Greetings in the Lord from the Florida headquarters,
We trust each of you had a great summer and the Lord has done mighty things around the world. We are back in the office and the staff has returned from deputation. It is good to have some people around, although we had 24 students already here. Boot Camps ran relatively smooth this year which we Praise the Lord for. It has been a very busy summer. After Boot Camp, Bernie and I traveled to Pennsylvania for our granddaughter, Catherine-Noel’s wedding to Brian Shultz. It was a beautiful wedding with a reception at the college. The next morning, we headed for Pittsburgh to fly out to Indonesia. My daughter Cathy took Bernie over to Chillicothe to spend the summer with her sister. Bernie hasn’t been able to do much traveling due to health problems. Linda Maher joined me in LA and Mat and Heni Wylie joined us in Borneo where the MSSM training was going on. We spoke at the Teen Missions in Indonesia BMW graduation which was in a large auditorium and there were 146 graduates. There were twice that many people who attended, parents, etc. The graduation lasted all day long but was a blessing. We are thrilled with the work going on in Indonesia. The three days before graduation, we spent one with the governing board of Indonesia, and the other two with the coordinators of the six different Bible Schools. The Sunday following the graduation, I was invited to speak at Bill Hekman’s church. There were over 100 there. He has about 30 soccer players mostly from Nigeria, Africa that come to his church. The next day we flew to Pontionak in Borneo and drove six hours north to Sosok where we have a Bible School. It was neat to get to spend a night there. The students weren’t there, but I did get to see the property. The next day we took a two-hour drive to the new base in Borneo and Entikong, on the border of Malaysia. Mat and Heni were already there. Linda ran the MSSM training with eight graduates from the Indonesian BMWs. They did a great job and we had some outstanding young men there to take the training. (Note: testimony of Stevanus on the front page.) The Bobbs started the building a year ago. The area there is very steep hills without wide valleys. They had bulldozed off an area to put the building on which is 100 foot long. It is very difficult to walk up to and how they carried the materials, because it was too steep for a truck, well, they really worked to get that done. They have been working on the building since the team left last year and it is about 90% finished. It was very hot in Borneo. There is no electricity, but they do have water that runs down the mountain in a little stream they pipe off of. Of course, there is no email or anything there but they do have cell phones. We got a call that my granddaughter Tara Brenne, who was expecting her baby in the middle of September and she had her baby six weeks early. He weighed only 4 pounds and his name is Joel Robert. Bernie had insisted we be there for his birth, but he didn’t wait on us old folks to arrive. About a week after his birth, they were able to bring him home. He is doing fine and growing in strength. He certainly is a tiny little thing. At this time we Praise the Lord that mother and baby are doing fine. He is our first great grandchild. For you who know us, can you imagine – it makes Robin a grandpa! I’m not even sure we have him raised yet! So, of course, we were anxious to be able to get back to Florida. However, my flight back from Phnom Pehn was a long haul. It was 41 hours including a 12 hour layover in LA, which is one of the worst airports in the US. After the 41 hours I was exhausted. We traveled all day the day before also. I had a very hard time getting over the jet lag. It took me three days to even begin to stay awake in the day or go to sleep at night.
Mat and Heni, Linda and I all flew to Cambodia. We were taken to the 132 acre property at Kampong Chnang. It is mostly farm land and has 20 acres of rice field on it. Next door is a huge pig farm. Amazingly, there wasn’t any smell. There is water that flows from the pig farm into our rice field, which is good because it brings fertilizer to the rice field. We expect to purchase a plow for the rice paddies. We have probably 15-20 acres and we are adding more. This year we are leasing it out but next year we plan to farm it ourselves. There are no real structures there, just a couple of pole barns and we have a container. The area has great potential especially spiritually for MSSM. We went to several villages where there is nothing…no work and no real leadership. In two villages we visited, a Korean mission organization had a church built in each village. It is a very nice church, there is just one problem, there is no one to run it and there are no services. We visited those and we had a team from the Cambodian Boot Camp doing VBS, but these are wide open places for MSSM. We met some of the kids that were on the project and were in the BMW. They are really neat kids, but have very little knowledge of the Bible or Christianity because everything there is Buddhist. They are, however, very open to learn. The idea is that we might have a Bible School there, as it is seven hours from our BMW in Siem Reap. Siem Reap is the number one tourist city in Cambodia as that is where the Buddhist temple of Ankor Wat, a huge compound with great and beautiful architecture, and many idols to worship is located. It is described as a “World Heritage Site” and architectural masterpiece and people come from all over to see it. Our Bible School there is right in the city of Siem Reap. We are just a block off of one of the main thoroughfares. The building is two story and there are eight rooms on the ground floor and five on the second floor including a large classroom and storage room. When we visited the property, there were some things that needed to be done to make it a livable place, mainly painting and cleaning up as well as some rearranging. Mat and Heni and the students took a week to get the place in shape before the school began. Mat and Heni have done an excellent job and are excited about the 16 students they have and also started learning Khmer, the national language. We are also purchasing a tuk tuk which is an addition to a motorcycle which carries four people, plus the person on the motorcycle and can carry more. They do this all on a 125cc cycle. We expect to have one at each property. On the next semester, which will be sometime around December, we plan to take the students to Kampong Chnang and they will live in tents for one semester and hopefully get some buildings started on the property. The following semester they will return to the city which is much more comfortable. We will probably do one semester a year there to get things done and to give the students a more rural training.
We are really excited about the BMW garden training here in Florida. Each of the 24 students have a 30×30 foot plot and about 1/2 dozen of the staff are doing it too. The county agricultural agent, who teaches gardening at Eastern Florida State College, is running the training class on Thursday afternoons. She is training them, of course, in all the aspects of agriculture which will be helpful for students and staff going overseas. It is neat to look out on the north end of the pole barns and see these gardens. They will receive a missionary gardening certificate.
Bernie and I are going to travel out west after the conference in Indiana. We are going to do set up for the Old West Parks team at the national parks. We are checking in about three or four different cities for a location to set up the Tabernacle. Then we are going to Phoenix where we have a large investment loan to check on and possibly have a Tabernacle there. We will be gone about three weeks. Our daughter Cathy is going to meet us in St. Louis and help drive for us. Pray that all those things will work out. We will be returning, Lord willing, Nov. 4. We are looking at Tabernacle sites in Phoenix, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. We plan to return in time for Leader Seminar, which begins November 7.
God Bless You,
Bob and Bernie Bland