A (slightly late) Merry Christmas! We hope all of you are doing well and enjoying your holiday season. Here is an overview on our past year:
Last Christmas we sent out a fundraising letter for a new vehicle as our current little Toyota Corolla didn't have enough seats for our new family of six and we were dreaming of beginning to make trips to do medical work in remote villages. Friends of ours were selling a Toyota Sportrider that would both seat our family and was perfectly outfitted for the job. We were absolutely blown away with how many of you responded and on Valentines Day, less than two months later, we were able to make the trip to pick up our new vehicle. It's served us so well through out this past year and we're still pretty thrilled with it.
Around this same time we were becoming increasingly aware of the precarious situation of our visas here in Thailand. Many laws have been changing and Thailand has been cracking down on foreigners simply living here. They were no longer issuing the visas we had existed on here for the past 9 years and what we needed in order to be able to stay was a work permit. They don't exactly just hand those out though! We spent months in prayer, pursuing every possible avenue, but uncertain what our future would look like. Finally when we had a mere three months left on our existing visas, God flung a door wide open for us through friends in Chiang Mai who asked their foundation if they would be willing to take us on. The foundation president responded by saying they'd take any friend of theirs! And just like that we were in and through the following months they've walked us through the laborious process of obtaining a work permit. Their help has been absolutely invaluable and is something we don't take for granted.
This new development of course facilitated the need for a quick move back up to Chiang Mai. Right around that time Jordan finished his 6th month of Thai school and March found us making a pretty last-minute move. Maria stayed with the kids in Chiang Mai for a week house-hunting while Jordan finished things up down in Bangkok. In the middle of that very long week Jordan managed to pull off a surprise over-night visit to Maria and the kids, catching a last-minute flight and showing up at our guest house room by knocking on the door and announcing "Pizza delivery!", giving Maria the surprise of her life. We still hate being apart! We did succeed in finding a house that week and have been incredibly thankful for the wonderful place God has blessed us with.
Jabez' (7) development has taken off in leaps and bounds this year. He's finally talking much more clearly. :) He's a creative genius and nearly everyday comes out with amazing LEGO creations, drawings, paper swords and other versions of uniquely crafted armor. He loves to play sports with daddy and his bros and is constantly trying to figure out new ways to fly off his bike in a variety of dangerous ways. Jordan was given some old golf clubs and Jabez has loved to learn how to golf...admittedly he's also nearly killed a couple people with flying golf balls, but so far we haven't broken any windows and that's the important thing.
Jesse (3) and Justus (2) are pretty sure that they are twins and even speak their own little language which no one -- except for maybe Jabez -- understands. Justus outweighs Jesse by 10 pounds even though he's year younger, but what Jesse lacks in size he makes up for in bravery. He believes that the world is there to catch him, and if he can find a way to throw himself off oif it or crash into it he'll do it. Fortunately for him, his diminutive 20 pounds makes injuries almost non-existent, thanks to very little physical mass. :) Justus is very detail oriented and can spend copious amounts of time simply cutting up a piece of paper into tiny slivers. Jesse and Justus just got bikes for Christmas and it would be hard to find two happier little boys. Both boys adore their older brother Jabez and love copying anything he does. We have so much fun watching the little people that they're becoming.
Mercy turned one in November. She's so full of spunk and life. We look at her nearly everyday and wonder at all the little joy she brings into our lives. She's been walking for the past couple months and is rapidly learning to talk. Her most-used sentence is, "I want!!" We still haven't figured out where she picked that up! It's pretty cute now said by an tiny little tot waddling around the house in her onesie, but we're not sure what that will look like in another couple years. :) So here's to hoping we can influence her towards more polite phrases.
This has been a full year for Jordan. In September he began an accelerated course online in order to complete his batchelors degree in nursing. He also teaches English three days a week and fits transcribing into any spare moments. He's been enjoying the fact that the boys are finally getting to an age where he can start teaching them man skills. Unfortunately, knife throwing hasn't quite made it into the mommy-approved activity list yet though.
Maria has been... Well, Maria has been pretty busy being a mom :)
We have been making monthly medical trips up to Manykee since April. It's been challenging in some ways, but has been a wonderful experience for our family. The boys love going and routinely ask when we can go next. Mercy is in her element with a deluge of adoring villagers. It's always good to see our friends again. Getting out and spending the day, and occasionally a night, in a village where nobody has anything more than rice and maybe a few greens for food, no electricity and no water is a wonderful reminder of just how much we have to be grateful for and somehow puts all of life into perspective.
This year has brought some progress on the boy's adoption situation. We covet your prayers as we continue to jump through the hoops set in front of us and plead for God's guidance and the miracle we need.
We love and miss you all!
Jordan, Maria, Jabez, Jesse, Justus, and Mercy