We are now serving in Saint Croix in the US Virgin Islands. The United States purchased the Virgin Islands (including St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John) for $25 million in gold in 1917 from Denmark. This lovely property, that the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base owns here, was a Sugar Mill Plantation hundreds of years ago, which processed molasses, very valuable to produce rum back in the day, with the work of slaves. It was humbling and sad to hear about the past use of this property, but God has redeemed it, to proclaim Jesus as Lord! Jason and Vanessa are current directors of the base, and Vanessa and Dani are wonderful cooks. The buildings were constructed with mortar (including molasses!), which is deteriorating over time. You can see the sand piling up on the ground beneath the blocks. Please pray for the insurance settlement to meet the costs they incurred by the hurricanes Irma and Maria that damaged the property when they tore the roof off the dining hall, tore down trees, and destroyed the fence.
Merle and I do various tasks to improve or keep the property running well. I help with cleaning, tutoring students on homework assignments, encouraging kids, some food preparation, and teaching piano skills to the directors' older daughter. I still take some time to write the newsletter, do a little Bible translation in Bosnian for language practice, and work on my book. Merle does remodeling projects, like replacing tile, fixing doors, sewer blockages, and pipe replacement, for which everyone is very grateful. I was thrilled to realize that the pool on campus was filled, so besides helping to clean it, I can swim a couple times a week, which is great for stretching and exercising for my twisted back.
The base currently has a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) on Outreach, serving the local community in various ways and sharing the truth of Jesus with those they encounter. They tutor some local kids from a housing project, play games with them, and love on them. They lead PE classes for the local home school groups and the local youth group. They pick weeds and harvest kale and collards for a local Cruzan farmer. They pray and worship, prayer walk through the community, help to prepare or clean-up after meals, clean up brush, and more. They love Jesus! We love YWAM!
A local Cruzan farmer needed help harvesting kale and weeding peppers. My old knees and thighs were very sore after that! We were rewarded with coconut water and coconut jelly, so refreshing.
We also have had the privilege to spend some time with friends, Nick and Janine, on their catamaran that Merle crewed to sail to St. Croix last April and May. We were able to do a little snorkeling and SCUBA (Merle). Above are pictures of two stingray we saw, a little flounder camouflaging himself in the rocks, and a sea turtle. Merle got very close to all, and they weren't alarmed. Of course, there were lots of colorful fish to observe, and enjoy God's amazing creation. Another day, we hiked to a remote beach where I did a little snorkeling.
We visited with Delores over the phone and she is doing great. Luke, for his 21st Birthday, dyed his hair blue! Hannah is sewing while she waits for responses from her new book submission. Lydia hangs with her roommate, Natalie, at TFC. We purchased a car from a girl leaving the island and hope to resell it at the end for the same amount, or more. We are in the middle of the island, and it is not always reliable to get around with the 15-passenger taxis. We taught some east coast swing dancing. It was great fun, but wore us old folks out!
Merle with the mosquito zapper, helping us to sleep well; a Mystery Dinner Luau where nerdy Marine Biologists visited; St. Croix has Home Depot! They also drive on the left here. And the Birthday boy takes a well-deserved break, but he'd rather be on a catamaran!
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23-24