In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it is such a great joy to know that the greatest gift ever has already been given - a gift that cannot be topped with all the creativity, thoughtfulness, and money in the world! Some Liberians will greet you at this time of year, saying "My Christmas on you,"or "Where my Christmas?" and it is so great to know that our Christmas is on Jesus and is a free gift already given, available for everyone! So, we wish you joy and peace this Christmas, as you rest in the knowledge that we are forgiven, loved, delighted in, pursued, and desired by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
2012 has been a year of gifts and blessings for our small family and we want to give honor and praise to our God and Father at this time:
Noah: This was quite a year for Noah! Starting in February, where he served in the Model United Nations and realized that this is a passion of his - to do foreign service work, specifically in the area of policy and law. In May, he had the chance to travel to Barcelona, Spain with his senior class, and then in June, he graduated, with honors, from high school, serving as Salutatorian. Praise God!
He then had a great summer working for Spring Hill Camps, where he grew in leadership, faith, and confidence. It was a great experience, and though the pay was not much, he is considering doing it again next summer.
And then, of course, in late August, he moved into the dorms at Calvin and began his freshman year, studying International Relations. I like to say that he took to it like a fish to water, having no problem at all settling into the social scene and navigating his way to independence. What a joy, for a mother who travels a lot, to know that her youngest is safe, secure, and happy!
Hannah: Hannah started this year off with a quick trip to Ghana over Christmas break. When she greeted us, part of her hair was dyed dark blue...when she left it was completely braided! She completed her freshman year at Calvin, worked at the Calvin Library over the summer, and started her sophomore year this fall. Hannah is studying Social Work, with a minor in French and Psychology. She is loving the classes relating to her field!
However, she has been dealing with exhaustion for about two years now, which is wearing her down. Being exhausted all the time has impacts on social relationships, academics, and self-esteem. We have been studying emotional reasons, physical reasons (including obscure African illnesses!), and spiritual reasons, and have not come up with an answer yet. It's been a very difficult time for Hannah, and difficult for me to watch her struggle with this and not be able to find an answer. We are praying that an answer will be found in 2013.
Renita: This year started with many unknowns about my future, knowing that looming ahead of me was the completion of my work in Ghana in June, and then empty nest directly following that in August. It was quite the roller coaster ride of emotions and struggle from January until August, when I finally made a decision to make the move from Partners Worldwide to International Christian Ministries, including moving from West Africa to East Africa. I believe that this move will be a good fit for my passion and my gifts. I leave on January 20 for Kitale, Kenya.
Additionally, I became a home-owner again! While the work of rehabbing a home has been longer and much more time-consuming than originally thought, it has been so worth it. Having my children home for Christmas, with our own space, able to have friends over (which they have taken full advantage of!), the ability to get pictures out of storage (since 2005), to have our own kitchen to bake and cook in, and to have our own rooms again, has been a great blessing. I am so thankful for David Graf (and his wife Paula!) for his incredible work on the house - he helped make this house into a home and has put in countless hours, creativity, and love! Others have helped as well - Janette and Dale VanderVeen and Bob Schuyler, to name a few, for whom I am also thankful!
This Friday, the 28th, will be my last day at Partners Worldwide. I have learned so much during my seven years with them and will miss many relationships in this great team! I believe that we will continue to partner together in some way in my new work in Kenya but want to take this moment to thank God for them!
|Partners Worldwide Team|