First of all, we want to thank you for stopping by, and a special thanks to
those of you who pray for us and/or help to financially support us in our ministry with New Tribes
2009 has been a busy year for us. Here are some of our 2009
January - We began the year with a new addition to our family,
a pet gerbil named Lilly. Lilly moved into our 20 gallon aquarium, which had been previously occupied by our pet turtle, Squirt (which we gave away to some
fellow missionaries here). And yes, we did empty the aquarium water out in preparation for the new tenant/pet, as Lilly was not particularly fond of swimming.
Unfortunately, though, Lilly did not live very long. We decided, though, that gerbils do make nice pets, so we eventually were able to replace her with two
other gerbils, Sweet Pea and Nutmeg.
Over the past several months, Hannah had been having dealing with some anxiety issues that were becoming increasingly problematic and time-consuming. We
ended up seeing our family doctor and then had an evaluation with a specialist; he concluded that Hannah was dealing with a neurobiological disorder referred to
as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive disorder). For more information about OCD, please visit www.JPOliver.com/ocd.
January/February - At NTM, I continued to work on adding multi-lingual support to our NTM Accounting & Administrative (NTMAA) System, in preparation for my
upcoming trip to Colombia. We enhanced the system so that our menu items, grid column headers, data prompts, and selected messages could be displayed in the
user's preferred language. To help our Colombian bookkeeper (who does not speak English), I used translate.google.com to translate the various phrases and
words from English into Spanish.
February/March - The day I left for Colombia, Hannah was sick and so Paula took her to the doctor. A couple days later, she called me in Colombia with news
that Hannah's white blood & platelet counts were very low. The doctor sent her to a hematologist/oncologist the next day and we heard that our daughter might
very well have leukemia. The next day, after a bone marrow aspiration test, we were relieved to find that it was not leukemia, but likely a virus had attacked
her bone marrow. We thank the Lord and we appreciate all the folks who prayed for Hannah.
Back in Colombia, my co-worker, Nathan, and I installed our NTMAA system (accounting, personnel records, and purchasing/inventory/sales subsystems) and provided
our fellow missionaries there with appropriate training for our system. We were also able to take a little time for sight-seeing. We visited Mount Monserrate,
the Museo de Oro (Gold museum), and also drove to the city of Fusagasuga (where, on a short mission trip 22 years ago, I had helped with some building projects
at NTMís training center).
April - Nicholas, who is very interested in politics, had opportunity to attend two TEA (Taxed Enough Already) party rallies on April 15, one in downtown
Orlando and one in another nearby city; I was able to join him at the Orlando TEA party.
Meanwhile, Hannah had been taking medicine to help with her OCD anxiety. We saw some improvement in some areas, but, quite frankly, it was very difficult.
May - I was able to make a two week trip to Asuncion, Paraguay (via Sao Paulo, Brazil) to install our NTMAA accounting and personnel records systems and to
work with our NTM Paraguay bookkeeper & personnel administrator.
I appreciated the opportunity to meet and help some of our fellow NTM missionaries, learn more about Paraguay, and even practice my Spanish a bit. Our
missionaries there use the local Paraguayan currency, the Guarani, which used to be worth 1/126th of a dollar, but is now, because of inflation, only worth
1/5000th of a U.S. dollar; fractional Guarani (centimos) are no longer even in use.
Through this trip, I was reminded once again of how missions is a team effort, with tribal missionaries on the front lines, overseas support missionaries in
places like Asuncion, stateside support missionaries like ourselves at NTM U.S. headquarters, and regular folks like us, churches and individuals, backing us up
with prayer, financial support, love, and encouragement.
June - With OCD overwhelming Hannah and significantly impacting our family and home life, Paula checked out the University of Florida and found that we were
eligible for a 17 week OCD research study. Hannah would receive either medicine or a placebo, but more importantly, would receive 14 weeks of ERP (Exposure &
Response Prevention) therapy, specific for OCD. And there would be no cost to us, other than our time and the gas to drive (3 hours each way) to Gainesville
once each week.
July - Joy had her 12th birthday on June 28, then I (John) joined the half-century club on July 4. Paula's birthday is in August, but she's 49 and holding
(no, she looks younger than that - let's make it 39 and holding).
Speaking of birthdays, though, we were surprised when we woke up one morning to find that our gerbils had babies! This was quite a surprise because we
thought that Sweet Pea and Nutmeg were both females. We had fun, though, watching the mommy and her babies, and were eventually able to give away all the
gerbils, except for two babies which we kept for ourselves. We had so much fun with the babies, that we actually kept a male and a female this time.
July/August - Here in Sanford, NTM's U.S. headquarters, where we live and serve, is located on Lake Monroe, a wide spot in the St. John's river. A short
walk away from us is our local marina, from whence the Rivership Romance cruises up and down the St. John's River many days, offering 3 to 4 hour scenic
luncheon or dinner cruises. Their cruises are very special, but a bit pricey for us. (Years ago, though, Paula and I did get to go on their luncheon cruise
after I found a Rivership Romance gift certificate on eBay at a good price!)
In late July, though, we stopped by their website and found that they were running some Monday specials through the Summer; we also found that they now had a
birthday club, where you could enjoy a free luncheon cruise during your birthday month. It was too late for my July birthday, but I took Joy for a
father-daughter cruise on July 27, and then Paula was able to take a free birthday cruise with Hannah on August 10.
September - I had helped install our NTMAA system for our New Tribes Bible Institute (in Waukesha, Wisconsin) back in 2003 and had returned in 2005 to setup
our purchasing/inventory/sales module for their bookstore. By 2009, though, with the personnel turnover over the years, they were ready for some additional
training and invited me back to Wisconsin for a week in early September.
I appreciate the opportunity to spend time with the different folks at our various U.S. and overseas locations. With the many hours we have invested in
designing and programming the NTM Accounting & Administrative system, it's encouraging to see it being utilized at many of our NTM locations, helping to meet
needs around the world.
Sept. 25-27 was our annual NTM headquarters beach retreat. My mom and stepdad allowed us to use some of their timeshare points, so we were actually able to
stay a week at the Daytona Beach Regency resort, part vacation and part working remotely.
September/October - Our NTM Medical department decided to move the NTM medical plan from United Healthcare to Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). The medical
plan will continue to be self-insured, but BCBS will process our claims and provide access to their PPO discount provider network. As the main programmer for
our medical department, I worked with them to enhance our programs and to query the data that would need to be sent each week to BCBS.
I have also started working with our NTM Canada headquarters (which uses our NTMAA system) to add Direct Deposit EFT functionality to our NTMAA system. This
will give them the ability to generate EFT (Electronic Funds Tranfer) files for direct depositing of missionary funds into their bank accounts each month.
As Hannah's 17 week OCD research study finished, we were thankful to be done with the round trips to Gainesville. At first, we weren't sure if it would be
worth the long Wednesday drives, but we thank God for the great progress that was made during those 17 weeks! We thank God for the excellent therapist, Dr.
Joe, for his intuition and experience, and for having, to a large extent, our dear old Hannah back.
OCD therapy helps OCD sufferers learn to recognize OCD (for what it is) and choose to ignore it (but that can be very hard). If you think of OCD as a monster,
Hannah still deals with the OCD monster, but her OCD monster is a much weaker than it used to be. Nonetheless, we want the OCD monster to continue to diminish.
Paula, in her research, found that the University of South Florida is also conducting an OCD research study, providing OCD ERP therapy via the internet (using
skype with a webcam); that's especially nice, since then we don't have to drive to Tampa each week. So Hannah is now enrolled in that study (and as I'm
writing this, they're actually having an OCD therapy session via the internet). We thank God for these opportunities and for the great progress Hannah has
made, and we thank you who have prayed for Hannah and us! We would appreciate your continued prayers.
October - This was quite a month for our family, but especially for Nicholas. Nicholas turned 16 on October 1, obtained his learner's permit, and is now
learning to drive (with Dad as his main teacher).
He's also been seeing a dermatologist lately, taking Accutane to help with some cystic acne on his face. In the process, however, we discovered that he had a
squamous cell skin cancer on his face, uncommon for someone so young (with little sun exposure). We had the cancerous growth removed, but it did involve a two
inch incision across his cheek. We would appreciate your prayer for healing, for minimal scarring, and for no futher cancer.
Nicholas also had a very neat opportunity, as part of Generation Joshua, a Christian political group for teens. He was invited to be part of a week-long
Student Action Team in Virginia, helping to campaign for Bob McDonnell (Republican candidate for Governor) and two other pro-life, pro-family candidates.
Nicholas passed out brochures door-to-door, helped make phone calls in the evenings, and attended campaign rallys. It was great fun, a great experience, and,
to top it off, all their candidates won!
November - This was a very difficult month for our family, especially for Paula. When Paula had excessive uterine bleeding, we saw our family doctor, then
a GYN doctor who was kind enough to fit us into her schedule that very morning. Once she saw how much blood Paula was losing, she sent her right to the
hospital for a D & C; that was Nov. 4. The D & C went well. By this time, Paula was quite anemic with all the blood loss, very low on her hemoglobin and
hematocrit levels. We knew it would take some time to get her strength and energy back and for her body to rebuild her blood supply.
At the hospital, they also did an ultrasound and a follow-up MRI, and, of course, there is a pathology test on the uterine contents. Through all this, we
learned that Paula has issues with her uterus (abnormal pre-cancerous cells) and an ovary (a mass which could be cancerous, but hopefully not).
Paula had to lay low for most of November (as she was pretty weak), trying to get her energy and blood levels back; we recently received some very positive
blood results, though; her blood levels are still below normal, but up significantly from the very low levels seen on her last blood test in the hospital (Nov.
December - Paula was able to see another GYN doctor, to get a second opinion on the uterus and ovary issues. She will probably be taking some progesterone
for three months (to get her hormones back in balance and hopefully eliminate the abnormal pre-cancerous cells in her uterus), followed by an endometrial
biopsy. As far as her ovary, another ultrasound is scheduled for Dec. 17 to see if the mass has grown, shrunk, or remained the same; surgery may be needed if
it has grown. We would appreciate your prayers for guidance and for healing - that Paula's God-designed body would just eliminate those pre-cancerous cells
and the ovarian mass.
During December, we also planning to spend part of the month preparing our 2009
Annual Report. (Let us know if you would like us to email you a PDF copy).
Looking to next year, I may have opportunity to travel back to our NTM base in Chihuahua, Mexico (perhaps with Paula and the kids accompanying me) to provide
them with some further training, and/or make a trip to our NTM Aviation center in McNeal, Arizona, to help with some custom programming.
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JPOliver@WithAWeb.com)? Feel free to share what you've been up to lately, or if you have any prayer requests, so that we can be praying for you as well.