Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Letter-2012

Merry Christmas from the Payne's!

     2012 was a year of many firsts for our family.  

          -During Spring Break we took our first family trip to Green Bay for a Lambeau Field tour, Packers Hall of Fame visit, and 2 nights at a water park.  All 3 were a great experience for all of us.  

          -This year Samuel and Josiah played their first year of soccer and Levi played his first year of football.  This meant that we spent a lot of time watching and cheering on the sidelines.  

          -For the first time Cari received some answers, and a name (POTS), to the persistent head pain she has experienced for many years.  Although there are still days with pain she is glad that she now has a name for her condition.  Here is an overview of POTS.

          -This Summer Chris, Levi, and Samuel went to Packers training camp for the first time.  It was a great way to see the players up close without having to attend a freezing cold game during a Wisconsin winter.

          -For the first time we added a four-legged member to our family and yes, it is another boy. :)  Major joined the family this Summer.  He is a beagle/rat-terrier mix and has been a great addition to our family.

          -Chris took his first international trip in October.  He traveled to Moldova with 3 other men to help with a church building project and to teach and preach.  Click here for a detailed blog post, and here for a photo album of the trip.

     We pray that you have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

The Payne's

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moldova 2012

This blog posting is a summary of my experience in Moldova.  You can find pictures from the trip on my Facebook page in the album titled ‘Moldova’, or from our ‘Team Moldova’ page (   I would like to thank the church in Straseni and the Darrin’s for their hospitality.  It was very much appreciated and the team values the new friendships that were made.

After 18 months of preparation the team from Wisconsin has returned from Moldova.  From October 11-20 we had the opportunity to help a church in Straseni with the expansion of their church building.  We also had opportunities to preach and teach multiple times during the trip.  The time we spent in Moldova gave us opportunities to make new friendships and see what God is doing in this country in Eastern Europe.

                The trip started on Thursday morning in Madison, Wisconsin.  After connections in Chicago, Frankfurt, and Munich (which included running through the airport), we arrived in Chisinau, Moldova on Friday afternoon.  After checking into our hotel Troy Darrin, the missionary we worked with, drove us to the church in Straseni where we would be working.  After meeting the pastor and going out dinner we were able to go to bed after being up for about 30 hours.  Needless to say we were very tired.

                Saturday, our first work day, was a very wet and dirty day.  We started the day, like we did every day, with a great breakfast.  We were also able to meet the workers from the crew that we would be assisting.  They were really a great group of guys.  Over the week we formed some great relationships and were able to pick up on a few Romanian words.  The day was spent making cement and sending it up to the roof.  The new cement is going to be the floor for the second story of the building.  Around noon Paul and I went to Nagresti to speak at a youth gathering.  The gathering consisted of 70-90 youth.  The youth started the gathering by competing in a variety show that included what they had recently learned from the book of Jonah.  Paul and I were on a panel of judges that were rating each category.  It was a really fun time.  After the variety show I had the opportunity to speak to the youth about God’s love.

                Sunday started out by worshipping with the church in Straseni.  After a great time of worship through music, Randy and Paul both had opportunities to preach.  After church we had lunch.  Lunch on this day, and every day , was great.  The women of the church fed us very well and we enjoyed a many new foods.  After lunch we went to a local orphanage where we were able to talk to some of the kids and give them bananas as a snack.  It was amazing how a banana could bring a smile to a child’s face.  In the late afternoon we went back to Negresti for an evening church service.  The church in Negresti is a recent church plant.  On Sunday night we went back to Chisinau and spent about an hour at the city’s anniversary celebration.

                Monday through Wednesday we continued making and pouring more cement.  On Monday night Paul met with local church leaders to talk about strategic planning.  The group consisted of about twelve men.  What amazed me was the age of the leaders.  Of the twelve men present, ten of them were under the age of 40.  It was great to see the church with so many young leaders.  On Tuesday Paul facilitated a teaching with pastors from local villages.  Since the rest of us (Bill, Randy, and Chris) didn’t have any responsibilities that night we went back to the hotel early.  Wednesday night was a shorted work day because we needed to leave early to get to the church in Balti, which was about 90 minutes away.  The drive to Balti gave us the chance to see the beautiful Moldovan landscape.  During the church service in Balti Paul gave a greeting from our church, and Randy preached and lead in a couple of songs.

                Thursday was our last full work day.  By that time we were able to see progress.  The floor was poured, the old roof was down, re-bar was up, and cinder blocks were going up.  Over a two day period we manually moved over 8 tons of cinder blocks.  Thursday night was our last night to have fellowship with the congregation in Straseni.  Randy lead in a few songs and I had the opportunity to preach.  At the end of the service each team member had the chance to share their experiences from the past week.  It was a time for us to thank the congregation for allowing us to help them with their project.  After the service we went to ‘Pizza Bob’s for dinner.

                Friday was a half-day of work.  After lunch we headed to Chisinau to see the sights and visit one of the markets.  Our final meal in Moldova was at a Thai restaurant where we ate in huts.  Who would have thought that we would have had pizza and Thai food while in Moldova?

                Here are my final thoughts and things I learned while on the trip.  

-This was the first time I had even been away from my wife and kids for 10 days.  After 10 days away I saw that I was taking my family for granted over the years, and being away from them for so long really open my eyes to this.
-Many times we wonder how God can use us, especially in areas that are not our strengths.  My example of that is in the area of construction.  Those that know me know that I am not a construction guy.  Before I left for the trip I was anxious about how I was going to be used in a construction project.  After one day though I found a job that fit me very well.
-Although we spoke different languages (English and Romanian) the Body of Christ speaks a common language.  It was incredible to see how God was using Moldovans and Americans to reach the people of Straseni.
-Hard work feels good, especially when you’re working with a great group of guys.  Of the three other guys on the trip I only knew one of them very well prior to the trip.  During our week together we shared a lot of laughs, food, and prayer together.
-A small group can get more work done than expected.  When the foreman saw the size of our crew he was skeptical about how much work we could get done.  By the end of the week we had exceeded his expectations.  This was only possible through a combined effort of the American team and the Moldovan crew.
My hope is that this trip is just the start of a relationship between the churches in Wisconsin and the church in Straseni and others in Moldova.



PS:  Sus!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Global Awareness-Armenia

This is a continuing series of posts from recent talks to the student ministry of our church.

Population:  3 million
Capitol:  Yerevan
Life Expectancy:  74 years
     -Christian:  94%
     -Non-religious:  4%
     -Muslim:  1.8%

*Source:  Operation World by Jason Mandryk  

Challenges for Prayer

     -Pray that Armenia will have good relations with their neighbors.
     -Pray that Armenians will have opportunities for good employment.
     -Pray for the strength of the Armenian church.

Prayer Reminder

     -Many Armenians rely on agriculture as their source of income.  Remember to pray for Armenia when you see a field with newly planted crops.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Global Awareness--Ecuador

This is a continuing series of posts from recent talks to the student ministry of our church.

This presentation was done by Molly, a youth leader, who has been to Ecuador and was able to share her experiences while visiting the country.  Molly's family sponsors a child in Ecuador through Compassion.  Thank you Molly for sharing from your heart about the needs of the people in Ecuador.


Capital:  Quito
Area:  102,548 square miles
Population:  14.5 million
Religion:  95% Roman Catholic
Life Expectancy:  76 years

Major Exports

-Canned Fish

Prayer Focus
-Pray that those involved in gangs that they would find a positive alternate
-Pray for those in bondage to drugs and alcohol
-Pray for those that have been forced into the sex trade

Prayer Reminder

Ecuador is known for its roses.  Molly asked us to remember to pray for Ecuador when we see roses.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Global Awareness--Indonesia

This is a continuing series of posts from recent talks to the student ministry of our church.


Population:  248 million
Capitol:  Jakarta
Life Expectancy:  72 years
     -Muslim:  80%
     -Christian:  16%
     -Hindu:  2%

Indonesia is an archipelago consisting of over 17,000 islands in southeast Asia.  This week I shared briefly about Indonesian culture, including a sport that is popular in many southeast Asian countries.  Sepak Takraw is a sport that requires great athleticism. 

Challenges for Prayer

Indonesia is prone to natural disasters
     -Earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons are not uncommon in Indonesia.  Most the the fatalities from the 2004 tsunami were in Indonesia.

Sumatra is the largest unevangelized island on earth
     -Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel in Indonesia.

Bible translation
     -Many spoken languages require many translations of the Bible.

Prayer Reminder

Natural gas is one of Indonesia's largest industries.  Remember to pray for Indonesia when you use your oven, whether it be gas or electric.


*Source:  Operation World by Jason Mandryk  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Global Awareness--Ivory Coast

This is a continuing series of posts from recent talks to the student ministry of our church.


Population:  21.5 million
Capitol:  Yamoussoukro
Life Expectancy: 56.8 years
     -Muslim:  42%
     -Christian:  33% 
     -Ethnoreligionist:  24%

*Source:  Operation World by Jason Mandryk

Challenges for Prayer

     -Many Ivory Coast residents continue to practice traditional religions, including ancestor worship.  Even a number of Christians in the country continue to hold on to some of their animistic beliefs.  Pray that the nation will see that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Knowledge and understanding of the Bible
     -The number of theological institutions has grown over the years, but there is still a great need for Church leaders to be properly trained in the Scriptures.  Pray that the Word of God would be taught in the Ivory Coast.

     -Recent civil wars have lead division in the country.  Although not as bad as it was in the early 2000's, there is still a need for peace and stability in the country.

Prayer Reminder
Ivory Coast is one of the largest producers of cocoa beans.  Remember to pray for the people of the Ivory Coast when you eat something that contains chocolate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: "The Cause Within You"

I recently finished reading The Cause Within You:  Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do In This World by Matthew Barnett.  Barnett is the co-founder of the Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA.  The Dream Center reaches more than 30,000 per week through its multiple church services and more than 200 need-centered ministries.  It is a beacon of hope for homeless families, addicts, abused women and children, victims of human trafficking, teen runaways, and many others whose lives are filled with brokenness.

Throughout the book Barnett talks about the journey of starting the Dream Center as a 20 year old, how they expanded the ministry, and how they are helping hurting people today.  The journey included steps of faith, lots of prayer, and the shedding of tears.  He also includes several stories from volunteers and individuals that have been helped by the Dream Center over the years.

Our cause may not be to start a ministry that consists of a huge campus that ministers to tens of thousands of people per week, but we all have a cause that we can be a part of.  Whether the leader of the cause, or one of the many volunteers, this book shows the importance of persevering to the cause within you.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Global Awareness--Sweden

This is a continuing series of posts from recent talks to the student ministry of our church. 

The nation of Sweden is very different from the countries that we have talked about in past weeks.  Unlike the other countries we have talked about, extreme poverty is not something that many Swedes have to deal with.  The purpose of talking about Sweden (which has a literacy rate of 99%, and a high standard of living), is to show that although a nation may be rich in material possessions, they are still in need of a spiritual awakening.


Population:  9.2 million
Capitol:  Stockholm
Life Expectancy:  80.8 years
     -Christian:  57%
     -Non-religious:  38%

*Source:  Operation World by Jason Mandryk

Challenges for Prayer
(For the prayer challenge I contacted a friend who is missionary to university students in Sweden)

-Spiritual Decline
     -Pray for a spiritual awakening, and that Christianity would be more than read about in history books in Sweden.

-Pray Against Apathy
     -Many Swedes have zero spiritual awareness.  Pray for a desire to know God.

-University Ministry
     -This generation knows almost nothing of biblical truth.  Pray for openings to minister to university students.

Prayer Illustration

Sweden is known for its heavy machinery industry.  Remember to pray for Sweden when you see heavy machinery.

Friday, February 3, 2012

58: The Book

I recently read 58:  Fast Living, How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty.  For those interested in becoming part of the solution to end extreme poverty, I highly recommend this book.  The book does a great job of showing how the Church, governments, and non-profit organizations can work to see an end to extreme poverty in this generation.

The book has one page that is probably the most powerful page of reading that I have read.  The ironic thing is that it is a totally blank page.  If you read the book you'll know what I'm talking about.

Many times we do nothing because we feel that we cannot help a large number of people on our own.  Through opportunities that I've had to work with Compassion I've learned that we can each make a difference in the life of one child.  By making a difference in the life of one child we will play a part in releasing that child from poverty, and this will give future generations the opportunity to live a life free from poverty. 

To learn more about the 58: book and the Live58 initiative, visit their website at:


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thank You for Noticing Me

A fellow advocate in a neighboring town was a guest writer for Compassion's blog.  Here is a link to her article.  Thank You for Noticing Me


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Global Awareness--Haiti

This is a continuing series of posts from recent talks to the student ministry of our church.

The focus last week was on Haiti.


Population:  10 million
Capitol:  Port-au-Prince
Life Expectancy:  61 years
     -Christian:  95%
     -Ethnoreligionist:  2.8%
     -Non-religious:  1.9%

*Source:  Operation World by Jason Mandryk

Challenges for Prayer:
     -Recovery from 2010 earthquake
     -Strength for the Church
     -Healthy economy 

Prayer Illustration:
Haiti grows and exports mangoes.  I asked the students to remember the Haitian people when they saw or ate a mango over the next few weeks.

Compassion's Ministry in Haiti

Compassion's work in Haiti began in 1968. Currently, more than 66,700 children participate in 240 child development centers. Compassion partners with churches to help them provide Haitian children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.  To find out more about Compassion's ministry in Haiti, click here.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Global Awareness

Our youth pastor has asked me to share with the students about countries of the world.  He asked me to talk for about 5 minutes, twice a month.  The goal is to increase their awareness of what life is like for those in developing countries.  Although this is not specific to the ministry of Compassion International, it gives us an opportunity to learn, and pray for, others in the world.  I will use this blog to summarize the talk that I give the students in the youth group.  For each country I try to discuss the following:  statistics about the country, people groups, prayer needs, and an illustration to help us remember to pray for the country.

The focus last week was on Afghanistan.

Population:  29 million
Capitol:  Kabul
Life Expectancy:  44 years
Muslim:  99.85%
Non-religious:  0.07%
Christian:  0.05%
*Source:  Operation World by Jason Mandryk
People Groups
Challenges for Prayer
  • Violence
  • Women's Rights
  • Religious Persecution
  • Drugs 
Prayer Illustration
During these cold Wisconsin winter months, I asked the students to remember the people of Afghanistan whenever they used a blanket, quilt, or afghan to keep themselves warm.  
Due to the presence of the United States military in Afghanistan, I also asked that they remember to pray for the protection of our troops as they serve.