As we settle back into our “home” culture of the military, we do sense many opportunities to minister to the folks here in northern Japan. One couple has invited us to meet with each of them to help and encourage them as they both serve in leadership positions in the chapel programs. So it has been blessing not only to get to know them personally but also to find kindred spirits in our outdoor pursuits and thus great tour guides for the local area. All five of the kids we presently have between the two families are about the same age so while it’s loud, even the kids love it.

We appreciate your prayers and God’s responses for getting settled in quickly. We’re not done, but close enough for the family to function smoothly on a daily basis and have some hope to get at least one car in the garage before snowfall in a month or so…

Please join us in praying for a smooth, uneventful delivery sometime in mid-October and for continued discernment on where and when we are to engage in the local community.

Sitting by a really hot spring in the Hachimantai mountains. Yes, that is steam…

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February slipped away with amazing speed, as we should expect since it lacks five days. However, it has taken with it our airplane! Just as we were beginning to receive increasing requests to fly, one of the engines burned through an exhaust pipe. Thankfully, we landed safely and were even able to return the next day. But the mission has agreed we need to do some work before the plane goes back into service – we are estimating 24 March as we wait for parts from the US…

We fully understand that never in scripture does God guide through frustrated efforts. Nevertheless, please pray with us that He would clearly guide our next step. A significant factor in this is our support rising from 70% to 100%. We have absolutely no doubt God can do this – since we’ve seen Him do it in our own lives before. Our question is, will He choose to thus move people in this case?

Much also depends on decisions of the mission’s leadership over this month regarding both the flying operations and the church. So we’d also appreciate your intercession for wisdom, insight and God-given courage for our leadership as they visit to evaluate and set the direction for PMA’s future here in Palau. (And if you know of anyone looking to donate or write-off a Cessna 206 or small airliner, please let us know 🙂 !!)

So it’s been a month of perseverance development – but if we had no needs, why would we need Jesus? 🙂

The girls on one of our favorite Sunday morning walks… and us in our 20′ container office at work.

"We were never meant to make it on our own," sings an old Twila Paris tune. Certainly we’ve often benefited from all of you – our extended prayer and support team. We could never being doing this without you. Case in point: during the ten days Slick was in the US, one of your teammates agreed to come help us, not only making it possible to continue our service to Palauans and local missionaries, but going well above and beyond despite the humidity, ants and gecko poop J. Please join us in praising God for Joy’s selfless service, encouragement and countless examples of how to raise godly young ladies and also for Slick safe travels and successful absorption of much info necessary for the government contract.

Many details are still in the works regarding the contract, including the start date. On our part, however, please pray today that God would bring the right US-licensed airplane mechanic at the right time to work on the Cessna 337 we will fly and maintain during the contract.

Much as we’d love to bring stunning answers to prayer regarding the church, as you know, relationships take time to heal, so again today please lift up in prayer the leaders of our church, that the Word might deeply impact their minds and actions, as well as the pastor and wife, that they may be encouraged as they fight to stay the course.

Teamwork – lunch on our porch/dining room after helping us put up the trampoline. Gene (the mechanic, far left in red) and his wife Aurora (in black) work with us at the airport. Pastor Marty (left, blue striped shirt) is the youth pastor, leaving shortly to get married in his native Philippines. CJ (right, white shirt) may come work with us as an aircraft mechanic / missionary after his training is done in a month or so. The rest are mostly church elders and their wives (and Donna and the girls).

On Christmas eve we received confirmation that the Lord has responded to your prayers by awarding us a US government contract. Thank you Lord! andthank you for praying last month! Now for our latest requests 🙂 …

As you know, all churches are broken. That shouldn’t be surprising given that we, broken people, are the ingredients. As you’ve been praying for grace in our relationships, God has been answering by blessing us with opportunity to encourage the leadership of our local (and also imperfect) church.

– At their request, Slick led them through a two day seminar to help them determine a solid plan for 2014, but past hurts reared their ugly heads. Please pray with us that healing and reconciliation of people in the church would continue and bring the glory to God in the way only such events can.

– Also, at their individual invitations, Slick now meets weekly with the pastor and Donna meets with his wife. Please pray with us for the wisdom and insight to strengthen and encourage our brother and sister in Christ who lead our church.

Finally, please bathe in prayer the wives and young children of two men lost at sea when their boat capsized on the night of Dec 29th. After three fights and many boat trips of searching, only the lost boat has been found. Though sea search is one of our missions, words can’t capture the gamut of emotions at working so close to such a tragedy, especially when one of the lost is a friend. Gino Henry and Jesse Abrahams.

THANK YOU for enabling us to be here!

A beach on Kayangel, the typhoon ravaged northern-most inhabited island of Palau. More pictures are on our Flickr site. Ironically, we have yet to find a local locale like this. Beaches on the main islands are either man-made or private, and always prohibitively pricy. But there is a great nearby pool with a semblance of beach with sand, lap swimming, water slides and other fun activities. It offers a welcome break from the heat and the girls love it.

If you like solitude, surf and translucent azures and aquas clearly mixed by the Master Artist Himself, the east coast of Angaur is your place! We visited it together one day when loads were light and time was flexible. Another day, while waiting on some folks who’d chartered the plane, Slick ventured around this whole island of maybe five square miles and 100 people, meeting and building relationships with more of the folks we serve (lying six and a half miles outside the protective reef that surrounds most of Palau, Angaur receives the bulk of our service due to limited boat access). Since everyone knows everyone here from birth on, we will always be outsiders, but over time we’d hope to gain enough credibility and trust to speak into a few lives here and there.

Some days we feel covered in spitballs from the enemy, but at the end of the day, we look back and thank God for His protection from both the known and the unknown threats – thank you for praying so He might be glorified by His response to your requests for our protection! The house continues to be both a challenge and a blessing…on one hand, small enough, it is super easy to take care of, but there are no closets or garage and so we have been leaning heavily on "creativity" to create storage space. But on the up side, our "dining patio" is big enough we were able to host our Filipino mechanic and his family of 6 for Thanksgiving J!

So as we look forward to many opportunities over the coming months, please pray that God would clearly guide with regards to a potential government contract and a chance to reach impressionable youth through an aviation program that the community college is considering. Finally, since people are central to the "work" here, we’d appreciate continued petitions for grace on our part, especially during this Christmas season.

Thank you immensely for praying. We wish you a Merry Christmas..and a happy New Year!

A house on the main road that took significant damage in the typhoon. Most of the wood has already been sold as firewood and the lack of jungle here now yields a wonderful view. Other than the northern most island, the rest of Palau sustained fairly little damage.

As we prepared to negotiate the rent we wanted to pay, the owner of the "blue house near the airport" offered us that exact amount. So we smiled seeing His hand in it, took that as confirmation of God’s response to your prayers for a home for us and moved in early November. After six intercontinental moves in four years we’re hoping this will be our last "new" house for a while 🙂

On one hand it’s hard to believe we’ve been here for two months already. On the other, Slick’s already met with countless key people all over the islands and negotiated a potential government contract which would go a long way to subsidize the "missionary" flying and other mission work of PMA. While this contract will mean a lot of flying hours, the real fulfillment comes when we can serve folks on the outer islands:

When, the state boat couldn’t make it to Angaur for over two weeks last month. Food became quite scarce and fuel non-existent. The local elected officials banded together to buy 800lbs of rice, 250 lbs of frozen chicken and 25 lbs of soy sauce which we crammed into every nook and cranny of our "pick-up truck" plane. The weather was, well let’s say "a little rough", but the Lord cleared the way long enough for us to slip in between squalls. "Don’t thank us, thank Jesus, he is the one who sent us here" is Slick’s response to the sometimes desperate, always grateful people we get to serve. The next week, after landing, we were met by a concerned son whose aging mother’s diabetes has swollen her terribly. She was quickly loaded onboard and we raced (well that might be a bit of hyperbole in the Islander) north. The ambulance met us on the tarmac and she was able to get the dialysis treatment she urgently needed and is back home today with her family who sleeps better than they used to because you have enabled us to be here.

As time goes on, however, the sun has been shining and relationships age and we recognize the increased need for the grease of grace, both from and for us. So we’d love for you to join us today as we seek God’s special protection as well as discernment and grace in daily interactions.

"Hey, Daddy! The engine stopped! And it’s a long way down to those little islands…"

Leveling the plane at 1000 feet, I can almost see from one end of Palau to the other. The northern tip of the biggest island hides behind lush hills, but to the south countless islands dot the sea. Palau’s islands range in size from two trees wide to 36 miles long. Water varies in color from sandy beaches to pale green reefs to deep blue in narrow channels and over the drop-offs into the wild ocean beyond. Even if it weren’t so beautiful, we’d both be thrilled to be flying again.

We cannot thank you enough for standing beside us in prayer. After a strained ankle, a coral cut requiring an ER visit and two stitches, a lost wedding ring (found / returned 5 days later!), a day of incapacitating illness and a blown truck tire, all in three weeks, it is clear we have some resistance to us being here. While in a sense opposition encourages us because it tells us the enemy is unhappy, it is knowing that you labor beside us in prayer that strengthens us to stay the course and keep moving forward. So thank you!

Through Shan (the departing pilot) and his wife Karen (the admin guru), God has been bountifully answering your prayers: our check-out in the plane took less than two weeks and administrative details required to live here just slightly longer. The last week of September, much good information was shared and relationships strengthened during meetings with PMA staff from other islands. We now press forth with a clearer understanding of our mission here, praying that God would further refine that direction and bless the work as we look to follow hard after His lead. We’d also love for Him to help us find a more permanent home here on the island. Will you join us today in requesting these things of Him?

The PMA Islander unloading outside the Angaur terminal (on the left). Beside the terminal is the airport toilet (white roof). Slick grabs the scale from inside the plane’s aft baggage door while locals unload cargo from the pick-up parked on the runway. All 6,000 feet of the WWII-era strip looks like the bit you can see in the foreground. More pictures will be available on Flickr in early November, we hope. Internet here is so slow we can’t view our Flickr site, let alone upload to it… For more of our first impressions of Palau, enjoy Donna’s blog at donnadouglass.com.