A look back at 2010


With 2011 suddenly upon us, I want to take a moment to pause and look back at 2010.  It’s been an extremely momentous and special year in the life of our family.  As John and I were discussing the coming year, and the fact that for both of us, it is our last year in our 30s, he said, “But I feel like we’re just starting to really live.”  Well said indeed.  So, here’s a glance back at the highlights of 2010.


I recall January 12, 2010 quite well.  Mid-morning I happened to check facebook, and noticed several friends had posted prayers for Haiti, and immediately sensed all was not well.  A quick google search confirmed the need for prayers – a 7.1 earthquake had rocked the destitute, struggling country, killings untold thousands.  Only a year before I had visited Haiti and fallen in love with her people and their joyful, entrepreneurial spirits;  not to mention our two daughters, 8 yo Viergine and 9 yo Florencia, whom we’d been working on adopting for 3+ years, still resided in Port au Prince, waiting to finally come home to us.

Thankfully it didn’t take long to find out our girls, and the rest of the children at their orphanage were safe.  Sadly, such was not the case for countless other children and adults.  I couldn’t avert my eyes from the grim scenes, and hung on every word that came out of Haiti.  The suffering and needs were immense, and I felt incredibly helpless.  As news reports increasingly described the thousands of new orphans with no place to go because orphanages were already full, I was struck by the absurdity of the situation.  Hundreds of children in Haitian orphanages already had adoptive families in the US (and elsewhere), and were just waiting for someone to wade through red-tape bureaucracy to allow them to join their waiting families.  If these children would be allowed to leave Haiti to join their families (most of whom, like us, had been waiting for years), hundreds of beds would become available for those newly orphaned children.

Finally Home…

The group of families adopting children from our daughters’ orphanage banded together, determined to get our children home.  The cell numbers of all our DC Congress members’ Chiefs of Staff were programmed in my phone.  Their email addresses were front-and-center on my computer.  If I wasn’t speaking or emailing them, I was on the phone talking to the media, USCIS, State Department and more.  John eventually flew to Florida, meeting up with 3 other adoptive parents from MT, IL and CT, hoping to get a flight into Haiti to personally escort the children home.  Prayers were prayed, notes were written, interviews were given and eventually, we heard the kids were flying out of Haiti on a military jet, headed to Orlando.

Two days later, our family was finally complete and together!  John, Viergine and Florencia arrived at the Billings airport to cheers, tears, balloons, posters and gifts.  A day we had only dreamed about for over 3 years had finally arrived – our daughters were home.  Through tears of joy, I reflected on the arduous, trying process that forced us to watch our 4 yo and 6 yo daughters grow up in an orphanage, through occasional pictures and updates, while Haitian and US officials reveled in red-tape.  All of that was over, and we could now enjoy getting to know our beautiful girls.

The first months home included broken vans, beads, braids, and bothersome doctor visits.  The language and shyness barriers eventually were overcome, and it became hard to believe they had only been home a few short months.  The girls jumped right into life, joining volleyball clubs, playing softball, participating in homeschool, and more.  We celebrated many “firsts” like riding bikes, swim lessons, fireworks, and going to a parade.  Our family not only grew by two, but its zest for life, fun, laughter and joy easily quadrupled when our girls arrived!

Travels Galore

Summer 2010 was the year of the reunions – we had three family reunions as well as my high school 20th.  A 4000-mile, 4-week trek took us to three Canadian provinces and four states.  Highlights included the Oregon coast, Olympic park in Calgary, Banff National Park and tubing with cousins at my parent’s lake cabin.  Our family drove in style, enjoying our new (to us) family vehicle – a 17 passenger Sprinter with plenty of leg room, reclining seats and great gas mileage.

Starting Seminary & Ministry Involvement

When fall rolled around this year, it found all 12 of us headed back to school.  John began a master’s program in Coaching & Athletic Administration, and I began a 4-year full-time Master of Divinity (MDiv) program at George Fox Evangelical Seminary.  The virtual learning program combines online learning with face-to-face classes.  My learning cohort, a group of 20 other ministry leaders from around the nation, are an amazing group of individuals who have not only greatly enhanced and encouraged my education, but have also become like a second family.  The face-to-face classes occur twice a year in Portland in October and February, which allows me visit Oregon family members in between 6-day-a-week all-day classes.

Having completed the first semester of classes in December, and looking forward to the second semester starting up in just nine days, I am very excited about what lies ahead!  My involvement in ministry has also increased over the past year.  The ministry that John and I started, called The Bridge, is entering its second full year in Glendive.  I have begun taking a more active role in the ministry in the past months.  I now plan and organize each worship experience, and also preach each week.  The challenge, and joy, associated with these endeavors are indeed great, and not something taken lightly.  I have also had the opportunity to speak at community events, on TV, at retreats and more, and look forward to new opportunities in 2011!

Looking Forward

As I look forward to 2011, there is much to be excited about.  Remodels on our church house continue to forge ahead thanks to John’s expertise and hard work.  Most of the basement is now sheetrocked and looking good.  A new laundry room, partially finished master bathroom, four new kids’ rooms, and front doors are the highlights.  Remodel plans for 2011 include finishing our bedroom, girl and boy bathrooms in the basement, a possible sunroom and more!

I also look forward to continuing to help with the Apparent Project in Haiti.  This fall I had the joy of selling some beautiful jewelry and other handmade products – all of which directly support Haitian artisans, making a real difference in each of their lives.  Lillia, our 10 yo daughter, also got involved in her own project, working to raise money to help the Apparent Project build houses in Haiti.  To date she has raised enough money to build 1½ houses ($3700!), with a goal of building five by April 1st.  It is beyond incredible to see your own children becoming actively involved in making a difference in the lives of others, and we are quite proud to see her living out her faith and making it real!

2011 also begins with a handful of challenges – all of which we pray draw us closer to the God who sustains and saves.  In two short weeks I’ll be undergoing a procedure on my heart under full anesthesia to hopefully fix the chest pain, heart racing, palpitations and fainting that I’ve been experiencing.  Our adopted children each continue to face individual adjustment, attachment, bonding and educational challenges.  We are unsure about the future direction of The Bridge ministry, and how we best can minister to the needs of our community.  And given the challenges of being a full-time seminary student, ministry-leader, homeschooling mom to 10, wife and more – there is always the challenge of efficiently and successfully completing all the tasks before me, all while honoring and obeying God.

But in all things, I excitedly endeavor to live out my “life verse”, Micah 6:8.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8