Thank you so much for praying for Laith's baptism. He's thrilled for me to share these photos with you, although can I remind you not to post the photos or the story anywhere online? It was a very special time for him, and so very encouraging and inspiring for all of us! We are so pleased to see all of the ways he is growing in maturity in Christ and vision as a young leader!
Simon turned 18 this week and has also been preparing for baptism, he will get baptized next week while we are at camp! Mahdi too is preparing for baptism, and while we haven't yet decided on a date, it's great to see these three young men mutually encouraging each other in their faith journey!
This week Laith, Simon and Mahdi also got their Baccalaureate results (High School Diploma) and graduated from High School! I've attached a photo of them in their gowns! They all did very well and Mahdi, who was elected Valedictorian, gave his speech in Italian (he obtained the French and Italian Baccalaureates simultaneously, both with outstanding grades - less than 5000 students obtain this "ESABAC" each year in France!) We are deeply encouraged and filled with hope as we launch these young men into their future studies and continue to walk alongside them in their leadership development.
At Parfums de Vie we have a very busy summer ahead and we have several prayer requests for the coming weeks:
Summer Youth Adventure Camp 11-25 July
Mission Trip Tunisia 28 July - 8th August
Getting Laith to The Netherlands
Getting Narjes to Scotland
Finding Accommodation for Simon in Nice
Our Ministry Center
Thanks to the generosity of some of our donors, for a number of years we have been in a position to purchase our ministry center, and while the owner does want to sell, we still haven't been able to agree on a price as his asking price is double the market value - which we are not willing to pay. The owner is in his eighties, not in good health and has significant debts. We have enlisted the help of an attorney to negotiate the sale, but so far, the owner hasn't responded to any of the letters the attorney has sent since March this year! Will you pray for a miraculous breakthrough for him to be willing to negotiate a better price that we would be willing to pay and for the sale to go through by the end of 2021? Vincent and I remain sure that this really is the right place for our ministry center......
Will you continue to pray with us for the ongoing support of the ministry? In addition to ongoing funding for our various programs with the children and youth, sponsoring four kids through University is obviously quite a commitment and we also continue to raise support towards the University Fund. We truly believe that investing in their further education is investing in the future of Parfums de Vie and the kingdom in France.
Luke Parker - Intern for 2021-2022
Finally, can I ask you to pray for Luke Parker. He is a young graduate from Spokane, Washington and plans to intern with us for a year starting September 2021. We really need the extra help and are very excited about having him join our team here for the coming school year. Specifically, he is working on his visa application which is of course essential for him to come. Will you pray that God opens the doors for the visa in a timely manner so that he can travel as planned to join us in early September?
Vincent and I are so encouraged by your love, friendship, prayers and generosity. The academic success AND the faith commitments of our four young University students truly inspires my prayers for the many younger children that we are working with at Parfums de Vie. Continue to pray with us that they too will not only succeed in their schooling but grow into young leaders with Christ centered values. May it be so!
with love & deep gratitude,
Nicole & Vincent
Friends & Family,
We hope this email finds you well, and that you have been healthy, blessed, and seeking after what God has for you in this season. We are sending this email with a link to our newest newsletter entitled "Consistency". We apologize as it's been a while since our last update and email, but we want to thank each and every one of you for your continued prayers and support.
God bless you,
Ryan Kelly Ezra & Kezia
Click Here to Watch "Consistency"
For His Glory; In His Love,
Ryan & Kelly
"Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people" - Psalm 96:3
From Rusty, with some editing for clarity by me:
Great news! Everything appears to be stable in my blood work and lymph nodes! My lymph nodes have not enlarged since the last time I came in, so I'll get lab work and a CT scan done again in 3 months. The doctor says there is a possibility that cancer could still be hiding in the nodes, but he says there's a higher chance that they are just a reaction to everything. But he/we will be monitoring closely!
The doc said some doctors report lymph nodes sizes differently, sometimes they're so small that they're "non enlarged by CT criteria", so on the last CT they may have seen it but said it wasn't worth mentioning. The lymph nodes going back to normal would be ideal, from what I understand! Because that would be a clear indication that they were just reacting and aren't hosting cancer. If there's no change in the lymph nodes he said he'd order another set 3 months later. Typically they'd wait another 6 months, but he wants to keep a close eye on them.
So our next prayer request: may those lymph nodes go back to the size of their brethren!
Rusty, and we, thank you for your prayers. We are grateful for your continued prayers.
Valerie and Nicasio
Hello Father Mike,
Greetings! Spring has been beautiful! Summer is right around the corner! I thought about you while I was out taking a walk in the metro parks. It is rare when we see each other face to face so I took a selfie to include in this newsletter so I can send you a smile. I think the greatest challenge I have when writing my newsletter is to adequately express my gratitude for you. Our partnership in doing the ministry in the Middle East and Central Asia is always on my mind and in my heart. With God's help and your financial support and prayers, we do this together! God uses your gifts to touch lives with His love! Thank you! My schedule in 2021 has been full! Thank God! You heard from me after I returned from Kurdistan. Recently I returned from Lebanon. The doors for more outreach are opening up as the year unfolds! Please pray!
PRAYER NEEDS LISTED BELOW!
I was blessed to return to Lebanon with a team recently. Again, God used us to give help to hurting people using the powerful ministry called New Hope Trauma Healing. We are trained to use the stories from the word of God. We met with families in their homes. First we listen as they tell us their story, then we pray and share with them stories from the Bible: The deeply profound story of Job. The beautiful and impactful story of Joseph, a son of Jacob. The happy story of creation. The sad story of the fall and God's mercies and promises in the midst of heartache, and more. God speaks into their lives to give them Hope. Hope that has a reason! The reason for our Hope is Jesus. Many people in Lebanon have been deeply hurt by the explosion that happened less than a year ago and now, by the current situation. The government has collapsed and the economy is in shambles. Common people are trying to survive day to day. They desperately need our prayers! We hope to mobilize another team to possibly go to Lebanon in September.
Prayers for Healing
Ten months ago a massive explosion happened in Lebanon. 207 deaths, 7,500 injuries, and 15 billion US$ in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. God has opened hearts and Houses of Peace using Trauma Healing.
May is often the month that graduates are celebrated and Nicasio was included in SIL’s* May meeting honoring graduates. This is my paraphrase of what he shared during that meeting:
I continue studying because I want the tools to meet the challenges that I face from the bilingual teachers and others. Tools that I can use when I talk about literacy and languages. SIL focuses more on the languages whereas my studies have focused more on the effect that languages have on people, especially when languages are used by those in power or authority and how that affects people.
The first classes in the doctorate program were very difficult and complicated but I wanted to do the doctorate program to help the bilingual teachers. They are in a difficult position: they are often not assigned to teach in a community where their own language is spoken but they are supposed to grade their students on the use of their (the students’) own mother tongue.
I thank God for helping me through the classes, which I’ve finished; I haven’t finished my thesis yet. I also want to thank Valerie for standing with me and encouraging me along the way. And I want to thank SIL folks for inspiring me and giving me room to grow. I hope SIL folks will continue inspiring people, especially the indigenous people since they are the ones who will have the greatest impact on their communities.
A few days later, Nicasio was one of two panelists on a live online program to answer some questions about indigenous languages, culture, and identity. My paraphrase of parts of his answers:
Our culture and language are important and need to be encouraged but even before that we need to be proud of who we are. I say that because we can see from history how we have been treated. The mistreatment that we’ve received over hundreds of years are like wounds that have never been healed. For example, in the year 1537 Pope Paul III declared that the indigenous people of the Americas are humans. All these sorts of things have wounded our forefathers and they have passed those wounds down to us and have not been healed. When our children go to school, it’s like going to a different country since the teachers don’t speak the children’s language. When we go to a doctor, he doesn’t speak our language, either. We indigenous people are like foreigners in our own land. We need to give importance to our language and culture and we can do this best by speaking it with our children and teaching them our culture so they can be proud of who they are.
My greatest achievement is not just my achievement but a team achievement: the writing and publishing of Zekre rkaa diidx zah (This Is How Zapotec Is Written) in 1999, We worked with a group of people, including bilingual teachers and others who were interested in writing our Zapotec, to finalize our Zapotec alphabet. After this book was written, the teachers found funding to have it printed and distributed a copy to each school in the area where Quiatoni Zapotec is spoken. Now many children have learned to read and write in Zapotec and there are teachers using the book to help their students learn to write their own language.
Some might wonder why we spend so much time with the bilingual teachers. We are happy to help them since they are helping us by encouraging their students and their parents to read and write in Quiatoni Zapotec. When God’s Word is available, many people will be able to read it!
Beto has continued revising the Psalms that he’s translated. He and Candi have also been learning a lot—and putting into practice—how to evangelize people. Beto found a method for opening the conversation that he really likes, involving showing two curved pieces which are the same size but don’t look it. On the back, he has printed in Zapotec how to use the pieces to share Jesus with others. He made a lot of them, cutting them all out by hand, and then shared some with the youth group since Nicasio has been teaching them about evangelism. Beto said that he gave some to his brother-in-law to use, too.
We would appreciate your prayers for Rusty’s upcoming CT scan and bloodwork on June 4. He’ll see the doctor on June 11. We are praying that the suspicious lymph node will not have changed or maybe shrunk some and that his bloodwork will show no sign of the cancer. Thank you for holding him up to the Great Physician.
Royan just had his six month check up and is healthy and happy! Tuesday (5/25/21) he was shopping with his momma, and fortunately they were still in the store, when a car hit Mike and Tara’s car in the parking lot. They are still waiting to hear from the insurance company about their car. Thank God with us that Tara and Royan were safely inside the store when this happened and pray that the details about the car will be sorted out quickly.
Mike has decided to change jobs for a position that will allow him to work from home. He starts June 1st and is excited about this new opportunity!
Thank you for making all these things possible with your prayers. Thank you for praying for us, our family and those who work with us as well as the translation itself. You are a blessing to us!
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Can you believe it's already been a year since Vincent's mother, Simone, went to her eternal home, on April 29th 2020? A few weeks ago we were able to take a small group of our Parfums de Vie teens to spend the week with Vincent's Dad, Jacques. He needed some help on his property to chop down some trees that had become too tall and potentially dangerous should they fall. He also needed some company as he faced the first anniversary of Simone's passing. It was a very special time of discipleship and blessing, both with Vincent's dad and with our teens. For the first time, Vincent's Dad participated in our Bible study every evening after dinner. He didn't just listen, he engaged, sharing his point of view with the kids. Simone was always very vocal about her faith and Jacques always claimed not to be interested, not to believe, I think partly to try and keep her off his case! So, it was very lovely and encouraging to hear his heart and to see his openness to the scriptures and his willingness to participate in this important time with the kids. Please continue to pray for Jacques, he is still really missing Simone and struggling to adjust...
For the teens, it was also a very special time. Vincent's Dad lives in the heart of the Provençale countryside, surrounded by vineyards, lavender fields and olive groves and far removed from the cramped urban environment of our kids' homes, so as well as the hard work of chopping down trees and splitting timber (and homework of course) we also had time for riding bikes, cooking, baking, building fires and spending many long hours outdoors. So although our April Camp was officially cancelled (for the second year in a row!) because of Covid restrictions, we got to do an "unofficial" camp with Jacques!
This special time away from home in a different context is so important in the healing and transformation of our kids whose family backgrounds are extremely complicated, and where neglect and abuse are far more present than we'd care to admit. Our week at Jacques' home was during Ramadan, the Muslim month of prayer and fasting. Ramadan is always a very difficult time for all of the children and teens of Parfums de Vie, who are under great pressure from their families to observe the tradition of the strict fast from all food and liquid from sunrise until sunset. Muslim children are taught that Ramadan is compulsory for gaining points for Heaven and salvation, and they are encouraged (obliged) to participate from a very young age. Children as young as 8 years old share with us their fears that they will go to Hell if they eat or drink during the fast. (Even accidentally swallowing water when brushing your teeth or taking a shower is considered breaking the fast!) Every year at Parfums de Vie we have to sensitively help kids and teens navigate this complicated season with their families. Many of the kids and teens of Parfums de Vie believe that Jesus has already paid the price for them, they know that they cannot "earn" salvation, but this truth is incompatible with the values and priorities of their families. Many kids and teens also feel that they "need" to eat and drink to get through their long school days, participate in sports, exams and their normal life activities. It's important that they have a safe place to express their questions and concerns, and it requires a lot of wisdom, courage and faith to help kids through this. This year, one of the teens told her mother that she was a Christian, not a Muslim, and would therefore not be observing the fast.....as you can imagine, this news wasn't welcomed by the family, who have continued to put immense pressure on her. This pressure, which is expressed in a harsh manner, only causes kids to feel more distance with the traditions of their parents and to draw closer to the love and grace that they experience in Christ through Parfums de Vie.
We know that God is faithful and at work through all of it, but it's definitely one of the most challenging seasons for our ministry. It's painful to witness the hardships that the kids must endure with their families and we are always thankful and relieved when Ramadan comes to an end.
We truly appreciate your prayers, love and support.
with love & thankfulness,
Nicole, Vincent, Etienne and all of us at Parfums de Vie
Our May Quiatoni Crier is attached. We hope it is an encouragement to
you in some way. (If you are a picture lover, there are pictures on the
second page. :) )
If for some reason, you'd rather not receive our newsletters, please let
me know. There'll be no hard feelings!
Thank you for your interest in our ministry of Bible translation in
love, Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Dear Pastor Mike,
Greetings! I'm so happy to be reporting to you about the the ministry in Middle East! Thank you so much for praying for us! God heard your prayers and He showed Himself strong! So strong and beautiful! Thank you, Lord! It was amazing and wonderful. BUT, it wasn't easy. There was never a dull moment!
The photo of the sheep and the shepherd was taken adjacent to the refugee camp where we held the medical clinic. I love this photo because it makes me think of a verse from the book of Matthew 9:35-38 . The words of Jesus: 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Please pray for the people living in these dwellings. This is only a a very small section of an enormous tent city. A significant number of the people are virtually paralyzed by trauma from war and terror. Lord we thank you that you tell us you are preparing an eternal home for those who put their faith in you! A wonderful place where we will be with you! A home of no more suffering and no more tears from the brokenness of this world.
The smile in her eyes really captured my heart. She and the other children loved the special attention they received from the team. Two team members were completely focused on the children with unique and creative games and stories and lots of fun, love and attention. God had a plan. The schools were on temporary lockdown due to an increase in covid cases only a couple of days before we arrived. The clinic areas were full of children who were blessed to learn about our Lord's love for them.
By now you are probably asking.... what happened? Why did you say it wasn't easy?
My co-leader and dear friend Steffoni wrote this devotion. I asked if I could share excerpts of it with you. Then I will share with you the many "BUT God" moments that happened after Steffoni shared this devotion.
-----------------------------------------------"As I laid awake thinking about the day and started going over all of the IF’s AND’s or BUT’s. I came to realize, there is Only 1 BUT! .....
Yes, team member Lauri fell and injured her ankle. BUT God made sure she was surrounded by the best team of nationals, doctors, nurses, friends and loved ones to support her through this crisis.
Yes, Lauri had to go to a sketchy govt hospital, BUT God used her to shine His light in that chaotic dark place. She remained calm, smiling, joking, singing about God’s goodness, and expressed much gratitude to the staff. It was evident that she was filled with the joy of the Lord
Yes, Lauri’s ankle is broken and will need surgery. BUT God has kept the swelling and the pain down allowing her to rest and to take the time needed to make informed and measured decisions about next steps.
Yes, many things need to fall into place for Lauri to get back home for surgery. BUT God, is in control, His fingerprints are all over this. Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked on them and said, “with man this is impossible, BUT WITH GOD all things are possible”
Yes, Lauri missed out on ministry that she was really looking forward to. BUT God, will redeem this for Lauri’s good and for HIS glory.
The phrase "BUT GOD" appears in the Bible over 30 times!
Psalms 73:26. “My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”
BUT GOD is at the very heart of the Gospel message!
Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. BUT GOD demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In Ephesian 2:3-5 we find the greatest BUT GOD of all:
“all of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace that you have been saved. "
Here is the part I filled in after Steffoni and Lauri departed so Lauri could return to have surgery on her ankle.
On the fifth day, before we went to the clinic, the team was getting their COVID test in order to fly home. The van broke down - actually just out of gas. The gas gage was broken. While waiting for the van to be up and running again we got a call from the manager of the Camp. We were not permitted to open the clinic on the 5th day. Someone who had come to the clinic the previous day went to the camp manager and lied to him saying we were requiring people to become Christians before we would help them. Of course that was not true. We helped and cared for everyone we could possibly help. More than 500 people in 4 days. There were a handful of people who needed surgery which was unfortunately not possible for us to do in a makeshift clinic without specialists in the field that was needed. We offered to pray for them. The camp manager said he was not against us. He said he was handling his responsibilities. He said he would not allow "religion" to harm those in the camp. He had lost many family members because of ISIS. This is a young man with huge responsibility for the people in this camp.
But, God...... Now, I'm glad I can ask you to pray for this young man.
BUT, God! God did amazing and beautiful things and touched lives with His care and compassion.
I had meetings with the psychotherapist at the camp, The person the phycologist on the team who had broken her ankle would have been with to help treat people who had terrible trauma from ISIS.
BUT, God...... they wanted someone from the team to spend time with them to see what they were doing to help people and to give feedback. I clearly explained I was not a psychologist and was only trained in Biblical Trauma Healing but was very willing to spend time with them. We talked and I learned all about what they were doing to help people. Then I sat in on 4 appointments she had with women in the camp who had trauma, lost loved, etc, etc. It was overwhelming. This dear counselor suffers from secondary Trauma hearing these stories every day from the women she counsels. She shed a good amount of tears as we visited. Hopefully God will keep that door open for more interaction there. ONLY God knows how they will allow us to help them with the healing only Jesus is able and wants to give them.
Then all but two team members on the team left to return home. The team was very happy and encouraged about all that God did in and through them.
A Physicians Assistant and her husband stayed an extra day because of flight issues. She tested positive for COVID. She was not sick and she had the vaccine and booster. Her husband tested negative. She was sure it was a false positive so she took the test again the next day and was negative but that delayed their flight a day. Not a huge problem, thank God! Then there were two more. Me and Linda. We stayed on for extra days. We were training three people for Trauma Healing who had just moved there from Columbia! The night we were scheduled to fly out at 4:20 a.m. a rocket from Iran militia targeted the airport, just a little more than a mile from the guest house where we were staying! Never a dull moment! We heard the loud boom! Naturally our flight was postponed. Thankfully the rocket hit only a cargo station and no one was hurt or killed.
I hope you are encouraged to know that God acted on behalf of all of us....and that includes you! I do what I do in ministry in partnership with you. Thank you! God showed Himself strong, for His Glory and His renown! ~Julia Schatz
Update and Prayer Requests: April 2021
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
Our biggest news this month is that Nicasio graduated from the PhD program Friday, April 23! Classes finished a year ago but due to covid restrictions, graduation kept being postponed. The ceremony was smaller and less formal than usual but it happened and Nicasio has his diploma! He said that the best thing about graduation was that it relit the fire for him to finish his thesis so that he can truly be done with the PhD program. Please pray for him as he works on it and also deals with the external hard drive that isn’t working and has on it the videos of the course he taught to the bilingual teachers for his thesis.
Nicasio and I have given final (we hope!) read-throughs of the book documenting the Quiatoni Zapotec numbers from one to one hundred. It’s almost ready for printing!
Nicasio has been continuing to revise the Book of Acts as we continue to study it during Zapotec church service. (Zapotec church service is still online only.) Interest is high as we work on Chapter 19 and discuss things like “Do people need to be rebaptized?” “Does God heal only through the use of special cloths?” “Who can pray for someone to be healed?” “Why is it that sometimes people don’t get healed, even after we pray for them?” It’s wonderful to see how feel the freedom and confidence to ask questions. Please continue to pray for these folks, especially for more understanding of God’s Word, which is what one lady asked as a prayer request for herself.
Nicasio is also going through the scripts for dubbing the Deditos videos. (More information about Deditos here: https://mailchi.mp/7d67344ed722/deditos-eng) He continues to teach (online) two people to read and write in Quiatoni Zapotec. (They speak it and want to be able to write it well.)
Please pray for unity within our (local) church since there is disagreement about how to deal with government covid restrictions. (We have heard of similar problems in other churches; if yours is one of them, we’d like to pray for yours, too.) Recently the pastor has started an inperson youth group, without saying anything to Nicasio about it, even though Nicasio continues to have online meetings with those of the church’s youth who want to meet with him. Today (April 25) the online group went on a bike ride as an outdoor activity where they can safely spend time together.
I spent the first two weeks of April in Mitla, doing an inventory of the Children’s Library. The library is self-serve (you check out your books, your return the cards to your books, you reshelve your books) so there’s lots of room for mistakes. Add to that the fact that I haven’t done an inventory for five years and that there are about 14,000 pieces in the library! I was very thankful for three friends helping me for many hours and an afternoon of four teens helping me.
Rusty thanks you all for your prayers and asks that you continue praying for him, specifically that his scans and bloodwork in early June will come back clear. He’s back to normal work and normal life. We thank you, too, for your prayers for him.
Mike, Tara and Royan hope to visit us this summer so they’ve gotten Royan’s passport! Royan is five months old and starting to eat solids. Tara says this is a real blessing since the formula he is on, due to colic and a milk protein intolerance, is quite expensive. Mike would like you to pray for him as he’s in the process of applying for a new job.
Thank you for standing with us and making God’s Word available to those who speak Quiatoni Zapotec! You are blessing many people!
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Thank you for your continued prayers for our son Rusty. Please continue to pray for him; specifically that the suspicious lymph node will not grow any larger. He will have another CT scan and bloodwork done in early June to check on it.
This past week Rusty went to IU Health (the world's center for testicular cancer) for second opinions with an oncologist and an urologist. A few days later he saw the oncologist that he was referred to by urologist/surgeon that operated on him on March 5. All three doctors concur that active surveillance is the way to go, meaning to keep an eye on it, have another CT scan and bloodwork done in two months to see what that suspicious lymph node is doing. (It is enlarged but still within "normal" range; it's not the node that they would expect to be affected by the testicular cancer, if it had spread.)
If it has grown (please pray that it won't!), they recommend surgery to remove it. If it hasn't grown or has shrunk, they recommend CT scans every four months for a while, then every six months, then every year. Even if there should be a relapse, the cure rate is still 99.5%!
Rusty says that he's still pretty peaceful about it. Thank you for praying for him and for us. We are thankful for you and how you've stood with us over the years. Thank you!