Happy New Year! We had a lot to celebrate this Christmas season – a year since Emily’s brain surgery, a year since we got engaged, our first Christmas as husband and wife, Dustin’s official transition into his new CS role… Here’s a quick recap of how we spent the holidays.
Kids Alive ended the semester on December 11th with a huge party – all 320 students plus teachers, staff, and invited guests ate the traditional Dominican Christmas food of roasted pork and presented songs, dramas, and poems about Jesus’ birth. Each child also received new socks and underwear along with candy and fruit, thanks to the generosity of our child sponsors. After the party, we took advantage of Emily’s time off work to make Christmas cookies with kids from the Policlínica neighborhood, host another Kids Alive missionary for a few nights, and spend two nights at a cabin getting some rest and reconnecting.
We decided to spend our first Christmas together in our own home here in the Dominican Republic, so Emily got to go to the beach on Christmas for the first time ever! We went surfing and enjoyed the sunshine. We had some friends over that evening and hosted Christmas dinner. We are blessed to have a home that gives us space for hosting friends and building community.
On the 26th we flew to Sarasota, FL, to be with Dustin’s family. We spent time with Dustin’s parents Don & Rhonda, brothers Aaron & Brady, sister-in-law Amanda, and grandparents – we were thankful to get to visit with Grandma Ethel as she continues to battle cancer. It was warm enough to go outside and play tennis, take walks, and even play golf! We met with the missions pastor of Don & Rhonda’s church and were encouraged by the possibility of partnering with the church. To finish our visit, we celebrated New Year’s Eve leading worship at the Sarasota International House of Prayer.
On New Year’s Day we flew to the tundra, aka Quakertown, PA, where Emily’s parents live, and where we experienced record low temperatures multiple days in a row! Aside from the cold, we had a great time catching up with Emily’s parents Dave & Cynthia and sisters Katy & Molly. Emily’s grandmother had back surgery, so we celebrated Christmas with extended family in the day room of the hospital where she was staying. We also got to say hi to some of our supporters from Emily’s home church while we were in Pennsylvania.
On January 7th we flew back to Florida for a week of Christian Surfers work. We started in St Augustine, hanging out with Dean Plumlee, national director of Christian Surfers US, and his wife Amy and their three kids. We got to know them better, got to talk a lot about Christian Surfers US and North America, encouraged and prayed for each other, and visited the Multiplication Center, CS US national headquarters. We also got to stay with and spend some time with CS friends Paul and Summer, which was encouraging especially for Emily.
After our time in St Augustine, we headed to Ormond Beach to stay with Cal & Coral Fisher, former CS North America (CSNA) regional coordinator. Our first stop with them was a meeting with the lawyer, where they officially signed over CSNA to us, making us directors of the 501c3 nonprofit. They had graciously arranged meals and visits for us with nearly all of the CSNA supporters who live in the Ormond Beach area, so we met and were encouraged by a lot of great people who have committed to continue to support us both in prayer and financially. We spent a lot of time learning about how CSNA is run, trying to absorb all of Cal and Coral’s wisdom that we could! We both left Florida feeling encouraged, blessed, supported, and better equipped to take on the work that God has called us to through Christian Surfers.
We are so thankful for the prayers, love, blessings, and encouragement we received during our time in the US and continue to receive as we begin this new year. Please keep praying for us as we continue in our service with Christian Surfers and Kids Alive.