Well, it's been awhile since we've written, and the holidays again are upon us--so let's get caught up!
The laptop died two weeks ago, but thankfully it is working again. That explains a little why we've been silent,
(the group mail program that we use for these emails is on the laptop only). In November, we celebrated our third Thanksgiving
in Suriname. We enjoyed a large feast with about 44 others at Adam Reeck's house. Good food, good company, and good fun. We
had plenty to be thankful for. Also in November, we had the opportunity to see four of our students profess Christ as their
Savior and be baptized. The four are siblings whom we've grown very close to over the past 3 years. The baptism ceremony was
held at Overbridge--the site where we are going to have our youth retreat in about 2 weeks--more on the retreat in a moment.
You can check out the pics of the baptisms by going to http://www.photoisland.com
The Log In name is "acssuriname" and the Password is "guest" (sans the quotation marks).
Some down points in November--On Thanksgiving day, we discovered that the van had died in our yard--dead battery
cell. It took about 2 weeks to get that thing fixed. And then, our house was invaded by Killer Bees--the score was: Patricia=97
Killer Bees=0 (and those were just IN the house). I need to put up the photo of me in the anti-killer-bee-garb spraying the
entrance of the nest. So, either God handled the situation for us or my Suriname bug spray did the trick. I think it was a
little of both (wink, wink).
I guess it is cold where you are. The "cold" weather has hit Suriname-78 degrees and rainy. I know that it
rained about 7 inches yesterday alone. It was a torrential downpour for most of the day. Cool enough where you don't break
into a sweat from just breathing when you go outdoors. We almost didn't need to run the airconditioner in the bedroom yesterday,
but it helps with the high humidity. And now we are suffering from The Plague of Ticks. Well, not us, personally; but the
5 dogs. This is a plague of almost biblical proportions. Patricia has not kept a tally of how many ticks we've plucked, smashed,
flushed down the toilet, flame torched, or nuked in the microwave. We are not sadists, it's just hard to kill ticks. Oh, the
microwave thing is not a good idea--trust me. Patricia has given all the dogs Super Tick Baths and we've treated them with
Frontline. Let's just hope that the medicine starts to kick in. The ticks are a problem because of rainy season. And the more
beasts you have, the more ticks you battle (simple math, right?).
Well, just a day and a half until Christmas break. Kids are going nuts. We welcome the vacation. The Big News
is--the Youth Retreat. Man, I am bursting with excitement. Please be praying for God to do some mighty things during this
retreat. We have around 14 students attending, plus 3 good buddies from NC coming down to run this thing. God has provided
funds, passports, and visas for Richard, Ashley, and Sarah to come down to Suriname to spend an exciting week with us. Please
keep these 3 young people in your prayers. Pray for travel mercy, no flight delays, no problems going through customs, and
general safety during their stay. Also pray that God uses these 3 in a special way while they are here. They are going to
pretty much lead the worship, prayers, songs, testimonies, games, and messages while here (with a little help from me, and
a lot of help from God). I am extremely excited to see God move. Most of the students attending are those that are involved
with our weekly bible study. We have really seen some growth and that is very encouraging. I've challenged these students
to ask God exactly what He wants them to see (for their lives, their futures, etc) during this retreat. Patricia and I went
down this week and paid for this weekend--so, your support is being used for God's kingdom. Just keep this whole event in
prayer. The retreat runs from Sunday, Dec. 28th to Tuesday, Dec. 30th. The 3 young people will be travelling from NC on Dec.
26th and return on Jan. 3rd.
Some other things to be praying about: This week, a principal candidate is visiting the school. We are praying
that God leads in this matter and we give this matter over to God. Please continue to pray for my classroom of students, for
their hearts to be softened, and that the seeds being planted take root. Please pray for my ability to persevere in the classroom
(careful how you pray this) for I really have some rambunctious adolecents this year. Please pray for the staff's morale and
unity among the staff. This is an area that the enemy loves to exploit. We've had some issues lately and we ask that you pray
over this matter.
I gave the message in our local church this past Sunday and had a young woman from Guyana to respond to the
message and accept Christ as her Savior, so praise be to God. Please pray for this young lady. I do not know her name, but
God does. We made sure that she got a bible and Patricia just got back from Ladies Meeting and they are going to make sure
that she is nurtured and discipled. This past week, we ordered a new bible for our local Guyanese pastor and Patricia and
I was able to give it to him this past Sunday. It really brought Joy to him and his wife. Also, God has directed me to begin
leading the youth group at the local church. There has been a dire need for leadership in the past several months and God
has laid this on my heart, so when the pastor was here to get his bible, the topic came up--so, in January I will also begin
the Youth Ministry program at this church--so, please keep this in prayer. I will only have a short 5 months with this group.
I plan on training the young man, (who is part of the youth group himself) to be the leader after we leave this June. Another
prayer, for those of you who do not know, youth ministry is near and dear to our hearts, so God put on my heart to enter into
seminary next fall, so I can go into full-time Youth Ministry/Campus Ministry in the overseas setting. So, this is our last
6 months in Suriname.
One final prayer request--my brother and sister-in-law have just found out that they are expecting their second
child. Christina has been having some difficulties related to the pregnancy, so we ask prayer for her and the baby, that God's
will be done in this situation. I ask God to give Christina strength and help the baby.
On a final note, with it being the Christmas season, I feel the need to share a few thoughts. Do we realize
how many people miss Christmas today? Think about this--there were several folks who missed the first Christmas. Although
the bible does not specifically mention the Innkeeper, we know that he missed the first Christmas--not that he didn't care,
but because he was too busy. The scripture does say in Luke 2:7 "[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him
in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Bethlehem was overcrowded because everyone
was there for the census. Every available room was booked, and we can assume that the innkeeper was too preoccupied with busyness
to even help with a pregnant woman. How caught up in busyness are you this holiday season? Next, we see Herod missed Christmas.
Herod was not preoccupied, he was fearful of the new "King of Jews". See, Herod was informed. He heard about Christ's birth
and become enraged that someone else would threaten his throne. So, driven by rage and paranoia, Herod ordered the slaughter
of every male toddler 2 years and younger, throughout the region. There are many Herods out there today. Not baby-killers,
but those who fear that Jesus may take over their "throne". They won't let Christ interfere with their careers, goals, plans,
or lifestyles because they feel that Jesus is a threat. Luke 19:14 says "We don't want this man to reign over us". Who is
sitting on your throne this holiday season? Then, we take a look at the Religious Leaders. Yes, even they missed the first
Christmas. It is mindboggling to me how they missed out, because they are the ones who informed Herod of the Messiah's birth.
Herod gathered all the religious leaders together to ask them about the birth of Christ and the religious leaders referred
to the scriptures to answer Herod. They answered "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet, 'And you,
Bethlehem, Land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler, who will
shepard My people Israel." Matthew 2:4-6. The religious leaders didn't even bother to go to Bethlehem to check things out--why?
Because they just didn't care. They didn't need the Messiah, because they were self-righteous. They kept the law, so they
thought they had it all together. There are many today who miss Christmas because of their indifference. They see no need
for a Savior, so they just ignore Him. Do you see the reason for this season? Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, the Son of
Man, the Messiah who is called Emmanuel--God with us--came to this earth, All Man and All God, to save us from what sin caused
us--death and eternal separation from God. God saw this sin problem, this separation, and decided to offer a solution, a Savior--Jesus
Christ, who entered this world one lonely night and took on the sin of all mankind on the cross of Calvary. He bled and died
for us, was buried, and raised again on the third day. He paid the ultimate price and now holds the keys of Death and Hades.
He did all this so that anyone who confesses with their mouth and believes in the heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son
of the Living God will be saved, will be forgiven, will be adopted into God's family, will be given a new name, a new identity,
and a new eternal relationship.
Have a very Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year,
John and Patricia