Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Newton News January 2011

Our first (Castelo Branco) missions conference was a great success. Even with all the complications. First, our son-in-law Mike Pereira was supposed to preach on missions giving. As you have already heard his father passed away the Thursday before the conference, so he was gone dealing with that. I want to thank everyone who gave financially to help him through this trial. It was an expensive ordeal as he had to travel out to the islands, rent a car to get around and who knows what other expenses in that situation. I know that many of you prayed for him as well during this time, and we are grateful. Some other people we had hoped would attend didn't come; it was just our faithful few. We were grateful for them as always and we do not take them for granted. In one way it was good that it was that way because we were able to go deeper with the idea of giving than we might have been able to if there were visitors present. Pastor Audrius and his wife, Diana, were a tremendous blessing. He preached a couple of wonderful, touching messages. They communicated very effectively the ministries God had given them in Lithuania and Latvia. I believe our church and some others they were in will be able to support them. What a wonderful opportunity! They have about 30 in their Bible institute in Lithuania and 25 in Latvia studying to serve God. Our small help can spread very far by the grace of God.

Someone gave the funds we needed to buy roofing for the bath houses and other places where we need it. I am in the process of putting together the materials and in a couple of weeks we have a friend from the states coming to help. I am sending a request out today to everyone else here in Portugal for help during that time. Our next event at the Mount of Olives is snow camp. It comes later this year than usual since it is based on the Fat Tuesday, Carnaval, Mardi Gras (pick the name you know best) date and so will be the 6th through 9th of March. Hope there is still snow on the mountain, but we will have a good camp regardless.

We got our well dug, and there is plenty of water. Unfortunately, the pump we have won't work with the depth of the water in the well, so we will need to get a submersible pump system. That will cost about 1000 euros. We can still pump from the pond for now, it just has to be heavily bleached (frogs and snakes and stuff doing what they do in the pond) and we have to haul drinking water from town. When we get the new pump we will be doing great. We still need more bunk beds and (eventually) to move forward with some more electricity. We have a small generator, and we would like to get a bigger one. Ideally we would like to put in solar but it is pricey. I think the best thing to do is get a bigger generator for now and as we can start buying solar a panel at a time. Even a small amount can be useful, but it will take quite a bit to power everything.

Barb is taking sign language classes twice a week. Apparently the Portuguese version is a LOT different from the American, but her background in it still helps a lot. There are 12 of them in the class and the teacher seems intrigued by Barb's reason for learning the sign language. Her next assignment is to explain about our "house". In other words the camp. She will have a great opportunity to explain who we are and what we are doing. At the mall the other day she felt a tap on her shoulder. It was one of the other students, a young lady who works in the mall. Barb has had a couple of opportunities to talk to her. We already knew of a deaf man that worked in the food court at that mall busing tables. We went there one afternoon this week to see if he was there. Barb took her sign language book and we sat in the food court and did some studying, Barb practicing her signs. The man was there, and he was not able to resist. They had a long conversation, and he wants to help her more with her signing. His name is Abel and the young lady is Marta.

A week from Monday we will be in Albufeira to help with a week-long evangelism campaign. I am excited to see how the Lord uses it. I have been put in charge of the music program, so I get to play Ira Sankey. We are scheduled to do the same thing here in Castelo Branco and in at least two other places this year. We believe God has directed us into this effort so we are expecting great things from it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Newton News January 2011

I was in the Post Office yesterday picking up a package. The conversation went something like this:

"This is heavy! I should have had you come back here to get it." (lady clerk)
"Its Bibles," said I.
"Oh, are you one of those "elders"? (what they call Mormons)
I always react strongly to comments like that. Even today someone asked if we were JW's. I figure a strong reaction will ease the minds of those who don't like the particular cult, and if they themselves are members I don't want any confusion about what I think of their beliefs.
"NO. I am a Baptist! In fact I am a baptist pastor."
There were very few customers in the place at that moment, and two other clerks came closer to hear this conversation. The comment was made that religious leaders like to tell people what to do. I let them know that we don't operate like that and they seemed genuinely interested to hear what the Biblical function of a pastor really is. I had the opportunity to emphasize the importance and exclusivity of the Bible message, and left them with literature and an invitation to our missions conference next week.

I mentioned the query today as to whether we were JW's. This happened while we were distributing John and Romans in the old section of town, at the base of the castle. We are including an invitation to our missions conference. We have also convinced the owner of our favorite pizzeria to make a discounted student menu and we put a flier about it in our packet of literature. I tell young people that I give the packet to, "Two important things: The Word of God and pizza. It doesn't get much better than that!" We have started targeting areas that have a lot of college students with it.

Please pray for our missions conference next Thursday and Friday nights. We have a Lithuanian pastor and his wife coming and I was able to get him meetings in 4 other churches while he is here in Portugal. He is doing a great work in Lithuania, pastoring a church and directing a Bible Institute to train pastors both in Lithuania and Latvia. We want to help by supporting the Bible Institute. He has been bearing the expenses almost alone, and he is not a rich man. Our son-in-law will be preaching the conference. A couple in our church were in Angola in the 60's and helped start churches there. They will speak about those days during the conference as well.

We still have a number of projects that need to be done at the Mount of Olives. Top on the list right now are roof panels to finish covering the bath houses and the eating area and two cabins (will cost about $3000 total) and more bunk-beds. The price of those keeps fluctuating, but they cost about $260 right now. We need a total of 25 more of them to get to full capacity.

God bless!