Date: November 01, 2003
"What ever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks through Him to God, the Father." Colossians 3:17 (NASB).
Wow, it's been a busy month of October! As I sit down to write this, it is
finally pouring the rain. We are in the middle of the hot, long, dry season, and is it hot today! This dry season is unusually
dry this year. All the dirt has turned to dust. This is the first rain that we've had in 3 weeks, so it is welcomed relief.
Well, I see that it is now November and I realize it's been over a month since our last update. The first 9 weeks of school
ended Friday and report cards go out next week. Teaching my sixth and seventh graders has been an interesting experience thus
far. They are now at "That Age" where they are trying to be assertive and want to express their independence. Somehow they
fail to realize that our classroom is a 'dictatorship' and not a 'democracy'; so continue to pray for me in regards to PATIENCE
while in the classroom, especially since some of my boys attempt a coup de'tat on a weekly basis. Continue to ask God to soften
the hearts of my students. Currently, we are studying the Gospel of John each morning during Bible. One of my students, who
is hindu, is really asking some deep questions. I can tell that she is really being moved and convicted. Ask God to continue
to give me wisdom in regards to her questions, and pray that she can eventually accept Christ as her Savior.
Now, allow me to recap some events of October: On the 7th, I celebrated my
"Bigi Jari" when I turned 35. Surinamers celebrate a bigi jari every 5th birthday and it is usually a huge celebration that
lasts into the wee hours of the morning. Mine, however, lasted just a few hours since it was a school night and a lot of students
attended. In fact, we had around 50 people to come out and join me in the celebration. We had potluck, so there was plenty
Each Saturday night, we have had eleven different students come to our home
to join us in our bible study. This has been very encouraging to see the kids truly seek out God's truths in His Word. Patricia
and I are pleased to be used in this capacity. Adam Reeck, a fellow teacher, uses his talents to lead us in worship. It has
been wonderful actually hearing our kids sing praises to God. The different studies have been really challenging. Tonight,
we are having "Banana Split Nite" since some of our kids have never had a banana split--Yum! In the following weeks, we will
begin a study on Prayer--so be praying about that.
Every other Sunday evening, we have services at the school. God has really
used this. It amazes me. There has really been a turnout from parents and students from our school community. I'm kind of
blown away by it, because you never know who will come out, and I've been really excited to see new families attend. We open
with praise and worship music for about 25 minutes and then the 35 minute message is given by a different speaker each time.
So far, it's all been good! Praise God! Please continue to lift this special service up in your prayers.
Something that I am extremely excited about: Over Christmas break, we have
3 young friends from North Carolina coming down to Suriname. We are going to hold a youth retreat for our students here. This
is going to be an awesome opportunity for these 3 and our kids. We need A LOT of prayer about this. The 3 visitors are Ashley
Luper, Richard Jones, and Sarah Pharr. Pray for their paperwork to process easily, they have safe and efficient travel to
and from Suriname, they can raise enough support to cover their expenses, and God uses them in a mighty way to bring Him glory.
Also pray for me as I look for a venue to hold this 2-night retreat. Be praying for the students who will attend this retreat.
Pray that God can speak and reveal Himself to those who attend. I am getting so fired up over this event--and it is 2 months
away!! We plan on keeping our 3 visitors very busy during their short trip. We also plan on doing a Youth Night at the local
church where we attend just for their youth group. The 3 will also get to witness the New Year's Celebration here in Suriname.
I have mentioned this event in the past years. This is really something to behold--Fireworks everywhere--for 24 straight hours!!
I usually suffer from Post Traumatic Stress syndrome afterward--so they are in for a treat, if they like fireworks!
This is going to be a wonderful time for these 3. I can't wait to see how
God uses them.
Continue to pray for me as I share the message every second Sunday of the
month at our local church. I am honored and humbled each time I am used in this capacity. I also speak during elementary chapel
at school. This past week, I spoke on the "Prodigal Son". I really enjoy talking to these young kids. They are very attentive
and understand what is being said. Just pray that God can really grow these seeds that are being planted.
Ok, as my update is winding down, I was thinking about how to end this--well,
isn't it funny how God provides for stuff when you least expect it? For instance, this ending that I'm about to share with
you...You see, I wrote all the above paragraphs earlier today and I had to stop around 5:30pm to get ready for our Saturday
evening bible study (it's 20 mins after midnight as I write this). Bible study went very well. We had 10 students come out.
We finished our study on Colossians "Christ In You"; and Banana Split Night was a smashing success! It was the first time
eating banana splits for several of the kids. At the end of every bible study, I transport kids home in the school van. As
we let the first kid out, several blocks away, we started heading for the second kid's house, and that is when all the trouble
started...the front left tire went down--not a blow-out per se, but the tire died, went flat, kaput. I heard the slap, slap,
slap when the tire died, so we pulled over into a parking lot to check it out. The tire was nearly off the rim by that point.
I checked the rear of the van and there was a spare tire, however no jack and no lug wrench (tire iron). So, we were kind
of in a pickle. It's dark out, but fortunately we were only several blocks from home, but I have no tools like this at home
either. And you can't leave a disabled vehicle sitting around, because it probably won't sit there for very long after you
leave it. So anyhow, one of our kids, MJ, says that his uncle lives right down the street. We use his cell phone to call Patricia
(who is still at home with several students and Adam). MJ goes to get his uncle and Adam comes on my bike to help us out.
To shorten the story a bit, MJ's uncle has a jack and a lug wrench, and after about 4 technical difficulties Adam and I changed
out the tire (ask me about these difficulties some other time). Well, by this time, most of the students that I was transporting
decided to walk to their destinations, so Adam and I took the second kid, Pascal, on to his home. At tonight's bible study,
we defined "Grace" (among other things) and we basically said that "Grace is God at work or in action". So as Pascal got out
of the van, I asked him if he saw God's grace in this experience. He smiled and said something to the effect of, "Yeah, if
it hadn't been for God's grace in providing the tools, we'd still be sitting there." But my story of God's grace does not
end there, my friends. Adam and I head on back to my house to get Patricia and the other 2 girls. Well, since the spare that
we put on the van is in worst shape than the original tire, we decide not to risk taking the girls home in the van. We load
up and go to another teacher's house to borrow the car that she is using. We leave the van there and load up the small car
with everyone. We then take the next student, Michelle,to her home (downtown) and then we precede to take Johnnie home. Johnnie
lives the farthest away. She lives way out in a district named Para. Para is about a 40 minute drive from town. Well, just
as we cross this little bridge that exits town, we run into a police roadblock. A bit of background info: Suriname is trying
to improve the police force and enforcement of laws and lower the crime rate and all. Well, since most drivers in Suriname
drive illegally, the police have began setting up roadblocks to check drivers for everything from drivers licences to drugs
to weapons. There have been some infamous stories about these roadblocks circulating around school and our students who were
busted by them. They had to pay heavy fines. Well, now it was my turn. Several weeks ago, I accidentally left my International
Drivers License in a pair of my shorts--and they got washed, thus destroying my license. And I never carry my wallet in Suriname
(my wallet has my NCDL in them). So, here I am, driving without my license with me. As we are being flagged over to park by
Suriname's finest, Adam says "Yer going to jail, buddy" and Patricia says "You're gonna have to pay $150 USD" and Johnnie
says "What are we going to do?" so I simply say "Everyone Pray." Well, you know a million things go through your mind and
I knew I was "caught" by Suriname standards, so I had a moment of hopelessness. Here I am, in someone else's car, with no
license. How am I gonna explain this one? As the young policeman approaches my window, he begins speaking in Dutch, so I sheepishly
ask him to speak in English. He asks to see my license. Around us, other drivers and passengers are exiting their cars to
be searched. I clear my throat, smile, and say, "Well, that's the problem. I left my license at home." He replies, "Well,
that is a major problem." So then I do something that you should never do--try to be funny with a cop. I say, "well, I could
go back home and get my license and bring them back to you." He did not smile. "That was a joke," I say. Still no smile--what's
up with this guy? I realized then that I probably made an irrevocable error and would be handcuffed and spend the night in
prison. A very long moment passed and then he said "Let me see the car's papers." Well, since this was not our car, I didn't
know if this car even had papers. Adam begins shuffling through the glove compartment and pulls out a bunch of papers and
I hand them to the humorless cop. He shuffles through them. A few moments later, he says "We have another problem, are there
any more papers because these are not the right ones." Adam again looks in the glove box and produces a large card enclosed
in a plastic sleeve. I hand the officer this card, and he says "This is it." "Thank you God" we all four sighed. He cross-referenced
the registration with the license plate. It checked out. He comes back to the window and says "Will you now pull your car
forward, exit it and lock it. We must go down to Head Administration Officer." Well, this is it--I'm busted--time to pay the
Piper. I had an awful sinking sensation and suddenly felt like the apostle Paul. I looked at everyone and said "We're going
to take a little ride downtown." I pulled the car forward, parked it, and we all exited it. My mind is drawing a blank as
to what exactly happened next, but Patricia spoke to the officer and told him that we were teachers and we were taking Johnnie,
our student, home to Para. She asked if he had a cell phone that we could use to contact her parents. And that is when God
shined His grace on us. The cop looked at us and said "I do not have a cell phone. Do any of you?" and we all replied "No".
The policeman then looked at Adam and asked him if he had his driver's license, Adam shakes his head and says "No". Then he
asks Patricia if she has her license, and she tells him "No". And then he asks Johnnie. She says, "Yes, I have mine from the
US", so the cop says "Ok, then you drive." Wow, we were flabbergasted. In disbelief, I ask, "You mean, we can go?" "Yes,"
he says. We all thanked him about 7 times. So Johnnie gets in and drives us away. Johnnie is 17 and has never driven in Suriname
before and never has driven on the left side of the road, but she got us safely away from there as each of us adults were
thanking God and praising God for His grace. And what takes the cake, the cop never even asked to see her license!! Well,
what can I say? God is good--all the time! This was all God and I am thankful that He does take care of us. Johnnie got to
witness firsthand how quickly God answers prayer and how quickly God can work. I feel bad that I actually let some doubt sink
in, but I never quit trusting God tonight. What a great testimony to use when we begin to study about Prayer in our bible
study. Since it is now after 2 am, I'll leave you with this verse, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB). Thank
you God, for your infinite grace.
In Christ's Peace,
John and Patricia
PS: I will try to share some pictures of the Bible Study with you