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Saturday, October 18, 2003

Hope to see you in Jacksonville

Dear Friends,

We are very much looking forward to seeing you while we are in Jacksonville! The plan is for the ship to come into downtown Jacksonville on the morning of Thursday, November 6th. There will be a Mayor’s Reception that evening and we will also be welcoming many new crew members. It will be an exciting and busy day! The ship schedules many receptions during the time of Public Relations Tours to share the vision and invite specific groups to learn about our mission and how to serve with us. We will be docked in Jacksonville until December 2nd.

We have arranged to have a private reception for our friends and family in Jacksonville. You are invited to join us at this reception on November 15th from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm. Please let us know by November 9th if you’ll be able to come so we may plan for the refreshments and notify the ship tour staff of your attendance. We will be docked by the Adams Mark hotel downtown on the Riverwalk just north of The Landing. You will need to first register with the tour staff on the dock and then go on the tour. At the end of the tour they will bring you into the reception which will be held on the family side of the dining room on the Promenade Deck near the International Flag Landing. We will need to finish the reception promptly at 4:00 pm, because the dining room staff will need to prepare the family dining room for dinner which is served at 5:00 pm. We hope you’ll be able to come and be our honored guests.

We would also like to spend time with you individually during our stay. Since our time will be limited and we will also be working, we will need to plan our time so that we can be available to see all of you and be able to give a private tour of the ship, if you’d like. We hope you will understand and know that we are really looking forward to sharing our new home with you. You may join us onboard for meals such as lunch during the week or dinner. We also have a community night gathering on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm. Unfortunately, the ship requires us to notify them of guests ahead of time, so please let us know if there is a time that you would like to join us. We are also limited in the number of guests that we may have onboard at one time for times other than the reception.

If any of you would like to stay onboard the ship overnight, please let us know as soon as possible. We have many guests from all over the US and world that visit the ship during this time. Our CEO and founder, Don Stephens, and his wife, Deyon, will be onboard for a few days near the end of November. We are having a change of CEOs, from Trevor Walker to Udo Kronester, on Nov. 20th. So as you can see this will be a busy time. Please contact us and we will do our best to meet your schedules.

You can reach us on the ship phone (504) 739-5139, this is a number in New Orleans (where our satellite switch is) and our email address is robert.miller@mercyships.org or denise.miller@mercyships.org. We look forward to seeing you in Jacksonville!

May God bless you abundantly today!

God’s blessings,
Denise and Rob
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy

Sunday, October 05, 2003

God is with us in Dangriga, Belize!

Hello Friends,

We serve an awesome God and He Loves us! Greetings from Dangriga, Belize. It has been an eventful couple of weeks since we last wrote. We have seen many lives changed, either through physical healing or spiritual renewal. Mercy Ship’s crew is able to show God’s love through many different facets:

• Praying with the patients on the dock as they await their surgery

• Celebrating with the patients as the eye patch is removed the day after surgery and they have sight!

• Meeting with the ladies at a local church to teach them cross-stitch and to build relationships – last week, much more prayer was shared one on one and singing of praises to the Lord

• Digging and moving five tons of dirt and mud by hand to open a water source for a local community

• Praying with and befriending two teenage girls that had been raped in a remote village

• Organizing and conducting a day at the park for the local children, including games, prizes and clowns.

• Meeting with the men of Dangriga weekly in a combined study of “Wild at Heart” to help us rediscover our God given hearts and value as men of God

• Joining in worship with the local churches

• Encouraging the pastors and congregations to continue the work God has given them here in Dangriga, Belize to continue to make a difference in this predominately non-Christian culture, by the testimony of their lives

There are many stories we could relate to you, each touching and a witness to God working in people. We would like to just share one for now.

Onboard the Caribbean Mercy we have two diesel generators which produce our electricity. They are made by Caterpillar and are very reliable. Normally we run one at a time, alternating between them so as to prolong the life of each motor. One morning about two weeks ago, while we were in our morning devotions, an alarm went off in the engine room, shortly followed by the ship blacking out as we lost all electrical power. The engineers, and fire team responded as they had been trained in an orderly and well rehearsed fashion. The fire alarm was sounded and the crew exited the ship accordingly. The Captain announced over the PA system that this was not a drill. The crew on the dock began praying, as we knew this was another spiritual attack. In short order, electricity was restored, the all clear was sounded and we were allowed to return to work.

The next morning at our morning devotions, the Chief Engineer advised us of the cause of the blackout. A bearing on the operating generator experienced failure causing the generator to shut down. The smoke from the engine caused the fire alarm to sound. Our other generator was fully operational and the disassembly of the failed generator was performed and the needed parts were ordered through our Marine Operations department at the International Operations Center, in Texas. They were air expressed to Miami and then flown into Belize City, Belize. This all took place within a little over a week. Meanwhile, we prayed that the one operational generator would continue without problems. Without it working, we would be totally in the dark, except for emergency lights.

On September 26th, Denise and I drove from Dangriga, to the airport in Belize City, Belize to retrieve the parts. This is a 100 mile trip and takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours. We arrived at 5:00 pm after getting some final direction at the airport terminal to the freight forwarders office. We were then informed that they close at 5:00pm. The customs inspector had already locked his office, counted out his money and was prepared to leave. We explained the situation to him and asked him to provide us the parts. He agreed to help us, if his supervisor would approve it. We went back to the airport terminal and Denise went inside to ask the supervisor for leniency. We had already paid $3.50 for 5 minutes of parking and Rob didn’t want to pay another $3.50 so he stayed with the truck. In short order, Denise returned and indicted the Supervisor would not approve the release until Monday. Frustrated, we called back to the ship to advise the Captain of the situation. She, also, was disappointed, but told us to have a nice dinner and then she’d see us when we returned to the ship. We did enjoy a nice dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and had a safe drive back to the ship.

Arrangements were made for the return trip on Monday, September 29th . Don Golden, a fellow crewmember and good friend, volunteered to make the trip with Rob as Denise had many previous commitments scheduled for Monday. Don and Rob left the ship early at 6:00 am headed for Belize City, International airport. We arrived safely at 8:30 am and awaited the opening of the Customs office at 9:00 am. Upon his arrival, the customs inspector looked briefly at us and our paperwork. Making no motion to us, he left the room. We waited until 9:20 and then asked one of the attendants if she thought the inspector would call for us, to which she replied no, we should go over to his office. OK, so we went, another customer was already in his office, so we waited. Finally upon arrival in his office, the inspector advised us we have incomplete paperwork, and he can not release the parts to us. This begins a series of calls between, Don and our Shipping Agent. Part way into this process we run out of minutes on the cell-phone so Don has to go back to the airport terminal and buy more minutes for the cell-phone. Now with more minutes, Don contacts the agent and is asked to wait while he attempted to get the paperwork sorted out. We waited until about 10:30 am.

Then Don called the Prime Minister’s wife’s office (this is the office of BCVI – Belize Council for the Visually Impaired- the organization we are working with closely in Belize) and spoke with her assistant Henry, who we had established a relationship with during their visit to our ship. Henry volunteered to speak with the Head of Customs for Belize and asked that we call him back in one hour. True to his word when Don called back we were instructed to go back to the supervisor at the airport terminal and he would sign a release form for us. We returned to the terminal as directed and the paperwork was signed. We returned to the customs office and proceeded to get the needed parts. Rob went into the office, while Don worked with the man in the warehouse to start loading the parts on the truck. Finally at 12:00 the truck was loaded.

During all of this process, we remained calm and as cooperative as we could. At this point the customs inspector asked if we had a cure for a disease his son had. He thought all of the people on Mercy Ships were doctors. Rob explained he wasn’t a doctor and was not aware of the disease he spoke of. The customs inspector explained that his four year old son had a disease that caused him to get white spots and then his skin would flake off. At this point, Don came into the office and Rob explained to Don the request of the father. Don asked if it would be alright if we prayed with the father for his son. The father was very moved by this offer and graciously accepted. We both placed our hands on this father and Don prayed for him, his son and his family. We were thankful for the opportunity God presented to us to pray with this father, son and family. We were again reminded that the real reason we are involved in this ministry is to affect people’s lives with the love of Jesus Christ and to proclaim the Gospel. The generator parts are merely used to maintain a tool to this end. May we be ever faithful to God’s calling.

God’s blessing,
Rob and Denise Miller
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy

rob.miller@mercyships.org
denise.miller@mercyships.org

www.mercyships.org

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Hello From Dangriga, Belize

Hello Friends,

Many of you may be wondering what happened to the newsletter we receive from Rob and Denise monthly. Well this month has been a challenge. Not in that we haven't taken the time to prepare a newsletter, or have tried to send you one. We have done both. In reviewing the newsletter after it had been posted. We found (1) not all of you were included in the newsletter. Not because we didn't try and include you, but you just weren't. So we tried to post the information to you in separate emails. some could open the email some couldn't. (2) Also while reviewing the newsletter we discovered that three of the verses in the text we used were omitted. Our text was drawn from Ephesians 6:12-20. In the document we create offline and then merge into the newsletter this information was there. When we proofread the message prior to posting the verse was there. Isn't it interesting that the entire point of this newsletter is "Spiritual Warfare". Denise and I archived the newsletter after we went in and inserted and corrected the verses and still the archived copy when viewed today was incorrect. So would you please look at the archived message the one previous to this message in our Mercy Watch and ignore the scripture as written and read it from your own bible. We have never had this happen before, and trust you will join us and see that there is and important message that the word of God is displaying and the devil just doesn't want you to get it.

May you be blessed abundantly today as you seek to serve the Lord in all you do.

Blessing,
Rob and Denise

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Greetings from Dangriga, Belize!

Hello Friends,

We have completed our first month of outreach in Dangriga, Belize. It is amazing to see the Lord at work. There has been much spiritual warfare here. Your prayers for us and for the team that is here and those that are yet to come are needed and appreciated. We are told by Paul in Eph.6:

(12) “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (13) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (15) and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (16) In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (17) take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (18) and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (19) Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”

We have seen that the power of prayer has sustained us during each outreach we have been involved with. That by the very word of God we are empowered and protected. Strongholds are torn down and captives are set free. It seems difficult to accurately present to you the full impact of your prayers. We’d like to share one example from the director of the YWAM base in Haiti.

Hello Everyone,

You may recall a recent report of how it was heard that there was a big voodoo ceremony to take place at the original sight where Boukman sacrificed a pig. The ceremony had ended prematurely and there were reports that there had been much confusion and no sacrifices were made. Brian Shipley and Illioney St. Fleur, two of our YWAM staff leaders, have just returned from the sight today to give a first hand report of what they found and heard with their own eyes and ears. I hope your faith and prayers will grow as this nation of Haiti is clearly on the breaking point of a great move of GOD!

Terry W. Snow

National Director, YWAM Haiti

Report on the events at Bois Caiman August 14th, 2003 By Illioney St. Fleur and Brian Shipley

About a week and a half ago many of you heard a report from us that there was a story circulating in Haiti that a great Voodoo ceremony had been planned for Bois Caiman on the night of the 14th of August, and that there had been plans for a large number of animals to be sacrificed as a memorial of the sacrifice made on the night of August 14, 1791. The story was that some kind of confusion happened and the sacrifices were never done because of the united prayer efforts of Haitian churches and churches in many countries around the world. We wanted to verify that report so we drove 4 and ½ hours this morning to get to the actual site at Bois Caiman so that we could find out first hand what happened. Here is what we learned.

The receptionist at a hotel located less than 2 miles from Bois Caiman told us that they had reservations for several government officials for that night who were supposed to participate in the ceremony. Those officials never showed up. She and another employee of the hotel said that because the churches had joined together in prayer that “Satan had been chased away from the land” and that “NOTHING had happened that night.” We were excited to hear that news, but we decided that we would continue on to the actual tree at Bois Caiman where the original sacrifice in 1791 was made, and where the ceremony was to be held just 2 weeks ago.

As we drove down the narrow dirt road leading to the place, we saw two banners spread across the road that read, “Voodoo, the source and root of our Liberty!” When we arrived at the famous tree at Bois Caiman, what we found was a VERY DEAD TREE, large and impressive, but dead nonetheless. Interesting that the tree marking the place that is supposed to be the very “source and root of Haitian Liberty” is dead. Even more interesting is the fact that it is a fertile and well watered area and we saw literally hundreds of verdant trees all around, but only the one was dead. It sure seems that God is making a powerful statement that the real source of Haiti’s Liberty is not Voodoo!

There is a church located less than 100 yards from the tree so Illioney went inside to ask if anyone there could give a report on what happened August 14th. The news was the same as what we have heard everywhere else. A man in the church said, “Big sacrifices were planned for that night, but not even an ant died!” That man also shared with us another interesting report. He said that some time ago (within the last 2 years) sacrifices had been made at the tree by two witchdoctors in order that during a worship service a fire would break out in the church to kill the pastor and any believers worshipping there. Not long after that, both of the witchdoctors died, but the church is still standing and the only fire that has ever burned in the church (besides the Holy Spirit) is at the cook stove in the kitchen where they make rice and beans every day for the kids who attend school in the church building.

The Devil is indeed a roaring lion, loud and sometimes frightening, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. As Revelation 12:10 and 11 says, “...For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

When we were in the Dominican Republic, we were able to witness first hand the power of God in a Haitian Refugee Village. Our Mercy Ship teams built a church for the Christians to worship in. We also taught agriculture, had a health care clinic and solar oven seminars.

Denise and I thank each of you for the investment you make in our lives. Through your prayers, letters of encouragement, phone calls and financial support. We are truly blessed, to have each of you as our support team.

We were doubly blessed this month of August as our youngest son Jeff was married to his lovely wife Valerie on the 28th. This was a time of celebration and reconciliation for our family. Denise and I were unable to attend, but were blessed to have Denise’s father (Pop-pup), family friend Vivian, and Aunt Dawn and Aunt Donna with her daughter, Erin, come from Maryland and Delaware to honor Jeff and Valerie. This was answered prayer and made Jeff and Valerie feel loved and honored. We would like to thank all of our friends and extended family members who helped to make this a special day for Jeff and Valerie; we realize that many were unable to attend but held Jeff and Valerie up in their prayers. Thank you! Aunt Dawn took nine rolls of pictures and is sending them to us after they are developed. We’ll be anxious to forward some of these along to each of you, our family and friends. We love each of you and feel your love for us.

Our prayer for each of you is, “May your life be as wonderful as it was in the mind of God the day He made you”.

God’s blessings,
Rob and Denise
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy

Ship’s phone: 504 739-5193
Cabin ext: 246

Email: denise.miller@mercyships.org
robert.miller@mercyships.org

website: www.mercyships.org

Postal address:

Rob and Denise Miller
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy PO Box 2020 Garden Valley, TX 75771-2020

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Hello From Dangriga, Belize

Hello Friends,

Greetings from Dangriga, Belize! We arrived in Dangriga late yesterday afternoon. We will be here until October 28th. We had a wonderful smooth sail from Port Canaveral, Florida. We have been very busy preparing for the outreach here . Much has happened since our last update. When the ship sailed from Boston, Mass. Denise and I used this time to fly to Texas and finish some business we had there. We had been maintaining a 10 x 20 storage unit in Lindale, Texas since first joining Mercy Ships in September of 2002. Our former Captain Jon and his wife Angie had moved to Van, Texas (near the Mercy Ships International Operations Center - IOC) and were purchasing a new home. The Lord’s time is always just right. We were able to spend several days in Texas and with the help of Jon and Angie Fadley and John and Ruth Hensman we downsized and moved our “things” that were in storage. Capt. Jon and Angie made several trips to our storage unit and with the aid of Craig Snow’s truck moved several loads to their temporary home near Van, Texas. John and Ruth did likewise with Josh’s truck and their van. John made so many trips to the “boutique” at the IOC they asked him on the last trip to not bring any more. We were blessed by Marcia and Dennis Flom to be able to stay at their lovely home in Van, Texas while all this moving and sorting was going on. Denise did a wonderful job of going through all our things and sorting out. We were able to downsize to a 5x5 storage area. Mostly just family pictures, necessary paperwork and a few family items left! Yeah!!!!

It was hot and dusty in Texas, and the beginning of our time trying to get the stuff sorted out would have been a good episode for the Keystone Cops or an excellent security lock commercial. Originally upon arriving on Saturday, Rob’s brother, Ken and sister, Connie along with Connie’s husband, Billy, came all the way from Abilene to visit (about 5 hours – one way). Kaye, Ken’s wife was unable to make the journey due to health issues. Well, we couldn’t seem to get out of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The rental car we had reserved with Hertz on the Internet wasn’t really reserved as we found out when we arrived. So we made the trip around the rental car circuit at the airport and were finally able to rent a car and proceed along our way. This placed us about 1 ½ hours behind schedule.

Meanwhile Ken, Connie, and Billy had arrived ahead of schedule at the Cracker Barrel in Lindale at 11:00 and were patiently waiting. When we finally arrived and had some lunch, we went over to the storage site and guess what. We had been gone for about 10 months and couldn’t remember which unit was ours, and the key we brought didn’t fit either of the units we thought might be ours. So our brother and sister were unable to look through any of our things to see if there was anything they would like to have. We had a wonderful time of catching up on each other’s lives and were able to show them around the IOC. So we felt the Lord blessed us and provided a time of rest and fun for us and made something good out of what might have been a very frustrating time.

The next Monday, we arrived at the storage unit and found out which one we were renting and that the key we had in fact didn’t fit. Denise suggested calling a locksmith, but that might take too long. So no worry, Rob would just borrow the bolt cutters and cut the lock. We had previously decided to use a high security lock, to ensure that someone couldn’t just come and break into the storage unit. So….you guessed it. When Rob attempted to cut the lock with the bolt cutters, the lock broke the tip off of the bolt cutters. Rob was not to be stopped that easily…so he borrowed a drill and bought a carbide cutting disk from the hardware store nearby. When he came back and was ready to begin, he found there was no electrical outlet anywhere around the storage unit. Across the fence on another property was an automotive repair business that had power, so Rob went back to the hardware store, borrowed an extension cord and came with everything ready and proceeded to cut the lock. He cut the lock in half. But, it still wouldn’t come off the hasp on the storage door. So Rob went and borrowed a sledge hammer. Denise cringed and prepared to expect to replace the storage door, before this is over. Rob proceeded to hammer on the lock, not a good idea, the sledge hammer is much to large and destructive, so Rob borrowed a LARGE pry bar. With frustration and heat beginning to take it’s toll, Rob pries the lock loose at the expense of destroying the hasp. This is much better than the entire door that Denise was expecting!

Now with the lock off the door, the door could only go about 4 feet up, because of the bent hasp obstructing the door. So the high-security lock had done it’s job. A ten dollar lock cost about forty dollars to remove, between the cost of the carbide disk, replacement drill bit and the replacement hasp. In all of this we were able to laugh at ourselves and relate this story to you so you to can enjoy a little humor with us.

All of our time in Texas wasn’t so eventful. We were able to spend time with Jon and Angie Fadley and their daughters, Lauren and Annie at their home and enjoy a lovely dinner. We were able to share in their joy as they closed on their new home the last day we were in Texas. We received the grand tour and celebrated with them at Dairy Queen. We were able to visit with our friends, Ruth and John Hensman, and their son, Josh, at their lovely home in Van, Texas. John and Ruth were in our Crossroads class and are now working at the International Operations Center. We enjoyed catching up with them and Rob enjoyed a great hair cut from the hands of Ruth. We had a wonderful dinner with them and enjoyed visiting with them. John who is quite an artist brought out several of his personal paintings and allowed us to choose as many as we would like to bring back to the ship with us. They now decorate our cabin and office beautifully. Thank you, John, for your thoughtfulness. We especially want to thank Marcia and Dennis Flom for welcoming us into their lovely home while we were in Texas. They were away, so we were not able to see them in Texas. We left Van, Texas with wonderful memories of our visit with family and friends and a few stories of ourselves to laugh at.

Our next stop was to Jacksonville, Florida where we stayed with Pink and Angie Hall and really enjoyed our time with them. Pink and Angie always make us feel at home and we love spending time with them! Thank you, so much for being our home base in Jacksonville! We visited with our oldest son, Jason and his wife, Jill and their daughter, Kendall, who is so precious. Rob had not yet seen or held Kendall, who is now 5 months old. We celebrated with our youngest son, Jeff and his fiancé, Valerie, as they were making plans for their August wedding. We were blessed to attend Sunday services at our home church and we were privileged to speak at the evening service. Two of our shipmates, Bram and Helma De Blouw, were able to join with us. Bram spoke and gave the congregation a sample of what shipboard life aboard the Caribbean Mercy is like. We shared about our Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic outreach and our jobs on the Caribbean Mercy. We enjoyed sharing and speaking with many of you. We were invited by the Pairs and Spares Sunday School class to share our experiences with them. God continues to bless us through all our relationships!

We had a surprise blessing from DeLanie Fant on the Friday before we left Port Canaveral! She called and offered to come and get us on Saturday evening (we had plans to go to the Holy Land Experience on Saturday during the day). She drove us to Jacksonville and we stayed at her lovely home overnight. We were able to surprise our church family and our family by being in town once more before we left for Belize! We were invited to speak to the Faithbuilder’s Sunday School class and share with them. We had a wonderful time! DeLanie drove us back to Port Canaveral and stayed with us for the “ship experience”! We had a great time sharing life on the ship with her! DeLanie, thank you so much, for thinking of us and taking the time to spend with us. We’d love for everyone to come and share our new home with us!

Upon our return to the ship in Cape Canaveral, Florida we have been busy preparing for our outreach to Dangriga, Belize. As in our entire tenure with Mercy Ships we need and appreciate the intercession and prayers that are offered on our behalf. As we prepare for this outreach we are very aware of the cultural differences we will encounter and we pray for wisdom in this area. May our actions and words portray the image and love of Jesus. May we earn the right to speak into the lives of the people of Dangriga. May we be asked what it is about us that makes us so different from others that they may have had encounters with. May we truly be witnesses for Jesus and bring Him the glory.

This message is being written to you as we are sailing and on the first day of service in Dangriga, Belize. It is being transmitted via our newly installed satellite system. Unlike previous outreaches where we had limited communication ability with you. We now have a permanent telephone number which is +1 (504) 739-5193 and this rolls over to six incoming lines. We ask, however, that personal calls are reserved for after normal work hours. (0730- 1630). We also have internet access all the time and your emails are always welcome and we look forward to communicating with you!

Our prayer for you is … May your life be as wonderful as it was in the mind of God the day He made you!

God’s blessings,
Rob and Denise

Contact Information:

Phone: 504 739-5193
Rob’s office ext.: 407 Denise’s office ext.: 344 Our cabin ext. 246 Email: rdmiller@gowebway.com Rob: millerr@mercyships.org Denise: millerd@mercyships.org Website: www.mercyships.org

Postal Address:
Rob and Denise Miller
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy
PO Box 2020
Garden Valley, TX 75771-2020

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Happy 4th of July!

Hello Friends,

It’s Independence Day. We rejoice today, as we join with friends and family to celebrate one of our national treasures Freedom. We pause to give thanks to God for the favor He has shown our nation and continues to show. We must confess it is all too easy to think of this Freedom as a right and not as a God given blessing. We realize in the Declaration of Independence there are three God given inalienable rights life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:31

We have included some Bible verses for thought and reflection this Independence Day.

Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature [5:13 Or the flesh; also in verses 16, 17, 19 and 24]; rather, serve one another in love. (Whole Chapter: Galatians 5 In context: Galatians 5:12-14)

Ephesians 3:12
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Whole Chapter: Ephesians 3 In context: Ephesians 3:11-13

James 1:25
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. (Whole Chapter: James 1 In context: James 1:24-26)

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, (Whole Chapter: James 2 in context: James 2:11-13)

1 Peter 2:16
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. (Whole Chapter: 1 Peter 2 In context: 1 Peter 2:15-17)


We pray this Independence Day; you will experience the freedom that only comes from a living relationship with Jesus Christ. As we take time to reflect on the freedom we have as American’s let’s also reflect on the freedom we have as Christians. As we reflect on both of these freedoms may we not forget the price that was paid for them; the sacrifices of our service men and women to allow us to live in such freedom; and the death and resurrection of God’s only son Jesus Christ. Whose death, paid the price once and for all for our sins, and whose resurrection provided a gateway to the Father that through Him we could have life and have it more abundantly.

Our prayer for you is that your lives may be as wonderful as they were in the mind of God the day He made you.

God's blessings,
Rob and Denise

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Hello from Nova Scotia!

Hello Friends,

Thank you for your prayers and your faithfulness in partnering with us and interceding for us. We are just finishing the second week of our PR tour in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It has been truly amazing to watch the Lord work in the hearts of the people in Nova Scotia. The reception we have received here in Halifax or more correctly the reception the Lord has received has truly been incredible. The Christian community here in Halifax is made up of many small (50 – 250 people) churches. Also in Canada, God has not been able to be claimed publicly in many venues.

During our brief stay here there have been several receptions held onboard. The first was hosted by the Mayor of Halifax (he is a Christian) and he invited many people from the business community and it was very well attended and received. Then there was a reception for the Pastors of the local churches and the surrounding area, this was a well attended and informative reception for both the Pastors and for the Mercy Ship personnel. There was a wonderful exchange of ideas and we were blessed by them as we hope they were in turn. On Wednesday night of this week we had a Mariners reception to focus on the seamen, craftsmen, engineers and artisans that are required to maintain a ship of this type in proper working order. They also enjoyed seeing the ship and especially a tour of the engine room! On Friday morning there was a Ladies Coffee for the ladies of the community and it was very well attended. The people of Halifax are very warm and courteous people.

We were able to take off a long weekend and celebrate our 30th anniversary! We found a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Centerville, Nova Scotia. We had wonderful hosts, Dan and Lesley Richards! Dan planned our days for us, so that we were able to see many wonderful sights of Nova Scotia! The B&B was just a short drive from the Bay of Fundy. This is an incredible sight to see the tides which vary 40 feet from high to low tide! Lesley made a 5 course breakfast every morning and really spoiled us from the toast and coffee we usually have! If you ever get to Nova Scotia….we know where you should stay! Actually you can visit the website at www.delfthaus.com. While you’re on the website, please watch the video and you’ll see many of the sights we saw! It is just beautiful. Dan is an artist, technology guru and he put together the video! State of the Art! We really had a wonderful time and hope to see Dan and Lesley for dinner at the ship one night before we leave!

We realized that we haven’t told you about Rob’s adventure in getting to Halifax, Nova Scotia. When the ship sailed from Morehead City, NC, the decision was made to drive the vehicles to Nova Scotia instead of loading them onboard. We have a total of seven vehicles and six of them were driven to Boston and four all the way to Halifax. The one vehicle was used for the well drilling team and it was returned to the International Operations Center (IOC) in Texas due to the fact that we will not be performing well drilling in Belize. Belize’s water supply is good and the drilling is not needed according to our advance team. Rob was enlisted by the COO (Chief Operations Officer) to drive one of the vehicles to Halifax. The total trip took several days. A total of 1766 miles. So while the ship was sailing, and dealing with some fog it encountered…. Rob was just Cruzn along the highways! When the ship encounters fog, as it for a couple of days, there is a requirement to sound our fog horn for five seconds every two minutes. Our cabin is only three steps down from the bridge and the fog horn is adjacent to our cabin, so…. While Rob was enjoying his good nights’ sleep in the home of a parishioner along the way or in a hotel room; Denise was trying to sleep in two minute intervals. She takes it all in stride though and counts it as a blessing. You may wonder how that can be a blessing… we haven’t gone though Basic Safety Training (BST) yet or we would be standing watch with many of our shipmates. Our good friends, Kathy and Don Golden, stood watch, all the way forward on the ship looking and listening in the fog with the salt spray from the ship splashing on them occasionally in four hour shifts. Actually the Captain said Rob won’t have to stand watch up there, because he wouldn’t be able to hear and in the fog you can’t see! These are extra duties volunteered for in addition to regular duties.

While here in Halifax the crew continues volunteering and enduring the cold and damp conditions we have here, because we are short on seaman (ordinary and able). Don even took extra hours to cover for a shipmate (one of our ABs, Able Seaman) that had a bicycle accident and has been in the hospital for a couple days. People often ask how we can work without getting paid. We do get paid with the blessing of working with such unselfish people as Don and Kathy and being part of this ministry that puts into practice daily, Christian values. We are truly blessed to be here doing what we are doing for this season in our lives. Thank you for allowing us to be here. It is because of each of you, our friends; your prayers, your crying with us when we needed to cry, laughing with us in fun times and enduring our growth when the going was tough, helping us to grow into the people we are today. Thank you for sending us; we consider it a privilege and an honor. May your life be as wonderful as it was in the mind of God the day He made you. This is our prayer for you.

God’s blessings,
Rob and Denise Miller
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy


Included by requests….
Email: rdmiller@gowebway.com
www.mercyships.org

Postal address: Rob and Denise Miller Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy Ships PO Box 2020 Garden Valley, TX 75771-2020

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Where are Denise and Rob?

Hello Friends,

You may be wondering where are Denise and Rob? Well, we are in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada! Some of you are probably thinking, what happened to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic? We sailed from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic to Morehead City, NC. Our outreach was very successful. Thank you for your prayers, emails, letters of encouragement and the many ways you expressed your love to us.

The sail to Morehead City began at 7:30 pm on April 25th and took four days and arrived on Monday, April 28th at 7:30 am on schedule. The sail was very relaxing and a time to reflect on what has happened in our lives over the past several months during outreach. We traveled on a bearing of 338 degrees North by NW at a speed of 14 knots. The seas were calm, and gently rolling with maybe a foot to a foot and a half swells; just enough for a steady rocking motion. The last day the seas were up to 6 feet swells and a little bit rougher.

We were in Morehead City for about three weeks undergoing some technical repair work. The ship is in fine working order, these were repairs or upgrades previously scheduled. The email and telephone situation we had there was not very good. The first week we were in Morehead City we couldn’t get telephone lines. So the ship purchased several cell phones. Our friend and shipmate Don Golden who is the Director of the IT department managed to connect us to the internet using a Sprint PCS Air Card and placing a laptop computer on the bridge.

While we were faced with these technical challenges, there was the special projects team on board working hard to accomplish all of the assorted and much needed renovations, modifications and overhaul of equipment. It is akin to having your kitchen remodeled, the roof replaced, the carpet replaced in the living room, the air conditioning replaced, the basement finished and then they discover that the in-ground pool in the back yard has been leaking into the basement, along with a few minor leaks in the plumbing in the house which will require removal of some of the walls to get to the hidden leak. In the mist of all of the hammering, chipping, cutting, sawing, painting, welding and mixing, there was the reality that all of these wonderful people were giving of their time and talent to make our home on the Caribbean Mercy a more comfortable, safe environment. They were giving a sacrifice of praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, making our ship into a most useful instrument of hope and healing.

Through their efforts, we as a crew will be able to continue to take the message of God’s love to many people. The special projects team came and ministered to us, not only in the work they did on the ship with their hands, but the work they did in our hearts by their tireless efforts, their outward expressions of God’s love in action.

We are now beginning the Public Relations Tour phase, which will last for about 6 weeks. While we are here in Halifax and Boston, please continue to keep us in your prayers. Our prayer is that we may remain focused and that they may see in us an example of Jesus by our love for each other, for them and for people we serve. Our desire is to provide an atmosphere that people will be drawn to on the ship and that they would desire and be encouraged to follow God’s plan for their lives, whether that would be with us on the ship or in partnership with Mercy Ships or as God would direct them in serving Him.

We will sign off for now…lots more to say, but since so much has happened since our last correspondence, we’ll write again in a week or so. It’s good to be back on a good Internet connection and have phones! Our phone on the ship is 902-425-2850 or 2860. This will be a good number until June 23rd, and then we sail to Boston. May God bless you abundantly and our prayer for you is that your life will be as wonderful as it was in the mind of God on the day He made you!

God’s blessings,
Rob and Denise Miller
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy

Friday, April 18, 2003

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

This morning is a relatively quiet one in comparison to the last several months. This is Good Friday; many are in quiet reflection of the significance of this day in our lives. To some it is a day off, to others a time to be thankful to the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for each of us. Some will use this time to reflect on the teaching of our Lord. Some will enjoy quiet solitude and confess shortcomings and thank God for His grace and forgiveness. Some will remember the triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the songs of Hosanna, the palm branches laid along the path of Jesus as He rode on a donkey into the city. Some will spend special time together with family and possibly have an Easter dinner. Some will gather at their churches or synagogues and hear of the Israelites being released from their captivity as slaves in Egypt during passover. They may have celebrated yesterday a Seder dinner (as we did)and asked and answered the four questions. They may have heard of the different elements of this dinner and the symbolism involved. They may have joined as a community and celebrated communion.

Easter is to some a time for new dresses, shoes, hats and purses. Some may make an annual trip to church in a newly bought suit. To some it may be the rekindling of old relationships with friends seldom seen. It may be a time of spiritual rebirth. To some it may bring back painful memories of loved ones who are no longer there to celebrate with them. Some will possibly think of the men and women defending our right to choose in Iraq. Those men and women will spend this special time separated from their family and awake to another day much like the past twenty-seven. Their day will be a day in which they risk all to defend our freedom. One of these freedoms is how we choose to worship, sometimes a freedom often ignored.

We have a crewmember onboard that knows what it is like to have this freedom taken away. He is from the Philippines and spent the last three years working in Saudi Arabia. For him to practice his Christian belief he had to hide. Sometimes he had to meet in a darkened room with only a small flashlight to read with. He said that his fellow believers would meet sometimes only after midnight when they felt most people were asleep. Even taking these precautions they feared for their safety. The threat of losing their job and being deported was very real. They could be placed in jail for violating the laws in Saudi Arabia. Hearing his testimony causes me to reflect and look at our own commitment. We're thankful for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for our lives. May we be a living sacrifice for Him. We encourage each of you during this Easter season to take a few hours, and reflect on your relationship with Jesus Christ. Look at the new birth that is offered. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world. But that through Him the world could have life and have it more abundantly.

We have been privileged to see God at work firsthand here in the Dominican Republic. Last Sunday (Palm Sunday), we celebrated in a new church built by Mercy Ships in a small Haitian refugee village. This was the new church's dedication and the service was in four languages; Spanish, Creole, Italian and English. In the Haitian culture Voodoo is traditionally practiced as their religion. This village of Haitians have a customary Voodoo house. However, a group of Christians, led by a man named Elio, from Italy have brought Christianity into the village and have begun building houses for the village. Mercy Ships joined with them to help build the houses and this new church. The worship we experienced on Palm Sunday with these people celebrating was an awesome time and definitely glorified God! We came to be a blessing and in turn were blessed. May our hearts be broken this Easter season by the things that break the heart of Jesus. May we see the world through the loving eyes of the Father.

May your lives be as wonderful as they were in the mind of God the day He made you is our prayer. May you have a happy and blessed Easter!

Rob and Denise Miller
Mercy Ships, M/V Caribbean Mercy

Sunday, March 30, 2003

We Stand in Awe

Hello, Friends!

Where has all of the time gone? We are nearing the end of our current outreach here in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Next week is the final surgery procedures for this outreach. This week the crew was able to form some community health care teams and with the help of a couple doctors, a PA and several nurses go into the villages to provide basic medical care. Dr. Mike Toth, the Chief Medical Officer for the Caribbean Mercy, gave praises to the Lord on Friday morning during our devotional time. He was blessed in the way our crew worked together in many different capacities to care for the people. He said he couldn’t take credit for the organization, because he had provided little guidance. All of our varied skills were used by God to glorify Him, in one week’s time 750 patients were seen, who would not otherwise have had access to medical care.

In the past several weeks, our crew has been augmented by the current January 2003 Crossroads team from the International Operations Center, in Garden Valley, Texas. Their team has completed their two month lecture phase in Texas. They are now in the Dominican Republic for their one month outreach phase. They have been very enthusiastic in whatever duties they are assigned. Their willingness to come along side of the crew has allowed some crew members to become involved in ministries ongoing off the ship. These crew members may not otherwise had the opportunity to experience the outreach in the villages. The Crossroads team has really blessed the ship’s crew and they expressed how the ship’s crew blessed them by sharing ship life, talking about experiences with them and showing how God’s love is shared. We really enjoy seeing how God’s blessings are received and given by our crew and the visitors to the ship as well as the people here in the Dominican Republic. God’s ways are perfect and those blessing others, always receive a blessing back!

As we come to the close of the medical portion of this outreach we are still very active in well drilling, finishing the construction of two churches, evangelism efforts to the local high schools, visiting the prisoners at the local prison, attending worship with the local community churches and sharing God’s love with all those we come in contact with.

We, too, are praying for our service men and women deployed around the world as part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. We pray for the quick resolution of this war, that our President, all members of the Congress and Senate and other world leaders will be guided by God’s wisdom. We pray that they will receive wisdom for the decisions they must make. We pray for the safety and care of their families, for the families of those service members who have become prisoners of war and for the families that have lost loved ones. That Jesus will comfort them in their time of trauma and the period of not knowing the fate of their loved ones. We pray for those listed as missing in action and as prisoners of war. We pray that the ultimate outcome of this war will be pleasing to God and bring Him glory.

Tonight the local churches are having a going away party on the dock by the ship for us. It is still almost a month before we actually leave but with all the Easter festivities this is a good time for a joint celebration for all the churches and also many of the short term crew will be leaving next weekend. We are thrilled to see the unity between the churches which has been one of our prayers for this outreach. There was a lot of denominational disunity before we came. The local pastors expressed a real need for the churches to work together in the community.

One of the tools God has used to help establish unity between the church communities has been the Community Health Education (CHE) teachings. The class is conducted in several villages and also in Puerto Plata. The classes are held in one church in the community, but all the churches in the area are invited to participate or in a village, everyone is invited to attend. The classes are held once a week in each community for several weeks. The classes are conducted to provide basic community health education, using the Bible as a guide. So not only is the information useful from a practical standpoint, but provides spiritual wellness at the same time. The ladies attending the class here in Puerto Plata enjoyed fellowshipping with each other and have planned to meet together regularly and have potluck dinners, etc. They have learned to share with each other and have found a common bound their faith in Jesus Christ. CHE is preparing for graduation for several classes. Those people who have been faithful in attending weekly classes will receive certificates of completion. Many of these people have never earned a certificate of any type and they are very excited about it.

Next week we will begin the process of packing up and preparing to reload all of the supplies and equipment back onto the ship. Next weekend many of the short term crew that has been here for the whole outreach will leave to go back to their regular lives, they are from all over the world. Goodbyes are the hardest part. Drills will become a big part of our ship life as we prepare to sail. We need to check and verify systems as we prepare to leave the Dominican Republic, headed for our next port of call, which will be Morehead City, North Carolina. We will be there from April 28th until May 26th. We will be in the shipyard performing repair work and scheduled maintenance. Rob will be busy getting supplies and repair parts and documenting all the work being performed. He is really anxious to see a Home Depot again and to be able to communicate in English! If anyone would like to come and join us to help with the work, please contact Denise and we’ll find you a place to serve with us for a short time or as long as you can stay. We’ll also, plan to speak in churches nearby and share the vision of Mercy Ships with them.

After our time in the shipyard, we will begin our public relations tour along the eastern seaboard of the United States. We will sail to Halifax, Nova Scotia for our first stop. We will be there from May 30th to June 24th. Then we will sail to Boston from June 25th to July 14th. We are looking forward to being in Boston for the Fourth of July. They are having a Harborfest during that week.

We are not yet confirmed for the next port of call in Port Canaveral, Florida. We hope to be able to see you sometime during our travels up and down the east coast. We would very much look forward to sharing our new home with you, and personally thank you for your prayers, letters of encouragement, frequent emails, and support. We would like to return to you, our friends, a degree of the blessings you have provided us. Thank you for allowing us to live our dream. It has been several months now that we have been aboard the Caribbean Mercy, and we continue to be thankful and blessed each day as we are able to be in part of God’s wonderful adventure.

May God bless you abundantly as you seek to serve Him in your life!

God's blessings,
Rob and Denise
Mercy Ships, m/v Caribbean Mercy

Saturday, March 15, 2003

God is good

Hello Friends,

The month of March has held excitement for us, in many ways. We celebrated the birth of our granddaughter Kendall Taylor Miller; she was born March 2, 2003. Her proud parents are Jason and Jill Miller. Denise and I were not able to be with Jason and Jill when Kendall was born, but the Lord provided. Our long time friend of over twenty years Angie Hall was there. She provided comfort to Jason and Jill by having family with them during this special occasion. She was able to pray with them and reassure them of the love that God has for them, and that He was with them each step of the way. Angie blessed our entire family with her presence; she was able to take notes of all the details and even bought a news paper, so we could have that in Kendall’s baby book. Jason was very faithful in calling, family and friends to share the good news. He called us in the Dominican Republic and don’t you know there was rejoicing. Through the encouragement of friends and the financial blessings we have received, Denise was able to travel to Jacksonville, Florida to visit with Jason and Jill and Kendall. She arrived in Jacksonville Tuesday March 11, 2003 and will return to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic on Tuesday March 18, 2003.

When Denise arrived in Jacksonville, and contacted Jason and Jill she was advised of a prayer point for Kendall. Kendall had received two hearing test since birth and had failed both of them. On Wednesday March 12, 2003 Kendall had an appointment at 1000 with the doctor to have another hearing test. Denise relayed this information to Rob on the Caribbean Mercy that evening by email but it wasn’t received until Wednesday morning. Upon receiving the email requesting prayer, Rob went to Trevor Walker and inquired as to how the crew could be advised of the prayer need quickly. Trevor advised Rob to send an email through the ships intranet and ask for prayer. Trevor Walker is the CEO of the Caribbean Mercy, and prior to Rob leaving his office Trevor asked if he could offer prayer. Rob responded with a “Yes, please”. So in Trevor’s office, prayer was offered for Kendall’s hearing. A ship wide message was then broadcast requesting prayer for Kendall. Upon the ship the time was around 1100 to 1115 which would correspond to 1000 to 1015 in Jacksonville where Kendall was having her hearing test. The initial test failed and Jill’s heart sank, but the technician thought that he should try another time. Then the second test was conducted and Kendall passed with flying colors her hearing is A-OK. This message was relayed from Aunt Angie via email because Grandma Denise didn’t have access to email at the doctor’s office but she wanted to relay the praise report and the answered prayer.

Upon receiving the praise report on the ship Rob was able to send out another ship wide broadcast, thanking everyone for their prayers and praising God for His faithfulness in hearing and answering our prayers.

I highlighted to you Trevor Walker’s position as CEO of the Caribbean Mercy to emphasize one of the many blessings of life within the family of Mercy Ships. Trevor is a special man yes, but the ability to go to any person within Mercy Ships and have them pray for you is not unique. It is a privilege not taken lightly; we are co-laborers in this ministry. We are professional and technically competent individuals trusting and dependent on Jesus Christ for His guidance and purpose for our lives. In as much as we depend on each other just as in any good family, we depend on you our friends, our prayer partners, our soul mates. Thank you for your continued prayers, letters of encouragement, and willingness to share your lives with us.

Our prayer for you is; that your life will be as wonderful as it was in the mind of God the day He made you.

Blessings,

Rob and Denise

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Hola, Amigos!

Hola, Amigos! (Hello, Friends!)

We are sending a short note to let you know all is well here in the Dominican Republic! Many people have been concerned due to the build up for the war about whether we will stay here or not. We plan to stay the course in the Dominican Republic and return to the US near the end of April. The outreach is going very well and God is moving mightily in the Dominican Republic. Rob and I are both learning our jobs and know that we are in the center of God’s will for our lives.

We will not be going to Charleston, SC as originally expected, because the dock there is full! We have not yet found a dock, so that is definitely a prayer point. We are looking in several places…Jacksonville (our choice!), Baltimore, Norfolk and Miami! So please pray that we will soon find a dock for the shipyard/ technical repairs that need to be performed. Jason and Jill are expecting their first child, a baby girl, on March 18th! So, we would love to spend a month in Jacksonville!

We know that many of you are not able to find the pictures on our website. I wasn’t very clear about how to get to the pictures…so hopefully this will help. Our website address is: http://home.gowebway.com/~rdmiller. The tilde (~) is an unusual character and is usually located on your keyboard by the numbers on the top row (next to the 1). Once you get to the website, go to the bottom of the page by scrolling down. The links to the 2 other pages with the pictures are in blue and are called Puerto Plata and More Puerto Plata. These links don’t stand out very clearly and I’ll change them for the next newsletter so that they will be easier to find. I’ll leave these pictures up for another week so that everyone who wants to see the pictures has an opportunity to before I change them for the next newsletter. I hope this helps!

Well, it’s dinner time and we need to go! We are praying for you and we ask God to give you the desires of your heart as you seek His will in your life! We appreciate your prayers and love! Thanks for all of your encouragement!

God’s blessings,
Rob and Denise

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Happy Valentine's Day!

Greetings from the Caribbean Mercy! We are in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

The Lord has shown favor on the Caribbean Mercy and we have cleared customs, now our vehicles, equipment and supplies are released. Our customs clearance was quite delayed and it held up the beginning of the outreach by about 10 days. After our customs clearance, we spent about a week getting the optical clinic and Dock Side Units cleaned and ready. We also had to get the surgical units sterilized and ready. None of this could be done until the equipment and supplies were released from customs. Now our different teams may traverse the country in conjunction with the Dominican Republic’s Government and visit the prospective villages into which the Lord is leading our ministries.

The officials from the government met with many of the crew to help determine where the greatest needs are. Phil Wilson, who directs the water well drilling aspect of the Community Development Department, initially identified 30 different sites which needed water wells drilled. Phil has traveled to 5 of these villages which were in the most desperate need of fresh water and has taken the well drilling equipment to the first of these villages and has installed a well for the village. The Lord is good all the time! The well-drilling truck, however, got stuck in a river and now needs a transmission. The team has worked out a solution and is renting a truck to continue the work and we will get the truck’s transmission replaced when we get back to the states. There is no way to get a new transmission here for a Dodge truck...they are afraid it would get tied up in customs.

The doctors have been out to many villages conducting clinics and screening for the eye surgeries. There are many Haitian villages and Dominican villages to reach with health care. The nurses and doctors go into the villages, set up clinics to help the people and look for eye surgery candidates. Many patients are helped and information is passed out to educate the people in basic health care.

When the prospective eye surgery patients are identified, they are given appointment cards to come to the ship for further testing and possible surgery. Visiting the villages is only one way that eye surgery patients are identified. We also had a screening day on January 31st at the optical clinic and about 600 appointments for eye screening and testing were given out. Some of these appointments also identify eye surgery patients. The optical clinic is set up at a local Dominican army base here in Puerto Plata, about 20 minutes drive from the ship.

Our Dock Side Unit (DSU) is up and functioning, this is the area directly off of the ship where the pre-op and post-op procedures are conducted; from here the patients are brought aboard and escorted to the operating room for their surgery. Amazingly, the cataract surgery process takes as little as 20 minutes and the patients are released with a patch over their eye and asked to return the following day. This outreach unlike previous ones we have been blessed to have two surgeons. They are performing an average of five to seven surgeries daily. In addition to cataract surgery they are performing surgery to correct crossed-eyes and to remove pterygiums (growths that form on the eyes from too much sun exposure) And the blind shall see! A lot of education is also done at the optical clinic to inform the people of the importance of wearing sunglasses and how to care for their eyes. At the optical clinic, almost every patient receives sunglasses and most patients receive glasses. If we can not provide glasses due to the limited supply of prescriptions available in 20,000 pairs, we write them a prescription. How do we know all of this….Denise was able to take a week away from her busy job as the Director of Human Resources and serve at the Optical Clinic located at the local military base in the base chapel. She led one woman to the Lord and also gave a Spanish Bible to several others, who did not have one of their own.

Rob spoke at a local church last Sunday and was warmly received by the people. One of the crew (Smirna DeJesus, from Puerto Rico) translated for him. Rob challenged the congregation to ask the Lord what God’s will is for their lives. The pastor of the church asked for those convicted by Rob’s message to come forward and many people came forward and we (the team from Mercy Ships) prayed for them individually. God is working among the Dominican people!

We have added a website to go along with our newsletter. To view the pictures that go along with this newsletter, visit our site at http://home.gowebway.com/~rdmiller . If you have any questions or want us to include other information, please email us. We’d be glad to hear from you!

We trust that you are encouraged by the work being done here, physically and spiritually and that you know that you are a part of what is happening here. We appreciate your support spiritually, emotionally and financially! We praise God for the close relationships we have with you! Please know that you are in our prayers daily and that we miss you! We are blessed to be in the center of God’s will for our lives! May your life be as wonderful as it was in the mind of God the day he made you!

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1

God’s blessings!
Rob and Denise

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Hello from the Dominican Republic

Happy New Year! We have arrived in the Dominican Republic!

We were able to make a QUICK trip to Jacksonville, Florida and take care of some business prior to leaving the US again. We also enjoyed staying and visiting with our friends Angie and Pink Hall. We appreciated being able to spend time with many of you during a lovely open house that Angie and Pink hosted. We enjoyed greatly sharing with the Sunday School classes some of our adventures and mission work in Nicaragua. We look forward to receiving email from many of you whenever you can write a bit to keep us up to date. We'll do our best to get an answer to you.

We sailed from Gulfport, Mississippi on January 10, 2003 aboard the M/V Caribbean Mercy. The sail was for four days and the seas were calm and the Lord blessed our sailing with wonderful weather and no mechanical problems aboard the ship. In our cabin we learned to expect to be moved in the beds while sleeping by the rolling of the ship from port to starboard.

Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, port city of Puerto Plata, we have been busy with the business of removing all of the equipment from the ship's cargo hold and forward deck to the dock. Getting the water supply routed to the ship, hooking up telephone lines and the normal type things you would do when you moved into and apartment or a new home. In this case we moved the home and have to get the utilities turned on. The ship has hosted several receptions onboard for the local media, the local Pastors and the Mayor as well as various other groups. These receptions were well attended and help the people understand the services we provide to their country. The Caribbean Mercy has not been to Puerto Plata to do an outreach before. So relationships and credibility must be established.

We have received favor with the custom and immigration services to offload our vehicles and our teams are beginning to prepare for the outreach. We were reunited with some of our crew that had to fly to the Dominican Republic, and a joyful homecoming was had by all. We had only been away from some of these people for a few days to a week, but for some it was their first travel out of the United States or their first travel to a developing nation. So for them to see the ship and familiar faces it was a very welcome sight. Today, twenty-five new crew members are coming in from the airport to join us and work on the outreach. We can only sail with 87 people and during outreach the crew grows to 150 people.

Please pray as we prepare to serve the Dominican people that God's will for these people will be done! We are excited to be here and will try to keep you informed of what God is doing here! We pray that in this new year, God will bless you abundantly