Closure and Exploration summarizes our spring mission trip.
The first four days of the trip were spent in Puerto Rico, where we helped the "Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida" (New Life Baptist Church) dedicate their new building. Those of you who've followed our ministry need no further explanation, but for those who aren't so familiar with what we've been doing, this is the building Dennis has helped to wire for the past six years.
We've traveled for a month or two at a time once or twice a year, and our primary project on each trip was to help them wire this building.
We were thrilled and blessed to be able to be there and fellowship with them during the dedication. You can get some idea of what it looks like now above, and be sure to see the slide show as well. It is truly a lovely building.
Of course the dedication provided closure for that part of our ministry, so we had mixed emotions, since we've both come to love the people there and will miss having a reason to see them on a regular basis.
However those days passed quickly and we found ourselves moving on from closure to the exploration phase of the trip.
Monday was the transition day in our closure and exploration experience as we flew to Antigua about 300 miles to the southeast of Puerto Rico. We stayed with Jerry and Linda Baker there, while surveying the island, and the Christian ministries we might be able to help.
There are numerous small churches on the island. Most of them could use help with their electrical installations.
Additionally, the Caribbean Radio Lighthouse is located there. It is an excellent independent fundamental radio station that reaches all of the lesser Antilles islands, and all the way to the eastern side of Puerto Rico with the gospel and good Christian music.
They are hoping to build new facilities in the near future as soon as they can get the governments permission to use the land. When they are able to build, Dennis' services as an electrician might well be very helpful to them.
Although Antigua has a beautiful climate and over 365 beaches, there would be many difficulties and challenges to actually working there long term.
To begin with they charge a tax every time you leave the country, and you're only allowed to stay for three months at a time on a tourist visa. Then there is the problem of living on a small island where everything has to be shipped in. This causes several challenges...
1. Exceedingly high prices for everything... Notice the price of milk and meat in the slide presentation.
2. Difficulty finding even the most basic materials.
For example, Dennis searched every major electrical supply house on the island and was unable to find brown outlet covers for a minor project he worked on at the radio station.
3. Very high taxes on anything you ship in...
To illustrate, a missionary couple arrived on the island two weeks before we did. Dennis spent one day during our trip along with five other men helping him unload their container for customs to inspect.
They were finally able to get the use of their personal belongings sometime toward the end of May! (They arrived the first of February.) This is probably a typical experience for someone moving to the island.
They paid more than $10,000 dollars in taxes on the equipment and personal belongings they brought in!
Closure and exploration can be a roller coaster experience. Please view the slides below for a visual recap of our experiences.
In spite of these obstacles, if the Lord were to call us to Antigua, we're ready to go, but as of this writing neither Dennis nor I have received that call. Antigua was only the first of two places the leadership of BIMI wanted us to check out. The second was the central American country of Nicaragua.
As of this writing our exploration will continue there in November of this year.
Please pray particularly with us for the work in Mayaguez, since the single missionary who has worked with them for about twenty years fell and broke her hip in May.
She has had total hip replacement surgery, but they've also discovered cancer in various places in her body. She is currently in rehabilitation in Virginia and considering various treatment options. We'd appreciate your prayers that the Lord will give her wisdom, and that He will send people to fill the hole her absence has left in the work in Mayaguez.
Although the dedication brought closure to our ministry there in Mayaguez, it does not mean the work there has ceased to exist, so their needs are ongoing. We continue to pray the Lord will bless them and enable them to effectively reach Mayaguez for the Lord.