We are three days from Christmas 2015. A time of waiting and anticipating Emmanuel, God with us! Jesus; He comes to us as a tiny baby, but His whole being runs through the Bible as a thread, tying the whole creation, fall, redemption story together. Jesus, the Word, who was present from the beginning and who is the light and brings life to all! Jesus, the man of sorrows, the one who would be rejected, despised, tortured, and then pierced for our transgressions. Jesus, the babe in a manger who is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Jesus, who was and is and is to come, the thread of life, goodness and grace, the thread that we can hold on to and trust that He will not break!
This past year we have often felt like we were “hanging by a thread”, and in our darkest moments we have had several times when our eyes have been pulled away from who that thread is. We have felt doubt and despair, worry and fear. Today is December 22, and as of this morning, we are still waiting to find a home to occupy by January 1. For us, this whole process of finding a home has been a time of testing, of fear and doubt, of feeling flooded by mercy and goodness, of clinging to faith, of struggling to understand what God is up to. We have had a couple houses slip through our fingers just before contracts were to be signed. We have made countless phone calls, have had our hopes lifted high only to be dashed down again. We KNOW God is faithful, but right now we are clinging to the thread; Jesus, hear our cry!
2015 has been a year of changes. We finished our work with Tshepo ya Bana, which was good as we could see how God had been working to move us into full time ministry with Take Action Ministry. Yet goodbyes and changes are never easy. We have stepped back from a place and a role which, especially for me, provided much stability and purpose during the 4+ years we have been in South Africa. It has been difficult for the kids to imagine living somewhere else. We have either lived on the property or across the road from TYB the entire time we have lived in this country. This is home to them, they know the property, they love all the little kids, and they feel comfortable here. Moving is scary! Knowing that 2 pairs of eyes are watching us closely has been a constant reminder for Darin and I to cling tightly to the thread of HOPE and to teach our kids to do the same. To help them to understand that even when things are scary and uncertain, we have someone sure and strong that we can hold tight to.
Our work with Take Action has also been changing. The ministry has been GROWING and we are excited to see what God will do next. We recently started a project focused on directly helping families with food and clothing and helping them to set and reach a goal that will (God willing!) lift them out of the cycle of poverty and hopelessness that so many people in this area find themselves in. We are so thankful that through our donors, both big and small, we have an overabundance of food and clothing that has made this part of the ministry possible. Darin has also been really involved in Busetsa, a job creation initiative that is an off-shoot of Take Action Ministry. He loves being able to use his management and business skills in this venture. These are just two small projects of something much greater. If you want to know more, please check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TakeActionMinistry
Tyson and Jori have been changing as well. It is hard to believe that in less than 6 months we will have a 12 year old and 10 year old. Where has the time gone?? Tyson just wrapped up Grade 6. He continues to enjoy school, especially Natural Science, where he learns about nature, science and technology. He is still into Legos and has also found enjoyment in building things out of wood or bits of electronics and machinery from his stash. This year was quite a struggle for our sweet boy. Each child has quirks that make them unique, and sometimes these quirks can take over and make life difficult. This year we have been working with a few different specialists to help Tyson better control these quirks, so that he can more fully enjoy his life. Dealing with medications and side effects and trying to figure out what works best without making Tyson too tired has been a battle, as anyone on medication of any kind will know. We are really thankful that we finally seem to have found a combination of meds and dosages that are helping Tyson to get along better throughout the day. This whole situation, learning more about what Tyson is dealing with, trying to help him cope, trying to be patient, understanding and wise, has been a time of stretching and growing for our whole family. There have been many moments when we have felt like we were barely hanging on, but again we are thankful that the thread we cling to is strong and sure.
Jori just finished Grade 4. She is entering that stage where girls move from being little and sweet to a bit catty and difficult. We are thankful that Jori remains teachable, but she is a girl and like all girls, she has her moments. She has continued to enjoy good friendships, but several of the girls in her class have chosen this year to present a harder side, leading to many tears and this mommy trying to find the best way to teach our girl about life’s realities, while also giving her the tools she needs to respond and live in a different way. Jori continues to love creating; with crayons, loom bands, giving Barbie new hairstyles, painting her nails in stylish ways and more. Jori still enjoys going up to the main house and playing with the little kids there. She has been a great big sissy to Amo and Miss O as well.
Speaking of Amo and Miss O, our family has been going through changes with these two lovely girls as well. Earlier this month, we moved Amo back to her family home. She has spent 2 nights with us since then, which were such a gift for us! We have been to see her and her family several times and she is doing great, still smiling and giggling. We are thankful for the care that she is receiving at home, but look forward to taking our girl every now and again for an overnight visit! 2015 was the year for Miss O. This girl, who lived with us for a few months in 2012, has been waiting for a family for years. In His perfect timing, God has provided that family. They will be arriving in January 2016 to take their girl home! Miss O is the only child from our time at Tshepo ya Bana who has not yet returned to family, been adopted or been placed in foster care or an alternative care situation, so knowing that her time to move on is so close is really, really exciting for us. We will sure miss all the smiles and silly faces of Miss O, but are beyond thrilled to be counting down the days with her until her family arrives! Threads of Grace and Goodness all over the place!
We have had a wonderful year of visits from family members; my parents in March/April, my sister in July and another visit from my dad in September. We are looking forward to meeting Miss O’s family in 2016 and Darin’s mom arrives on the same day! Tyson and Jori can’t wait to see Grandma Karen again! My parents are planning to come again in March/April of this year. We are so thankful that our loved ones will take the time and make the effort to come and spend time with us.
Thank you to the many of you who have been praying for us. Please continue to do so! We know that we have an Ever Faithful God. As it says in a Bible Study I have been doing: He loves us, He knows what is going on in our lives, and He can do something about it! I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do. Thank you God for Your Promise, the Thread we can cling to, Emmanuel God with us!