I went home smiling that Sunday!

Working and seeing results is great. But getting a nice surprise once in a while isn't bad either!

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Half of the Orange

In Spanish "my better half" is expressed by "Mi media naranja" or "my other half of the orange." It sounds odd, but oranges are sweet, nice looking, smell good and people squeeze them...I probably should stop here.

My "media naranja" Tina is really doing wonders at keeping things going down here in Puerto Rico. I am able to work as a church planter and teacher because she works to keep our home, cooks at our Bible college, plays piano and clarinet in the church, all while homeschooling our two daughters and taking care of me.

Wow. How does she do it? Maybe it's all that chocolate I keep in the refrigerator. Whatever it is, she is doing it and do it all well.

BUT she is going to go to Pensacola, Florida for FOUR weeks to be with our daughter Rachel when our first grand-baby arrives, about the first week of May. I am happy she can go and enjoy this time, but permit me to feel a little sorry for myself thinking of a month missing that important half.

In the meantime, we will be preparing for a visiting team of teens from Alpine Baptist Church so I will have that, Tina's return and grand baby pictures to look forward to! OK I feel better now!

Please pray for Rachel's delivery, expenses, Tina's trip, and the expanding ministry here in the months ahead.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tina Cornered by Charging Iguana!

My wife Tina was in the kitchen at the college preparing a meal while the students were in chapel. A good sized iguana lizard, about 4 feet long, chose that moment to wander onto our small Bible college campus. When chapel was over, the students headed to the cafeteria for lunch and scared the iguana. It ran into the kitchen, straight towards Tina, cornering her by the sink.

Terrified, she ran out of the kitchen screaming. She had to run toward the charging iguana, to reach the only exit. The students came in and some tried to catch it. The iguana scrambled behind the stove and up onto the pots and pans shelf, rattling and banging them around as it tried to hide itself.

The surprises were not over yet! Some of our tough looking guys were standing on chairs. One of my female students came in calmly and got a sports jacket from someone and headed over to the kitchen. This girl is about 5 feet even, if that. She is so quiet that after a semester teaching her, I am not sure what her voice sounds like. This same girl threw the coat over this hideous, sharp clawed, spiney-backed, whip-tailed thing and carried it outside like it was nothing!

You know, you think you know about people, but you just never know!

Well, everybody had a good laugh and Tina got back into the kitchen and we got the kids fed. We considered adding Iguana to the menu (Puerto Ricans have been known to barbeque the tails) but Tina said we had had enough iguana for one day and had to draw the line somewhere!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Preacher gets on a bus...

A friend sent me this story. It tells a great truth about being successful in working for Christ:

A preacher from out-of-state went to a church in Houston, Texas to begin a new ministry. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, 'You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.'

Then he thought, 'Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet.'

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, 'Here, you gave me too much change.'

The driver, with a smile, replied, 'Aren't you the new preacher in town?'

'Yes" he replied.

'Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday.'

When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, 'Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.'

I think this is a scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! It makes me fear that personal failings will hurt our work as missionaries.

On the other hand, there is a great flip-side. When we pass tests like this, allowing God to change us, God may work through us to bring about change in others, their communities and their churches.

The story suggests there is a "Win-Win" strategy for evangelism. It might be summed up in a slogan like: Building Better Churches by Becoming Better Christians.

Let's try it and see if it works!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Non-Suicide Surprise

I was preaching Sunday and saw a man lingering around the front door of the church with a big smile on his face. I recognized him as Mike, a man who I had helped 3 years ago when he was struggling and in danger of committing suicide. I had invited Mike to church, he promised he would someday, but never did.

I motioned for him to enter and he came in. Mike said, "Pastor, Today I am keeping my promise." I stopped my sermon and introduced Mike to the church. After the service, we had a time of food and fellowship and spoke to Mike. He had a church bible under his arm and said, "The Bible really is interesting, isn't it? I would like to learn more about it." I knew Mike was raised in New York and could read in English better, so I took him aside and gave him an English bible and a mini-course on how and were to start reading.

Mike left the church Sunday with a bible tucked under his arm and a big smile on his face. It was encouraging to see the visitation we did three years ago made for positive and surprising results so many years down the road. It encouraged me to see our efforts in the past were not wasted, but continue working changes in the lives of others while we were unawares. It also makes us hopeful that other good things are on their way right now!

That smile Mike has on his face was contagious. I saw that it spread around our church. I still have mine!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Big Change in 2009?

I found a great picture of a totally destroyed Dog Training Video Program that had been given as Christmas present to a dog owner whose dog obviously needs it. It made me wonder if the dog said to himself, "I am NOT going to be trained! No! No changes for me this year!"

I hope we deal with change better than that. We might have to. We saw a sign, literally, a sign, that may mean a change for us this year.

Last Sunday, a lady in our church said, Hey! Look! There is a "For Sale" sign on the church!

I went out and looked. I saw a sign on the left front corner and then saw another on the top right corner. We learned that the owner had some reverses and hopes to sell soon.I prayed for a sign from the Lord regarding our church this year. I got two!

We talked about this with our church members and the conversations more or less said one or the other of the following:

A. Better to jump than be pushed. Let's find a place and leave when we can instead of when we have to. Who is going to come to a church that has a "For Sale" sign on it!

B. We have a good deal here. They might not ever sell this place. And if they do, we can save money till then and have enough to get a better place.

Please pray with us. We see the wisdom of moving but the banks want a 20% down payment for property down here in Puerto Rico and our church has eight thousand in the bank. We would need twenty thousand for a down payment on a moderate home we might be able to make into Church later. There is a great ex-tavern that we would love to get, but it is $500K. It seems way out of our reach.

We have faith, but Jesus said that a builder should also make sure there is enough to finish the job before he starts. (Luke 14:28). We will keep checking to see how much help comes in. Maybe help is on the way right now.

So...Change or stay the same? We may have to graciously deal with a big change this year, ready or not. We hope we will found ready.

Luk 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Family time

One hard part of being a missionary is being far away from family. Our newly married daughters, Bethany and Rachel cheered us up a lot by bringing their new husbands, brothers Abe and Max Kennedy to spend Christmas and part of the New Year with us down here in Puerto Rico.

We went to church together, then took the ferry to Old San Juan and later hiked in the rain forest, but mostly we played board games, ate Christmas cookies, watched old movies, ate more Christmas cookies, opened presents and played with them (we made a video of our dog Cookie with a new camera) , and then had some more Christmas cookies.

The kids have flown back to Pensacola, Florida and we are now eating Grapefruit, but it was fun while it lasted!