Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dec 5th

It was after midnight and the loaded bus would soon be leaving the church for the 5 hour trip to the youth retreat. Jose’s girlfriend called and told him not to go with those “fanatics.” He would have returned home but for the timely intervention by his mother. The first day of the retreat he moped around, but that first night he received Christ. From then on he was a changed person. He said in his testimony that he wished that people had known him beforehand in order to appreciate the difference that Jesus had made in his life! He stopped smoking, and even decided to be called by his second name because he was now a new creature! So we are all excited about this new member of our cell group, Enrique Ferrer.

You would have sat spellbound on the edge of your seat listening to the testimonies of the 15 new believers who were baptized this past Sunday. They have already gotten involved in the body life and have begun to bless us in different ways. Speaking of blessings, some of you may remember Soraima who traveled to the States a couple of years ago for medical treatments. She who can not talk, has become the communicator for the church! Using her cell phone or the cyber, she sends out prayer requests and announcements almost daily.

Fifteen candidates for baptism. Enrique is in back with windblow hair. We request prayer for the new ministry areas that are in the process of forming. We’d like the process to move faster, but we are not the ones in charge of them at this point. (Visitation, member care, special events,local and foreign missions, prayer promoters)

Praise and thanks to the Lord for the tranquil way in which the regional elections were conducted here in the country of Venezuela. We asked for peace and our prayers were heard.

With just 6 months left in Venezuela we are wondering what our next assignment will be.

Thanks again, Your prayers make a difference!

Melissa recuperating from minor surgery for ingrown toenails

Thanks for Praying,

Peter and Sharon

Friday, November 14, 2008

November 14 Update

Dear praying friends,

Would you be proud if your daughter was the co-secretary general of the United Nations? Well, okay, actually it was the South American Model United Nations. About 250 delegates and teachers from international schools from various countries met in Caracas for 4 days. In January, Melissa and several other teammates will participate in a similar activity in New York.

The NDLL (Network for Developing Latin Leaders) Conference in October was a success. 231 attended from many different denominations. It was an opportunity for leaders who are always planning and involved during church functions to be able to “sit and soak”. (Peter actually was always busy, only attending the very last session. Sharon was only able to go to half of them.) The speakers presented their material with compelling convictions. The participants left excited, challenged, motivated, with renewed perspective. One of the principle themes was that “being” concerns God more than “doing.” They also strongly emphasized a day of rest in the Lord every 7 days. Other important themes: transparency and accountability.

Two weekends ago 27 leaders and workers from the church spent 2 days and a night at a beach house on a private beach. We relaxed mostly, and planned strategies and objectives with respect to new ministries such as prayer, creative evangelism, and attention to visitors, visits to the sick or to slack attenders. This plan will provide more opportunities for the newer Christians, and increase responsibility and commitment in the ones who are already working. Ministry does happen in these areas, but it has not been organized and someone delegated to be in charge.

Speaking of being in charge, a deacon, Jesús Idrogo, was in charge of Peter’s class on leadership integrity this past Tuesday when we were out of town. There are two lower levels of classes and a special class on the family offered during the Bible Institute time, which is similar to ABF or Sunday School. Each elder has an assistant who is training to be able to do it alone.

Two old (in the sense of being “long known” rather than “advanced in years”) supervisors/friends visited us this past weekend: Jim Carmean, our former field director, and Gary Bowman, our former area director. They also visited each of the 8 missionaries left on the field, 3 couples and 2 singles, to aid in the redeployment process to another ministry opportunity. It did us a world of good to be able to disclose frustrations and also receive good counsel and encouraging evaluation. We were encouraged to back off from organizational responsibilities and spend more time just fellowshipping and mentoring in the last months we have here.

We started doing premarital counseling this past Sunday with two faithful youth, Luis and Mabel. Please pray for their future together as leaders.
We have been really disappointed, hurt and discouraged by the behavior of Domingo and Josefina. They lived together for about a month before getting married by the justice of the peace. It is a big struggle for all of the elders and wives. What do we do now? Most advocate acceptance, love, “wait and see”, but where does discipline come into play, especially when there is no confession or expression of repentance?

Today is Anzoategui day. What? It’s the official Anzoategui state holiday! Our family, along with about 50 other people, mostly youth, will take advantage of the 3 day weekend and travel to Caripe, a mountainous picturesque town with a retreat/conference center owned by our church association, ASIGEO. For the first time ever Peter and I have no assigned responsibility! We’ll just be there to talk with people. ☺

Thanks for Praying,

Peter and Sharon

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vacation Bible School

Dear Praying Friends,

Whew, VBS is over and the last 2 weeks are a blur already, but certain impressions stand out:

Lack of teachers. The majority of the trained teachers had either full time employment or were enrolled in summer classes, so they could not be involved during the actual afternoon hours of 2-6. Right up until 2 days before it started there were only 2 teachers confirmed for the 5 classes! Also we had previously had a 10 day CEF training, then a week of evangelistic activities which delayed preparations. Only one week was left before VBS started!

How achy my legs felt on the Saturday before it started: I was on my feet pretty much from 8:30am til 10:30 pm. The group that came worked hard, but it was too late a start. The dramatizations that we did each day were put together in a frenzy.

Saturday night the church copy machine died: Someone mistook a transparency cover, a thin, floppy, clear plastic material, for a transparency and stuck it in the photocopy machine, melting it onto the cylinder and damaging it. We still had to use it (after the repairman came at almost 10pm and picked out all of the melted pieces) as a new one takes several days to order. All of the copies for the rest of the week came out light, but at least still legible.

Monday, how bewildered and helpless I felt on Opening Day when a teacher quit 15 minutes before VBS started. One of the 2 confirmed teachers for over a month up and left 15 minutes before on the first day with no explanation. (She returned the next day and did a tremendous job cleaning the rest of the week!) A fellow who previously had only wanted to help with music, stepped in and said that he would be willing to do it for the rest of the week.

Tuesday: food poisoning: Early Tuesday morning everyone who had eaten the lasagna for Monday lunch got pains and diarrhea. A couple people had fever! Everyone showed up feeling queasy. This happened to be the day selected to enter a whale’s mouth containing dead fish, seaweed, and opened cans of tuna on the sides to enhance the atmosphere.

Wednesday the Water Pump went out. No water for 130 people using the 4 toilets all day. This also happened to be the day selected for Jonah to be spit out of the whale, rolling onto the floor amidst seaweed and several dead fish. The poor fellow, Robinson, was a good sport about it though, even though he did smell like a fish for the rest of the day!

Thursday Air conditioner failure: Thursday, 4 of the 5 classrooms were without air-conditioning and both teachers and kids sweltered through it somehow. One class chose to sit on the cool floor!
Friday everything worked!

An hour before the closing activity on Sunday we arrive to find that the backdrop and props for the closing activity for VBS had all been mistakenly taken down!

Around 115-120 children ages 4-13 came expectantly every day. They brought their parents to church on Sunday, filling the sanctuary to overflowing. Several new Christians helped out for the first time. One of them, Amelyn, brought her in-laws one day to help, and they both accepted Christ as Savior during the closing activity on Sunday!

Peter was usually in and about helping in lots of areas as gofer, construction of props, repairman, transportation for the people who fixed the lunch for the workers, and snacks for VBS.

Sharon learned a lesson from Jonah. He was obstinate, hated the people that he ministered to, and was even outraged at the overwhelming results of his ministry, yet God used him anyway, even if he didn’t want to be used. It shows me how much God loves. It is his overpowering grace, combined with the power of His Word that brings about results, regardless of the attitude of the proclaimer.

Peter convened a small Christian Ed/ discipleship meeting at our church for 2 days. 7 were present from different churches. The purpose was to give exposure to several resources available, and categorize them. The 4 men from out of town stayed overnight at our apartment.
Even though October is several weeks away, Peter spends much time in planning, consulting, correspondence, and working out logistics for the International NDLL annual conference to be held in Venezuela. About 350 attendees are expected from South America.

In a couple of weeks our 12th grade daughter, Melissa will depart with her high school for a field trip…. to the Galapagos Islands! We are all excited about her new school and the opportunities it affords. She is taking 3 AP classes.

Thank you for your prayers,

Peter and Sharon McMillan

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For most folks this is vacation month, and also for most churches this is special activities month. Our church is no exception: From August 1-9 our church hosted the first ever regional Child Evangelism Fellowship training. The director, Andreina Hurtado, stayed in our home and fit in nicely with whatever else was going on. We had invited about 30 churches, but only 5 churches ended up participating. 22 people attended, including 9 from IBM. The sessions were in the evenings and all day for 2 Saturdays. Everyone who finished the course was excited and encouraged. It was agreed that we would do another one next year. They will be good promoters for next time! Besides Sunday School teachers, several of the members of our church also help out in neighborhood weekly outreaches aimed at children and adolescents.
The Lecheria cell groups celebrate Peter’s and Melissa’s birthday.

This past week, August 10-17, our church, together with another church, was busy with an evangelistic campaign. We focused on 5 areas where we have members or already have a cell group. Around 70 volunteers from all over the eastern side of Venezuela stayed in homes of church families. In the mornings they get together with another church for training time. After lunch the volunteers divide up and are transported to the area where they work. We had around 30 volunteers for our church. In five different sectors they, together with local members go out door to door and have a 1-11/2 hour long night program with skits, songs, movies, and brief message. Peter did various errands for the different sectors, and Sharon coordinated the evening meals for our group in Arabella, an apartment complex. Sunday evening the church was packed to overflowing, and every sector gave a report with the final results: 572 contacts, 189 completed studies turned in, 112 people who prayed to receive Christ. Now follows a 12 week period to incorporate the new believers into cell groups.
The group of workers at Arabella Melissa participates in the drama “Jesus, You Are My All”

Sharon is in charge of VBS, which starts on August 25 -29 from 2-5:30. Each class will prepare a presentation for the parents to be performed on Sunday night. It will be based on the life of Jonah. We will decorate the entrance, steps and door as if it were a dock and the children will get “tickets” and ascend the ramp (steps) to board the ship. The second day we will make the main hall look as if it were the inside of a whale, complete with opened cans of sardines and tuna fish for the smell effect! The snacks are also geared to the themes. One day they eat fish in blue gelatin, and on the last day they eat “worms.” We have a lot to do. We still need 2 more teachers. Most of the college age students, who help out a lot, are taking 1 or 2 summer intensive courses, and so I’m still on the lookout for new recruits.
Last Monday, August 11, Melissa started her senior year at a new school. By the grace and foreknowledge of God, the Venezuelan field had set aside funds to help the last mks on the field, since no boarding facilities are available. We were able to make use of these funds so that she can be at a good, international school. Otherwise, we would have to home school as her former school has rapidly declined in quality and number of students while hugely increasing the tuition. She is taking 3 AP classes and has started volleyball practice.

Also last Monday, after being with us for almost 3 months, Heather returned to the States to find a job. She was instrumental in getting together a new group of youth from this area who are either not Christians or are just beginning to grow. Please pray for José, Gina, Rosita, Vanessa, Pablo, and Gabriela, as well as Melissa, who will continue to reach out to them.
Peter is coordinating the III International Congress on Leadership to be held in Caracas in October. This organization (NDLL) seeks to encourage Latin leaders to grow, to be transparent, and to set their priorities correctly so as to finish well. There will be speakers from 8 different countries and we are expecting 350 leaders to be in attendance. We will focus on equipping leaders whose leadership is informed and shaped by the Bible, who have such a grasp of the content and intent of Scriptural books as to be able to apply them to current situations.

In Christ’s service,
Peter and Sharon

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July Update and Merida Vacation

Dear Praying Friend,
It would be great to always write about victories and the power of the gospel transforming lives. If you expect encouraging news this time then you will be disappointed. If you are “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer” as it says in Romans 12, then you will find much to bring before our Lord in intercession.
Last week, Peter and two other men went to the drug rehab residence to relocate furniture and other items. The drug rehabilitation program that had so much promise has come to an end for the time being. The son of the owners of the property, who at first was a positive influence, has continually sabotaged the enforcement of rules and challenged authority. Therefore, until we can find a suitable location, this ministry will be on hold. For the time being, suitable arrangements have been made for the several men according to their needs.
During the first week of August our church will host the first ever intensive Child Evangelism Training in our area. CEF operates mainly in the central and western area of Venezuela, but this year they are giving the training in different regions. Over 30 churches have been contacted. We would like to see as many workers as possible take advantage of this opportunity. It should prove to be an invigorating time as we get to know and encourage one another.
The IBM church is in charge of promotion for the work among the Panare Indians. Do you remember that a group of 4 men flew to an unknown area to stay for 6 weeks and witness? No sooner had they arrived than they were told that they could not preach out in the open. So they had a “family meeting” in a big hut which houses 4-5 families. Again, they were told not to talk about the Bible. They were able to visit with people out in their gardens in the surrounding jungle. Finally, the only person with contact with the outside world, without their consent, sent word that they were “bored and wanted to be picked up already.” They had to cut short their stay to only 3 weeks. While in some ways they were not able to communicate as much as they would have liked in this village, they were able to learn more about other neighboring villages that have never heard the gospel. Plans will be made to send another team to those areas.
An unstable woman, who had left our church years before because she did not want to heed counsel, has now been back for almost a year, exhibiting the same attitude as before. Unfortunately, a certain leader who has been so dependable, and such a good example, is determined to marry her, despite all advice to the contrary. He refuses to acknowledge the debilitating effect the relationship is having on him. He has been relieved of his responsibilities for the time being.
Two weeks ago we had to wear coats
and gloves! The temperature was at 40° and white fog and snow surrounded us as we carefully placed our feet on the ice. One night it dropped below freezing and as we had no heat in the room it went down to the 50’s. Where were we? We took a week to drive to the Andes and enjoy a cooler clime. Except for the 2 times that the car broke down, it was relaxing and refreshing. (Actually, the only time we were surrounded by snow was in Merida, at the top station of the word’s longest and highest cable car.)

Construction update: the hold-up at the moment is that we are waiting for the former owners to sign a document stating that the land is all paid for. The owner has been in the US for about 2 months and is supposed to be coming back next week. We need that document so the city can put the land in our name and unify the two lots and thus allowing us to submit the construction plans.
Here’s the good news about our apartment, after being given the run-around for several months. The buyer, who is also a lawyer, finally informed the city register that he was going to sue them for not doing their work, as well as not giving him a receipt for his share of the procedural costs. All of a sudden the tide changed our way! A supervisor came out of nowhere and invited us into her office. She looked over the papers, told us that she would personally take care of arranging for the signing, and that it would be ready that very day! By noon Friday, we had signed and the money was transferred to the mission’s bank account.
Steve and Cheryl, formerly partners with us here in Lecheria, have been working on a new church plant in Tenerife, Canary Islands, for over a year. For the next 2 weeks, a couple from our church, Lisandro and Anita Marcano, along with a work team of 18 people, is helping them with an evangelistic outreach.
Other prayer concerns: A part time church secretary; training of deacons and wives and other leaders for more responsibility; finding a replacement couple before our departure anticipated at the latest for June, 2009; and last but not least, finding the best option for Melissa’s senior year of high school.

Due to complications with our old address we have changed our address to:

Thank you for praying,

Peter and Sharon

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Melissa as "Wendy" in Peter Pan

Melissa had the part of Wendy as well as the Student director.

June 4th Update

Dear Praying Friend,

Robert is 39 years old, a drug addict who inhabits a run-down, almost empty, dirty house on the corner by our apartment. Peter had passed by him for years as he sat on the sidewalk in a stupor. A couple of months ago, he set fire to the house, causing damage to the roof. At the same time, Peter had been convicted about acting like the Levite and the priest on the way to Jerusalem, who did not bother to help the wounded, helpless man lying on the road. After talking with him and his mother, Peter arranged for him to join the drug rehabilitation program in Eneal. He has been there for 3 weeks now. Pray for him to be regenerated and for his family to be receptive to the gospel.

Sharon has been counseling 2 ladies who are susceptible to deceptive lies from the enemy. Pray for them to be lovers of the truth, and to seek to please God above all things. This Saturday we will have a baby shower for another mother, and there are 3 more on the way for this year! These events provide opportunities for sharing among the generations of women so that the younger ones acquire biblical attitudes of their roles. Sharon will give a short talk this time on the difference between Lot’s wife changed to a pillar of salt, and carved pillars that adorn a palace, as in Psalm 144:12.

Last week 13 tractor trailers brought in fill gravel to raise the level of the foundation on the church property. On the agenda for this week: obtain water and electricity permits. A concern is for prudence and wisdom in dealing with the local labor unions. These organizations compete for customers as the law requires that a certain % of the labor force of any construction project be from the local area, not “imported.” What often results is that the owners pay a monthly “payment” (bribe) to one union, and put up a notice with the name on it, and the owners then hire whomever they want to work. Another solution would be to hire a contractor who would deal with the labor unions.

After a 2 month delay, the Department of Religion granted what we thought was the permission for TEAM to sell our apartment. Actually, according to the fine print, it says only that TEAM has permission to register the minutes from the missions meeting where we authorized the sale, not sell it. We have less than a 30 day window in which to register them with the court house here, but of course, they asked for an additional document which we are unable to procure until the TEAM secretary returns from a very much deserved vacation in Canada.

Peter attended a mentoring workshop (Mentorlink) May 27-29th in Valencia. He enjoyed the interaction with mentors from Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and the US. The mentoring concept surprisingly was a new idea for most of those that were in attendance. On the way back the bronco broke down in a forested area and needed to be towed to a garage. Fortunately, Peter had a passenger with him. He got a ride to the nearest town, was able to get the car towed to a garage, and find a hotel for the night. The next day a mechanic fixed temporarily the coil brace that had broken off.

Remember the Panare tribe for which our church is the promoter? They are concerned to share the gospel with some villages which lie far to the south of them, close to the Brazilian border. These villages are only accessible by small plane. Last Wednesday a group of 5 leaders flew there to stay for 6 weeks. This means much sacrifice on their part, being absent from the family farm. Those 5 men left with only enough money to pay their way there! The return trip cost is being collected from amongst several churches.

Prayer concerns: For a new part time church secretary. I know, we mentioned this the last time, but we haven’t replaced her yet. Direction, discernment, and steps taken to A: further train deacons and wives and other leaders for more responsibility, and B: start the process of either producing or finding a replacement couple before our departure anticipated at the latest for June, 2009.

Due to complications with our old address we are changing our address to:

Heather has been teaching us new things about the computer. Check out our Blog at

Thank you for praying,

Peter and Sharon

Leveling the Church Land

Getting ready to level the land
All ready for work teams!!!!