Merry Christmas 2015!
The year 2015 was a busy, productive year, and the year Jeff and I began living together literally 24/7, as I work full-time at the church and we share a car, having given our second vehicle to our darling daughters. Together we get up in the morning, get ready for work, drive to work, work at the church, drive home, eat, do our evening routine, and go to bed together, and then get up the next day and do it all over again! And with our kids increasingly away from home, we vacationed alone together and did ministry trips together. If you can weather that kind of togetherness, you can weather anything! We looked at our half empty nest and our conjoined ministry lives and said, "Well, if we’re going to be alone together, then let’s enjoy it rather than mourn our fragmented family." So enjoy it we did. We made a concerted effort to hike all over Oregon and beyond. I was thrilled to see Jeff’s adventurous side stirred up, as we trekked over mountain, hill, creek and waterfall in the pleasant spring, hot summer and crisp fall weather, with hopefully a couple good winter hikes over Christmas break to see the spectacular falls and ocean waves caused by all the rain we’ve had. The highlight hike of our year was in Yosemite. No, we didn’t put on boots and gloves and climb up the cables of Half Dome, but we did go to the top of Nevada Falls, plus all the minor hikes in the park and beyond. It was absolutely gorgeous and a lot of fun. We also went to Hawaii for the first time, joining our good friends Brian and Bev who have a time-share there. What a beautiful, diverse place...such fun to try paddle-boarding and shave ice, experience everything from wild rain to dense fog to tropical sunshine, tour a coffee plantation, and best of all, ring in the New Year on the beach with fireworks over the ocean and a balmy 70-degree breeze blowing over us in the dark!
Justin, Anna, Tyler and Kate
It’s another gray, rainy day in Newberg as we continue to break records for the wettest December ever! "Cozy" has a different meaning this Christmas...it means coming in from the rain, shaking off wet umbrellas and raincoats, and drying off beside the fire. Even our cat has adopted this routine! Our summer went on record as one of the driest, with week after week of glorious sunshine, but those memories are fast being washed away by the deluge of daily rain.
|Hawaii at sunset|
|Ringing in the New Year, Hawaiian style, with the Esslingers!|
|The Oregon Caves|
|Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park|
(See me on the rock in front of the falls?)
|Halfway to the top!|
|Table Rock in Southern Oregon|
But we definitely did more than play this year! We had an awesome mission trip to Haiti in the Spring, partnering with friends from Daystar Church in Leduc to minister at a youth conference (got to teach "No Ring-y, No Zing-y" and it was a huge hit!) as well as a city-wide crusade in Grand Guave, Haiti with Marc and Lisa Honorat. What a beautiful country and precious people! The Haitians walk and talk with such dignity and grace. I loved how their speech came out in a slow, sing-song rhythm as they greeted us with, "Bon-swaaaa" (Bonsoir in French, but Creole is its own creative mix of French and African dialects). The Haitians are the most expressive, talented, funny and dramatic people I’ve met in all my travels. The ministry time was powerful and the social time was so much fun. We loved our visit to that nation! We also traveled in our own country to do prophetic ministry a few times this year, and I did a ladies retreat and a conference, and we met wonderful people, visited fabulous churches, and made great new friends. We also attended a few ministers conferences, with the happy coincidence that one of the conferences took place in the same city in which my sister lives! So Jeff and I were sure to tack on a few extra days after the conference so we could enjoy beautiful Virginia in the fall and do some touring and hiking with my sister and her family through Monticello, historic Richmond, and the Appomattox River trails.
|The road to Haiti Arise|
|My new friends!|
|Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia|
|Early morning run by the lake...Virginia in the fall|
|Southern barbeque at Ace Biscuit in Charlottesville|
with my sister and her family
A new endeavor for me this year was joining the Board of Directors of Love, Inc., a nonprofit organization in our city which does a tremendous job of partnering with the local churches in our community to meet the needs of the homeless and needy. What I love about this Christian organization is that they don’t operate alone and try to do it all, nor are the churches in Newberg expected to supply anything and everything a needy family asks for. Love Inc. coordinates and mobilizes the local churches in Newberg to work together and share the load. For example, one church has a non-food pantry with cleaning supplies and toiletries, another church supplies diapers and baby wipes, three churches give out clothes, another church fills backpacks with school supplies, another church provides free haircuts, another church donates bus tickets...or vouchers to help pay a water bill, or wood, or lunches for the homeless, or towels, sheets and pillows, or furniture, or service projects like yardwork and housecleaning for shut-ins. Besides serving on the board, I also volunteer as receptionist in their office one day a week and host at the women’s shelter one night a month with my mom. I have seen some amazing miracles take place right here in my own community! I have seen people weep with gratitude as their practical needs were met. I have wrapped my arms around many and prayed with them when they had a spiritual need that could only be met by the Lord. I have seen the abusers of the system and the blessed by the system. I have smelled the smell of someone who has slept in the rain with their dog for a week. I have huddled inside the office with 911 on the phone while a client was threatened with a knife on our porch. I have watched people take the free items we offer and stuff them into pockets and bags, even things they couldn’t possibly have use of, "just because" they might need them later. But mostly I see hardship eased, hope restored, and love given. It has been a tremendous experience!
|The Love, Inc. office and women's shelter|
with free Christmas trees to give away
On the RockPoint Church homefront, we’ve been experiencing exciting things as well! One of the highlights is the remodeling project of our upstairs, including expanding our kids ministry area, updating the nursery, and building a new reception area. We’ve had so many kids added to our church that we were cramped in our little classroom. We had to remove all the furniture just to fit the little bodies, but that hindered some of our activities having nothing but a floor and a whiteboard in the room. So our good friends Gary and Donna Rowse from Edmonton came down and joined a team of skilled men from our own church, and they spent an intense week doing the major construction in October, and we’ve been completing the finishing touches throughout the fall and winter. It is so wonderful to have new space and greater efficiency! Everyone in our church is excited to see the positive changes.
|Thanksgiving Fellowship Meal|
|Awesome slip-n-slide down the big hill on the church property|
The rest of the year was dotted with visits from family and friends...We had the usual influx of visitors this summer, enjoying my sister and her family from Virginia for a couple weeks during strawberry season, my niece and her family during lavender season, the Rowses in the heat of summer, the Wellses after the boys’ annual baseball game to celebrate my 50th birthday, and the Harmons to end the summer with hikes and shopping. Jeff also got to fly home to Edmonton to celebrate his parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, which was a special time for the family as Jeff’s mom is now in long-term care due to her advanced dementia from Alzheimer’s. Jeff’s dad at 85 was free of medical problems and not on a single medication until this fall, when he suffered a severe bout of cellulitis after a toe injury that refused to heal. After hospitalization, antibiotics and home wound care, he is finally getting back on his feet...literally! We are thankful for that! Thanksgiving was a special time of having most of my side of the family at our house to celebrate...my mom, my aunt and uncle, my cousin and her family, my brother, all four of my own kids, and four foreign students from Pakistan, Brazil, Peru and Australia.
|Backyard barbecue at my Mom's...all three of us kids|
and 12 out of the 14 grandkids
|The girls at the Portland Rose Garden|
|My niece and her sweet little family|
|On the Rogue River with my aunt|
|Visiting my sister-in-law in Modesto|
|Portland Waterfront with the Rowses|
|Some of the Wells Clan|
|Not the best picture, as we were a little wind-blown|
at the beach with the Harmons
|My mom's new kitty from the shelter|
Her name is Helen and she is blind
|A full table for Thanksgiving|
|There were 19 of us to celebrate all weekend long|
As for our own family, our kids are in those transitional years of young adulthood...Justin is presently living in Calgary, working full-time at First Assembly heading up their A/V department doing graphic design and stage production. Anna is attending Portland Bible College and taking off for a month in Peru the day after Christmas. She still spends every weekend with us, which is nice. Tyler is about to begin his own adventure right after Christmas, joining Justin in Calgary to teach guitar at First Assembly’s music academy. And Kate graduated from PBC in May and had a fun graduation celebration with her exchange student "sister" Laure, who came to visit from France and stayed with us for ten days. Kate has just been accepted to George Fox University with a great scholarship, planning to major in Intercultural Studies with a study-abroad program. She will be our only one at home for awhile. I told the kids years ago that the plan was this: The last one left at home can’t leave until one of their siblings has a baby, that way Jeff and I will never truly be alone! We’ll see how they honor our wishes! Ha ha!
|Kate's graduation with our French "daughter" Laure|
|We tried to get a real picture of all of us together,|
but it just never happened, so the informal will have to do
|Trying out our selfie stick!|
|It was worth the run to catch this beauty|
So another year, with it’s joys and trials...another year of struggles and successes. Don’t ever think life is only about one or the other. But through it all, Jesus is with us. He comforts and guides us though the tough times, and He rejoices over us in the good times. He is Emanuel, "God With Us," and what better gifts could there possibly be than the gifts of God’s presence, salvation, and love?
May you be blessed with those gifts this Christmas!
Jeff and Karyn Wells
Justin, Anna, Tyler and Kate