Thursday, October 20, 2016

All The Nations

Dear, Howard

I'm always humbled and thankful when I look through the report of those who partner with us in this venture.  I'm close to half way through a short stint in Palau, teaching the classroom part of a Marriage and Family class.  Last week I was in Germany.  I think it was while I was there that we received our latest "donor report."  I bought some post cards in Germany, and I just wrote messages on, and addressed them this morning.  So if you are one of those on the latest report, you should receive a truly international piece of mail.  Germany/Palau/USA.  Fortunately, postage from Palau to the US is quite reasonable.  The international flavor of the mail is appropriate.  Monday, in Palau, the nation celebrates United Nations Day.  The Kindergarten that the church, here, runs held an International programthis morning.  Their student body has representatives from Canada, China, Korea, Philippine Islands, Japan, and Palau.  The pictures don't do the event justice, but you can tell it was cute.  The event included a variety of foods from the nations represented.  It was good.

When Kathy does the Thank You correspondence it is always neat and legible.  Mine, not so much.  I do try to be personal, though, as I jot a quick note. For that reason the messages vary from card to card.  I thought I'd list the themes that were represented in this morning's batch of Thank Yous.  
  • On several cards I asked about matters in your life.  Kathy and I pray for you.  If I forgot, or if there is something going on in your life that we don't know about, please let us know.
  • On a couple of the cards I hinted at difficulty.  If this were easy the task of reaching the world and discipling saints would have been done long ago.  Missions is a bunch of imperfect servants, using flawed systems, to reach out to sinful people who are stuck in their non-Biblical way of life, and all of that is going on in the world where Satan holds power.  It is a wonder anything gets done.  I am very aware of my deficiencies.  Yet I am convinced that we need to keep going another round.  I told several of you that "If something is worth doing it is worth doing badly."  What I mean by that--and neither the saying nor the thought are original with me--is that some things must be done.  Do the best you can, but even if your efforts fall far short, don't quit.  Keep on going, try to do better.
  • That explains--somewhat--the horrendous itinerary I have had lately--that and United Airlines's pricing structure..   Last week I was in Germany.  Dave Owen, President of PIU and fellow LMUSA missionary were sent there by LMUSA to talk strategy for work in Micronesia.  It is an ongoing conversation, but the early, and clear consensus is that in some way--or ways--our focus needs to be on leadership development.  That's what I'm doing in Palau these two weeks.  I flew from Frankfurt to Dulles on Friday, then left early Saturday for Palau, by way of Hawaii and Guam. With all the time zones I crossed--something like 19, plus the International Date Line, I wasn't even sure what day it was, much less what time when I got here.  I'm teaching the classroom part of a marriage and Family class, and having various impromptu conversations with Palauan church leaders about leadership development.  It's frustratingly slow, but it is absolutely needed.  BTW, though my class is small, it is going well.
One more thing about this internationally flavored communique.  While I'm in Palau, I'm the guest of Anne and Steve Stinnette, who are preparing the first missionaries from Palau Evangelical Church to go the nations.  Nando and Magrena are headed to Indonesia early in 2017.  Pray for them.

Again, Kathy and I offer our sincere thanks for your partnership with us in prayer and giving.  Jesus sent us to all the nations of the world.  whether it is next door, or around the world, go do something for the cause, 'cause it's a good cause the only one that one that matters.

Howard for both K & H


Friday, October 7, 2016

Prayer Update, 10/7/16

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I'm writing this from the United Lounge in Dulles.  Burned my free pass so I could take advantage of the free food.  The skies may not be as friendly as they used to be, but the soup isn't bad.
I'm on my way to Bad (Bath) Liebenzell in Germany.  I'll land in Frankfurt.  My friend Dave Owen, President of Pacific Islands University will be meeting with some leaders at Liebenzell Mission Germany.  We'll be talking about how we can do the most good in Micronesia.  Thanks to the not too friendly pricing policies of United.  I fly back to Dulles, next weekend, and leave for Palau the next morning.  If you want to check out the online portion of the class, clickhere.  I'll be leading 10 sessions of the Marriage and Family class,October 17-28.  Kathy isn't with me on this whirlwind trip.  Speaking of which, I am praying for those impacted, and some mourning, because of the hurricane.
Kathy and I will be returning to Palau January - April, 2017.  I'll be teaching and we'll be promoting PIU, and serving the Lord as opportunities arise.

A couple of Prayer Requests:
  • Whether I am safe or not is of little consequence.  If I crash in the Atlantic, however, it will mess up a bunch of plans.
  • Pray that Dave, the brothers and sisters in Germany, and I will "click."  Good conversations, iron sharpening iron, the courage to say and do the right thing, the wisdom to say it with grace.
  • Continue to pray for growth in the student body at PIU on our main campus and at our extensions, including PIU-Palau.  Pray that I might make some good contacts during this two weeks.
  • Pray for Kathy while she is holding down the homestead.
Kathy and I are thankful and humbled that you choose to partner with us in prayer and support.
Please let us know how we can be praying for you.

We will continue to post information about our mission venture at 

H&K's Micronesian (and other) Adventures

Our Prayer card is copied at the top of this email.  If you don't have one, and would like to have one, let us know. 

The picture of my granddaughter, Ava, has nothing to do with this letter,  I just figured you'd enjoy it.

Howard for both K & H


Our mailing address is:
Howard & Kathy Merrell
2106 S. Carpenter Drive
Covington VA 24426

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Semester Begins, Prayer Update:

Dear, Howard

It's been said that you "can't teach new tricks to an old dog."  I'll not argue about the training of geriatric canines.  I will say that both in our lives and as we work with others who have been around for a while we find that growing and learning has no expiration date.
Today is the official start of a class that I'm teaching through the Distance Education division of Pacific Islands University.  The first week of the semester is an add-drop period, so the number could change, but right now four students are takingMarriage and Family, CFOR 303.  Three of them are in Palau, and the other one is a Filipina living in Italy.   The first seven weeks of the semester are being taught "online."  I'll be in Palau for two weeks of lectures (my student in Italy will connect with us via Skype--if we can pull it off--or by recording) October 17-28, and then we'll finish the semester by electronic connection.
I have never taught a class in this remotely controlled manner and because of the needs of the students I'm working with, we aren't teaching this class in the way such classes are usually taught.  The short of it is:  We have reduced the need for students to be online to a minimum.  Interaction between me and the students will be mainly via email.  All of the class materials are not only posted on a blog (see the PS), but are also being recorded on disks and sent the old-fashioned way to Palau.  This comment from one of my students explains the need for the duplication, and reversion to some old ways:  "I prefer cd, though,  because many times the internet connection is not so good.  Thank you."  You are welcome.  One of PIU's values is to make education accessible.  We are trying to do our part.
I had asked you to pray about my getting ahead enough to get several weeks of work recorded on disks.  I'm glad to report that the recordings of the first four weeks of material arrived in Palau in time for the semester's start.  Please pray as we move ahead.

We appreciate your prayer on our behalf.  Here are some updates concerning some prayer requests we have shared.

  • Preparation for Marriage and Family class has gone well.
  • We are thankful for the four students that the Lord has sent us.
  • Our travels have been safe and pleasant.
  • Plans are firming up for Howard's trips to Germany and Palau in October.  In Germany He'll be involved in some strategy meetings and He'll be teaching in Palau.
  • Our missionary colleagues, Steve and Anne, are travelling to other parts of Micronesia.  This is part of their efforts to mobilize Micronesians for missions.
  • I heard good reports about the camp that the Palauan missionary trainees ran.
  • The request that the "Lord  would send forth laborers," is two millennia old.  We are encouraged with our efforts at recruiting worker for the harvest and encouraging those already in the work.  The need goes on.
  • Our plan is to return to Palau for the Spring semester of PIU-Palau.  A lot needs to take place between now and then.
  • We mentioned in a couple of contexts the financial stress at PIU. By God's grace the University met the August payroll.  Finances are very much tied to student numbers. My account of teaching this fall's class is representative of the kinds of obstacles we deal with all the time.  Our student body is made up of people who come from far-flung, isolated communities.  Our means of communication are often limited, awkward and subject to break down--human as well as technological. All that to say that a group of students we had hoped to work with this fall, may not be enrolled in classes.  The financial impact that has on PIU is immediate.  The eternal consequences are far greater.
    Continue to pray for the PIU staff, administration, and that God will move in key hearts.
  • On the US side we are thankful for opportunities to minister.  Kathy is very busy getting a new season of Coffee Break, ladies ministry, going.  Their kick-off event is tomorrow.
    LMUSA has been involved in some important conversations in regard to Retreat Ministries.  In particular we are seeking to sharpen our focus of ministry to the "world at our doorstep" in greater New York.  The right people are key.
I'll close with a major word of praise.  Many of you have joined us in praying for the Tavarez family.  Alex and Danielle are missionary candidates with LMUSA.  We saw them on our recent trip south.  They plan to work in teaching and student services at PIU.  We had great concern for the youngest Tavarez.  In the womb scans indicated a lung condition that can be very serious.

Here is the report from Mom & Dad:
"Welcome to the world Meleah Faith Tavarez.  She was born August 24 at 12:34 am. She weighed 5lbs 2oz and is 17 inches long . . .  She is breathing beautifully on her own, no NICU."
Meleah is now home with the family.  Doctors will check on her in a couple of months.
"Thank you all for your prayers."

We will continue to post information about our mission venture, and occasional baby pictures,  at  

Our Prayer card is copied at the top of this email.  If you don't have one, and would like to have one, let us know.


The need for stronger families is not something that is limited to one part of the world.  The material that I'm putting online for my class is hanging right out there where anyone can see it.  Especially since you are supporting us in this venture it is perfectly acceptable for you to use this material to enrich your family, or to help a family that could use some encouragement.  One of the text books we are using can be obtained for free, the others are quite reasonable.  Links as to where you can find them are on the syllabus.  You can access this materialat
In addition to my stuff, you will find material from guest lecturers like Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, and Daffy Duck.
While Kathy and I keep busy, as it is, we do want to be used as God gives us opportunity.  As you read through and listen to this material, if you think of ways that we might be able to share in your church or group, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Video of Palau

Here is the video we weren't able to play tonight at our Missions Night.
It gives some lovely views of our other home.  President Remengesau, who does the narration, stopped in a youth meeting Kathy and I were attending, when we were in Palau last winter.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Prayer update from the Merrells

Dear, Howard

(This has been idling in my mailchimp outbox for a couple of weeks.  I'm sorry to keep you waiting.  The delay has given me an opportunity to update a couple of things.  In order to help you keep the time-flow straight I'll put the updates in italics.)

Kathy and I wanted to give you an update on how the Stateside part of our ministry is going.  (If you remember our plan is to be in Micronesia, working with Pacific Islands University, for four months of the year, and here in Covington, working with Liebenzell Mission for the other eight months.)  As you probably know, we arrived here in Virginia, by way of Louisiana and Texas, in the middle of May.  We have been busy ever since.  For one thing we have been catching up on household chores.  I'm a little over half done (about 3/4 done, now) painting the garage.  That's a warm-up for doing some patching and then painting the house.  I got our garden in late, but it has done pretty well (even better with recent rain).  We'll be sitting down to a supper that includes some fresh veggies. Since I no longer have a week-to-week position at Covington Bible Church, I found myself without an official workplace.  Kathy offered to help me set up a place in our house, but I seem to work best--not to mention allowing Kathy to work best by getting out of her way--when I can go to work.  So I built a study that is so small that in order to get the desk out, one will have to tear the room down.  It takes up 40 sq. ft. in the corner of ourgarage.  Kathy has been busy as well, catching up on her household stuff, teaching piano, and getting ready for fall ministry.  We were blessed to have Chris, Nancy, Silas, and Kira here for two weeks back in June.
We have been active in ministry related to our missionary job.  We just came back from a trip to LMUSA headquarters where we met with some other personnel.  We were working on plans for recruiting and missionary care.  Last Sunday we were privileged to give a report on our work to our homechurch.  I have done some traveling on behalf of the mission and will be doing some more.   On our trip to Schooley's Mountan, LMUSA HQ, we were able to say hi to Addie, Namelo Addss.  She and Scott Refilong are Pacific Islands University students spending time at at LMUSA, gaining valuable ministry and cultural experience.  We here excellent reports from them and Bill Schuit at LMUSA.  We hope that this internship can become an annual event. They are representative of the kind of young adults we are investing in.
This fall I'll be teaching a hybrid class, part online and part classroom, Marriage and Family.  I've been reading a lot, working on my syllabus, and trying to get everything ready.
We have been busy.  (That prep. is intensifying.)
In the midst of this busy summer we want to take time to Praise the Lord:

  • We are well.
  • The class preparation is going pretty well.
  • All of our contacts with our partners have been a great joy--what a privilege.
  • Our support base has been solid.
  • Howard was able to participate in the dedication service for Eli Ojodomo Abraham.  Mom, Alexis, and Dad, Moses, are missionaries with LMUSA.  Five generations are in the picture above.
We would appreciate your prayers:
  • Preparation for classes.
  • Pray that the Lord will send us the students He wants us to work with.
  • Continued safety in travel.  Kathy and Howard will be taking a car trip this weekend.  Part of it will be celebration of our 44th Anniversary.  Part of it will be to encourage some LMUSA personnel   
  • In October Howard will be traveling to Germany for some strategy meetings and to Palau to teach the classroom part of the Marriage & Family class.
  • Pray for our missionary colleagues in Palau, Steve and Anne.  They are getting toward the last phase of training the first foreign missionaries from the Palauan Evangelical Church.
  • BTW, those trainees are running a camp this week.  (Now past.  It was successful.  Pray for the kids who attended.) Click on the photo to see a quick video.
  • Pray that the Lord will bless our efforts at recruiting worker for the harvest and encouraging those already in the work.
  • Our plan is to return to Palau for the Spring semester of PIU-Palau.  A lot needs to take place between now and then.
  • As we mentioned above, we are very thankful to have you as a partner with us in this venture.  I just talked with David Owen, president of PIU.  The end of summer is always a difficult time financially.  This summer is no exception.  Unless there are some unexpected donations to PIU, this week, we will not be able to meet our payroll this Friday.  (Some of us who serve at PIU serve as missionaries.  Our support comes through partners like you.  Others serve as employees of the school.  These are the folk who are on my heart.
    Please join us in praying for the PIU staff, administration, and that God will move in key hearts.
    Should the Lord so move in your heart, you can use our online donation link.

As we get to know more about the church in Micronesia, and indeed God's work all around the world, we see more and more evidence that qualified leadership is key.  We are investing ourselves in efforts that will lead to a new generation of women and men who will lead the church into the beyond.
I'm not sure how bold we are, but we are going where we haven't gone before.  Thanks for partnering with us.

Howard for both K & H
(or as one of our young partners calls us, "Koward and Hathy")

We will continue to post information about our mission venture at  
Our Prayer card is copied at the top of this email.  If you don't have one, and would like to have one, let us know. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sharing life with some world-changers:

Part of my post "retirement" career is working with a tiny mission, Liebenzell USA.  Yeah, I know it's an odd name.  Explore our website a bit, and you'll find out how we got it.  Our motto, "Live Ready," based on Ephesians 6:15 is more user-friendly.  Part of what I do in this new role is to continue doing what I have done all my life.  Reach out to people and care for them.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing in a wonderful event with one of our missionary couples.  Moses is from Nigeria, Alexis is from the USA, and Eli is from them.  Yesterday, at their church in Gaylord Michigan I was privileged to participate in the Abrahams' dedication of their son to the Lord.  One of the greatest impacts we have on our world is to raise our children in the "discipline and instruction of the Lord."  Alexis and Moses are starting out well with Eli.

It's not a particularly good picture, but it was a great day.  Congratulations to all concerned.

Five generations,

Monday, June 20, 2016

June Prayer Letter

Since we arrived home, Covington, in mid May we have been intending to, and sporadically working on getting a printed Newsletter ready to send.  We finally got it printed today.  We'll be sending it tomorrow.  You can read it below, if you like.

A couple of other things:

  • I just got off the phone with one our partners in ministry.  My friend's family just had a major answer to prayer.
  • I'll be leaving the first of next week to represent Liebenzell USA & Pacific Islands University at the IFCA International convention.  I am also hoping to contact some LMUSA personnel and friends while on the trip.  The convention is in Springfield IL.
  • I'm about ready to send out a news release about the hybrid class--part online, part classroom--that we are planning to offer this fall.  CFOR 303, Marriage and Family, will be offered through our Distance Ed. department.  The classroom portion will be taught in Palau.  Please pray that it will come to pass and be truly useful.
Find out more below:

Serving with Liebenzell Mission, USA & Pacific Islands University, 540 691 6539, 2106 S. Carpenter Drive.

Dear Partner in Ministry,

Story boards are the most uniquely Palauan of Palau’s souvenirs.  This one is special to Kathy and me because it is a gift from one of our friends in Palau.  Each story board is hand carved.  Carving is an ancient craft in Palau; it was used in the construction of the village Bai--a ceremonial community building--in making canoes, and to form household items.  Typically story boards are carved from the wood of the breadfruit tree--a tree that provided part of the traditional Palauan diet as well as wood for their canoes.  Today’s art of making story boards began during the Japanese occupation of Palau, so the story board reminds one of the recent, as well as ancient,  history of Palau.  Most of the college students Kathy and I work with were born in the time of Palau’s independence (The Republic of Palau is the fourth smallest nation in the world).  Their parents were born during the time when the United States was in charge of their islands.  Their grandparents were born in the time of Japanese occupation, and their great, or great-great grandparents were born in the time when Germany was in charge.  They took over from the Spanish.  One of our students gave this charitable summary of recent Palauan history: “The Germans brought us the Gospel, the Japanese taught us discipline, and the Americans modeled freedom for us.”
Story boards tell a story.  This one portrays a Palauan legend.  An old woman, like most Palauans, loved fish. Her son, and neighbors, didn’t provide any for her.  She would see people pass her house with the fish they had caught, but they didn’t share with her.  One day her son cut a limb off of a breadfruit tree growing at the ocean’s edge.   Where the branch had been, water immediately surged from the tree, each time a wave crashed on the beach.  With each gush, fish jumped out of the tree.  The neighbors soon became jealous of the woman’s good fortune.  Finally, an envious man chopped the tree down.  The water now poured out of the stump in a torrent and soon the whole Island was flooded.  Legend has it that one can still see the site of the Island off the shore of Ngiwal (“knee-wall”).  Interestingly, the Palauan Evangelical Church marks Ngiwal as the place where the Bread of Life, the Good News about Jesus Christ, first came to Palau, less than ninety years ago. 
The story models some characteristics that are held in high esteem in Palauan culture--sharing, caring for family, and the bounty of the sea.
The Lord continues to carve His story into our lives.  The first half of 2016 has been significant in Introduction to Christian Doctrine, and New Testament Survey, to three student, with one other non-academic student participating in many of our classes.  In addition we partnered with the Palauan Evangelical Church in various ways, took opportunities to promote PIU’s program, and were privileged to serve along-side and encourage fellow LMUSA missionaries Steve and Anne Stinnette.  The Stinnette’s are currently preparing the P.E.C.’s first missionary couple for service in Indonesia.
that ­regard.  January 1 we began our new role as missionaries with Liebenzell USA.  In that capacity we took on two new roles.  Howard became the director/instructor of Pacific Island University’s teaching facility in Palau.  This extension of PIU had essentially ceased to operate.  During the Spring semester we were privileged to teach two classes,
Now that we are back in Covington we are in the phase of our work that involves serving with the Marriage and the Family.  Howard will teach the classroom portion of the class at our teaching facility.  We’ll be returning to Palau for the Spring 2017 semester.
Director of Global Ministries at LMUSA.  Over the rest of 2016 we’ll be reaching out to potential world-changers and encouraging those who are already in the frontlines of service.  Perhaps we could share about the opportunities for ministry available through our mission.  We are glad to do so in most any context, from a conversation over a cup of coffee to a presentation in a missions conference.  At the end of June Howard will be representing LMUSA/PIU at the IFCA International convention in Springfield IL.  While he is on the trip he’ll make contact with some Liebenzell missionaries on furlough.  As far as long-distance travel, the plan is for just Howard to make a short trip to Palau this fall.  PIU is offering a Distance Education class,
Thank you, so much for partnering with us in this venture.

We praise the Lord for:      
  • The opportunities we have had in the first half of 2016  (We have been privileged to work with some fine folk who have great potential.)
  • Safety and good health
  • A web of relationships that is being built
  • Time we have been able to spend with family

We ask you to pray for:
  •      More students to enroll in PIU courses
  •      Salvation of some friends we made in Palau
  •      Ability to further the cause of Christ through our efforts of recruitment and encouragement
  •      Continued safety and health
  •      Sumer is a low time for income at PIU.  Pray for increased giving.

In His service and care,


LMUSA / PO Box 66 / Schooley’s Mountain NJ 07870-0066 // 908 852 3044,