Thursday, January 1, 2009

Holiday merriment

I hope each of you have had a wonderful holiday season. I absolutely love the anticipation of Christmas, and I’m disappointed it’s over so quickly. But hey, it’s a new year. A clean slate. Make it the best year yet….why not? Take risks and don’t hold back. I look forward to what 2009 holds: the new faces I’ll meet. The many cities I’ll visit. The new adventures waiting for me.

Before I dive into a recap of our holidays, I have to share a funny moment between Martin and I on the bus yesterday.

Me: “Holy smokes!” (I don’t remember what I was reacting to.)
Martin: “Auntie, what is the meaning of that? *pause* The Holy Spirit smokes!?!?”

The mental image made me laugh so hard. As you can tell, we have some quick-witted individuals ;)

On a more serious note, I have some exciting news to share! Sarah (age 9, from Uganda) became a Christian!! It is so awesome to see God working among our team. Taylor led Isaac to Christ in October. And now Sarah has asked Jesus to be her Savior. Two weeks ago, Sarah and I were hanging out in my room at a host family’s house. She brought her Bible in to me, and I felt lead to read her the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. I gave her a simple explanation of the gospel and asked her if she knew where she’d spend eternity if she were to die. She shook her head, not knowing the answer. I encouraged her that accepting Christ into her heart is the best decision she could EVER make but I would not force her to make that choice. She would have to decide on her own.

(Not so) coincidentally, several hours later, the entire team was waiting in the costume room at our concert. Alan presented the gospel to the kids. As they listened, I prayed silently that Sarah would truly understand.

Two weeks passed, and last night as I tucked Sarah into bed, we had the following conversation:
Me: Sarah, have you thought about what I talked to you about several weeks ago? About Jesus?
Sarah: *nodded with a smile on her face* as she whispered, “yes.”
Me: Really?! And what have you thought about…?
Sarah: *a huge smile broke out on her face as she said, “Jesus is in my heart!”

I rejoiced with her, and we prayed together. I wanted to make sure she asked God to forgive her for her sins.
I can’t even express my excitement as I told Sarah that now she’s my sister in Christ. She is eager to go to heaven with Him. I pray that even when she returns to Uganda she can be surrounded by people who will help her follow the Lord.
Needless to say, that was an awesome ending to the year 2008 : )

We’ve enjoyed New Year’s week in Kentucky, visiting Taylor’s family and hanging out as a team. After driving from Houston, TX to Louisville, Ky (an awfully long 20 hour drive. I don’t recommend doing it with 13 children ;) we arrived here on Monday night. The highlight of the week was taking the kids to an aquarium near Cincinnati yesterday. I love the Baltimore aquarium and was also very impressed with this one. The penguins provided great entertainment, as did two exotic birds fighting each other for a bit of sweet nectar. And “petting” sharks was also pretty nifty. I’m glad we all left with both of our hands still in tact!

And last but not least, Christmas day was so special. Words can’t sum up the energy and emotions in that living room on Christmas morning. The kids walked out to the Christmas tree in awe, saying “woooooow!” as they saw the presents and stockings. They truly appreciated receiving new clothing, watches, and toys. (Thanks to the many host families that gave—making it all possible.) It was a unique once-in-a-lifetime Christmas, and I’m so thankful for the memories we made that week.

All the "Aunties" and "Uncles" Christmas Eve after putting the presents under the tree (while the kids were sleeping and excited for Santa to come)

Thanks, mom, for sending some goodies for the kids' stockings! (Jimmy, Suresh, Isaac--all smiles. Too cute!)

All our kids first thing Christmas morning

With Yeshoda after she had a mini-makeover from Taylor

Jimmy--look what he caught!

Enjoying the peaceful lake (behind the house where we stayed for Christmas)

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

Ash, this was so wonderful to read. I am SO excited to hear about Sarah and Isaac! Wow wow wow, how amazing is that? I'm so glad God's been working like that.

And your other adventures (shark petting?!?!) sound really interesting, I'm glad you're getting all these experiences. I miss you and love you!