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.