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Allbutt Journalings

What have we been doing in recent days

An old online web journal (weblog) of Mike & Vanessa Allbutt.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Arriving soon

This newsletter is long overdue, but we have delayed writing until we had certain information to share.

mike surfing
Christmas day 2009.

Our biggest news is that Allbutt baby number 4 is on it's way! This was totally unplanned and unexpected, but after some time to adjust (mainly for Vanessa), we are getting used to the idea and looking forward to another little bundle of joy.

Australia days

planeWe had intended to travel back to Australia later this year, but with the baby due to arrive in September 2010, we have had to change plans a little. We have booked our plane tickets, and we will be arriving in Brisbane March 26th (the weekend before Easter) and will be in Oz for three months! Here are the exact dates of where we will be when:

Brisbane
March 26th to April 23rd
Launceston
April 23rd to May 20th
Melbourne
May 20th to June 23rd

During this time, we look forward to catching up with as many people as we can, so if you want to make a time (either to catch up, or for us to share in a small group) email us and we'll make a time.

Ministry

Our playgroup MaNe has started off the year in a new venue, since the new house we moved to in December is not suitable. It has been encouraging to see so many mums come each week. At one point there were 15 mums plus 1 or 2 children each.

mane

As we will be leaving for three months, we are seeking to get the mums more involved in the everyday running of it, to ensure it continues to run smoothly. God blessed the group with two other strong Christian mums who are keen to keep the group running while Vanessa is away.

The El Faro Thursday night Bible study has been really well attended with as many as 35 adults coming. It is encouraging to see people grow, and learn to apply Bible teachings to their lives.

el faro

Mando and Myra host the El Faro meetings but are also returning home for two months, at the same time we are away. As yet, we are not sure what will happen to the Thursday night Bible studies. Please pray that we can make the right decision about it, whether to find a temporary location, or to cancel it until we return in July.

mike

Mike and Mando have also had awesome opportunities to share one-on-one with many of the local guys at the beach. For each day of the month of February we are meeting at first light on the beach praying the Mexican & world surfing scene.

Praise Points

  • Andy & Olivia Hall returned from Europe to help with the CS ministry
  • Friends who will house sit our place while we are away
  • New venue for MaNe & the many mums who attend
  • Progress of the Alpha Course for surfers each Friday night
  • Divine appointments that happen daily

Prayer Points

  • Preparations for the trip to Oz, that we get everything done in time
  • That we receive our visas back soon (currently at Immigration being renewed)
  • Provision of accommodation and car while in Melbourne (as well car seats for the 3 children)
  • Wisdom to make the right decisions for the ministries we will leave behind

Thanks again for all your prayers, support and interest. We appreciate you and look forward to seeing many of our friends in a few weeks time!

Adios from Mike, Vanessa, Priscila, Joel, Olivia & #4.

[ 5:59 AM ] Read...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Moving Ahead

Hasn't the year gone by fast? If you are like us then you will already be making plans for the new year to come. We are so pleased at what God has done in and through us this past year and we look forward to the year ahead.

mike surfing
Mike enjoying a recent surf swell.

Housing

In our last newsletter, we shared our expectation of living in the same house until we returned to Australia in mid 2010. Circumstances have changed for the owner of the house, who will be returning to live here soon. We have been blessed to house-sit these past two years, paying only minimum rent and using the furnishings this house came with. Within a week of being informed, we had a new house to rent. Over the past few weeks we have been preparing for the move which we will be doing shortly.

new house
Our new house. (Yes the road is steep!)

We need to thank everyone who has ever prayed for the sale of Mike's website business, because your prayers have been answered! The payment has gone through, and we have finished paying off land! It's the first time we have bought land, and the funny thing is, it won't be in either of our names. Due to Mexican law, only Mexicans can own land within 50km of the beach, so our little white skinned, blonde haired, blue-eyed Mexican (Olivia) will be the legal owner. Our plan is to build a home on this land sometime in the future.

Travels

In September we took a road trip to Cuernavaca (near Mexico City). While we were there, Vanessa flew to Cancun to visit her close friend Melissa from Australia, who was on here holidays. It was an awesome opportunity to catch up, more so since Melissa returned home to find her cancer had spread, and was not responding to treatment. She died a month after the Cancun trip. It hasn't been easy for Vanessa, but we are very grateful for the weekend spent together, and the good memories she has of her friend.

While in Cuernavaca, Mike was able to go to Mexico City to process lots of official documents. The outcomes are that Olivia is now the proud owner of an Australian passport, and Mike has a 5 year visa to enter the USA. This will make our future travels much easier.

CSUS conferenceIn October, Mike left Vanessa and the kids for the second time in two months, to travel with Mando to LA. Together they attended the US Christian Surfers conference which was a good time of refreshment and making connections with many Christian surfers. We are hoping that mission teams will soon come to serve Christina Surfers Mexico in years to come.

Ministry

The Surfers Bible in Spanish (Biblia del surfista) is now available! We received and nearly distributed all of our first box, so a HUGE thank you to all those who help fund-raise for them. We've been able to give away many bibles to the local hard-core surfers and friends who are really seeking God. Please pray with us that those who read them will be impacted and changed forever.

surf movie
Christian surfing movie at the beach.

Since the National Selection Contest in July, we have been able to help out at two other local tournaments: a bodyboarding contest for local youth in October and the big November Surf Contest. Our main role has been to keep the beaches clean, managing the bins and serving free water. But more than that, we seek to be a positive presence on the beach. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve and for conversations held with locals and tourists who attend these contests.

surf movie
Beach trash cans are now permanently at key locations.

We have been blessed to see Thursday night Bible studies grow, and have started running the Alpha course for those who want to know more about Jesus. We continue to pray that the people we have contact with will not only hear, but also understand and make decision to follow Jesus.

Vanessa continues to run the Mothers' Group every Tuesday. The group has really grown, with about a dozen mums involved. We are not sure what next year will hold, as we have been meeting at our current house. The house we are moving to will not be appropriate for hosting the group, but we trust God will provide an adequate venue. Vanessa also meets with other ladies' Bible study on Monday nights. Although there is not a big attendance, it has been a special time of refreshing and encouragement for her.

Family

Joel & Priscila in a parade
Joel & Priscila in a recent parade in town.

1st birthday cake

Joel turned three in September, and has joined Priscila in going to kinder. This gives mummy a few hours leisure time during the week, while Olivia sleeps. They both enjoy going to school, especially the days they get 'tacos' for their recess!

We also celebrated Olivia's first birthday, and are amazed at how quickly this past year has gone by. She made the transition from crawling to walking now, so hopefully she'll keep up with her brother and sister now and be less frustrated.

Praise Points

  • For the many good relationships we have here
  • For an excellent opportunity to serve the community recently
  • Thursday night surfers bible study is developing well
  • For the safe travel of Mike and Mando to USA and the networks made at the conference
  • The Spanish Surfers Bibles are being distributed (but more needed)

Prayer Points

  • Those who read the surfers bibles will be impacted and changed forever
  • Alpha course participants will become followers of Jesus
  • Outreach to ladies via playgroup & bible study
  • For guidance in decisions regarding ministry and how to be most effective
  • Unity of the team as it grows

Allbutt familyThanks again for all your prayers, support and interest. We appreciate you!

Adios from Mike, Vanessa, Priscila, Joel & Olivia

P.S. Merry Christmas and happy new year.

And email us back with news of what you have been up to!

[ 10:30 AM ] Read...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hot Weather Happiness

If you don't use Facebook then you might be asking "What have you been up to these past few months?".

Mike

We are doing well and continue to plod along with life here in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Apart from our normal activities of being at the beach, involvement with short-term mission teams, participating in weekly groups & bible studies, we have also had some cool things we want to tell you about.

National Surfing Contest

Trash bins

The surfing champions of every state came to compete in the National Selection Contest in July. We were given the responsibility of keeping the beaches clean by placing trash bins on the beach and ensuring they were emptied. We were encouraged to see how positively we were received by contest organisers and attenders. Thank-you to everyone who donated so we could purchase these bins!

We were also given the opportunity to show the Walking On Water movie (a Christian surfing outreach movie) on the Friday night, which was attended by about 300 people.

CS table in last dayThroughout the weekend, we had the tiny Surfer's Bibles, which we were able to hand out freely. On the final day of the contest we were encouraged to set up a free water stand and sell Christian Surfers merchandise and Bibles.

We feel that our involvement in the contest was well received and of blessing to many. As a team, we were able to work together in an amazing way to accomplish the tasks required, but also to be available to have meaningful conversations and encourage the people we encountered.

Surfer

Trip to El Salvador

Two weeks after the contest, Mike and Andy (who was living here for 6 months to help with Christian Surfers) did a 24 hour bus trip down to La Libertad in El Salvador. There they attended the Americas Christian Surfers Conference, a three day conference for leaders of CS in every country of North and South America.

After a fun beach game

Not only was it an excellent time of encouragement for them personally, it was also an amazing opportunity to connect and partner with all the other Christian Surfers ministries in countries nearby. Many ideas have been born from these 8 days away.

In the future

The immediate future holds a trip for Mike to the US. After meeting some representatives from CS US while in El Salvador, Mike feels the need to attend the CSUS conference in October, with the view of partnering more with them. As the US is so close to us, a healthy partnership with them can be a real blessing to both countries.

This trip in late October would also be an excellent opportunity for Mike to have the first meeting with the board of directors, which exists as an accountability and governing board to Christian Surfers Mexico.

Ministry wise, there is a small beach here where the local grommets (young surfers) go to learn to bodyboard or surf. At this stage there is no outreach to this young group. We are still working out how to best get involved but some of the are ideas of having a tournament, weekly outreach events or beach movies.

Big air!

We have also been challenged about how to network with other surfers around the country, to encourage and facilitate surfers who are Christian to use their surfing for reaching others. We are not sure what shape this will take as yet, but there are a few ideas we are looking at.

As a family

The rainy season is here, and yet we've had very little rain so far. It has meant a very hot summer, and heat rashes on all the kids heads and necks. We've also been dealing with some kind of stomach complaints and head colds at times. And as we love to share in our family, it has gone from one family member to another!

P J O

We are in the process of obtaining Australian citizenship and passport for Olivia. We also need a visa for Mike to enter the US. Both of these require personal interviews in Mexico City, so we are planning a road trip as a family in early September.

During this time away, Vanessa will have the opportunity to have a little holiday. She will fly to Cancún to catch up with a very dear friend from Australia, Melissa, who has a terminal disease. For a few days Mike will be caring for Priscila and Joel with friends in Cuernavaca.

view from our landWe are also still waiting for the sale of Mike's website business to go through. It has been a long drawn out process, and the latest hiccup has to do with the amount to be paid. This is a huge prayer request for us, because we are still needing to make the final payment on the land we are buying, and we depend on the sale of the business for that.

House wise, we have the design of the home we would like to build, but are not in a position to start. We are planning a trip back to Australia mid 2010, so we are expecting to stay in our current rental house until then.

Olivia & Andy HallWe are sad to see Andy and Olivia head back to Austria. This couple have been here for six months, and have been a huge blessing and encouragement to our team. The news is not all bad though, as they have gone home to pack up and make the arrangements to move to Puerto Escondido long term. We expect them back in January 2010.

Spanish Surfers Bibles

Surfers BibleNext week we should have access to Surfers Bibles in the Spanish language. Some other Spanish speaking CS nations have been working on these for the past few years so it is a great accomplishment and much need resource that will aide out ministry greatly.

Our desire is to be able to give the word of God away through these new testaments but they cost money. Each bible will cost us about $2.50USD to give-away so we are raising funds to help us get these bibles out to surfers here in Mexico. Donations can be made via the Christian Surfers website.

Praise Points

  • For the meaningful relationships we have here
  • For an excellent opportunity to serve at the Surfing various contests
  • For the safe travel of Mike and Andy to El Salvador and the time they could have at the conference
  • The Spanish Surfers Bibles are now available
  • For the opportunity Vanessa has to go to Cancún and visit her friend

Prayer Points

  • For guidance in decisions regarding ministry and how to be effective
  • For health & safety as we will be travelling by car to Mexico City
  • That we will be granted the documents we need quickly and without any hiccups
  • That Vanessa will have opportunity to talk with her friend while in Cancún, as she is not a Christian
  • That we will successfully have the Board of Directors up and running by October
  • For the fast sale of Mike's business, that the total will cover the remaining money owing on the land
  • We will have enough funds to give away surfer bibles

Allbutt familyThanks again for all your prayers, support and interest. We appreciate you!

Adios from Mike, Vanessa, Priscila, Joel & Olivia

P.S. Joel & Olivia will be celebrating 3rd & 1st birthdays in September & October.

P.P.S. Mike's parents will be joining us for Christmas as long as their health issues improve.

And email us back with news of what you have been up to!

[ 10:25 AM ] Read...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

H1N1

Greetings from Mexico. We have been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late.

Swine flu

wearing masksIf you were wondering how we were affected by the swine flu epidemic, the answer is we weren't at all. In fact, we have never heard of anyone even knowing anyone who was affected. So other than schools being closed down for a week and all public events cancelled or postponed, life has been very normal for us. There are several rumours going around about the government allowing the situation to be exaggerated for political reasons, but we will never really know what happened. So we continue on with life.

The rains

beach clean upThe wet season has started, which means lots of muggy nights and stinking hot days, until the rain comes. Then it's lots of water everywhere (carrying all the rubbish to the beaches), and more mugginess! The rains also bring more visiting surfers. Many stay for a few months to surf the big waves, so we would like to make good connections with them during their stay.

Surf contest & beach bins

beach binThe national surf contest, which was meant to take place in May, has been postponed to July, due to the influenza virus. We have been given the green light by organisers to take care of beach clean ups. Mike has been busy locating large trash bins to place on the beach, as well as designing identification labels for each bin.

We would like to say a huge thanks to all those who contributed towards buying the trash bins. We have received enough to purchase all the needed bins, as well as pay for the signs to label them.

Visitors

ywam teamWe have enjoyed having three short-term teams of volunteers in recent weeks. They have been able to help out around the community in practical ways and have seen firsthand what day-to-day life is like here in Puerto Escondido. There are more teams planned for coming months, which we look forward to.

Surfers Bibles

tiny surfers biblesMike has most recently been busy assembling small Surfers Bibles to hand out to surfers. We came across these small Bibles through some friends from the US.

The Bible is smaller than a credit card, and it has ten pages with surfing pictures and Bible verses. The verses chosen talk about God being in control of the ocean and waves, of Him being mightier than the thunder of the great waters, that through Him our righteousness can be like the waves of the sea, and that we can only obtain righteousness through Jesus Christ.

We are still also hoping to have the official Christian Surfers bibles in Spanish in the next few months.

Family

mikeAs a family we are doing well. The children continue to grow and develop well. Olivia is now 7 months old, Joel 2 1/2 and Priscila just celebrated her 4th birthday with a Princess party.

Mike heads down to the beach most days to surf and talk with the surfers. We are pleased with the good contacts and rapport that has been developed since arriving in 2007.

bible studyVanessa is still involved in playgroup every Tuesday and takes part in the ladies Bible study every Monday.

We also continue to be involved in the weekly surfers Bible study every Thursday night. We are excited to have around 30 people attending each week.

Housing

houseThe owner of our current home would like to renovate it with the view of renting it out to tourists, which means we need to look for alternative accommodation. We have some months to consider what to do, so it is not urgent for us to move just yet. This is a huge prayer point for us though, as it would be very difficult to find a house to rent that has the space we need at a reasonable price.

One option would be to build our own home on the land we bought, but we would need to find the finances to make it possible.

Praise Points:

  • 10cmFor health, and quick healing for Vanessa when she had mastitis earlier in April.
  • For the opportunity to serve at the national surfing contest.
  • The provision of finances to purchase trash bins for the beach.
  • For God's continued provision for everything we have needed, physical, emotional and spiritual (and protection from big fat scorpions).

Prayer Points:

  • For unity and protection of our team, as we work together to reach the surfers.
  • For opportunities to share with surfers in the upcoming contest.
  • That the small surfers Bibles can be an effective way to spread the good news.
  • For wisdom in deciding our future accommodation, and the faith to rest in God's provision.
  • For more older children in playgroup. We have lots of babies, we need a few more 2 or 3 year olds. Poor Joel gets a bit bored for lack of playmates!
  • Mike & others from here will head to a Christian Surfers regional conference in El Salvador in mid-July.

Allbutt familyThanks again for all your prayers, support and interest. We appreciate you!

Adios from Mike, Vanessa, Priscila, Joel & Olivia

P.S. Vanessa celebrated her 29th birthday last week, Mike turns 35 in June and we will celebrate our 7th year of marriage.

[ 10:20 AM ] Read...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

2009 Underway

It's great to be able to praise God for His provisions and care. We have several reasons to praise Him:

MaNe

After a few months of planning, praying, writing, fund-raising and shopping, we have the first (as far as we know) Mexican Mothers group/Playgroup up and running, called MaNe ('Mamás y Nenes', which is Mums and Bubs). It's been great to see eight different mums come along, mostly with children 2 years old and under.

the mums and kids

After five weeks of meeting, the children are warming up to the place, the routine and the other children. It has been encouraging to see the variety of mums, some are Christians, some are not; some Mexican, some foreigners. It's also good to see them interact and share experiences.

MaNe tables

One of the goals of this group is to get mothers thinking about how they raise their children, and to expose them to Christian values and beliefs. So this last week we invited Myra (a mother of four, also working with us in the surfing community), to share her experiences of mother and wife. We also want to incorporate book reviews and maybe evening discussion sessions. The options are several, and we look forward to seeing how God uses this time.

Having MaNe at our house has several advantages, as well as disadvantages. It has been a busy time for Vanessa, preparing, setting up and cleaning up. But the mothers are now getting more involved in this process, as they also get used to the routine. We have also decided to employ a lady to help clean up the house, which will allow Vanessa to do other things.

Visas

visas

I think we must hold the record for how long it takes to change a visa from tourist to religious worker. We began the visa process in April last year, and we will pick up the visas this week, all of 10 months later! But Praise God it's done for this year!

Now we can go ahead and do all the things we need to do: get number plates for our car, register Olivia, get her a birth certificate, register her as an Australian citizen and get her passports!

Land Purchase

In April last year we decided to purchase two small blocks of land adjacent to each other here in Puerto Escondido. The value of land here is skyrocketing, so we thought it would be a good investment in the long term. We have just recently finished paying one block of land, which we are excited about. (Photo taken standing on our land.)

view from our land

We are hoping the sale of Mike's website business will provide enough to pay the remainder. We would like to eventually build our own home here, but for now we continue to enjoy the house and awesome view that God has provided.

Website Business

website

Mike has found a potential buyer for the website business. Even though the economy has changed, we are hoping that the sale will still go through. Mike doesn't have the time to invest into commercial websites, and we would like to see all the responsibility of it off our hands, as well as paying the land off.

Family

We all continue to be mostly well. We have all been sick with colds and coughs, Olivia included, but we are slowly getting past that. The children continue to grow, both in size and learning.

3 kids

Priscila's Spanish has improved a lot, even though she says she still doesn't like school. She did have a nice time though on her first school excursion the other day when they went to see iguanas, turtles and crocodiles.

Joel has started to make some more sounds, and a couple more words. After getting some feedback from a Speech Pathologist, we hope to see him expand his repertoire of animal sounds and grunts to include helpful words, like drink, food, yes, no, mummy, daddy, please, thank you..... :)

Olivia is four months old now (time flies). She's bigger than the average Mexican baby, as well as whiter and balder. But she has a huge smile and bright blue eyes that Mexicans just love.

mike

Mike's Spanish has also improved, but his teacher has changed jobs, so he no longer has that regular learning time. We need to find another method of learning for him that fits with his lifestyle and needs, whether it be with another teacher or regular practice/reading times.

vanessaBy having a house helper Vanessa is enjoying not having to sweep and mop the dust out of the house regularly, or wash, hang and iron clothes, wash the fridge or stove, clean the bathroom, or change the bed sheets and towels. With three small children, she has enough to do in a day sweeping crumbs, mopping up little accidents and spills, wiping faces and hands and changing nappies, not to mention cooking meals, washing up, and acting as police, judge, doctor, teacher, evangelist and mother. She feels as though a third of the weight has been lifted off her shoulders..... or maybe a quarter! :)

Ministry

party

We continue to be involved in several ministries here. Vanessa attends the ladies Bible Study, which has really grown into a prayer and support group for each of the women. We also take part in the Surfers Bible Study each week, helping with food, taking the study or running the children's program.

Mike continues to go to the local beach break each morning, sometimes surfing, sometimes just talking with the surfers. It's important to us to see each chat as an opportunity to deepen the relationship and to share what we believe. (View some photos of Mike surfing.)

at beach

Mike continues to help several people with computer/website related issues, with the same goal in view: to develop a relationship that will lead to sharing his life experience and the gospel with them. We've been able to do this as a family as well, as we've met other families with young children.

We also praise God for the recent arrival of a young married couple Andy and Olivia (from England and Austria) who will be here for the next six months, learning Spanish and helping out with Christian Surfers, as they seek God's leading in their life.

Our daily schedule is about to get more busy in coming months as we will be involved with a number of short-term teams who will be coming to Puerto Escondido to work on various projects. These are always good times, but require more energy and time.

motobike

We apologise for the lengthy letter, but we trust you enjoyed the read and the photos, and that you can join us in praising God for what He has done and will continue to do.

Adios from Mike, Vanessa, Priscila Joel & Olivia.

P.S. The vehicles are doing well apart from being unregistered.

P.P.S Checkout the brand new Surfistas Cristianos México website.

[ 10:15 AM ] Read...

I trust that this Allbutt Journalings helps bring you up to date with what I have been up to recently. If you want to contact me then click here. Thanks for reading some of my thoughts. If you want to read some of the older files then they have been stored in the archives here.

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