Happy 2018, everyone! Every year, we resolve to do better at sending out newsletters, and every year, we fail miserably! A lot has happened in the last few months. Among other things:
The Ulithi ministry that launched last summer is continuing by God’s grace, though it has had its challenges. Our mission pastor, Petrus and his wife Queentina fly out there each week to lead Bible studies and baptize new believers, with the support of PMA pilots. Heidi has been able to meet with the believers there too, which has been great.
We are thankful for the revival service that took place in November, where 22 people accepted Christ, and that 4 new believers were baptized by Pastor Petrus and Pastor Epel (visiting from PMA’s church in Pohnpei). Please pray for unity among these believers, as they figure out how to “be the church” to their group and to their community. Pray also for truly repentant hearts, changed lives and total commitments to following Jesus.
Sea searches and Medevac: Over the Thanksgiving holiday, PMA Yap was asked to help search for a fishing vessel that had capsized mysteriously in Palauan waters. The PMA teams in Yap and Palau, along with the Coast Guard, worked tirelessly to search for 7 Japanese fishermen who had seemingly disappeared without a trace, but with no success. A few days later, we received news that the fishermen had been rescued by the
same ship that had collided with them, and taken to the Philippines. What a great relief to hear that the men were safe after the tension and sadness of the previous days!
While our teammate Simon was flying the sea search in Palau, Amos was suddenly called to Ulithi island to medevac a patient who had been paralyzed some time before when a drum of fuel had accidently fallen on his neck. His condition had not improved with the local medicine treatment, so Amos flew him to the Yap hospital. He was able to visit him later to talk and share some of our Thanksgiving dinner with him.
Sadly, not every sea search ends happily. Over Christmas, a man named Simeon was lost at sea while fishing off of Fais island. He did not have a boat; only a hibiscus pole to float with (it’s possible he had a heart attack, as he was an experienced fisherman). Unfortunately, four days passed before PMA was contacted and dispatched. After hours of searching, the PMA crew had to return back to Yap with no good news. A few days later, Amos flew Simeon’s family to Fais for the funeral, which was very emotional for everyone. Please remember Simeon’s family and small island community in your prayers as they cope with their grief and loss.
Christmas celebrations: On PMA’s last flight to Ulithi before Christmas, the school kids of the island and the community got together to surprise pilots Amos and Simon with some hearty singing to express their thanks for PMA’s service over the past year. Their wide-open hearts and smiles brought joy to us all!
Our local church also gets excited about Christmas! We spent the day before with the youth group decorating the church building with palm leaves, flowers, banana trees, a (jungle) manger scene and Christmas lights, and had a beautiful Christmas service and program. Church members practiced and performed special skits, songs, and dances to celebrate God’s gift of His Son. A lot of guests joined us and it was a very special event!
Youth ministry: Last year our teammates the Fergusons led the youth group on Yap before they moved on, and so there was a need for new youth leaders. We decided to jump back into the world of shepherding teenagers (oh boy!) Our meetings have gone well so far, and we are really enjoying this group of young people. We would really appreciate your prayers for wisdom (and energy) as we try to lead them into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our neighbor Michaela stayed with us for a couple of months while she battled some major complications from asthma. Her granddaughter Viola joined our household too, becoming fast friends with our kids and joining the Sunday school before she returned to her home island. Michaela’s condition improved to the point where she could move back home, but she still needs to come by nearly every day to use the electricity to power her Nebulizer (breathing machine). This requires her walking up and down some steep and slippery paths, which has led to frequent health relapses. Please pray for her strengthening and healing.
Home school: Heidi loves teaching and doing projects with her group of kids-their excitement to learn makes it a real pleasure! They are able to have many fruitful discussions about God during their school day, too. Please pray for each child’s faith to be rooted deeply in Jesus and for them to be a positive influence on their families.
Sermon Recordings: For the past few years, our Yap team has been recording Pastor Petrus’ sermons in the Outer Island language and sending them on the ship to Woleai atoll. There are 3 small groups of believers living on 3 islands there. We hope that these sermons will encourage and strengthen them in their faith, as they feel somewhat isolated from the body of Christ and experience some persecution from their neighbors.
“Redemption Kids” Donation: One of our supporting church’s Sunday school fundraised for our ministry and sent us a very generous donation! With their gift, we were able to purchase a large, colorful flannel graph set to equip a children’s ministry in the outer island of Elato. Stephen and Lorna (a married couple who became Christians last summer) have a desire to reach the kids on this island. Our plan is to have Stephen and Lorna come to Yap on the next ship, train them in using the flannelgraph, and send it back with them to Elato (yes, we know flannelgraphs might be old school, but they are very effective out here–we use one for Sunday School and the Ladies’ Bible study too!). We also sent a box of Chuukese Bibles to Satawal with our friend “Auntie Ces.” Most of the people reading these Bibles come from a Catholic background, and they have written expressing their thanks for the gift of God’s Word in a language that is close to their own. We then got some Bibles in an easy English (NLT) version for our church leaders here on Yap and the outer islands. This “New Believer’s Bible” has been requested by many people because it is easy to understand, includes the foundations of the Christian faith, and has excellent Bible studies that can be used for personal devotions or shared in a group. For the home school kids, we ordered them each a beautifully illustrated Children’s Bible that they can read at home. And finally, we got a few supplies for the home school that we’d been needing (grammar and math books-the kids will thank us when they’re older). So thank you, Redemption kids, for your big hearts and hard work! We think you are all pretty awesome!
To Wrap It All Up: The last few months brought its share of adventures, hard work, disappointments and blessings. God was there through it all, teaching us to cast our cares on Him and persevere. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 says:
11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
May we seek to be faithful to Him in this work He has called us to do, despite our weaknesses and times of discouragement. May He humble us to be willing to accept ALL things that He brings our way-the good and the bad, and may we wake up each morning with a fresh excitement to “proclaim His praise in the islands!”
Finally, we would like to thank all of you who faithfully lift us up in prayer and give generously to this ministry. We could not be here doing this and reaching people with Christ’s love if it were not for you all.
Your continued support gives us great encouragement and reassures us that we are where God has called us to be.
God Bless you all!
Amos & Heidi Collins
Tommy, Raina, Honora, & Theo