DEMYSTIFYING DEPUTATION: How Does It Help Our Missionaries Fulfill Their Calling?

My husband holds ordination license with the United Pentecostal Church International. (Referred to as UPCI) The UPCI is a fellowship of Christian ministers who have united in order to evangelize the world for Jesus Christ. We can do more together, rather than individually.

Jesus said when the gospel of the Kingdom was preached to the whole world, the end of the age would come, and He would return for His Bride, the Church.

In order to preach the whole gospel to the whole world, the UPCI sends out Missionaries to lands, both foreign and domestic. These Missionary Heroes are held in the highest esteem because they are willing to leave everything behind and follow God’s call to teach and preach the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to people anywhere and everywhere in the world.

This is an all consuming task. It takes every bit of their time, energy, strength, emotions and finances, yet they do not complain, because they are fully persuaded that the Cause of Christ is greater than anything they must give up.

Since it would be rare for our Missionaries to hold a secular job, it is the UPCI’s responsibility to provide a reasonable income for them to live productively in the land where they labor. This is achieved by having Partners In Missions. (Referred to as PIM) Exactly as it sounds, it is an opportunity for individuals and/or Churches to partner with Missionaries by supporting them with monthly offerings and covering them in prayer.

Each geographical area has a set budget amount that must be raised by the Missionary before they can go. Once they have raised their budget amount through PIMs, they go to the land of their calling for a four year term. Before their budget is raised, and after each four year term, Missionaries travel inside the States to collect PIMs.

This process is called DEPUTATION.

Each district (state) has a District Global Missions Director (DGMD). My husband is the DGMD for the state of Tennessee. It is the Director’s job to help facilitate the Missionaries being scheduled to visit Churches throughout the state where they serve. So, each Missionary and their family will travel inside a state for approximately two weeks, visiting as many Churches as they can, before traveling on to the next state.

Why is this important?

When a Missionary visits a Church while on deputation, they share the burden that God has placed on their hearts for their country. They connect local congregations to God’s work all over the world.

Deputizing Missionaries connect local congregations to God’s work all over the world. Click To Tweet

How do they do this?

For starters, they will likely tell you how they received their call to go, and all they went through to make it happen. How they prayed and sought the Lord for direction. How they made application to the Global Missions Division of the UPCI. How they interviewed with the Global Missions Board. How they told their family and friends goodbye through hugs and tears. How they sold or packed away most of their possessions. How they attended language school to make sure they could communicate in a foreign country. How they have made plans to homeschool their children while living in a car or camper for months on end. How they have been traveling, or will be traveling throughout the United States for so many months until they have acquired enough PIMs to fill their budget. This will take about three minutes to tell, because it’s not what’s most important to them.

Next, they will get a glimmer in their eyes, and begin to tell you about the country of their calling. They will share practical information first like the population, what the country produces and exports, its climate, its indigenous animals, and what types of foods there are to eat.

After that, they will become very animated when they begin to talk about the people they will be ministering to. That is what’s most important to them. The people. They will tell you about waitresses, nurses, truck drivers, school teachers, doctors, government workers, stay at home mothers, factory workers, teenagers, idol worshippers, and precious little ratty kids with boogers smeared across their faces who do not know Jesus. They will show you pictures of them, and call them by name, because they know them, and love them.

You will sit through this presentation with your heart on the verge of exploding from the need to do something, and you will weep. You will weep for the faces. You will weep for the hopelessness of humanity without a Savior. You will believe the Missionary when they say that you can make a difference to one person, to one village, to a nation.

Some give by going. Others go by giving.

The Missionary will then present specific needs. Projects that they are also raising money for. It could be to raise money to open a Bible School, or to rebuild a Church that a hurricane has destroyed. It could be to start an orphanage, or dig a well for a particular community. The needs are a never-ending story.

At the close of their presentation, the Missionary will give you the opportunity to fill out a pledge to be a monthly Partner In Missions and/or to give a one time offering to their special projects. You will want to do both because you will have realized by this time how blessed you are to have the choice.

As you leave the sanctuary, you will probably pass the Missionary ‘s table where they have beautiful items displayed from the country of their calling. You will touch them, and feel connected to the real people who crafted these items with their own hands. You will shake the Missionary’s hand, and hold on a few seconds longer than necessary; willing them to feel your heart-wanting them to know they’ve made an impact in your world-wanting to make an impact in theirs. You will tussle the hair on their children’s heads, standing there so tall beside Mom and Dad. Brave little soldiers.

As you get in your car with your little family, and head for a restaurant, you know you will never be the same. You’ve realized, maybe for the first time, that the Kingdom of God is bigger than you thought, and humanity is more lost than you thought, and you must do more to bridge the gap.

As you lay down in your soft bed with a full belly that night, you will begin to feel a stirring in your spirit…

a face…

a place…

the name of a country…

a call…

…and while you are contemplating what it all means, the Missionary family will be driving down the road to the next Church, in the next town.

This is DEPUTATION.

Warm Regards, -Pat

CALL TO ACTION:

Have you ever been moved by a Missionary’s passion for the country of their calling? Tell us about it in the comments.

-Have you ever felt like you might be called to the mission field? 

Have you ever been on a Mission Trip? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Visit GLOBALMISSIONS.COM to find out more about Missions in the UPCI.

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, shoot me an email PAT@PATVICK.COM, and SUBSCRIBE HERE to my newsletter.

Gray Hair. Don’t Care. (It’s My Birthday, After All;)

My fifty-first year was short, but mighty. It’s been my favorite so far. I did a lot of living, a lot of learning and a lot of loving in the past three hundred sixty-five days.
A LOT OF LIVING
January brought our fourteenth trip to Belize. We think of it as our home away from home. I climbed Mayan ruins for the fourteenth time, and saw the country through the fresh eyes of my youngest son and nephew.
In March, I conquered my fears, and pushed past preconceived notions, when I flew Etihad Air to the Middle East. In Oman, I trekked sand dunes, swam in the Indian Ocean, and ate the best food I have ever eaten in my life. I was mesmerized by the brilliant fabrics, frankincense wafting in the air, and the gorgeous doors of hospitality.
In the UAE, I took in Dubai from the bird’s eye view of the Bourj Kalifa.
I saw an indoor ski slope in a Dubai mall (AN INDOOR SKI SLOPE!!!), and stood in the hush under what must have been thousands of butterflies in the Butterfly Room.
Covered from head to toe, I toured the magnificent Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
June brought our thirtieth anniversary trip to Jamaica where I did nothing but soak up sun, sand and food. Oh, and I did meet a husband and wife, also on their anniversary trip, who had also recently visited Dubai. The big world is getting very small, indeed.
July took me to Trinidad where, at the lowest point of the Pitch Lake, I walked on a molten sea of tar, and at the highest vantage point of St. George Fort, I prayed a blessing over the country with outstretched hands.
August was my tour guide to Malaysia. Both Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur (via Hong Kong). I have yet to sort out my feelings from this trip, as there was so much of…everything. Sights, sounds, smells, people. So many people. No more space to spread out, so everything climbs up, up, up.
Besides traveling outside of the country, there were plenty of trips interspersed stateside to make most people dizzy. School of Missions in St. Louis, Missouri. Family vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Ladies Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee,  Ministering in Tulsa, Oklahoma, UPCI General Conference in Kansas City, Missouri…I digress…
  A LOT OF LEARNING
I learned that people are people all over the world, and that God is God in every nook and cranny of it, as well.
I learned that no matter what language a person speaks, you can always communicate with a smile, a hug, or the squeeze of a hand.
I learned that people can tell you are sincere if you show respect and appreciation for their customs.
I learned that preconceived notions about people only breeds fear and hate.
I learned that these bodies we live in are fragile, yet they can be sturdy as nails when the need arises.
I learned to wear compression socks when I fly long distances.
I learned that eyes leak when hearts are longing to reconnect across datelines and timezones.
I learned that food poisoning makes you feel like you are dying, and wish you could, but then you don’t, and you are glad.
I learned that when you travel with friends, the journey is so much sweeter.
I learned that the work of God is bigger than me, and I will do just about anything to be a part of it.
A LOT OF LOVING
Husband, Children, Daughter-in-Love, Grandson, Twin Grandsons on the way, Men and Women of God, Family, Extended Family, Church Family, Community, Friends. Heart Connections. I love them all even more as I turn fifty-one than I did when I turned fifty.
So what if I’ve got more gray hair than I did last year. I’ve done a lot of living, learning and loving over the last three hundred sixty-five days to get it. Gray Hair. Don’t Care…It’s my birthday, after all;)

Choosing To Live In The Face Of Terror On 9/11

Anyone who knows my husband and me very well, knows that in recent months we have ramped up our travels out of the country doing Missions work. Today, in light of the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11, I will answer the question that people have begun to ask me on a regular basis, “Aren’t you afraid to travel so far?”  The answer to that question is, “Yes, sometimes I am.”

FEAR ISN’T ALWAYS BAD
That being said, fear isn’t always a bad thing. It actually causes you to live your life on purpose. Fear is only bad when it paralyzes you from living. Healthy fear should cause you to keep your head up and your senses alert to make wise choices. It causes you to take inventory of your life, and make sure it is filled with worthwhile endeavors. Living fully for God, and working for His Kingdom, are definitely worth a calculated risk.

King David declared in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

DEATH IS UNAVOIDABLE
I have a newsflash for you: Everyone dies. We had just lost a close family member when I turned to my oldest son, looked him square in the eyes, and spoke these words. They washed over him the same way they just washed over you -thick, cold and sticky. I don’t regret saying them. I wanted him to know he only has one life, and it needs to be spent wisely.

THE TROUBLE WITH PLAYING IT SAFE
Here’s another newsflash for you: Living in certain safety doesn’t keep you from dying; It only keeps you from living. I choose to think of my life as currency. It’s going to be spent on something. That something might as well be eternal.

Living in certain safety doesn't keep you from dying; It only keeps you from living. Click To Tweet

NOT A LICENSE FOR FOOLISH LIVING
Healthy fear should cause you to move cautiously, not foolishly, forward. People that are running from God live foolishly. Taking crazy chances with your life is not using wisdom. Living strung out on whatever new and exciting high is just around the corner doesn’t bring glory to God. Get yourself under control and live with eternity in mind!

FEAR VERSUS TERROR
On September 11th, 2001, weak and foolish people attacked our country. They spent their lives in one swift payment to induce a state of terror upon their perceived enemies.

I’ll admit that in the wake of those events, I was panicked. Then I was numb. Then I was angry. After a while, I realized I wasn’t really living anymore. I was paralyzed by my fear…just like the terrorists wanted all along. It’s what they spent themselves for. One day I decided to send all that terror back for a refund. I refuse to give them what they paid for.

HONOR WHERE HONOR IS DUE
Who do you want to honor with your life? Terrorists? When you allow yourself to live in terror, that’s who gets the honor. Do you want to honor the victims? Our military? Our first responders? God? That won’t be done by hunkering down in a quivering puddle and refusing to live your life.

Are there more bad guys? Affirmative. Could something really bad happen again? Absolutely. Do bad things happen to good people? Unfortunately so.

When I’m tempted to allow my fear to paralyze me, I remind myself of the text that my friend in the Middle East sent me the night before I flew.

“Pat, I want to thank you for conquering your fear and getting on that plane…”

Because we got on that plane in the face of our fear, thirty-three people received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost for the first time. Most, if not all, of those thirty-three people have now been baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of their sins. Thirty-three faces that I will see in Heaven when my life is spent.

Lest you think I am promoting self, and are tempted to say, “God could have done that without you,”…Yes, but He chooses to use people.

So, today, in light of the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11, I will not cower and give place to terror. Instead, I choose to live fully and on purpose for the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

I will leave you with one of my very favorite quotes:

Safety is not in the absence of danger, but in the presence of the Lord.” -Unknown

Warm Regards, -Pat

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter, and email me: Pat@PATVICK.COM

 

Beyond The Veil: Ministering in the Gulf States

“And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!” (Genesis 17:18)

We had anticipated this trip for months with mixed emotions. We had heard it over and over, “You’re going where?!” The exclamation mark that ended our preparations and began our final and longest leg of travel to the Gulf States happened in the bowels of the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, as we were about to board our Etihad Airlines flight.

Flanked on every side by men in white robes and head wraps, and women in black abayas and hijabs, our emotions were on high alert. Looking to foster a sense of camaraderie, my husband casually asked a fellow traveller if he was going to be on this flight. Unfortunately, his response of, “NO, I’m not getting on that plane!” did nothing to alleviate our tension, and just like that, we were off to the Gulf States.

After flying through the night, we arrived Wednesday at midnight, exhausted, and very relieved to see the Worker’s smiling face there to welcome us. He loaded our luggage into his SFC vehicle and drove us to his home to get some sleep.

Early the next morning, we woke to a myriad of new sights, sounds, and smells, assuring us that our long journey had not been a dream. The Muslim call to prayer broke the predawn hush, sounding completely foreign to our ears.

Our senses were overloaded as we got out for some sightseeing on Thursday. We spent the day getting acclimated, touring downtown, the market and the local mall. We saw beautiful architecture the likes we had never seen before, and a vast desert landscape resembling a windswept canvas. Transposed against the muted earth tones of the desert, and the stark black and white robes, were the vibrant colors of the people’s zeal for living. Plush rugs, cashmere scarves, fringed veils, and always the aroma of incense wafting in the air. Amber, Jasmine, Frankincense.

Over all, we saw people going about their daily lives. Even though the unfamiliarity of their wardrobe and language seemed strange, seeing families with their children in tow, while they shopped for groceries and other household necessities, helped us to put things in perspective. People are people all over the world.

People are people all over the world. Click To Tweet

As darkness fell on Thursday night, it was time for our first service. It was to be a preliminary meeting for the official anniversary service that would be the next morning. Anxiety, that had been dispelled through the day, snaked back into our minds, as we wondered how we could have service in such a closed place.

Several people, dressed in traditional attire, walked by in front of us as we crossed the street to enter the rented building. At this point, we simply had to trust the Workers’ judgement, who were living and raising their family here.

You might expect that we found a pitiful group of worshippers, huddled together in whispered prayer, fearfully looking over their shoulders. You would be mistaken. This group of 30-40 believers welcomed us with joyful embraces and hand shakes. They listened intently as the Word was delivered, and worshipped afterward with zealous abandon.

The keyboard, drums and electric guitars were just as loud as any back home. We cast several questioning glances at the Workers, to which they simply smiled and continued their enthusiastic worship. We had no choice but to trust and enjoy the atmosphere of pure praise. Later, it was explained to us that the platform and windows were lined with sound reducing material, which kept much of the sound localized and muted to the outside.

Friday morning, which is the religious day in this area of the world, we gathered in a banquet room of a local restaurant. To the Believers, it was their sixth anniversary service. To everyone else, it was just another festive occasion, complete with decorations and a buffet afterwards. Once again, the worship was unrestrained, and this time, there was no soundproofing to buffer the enthusiasm. This small group knew how to throw a great “party,” as seventeen people received the Spirit!

Afterward, as we gathered for the meal, several of the Workers’ local friends joined us for fellowship. The women talked about raising babies, and the men spoke of their shared interest in business and farming. There was much that went unsaid among the group, but was understood nevertheless. I looked around the table at the diversity of nationalities, cultures, languages, and was in awe of the privilege to be in this moment. As I was pondering what it all meant, and where it would lead, a young Muslim wife, dressed in her black abaya and head covering, walked around the table to where I was sitting, knelt at my feet, and presented me with the gift of a beautiful bracelet that she had brought from her village. She held my gaze with her dark henna eyes, as she offered me her friendship. I wondered, if the roles were reversed, would I have offered the same to her?

Location-1 was outgrowing its borders. Forty to fifty Believers are all that can congregate together without drawing undue attention. The Workers took us to see a fifth floor apartment, which had been newly acquired for a second meeting place. We were thrilled to learn that one of the rooms was to be used to start the first Word School in the country. Again, this facility was padded with extra thick carpet, a lifted platform, sound reducing material packed into the windows, and heavy drapes. As you read this, Location-2 is thriving, and working toward a third location in the city.

We traveled south by plane to a more remote city for another assemblies’ one year anniversary service. Location-1 had been flying two people weekly for a year to this city in order to establish, teach and stabilize this daughter work.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel where the group assembled in a banquet room each week. We were definitely not going to blend in here, where everyone that we passed in the hallways was dressed in their traditional attire. Once again, we asked ourselves how we could possibly have a service in this clearly closed place.

The next morning we awakened to rhythmic percussion and voices lifted to lively music. The banquet room was a few doors down, and these Believers were apparently very serious about their praise team practice. My husband and I looked at one another in disbelief, and I said what proved to be prophetic, “You know they’re only going to get louder.”

Once again, we had a powerful celebration service, complete with music, decorations, and a buffet filled with food. Sixteen new Believers were Spirit filled in that service, making a total of thirty-three new babies in all. Most of these were immersed in the Only Saving Name at a later time, after we and the Workers had left.

Although we have a long list of personal stories we could tell about the people we met, one most reflects the hearts of the people we encountered. My husband and the Worker went out for a few hours on a guy excursion to visit a nearby camel farm. As they wandered up, uninvited and unannounced, there was a group of shabab (young men) in their late teens and early twenties hanging out, as youth do.

My husband’s spiritual sensors immediately went on alert as he wondered how he would be received. He had no need to worry. Hospitality permeates even the culture of their young people. The young men welcomed them into their tent, made them hot tea, which they drank while sitting on the floor, talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. My husband was even treated to a free camel ride, which he may or may not have fallen off of.

We think often of the man in the airport, at the beginning of our journey, who reacted with such hostility at the thought of boarding “that plane.” When we juxtapose that image alongside these young men’s hospitality, and the memory of my new friend on her knees at my feet, offering a gift, our hearts are saddened to realize the majority of the people we know and love will never have the opportunity to overcome their fear, and come to know these precious people.

I have heard that the Total Immersion Technique is the most productive when learning a new language. This is exactly what we experienced. We were totally immersed in the culture of the Gulf States. In twelve days, we went from being anxious and awkward, to loving these people like family. The sights, sounds, smells and faces, once so foreign, are forever part of us. We will continue to carry the people they represent with us, and lift them up in prayer. Their story has become ours, and we are honored to be able to tell it for them.

Warm Regards, -Pat Vick

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter, and email me: Pat@PATVICK.COM.

*NOTE: This article was previously published in the May/June 2017 issue of The Pentecostal VOICE of Tennessee magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tongan General Confrence 2016

“Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.”

(Isaiah 42:12)img_0841As we approached for landing on the main island of Tongatapu, two things made an impression on us concerning Tonga and her people. From the air we saw her magnificent blowholes. It seemed to us that no one could live alongside such beauty and not be deeply affected in their souls by its splendor. We also saw her patchwork of dark, volcanic farmland. Considering their 2016 General Conference theme was to be, “FLASHPOINT: Having a Mind to Work,” those rich, fertile furrows assured us that these people were definitely no strangers to hard work.

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Tennessee Missionary Sis. Crystal Reece, was awaiting our arrival, having been in Tonga for the past three years on her first appointment. On the same flight were fellow Tennesseans, Missionary Evangelist Monte and Sis. Diane Showalter along with Tennessee Global Missions Director, Gary and Sis. Pat Vick. Pacific Regional Director, Roger and Sis. Becky Buckland would be arriving later that day.img_0819The Tongan people are very hospitable. We were honored with a Welcome Feast when we arrived at the UPCI Headquarters Church and Bible School. The team was overwhelmed and humbled by platter after platter mounded with food that they had sacrificed to prepare.img_0837Services didn’t begin until Thursday evening, allowing us a few days to see the sights and get our bearings. A van had been rented, enabling our group to travel together. It was during this time that we first visited Tonga’s acclaimed blowholes at low tide. Here, ocean waves crashed into porous channels of volcanic rock, and blew skyward for twenty to thirty feet, in a great symphony of spray and sound. We were also able to drive through the countryside, taking in the sights, sounds and culture of these wonderful people.img_0820Even though they have little in the way of money or material possessions, they utilize every natural resource to enrich their lives. One example of this is their beautiful Tapa Cloth, which they make by pressing the bark of trees into paper-like sheets and decorating them with dye made from local berries. These are coveted pieces of artwork that are given as gifts in friendship and are also essential to the foundation of Tonga’s tourism. Missionary Crystal Reece said it best, “Tongans think they are so poor, but they are really so rich, and have so much to offer.”img_0828Once the conference started on Thursday evening, sightseeing was put to the side, and pressing into the Spirit became our focus. Bro. Showalter was the day speaker. With each session he laid a solid foundation of Apostolic teaching on the New Birth. Bro. Vick was the night speaker, focusing on moving forward into new levels of faith and commitment. Sis. Showalter and Sis. Vick ministered in the ladies’ service on Saturday. The Lord had prepared each speaker with messages that built upon the conference theme, “FLASHPOINT: Having a Mind to Work.”img_0840From the first song in the kick off service, it was apparent that the Tongan Church loves to worship. They are a naturally joyful people. This was manifested again and again, whether it was through their colorful clothing, the smiles on their faces, their beautiful voices as they harmonized in song, or their eagerness to dance with zeal in praise and worship. Since modesty is a cultural norm in Tonga, their long, fully-covered style of clothing allowed freedom in worship. The atmosphere compelled each of us to join in with exuberance.img_0824Each message had to be translated from English to Tongan. Bro. Showalter was overjoyed that his translator was the same man who had translated for him fifteen years before as a young man. What a joy to know he was still thriving in the Church and in ministry.

Bro. Vick’s translator and his family had travelled from the Tongan island of Vava’u (where he pastors) by ferry for twenty-four hours on rough seas to come to the conference. It humbled our hearts to realize that many did not live on the main island of Tongatapu, but had been so desperate for the Word of God and the fellowship of the brethren that they had come at great risk and sacrifice from the outer islands by boat. You might recall a story in the news from several months ago of a ferry that capsized with several hundred souls lost to the sea. This happened within fifty miles and could have been any of these precious saints of God.img_0830The structure of the conference was the same as one would expect at our North American General Conference. This is important to note because the United Pentecostal Church work in Tonga is only forty-five years young. We were blessed to meet eighty year old, Sis. Ofa Manu. She, along with her late husband, were the first UPCI converts in 1971 by Missionary Don Dobyns.img_0808Because of the strong structural foundation that was laid over the last forty-five years, there is a strong Bible School presence in Tonga today. We witnessed three new Bible School students graduate and be presented at this year’s conference. Sis. Crystal has worked tirelessly over the past three years in the Bible School on her first appointment, as well as several years previously in the Associates In Missions program under the leadership of former Pacific Regional Director, Bennie Blunt.img_0831 img_0832

Friday was Missions Night. There was great anticipation from the beginning of service. When the offering was taken, a spirit of giving flooded the sanctuary. The congregation began to flock to the altar to put their offering in the baskets provided. The giving was not done grudgingly, but with a joyful expectancy that God would use every single pa’anga for furthering the gospel.

In the spirit of sacrificial giving, one Tongan minister brought his ta’ovala and placed it on the altar as his offering. The ta’ovala is a woven mat worn wrapped around the waist on formal occasions. In the fashion sense, it is comparable to men’s neckties in North America, but with a great sentimental value. It is woven with many strands to represent community and tied with a four-strand rope to represent family. It is usually one of the only possessions of monetary value that a Tongan man would own, and is passed down from generation to generation.

It took only a few seconds for the congregation to realize what had just taken place before there was an explosion of praise, worship and more giving. Another Tongan minister, who had just received his Local License in this conference, walked to the front and placed his shoes on the altar. He worshipped the rest of the service barefooted. The image of the baskets of pa’anga, the ta’ovala and the shoes of a barefoot worshipper are seared into our minds.img_0811

Being the final day of conference, Sunday was a full day. We arrived to find all the beautiful children dressed in their very best, eagerly waiting to go in for a Sunday School presentation. They melted our hearts as they quoted scriptures and sang, “This Little Light of Mine in both Tongan and English.img_0805That evening, we were privileged to witness as Pacific Regional Director, Bro. Roger Buckland gave the charge to a minister and his wife receiving his Ordination License.img_0821The 2016 Tongan General Conference concluded Sunday night with twenty-two people having been filled with the Holy Ghost. That final worship service was phenomenal as the people praised God for all they had seen and experienced. After all, it had to be enough to carry them back across the sea until the next time they could gather with their brothers and sisters in the Lord.img_0835Monday came all too soon with the team members heading in different directions, some preparing to go home and others traveling on to scheduled conferences. The week had been so full that we hardly had the time to wonder how we would feel when the conference came to an end. Old friendships were rekindled. New friendships were forged. In both old and new, hearts were united for the cause of Missions.img_0839

Our one last trip to the blowholes was at high tide. What had been beautiful was now so much more. With the rising of the tide, every distinguishable characteristic had been enhanced. It was so majestic and powerful that at least one of us wept. However, in all of its glorious splendor, even this natural wonder could not compare to the glory of the Church in Tonga and around the world.img_0838