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The beginning of this year started a bit different than expected. Atlee ended up getting the chicken pox a few days before his 7th birthday. We had to cancel his party and instead spent the time trying to make him feel special despite the disappointment of sickness.
Despite this God was so faithful and gracious. We had planned to take our first family vacation the end of January and amazingly atlee was healthy enough to go and the twins didn’t get the chicken pox until a week after we got back. We enjoyed our time on an Estonian island for 4 days.
-All that happened to Joseph- God used to accomplish His plan to save many-it seemed hopeless and that it got worse and worse and yet in the end-he brought salvation to thousands.
-Don’t be discouraged-
As I mentioned about a week after we returned from the Island the twins got the chicken pox. Their’s was very bad and lasted a month before the spots finally were gone. Overall we had 3 sick kids a total of over a month the first part of the year.
“Into the hovels of the poor, into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks: “I’ve had enough; I’m on my way. To heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.” Ps. 12:5 msg
After the sickness was finally over we were able to start our bible study again. In this photo Riina is receiving a bible from Tammy in her favorite color (Tammy hadn’t known this). She told us that she just had a feeling that she would get one and was blown away that it happened. (Yay Holy Spirit)
The beginning of March we flew to Vilnius, Lithuania to attend the 1st ever Nordic Leaders retreat. It was awesome to get away and be a part of growing with other leaders. We got to know people who are also working in this region and continue to build on these relationships!
We once again celebrated Easter in our home! We invited a few extra friends and really enjoyed our time. The morning of the celebration Joel painted the painting on the wall above the fireplace in this picture. It has been a good reminder of what God has done for us all year long.
“11-12 Boaz answered her, “I’ve heard all about you—heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers. God reward you well for what you’ve done—and with a generous bonus besides from God, to whom you’ve come seeking protection under his wings.” -Ruth 2:11-12 msg
April found us once again flying away to Lyon, France. We actually hadn’t planned to go but God opened the doors and we were able to attend. It was an incredible time of refreshing, connecting and serving. Spur of the moment we were able to serve the body doing media. It was so fun to be able to step into that role again.
“The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Isrealites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.” Joshua 5:12
The beginning of May we welcomed Rami & Nathan and our nephew lincoln to Estonia. We so enjoyed having them and the boys loved playing with their cousin.
While they were here Joel took and passed the first test level in Estonian (A2)! We were so proud of him and his studies! We both hope to continue taking classes in 2017. I hope to pass the A2 in May 2017 and Joel will try for the B1 in the fall of 2017.
Just before they arrived I attended my second KWAM in Gothenburg, Sweden. On the way there I had a long conversation with a young swede about Jesus. It was an amazing weekend full of learning and practicing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The day before they left Joel and I flew to Amsterdam to celebrate our 12th anniversary and my birthday.
3-4 You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.
Romans 2:3-4 msg
The beginning of June saw Atlee graduating from Estonian Kindergarten. It was so amazing to see him grow in his learning and speaking in Estonian. We were so proud of him!
Shortly after this we headed to another one of the Estonian islands. Hiiumaa! Were were able to stay a neighbors summer home and enjoy island life for a couple days. We attended one of atlee’s good friends birthday party! The day after the party we spent the day touring the island with them and really enjoyed our time together!
A few weeks later I took the boys to their first ever week of summer camp. I had been praying for a Christian kids camp where atlee could learn about God in Estonian. It was the perfect answer to prayer! Both he and Pelle loved it and we plan to have him attend next year as well!
July found us hosting a dutch/american missions team. It was such a pleasure to get to know them and to host them. They spent a few days in Tallinn with us prayer walking and serving and then spent time serving at the Nordic-Baltic summer camp. They were a huge blessing to us especially by watching our kids! They made it possible for both Joel and I to serve! Plus we built relationships that will last.
August brought with it another missions team from my home church in Rhinelander! One of the highlights of the trip was the evening we spent at our Estonian Chiropractors home. She and her husband were amazing hosts and it was such a blessing to get to spend an evening with them. Joel and some of the team had a confirming and challenging conversation with the husband. He had been a christian but had walked away. We are following up to see where God has taken him since that conversation.
The twins attended their first day of Estonian Kindergarten. Little did we know that this would be a rarity for the next three months. They ended up being sick for 3 months straight and were only able to attend a few days every month. On top of this we also were plagued with sickness ourselves and I hurt my foot which took me out of commission for two weeks.
September 1st we stepped into a new season of life. Atlee began his first year of school. In Estonia they start 1st grade at 7. He is attending the local school across the street. He has most classes in Estonian and then 3 classes per week in English. He seems to be thriving there and is a good student.
In September I began an entry level Estonian class (A1) this ended up being an amazing experience despite difficulties when the twins ended up being home for 3 months.
We also got to spend time with our neighbors at their summer home making apple juice from scratch and some evening walks around our neighborhood with them. This family is a huge blessing and we love seeing God working in them through conversations.
45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.
Mark 1:45 NASB
October was a huge month for us. Joel turned the big 40! On the day we celebrated by having a couple friends over and opening gifts and playing Mario Kart. We had Sour Cream Raisin pie and had a very low-key fun evening.
A few days later we celebrated Asher & Lars turning 2! We had a small party and cake and presents! It was perfect.
Asher – Left, Lars- Right
A few days later Joel and I flew off to a spanish island called Mallorca to celebrate his 40th birthday just the two of us. It was such a needed and amazing time away.
On the last day of our time there I flew to Madrid for my 3rd KWAM while Joel flew home to be with the boys. The topic of this KWAM was Discipleship.
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” John 15:4 msg
The highlight of our month was Thanksgiving with some friends old and new. Two turkeys, two pies and lots of other favorites.
Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him. Ps 105:19
Christmas time! With December of course comes Christmas! The first year here for Christmas was fun but ever since it ends up feeling a bit lonely. We have no family here to be with and all our friends are usually with their family. So we go to a christmas eve service in Old Town and then spend the day just us. So this year instead of being sad we are taking a trip with my sister who is visiting for Christmas! We are excited to feel like its a celebration again.
Also this year we were able to take a very short trip to NYC for the weekend. As many know Joel still works part time for Maintenance Connection and they always have an employee Christmas Party in the US. This year it was in NYC! We had never been and since the tickets were cheap we were able to also bring atlee! It was an amazing time just the three of us. God totally orchestrated this trip for more than just a christmas party! It was a huge blessing.
-Hurt can make us feel like one area of our life is the way our whole life is-
(All of these quotes or scriptures are things that God spoke to me over the past year. Im so grateful He understands and speaks directly to encourage or help me see things as He does.)