May 23, 2020
Yesterday you might have seen the pics on FB that Lou and I loaded up my Nissan Rogue with the remaining 10 boxes of food and headed off to Cayay which is on the other side of the island. We went the southern route along the coast and went past some of the towns that were recently affected by the earthquakes. I didnt see any damage from the highway but Lou told me that there are many without homes or at the least their homes are damaged.
Friday was filled with several first for Lou and I. Neither one of us had ever been to Cayay before and Lou had never been to Levittown. Now if you know the island you might be asking why were you guys in Levittown. Well I discovered that during a lock down when resturants are closed for dine in service so are their bathrooms. Not a good thing to find out when on a road trip and you are over 2 hours from where you are staying. Groceries stores where open but the line was so long I got a brain storm idea and say we are not far from my friend Noel's house. So another first for me I called up a friend and asked to use their bathroom something I thought I would never have to do. So we headed to Levittown and got to take Noel out to lunch after taking care of business.
Lou and I traveled all but about 20 miles of the island on Friday and we were beat. Today I mowed Lou's yard while he did errands and then we have been chillin.
So grateful that on Thursday the Governor of Puerto Rico announced that Puerto Rico will start opening up with restrictions but most important the churches and the beaches will open starting this Tuesday. That also means the Tax collection office will be open and that is the office I have to turn in paperwork to and get their stamp in order to open the mission checking account. Fun times ahead for this comming week.
May 21, 2020
When I announced to friends and family that I was still going to Puerto Rico they said but what are you going to be able to do. Well let me tell you Lou and I have been running non-stop. We received 20 boxes of food to distrubute yesterday, we delievered 10 yesterday and we are bring 10 to a friend in the mountains tomorrow. While I am in the mountains with my friend I will video and take photos and share to the FB page so you guys can see them. Due to things being shut down the demand for food is even higher. Next week we are going to be taken groceries to 30 families from a local school. We have also been discussing how this is all going to work out and also drove around and discussed different areas we want to focus on. I have seen the ocean but the beaches are closed.
Today I drove to the east side of the island which was a 1:40 drive and my friend Noel and I tried to open a bank account only to find out that we actually have to open it in Agaudilla but then can use any other branch once it is open. Also another problem is we needed one more form than what we had and the form we didnt have needs a stamp by the state taxation collection office which is now not open. So not sure when we will be able to get this done but it was good to spend the day with Noel who is a close friend, again planning and dreaming about the ministry.
As I have mentioned in FB God has really been showing off and Carolyn and I have been blessed amazingly. Even when you dont think there is a way God can make a way if He has called you to do it.
May 17, 2020
I actually left Cincinnati yesterday morning May 16th and flew to Orlando and spent the night there visiting my youngest daughter Leah and her boyfriend James. We had a great time sitting around the condo and the pool talking since most of Orlando is closed right now due to the pandemic. But we were able to go eat at Longhorn Resturant, felt weird eatting in a resturant again. Then this morning I went back to the Orlando airport and flew to San Juan Puerto Rico, I will be in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico until August 1. I am taking care of some business that needs to be done before Carolyn and I move down full time. Also Lou and I are coming up with ideas on how to do ministry while the island is still on lock down mode. Hopefully the lock down will be over soon and we will be able to have live church services and be able to be out doing ministry. Pray for us as we plan and dream about the future of Vine and Branches Ministries.
Even though we are living through a pandemic and we have a shelter in place order here in Ohio, I am still able to get things done for the mission. Actually April has been a very productive month. FOr several reasons we have changed our mission name, we changed it to Vine and Branches Christian Ministries PR, which is based on John 15:5
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV) We registered the new name with Puerto Rico and we received our Certificate of Registry as a Domestic Corporation Non Profit. Besides all the paperwork that has been done we selected our Board of Directors and we will have our first director's meeting next week. The stay at home edict has been a blessing in the fact that I have had time to get the necessary paperwork complected.
Enough about me, what about Puerto Rico? Well Puerto Rico has been hit with the virus as well and the Governor there has put some strict restrictions on the people. Hopefully I will be able to head down to Puerto Rico on May 16th in order to take care of some business that needs to be done in person. I will be spending this summer in Aguadilla. I will be starting to make a presence in the community, meeting people, building contacts, attending and working with local churches. I will be spending a lot of time with Lou Irizarry, one of my board of directors, who is from Living Water Vineyard in Aguadilla, as we plan and vision cast for this ministry. I am excited about the plans for this Summer, I can't wait to see how Jesus is going to use me.
In my first full time ministry there was a retired minister. I very much respected him. There was a time I remember feeling a little down at one point when he approached me. "Lance", he said, "I want to tell you something. I want you to remember that when you feel like everything is going wrong in your Ministry, keep pressing forward because that means you are getting Satan's attention and you are becoming a threat to him. If he does not feel threatened by you, Satan will not pay attention to what you are doing, but once you become a threat, Satan will start putting obstacles in your way.
I never forgot what he said; quite a few years passed, and I was off doing mission work. I was leading a group to Jamaica. The week before we left a couple going on the trip faced a major financial situation that could have threatened them from going. Then a day or so later my song leader lost his voice. After that, Carolyn got a blood clot that went to her lung 3 days before we left. Then, two days before we were to leave the drive shaft broke on my van, a major expense to fix. The Saturday we left, the Elders were having their regular meeting at church; I told them what all happened to our team and I asked them to pray for us. The trip went great, actually was fantastic. This was the trip that got me back into missions, it is what gave me a heart and calling I needed. Another participant that went started mission work to help clean up after natural disasters, and she still volunteers at this mission to this day.
So, this February we started focusing on fundraising for our mission, we were building our concrete plans, setting up our board, scheduling our onsite meetings, you know really getting into the thick of things. Then Carolyn got sick, not once, three times, I got sick twice and I usually don't get sick. The clothes washer died, our water heater went out, there was a main water line in the master bathroom that had been leaking unknown to us that finally broke in my hand as I was working on the shut off valve. So we had to buy a washer, hot water heater, replace the laundry room floor, pay to have the main water line fixed and install the hot water tank. With all the craziness that is going on right now in the world, it makes me stop and think . . . hold on, God has something big in mind.
January 11, 2020
This has taking me sometime to put my thoughts together concerning the recent earthquake in Puerto Rico. As my heart breaks for the people, I am reminded that Puerto Ricans are strong people and they will pull through this with God's help. I know God can turn a bad situation into something good. After Hurricane Maria the people where looking to the Government for help, but that isn't where the first help came from. The first help came from the churches and their Pastor's going out into the streets with clean water, food and clothing. The people soon realized that their needs where being met by God through his people. I saw on Facebook today that a local church in the San Juan area was collecting needed supplies to take down to the affected areas.
So here is what I have learned about the situation in Puerto Rico. Just this morning, January 11, another earthquake hit and caused major damage even a landslide by one of the shelters. The major bridge leading into Guanica cracked and it closed making it harder to get help to the area. Some of the people are sleeping in tents or their cars as they are scared their homes will collapse, and some are experiencing PTSD.
So what can you do? Pray for earthquakes to stop, for financial support to help them recover, for restoration of power, for rest and safety. If you are interested in financially helping out Instant Message me and I can give you some options.
December 24, 2019
Merry Christmas! Those are hard words to swallow for some around this time of year. A broken Christmas is more what it feels like. What we have savored every moment this year for, is not quite living up to the expectations of the anticipated arrival for this festive day. No, this year has brought on many changes for our family, and I'm sure some of you are experiencing those changes as well.
Christmas to us has been about celebrating our Lord's birth with family. This celebration for us usually lasted about 2 weeks giving us time to visit those both far and near. Bringing in the Christmas week with a service at Church, a service for Christmas Eve., family celebrations that last all day on Christmas day, then closing that week with services at Church once again. Then for us it is moving on to family celebration number 2 around New Years, ending (once again) with services the Sunday after the New Year rings in.
A busy time indeed, a time where no matter how interactions with others transpire, the proper response is, "It's all good." To walk away with a smile on your face hoping the monster within doesn't rear his ugly head.
This year, however, is nothing like those years gone by. This year is quiet. This year, the celebrations of Christmas was 2 weeks prior. This year, our children are all grown, moving on with lives of their own. This year, they can't come home for the Christmas day festivities. This year the matriarch from one of the families will not be celebrating with us here on Earth. This year, we are pretty down in the dumps. But, this year, we were given a new challenge.
The Christmas we knew from days gone by has changed. We are bringing in the new Christmas with more celebration and more energy than ever before. What was once seen as a Christmas of misfits, is now the Christmas of new norms, new energy, new celebrations to look forward to. Today is the beginning of a new Christmas, new friends. This is the year when new traditions start.
We were challenged to start a new tradition this year. It was a very good year for us to start. We would like to challenge you with the same. Some of the old traditions of Christmas are gone, some are just beginning, and some . . . well they are a combination of the two.
We are ending this year thanking God for the family, friends, and traditions we have made, and we are looking forward to the new traditions that are yet to come.
God Bless and Merry Christmas,
November 30, 2019
The month of November has been a busy month getting all the administration stuff in place. Our website is officially finished now and our Facebook page is up and running as well. We have received some monthly support now and getting ready to start sending out support letters. In the midst of all of this administration time we are taking time for family and are traveling to Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with Lance's Dad. This year is going to be hard, it is the first Thanksgiving without Lance's Mom who passed away in July.
Continue to pray for us as we are raising support and continue to lift up the work in Puerto Rico.
So the adventure begins for Carolyn and I. Obviously if you have reached this blog you know or are now learning that Carolyn and I have been called to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico to help with church planting with the Living Water Vineyard in Aguadilla, and plan to move to the island by January 2021. The month of October has been a month to get things like webpage and Facebook set up and we have also started fundraising. We will update this at least on a monthly basis.