Dear Prayer Partners,
Happy New Year (belated) and we sure hope that this email finds you
doing very well. We are back in the throes of our normal schedule (since
school started back again last week after a nice two-and-a-half week
break). Christmas holidays in the tropics is something that I find
difficult adjusting to. The daily temps are in the 80's and it is either
sunny or rainy--take your pick. After 30-some years of having a white
Christmas (or near-white), it is hard to get into the spirit of things
due to the summer-like atmosphere. We did have an enjoyable Christmas
however, and we hope that you had a memorable one too.
I must apologize, since my last update was around Thanksgiving. I'm
either getting slack or time is just whooshing by. I think that happens
due to old age. Lately, we have been busy--busy enjoying our break.
As the majority of the teaching staff headed for the states for the
holidays, Patricia and I took the time to just slow down, unwind, and
relax. AND IT FELT GOOD. Although we are not as hurried here as we were in
the states, we do find ourselves more busy this year than we were last
year. Since the time that I last wrote, I was busy overseeing the art
direction for the school Christmas play. Of course it was a huge hit.
This year's play was an adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Christmas
Carol". I directed the students in making the backgrounds and the props,
and I also did the stage make-up. It was a blast.
During the holidays, we had Christmas Eve brunch with a missionary
family along with the few other teachers that decided to stay in Suriname.
On Christmas Day, we had a lovely dinner with another missionary
family. Of course Suriname turns into a 'war-zone' during the 48 hours of
New Years. People go bonkers with fireworks here. It's insane really,
but Patricia seems to really enjoy it. Even Doby seemed to enjoy this
year's fireworks display through his sedative-induced haze.
Ah, football. As I write you now, I'm trying to overcome my
disappointment with the NY Jets heartbreak loss to those evil Oakland Raiders.
You see, my one vice is football. I have burnt my Cleveland Browns
hats, and ripped up my Randy Moss jerseys, because this is (was) the year
of Chad Pennington. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to Jets
football via the internet since Chad has taken over the helm. For those of
you who could care less about football, keep reading--I'm going to make a
point. You see, Chad is a hero. He graduated from my Alma Mater,
Marshall University (Randy Moss just ATTENDED there for 2 years). Chad was
a hero on the grid iron in Huntington and a Heisman Trophy Finalist .
Chad is also a brother in Christ, for he was very involved with FCA.
Chad warmed the bench in NY/NJ for over two years in spite of being the
number one draft choice for the Jets and the first quarterback drafted
in 2000. Marshall fans knew what caliber of player Chad was. Now it
was New York's turn. After a dismal 1-3 start (the Jets worst slump in
40 seasons), the Jets benched veteran QB Vinnie Testaverde for Chad
Pennington. Through the following weeks, Jets fans learned what Marshall
fans have always known--the kid is awesome. Chad turned their season
around, received praises from Joe Namath, was compared to Joe Montana,
had the highest QB rating in the NFL, there's talk of a Superbowl
Championship, and New York was ecstatic...but everyone knows how fickle New
York fans are. Chad gets to the second play-off game and....the Jets
choke. Chad's a hero....but one with clay feet. Chad is human. People
get disappointed when humans fail; but guess what? God NEVER fails.
All of NY turned to Chad as the savior, but their sites fell short. We,
as people, need to be careful in putting all of our trust in others.
We need to put our whole trust in Jesus Christ. God will never forsake
or leave you as He promised in Joshua 1:5 and Hebrews 13:5-6.
Sometimes, even when we feel that we are being put through the wringer, God is
there. In Psalms 121, we read that God neither sleeps nor slumbers; He
keeps His eyes on us. He is always in control. God has a purpose in
mind for us, even when we feel that we are being "put through the fire".
Well, maybe that is just God "burning the impurities" out of our lives.
I know it seems hard, but in these times we need to submit to Him and
be silent and listen. Listen to what God is telling us. We need to be
clay in His hands so that He can mold us into the men and women we are
meant to be. So, what's better than being a hero with clay feet? Clay
in the Master's Hands.
Let that sink in for a moment. Well, today I had the awesome
opportunity of giving the sermon in our local church here in Suriname. The
church is mostly Guyanese people who have been nothing but warm and
inviting to us. This is one of only two English speaking churches in
Suriname. The people there genuinely love the Lord and I was happy to be used
in that capacity.
In regards to prayer needs, we have a few. First, we really need
prayer concerning our home situation in North Carolina. The couple
presently renting our duplex will be moving in February, so PLEASE, PLEASE pray
that God provides new tenants for our home (or we will just have to ask
for more support!). I know that God is in control and He will provide.
That is the number one lesson that I can take from this entire
experience--If you are obedient to God's will, HE WILL PROVIDE. Jehovah Jirah!
Amen. For those of you living in the New Bern, NC area, we ask that
you announce in your churches about our rental property being available.
We really want Christians to live in our home. It's all about good
stewardship. Please get the word out. The property will be available in
March. If you hear of anyone, please pass the word along to us. THANK
Patricia's girl's bible study at school is going along fantastic. She
is always very excited about it, so please keep praying over the seeds
being planted in her bible study. Our after school bible study is
trudging along. Just a handful of kids have been faithfully attending, so
that is a praise. Just ask God to continue to bless this ministry.
Keep the school year in prayer. We need continued prayer for staff
relationships and such, since that is Satan's favorite target. Things are
a lot better since the changes have occurred with the school board, but
one never quite knows what the devil may be boiling just under the
surface. Pray for God's guiding hand to continue to direct the school in
His will. We will be losing 5 teachers at the end of this school year.
Please pray that the Lord of the Harvest calls His workers here. We
also ask that you pray about teacher housing for next year.
We also want to lift up the world's situations to God. Being overseas
makes you keenly aware of foreign diplomacy or the lack thereof. We
are praying for all the troops being activated. We ask prayers for
President Bush and his inner circle, that he seeks out God in his
decision-making process. We also want to ask for some prayer for some government
stability issues going on here in Suriname, continue to pray for our
Again, we just want to thank you for your continued prayers and
support. Please drop us a line sometime...we love hearing from you.
God bless you 'til we meet again,
John and Patricia