“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear David, Happy Birthday to you!” The song bounced around the room, over a hundred voices laughing and singing.
“Thank you everyone! Now, I know this badge says ‘Happy 42nd Birthday’ but it’s supposed to say “Happy 24th Birthday.”
The laughs followed him as he sat back down in his seat. Conversation rose again from the students and staff as everyone turned back to eating their lunch. Simple things like birthdays seem to draw everyone even closer together.
That day didn’t hold a spectacular birthday party for my Dad. Some chocolate ice cream, five balloons (kindly donated by Tim, a staff worker and good friend), a homemade cupcake (given to him by Sandie who is like the class “mom”), a big “Happy Birthday” song sung by everyone at lunch, and lots of hugs and kisses made the day extra special. You don’t have to have a huge party – just lots of love and an adoring family – to make a perfect birthday.
What’s New With Us:
1. Two Sundays ago, we walked together to a small village church about five minutes from Ellel. Frensham Baptist Fellowship is small and very friendly. Since we don’t have transportation, walking to this church will probably become something we do most Sundays. They were happy to see our family enter the doors even though we took up a bunch of chairs. This past Sunday, my parents felt like we needed to huddle together as a family. Living in a Christian community is wonderful, but alone time is scarce. We prayed together, shared with one another what God has been teaching us, and Wesley and Elise led us in singing worship on the keyboard.
2. School has officially become a familiar routine. Rachael has proved herself to be a patient teacher, a great listener, a fun-loving assigner, and an overall amazing Nanny. We are so thankful to have her with us.
3. Classes for my parents are going smoothly. They often come home and pass on to us what they have learned. The teaching is intense and deep, challenging all of the students. Small homework assignments are given every week along with plenty of break to complete them. Please pray for them as they continue to grow day by day.
4. Last weekend, on Saturday, a twice a year occurrence played out – Ground Force Day. From 9 30 – 12:30, then 2:00 – 4:00 all of the NETS students and some of the staff divide into groups and tackle ground work such as raking, weeding, sweeping the road and walkways, cutting down trees, potting plants, clearing away big branches and brambles, and maintaining the trails. Everyone agreed that, although it was hard, it felt good be outside working. Kimry, Wesley, and I helped clear away cut down trees and briers in the afternoon. Ground work helped, once again, bring everyone a little closer together and shape us into a team.
5. The students in NETS 32 (my parents are in NETS 33) hosted a Fancy Hat party for all of the NETS 33 students this past Friday. Our whole family was invited to attend and we scrounged up winter hats, baseball hats, and turbans to wear. Everyone took the “hat” title seriously – I’ve never seen so many creative hats in my life – and most of them were homemade in the Creativity Room! One guy had a whole jungle on his head, one man had a punching bag, and one girl had Eeyore tied to a baseball cap. We played interactive games (video), performed an Israeli dance (courtesy of one of the ladies from Israel here) (video), talked, laughed, and strutted around in our creations. It was a lot of fun (video).
6. Hannah and David Steele, a young couple on Team with two little daughters, live beside us in a gingerbread cottage (not literally, but it looks like it came out of a fairy tale). David and Hannah (David’s from England and Hannah’s from Germany) are my parents prayer partners. They invited our whole family over for Cream Tea last Monday. We had lots of fun and were blessed with a keyboard to borrow this year. Last Friday, Kimry and I were invited over to their house along with a few other people to hang out and play card games. It was very relaxed and Kimry and I got the impression that “Game Nights” occurred a lot (gotta love living in a tight-knit community). The neatest thing about that night was the many different cultures and nationalities represented. Including Kimry and I, the group consisted of three Americans, two Germans, one South Korean, one Singaporean, one Rwandan, and one British person. The conversation stemmed around cultural, language, and physical differences from the represented countries. That’s the norm here. We are truly in a mini melting pot!
Small things that bring us closer to God and fully trusting in him
occurs every day, every moment. It’s not easy being a big family on a campus with a tight budget and no transportation, but God has provided for us in so many ways. We thank him for the amazing people here who are always so willing to help whether that’s fixing our vacuum cleaner, providing rides to Farnham, or taking time to play a game of football (Soccer to you Americans) with us. We are learning to draw closer to HIM in every experience and to find the JOY even in the hard moments. Thank you everyone for your continued support, uplifting emails, and encouraging comments (and thank you for having patience with our sketchy Wi-Fi) :-).