2013 has been a hard, but blessed year. As I look back at the year we have probably done more traveling this year than ever. We’ve had a hard time trying to finish well, but at the same time we’ve seen the Lord do some pretty amazing things in our life this year. It has also been a year of new friends.
Just before Christmas last year we received our dog Sophi. Most of Anora’s year has been filled with walking, training, playing with, and sleeping with Sophi. She even dressed the dog up for Halloween. Jeremy put time into making a princess dress for the two of them. Over the summer Anora participated in the city dog show. Sophi won best large breed, because of all tricks Anora taught her. And Anora won 4th place as junior handler.
2013 has been a year of learning for Anora, but when you’re a kid, isn’t every year filled with learning? Last winter she participated in Choir. While I think she really liked it, she did not volunteer for it this year. She has been learning how to cook. She has made pancakes by herself, custard with very little help, meatballs, and lastly a homemade dog cake. The cake was for the dog to eat or humans; the humans were not fans.
She is in 4th grade this year. Her school is just a few blocks from our house so can walk to and from school most days. She has a best friend who lives in the other side of our duplex. She also has 2 other friends in the neighborhood and a couple at school. While her grades have been all over the place, good and bad, she really likes her teacher and her math is improving by leaps and bounds.
In October she decided she wanted to play the violin in the school orchestra. She really is pretty good for not knowing how to read music at the beginning and only participating for a few months. She even played for the church program in front of a lot of people. And her first concert was this week for the 3rd graders.
While Anora’s year has been a series of sprints, Jeremy’s has been a marathon. Last winter he participated in a class to train “Steven’s Ministers”. This is intended to train laymen in the church to help with visitation and light counseling to people in the church in need. He became certified in that. This training also helped with some school credit.
He had 15 credits this past fall semester. So that is 15 class hours per week plus another 15 at home doing the homework. This coming semester he will have 16 credits and one intensive in January. But, with the Lord’s help, he will graduate on May 10, 2014.
He started 2013 out ministering to a very small church 20 miles away. They were very kind to us and we still have friends there. But in the spring he made the move to a bigger church closer to home. The new church is named Stavanger. He is one of 3 associate pastors. He teaches a Bible Study at a nursing home in the country every-other week; has a group of people he visits; teaches 7 teens Confirmation most Sundays, and leads Youth Group every-other week with the other associate pastor.
Shannon will be celebrating her 2nd anniversary in the President’s office January 3rd. They are very good to her there. This job has stretched her English skills to the breaking point, but has really helped her people skills, working with pastors and leaders; improved her computer skills; has learned that how something looks is just as important as what it says. She has also developed the new skill of remembering peoples’ names, only be the grace of God!
This summer she started on the first quilt for her and Jeremy. It is a mix of different blocks that mean something to both of them. She had to take a break on it to work on baby quilts. 6 friends had babies this fall, one with twins. 7 baby quilts were made in just about 4 months.
Over the summer we had several more families move to Fergus Falls to attend seminary. And 2 brave women took the reigns of leadership. While Shannon still tries to get to Bible study it has been harder with Jeremy’s additional obligations. In the fall there is an annual retreat for the all seminary women to get to know one another. This year Shannon, as a senior wife, gave her testimony. Though nervous it was delivered and received well.
We had several adventures this year while traveling. In June we flew to Brockville Ontario
Canada to spend a few days with Jeremy’s family there. There was a tall ship festival at the same time. We got to see a lot of amazing things and make memories with the family.Later in June we house sat for one of Jeremy’s professors. It was wonderful, out in the country on a lake. We took rides in his boat, caught many fish, and just relaxed. Anora’s favorite part was their huge couch in front of a huge TV with cable. It was difficult to pull her away from the Disney channel.
We were able to make a trip to Iowa too. We stayed with Shannon’s parents and made a
quick trip to DeWitt for church even. Wish that trip could’ve been longer.
In July we participated in a joint VBS (vacation Bible school), between Jeremy’s church and a friend’s church. The churches are near each other in the country. The theme was “Go Tell it On the Mountain”. Jeremy made himself a costume of a Ram who was also a rock climber. The kids really responded well, and it was nice being part of a VBS again. Shannon led a group of six 5th grade boys. While it was energizing to see these kids have a good time and talk faith, it was exhausting at the end of the day.
Our biggest, life changing trip of the year was in November. We traveled to Nampa Idaho, a suburb of Boise, with the goal of candidating to become their next pastor. We stayed at a couple’s home and got to know them and their beautiful kids. We had meals at people’s homes, toured the parsonage (church’s house), we had a pizza at the church, and a pot luck. Jeremy taught Sunday School and gave the message at the service. It was a great experience and we made some good friends there. A few weeks after, we received a “call letter”: a letter offering Jeremy the position of the new pastor!!! We have agreed to start in June! We sent the acceptance letter in late December. Now we’re just trying to finish our jobs, ministries, and school well. And make plans for a move.
We have been so blessed by all of your support, financial help, and many prayers. The Lord has truly blessed us on this adventure. While it hasn’t been easy, we haven’t been alone. With you by our side, and the Lord above we’re making it. May the Lord bless you as he has us.