We rejoice at His faithfulness this Christmas along with the faithfulness of our friends and family! These stories would not be possible without you! Thank you for your support, your prayers, your encouragement, your generosity and your belief in what we are doing. We pray each of you would be blessed in abundance for your faithfulness towards our family!
10. Packing up our family 6 times…Australia to Seattle; Seattle to Hawaii; Hawaii to Thailand; Thailand to Cambodia; Cambodia to Hawaii; Hawaii to Seattle. At least we know we are now permanently located in Hawaii and any trips taken will lead us back there to our permanent home base. Not a bad home base…visitors’ welcome! Our kids have become professional travelers indeed!
9. Staffing the Call2All DTS from April through Sept. Working with young people is always a crazy adventure! I will never forget my first one on one discipleship meeting with one of our girls last April…she was from another country and the first words out of her mouth were…”I hate blonde girls.” I assured her that my blonde hair is fake…to look to my roots for their natural color and we’d be fine. Thankfully she was able to move past her bad memories with blonde girls and open up her heart to a wonderful friendship with me (and the other blondes on our school.)
8. Slum water in Thailand. The slums we visited in Thailand are basically their own little community of shacks, built on top of swamp/sewage water. The house we were going to fix had holes in the side where snakes from the water were getting in. The lady of the house was Buddhist, yet when the snakes started crawling into her house she said, “I’m going to pray to the God of the Bible and if He’s real He’ll send someone to come fix my house.” The very next day our team showed up at her door, without knowing of her prayers the night before! Her answered prayers and the provision of our team shocked her. This opened the door for many conversations with her over the course of the next few weeks. By the time we left she said, “I will finish reading the bible you gave me and then I will become a Christian.”
7. The Cambodian Border. Crossing the Cambodian border is NOTHING like crossing the Canadian border. We were scared and unsure of the unknown…having heard all about corruption, the history of violence and recent issues with child sex-trafficking. On the other hand we were just embarrassed by the amount of stuff we had with us compared to the impoverished children at our feet. The border was marked by hot, hot, hot humidity…bad smells, random animals walking around (cows, chickens, dogs, cats), hundreds of poor children, people wearing large straw hats carrying carts and buggies from one side to the other, lots of random noise, bikes, motos with families of 5 riding across, policemen with huge guns, beautiful government buildings and casinos, beautiful cars, prostitutes and many other hidden sad things. Thankfully we made it across without much difficulty and were relieved to meet our friends on the other side!
6. Driving. From Bangkok to the border of Cambodia I thought I was going to die several times. I was carsick so I sat in the front seat while the team slept in the back of the van. Sleep was far away because I could see firsthand how we were driving! I think I screamed several times, scaring and confusing the driver. However, driving from the border of Cambodia to Battambang was even crazier! First off no one uses “lanes. In Cambodia the strategy used for driving is this: honk the entire time you are driving so people know you are coming, don’t wear seat belts, don’t use car seats, if you don’t have a car then drive a moto…even if you are a family of 5 and have an infant…drive a moto and don’t use helmets, and if you don’t have a moto use a bike, and fit as many people as you can on one bike. At one point during our 2-hour drive we passed a huge semi-truck and it was filled from top to bottom with pigs! We counted 125 pigs in this truck! We also passed pick up trucks with the bed of the truck packed full with even up to 25 people! Once arriving in Battambang our family used “Tuk-Tuks” which felt like a Disneyland ride! Tuk-Tuks are little carriages attached to a moto…perfect for a family of 5!
5. Walking in Cambodia. Are you starting to see that Cambodia is very different from America? I wish everyone could go there. When we were not driving around in Tuk-Tuks our family would walk places in Cambodia. There are no streetlights, no stop signs and even very few cars. Walking is just as crazy as driving because the traffic just keeps coming at all times! “How do you know when to cross the street?” I asked my friend from Battambang while we stood at a busy intersection. “Oh, you just walk slowly,” she said. “If you run, you’ll get hit. If you are walking across and you stop to wait for the moto to pass, you’ll get hit. You just walk out into traffic and keep walking across very slowly and they will go around you.” Try training a 7-year-old boy not to RUN across the busy intersection…”no, no Jacob…we walk slowly across the busy street. Don’t worry, the slower we go in front of oncoming traffic the more chance we have of surviving!”
4. Eating grasshoppers in a remote village. Ok I have to confess…this one does NOT have to do with me! I realized early on that I HAD to stay back each morning just to do laundry. All the laundry was done by hand, and in order for me to keep up on our family’s laundry I had to do it daily. So while I was sweating over the laundry our team was starting a school in a remote village. Tall wooden houses that look like tree houses along with miles of rice fields made up this village of several hundred Cambodian families. Our dear friend Meiling, a Cambodian native, had a heart to start a school for the children there since they have NO access to any sort of education. Our little school started with about 30 kids and grew to 130 by the end of our two-month stay! The highlight of the village experience for Jacob was eating grasshoppers cooked over an open fire! Meiling insisted that the cooked grasshoppers were a delicacy so Jacob had to try them! Apparently the roasted grasshopper tasted like chicken and was a wonderful, fulfilling snack for my 7 year old.
3. Traveling back to Hawaii. Since our kids have traveled so much in the past year and a half, we felt it was important for them to be back In Hawaii in time to start school and for Jacob to make friends playing soccer. That meant Aaron would have to finish up leading the outreach by himself while I would have to travel back to Hawaii with the kids by myself 2 1/2 weeks early. The team finished strong and came home even more unified and in love with Jesus! Way to go Aaron! Our kids are champions! 26 hours of travel, 4 flights, 3 layovers, 4 time zones, no little TVs on the flights, no computer for watching movies, 1 hour of sleep…LOTS of prayer and LOTS of snacks! It was all worth it! All three kids attend school on the YWAM campus and love their school environments! Hailey attends preschool and has learned so much about friendship, Hawaiian culture, being helpful and all kinds of other important topics. Ariel is thriving in Kindergarten doing so many wonderful projects each day to stretch her brain! Jacob is a part of a new “cutting edge” school on the campus that is being pioneered this year. They will eventually be given “Skype buddies,” a child from another country who they can communicate with on their donated ipads. Our kids LOVE school, they love their community, they love their friends, and they love Jesus…what else could we ask for?
2. Hawaiian adventures. After adventuring all over the world, sharing the gospel with many different nations, we decided to really live up the adventure of having Hawaii as our home base. We spend our date nights going through the Hawaiian tour book just to make sure we’ve done all of the adventurous things we can do. We can now cross the following off of our list of “to-do’s” while in Hawaii: Exploring Lava tubes and Camping, (We now have a favorite camping spot on the beach where we like to camp as often as we can on the weekends,) Spear Fishing, (I must boast that my son and husband tried unsuccessfully for hours to spear a fish, but I jumped in the water and 20 minutes later came up with a fish on the end of my spear,) Swimming with Dolphins, (Aaron knew I’d had a dream of swimming with dolphins so when we woke up at our campsite and saw spinner dolphins jumping close to shore he sent me to get my snorkel stuff! I talked 3 other people that I’d met on the beach in to come with me and we swam 10 minutes out from shore to swim with the dolphins! It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had!)
1. Traveling home to Washington for Christmas! Have you seen the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles?” We had our own little version this holiday! We had been given $50 standby tickets by a family member to get home to Washington for Christmas…and only had to pay to get ourselves to Honolulu to use the tickets. We packed up our stuff, moved it into storage, and gathered our stuff for Washington. We were officially “homeless” and on our way! We arrived in Honolulu at 10:30 pm with tired kids, walked 25 min to the check in gate, waited in line for 30 min to get to the check in counter and then were told that it was actually going to cost us $220 per person to fly standby one way to Seattle! It took several minutes for this surprise to register. We moved our kids out of line while Jacob and I began to cry, laid everyone down on the airport floor to rest so Aaron could go find internet and book us round-trip tickets for the next day. Thankfully, God provided reasonably priced tickets and we hopped in a taxi to find a cheap hotel. One hour and $61 later…after going from one hotel to the next to the next…at the 5th hotel we finally found a room! We felt like we were reliving the nativity story…”no room in the inn!” We finally found a room, went to sleep for a few hours, got up, got to the airport and got on the plane.
We made it to Washington where I now sit. Exhausted, yet fulfilled as I look over this Top 10 list! God is so good…so faithful to provide…so faithful to fulfill dreams and longings of our hearts, and so faithful to meet us where we are at and guide us along the way. We are looking forward to another year filled with adventures and are excited to share them all with you!
We love you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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