Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wedding Bells X 3

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2 :24).

We were thrilled that of the four couples that attended the marriage retreat, three decided to go ahead with plans to get married on December 19th. Oftentimes the financial burden of a wedding keeps couples from going through with wedding plans. The "bride price" in Vanuatu has been limited to the equivalent of $800, not a small sum of money even for people in the US. Not all the islands of Vanuatu require the groom to pay a bride price, but the expense for the wedding reception is also a daunting amount for most people here. Everyone that comes to a wedding in Vanuatu expects that afterward a large meal will be served, including the meat from at least one cow, several pigs and chickens, lots of "laplap" and rice, drink and cake. We had never organized a wedding in Vanuatu before, not to mention a multiple wedding!

We found out that pre-planning for an event like this is not as much a part of the melanesian culture as it is in western cultures. We had lots to learn, and we were so thankful for wonderful ni-Vanuatu Nazarenes and family members that took the lead in getting things organized. The wedding reception was to take place at our yard which has lots of grass and trees. The young people helped by making a large shelter where the food would be served. The Black Sands Church of the Nazarene financed and arranged the purchase of the cow and also prepared the traditional "laplap" - a food made from cassava and coconut milk. Several men from William's family came to prepare the soups and stews. A large tent was secured from Air Vanuatu. A temporary kitchen was put together in one corner of the yard. It was a little funny to find 4 cow feet nicely arranged over the fire pit after the reception. (If you look closely, you'll see them.)

Meanwhile the brides and grooms were getting ready at the sanctuary where we had met the month before for our annual assembly. Try to imagine three brides with their "flower girls" getting dressed in a tiny 2-stall church restroom in the tropics! At the wedding practice the previous night, only one bride had prepared to have flower girls. Somehow, by the next morning the other two brides had found flowergirls and dresses for them! Rona had asked a lady to make her wedding dress; Janet was wearing her mother's dress; and Aline was to wear a borrowed dress. We're not sure when or why it got started, but it is "traditional" for the grooms to wear black suits and ties. Suits and ties are not common items in stores here in Port Vila. Peter and Gideon were able to borrow suits. William was dressed nicely in a long sleeve white shirt, but alas, he had outgrown his suit coat.

The brides and grooms marched in as the congregation sang in Bislama, "To God Be the Glory Great Things He Has Done!" The brides were escorted in by men from their families. Pastor Peter led the service and David preached the sermon. One of the most meaningful times of the service was when the "flowergirls" placed a large ring of flowers around each bride and groom signifying the sanctity of the marriage relationship. This is not a usual tradition in Vanuatu, but Pastor Peter introduced it at a wedding several years ago and the ni-Vanuatu liked it. Each couple exchanged vows and rings and shook hands to seal the deal. Then we all piled into trucks and vans to drive through town, honking and hooting as we cruised along.

The wedding reception was perfect - plenty of food for everyone! One of Rona's family members was able to get a huge tub of crushed ice for the cold drink - a cool blessing for the tropical heat. The brides and grooms sat together and shared their first meal as husband and wife. The couples all cut their cakes together. There were lots of digital cameras flashing as hand in hand the couples made their first slice through the cake. And then, they sat down. We discovered it is not traditional to feed each other the cake like we do in the US.
William took a few minutes to present Rona's family with part of the "bride price." It is customary for the bride's family to respond with gifts for the groom's family as well. Not only are the bride and groom united, but the families are joined in friendship. This is the traditional way of making the marriage public and also for establishing the marriage commitment.

It was the end of a perfect day and the beginning of a new life together for these newlyweds who have invited the blessing of the Lord into their lives and marriages!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We're Gonna Get Married!

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together! God is the author and initiator of the marriage relationship, and he loves it when people do marriage HIS way and follow his plan! In Vanuatu, cultural taboos prevent parents from discussing marriage and "friending" (dating) relationships with their children. We never hear about a marriage enrichment retreat or any marriage type workshop being offered at the churches in Vanuatu. This has been a burden on our hearts for most of the six years that we've served as missionaries in this country. There are a number of couples in our churches who have never married, either in a traditional way or in a church wedding. They have come to know Christ as their Savior, but for a variety of reasons, have never gotten married. With this in mind, we proposed that the local Nazarene Churches come together to help provide a wedding for those couples in our churches that wanted to step forward to publicly unite their relationship in a Christian marriage ceremony.

We decided that any couple who wanted to participate in the wedding would need to attend a marriage retreat that we would offer the weekend prior to the wedding. We found some great Christian Melanesian marriage resources that we could give to the participants, and Pastors Peter and Jenny joined us in teaching God's plan for marriage. It was interesting to watch the couples when they first arrived and took their places in the church to listen to the first lesson. Not one couple was seated together! So, before we got started we had everyone shift around so that they were seated next to their partner. Although they giggled and seemed embarrassed, it was delightful to see them begin to talk and consult with each other. This retreat was a small step in helping these four couples begin to see marriage as a gift from God with truths from his Word that will bring blessing and joy to a relationship that was previously characterized by conflict. We look forward to offering more classes on Christian marriage and family relationships in the coming months.

Friday, November 27, 2009

In the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul

Imagine trying to teach the thirteen letters of Paul in a 30 hour block course! And then, add to that the fact that you've never taught it before. It goes without saying that it was challenging, but absolutely rewarding! I (Sylvia) was so impressed with the six students that faced the challenge with me. We met for three hours every evening for two weeks and five hours on the Saturday between the two weeks. WE learned SO much! We learned about Paul's conversion, his missionary travels, when and where he was when he wrote each letter, and what he was trying to communicate to those who received the letter. I personally was challenged by Paul's fervor and unquenchable desire to share God's love and the message of Christ while facing persecution at almost every turn. One of my (and I think everyone's) favorite parts of each class was singing the song that helped the students to learn the names and order of the thirteen letters, as well as the other books of the New Testatment. I was driving with Pastor Kidhly a few weeks later and overheard him singing the song! I thank the Lord for his help in preparing this course and for the strength and wisdom for teaching each day. What a privilege and joy! (In the photo L to R: William, Austin, Daniel, Mary, and Esther. Pastor Kidhly missed getting in this shot.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Third Vanuatu Assembly with Conventions - for the FIRST time!

Our third annual assembly was a rich time of worship and fellowship! We met in the beautiful sanctuary of the Apostolic College of Theological Studies for three evenings and a full day on Saturday. Representatives from all six congregations participated each evening.

For the past two years we have gathered on Saturday for a time of worship and reporting, but this year we decided to gather for three evenings and give the various ministries an opportunity to lead the worship time. Wednesday evening was led by Women's Ministry. Sunday School and Children's Ministry led the worship on Thursday night and NYI led on Friday night.

There were lots of wonderful special items shared from each church and from the various ministries. The children from Malapoa did an action song on Thursday evening.

Pastor Kidhly and Natcha arrived from Aniwa in time for the Thursday service. The Aniwa youth presented special songs in their own language.

The youth introduced the Evange-Ball in a wonderful skit. We thank Rev. Larry Webb, semi-retired missionary from South America for this wonderful evangelism tool! The young people learned the plan of salvation and are looking forward to using sports evangelism this summer on a mission trip to another island.

Each evening a different speaker shared God's Word to the eager congregation.

On Saturday, we welcomed our Field Strategy Coordinator, Rev. Harmon Schmelzenbach, his wife Cindy and son Quinton.

Pastor Harmon shared an inspiring message with us about God's priorities while Pastor Peter translated.

We heard lots of reports from pastors and ministry leaders. At noon we shared a potluck meal together. In the afternoon, Pastor Graziella led the children from the Erakor Church in singing a wonderful song! We praise the Lord for all he has done!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

God heals a little boy

Sarah, the children’s Sunday School teacher at Black Sand Church, asked us to pray for a little 7 year old boy named John Morrison who was admitted to Vila Central Hospital for some kind of problem with his leg.  We were quite surprised to find a seriously ill child breathing with much difficulty when we first went to visit him.  We spoke with John’s mother, Sofie, and two of his “aunties” who shared the confusing story of John’s illness.  We prayed with them for John’s healing and committed to return to visit in a day or so. 


We found him with a chest tube in his right side connected to drainage bottles when we arrived the next time.  He seemed even sicker than before.  Memories of Susan’s sickness and quick death were fresh in our minds as we called out to God to spare this little guy’s life.  We were able to give the first copy of a new shipment of the Gospel of John in Bislama to John’s father, Morrison, and encouraged him to read it as he waited at his little boy’s bedside. 


We continued to visit several times a week, each time finding John a little stronger and little more aware of his surroundings.  After a couple more weeks, he was allowed to return to his home in Black Sand for a few hours each day.  About 2 weeks ago, John was discharged from the hospital on the road to complete recovery. 


Last Sunday, Sofie stood for the first time in Black Sand Nazarene Church to give her testimony of praise for God’s healing of her dear son.  John and his siblings are now coming to the Sunday School class and Sofie is becoming a part of the fellowship at Black Sand Church.  We praise the Lord for his healing in this precious child’s life and for the opportunity to minister his love to this family.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Earthquakes in Vanuatu

Just to let everyone know, there have been a number of earthquakes this morning located off the coast of the northern most islands of the Vanuatu chain. The largest earthquake measured 7.8. A tsunami warning was issued, but we just heard that they’ve cancelled it now. We have not heard of any damage from the earthquake nor that any tsunami actually occurred in Vanuatu or Solomon Islands to the north. If anyone is interested, here is a website that will give you the latest information about earthquakes around the world. I’ve got it set for the South Pacific:

We went to town (right along the seafront) this morning to begin the process of renewing our residence visas only to find that the Immigration Office was closed along with quite a few other stores. We didn’t think it was a public holiday. We soon found out that there was a tsunami warning. There was a cruise ship in port and lots of tourists milling about town but not looking alarmed in any way. One of the members of the Black Sand Nazarene Church stopped us as we were getting into our truck to leave and asked if we knew anything about the tidal wave. We pooled our bits of knowledge and determined that most likely the danger time was past.

Here in Port Vila we haven’t felt any of the earthquakes. We will keep you posted as we hear news from the north. Please keep the Asia Pacific Region in your prayers. There have been many natural disasters recently – typhoons and flooding in the Philippines, devastating earthquakes in Indonesia, and tsunami in Samoa – all resulting in the loss of life and destruction of homes and livelihood.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Praising God for people who PRAY

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you [and in us] would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” ~ Philippians 1:3-6, The Message.

The Apostle Paul does a great job of expressing what is in our hearts for you. We are so thankful for your partnership with us! We have been back “home” for about 7 weeks now and what full weeks they have been! It has been well over a month since our last prayer letter went out, so we wanted to let you know how God has been working in response to your prayers.

Our YWAM friends, Ben and Anna Story, are still in Australia with their precious little Simon. He is 7 weeks old now and weighs in at 1.8 kg (a little shy of 4 pounds) – almost twice what he weighed at birth. Recently, he has graduated from the NICU to a special care nursery where he is free from oxygen tubes and is sl
eeping in a little crib instead of the isolette. His parents have sent us a note thanking everyone for their prayers! Such a wonderful miracle of life!

Our friends the Rudds are together again in the United States. You may recall from our e-mail in August that Kay had a heart attack in June while living here in Vanuatu. She spent some time in New Zealand while Jack and Jay packed up all their belongings here. They said in a recent e-mail to us, “We believe that God has more for us to do and we would ask you to be in prayer with us as HE shows you and us the next steps in this adventure for HIM.” Thank you for your prayers for them! In the picture to the right: Jack and Jay and Roger and Cindy and little Leilani Sutter came to our house for dinner before the Rudds left for the States. By the way, Cindy is doing much better and is visiting Roger’s home in Switzerland for the first time.

We became a bit more
acquainted with the traditions and customs surrounding the grieving process as we mourned with Susan’s family and all of our churches after she passed away on August 7th. The particular custom for the people of the island of Paama (an island north of us where Susan’s husband is from) is that the family remains at home for a month following a death. They do not go to work, school, or to other activities that are outside their home. It is a time to be together and remember the one who has died. One week after Susan’s death, we gathered with the family as they presented a cow and other food to Susan’s brothers. After a month, Susan’s family will eat the “last kakae (meal)” together and the women of the family present razors to the men who have refrained from shaving during the month indicating that the time of mourning is over.

This last Sunday we picked up Susan’s kids and her husband’s parents and took them to Black Sand Church with us. The fellowship we shared together was like a healing balm. Please pray for Susan’s husband, Arthy, and some other young men that live at their house that they will begin to desire new life with Christ.

What a delight that little Anna worshiped with us that day too! You may remember us asking you last year to pray for a little 1 year old who was badly burned in a house fire and flown to Australia for skin grafting. This was her first time to come to church, and we didn’t have our camera with us.  She is really shy especially when she sees our white faces looking at her. After several minutes of singing she began to feel more comfortable and was smilin
g and interacting with the other children around her. Her skin grafts look good. It doesn’t look like she is crawling or beginning to walk. Please pray for her continued development physically and for her and all her family to experience a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

David packed up the easel, white board, CD player, computer, a box full of books and supplies and headed off to teach class this evening at the rented classroom of Joy Bible Institute. He will be teaching Biblical Theology II every evening for the next 3 weeks. He would appreciate your prayers for him that he would have the understanding and creativity he needs to teach this very important material. Pray also that the students will be able to grasp and process all the information.

As he daily packs the truck with all his teaching supplies, we look forward to the day when we will have a classroom and library for our pastoral training program. We have made a down payment on a piece of land that we are prayerfully considering might be the future location for the Vanuatu District Center for the Church of the Nazarene. The facility would include a large sanctuary for district wide gatherings as well as for a local congregation. We would also plan to include a classroom and library, offices and other meeting rooms. Please continue to pray with us as we make decisions in the next few weeks regarding the purchase of this property.

Sylvia is scrambling to be ready to begin a series of Bible studies on the Sermon on the Mount with the Black Sand Church this Wednesday, as well as with an international women’s Bible study that she has been attending for the last couple of years. She is also preparing to teach a 3 week course for SPNTC
on the Letters of Paul in November. Thanks for your support in prayer!

We feel so blessed to be able to serve the Lord in this beautiful country! Several of the young men from our churches helped us break ground for a new garden in our big 2.5 acre yard. In the States we probably would have rented a roto-tiller, but these young guys used a 6 foot long crowbar and shovels to break up the ground. We love to see the land producing lots of food. David makes a daily check of our close to 30 pawpaw trees, using a long stick to harvest from the trees that are now close to 10-15 feet tall. Sylvia has established a friendship with our neighbor as they share different flowers to be planted in each other’s gardens. Madalyn often brings over a stick or little part of a plant for Sylvia to add to her flowerbed. It doesn’t take long before a little shriveled piece of a plant begins to put on new leaves and eventually flowers! The tropics are incredible! This lovely amaryllis was one of Madalyn's many gifts to Sylvia. It was just a bulb when Madalyn gave it to her. They were both surprised and overjoyed that it produced 10 flowers!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to Bennett and Ennrich!

Happy Birthday to Bennett (12 years old) and Ennrich (8 years old)! We celebrated with grilled chicken wings and roasted ears of corn AND rainbow birthday cake! After dinner and after all the presents were opened, we taught these two very bright boys how to play Mexican Train Dominoes. We are so glad for our missionary family and proud to be Uncle David and Aunt Sylvia to these very special MK's!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The God of Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Thank you for helping us to present our requests to God! God has faithfully given us peace through some very difficult days.

Cindy Sutter has been discharged from the hospital. She received daily antibiotic injections for several days and is now recuperating at home. Roger and the family appreciate your prayers during this time. Cindy is still quite anemic and requires lots of rest. They have been planning for several months to travel to Roger’s home in Switzerland at the end of August. Please pray for Cindy’s continued healing and strength for the long trip.

Ben and Anna Story are thrilled with the way God is answering prayer in Baby Simon’s life who is now 11 days old! He has been breathing on his own and is receiving tube feedings of his mommy’s breastmilk. He’s gaining weight! Anna was able to hold him last Saturday for about an hour. I think this was the first time since he was born.

I spoke with Jack Rudd this morning. God has been giving them help and guidance in all the decisions that needed to be made. Kay will leave in 2 days from New Zealand to return to the States. Jack and Jay will finish getting things packed up here in Vanuatu and are scheduled to leave from here on the 29th. Thank you for your continued prayers for them during this time of separation and transition.

After she went to be with Jesus last Friday, we have continued to spend time with Susan’s family every evening in a time of singing and sharing of the Word. We pray together and then share a meal. This “normal custom” for people of Vanuatu has been a source of healing for us as much as for the family. This will continue at least through this week when all the extended family gathers on Saturday for another time around Susan’s grave and another meal together. Arthy, Susan’s husband, shared some of his thoughts with us tonight about the days ahead. It seems clear that the Lord is giving him peace and comfort through these days. God’s peace is also visible in each of the children. I’ve attached one of my favorite pictures of Susan and Meriam.

Pastor Peter was able to arrange to fly home to Papua New Guinea. He will be leaving Vanuatu on August 15th and returning on the 29th. Pray for safe travel and that his time at home will be a blessed time with family. Please continue to remember Jenny and the boys who will stay back in Vanuatu during Peter’s trip to PNG.

Many of you know that we have been asking the Lord for land here in Vanuatu to build a district center for the Church of the Nazarene in Vanuatu. We are presently looking at a piece of land that is situated in a growing part of the city. Please pray that God will make his will clear to us.

Thank you to each of you who have sent notes of encouragement and prayerful support. They have meant so much to us! These have been tough days, but we are thankful that we can be God’s arms of love at this time to his dear children.

Your partners in the South Pacific,

David and Sylvia Potter

Friday, August 7, 2009


We arrived at the hospital only a few minutes before Susan passed away today. We have spent the rest of the day grieving with her husband, Arthy, and her children, Freddy (15 years), Joseph (12 years), Christopher (10 years), and Meriam (almost 7) and caring for their needs as best we could. There were many people who came to grieve – many family members and friends. There are many children and young people who called her Mom, as she cared for anyone who came to her house. She has touched many people with her life of service and love. We will all miss her deeply. Please keep her family in your prayers.

Just about an hour after Susan died, our missionary partner Pastor Peter received a phone call from his family in PNG letting him know that his sister had passed away. She has been sick with cancer for several years. Peter was planning to fly to PNG to be with her in just a few days. The Isaac family both here in Vanuatu and in PNG need your prayers as well.

We are thankful for the reminder in Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God. This morning during our devotions, we read in Hebrews 13 that God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Our God is with us and holds our hand securely. May he be glorified as we celebrate the lives of these Christian women.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our dear friend Susan

Susan has been our friend since we first arrived in Vanuatu in 2003. She was one of the first ones to become a member of the Church of the Nazarene in this country. She has served as children’s Sunday School teacher and women’s ministry leader, and is enrolled in our pastor’s training program. She is married to Arthy and has 4 children (Freddy, Joseph, Christopher and Meriam). Yesterday she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors are uncertain yet what her illness is, but one thing is certain, she needs a miraculous touch from the Lord, our great Healer. This morning she had 2 seizures and her blood pressure dropped significantly. The family thought she was dying, and when we saw her she seemed on the brink of life and death. She is now in Vila Central Hospital’s private observation room. This is the closest thing to an ICU in the country. We met 2 of the 3 physicians who are working on Susan’s case, and Dr. Crystal shared with us what little information they have available at present. Please join us in praying for God to heal Susan’s body, soul, mind and spirit. Pray also for her family to have God’s peace through this very frightening time. There is a strong sense that a spiritual battle is being fought for this woman’s life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Please pray

We want to ask each of you to be praying for some of our missionary friends here in Vanuatu.  Roger and Cindy Sutter and Ben and Anna Story are both here with Youth With a Mission.  We have known Ben and Roger almost the entire 6 years that we’ve been serving here in Vanuatu.  YWAM has been a powerful tool of God to reach out to young people in this nation as well as to surrounding nations.  Roger and Cindy were blessed with their first baby about 2 weeks ago.  Cindy has had fever for the past 5 days or so.  She was hospitalized at Vila Central Hospital (the government hospital) last Friday and Saturday and received IV antibiotics during that time.  She was discharged from the hospital, but continued to spike fairly high fevers several times a day.  She needs God’s healing touch and Roger needs wisdom in how to proceed.  Pray also for Baby Leilani’s continued health through her mommy’s illness.


Ben and Anna were living on the island north of us, Santo, when she delivered their first baby on Friday last week.  Little Simon Peter was born 15 weeks prematurely, weighing less than 2 pounds.  There really wasn’t medical facilities to accommodate a premature infant, but the Lord intervened miraculously and kept him alive until the medical evacuation plane arrived 11 hours later.  He is now hospitalized in Brisbane and is stable.  Please pray for Ben and Anna’s peace and comfort during this very difficult time and for the continued health and development of Baby Simon.  There are also financial concerns.  Their insurance is willing to pay for the first 30 days of hospitalization or $10,000. 


Also, please pray for Jack and Kay Rudd and their son Jay.  Jack and Kay have been missionaries here in Vanuatu for well over 10 years.  They have been part of a small group of missionaries that began to meet at our house for prayer and mutual support.  Jack and Kay are serving with World Outreach and have been involved in Christian education.  Two months ago Kay had a heart attack.  God miraculously sustained her life and eventually, she flew to New Zealand where she was able to get diagnosis and treatment for her heart.  A stint was put in one of her cardiac arteries.  She has been recovering well over these last few weeks.  They have decided that it would be best for them to return to the US for further recuperation and monitoring of her heart.  Jack and Jay arrived back in Vanuatu last Tuesday to pack up and prepare to leave Vanuatu.  Please pray for God’s peace through this transition and for his continued guidance.


This has been an eventful first week back in Vanuatu!  Two days after we arrived our Malapoa pastor’s mother died.  She had been ill for several months, but her loss was deeply felt none the less.  We spent the day grieving with the family at their home and at the cemetery.  Our first Sunday back at Black Sand Church was wonderful.  God has continued to establish these dear Christians in their journey with him.


We appreciate your prayers for these friends of ours.  They are our co-laborers and part of God’s mission team to Vanuatu.


David and Sylvia Potter


Friday, May 8, 2009

Way to Go! Idaho!

Springtime in Idaho has not been a disappointment! Nor have the fantastic churches that we've visited during our tour of the Intermountain District! It has been great to get acquainted with our 'family' in these warm and loving churches. The connections we've made with old friends and new has been a great encouragement to us. The first Sunday here, we drove out to Harney County, Oregon, and then up to John Day! On our way back to Idaho we took the scenic, mountain bypass and drove through a winter wonderland!

After speaking in the Twin Falls area on Sunday we took Monday morning to explore some of the beauty in that part of the state. We drove just a short distance out of town to the Shoshone Falls and were overwhelmed with what we saw! The beauty was indescribable!

We are so thankful for the cozy little cottage that the Witt's have allowed us to stay in while we have been in Idaho. And, the truck loaned to us by another generous Idaho Nazarene has been a huge blessing as we've trekked across this district!

Next stop....Sylvia's GRADUATION!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Traveling On

April 11th we flew to Kansas City! David's brother, Joe, and his wife Toni Sue were wonderful host and hostess during our stay there. We took our first tour of the Global Ministry Center and ran into lots of friends!

We made a long drive out west to Sublette, Kansas, to speak in the Sublette Church of the Nazarene and catch up with some of the Work and Witness team members who came to Vanuatu to help finish our house in July 2008.

We flew back to our home base in Mount Vernon, Ohio, just in time to visit with friends from PNG days, the Berger family from Switzerland. They were in the US for vacation and took time to come see us!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First Days on Home Assignment

Our first month has literally flown by as we've hopped and skipped across the United States! We arrived in the US on March 30th landing in Michigan for a few days on Sylvia's parents' farm. Our first service was the following Sunday at our home church in Coshocton, Ohio. We were able to meet our new pastor and stay for the evening presentation of the Easter musical, "Behold the Lamb." How good it felt to be home!

We drove right back up to Michigan to see Sylvia's family for a few days and then over to Buffalo, New York, to visit Joel and Bekah in their home for Easter. Jeffrey and Wesley were able to come up for the weekend, as well as Bekah's brother, Tim. Bekah and Joel cooked up some great food for us. We also went out to Parkside Candies for fabulous ice cream sundaes! We all went to Niagara Falls one morning; the wind was a bit chilly, but we had a fun time together. In the evening on Good Friday, we worshipped together with the Amhearst COTN at the city rescue mission. The Liberian congregation also joined us and led in a beautiful time of worship.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Traveling Home

We have finished the Board meetings in Apia, Samoa, for South Pacific Nazarene Theological College.  It is exciting to see this college located in 5 different nations actually coming together to be a real entity!  Principals and representatives from four of the five nations met together at the Samoa campus along with Rev. Peni Fakaua, President of SPNTC, Rev. Harmon Schmelzenbach and his daughter Danielle, Dr. David McEwan South Pacific Field Education Coordinator, and Dr. Melvin Rigsby, AP Regional Education Coordinator. 


After the meetings Peni, Samoan missionary living in Fiji, drove us to the wharf where we boarded the ferry bound for the northern island of Sevaii.  We spent the day driving around the island and stopped to visit with one of the Nazarene pastors. 


We are now in Los Angeles waiting for our next flight which will take us to Michigan where Sylvia’s parents live.  Next Sunday we begin our deputation speaking at our home church in Coshocton, Ohio.  Here is where we’re going after that:


Potter’s Home Assignment Schedule


April 5 – Coshocton, Ohio

April 15 – Sublette, Kansas

April 18-19 – Grand Rapids, Michigan (International Fellowship)

April 25-May 6 – Intermountain District

May 10 – Sylvia’s graduation at NNU

May 17-24 – West Texas District

May 27 – Mission Valley in San Diego

May 31-June 11 – Los Angeles District

June 14 – Monticello, Florida

June 20-21 – Orange Park, Florida

June 24-30 – General Assembly, Orlando, Florida


Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Precious in the eyes of the Lord (Jan22/09)

After we worshiped together at Black Sand Nazarene Church last Sunday, five of us drove to the hospital to pray with a member of the Ohlen Nazarene Church.  Chief Thomas had sores on his left foot due to poor circulation.  A week before, the doctors had amputated his leg because his foot had become necrotic.  The infection was systemic now.  Chief Thomas, who had become a dear friend over the years, was in a coma and breathing hard even with oxygen.  I (David) know that sometimes people can hear, even while in a coma, so I held his hand and shared John 14 with him.  Many of his extended family who surrounded the bed listened intently also.  I talked about how Jesus is preparing a place for us.  Jesus wants to be with us and share his life with us.  He wants us to share our concerns and cares with him whether we are in this world or the next.  Just two hours later, we got a call that Chief Thomas had gone to be with the Lord.  I couldn't help wondering if what I had shared allowed him to release his hold on this life and cling to Jesus' hand as he walked Chief Thomas into his eternal future.

Yesterday, David and I (Sylvia) joined several other Christians from the Malapoa, Black Sand and Erakor Nazarene Churches to go and grieve with Chief Thomas' family outside of town at a village called Eratap. David and I both felt an unusual peace and calm as we headed to this place that we'd never been to before - peace that we would find the place and peace that God would guide us in our ministry.

We arrived and were directed to a house. Everyone filed in and found a place to sit on the mats. The wailing began. As I thought of Chief Thomas' wife, Lily, it was not hard to cry with the rest of the ones gathered in the room. I imagined myself carrying in my own body her burden of sorrow, then I pictured each of us bearing her grief.

After awhile the crying stopped and people began to shake hands with each other and talk softly to one another. I took this opportunity to move closer to Lily. As I held her in my arms, my heart ached and we cried again.

Later after others had gone outside, I sat down next to her and shared about the comfort that we have in knowing Christ and his promise to take us to the Father. I thought about the psalmist who assured us that precious in God's eyes is the death of his godly ones (Psalm 116:15). How thankful we are that Thomas had given his heart to Jesus a few years ago. God had given him the opportunity just last January to return to his home on Aniwa to help establish the Nazarene Church. I remember his testimonies of how God used him to pray for the sick while he was there and how he encouraged young Pastor Keithly.

We stayed with the family for several hours as they prepared food for us to eat together. As we waited we watched one man throw a hunk of cow meat onto a makeshift wooden table, hack it into pieces with his not-so-clean looking axe, and then take it to the cooks. Mmmm…!?

As we left to return to Port Vila, the ladies gathered some branches from colorful plants growing in the yard. These would be planted at our homes as a remembrance of our friend. What a beautiful custom! Sharing grief and sharing beauty…life out of death.

God’s Blessings in 2008 (Jan1/09)

We praise the Lord for all that He has done in and through our lives during this last year. Please copy this link and paste it in your web browser to enjoy a "picture praise review" of 2008 -

We pray for you the blessing of God's presence throughout this coming year!

Your family in Vanuatu,
David and Sylvia

Newest Nazarene Church Dedicated and CBHC Survey Trip - May 2008 (Oct17/08)

On May 5th a team of mission leaders flew to the tiny island of Aniwa near the southern end of the Vanuatu chain.

Dr. Becky, Danielle, Harmon, James, David and Peter

Dr. Becky Morsch, Field coordinator for CBHC, along with James Johnson, Harmon Schmelzenbach, his daughter Danielle, Rev. Peter Isaac, and David and Sylvia planned to dedicate the brand new Aniwa Church of the Nazarene and also conduct an introductory survey for Community Based Health Care. Dr. Becky would also be conducting surveys in the Solomon Islands and Fiji. The team was welcomed by the chief in a special ceremony held on the village commons. It was so special to finally be arriving to the island that we had been hearing about for so long.

In the morning, Pastor Keithly took us on a tour to see the place where his father was buried. His father, Chief Tani Rena, had returned to Aniwa in December 2007 to speak to the leaders of his island about giving land for the Church of the Nazarene, but died unexpectedly. The leaders honored Chief Tani Rena's desire and his family chose Keithly to be trained to pastor this new church.

First on the agenda was dedication of the beautiful new Aniwa Church of the Nazarene that Pastors Keithly and Paul had built along with men and women from Keithly's village of Ikaukau.

We praise God for his provision!


That afternoon leaders from the six villages on the island of Aniwa were called together for the introductory meeting of CBHC with Dr. Becky.

On Wednesday, the survey team followed Pastor Keithly in the morning and afternoon to visit several of the other villages. The team was well received in each village.

On Thursday morning prior to the team's departure to return to Port Vila, gifts and words of appreciation were exchanged by leaders of the survey team and leaders of the village.

On Thursday morning prior to the team's departure to return to Port Vila, gifts and words of appreciation were exchanged by leaders of the survey team and leaders of the village.

After Dr. Becky surveyed villages in Solomon Islands and Fiji, it was decided that she would begin her work in the South Pacific right here on the island of Aniwa. She plans to return for the first training session in late November. Pastor Aseri and his wife La will be flying over from Fiji for training which they will take back to their village on the island of Kadavu, one of the islands of Fiji.

City-Wide Revival in Port Vila - April 2008 (Oct17/08)

The first ever Church of the Nazarene city-wide revival was held April 17-20.

Robert, Rev. Arua and Rev. Moime - Warm welcome to Vanuatu!

Each of the Port Vila Nazarene churches challenged their members to pray for 10 unsaved friends and family members and then host them at the revival. Rev. Andrew Moime, pastor of Mt. Hagen Church of the Nazarene in PNG, Rev. Ako Arua, pastor of a Nazarene church outside of Port Moresby, and Robert Timothy, graduate from University of PNG and member of Rev. Ako's music group, came to Vanuatu for the first time to lead the worship and preach God's Word during the four days of the revival.

Revival choir

Rev. Ako and Robert came early to train and prepare our teens and young adults to share in the music ministry. We praise God for the lives that were touched and transformed as a result of these meetings.