Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s Gem

Topping Plovdiv’s list of attractions are its trove of Roman antiquities and the cobbled streets of Old Town, lined with colorful 19th-century mansions in the National Revival style. (Image by Nikola Belopitov from Pixabay ).

Plovdiv pride itself in being one of the oldest cities in Europe. Archaeologists have discovered pottery and other objects of everyday life from as early as the Neolithic Age, showing that in the end of the 7th millennium B.C there already was an established settlement there. The city of Plovdiv is situated in southern Bulgaria. During its long history it has been conquered by numerous peoples: Thracians, Macedon, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, Ottoman Turks which contributed to the city’s various historical heritage.

The Slavs had settled in the area by the middle of the 6th century, changing the ethnic proportions of the region. With the establishment of Bulgaria in 681, Philipopolis became a border fortress of the Byzantine Empire. Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Plovdiv was a focal point for the Bulgarian national movement. During that period Plovdiv was an economic center along with Constantinople, Odrin and Thessaloniki. Due to trade, the emerging Bulgarian bourgeoisie became significant in the society.

After Unification Plovdiv remained the second city in population and significance after the capital Sofia. The first railway in the city was built in 1874 and after 1888 it was linked with Sofia. In 1892 Plovdiv became host of the First Bulgarian Fair with international participation which was succeeded by the International Fair Plovdiv. After the liberation the first brewery was inaugurated in the city. Plovdiv has hosted specialized exhibitions of the World’s Fair three times, in 1981, 1985, and 1991.

Plovdiv Amphitheatre

Plovdiv Amphitheatre

Food & Wine
Bulgarian cuisine, with its Turkish, Greek and Slavic influences, provides the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of local mavrud. In Bulgaria, meals are supposed to be enjoyed in company, and most Bulgarians relish the opportunity to introduce foreign friends to the pleasures of homemade banitsa, or rakia. Discover Bulgarian history, cuisine, and winemaking when you travel from Sofia to Plovdiv and the Thracia Valley. Spend the morning strolling through Plovdiv Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, then visit a few lovely and secluded vineyard for a guided tasting.

Tourism is a growing industry with the rich cultural heritage of the province and the numerous mineral springs which are of international importance. Topping Plovdiv’s list of attractions are its trove of Roman antiquities and the cobbled streets of Old Town, lined with colorful 19th-century mansions in the National Revival style. Plovdiv abounds in museums and art galleries and it’s calendar of events is richer this year than ever as the city take center stage as a European Capital of culture.

The economy of the province is of great importance. The agricultural production is intensive and efficient with high levels of irrigation. Industry is very well developed as well producing ferrous metallurgy near Plovdiv; thriving electronics industry in Plovdiv, Saedineermelons, vegetablesnie, Voivodinovo, Radinovo and other villages in the area.

Encouraging One Another in the Lord!

by Joanna Bogunjoko “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11–12 (image: CWe spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018)

Thank you for lifting us up continuously in your prayers and for your support in our global ministry in partnership with you. We are grateful you have stood with us in all our travel to conferences and to visit and encourage our colleagues ministry. We thank God for His protection. We do not take our safety for granted!

We were reminded of this again when we heard of the crash of the Ethiopian Airline six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa to Kenya. We have been on the same type of aircraft with Ethiopian Airline in both December and January. Please pray comfort and peace for the families of all 157 people who lost their lives on the ill-fated flight.

We had asked for your prayers as we gathered with our new global and regional leaders in Nov and Dec in Kenya. THANK YOU for praying. It was a time of learning together, listening to God together, and getting to know one another. The most significant outcome for us personally was our leaders’ commitment to live and to lead based on leadership values rooted in Scripture. Pray that we will live up to the standard of godliness, righteousness, purity and servanthood that we set for ourselves before the Lord.

With the generous gift from a couple who have been our friends and cheerleaders, we were able to spend five days of rest in Ethiopia. What a privilege to visit historic sites, churches cut into rock that date back hundreds of years, and ancient sites such as Axum. It was our best 25th wedding anniversary gift, and we are truly grateful for their generosity.

In Kenya to meet with our colleagues and other Africans who lead international missions

In Kenya to meet with our colleagues and other Africans who lead international missions

We returned to Kenya to meet with our colleagues—other Africans who lead international missions. This was an opportunity to encourage one another, pray together and hear from the Word. We shared glimpses of what we are learning in our roles and issues we are facing, in order to learn from one another. The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree. He then also invited us (Joshua and Joanna) to plant a tree to commemorate our 25th anniversary. When you are at BTL in Ruiru, Kenya, you may find an avocado tree with our picture next to it.

The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree

The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree

We spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018. At the SIM exhibition booth, we answered questions and prayed with many students seeking guidance about God’s calling into His mission. Please pray for these students. The journey is daunting for many, but they are trusting the Lord, and we are too.

Highlights of Our 2019 Trips So Far
We were in South Africa for Evangel Fellowship meetings in January. This is a gathering of leaders of churches that have come out of the work of SIM in many countries. Over 14 years of bi-annual Evangel meetings, Joshua felt this was one of the best in terms of the quality of discussions. Many churches face significant challenges; they realize their need for one another more than ever. Please pray for church leaders in contexts that increasingly challenge many things the church stands for theologically.

We were also blessed to spend time with the SIM team in Burkina Faso. This team is really feeling the impact of increasing terrorist activities in that part of West Africa. They are now almost totally confined to the capital city and many Christians feel increasing unease in rural areas. Please pray for courage amidst these countrywide security risks.

Our time in Mali was amazing. This is a country where Al-Qaida in the Maghreb has done great damage over the years, yet it was a most refreshing visit for us. How encouraging to see the small SIM team engaged in an unbelievable number of ministries. Two church plants are underway in a rural area outside the capital, as well as children’s feeding program. They have also completed research into a potential outreach among the Moors, Fulani, Soninke, Shonghai, and the deaf—all people who are unreached in Mali. Three families from Ethiopia and a single man from North East India are starting French language studies in Bamako, with plans to serve with SIM among the Fulani in Niger, Mali and Guinea. How encouraging! Please pray we will be able to come alongside them in this amazing vision of seeing a witness for Christ among people who have never heard of Him.

Time with our SIM Guinea team was encouraging. It was great to be back in Guinea after about eight years and to see this team growing. How refreshing to spend time with about 50 university students in Guinea. Many have lots of questions about their future, a desire to serve Jesus, and a willingness to be creative and not depend on government. But they asked, “Who can help us think through these challenges and help us sort out life?” They know that many African migrants have paid the ultimate price in the Mediterranean Sea, and they do not want to follow those steps. At the same time, the present state of things in their country is bleak. They asked, “What is the church’s answer?” After three hours together, we cannot say we had answers to all their questions, but we are grateful for the opportunity to spend time and learn together.

Collaborating mission CEOs in Thailand

Collaborating mission CEOs in Thailand

After a quick three days meeting with the International Directors of some of SIM’s collaborating mission agencies, we went on to Germany for SIM Board of Governors. We remain truly grateful for the godly people on our board. Joshua feels blessed to serve under the guidance of people who are totally sold to Jesus and are only concerned about God’s Kingdom and the Good News of the love of Jesus among the nations.

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us. We are truly grateful for their kindness and hospitality.

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area.

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area

Last weekend, we were in Columbia, South Carolina, during the Missions Emphasis Month at First Northeast Baptist Church. Joshua preached during the service on Sunday. Praise God for these opportunities and for the privilege of sharing with God’s church what we are learning from His Word, from His work, and about His mission in His world.

Please pray for Joshua’s speaking at the Rock Hill Bible Fellowship Church this Sunday, March 24. Late Sunday afternoon, we fly to the UK to join a Mission Leadership course. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to learn as we serve.

From there, we go to the Ukraine where Joshua will speak at the mission conference of the Volyn Region Baptist Association. Next we will visit the SIM offices in France and Switzerland, then join Joshua’s Executive Team for a retreat in the UK. In April, we will speak in Greece to a group of SIM workers from limited access locations. From there we continue to Canada for Prairie College Board meeting. We will conclude our five-week trip with another church mission weekend in Ontario.

Thank you for praying for all these trips and speaking engagements. We could not undertake any of these if we did not know that you are standing with us in prayer. No one would try without a solid backing of God’s people who pray, at least we will not.

Praise and prayer:

  • Give praise to God for restoring our children to good health and for continuing to uphold them.
  • Pray for sustaining grace for Jochebed at work and for Joel in school.
  • Jochebed is considering a job change. Please pray for the Lord’s leading and open door

A Special Opportunity
We are most grateful to each one of you who support us sacrificially out of what the Lord has blessed you. We know many of you give from the little that you have, and Joanna and I feel most unworthy of your generosity. However, a supporter who is concerned about our shortfall is making a generous offer. For those who have not received his email:

“Thank you so much for being fellow supporters of Joshua and Joanna. I’m writing in an effort to get them fully funded.

Frankly, I’m of mixed mind on whether it’s a good idea for the International Director to be required to raise his own support. However, given that that is how SIM works, it seems to me that it is extremely unfortunate to have a situation in which individual missionaries are expected to raise full support while the International Director is himself substantially under-funded. It would be even more unfortunate, in my opinion, if Joshua were to spend a disproportionate amount of his time raising a relatively small amount of money for his and Joanna’s support, rather than spending that time on issues of much larger import to SIM and the Kingdom at large.

As a result, when Joshua was at our house recently, I told him that my wife and I would match dollar-for-dollar any contributions that others make toward eliminating his $50,000+ deficit for this year.

If you’re able to help with the $25k match, please contact Joshua with your pledge or donation. For example, if five families each provide $5,000, we’re there. (I certainly don’t need to know who’s pledging how much, but only the total which I need to match.)

Thank you so much for your past support and for your consideration of this request.

In Christ,

To date, $9,500 have been given or pledged. Please let us know if you are interested in participating.

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Joanna Bogunjoko is the SIM’s Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant under the umbrella of SIM International Leadership and Services. She have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001.


Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg has been criticized for neglecting the role of free African-Americans in Colonial life, in addition to those who were slaves. When it first opened in the 1930s, Colonial Williamsburg had segregated dormitories for its reenactors. African Americans filled historical roles as servants, rather than free people as in the present day. In a segregated state, Colonial Williamsburg allowed the entry of blacks, but Williamsburg-area hotels denied them accommodation, and state law forbade blacks from eating with whites in such public facilities as the restored taverns and from shopping in nearby stores. (image: Wikipedia)

Colonial Williamsburg is the home of the living-history museum and private foundation presenting part of the historic district in the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, United States. The Colonial Williamsburg is the best place for you to immerse yourself in America’s history. You can start off by visiting the Colonial Williamsburg area where surviving colonial structures have been restored as close as possible to their 18th-century appearance, with traces of later buildings and improvements removed. Many of the missing colonial structures were reconstructed on their original sites beginning in the 1930s. Animals, gardens, and dependencies (such as kitchens, smokehouses, and privies) add to the environment. Some buildings and most gardens are open to tourists, the exceptions being buildings serving as residences for Colonial Williamsburg employees, large donors, the occasional city official, and sometimes College of William & Mary associates.

Costumed employees work and dress as people did in the era, sometimes using colonial grammar and diction (although not colonial accents). Prominent buildings include the Raleigh Tavern, the Capitol, the Governor’s Palace (all reconstructed), as well as the Courthouse, the George Wythe House, the Peyton Randolph House, the Magazine, and independently owned and functioning Bruton Parish Church (all originals). Colonial Williamsburg’s portion of the Historic Area begins east of the College of William & Mary’s College Yard.

The College of William & Mary, the Courthouse, and the Eastern Lunatic Asylum (now Eastern State Hospital) provide a buck of the jobs for town of Williamsburg. Colonial-era buildings were by turns modified, modernized, protected, neglected, or destroyed. Development that accompanied construction of a World War I gun cotton plant at nearby Peniman and the coming of the automobile blighted the community, but the town never lost its appeal to tourists. By the early 20th century, many older structures were in poor condition, no longer in use, or were occupied by squatters.

The Visitor Center near the Colonial Parkway features a short movie, Williamsburg: the Story of a Patriot, which debuted in 1957. Visitors may park at the Visitor’s Center, as automobiles are restricted from the restored area. Wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus service is provided to stops around the perimeter of the Historic District of Williamsburg, as well as Jamestown and Yorktown, during the peak summer season.

And that’s only the beginning! You can take your Williamsburg Vacation to the next level by adding some adventure and outdoor activities. Williamsburg, VA happens to have the most beautiful theme park in the world, Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Once you are done uncovering all the thrilling rides and adventure at Busch Gardens, you can cross over to experience the fun at Virginia’s largest Water Park, Water Country USA.

Getting There
Historic Williamsburg is a wonderful time in American history and there is no better way to get there if you’re flying than through Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport which is 25–30 minutes driving distance away. Williamsburg is midway between two larger commercial airports, Richmond International Airport and Norfolk International Airport, each about an hour’s distance away.

Colonial Williamsburg operates its own fleet of buses with stops close to attractions in the Historic Area, although no motor vehicles operate during the day on Duke of Gloucester Street (to maintain the colonial-era atmosphere). At night, all the historic area streets are open to automobiles

Where To Stay
There are several Hotels in the area offering incredible incredible discount like the Westgate Historic Williamsburg Resort located at 1324 Richmond Road Williamsburg, VA 23185. You can reach them via this link or call them at 1-800-735-1906.

Where to Eat
Here are selections of places to eat in Colonial Williamsburg.

Christiana Campbell’s Tavern

4.6 (276) · $$$ · Southern
101 S Waller St
Closes ⋅ 8PM
Washington dined in the original of this faithfully recreated tavern now serving fine Southern fare.

King’s Arms Tavern

4.5 (607) · $$$ · Southern
416 E Duke of Gloucester St
Closed ⋅ Opens 11:30AM Thu
18th-century Colonial reproduction offering hearty American specialties from servers in costume.
Josiah Chowning’s Tavern
Phone: (800) 447-8679
4.4 (793) · $$ · American
109 E Duke of Gloucester St
Reconstructed 1766 tavern set in a white Colonial house with faithful furnishings & a Southern menu.

Fat Canary

4.7 (178) · $$$ · New American
410 W Duke of Gloucester St
Refined, green-walled bistro serving upscale American fare & wines, with a cheese shop & patio.

A Chef’s Kitchen

Phone: (757) 564-8500
4.8 (58) · $$$$ · American
501 Prince George St
Closed ⋅ Opens 10AM Wed
Chef John Gonzales combines cooking classes with intimate multi-course meals & wine pairings.

Waiheke Island: The Second-Largest Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand

The white sandy beaches at Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi slope gently down into the Hauraki Gulf and are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or having a picnic.

Waiheke Island is the most populated and second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Its ferry terminal in Matiatia Bay at the western end is 21.5 km (13.4 mi) from the central-city terminal in Auckland. In landscape, lifestyle and experience, Waiheke is a world away. The island is very hilly with few flat areas, the highest point being Maunganui at 231 m (758 ft). The climate is slightly warmer than Auckland, with less humidity and rain, and more sunshine hours.

If you’re a walker, explore the island’s trails which meander along cliff tops, down to the beaches and into cool enclaves of native forest. At the eastern end of the island the Stony Batter walkway leads you to a system of World War II gun emplacements and underground tunnels.

To stay overnight, rent a beach house and wake up to the sound of the waves, if you’re on a budget, go to a friendly backpacker hostel.

Getting around is easy too. Catch one of the regular ferries that run to Waiheke from downtown Auckland. Once on the island, there are public buses and taxis, or you can hire a mountain bike, motor scooter or car. And if you’ve already got a car or bike, you can bring it over with you on the car ferry.

Waiheke Island is only a 40-minute ferry ride from the Downtown Auckland ferry terminal. You’ll cruise past Auckland’s stunning coastlines and beautiful islands as you journey towards your destination. You can also catch the ferry from Devonport Wharf.

What can I do?

  • Vineyards – Home to more than 30 boutique vineyards, Waiheke has become known as New Zealand’s “island of wine”. This group of winegrowers have successfully matched the maritime climate and ancient soil structures to produce some of the country’s best wines. Visit cellar doors, or enjoy wine and food pairings at vineyard cafes and restaurants.
  • Food – The many island wineries are perfect for culinary indulgence. You’ll find a range of onsite options – from food pairings, to platters and casual lunch options, to gourmet meals at award-winning restaurants. Oneroa Village has beautiful cafes, gelato shops and takeaway options. For a relaxing lunch, take in sea views from The Oyster Inn’s restaurant verandah, or venture to Onetangi for casual beachside dining at Charlie Farley’s. Visit Rangihoua Estate to sample internationally awarded Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or stop by Te Matuku Oysters to purchase locally farmed seafood.
  • Shopping – Oneroa, Ostend and Surfdale have great shopping opportunities. Unique stores are bursting with local art, gifts, jewellery, clothing and more. The Ostend Market operates every Saturday from 8.30am – 12.30pm.
  • Beaches – Waiheke is best known for its pristine beaches, and its warm microclimate makes it the perfect swimming spot. Oneroa Bay and Little Oneroa sit side-by-side, and are within walking distance of the main village. Little Oneroa is a perfect place to spend the day, with BBQs, a children’s playground and a sprawling grassy area. Onetangi Beach features 2.5 km of beautiful white sand, plus convenient bars and restaurants at the water’s edge.
  • Walking Tracks – Waiheke offers a number of native bush tracks, and scenic coastal walks with sensational views of surrounding islands and the Coromandel. Starting from Matiatia Wharf, the Northern Walk features the most diverse track – without venturing too far from the ferry. Follow the headland track to Cable Bay, Owhanake Bay, and Oneroa Village before completing the loop back to Matiatia. See more detailed directions for a recommended track here.

Please be advised: Onetangi Reserve and Goodwin-Te Haahi Reserve have been closed to help reduce the spread of Kauri Dieback and protect the remaining native Kauri forests. For more information about this closure please visit Forest and Bird here.

What do I need?

  • Good walking shoes, sun block and a sun hat
  • Swimming gear and a towel, in the warmer months
  • A light rain jacket, and warm layers. Temperatures can change quickly, regardless of the season

How long should I stay?

Waiheke Island makes for a perfect half or full day trip from Auckland. But with so much to see, it’s also a superb weekend getaway or extended holiday destination.

A Private Tour of Patagonia and Easter Island

If you’ve been to the Alaskan wilderness in the Summer, you will even love the adventure to the Patagonia and Eastern Island. And there is no better way to see the Patagonia and Eastern Island than in a small group settings organized by Alexander and Roberts.

Check out their Private Journey Value on their website

Small Group Discoveries

  • Personalize your stay on Easter Island with our choice of handpicked resorts… Then join expert guides to explore the wonder and mysteries of the Island’s colossal stone figures.
  • Experience the unique culture of this isolated island deep in the Pacific.
  • Explore Santiago and tour the enchanting hideaway of poet Pablo Neruda.
  • Tailor your exploration of Patagonia’s landscapes with a choice of naturalist guided expeditions.
  • Journey into Chile’s celebrated Wine Country for a tour of the historic Santa Rita vineyard
  • Includes 1 UNESCO World Heritage site.


Day 1 – Easter Island, Chile

On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa. This afternoon, join our guide to tour the unusual archaeological site of Orongo. Set on the edge of a crater high above the sea, you’ll discover the ancient stone dwellings of what was once an important ceremonial village. This evening finds you at one of the island’s most captivating sites where five moai stand silhouetted against the crimson sky. It’s the perfect place for a champagne toast. Meals D

Day 2 – Exploring Easter Island

Explore Rapa Nui National Park c as our expert guide illuminates the history of the people who settled here 1,000 years ago and built the moai – the enormous stone figures scattered across the windswept vistas. Among the sites you’ll visit are the ancient quarry where the moai were carved, Ahu Tongariki with its 15 huge figures, and the historically important site of Ahu Akahanga where you’ll find 4 fallen moai. Meals B+L+D

Day 3 – Onward to Santiago

Fly to Santiago where you’ll be escorted to Le Reve, our lovely city-center boutique hotel. Meals B

Day 4 – Chile’s Wine Country

Journey into the famed Casablanca Valley for a tour of the Veramonte Winery. Sample fine organic wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Primus – their proprietary blend of Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon. Learn how this award-winning vineyard is leading Chile’s organic wine industry and sit down to lunch here on the estate. Back in the city, the evening is yours to enjoy and dine where you wish. Meals B+L

Day 5 – Onward to Patagonia

Fly to Punta Arenas and embark on a scenic overland journey to the all-inclusive Patagonia Camp, set on Lake Toro facing the granite peaks of the Paine Massif. Your stay here includes a choice of expeditions. Depending on your interests and physical condition, you can choose from these full and half-day guided excursions that include gentle hikes, invigorating treks, kayaking, and fishing. Horseback riding, boating on Lago Grey and Zodiac expeditions to the Serrano Glacier can also be arranged. Meals B+D

Day 6 – Adventures in Patagonia

Enjoy your first of three full days exploring Patagonia’s soaring landscapes and pristine waterways with our Camp’s expert guides and naturalists. You might venture deep within Torres del Paine National Park or join an exclusive activity closer to Camp. Each evening, the Camp’s staff will present the excursions to be offered the next day. They’re led by our Camp’s superb naturalists, so you’ll learn much about Patagonia’s geology, flora and fauna. At the end of each day, you might relax at the bar with a Pisco Sour or a glass of fine Chilean wine. Or you might just retreat to your private terrace to enjoy the breathtaking views over mountain and lake. Meals B+L+D

Day 7 – Another day in Patagonia

Delight in another day exploring the region’s soaring landscapes and pristine waterways. Accompanied by our Camp’s naturalists, you’ll learn much about Patagonia’s geology, flora and fauna. Back at Camp, you can relax with fellow guests at the bar – perhaps sipping a traditional Pisco Sour or enjoying a glass of fine Chilean wine. As before, our Camp’s naturalist team will describe the expeditions that will be offered tomorrow.  Meals B+L+D

Day 8 – A final day in Patagonia

Arise once again to the breathtaking natural scenery that surrounds our Camp. Breathe in the pristine air and sit down to a hearty breakfast. Then embark on the naturalist guided expedition that you’ve chosen for your last day in Patagonia – perhaps an easy hike or a more challenging full-day trek deeper into these remote landscapes. End your day on a high-note, admiring the lake and mountain views from your private terrace. Then join your fellow Camp guests for another congenial dinner in the restaurant.  Meals B+L+D

Day 9 – To Punta Arenas + Santiago

Return to Punta Arenas for your flight to Santiago. Transfer again to Le Reve. Meals B

Day 10 – Santiago + Departure

After breakfast and check-out, you’ll discover the highlights of the capital from La Moneda Palace and Plaza de Armas to the Cathedral and City Hall. Join residents shopping at the Mercado Central, delight in the city’s loveliest districts and visit La Chascona, the former home of South America’s greatest poet, Pablo Neruda. Ascend San Cristobal Hill to take in the views and then continue to the airport for your flight. Meals B

Alexander+Roberts is a founding member of the United States Tour Operator’s Association, the travel industry’s most respected trade organization. Cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Travel + Leisure and NBC’s Today Show among others, the company is hailed for providing personalized service, superior value and authentic travel experiences that hew to the founder’s original mission to deepen understanding and appreciation of other peoples, cultures and nations. Alexander+Roberts has also been recognized by the editorial staff of TravelAge West as one of America’s best tour companies for Asia,  Latin America and the Middle East.

Praising God for His goodness!

by Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko | “Praise him—he is your God, and you have seen with your own eyes the great and astounding things that he has done for you.” Deuteronomy 10:21

We praise God for being so good to us. He has shown us His great mercy and answered our prayers. In our last prayer letters we asked you to pray for our children. They are both doing amazingly well and we praise God for answering prayers.

Jochebed is doing well and shining the light of Christ as she works hard to handle the pressures around her. Praise God with us that Joel’s scholarship has been restored. This was a major point of prayer and the Lord has honored our prayers. Thank you for praying with us. Also, he has been given an accommodation in his studies to enable him to work at a healthy and suitable pace. He has a better outlook on the future now. We spent Sunday afternoon with him and were touched by his bright spirit and growing maturity.

Thank you also for praying for our trips to Kenya and the Philippines which went well. We were truly blessed to be able to spend time with SIM workers in medical ministries and our team in the Philippines. We are encouraged by their dedication and commitment to making Christ known in communities where He is least known even when it is not convenient or totally “safe”.

Thank you and God bless you!

We proclaim how great you are and tell of the wonderful things you have done.” Psalm 75:1.

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko has been the SIM’s International Director since June 1, 2013. Joshua and his wife, Joanna, began their mission careers as members of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS), the mission arm of the ECWA church, which today sends more than 2400 Nigerians cross-culturally. They were commissioned by the national ECWA church in 1993 and their home church in Lagos in 1995, where they were sent out as seconded associates of SIM. They have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001. Joshua served on the SIM International Leadership Team since 2006, dealing with global issues related to mission.

On the road again!

by Joshua and Joanna | (SIM/ECWA/ACF)  | “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8
This is a short prayer letter to let you know that we are going to start traveling again this evening and we covet your prayers. We are thankful to God for the time we have been Stateside and His enablement in our work at the office.

Praise God for:
– Joanna’s trip to Columbus, Ohio last weekend, representing SIM at Without Borders Conference (training women how to reach out to Muslim women.)

Please pray for:
– our trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of the Abide Conference, focusing on unreached Muslim peoples around the world. – Joanna who is going to San Diego for Trevor Ardill’s (a former SIM US director) memorial service and visiting Jochebed in San Francisco.
– our trip to Canada
1. Speaking at Calvary Baptist Church Mission Focus week in Ontario
2. Prairie College Board meeting in Three Hills, Alberta
3. 500th year of Protestant Reformation, Vancouver, BC
4. Visiting our supporting church at New Westminster, BC
– for Jochebed, especially that the Lord will relief her of allergy.

– for Joel and his classes that the Lord will give him wisdom.

Thank you very much for your on going prayer, love, encouragement and support.

SIM’s 2017 Prayer Guide is available to all our prayer partners. Please download a copy here: so you can join us in praying for SIM ministries that impact those who live and die without the gospel.
SIM Logo
Crossing barriers with love to those living and dying without Christ
Convinced that no one should live and die without hearing God’s good news,
we believe that He has called us to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ
in communities where He is least known



Intimacy With Jesus: It’s More Than a Trip to Israel

by Christy Fitzwater | Many times during our Israel trip, I thought of Jesus’ words for those of us who would come to him long after his appearance on earth (images of Ramon Crater, YouTube)

We were slouched on the couch, in a jet-lag stupor, when he leaned over to me and said, “You know what?”

I let my weary head swing his direction. “What?”

“Israel was great and everything, but I feel like I didn’t get to spend any time with the Lord while I was there.”

“Seriously?” I answered. “I’ve been feeling the same way, but it just seemed so weird to say it after spending 10 days in the Holy Land.”

We talked about the eight-hour days of touring and learning, combined with not-the-best sleep coming off of jet lag and getting used to new beds. It didn’t leave much energy for getting up to have a quiet time with the Lord, and we were both missing that.

Made me think of the lady I saw in the old city of Jerusalem, down on her knees in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In front of her was a stone, where it’s thought Jesus was laid when they took him down from the cross. Next to her was a stack of white cloths, with a T-shirt store stamp of Jesus’ face on each one. She was grabbing cloths from the stack and rubbing them on the stone, while fervently praying something we couldn’t understand.

We speculated that the lady would be selling those cloths back home to people who desperately wanted a special connection to Jesus.

Is that what it takes?

I remember years ago when our good friends went to Israel and came back to tell about it. Somebody asked me then if I didn’t wish I could take the same trip. My answer was no, I didn’t care to. Didn’t feel like I needed to go to Israel to have some special experience with God.

Well, a week ago found me standing in the special places of the Bible stories—looking out on the same valley where David killed Goliath (note the picture of us at this site on this blog post), standing on Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, looking at a first-century synagogue, by the Sea of Galilee, where it is highly likely Jesus would have spoken to the Jews on Shabbat.

And do you know what I thought each time?

Ah, so this is what it looks like.

And do you know what I felt?

Ah, so I was right. Seeing these things does not give me some increased feeling of intimacy with God but only gives me visual confirmation of what I have believed all along.

Because back in Wyoming, when I was a kid in a little Baptist church, I was watching my Sunday School teacher use a flannelgraph to tell us the story of David and Goliath.

And I was believing. With all of my heart I was believing that God used that little shepherd to kill a mighty giant with a stone.

I looked out the tour bus window as the guide said, “Look to your right, and there you can see the little stream where David would have picked up the stone.”

“Cool,” I said. “So cool to see.” But it didn’t change anything in my heart, because for so long—for decades—I had been opening up my Bible in the morning and reading all of these stories and leaning hard on the God who wrote them.

When our tour team sat in the beautiful garden, located outside of what is thought to be Jesus’ tomb, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together. But back in the States I had remembered what Jesus had done on my behalf before I ever touched the rock wall or stepped my foot into the place where His body might have lain for three days.

So the preacher and I agreed that Israel was an indescribably rich experience, but our hearts longed for a quiet room in our own home and time spent intimately with Jesus.

Many times during our Israel trip, I thought of Jesus’ words for those of us who would come to him long after his appearance on earth:

“Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed” (John 20:29b).

I highly recommend a trip to Israel, if you ever have the opportunity to go. But if it’s a deep connection with God you’re looking for, you can find that right where you are. Open your Bible and believe what you read. All of the locations and the stories and the truth are real. You don’t need to see Jerusalem or rub a stone or see some special place to know God.

Only your heart needs to travel.

See original article at

Christy Fitzwater is an author and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She is the author of Blameless: Living A Life Free from Guilt And Shame and My Father’s Hands: 52 Reasons to Trust God with Your Heart. Find her devotional writing at