We spent our first December separated from our girls, which was a bummer. But we choose to look at it as our family spreading good cheer a little farther than we could have if we were together. Here are few highlights from our month, which included many meaningful celebrations of Christ with us, Immanuel!
Joel got home for his month’s break from school in time to help us decorate the tree, with his unique way of unwinding the lights and checking them out at the same time.
Decorating has its traditions that go with it– like eggnog and ginger cookies.
Even at Wheaton, this tradition lived on as Rebecca decorated her dorm room.
Julia got off school early and got to spend a week with John’s parents, spreading her cheer with them.
The WGM Kenya family combined business and a Christmas celebration in early December
Joel was the Innkeeper in “The Innkeeper’s Dilemma”, and the youth did a great job.
I love our Christmas worship together in a quaint chapel.
Once Rebecca completed her finals she joined Julia at John’s parents.
The girls were thrilled to attend their first Chicago Symphony concert in Chicago to kick off their Christmas.
John, Joel and Linda retreated for a few days to Rondo for reflection, rest and together time. We love this place for hiking, games, puzzles and bird watching. We missed the girls but even they sent in their 2014 reflections.
Back at Tenwek, December is planting season, and Tabitha Ministry, working through the local Bible studies, helped over four hundred families plant sorghum on about a quarter of an acre. We purchased it in a nearby store.
This year we were able to take our three co-workers, Peris, Robert and Cecelia, and their families on a day safari for our Christmas celebration together.
We were awed together at God’s amazing creation.
Meanwhile our girls took their first ever road trip together, to Nebraska to stay with Linda’s father.
They got to see the Hobbit with cousins,
Stay for a week with Grandpa Gene,
And celebrate Christmas with many relatives over the week, here with Uncle Andy and Aunt Celeste.
Julia kept up our family tradition of making tea rings for Christmas, and Rebecca made lots of cookies.
Back in Kenya, we had our 8th annual Christmas party for a dear family. We were encouraged by glimpses of God at work in at least three of the family members.
The wisemen offering gifts – Evaline, a Kenyan missionary to the nomadic remote Pokot people; Betty, one of the family members who is intent on following Jesus, and Caren, who is still running from Christ.
Over thirty needy families came to our home and we were able to help them with food for their Christmas dinner – rice, flour and shortening to make chapatis, and sugar for their tea. This would be added to their usual fare of ugali, beans and greens and make their meal special.
Several friends came with gifts of their own for us, as the wrap I am wearing that this mama brought to say thank you for help throughout the year.
While Julia and Rebecca saw over forty relatives, we had a good time with close friends, Burton and Sandy and their daughter Aly, who visited for four days over Christmas.
We enjoyed caroling at the hospital with missionary friends and visitors, in three languages!
Joel and Aly spent Christmas Eve making gingerbread houses.
John worked most of Christmas week, and leading a patient to faith in Christ highlighted the whole meaning of Christmas, Jesus coming into the world to give us new life in Him.
We thank God for his Presence with us on both sides of the ocean, and trust Him for all that is ahead in 2015.
We will end with these reflections by our girls:
“For me, Julia, 2014 has been a great year. It has been filled with challenges, uncertainties, joys, laughter, tears, memories, trust and peace. One of my goals has been to make the most of every moment with friends and family. I don’t want to live with regret of not doing something with someone when I had the opportunity to just because I wasn’t completely present where I was. It says in the lyrics from “Without you” ‘just a moment of peace/ I don't want to live without you/ I'm not ready to live without you/ So let's dance a little/ Laugh a little/ Hope a little more/ Cause I don't want to live without you, without you. ‘”
Julia is looking forward in 2015 to start the Nursing school this semester at IWU and starting clinicals. She is so excited and says she finally can start to see her dream become a reality!
Rebecca says her year has also been full. From the busy freshman year, to a family and work filled summer, to a school heavy sophomore year, it has been full. “I love participating in family, whether that is my immediate family, my extended family, my friends at school or my friends in Michigan. As I progress into my major of Chemistry Education, I am taking tough science classes and getting into the classroom a bit. I loved teacher-observing in a local middle school this past semester. I was in a classroom for an hour, three times a week. While I am hoping for high school chemistry, I learned that I could do middle school if need be. I look forward to seeing where God will take me in 2015.”