The Western District Welcomes You!

Thank you for visiting the Western District Foreign Mission's Department blog. Our intent is to provide you, the pastors, ministers, and saints of the Western District and the United Pentecostal Church International as well as our friends who would like to visit a place to be informed of events happening in our district and to share their thoughts concerning missions with us. We appreciate you taking the time to look over our site, to read the different posts, and last but not least to share your thoughts.


Missionaries traveling in our district:

May 2012

~Dwane Abernathy - Belize, Central America
~Robert McFarland - Israel/Palestine

June 2012

~Robert McFarland - Israel/Palestine, Middle East
~Jason Long - Nicaragua, Central America

July 2012

~Crystal Reece - Tonga, South Pacific
~John Hemus - United Kingdom, Europe

August 2012

~Crystal Reece - Tonga, South Pacific
~Cynthia White - Jordan, Middle East


Friday, December 31, 2010

~Happy New Year 2011

Western District Foreign Missions Department

     Donald O'Keefe, District Director
     John Thomas, Secretary
     Jerry Powell, Promotion Director
     Don Demyan, Region One Director
     Richard Grandquist, Region Two Director
     John Thomas, Region Three Director
     Morgan Underwood, Honorary District Director

~Missionary Prayer FOCUS - January 1st - 18th, 2011

Prayer Focus for Saturday, January 1, 2011: Robert and Lisbeth Dame (Bolivia)

Prayer Focus for Sunday, January 2, 2011: Charles and Stacey Robinette (Austria)

Prayer Focus for Monday, January 3, 2011: Marcus and Renee Brainos (France)

Prayer Focus for Tuesday, January 4, 2011: Patrick and Jean Grove (Sudan / Kenya)

Prayer Focus for Wednesday, January 5, 2011: Mike and Miriam Sponsler (Argentina)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

~Revival Report from Spain - Nathan and Tanya Harrod


Barcelona Commentary

Rev. & Mrs. Nathan A. HarrodMissionaries to Spain
United Pentecostal Church International

Revival Update...
National Convention 2010

2025 in attendance

December 11th and 12th we held our annual National Convention in the city of Madrid. This is a time where the churches of Spain come together for a time of celebration. This year was another record breaking year for the nation of Spain. In a year with many financial struggles throughout the country there were still 2025 in attendance, a new record for Spain. During this convention 8 new Pastors received their Ordination, this shows a new level of maturity and growth in our national leadership.

The most exciting thing that happened in these services is that 190 received the baptism of the Holy Ghost for the first time!

Many praying to receive the Holy Ghost
This is the largest number to ever have been filled with His Spirit at one conference since the founding of the UPCI of Spain. We are rejoicing with all that God is doing.

We were thankful to have had Rev. and Mrs. John Hopkins and Rev. Elias Limones preach for us during this conference. The Lord used each of them in a mighty way.
190 received the Holy Ghost for the first time

Thank you for all your prayers and support. Together we are claiming Spain in Jesus' name!

God Bless,
Nathan, Tanya, and Alaina Harrod


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

~Builders and Wreckers

Builders and Wreckers

My training as a lawyer taught me to identify weaknesses in arguments and hidden risks in ideas. Although I was often accused of negativism, I thought of myself as a constructive critic, even when there wasn’t anything constructive in my criticism. A simple poem called "Builders and Wreckers" changed my perspective.

I watched them tearing a building down,
     A gang of men in a busy town.

With a ho, heave, ho, and a lusty yell
     They swung a beam and a wall fell.

I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled?
     Like the men you’d hire if you had to build?"

He laughed as he replied, "No, indeed,
     Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
     What builders have taken years to do."

I asked myself as I went away
     Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
     Measuring life by rule and square?

Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
     Content with the labor of tearing down?

You see, it takes years, sweat, careful dedication and a sense of purpose to build anything; it takes intentionality. On the other hand, it takes a moment to wreck it! It takes vocational passion, a purpose, a heart, a committed mind, skills and professional expertise to build people, a family, a marriage and institutions. It takes uneducated labor, unrestrained emotions, anger, wrath, the winds of toxic influence, drugs, alcohol, envy and "bulldozers" to wreck it! It takes dedicated, consistent love over time on a teacher's part to build a child's confidence. It takes a bully's destructive words to destroy the same child's self-esteem. It takes years for a parent to love a child into maturity. It takes a wrecking, irresponsible act from the same parent to destroy it all. It takes years and time to build anything, but it takes only a few days to destroy it all; sometimes it takes simply one single act!

Above paragraph by Harold J. Duarte-Bernhardt ~ co-founder of the "LIFE ZONE)

Why do so many of us find it gratifying to be sideline cynics smothering ideas in a relentless barrage of "what ifs" and warnings? As the poem points out, it’s much easier to be a wrecker than a builder.

Of course, it’s wise and necessary to challenge assumptions, test theories, and predict problems, but that should be the beginning, not an end. We should measure our value by the number of balloons we helped launch, not the number we deflated.

A builder sees problems as challenges and seeks solutions; a dismantler sees problems in every solution. A builder sees flaws and tries to fix them; a dismantler sees flaws in every fix.

We need more builders.

~Source unknown

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

~ A Servant of God

Mark 10:43-44

43 "...but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."

Romans 1:1

1 "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,..."

Romans 16:1

1 "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:..."

1 Corinthians 9:19

19 "...yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more."

Colossians 4:12

12 "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

2 Timothy 2:24-25
24 "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;..."

Titus 1:1

1 "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ,..."

James 1:1

1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

2 Peter 1:1

1 "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

Jude 1

1 "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:..."

Revelation 1:1

1 "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:..."

~A SERVANT is not selfish, proud, arrogant, haughty, condecending or think himself better than others!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

~The New Neighbor

From 'The Ballestero Blog'

The New Neighbor

Arthur James McDonald was in trouble. He was heartbroken too. His parents had recently died in a car accident. He had no family to his knowledge in America. A draft notice had just come in the mail. He was to report in two weeks. The U.S. Army was to be his new home. All he had left in the world was his girlfriend, and he was being taken away from her.

Arthur’s girlfriend, Norma Sue was in tears. She knew that he would soon be going to Viet Nam like all the other guys that had been drafted. The two of them spent as much time together as possible before he left. Her parents hated him. They dreamed of someone better for their daughter.

In a large metro area 374 miles away, Joe and Gloria Phillips sat in front of a gentle natured old lady. They wanted to adopt a baby and were willing to jump through all the hoops to qualify. Whatever it took. Hopefully the cost wouldn’t overwhelm them. They were told that there was nothing available at the time, but she would put their names on a waiting list.

29 months and 16 days in Viet Nam seemed like an eternity for Arthur. The letters from Norma Sue had been constant for several months. Then nothing. Not even a ‘Dear John’ letter. (You don't want to miss the remainder of this story - click on 'More' to continue reading).

Friday, December 24, 2010

~Merry Christmas - December 2010

Luke 2:6-11

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Matthew 1:21-23

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS : for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The following is from The Ballestero Blog

“25 Questions For Mary”By Max Lucado

This is the time of year when most of the Christian world is reminded of the birth of Jesus Christ. None of us can imagine all of the private thoughts and questions that she encountered. Max Lucado in his book, “God Came Near,” proposes 25 questions for Mary.

I read this in his book when it first came out years ago, but wanted to share it today with my readers.

25 Questions For Mary

From Max Lucado’s Book, God Came Near.”

1. What was it like watching him pray?

2. How did he respond when he saw other kids giggling during the service at the synagogue?

3. When he saw a rainbow, did he ever mention a flood?

4. Did you ever feel awkward teaching him how he created the world?

5. When he saw a lamb being led to the slaughter, did he act differently?

6. Did you ever see him with a distant look on his face as if he were listening to someone you couldn’t hear?

7. How did he act at funerals?

8. Did the thought ever occur to you that the God to whom you were praying was asleep under your own roof?

9. Did you ever try to count the stars with him….and succeed?

10. Did he ever come home with a black eye?

11. How did he act when he got his first haircut?

12. Did he have any friend by the name of Judas?

13. Did he do well in school?

14. Did you ever scold him?

15. Did he ever have to ask a question about Scripture?

16. What do you think he thought when he saw a prostitute offering to the highest bidder the body he made?

17. Did he ever get angry when someone was dishonest with him?

18. Did you ever catch him pensively looking at the flesh on his own arm while holding a clod of dirt?

19. Did he ever wake up afraid?

20. Who was his best friend?

21. When someone referred to Satan, how did he act?

22. Did you ever accidentally call him Father?

23. What did he and his cousin John talk about as kids?

24. Did his brothers and sisters understand what was happening?

25. Did you ever think, That’s God eating my soup?

Thank you for your continued financial support and your PRAYERS for our missionaries around the world. They are COUNTING on YOU!

Merry Christmas from the Western District Foreign Missions Department

Donald O'Keefe, Director
John Thomas, Secretary
Jerry Powell, Promotion Director
Don Demyan, Regional Director
Richard Grandquist, Regional Director
John Thomas, Regional Director
Morgan Underwood, Honorary District Director

Thursday, December 23, 2010

~An Open Letter from Missionary Mark Shutes

AIMers needed in Europe

 Dear Local Missions Director, Pastor, DFMD or Youth President,

Greetings in the precious Name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

In the summer of 2011, thirty AIMers will arrive in the country of Latvia to reach 150 people for the Lord. We will launch the headquarters church for this newly-opened country. This same scenario will take place in three other countries as well. One is already complete, and we are currently filling the slots for the other countries.

The Baltic and Finnish Missionary and AIM Team wish to extend an invitation to your young people to come to Finland, Latvia or Lithuania for three months during the summer of 2011.

At the beginning, we will have two weeks of training and will challenge a team of two to reach ten different people. Every Wednesday we will meet for accountability and training. Every Sunday we will assemble together. After two months we will sponsor a crusade from which we will establish new House Churches.

Training begins June 6, 2011. AIMers need to arrive on location by June 2, and depart no later than August 29, 2011.

We ask you to send experienced and dedicated young people. They need to have personally won at least one person to the Lord and established them in the church.

After choosing a young person and reviewing the plan with them, help them fill out the AIM application which is downloadable from the AIM web site When FMD processes the application, a copy will be sent to me for my review and invitation. Once the recommendations are gathered and the file complete and approved by FMD, I will contact each one with further information and instructions.

Thank you so much for your vision and burden for Missions around the world.

 Sincerely yours,

Missionary Mark & Robin Shutes

Cell: (810) 282-8209

~Missionary Prayer Focus - December 2010/January 2011

Prayer Focus for Monday, December 20, 2010: Louis and Martha Johnson (Ethiopia / Rwanda)

Prayer Focus for Tuesday, December 21, 2010: Richard and Patricia Porter (Swaziland)

Prayer Focus for Wednesday, December 22, 2010: Jerry and Brenda Sawyer (Belize)

Prayer Focus for Thursday, December 23, 2010: Howard and Vonda Smith (Spain)

Prayer Focus for Friday, December 24, 2010: Brad and Regina Thompson (Guatemala)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

~Lessons from a Carrot, Egg, and Coffee Bean

Lessons from a Carrot, Egg, and Coffee Bean

Let's face it. Painful personal trauma and tragedylike illness or injury, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or an unexpected breakup of a relationshipare unavoidable. The question is: Will these private calamities erode our capacity to be happy or cause us to become stronger and better able to live a meaningful and fulfilling life?

Consider how differently carrots, eggs, and ground coffee beans are affected by the extreme adversity of being boiled. Like a carrot, adversity can soften us. We can emerge more flexible, understanding, compassionate, and grateful, or we can let our life spirit turn into a soft mush.

Like an egg, boiling water can make us harder, stronger, tougher, and wiser, or we can become more cynical, pessimistic, callous, and inaccessible.

And like a coffee bean, we can willingly transform our lives into something better or lose ourselves completely.

We can't control what happens to us, but we have a lot to say about how we react and, therefore, what happens in us. The first step to turning adversity into advantage is to get out of the hot water as quickly as possible. Don't dwell on catastrophe. Grieve, but move on. Don't define your life by misfortune.

Second, force yourself to move forward. Draw on your inner strengths, the people who love you, and your faith to transform your life into something better. Formulate a vision of a more purposeful life filled with people and experiences that will help you become more fulfilled.

From Michael Josephson's Newsletter

Friday, December 17, 2010

~What I Know About Life


What I Know About Life

The older I get the less I know, but I know some things:

     ~I know that I'm a work in process and that there will always be a gap between who I am and who I want to be.

     ~I know that I don't have to be sick to get better and that every day brings opportunities to improve my life and my character.

     ~I know that it's easier to talk about integrity than to live it and that the true test is my willingness to do the right thing even when it costs more than I want to pay.

     ~I know that character is more important than competence.

     ~I know that it takes years to build up trust and only seconds to destroy it.

     ~I know that I often judge myself by my best intentions and most noble acts, but that I’ll be judged by my last worst act.

     ~I know that I can't control what will happen to me but that I have a lot to say about what happens in me.

     ~I know that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

     ~I know that attitudes, both good and bad, are contagious.

     ~I know that winning is more than coming in first and that there's no real victory without honor.

     ~I know that it takes a conscientious effort to be kind, but that kindness changes lives.

     ~I know that neither gratitude nor forgiveness comes naturally; both often require acts of will.

     ~I know that real success is being significant.

     ~I know that happiness is deeper and more enduring than either pleasure or fun and that I'm generally as happy as I'm willing to be.

     ~I know that the surest road to happiness is good relationships and that the best way to have good relationships is to be a good person.

The above is from - The following is from the Word of God:

1 Chronicles 29:17

     ~I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness.

Job 19:25

     ~For I know that my redeemer liveth...

Ecclesiastes 3:14

     ~I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever:

John 11:22

     ~But I know , that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

~What Makes an Outstanding Leader?

     ~Outstanding Leaders articulate their vision with conviction.

     ~Outstanding Leaders display a passion for and have strong conviction of what they regard as the correctness of their vision.

     ~Outstanding Leaders are self-confident, determined, and persistent.

     ~Outstanding Leaders engage in extra ordinary self-sacrifice in the interest of their vision and mission.

     ~Outstanding Leaders are self-conscious about their own image; they recognize the desirability of followers perceiving them as competent, credible, and trustworthy.

     ~Outstanding Leaders set the stage for effective role-modeling because followers identify with their values, and perceive them in positive terms.

     ~Outstanding Leaders communicate expectations of high performance from their followers and have strong confidence in their followers ability to meet such expectations.

     ~Outstanding Leaders communicate their message in a inspirational manner using vivid stories, slogans, symbols, ceremonies, etc.

Adapted from Leadership "styles" (per House and Podsakoff)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

~Urgent Prayer Request for the Country of Panama, Central America

Urgent Prayer Request

The President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, has declared a state of emergency for the country of Panama due to severe rains and flooding.

Officials closed the Panama Canal around noon on Wednesday, for 15 hours, after heavy rains and flooding prompted its closing for only the third time in its storied 96-year history.

Over 900 families have lost their homes and water is being rationed. Many deaths are being reported, as well as people that are lost and unaccounted for.

Please keep the country of Panama, our saints, leaders, and churches in your prayers!

**Note! The current rains are the most fierce recorded in Panamanian history.

Read News story below:

Panama flooding displaces thousands

(UKPA) – 2 days ago

Heavy rains and flooding in Panama have killed 10 people and forced more than 4,700 from their homes.

Panama Civil Protection System officials said more than 450 homes have been destroyed this week.

President Ricardo Martinelli said he will declare a national state of emergency allowing the government to mobilise more resources for affected areas.

The rains forced the temporary closure of the Panama Canal from Wednesday into Thursday, the first suspension since a shutdown when U.S. troops invaded 21 years ago to topple President Manuel Noriega.

This week's closure was the first ever for weather reasons since the canal opened in 1914.

Aftermath of Panama flooding hits transport and finances -- rain continues .

Saturday, 11 December 2010 12:42 .

Centennial Bridge, more access problems .The aftermath of the heavy rains and floods in Panama is hitting the nation’s pocket book and transportation.

The Cabinet met yesterday (Dec. 10) to formalize the state of emergency declared by President Ricardo Martinelli and to give the green light to the Ministry of Economy and Finance to ask the National Assembly to temporarily suspend the limits set by the law of fiscal responsibility covering spending and borrowing.

The Ministry of Public Works (MOP) is assessing how much it will cost to repair roads damaged by landslides and flooding while weather forecasters are promising up to three more days of rain.

Some of the worst damage was the collapse of an access road leading to the Centennial Bridge which promises further traffic chaos for commuters and shoppers in the days leading up to Christmas.

The access roads have been a constant source of problems since completion of the bridge was rushed through in time for an official opening ceremony by exiting president, Mireya Moscoso. It became known as the bridge with no access.
Minister of Public Works Federico Suárez said Friday that the structural integrity of the bridge has not been impacted by the collapse the road. He said it is an independent structure, and has a different base than the access roads on either side.
Repairs are being made he said and the ministry is working with transportation agency ATTT to ensure that there is as little impact on rush hour traffic as possible..

Trucks and heavy equipment have been banned on the road and will have to use the Bridge of the Americas. There is also severe damage on the Boyd-Roosevelt Highway connecting Panama City and Colon.

Freight vehicles, and west bound passenger transport will have to use the Bridge of the Americas.

To reach Colon only the Alberto Motta highway can be used.

Reports from the Electric Transmission Company, SA (Etesa) show , no improvement in weather conditions forecasting three more days of rain on the coasts of the Kuna Yala and the provinces of Colon, Cocle, Panama, east, central and west and north basin Bayano .

Search for victims in the area east of Panama continues, but rescuers of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc), have recovered the last two bodies Wednesday from a family that was buried by a landslide in the historic town of Portobelo in Colon. Late Friday, two bodies from another family were still being sought.

Residents of the areas of Panama east, affected by the floods, filed a complaint to determine whether AES Panama committed willful misconduct or negligence in opening the sluice gates of the dam at Bayano.

~Leaders Develop Relationships

In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.
                                 ~ Margaret Wheatly

     • Relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ

     • Relationship with your spouse

     • Relationship with your children

     • Relationship with extended family

     • Relationship with church family

     • Relationship with friends

     • Relationship with neighbors

     • Relationship with co-workers

Saturday, December 11, 2010

~10 Commandments for Great Ideas

**Note! A few day ago I read a post from the following site: It was called "10 Commandments For Big Ideas." I changed it to '10 Commandments for Great Ideas' and made a few changes and would like to share the results with you.  Here they are:

     1. Be passionate about your vision and ideas.

     2. Let excellence and quality differentiate your service.

     3. Select with care the name of your church or ministry.

     4. Believe in yourself but more in God whom you serve.

     5. Step out...way out of your comfort zone.

     6. Remember...the ‘devil is in the details.’

     7. Experiment and listen to your staff and leaders.

     8. Choose the right people for your team.

     9. Value and appreciate your staff and leaders.

   10. Persistence pays off and wins the race.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

~Thai-Gram - December 2010

December 2010

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia's largest and most vibrant cities. It contains the lion's share of Thailand's wealth and is ten times bigger than the country's next biggest city. It is also the seat of Government and usual residence of Thailand's Royal family. In the Thai language Bangkok is Krungthep.

Almost all tourists to Thailand arrive in Bangkok and experience its many faces; crowds of people, its famous traffic congestion, world class hospitality and shopping, fine restaurants, a multitude of impressive tourist attractions, flavorful aromas from the world renown Thai recipes. It is also home to millions of people without the knowledge of the one true God. A people steeped in idolatry and superstition.

Bangkok is bisected by the Chao Phraya river which is Thailand's longest and is fed by a watershed of four main rivers in Northern Thailand. Bangkok itself lies on the east side of this wide meandering river, while the older Thon Buri is found on the west bank. In fact Thon Buri was established as the original new capital by King Taksin (Rama I) in 1769 after the fall of Ayutthaya. However he moved the seat of power across the river three years later.

Until the early twentieth century Bangkok was made up of many canals, earning itself the name 'Venice of East'. Many of these were gradually filled in to create streets and drainage systems, but some remain.

The population of Bangkok is larger than 168 countries in the world. Please pray for Bangkok.

If you haven't already, please add to your email's contacts/address book.

God bless each of you.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support,

Ed & Mary Simmons
Bangkok, Thailand

Ed & Mary Simmons
8855 Dunn Rd.
Hazelwood, MO 63042

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

~Leadership Characteristics - Develop a Winning TEAM!

**Note!  The following article was written with many references to Sports Teams. However, the principles and guidelines alluded to are very applicable to anyone interested in creating an effective TEAM. We must always remember that first and foremost we are on God's TEAM - we are workers together with Him and without Him we can do nothing!

Leadership Characteristics

by Karlene Sugarman, M.A.

"Leadership is like gravity. You know it's there, you know it exists, but how do you define it?" Former San Francisco 49er Tight End, Dr. Jamie Williams

Great leaders come in many forms. In one sense solid leadership is a subjective thing, in another there are certain characteristics that are, by consensus, typical of quality leadership. Leadership is the process of influencing team members to work hard towards, and be committed to, team goals. Leaders can either be task-oriented or person-oriented. Task-oriented leaders are most interested in training, instructing behavior, performance and winning. Person-oriented leaders are more interested in the interpersonal relationships on the team. Great leaders in sports are both task- and people-oriented, but lean more towards being task-oriented.

Leaders must possess the qualities they are trying to incorporate into their team. For example, if you want members to be confident, have self-control, be disciplined, etc., then you must first possess all these traits. One of the most powerful things you can do is lead by example. You serve as an influential role model for your players and everything you do will be watched. Vince Lombardi says, "Leaders are made, they are not born; and they are made just like anything else has ever been made in this country - by hard work" (Dowling, 1970, p. 179).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

~Finland - the Alphin family will be there soon!



As some may remember from our Finland presentation, our family's journey into missions began nearly 10 years ago. Our AIM term, served under Mark and Robin Shutes in Estonia, covered the period from 2005 through 2006, and a full missions appointment was granted in the fall of 2007. In March 2008, our family's first deputation stop was at Pastor Dewayne Kirk's parsonage in the city of Corinth, Mississippi, and in October 2010, Mark completed our last destination with Pastor Don Demyan in Exeter, California.

As many know, we have been waiting on our residence permits since the applications were submitted on June 30, 2010, in New York City, NY at the Finnish Consulate there. Originally, we were told that the process would last just about six weeks. However, those 45-55 days stretched into 90, and we continued to wait. Honestly, we never thought we would spend the 2010 holiday season in the USA. However, we understand the value of waiting on God's timing. So, what about those permits? Well...

Four Permits and a Wedding

One of the upcoming events in fall 2010 was the wedding of our goddaughter, Alyssa, to a wonderful young man in our church, J.C. Branham. While we dearly love them both, we were ready to put God's will before our attendance at the nuptials if need be. However, God knew how important our attendance was to both of them. During one of his prayer times, J.C. was telling God that they really wanted us at their wedding and God told him that they'd have to marry in November (unknown to us until recently). The wedding date was set and the days ticked by. On November 20, we were honored to be a part of their ceremony and watched as Alyssa and J.C. exchanged their vows.
 At the reception, J.C. pointedly told Glenda that we would be "free to go to Finland on Monday." She laughed and said, "Yes, right!", knowing that God would do it in His good time. Then, on Monday, November 22, an email was received from the Finnish Consulate telling us that our residence permits were ready, and on November 23, Glenda's dad had the pleasure of opening the package, calling us in Arkansas, and sharing the news that all four permits had been granted. However, the fun doesn't end there! The approval date on our permits is November 11, 2010-the date of our 21st wedding anniversary (and day 133 of our wait). Talk about an anniversary present... wow! Our outbound interview with Foreign Missions is scheduled for December 7, and we are hoping for a departure before year-end in order to celebrate 2011 in the land of our calling. This would also give Robert K. Rodenbush, EME Regional Director, the opportunity to celebrate "a new country with a resident missionary" prior to his retirement on December 31, 2010.

When God does it, He does it right, and we couldn't be more thrilled! Thank you to everyone who has supported us by becoming a part of TEAM FINLAND through either prayer or finance. When next we write, we will be on Finnish soil in Helsinki, Finland!

May God richly bless your holiday season!

"Faithful is He who called you, who also will do it." (1Th 5:24, MKJV)

The Alphin family
November 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

~TRUST - Why is trust so rare?


There’s no dissent. Everyone agrees. Trust is a good thing and distrust is a bad thing. Everyone I`ve talked to says trust is essential to success in business and worthy personal relationships. Honesty, integrity, and fairness are not only moral virtues, they`re wise life strategies.

So why is trust so rare? Because you don`t get it by wishing and wanting. You earn it by your actions. Sure, everyone wants to be trusted, but there`s a price – you`ve got to be trustworthy all the time. That means being scrupulously honest even on little things and especially when it might be costly. Honesty is not just telling the literal truth, it`s conveying the truth. Thus, deception through clever wording, half-truths, or calculated silence destroys trust as surely as a lie.

Honesty involves truthfulness, sincerity, and candor. If you want to be trusted, everything you say must be true. You can`t mislead or deceive, and you can`t rely on legalistic loopholes or hide behind excuses like, "You never asked." Sometimes you`ve got to volunteer information, telling people what they need or want to know, not just what you want to tell them.

But that`s only the beginning. Trustworthiness is more than honesty. It includes integrity, promise-keeping, and loyalty as well. If you want to be trusted, don`t get caught up in gamesmanship and self-justifying excuse-making. Put principles above profit.

Yes, trust is hard to earn and just as hard to maintain, but if you have it, your life will get better. You`ll have the loyalty, devotion, and admiration of family, friends, and co-workers, and you`ll have the freedom, power, and security that come from being believed.

Trust me. Whatever it costs, it`s worth it.

Author unknown ( maybe from

Friday, November 26, 2010

~Six Truths About Trust - Am I Trustworthy?

TRUST(worthy) - Am I worthy of trust?

Bill Clinton lied about having sex with "that woman, Monica Lewinsky." The Reverend Ted Haggard lied about having sex with a male prostitute. Martha Stewart lied about insider trading. Enron, Adelphia, and WorldCom executives lied about profits. New York Times reporter Jayson Blair lied in his reporting. Los Angeles Laker Vladi Radmonovic lied about how he got injured. And Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney`s chief of staff, lied about how he leaked information about CIA agent Valerie Plame.

And these examples barely scratch the surface.

Lies like these generate so much cynicism that many people assume they`re being lied to all the time.

In this climate, the concept of trust -- real, bona fide 'I believe you' trust -- is not merely rare, it`s an extremely valuable personal and institutional asset. If you want to be one of those who possesses this asset, consider these six truths of trust.

1. The more honesty costs, the more trust it buys. Telling the truth, even when it hurts, is the most potent trust-builder.

2. There are no little lies. Every lie undermines the foundation of trust.

3. Lies are like Styrofoam cups; you can try to bury them, but they won`t disappear. Old lies are as corrosive to trust as new ones.

4. While honesty and forthrightness don`t always pay, dishonesty and concealment always cost. Cover-ups make things worse.

5. Lies breed other lies. It`s harder to tell just one lie than to have just one potato chip. Once you start lying, it takes an ever-growing bodyguard of new lies to protect the old ones.

6. Don`t be seduced by the "fight fire with fire" excuse or all you`ll end up with is the ashes of your integrity. Self-justifications aside, you can`t lie to a liar or cheat a cheater without becoming a liar and a cheater.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

~Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday Nov. 24th, 2010

In 1979 while traveling in Guadalajara, Mexico I observed a very old Indian man leading a burro down a very busy thoroughfare; the burro was laden down with sugarcane to the point that I almost felt sorry for the animal. The sugarcane was hanging off of both sides and nearly dragging the road; it was obvious even to the untrained eye that it was a very heavy burden.

I am quite certain the sugarcane was being taken to market and would be sold - more than likely this is how the man made his living. While studying this man and his beast of burden I was reminded of the following scripture:

Psalms 68:19 "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits , even the God of our salvation."

Another familiar scripture I would like to bring to your attention is:

Proverbs 10:22 "The blessing of the LORD , it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it."

REMEMBER to count your blessings! Every day we experience and are recipients of His blessings and the benefits He bestows upon us.

Psalms 100:5 "For the LORD is good ; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

May we all take time this 'Thanksgiving' season to give 'Thanks' to Him from whom all blessings flow. Thank God for the following: The Word of God, Truth, Salvation, Family, The Church, friends and good health.

To all the readers and followers of this Blog - thank you for every prayer and every dollar given in support of our wonderful missionary family. Many of them today are away and will not be able to celebrate with their families as you will. If you would, please take time to send them a note of 'Thanks' for their missionary service and labor of love.

From all of us at the Western District Foreign Missions Department:

Donald O' Keefe, Director
John Thomas, Secretary and Regional Director
Jerry E. Powell, Promotion Director
John Shivers, Regional Director
Richard Grandquist, Regional Director

Numbers 6:24-26

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee : The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Jerry E. Powell
Western District Foreign Mission' Blog