Now that we are only getting around to writing a newsletter once a year, here are just a few details of life in 2016 for our family.
Our ministry here:
We are on the cusp of completing our third year as Family Teachers (a.k.a foster parents) at Thornwell Home for Children in Clinton, South Carolina. We have now fostered 38 kids in our time. Most of those children have returned to their family and only about 5 or 6 have left in adoption. They have stayed with us anywhere from a weekend to 2+ years. It has been a trying year here in this ministry, but God is faithful to send us glimmers of hope when we think we can't go on. Stirring up a spirit of gratefulness and reminding ourselves of all that we do have is paramount to keep ourselves going in God's direction. But we all know sometimes you just long for a tangible reminder that He is still in it with you – something specific and detailed with your name on it, like Hope's notes on our pillows or Kenedie's extreme generosity and love or Everett's willingness to clean up after a sick child one more time that day. The ability to step away and take time off from fostering helps us to maintain. The respite we get is unique to fostering privately in your own home.
Kenedie is still going strong in her homeschool studies. She is in 10th grade working at the Thornwell 4K program serving breakfast and cleaning up every morning. She gets up at 5:30 on the weekdays to start school, then goes to work, then comes home to finish her studies. She continues to volunteer at a local Equestrian therapeutic riding program and is involved in one of our local church youth groups. It is hard, but so encouraging and a great source of joy to see her grow up. We talk regularly about her future plans for college and helping her get there. She is going to continue to impact the world in ways beyond what we dream and hope for her because her faith is strong.
Hope loves life and we love doing life with her. She is in the 6th grade and I continue to homeschool her as well. She is moving into independent study and I see the fruits of our hard work and endurance paying off. Her interests lean toward music and art. She just finished up her last season of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and is mulling over what series to start next. I am trying to influence her in “I love Lucy”. I love finding her playing on the floor in one of the kid's rooms or mothering one of the little ones. She finds it frustrating that the kids don't respond to her instructions the same as mine and Everett's. I told her not to worry, in time, she will have her opportunity. Kenedie and Hope continue to be a strong support to us in this ministry. We honestly couldn't do it and I hope wouldn't do it without their support. We respect and try to be sensitive to all this requires of them.
We are just a day out of finishing a 5 week shift. We covered maternity leave for our sweet friends and team mates. We enjoyed Thanksgiving in the cottage and all the festivities and outings with our cottage kids that led up to Christmas, but I am longing for our secluded Christmas cabin getaway that we start tomorrow. That is the respite that I spoke of prior. We love these kids, but have to take a break and just be a family of 4 again. My mind and heart are exhausted.
Our ministry there:
It has been 4 years now since we physically left Quinta Betel. It will never leave our hearts. If you have been there you know exactly what I mean. There has never been a place that we have lived or visited that made such a deep impression like that. It has to be because of the depth and sincerity of the love and hope there.
Everett was able to go down in May with just a few good men to manage a bathroom remodel in the girl's home. They were able to expand the bathroom and make it more practical for the amount of girls that need to use it at once.
Mario and Marta continue to serve QB with all the love and commitment that we know them for. Although they are in their retirement years nothing short of death could pull them away. They are faithful to pray over the challenges they face and patient to wait on God to answer.
We are able to continue to provide $1,000 of monthly support to them because the generosity of support continues. QB has only every received, on average, $33 a month from the government to support them in their care. We have seen first hand from living there that this doesn't come close to meeting all the needs. They give the kids there what they would give their own biological kids. It may not seem like anything luxurious to many, but it is a noticeable difference in what the government run homes can provide there.
We never petition and ask anyone to give or do anything we wouldn't or don't do ourselves. Missions is still very much at the core of our hearts. We have met a goal of supporting at least one missionary on every continent outside of Antarctica. We believe we are on the mission field still in our own home land. It is a state of living, thinking, and doing. It is the act of knowing God and making him known, wherever you are. You don't have to leave where you are to be a missionary, some do, some will, but leave your old way of thinking. I think God had to take us out of our comfort zone and send us on some far off adventures to gain that perspective, but we lost nothing and gained everything!
We love you all and we are grateful for your love and support. Merry Christmas and a very happy new year!