Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cologne to Los Angeles

After the conference ended in Wiedenest I stayed on and had a couple of very quiet days. I purposely allowed a few extra days just to walk in the countryside and do a little thinking and meditating in preparation for my return to Los Angeles. There were only about 20 of the conference delegates left and little by little they departed on the Monday and Tuesday. By Tuesday evening there were only eight of us left.

Tuesday was an early start. A student from the Wiedenest Bible Institute took me to the airport leaving at 5.45 am. My flight for Heathrow, London, left Cologne at 8.35 am. Cologne is a quieter airport with Frankfurt to the south being much bigger and busier. I thought I may have encountered more delays at Heathrow, but no. Security was tight and strict but moved along pretty quickly. After an hour and a half in London it was a 10 hour flight to Los Angeles, flying over, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. It was interesting seeing Greenland with snow and ice and then with a clear demarkation give way to the tundra vegetation and small lakes.

Nancye met me at Los Angeles and it was then home to relax. The family was all somewhere else celebrating the 4th of July, Independance Day. We celebrated at home!

Later I will try and post a few photos of the conference.

Monday, July 02, 2007

SLOW train to Berlin - FAST train to Cologne

The Wiedenest Brethren Missions Conference officially finished on Friday. It was a most stimulating time giving a fresh vision of the work of the Lord world-wide. It makes us realise that we are not alone in the battle but that the Lord has His servants everywhere faithfully spreading the gospel. Of course there is still a need for workers as the harvest is great!

Earlier last week Brian Killins (missionary in Bogota, Colombia) mentioned to me that he would like to visit Berlin. That part is OK. However, late Friday night as I was enjoying a cup of tea around 10.00 pm he looked for me to say, Manuel Cortes, a Colombian brother from Bogota also wanted to join us, however, Manuel had to be back so as to return to Colombia on Monday. We would have to leave at 4.30 am on Saturday morning. I like the adventurous spirt of Brian and responded immediately with a "YES"!

The three of us left Wiedenest by bus soon after 4.30 am and arrived in Gummersback some 40 minutes later to stand on the railway station freezing while waiting for a train. After almost dying of cold in the frigid morning atmosphere we took the train into Cologne about an hour to the west. After a half hour wait we took the slow train to Berlin as between the three of us we purchased a family ticket that only cost 33 Euros. However, to get to Berlin (600 kms from Coogne) we had at least nine changes of trains and waits of over half an hour in each place, but it was good to sit back and enjoy the German countryside. There were crops of wheat, barley, sugar beet, corn, potatoes and millet to name a few. The German countryside is so green and well organized. It seems there is no waste land. There is either forest or farmland , apart from the villages. We passed through Dusseldorf, Essen, Hamm, Hannover, Braunschweig and Stendall to arrive in Berlin some 11+ hours later. We found a hotel and after a quick "rest" took to the streets on foot and by bus to see some of the sites. At dusk we went up the Berlin tower to see the city as the sun set. It is a very attractive and interesting city. After a meal at 11.00 pm we returned to the hotel and were up again at 7.00 am.

We tried to find a church nearby but to no avail. After a breakfast we took a tour and visited the downtown and government area - what remains of the Berlin wall, Check Point Charlie, what was East Berlin, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and much more. It was a very interesting morning. Earlier we had made the decision either to return on the torturous slow train or get the fast train. We opted for paying a bit more and taking the fast train. The fast train left at 2.00 pm and we were back in Cologne soon after 6.30 pm. What a difference as we flew acroos the countryside at speeds of up to 200 kph with no changes of train and just a few stops.

What an adventure! It made me nostalgic of missionary days in Colombia when would take off on adventurous evangelistic trips to remote villages. Oh for another life!!! We'll just have to wait for all that the Lord has prepared for us in the adventures of heaven.

Today I am going to relax. I purposfully allowed two free days at the end of the conference, when most have departed, to walk in the countryside, read, pray, meditate and prepare myself for returning to the demands and problems of the work in Los Angeles. Your prayers would be appreciated as we have a serious issue before us that is demanding our attention back in LA.

Friday, June 29, 2007

From Every, Tongue, Tribe and Nation ...

The Conference in Wiedenest has been a great experience of unity within diversity. Today my lunch was with Turkey, U.S.A., Pakistan and the Philippines. Afternoon tea will be with another group and on it goes. The main sessions of Bible Teaching and Mission Focus have been from a diversity of men from around the globe. The best two communicators, in my opinion, have been two brothers from Kenya and Zambia.

The evening sessions have been moving as different men have brought reports from their home countries. Last night we heard from Alfredo Capote and his homeland Cuba. It is a miracle that he got a visa to leave, but he talked of 776 believers in 60 assemblies in Cuba and that in spite of repression. Hans Ramirez reported on Colombia. What a joy to see a Colombian proudly, but nervously, bring a report on the progress of the gospel in Colombia. Sony of the Andaman Islands (India) followed with a report on the devastation of the Tsunami with 40,000 who perished but none of the local believers. Hani from Sudan talked of the inroads of Islam and the civil war in that land. Finally we had a most moving report on Turkey and the reality of the martyrdom of the three men a few weeks ago. But God is at work in the world.

This afternoon we have the closing session and the main speaker will be a local brother from Germany.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wiedenest, Germany

I arrived in Germany on Sunday afternoon at the Cologne Airport to be met by Toby, a German, and three other brothers, one from Malaysia and three from Zambia. These men have become my friends while at the Conference. Coming in to the airport one is impressed by the Rhine River and the two spires of the famous Cologne Cathedral. We waited a while at the airport as one of the Zambian's suitcases didn't arrive. It was then a fast drive on the autobahn to Wiedenest a small town of 3,000 directly east of Cologne - about an hours drive. There are two speeds on the autobahns, fast and very fast. We were doing 160 kms per hour and cars would zoom past us at probably around 200 kms per hour.

Wiedenest is set in a beautiful setting of hills and valleys. It is green and it has rained every day since our arrival. The Germans jokingly talk about two days of summer they got back in April.
It is so tranquil to be out in a more rural setting. Wiedenest is the home of the Brethren Assemblies' Bible Institute. They have a fine facility and it is an ideal setting to host the Brethren International Missions Conference. There are attendees from 78 countries of the world, including places like Cuba, Nepal, Iraq, Russia and Eastern Europe. The Lord is doing a mighty work all around the world. I find it most stimulating to attend such a conference to receive a new or fresh vision from the Lord. I always fear getting into a rut in the work I am doing for the Lord.

The morning sessions have focused on Bible Teaching and then the rest of the day different aspects of mission in relation to the current needs of the world. There has already been participation by men from France, Italy, Germany, Kenya, and the U.K to name a few countries. In the late afternoon there have been workshops to choose from and in the evening reports from different countries of the world.

Yesterday I went to a session for the some 80 participants from Latin America and Spain. There are some 8 representing the work in Colombia - Brian and Sheran Killins, Betsie Killins, Cristina, Carlos, Hanz and Andrea - and then me as a ring in. The Colombians accept me as one of them.

I should be at the morning prayer meeting but my secretary, treasurer, manager and coach informed me that I should do a spot for the blog. So as an obedient husband I am complying!

I have had a few good chats with my fellow New Zealanders; John and Helen Hodgkinson, Phil and Janice Aish and Ron and Eunice Diprose. I have yet to sit down and talk with Rob Purdue.

On Monday Chris from Malaysia and three brothers from Zambia and I went into Cologne on the train. It took about an hour but we were able to see the cathedral , the Rhine River and Roman ruins. The Cathedral, built over several centuries, is so huge and the the architecture spectacular. On Saturday I am probably going with Brian and Sheran Killins by train to Berlin for a day or so before returning to Wiedenest and then back home to Los Angeles.

So I'll try and get a few more details written later. Until then ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Yes, we have now been home for 2 days and are gradually settling in again and catching up with all those things that pile up when one is away! Jon did a good job maintaining things for us for which we are thankful....even if he did acquire a new kitten while we were gone!!! Don't know that I'm too happy about that but I am outnumbered in that department I'm afraid (Nancye talking here!). The kitten is called Patience and just happened to turn up on Angela's doorstep and I guess they all fell in love with it but sadly Angela already has an indoor cat and so didn't want to keep it - guess we 'lucked' out because we have a bigger backyard.

Well, our trip to Colombia was great, busy, tiring and went quickly! It was good catching up with old friends, seeing how the churches have grown not only in number but in maturity. We ate many typical Colombian foods (which Dick especially enjoyed - he would 'sneek' out and buy his real favourite Almojabanas every chance he got!! (type of cheese like bread...there is a breadstore on nearly every other corner in Bogota.)).

Our trip home seemed long and boring - quess we were tired from getting up at 3 a.m. We flew to Miami first from Bogota, went through Customs there and then flew on to LA where Jon picked us up at 5.30 p.m. Not too much jet lag involved with only 2 hours difference but we are still catching up.

On Wednesday we expect our first visitors of what seems to be a busy year of guests, but we look forward to seeing everyone and hope we have caught up on our rest by then.

One of these days we hope to get a few photos on this blogspot for all to see, so we will continue to work on that - sorry I don't have the experience to do that so will have to wait for Dick to have some time to do it.

Thanks for all your prayers in our travels.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


We have now been in Bogota for 4 days and seem to have managed to keep busy! We have been out to lunch each day either with former friends from here and to a typical Colombian restaurant with a few members of one family. So we are being spoilt as usual. I don't think we want to find the scales when we get home.

Last night the J.Vargas church here put on a banquet for couples and Dick was asked to give a message on marriage. There were about 40 couples present and we had a great time. Things are different here - it was supposed to start at 7 pm but I guess it was nearer 8 pm before things got started. They began with an ice-breaker and that was playing bingo in couples. Then they played the old game of asking questions of both partners and seeing if the answers were the same!! Quite a laugh. In between times there was singing. The dinner was actually served at 10 pm so it was quite a late night for us. The folk we are staying with just live a few blocks from the church so we walked home before the others did. This morning they told us that about 3 couples (including them) had gone out for pizza after they had cleaned up and so they didn't get home until 1.30 a.m. I'm glad we had left early as that was a bit late for us oldies to be out eating pizza!!

It was interesting today at the home where we had lunch. The husband starting talking about Novosibirsk...saying he had visited there a few years ago! He works as a salesman for some sort of equipment and had been to Russia quite a few times so it was interesting to share stories with him and learn of his experiences there. He was telling how he had been there in the winter and just how cold he found it....even putting blankets around the windows in his hotel room to try and keep out the cold!

There was supposed to be another meeting for leaders here tonight but it has been cancelled so I guess we will have a quiet evening at home which will be nice. Tomorrow we will be at the old assembly that we helped to start so it will be good to see old faces and new.

We leave here on Wednesday having to be at the airport at 5.30 a.m. and arrive back in LA at 5 p.m. Taking into account the time change - it will be a long day. We look forward to seeing the family back home and getting ready for visitors the following Wednesday!!

Until the next instalment................

Monday, April 09, 2007

Wonderful Opportunities in Bucaramanga.....

Visiting Bucaramanga (Colombia's fifth city) is like returning home. The believers have given us a very warm welcome and have used us to the full! A brother asked me to preach on radio last week and it included an interview followed by a 15 minute message. What was interesting was that a Judge, second or third from the president, was also present (not a Christian) and interviewed and he then stayed on to hear my message on John 5v24. He commented afterwards that it had touched his heart. He gave me his email address to maintain contact.

The believers in the two assemblies here asked me to speak 19 times !! Some of those meetings included young people and 5 sessions at eldership level. There is really a desire to serve the Lord and to have a biblical basis of leadership. One assembly is a daughter assembly of the original assembly established here in 1973. What is encouraging is to find young people who were discipled in the 1980's who are now functioning as elders. We had a great time together. Of course they want us to come back, at least to visit, but would like us to return and live here!

In the time we lived in Bucaramanga I made over 100 trips to the town of Malaga high up in the Andes mountains where our missionary team saw an assembly established. Martin Sandoval, an elder in that assembly who was saved in 1973, came down to Bucaramanga to spend time with us. He has been faithful serving the Lord in Malaga all these years and has held the assembly together.

On Sunday we spent the day with the Santa Maria Assembly (the daughter assembly) at a recreational park. We started at 9.30 celebrating the Lord's supper and the resurrection of our Lord in a kiosk with 70 people. It was great to be in a tropical environment with beautifully laid out lawns, gardens and trees and hearing the birds singing in the trees and at the same time listening to the believers enthusiastically sing praises to God. Their faith is meaningful to them. Afterwards there was a shared lunch, game of soccer and swimming in the pool.

At 7 pm the youth choir from the main assembly came to the balcony of the apartment where we are staying to serenade us. They sang without music and in four parts and did a good job. They then came inside and sang some more to us after which the young ladies made a meal for us. It was a typical meal from here of arepas (corn cakes) with caldo de papa (potato consommé). Then the young people all shared their testimonies. Six out of the nine, in their early 20's, come from very catholic homes.

This morning a brother called me and wanted me to visit him in a very poor suburb. He is 68 years of age and said that before he dies he wanted to put things right for the trouble he caused 25 years ago! He wanted me to come so he could ask my forgiveness....that was special.

Tuesday, April 10, we fly to Bogota for another week of meetings. We will be staying with Gilberto and Sandra Vanegas. Gilberto was saved in 1972 and was our first disciple in Colombia. He now has a great ministry in Bogota. We look forward to a great week of fun and fellowship.

We just haven't had time to put photos on the blogspot but will do so sometime even if it is sometime after we arrive home.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The "good life" in Bucaramanga...

Yes, we are really "living it up" here in Bucaramanga being invited out to lunch (which is the main meal of the day) each day and yesterday we were even invited out to someone´s home for breakfast. This breakfast was typical for this area of Colombia and consisted of fresh squeezed orange juice, a soup, (a consumé type of soup with potatoes, bread and cilantro and then eggs poached in it!! sound gross? Quite nice actually.) arepas (a type of corn cake) and café con leche (coffee made with milk). A big meal! Then it was out to someone else´s home for lunch which was also real different especially for here. The plate came with a large crepe on it and then in the middle of the table were ingredients like we would put on a taco. You piled all these ingred. on the crepe and squeezed lemon juice over it and ate it with a knife and fork! There was cheese put on the top but no sour cream - that would have been nice too! At another home one day we were served with a soup (fish) and then rice with shrimps in it and a fish type pasta salad and mixed vegetables. So life is interesting to say the least.

Most people know that I, Nancye, like to sew so it is a dream here for me to go shopping for fabric! Here in Bucaramanga you can still buy beautiful, good, fabric as most people buy the fabric and then go to a seamstress to get their clothes made. Marcia took me (Dick of course stayed at home!) to a part of town where for two blocks on both sides of the street it was all little fabric stores (a little like downtown LA - but better!). We had fun walking in and out all these stores, and of course buying a few pieces of fabric along the way! It is real good quality and such a variety of materials. I could have bought something in each store but restrained myself knowing we didn´t have that much room in our bags to take it home!! Would love to go back.....

Dick is keeping busy with meetings and is especially enjoying his times with the men where they discuss different issues related to the local church. So far he has spoken about 7-8 times and being Easter they are having extra special meetings so has about 9 more to go before we leave Bucaramanga on April 10. There are two assemblies here and so the meetings are divided between the two with some being combined.

On Sunday the assembly we are going to is going to do something real different. They are all going to this big ´private´park (a little like a country club) where we will have the morning meeting outside in a kiosk and then there will be a picnic/potluck and an afternoon of fun I guess as there is a swimming pool. We have never been to this place so are looking forward to something different.

The weather continues to be rather pleasant with only a few times that I have really felt the heat and humidity. We have had some heavy storm like rain, but it only lasts a little while before it clears up again. Sleeping has been quite good with cooler nights for which I´m grateful.

We leave Bucaramanga next Tuesday for Bogota and look forward to our time there - maybe not so busy, but one never knows until we arrive just what has been arranged for us.

Thankyou for all your prayers.....

Saturday, March 31, 2007


Here we are again in Bucaramanga after two days of travel and one day here. It seemed to take a long time getting here having spent one night in Miami and then 5 hours in the airport in Bogotabefore coming on here to B/manga arriving at 7.30 in the evening. While in the airport in Bogota we had lunch with Gilberto from the church in Bogota and we spent about 4 hours chatting with him and catching up which was great. We were given a warm welcome with Marcia and one of our "old" young people there to meet us!! He was in the young people's group when we lived here but that is 20 years ago so now I guess he is 40!! It is good to be back but we see many changes not only with people but the city has grown immensely and the apartments where we used to live now seem so old.

We are staying with Marcia in the same block of apartments where we used to live and that seems strange - one or two families still live here and remember us! Dick went walking yesterday down the street where we once lived also and one old neighbour greeted him with "hola Don Ricardo" which was interesting.

We had our first meeting last night and it was good catching up with old friends then. We have meetings programmed for most days while we are here and going to a different home each day for lunch, which is the main meal here. Quite a few of the folk that were here when we lived here have moved away to other cities so we will miss them.

The weather is being kind to is the rainy season so quite a bit cooler and not quite so humid so that makes Nancye happy!!

Until the next episode......

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Colombia - The Preferred Place to Visit

Recent weeks have been marked by the visits of several well known people to Colombia.

George Bush, President of the USA
Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft
Bill Clinton, former President of the USA
The President of Germany
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain and
the Yarralls from Long Beach.

So Colombia must be the preferred place to visit at the present time and we must be in good company!!!

We leave Los Angeles for Colombia, on Wednesday morning, March 28th. We will spend the night in Miami before travelling on to Bogota on Thursday, March 29th, arriving midday. Our flight to Bucaramanga is not until 6.00 pm so Gilberto Vanegas is going to meet us in the airport and we'll have lunch together. Gilberto was saved in 1971 and has been faithful to the Lord ever since. He is an elder and Bible teacher in his assembly and has developed a good Emmaus Correspondence work in Bogota.

More in Colombia.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Men's Breakfast

Men's Breakfast wth group from Westminster, March 24 - Ariel Corral, Lalo Gutierrez, Martin Martinez, Julio Lopez, Jesus and Carlos Obando.

Cat Show

Some cat's are intelligent. Angela's is really intelligent.

Spotsie watching a Nature Show

Saturday, March 17, 2007

back again....

It has been a while since we have written anything here but thought we could update any who are interested in what we are up to.
At present we have Stan and Wilma Jenkins staying with us from Scotland so that brings back many memories of our trip to Scotland/Russia last year when we stayed with them just outside of Aberdeen. We are having a lovely visit but they leave to return to Scotland today.
We recently found out that we had some more Air Miles available and that they had to be used this year or we would lose them! So, praying about it we have decided to use them to take a trip back to Colombia over the Easter break. In Colombia Easter is a great time to have conferences and so Dick is going to be speaking between the two churches in Bucaramanga during that Easter week so we are looking forward to that and catching up with old friends. We lived in Bucaramanga for 10 years so have many memories as you can imagine.
After that we will go back to Bogota where we spent 3 1/2 years of our beginning years as missionaries and will be staying with Dick's first disciple who is now in his 40's and working full-time for the Lord as an elder in his assembly and the assembly where Bill and Angela work when in Colombia so that also will be exciting to be back with them. It is some 36 years now since we first went to Colombia so a visit always brings back many memories.

Our other news, for those who don't know, is that our daughter, Debbie, who is in Russia, is expecting another baby so that will make three! She and her family are planning a furlough later this year so we are looking forward to them coming home for a few months and also having the new baby born here!

So, in the next few weeks we will try and share some of our experiences on this blog for you to read.
We'll be in touch.