Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Albrektson's Prayer Letter (Guatemala ISP Conferences, February-March 2008)

Dear Friends:

The tourist bureau calls Guatemala "The Land of Eternal Spring," which may be perfectly true in a meteorological sense, but it was the land of daily surprises on my last trip. I had just returned from Tokyo, and after a one-week turnaround, caught up with the rest of my team for a pair of International School Project convocations in Guatemala.

The first conference took place in the idyllic island town of Flores, which just happened to be the place where the Mayans fought their last stand against the Spanish. Our first clue as to how unique the conference would be was when teachers showed up an hour early. Then we realized that about a hundred more teachers were coming than expected. Almost every small group leader commented on the warmth and openness of the teachers in their group. And my interpreters were the best in the business. See in the picture how Jorge even imitated my gestures!

After a day of sightseeing in Tikal , we wondered what our second conference would be like. It proved equally rich. Yes, we had more people than expected. But each day brought a new challenge. Day one: The hotel couldn't manage the "snack break" and we were immediately thrown 45 minutes behind schedule. Day two: The local Teacher's Union declared a strike and street demonstration that paralyzed the busses. Our teachers just ignored the strike and left home early—via taxi!

In the midst of the second conference a new regional minister of education took over from the one who had spoken at the opening ceremonies. When the new minister attended the closing ceremony he was amazed, and said, "These teachers are actually having a great time! I've never seen this at an educational conference before!"

Please pray as I leave for Kyrgyzstan tomorrow. The regional minister of education is very cold to us. Remember that my last conference in that country in 2005 ended in revolution and a hasty exit.

Thanks for allowing me to have this ministry!

God bless,
Ray & Kathy Albrektson

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Thank you for remembering my family in your prayers during my visit to our church planting teams in Siberia and during my “time of real testing” – taking care of the home and kids while Ruth was away at a conference for 9 days. We could not have made it through without your prayers.

Some Good News!
After two difficult “tours of duty” our family decided that it was time for a vacation! And since our residence permits require everyone in our family to exit Russia one time every six months, we thought it was time to head south. With the help of a generous special gift from my home church, we were able to afford a discount tour to a sunny part of the Middle East (Egypt). It was great to get away from the dark weather and the daily challenges of life in Russia (if only for 7 days).

Some Negative News
While we were gone, the main administrative offices of the Russian Baptist Union (where I work) experienced an internal leadership struggle and consequently a financial crisis. In an effort to overcome these problems the Baptist Union’s “Council of Bishops” will be meeting in closed session next week. Please ask the Lord to grant the Council supernatural wisdom. This is a critical time for both the Russian Baptist Union and for the Mission Department in particular.

Unfortunately, I will be away from Moscow next week attending a PIONEERS leadership conference. Please say a special prayer for Ruth and the kids while they are home without Dad.

I will update you on the Baptist Union situation as soon as we receive any news. In all things we remember that God is our strength and our shield.

Warmly, in Christ, Jim Overton, +7 903 154-8887 SKYPE mail2jim

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Living Water International trip to Kenya, East Africa

Hello Friends and Family,

It's a real blessing for Marcia and me to serve on the Living Water team and it’s special to be able to travel to different parts of the world to bring a cup of water in Jesus’ name. I get another opportunity this coming week as I go to Kenya.

Kenya has been in the news since the end of last year as they sorted out the results of their Presidential election. During January, hundreds of people were killed while 250,000 to 300,000 people were kicked off their lands because they belong to the ‘wrong tribe’. Last week, the two main groups signed a ‘power-sharing’ agreement. The violence has ended but there are still feuds and bad feelings between many of the tribal groups. Hopefully, true peace will return.

As for me, my travels take me to the deserts of northern Kenya for about 10 days. While there, I’ll travel around to document the LWI work done over the last 18 months. So, I get to smooze with the nomads, smile a lot and eat lots of goat meat. The chiefs usually cut the skin off the leg of the goat and make it into a wrist band. We’re supposed to wear the ‘bracelet’ to show everyone that the chief didn’t send us away hungry. It’s not real romantic, but it’s cultural.

After I finish up north, I plan to go to western Kenya, by Lake Victoria. LWI has a long-term project, providing a well, latrines, and hygiene training to over 10 schools. The schools use the water they need and sell the rest to the community. The income goes to pay for electricity and maintenance for the well and for school supplies. Great program.

If you would, please pray for me (and Marcia) while I’m on this trip. I plan to leave March 9th and return March 26th. My itinerary follows.

God bless you and may he keep you safe in the palm of his hands,

John and Marcia

I ask for your prayers. Please remember to pray for me on these days. Specific prayer needs:

- As always, pray for Marcia. John will be away for a long time and Marcia normally doesn’t sleep well when he is gone.
- I will be working in two different areas: by northern Kenya by Ethiopia and western Kenya by Lake Victoria. Pray for spiritual growth of the Kenyan teams. There was a lot of violence in Western Kenya and the people are still sensitive.
- This will probably be my last trip to Kenya as my assignment has switched to the Living Water programs in West Africa. It’s always sad to say goodbye to good friends.

3/9 John leaves Houston and flies to Nairobi
3/10-11 Arrive in Nairobi. Spend the night and fly the next day to northern desert, Marsabit
3/12-15 John meets with partner in Marsabit. Most of the time will be driving to the finished projects and documenting work.
3/16 Church, worship and rest. We will be with the Gabbra people, less than 5% are Christian.
3/17-19 Continue to work in Marsabit. We may be part of dedication ceremony for some of the sites. That means eating a lot of goat: boiled, roasted and/or stewed.
3/20 Fly back to Nairobi and then fly to western Kenya to meet with partners
3/21-22 Help arrange for new drilling projects and check progress of those started last fall. This is important because of violence in area over the last two months
3/23 Church, worship, preaching, rest, and site seeing.
3/24-25 Work with partners in Kisumu to finish projects.
3/25 Return to Nairobi and fly to Houston in the evening.
3/26 Arrive back in Houston.