Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I wanted to get this out before Christmas and before the end of the month. I am again sorry for taking so long between updates but I did want to let you know what is going on.
First we've had some bad news. Artem and Tanya decided that they do not want to run the orphanage and they have left. This has left us with the question, what now. I believe that it was the Lord's leading for us to build this facility, so I believe He will provide the right folks to run it, in His own time. Please pray that He would do so. So again, please keep a family for the orphanage in your prayers.
Winter has been so soft and fuzzy this year. We've only had about 5 or six days with temps below -30 and and only ten or so days with temps much below -20. The rest of the time it has hovered between -5 and -15! What a blessing! This is really truly a blessing, so I'm not complaining at all when I say that it is only a little disappointing that my data collection on my greenhouse will not be indicative of a hard winter. So far my greenhouse (the underground green house barn project) has shown positive temperatures as low as -25. This is with still not having insulated as much as is needed, along with some holes that need to be plugged here and there, half of the original designs worth of animals in the barn (no horses either) and no Jean Pain pile. In short, with some fine tuning (maybe a cob north wall) this greenhouse should work VERY well at least 9-10 months out of the year and very possibly 12. Amazing.
I mentioned last time that we had not been able to finish the garage this year. Well, it still isn't finished but the men from the church in Oseenavy Mees happened to ask me about it and when I said I was planning on letting the project go till next summer they wouldn't hear of it. So a group of them came over and we finished raising the walls and put in the ceiling joists and ceiling boards! We then covered it with tarps and have let the snow pile up on top. Next spring we'll just need to throw up a roof and, bam, garage done! Praise the Lord.
As I mentioned in my last letter, I've settled into the winter work rhythm. I have two different groups of kids studying english with me now, for a total of 7 hours of lessons a week as well as a in depth Bible study (kind of using the RPTC course model) especial for the guys living with me but also for anyone in the church who wants. We meet in Oseenavy Mees, three times a week for two hours a session. So far it has been a wonderful experience for all, and I've learned a lot and hope the people attending have to!
In preparation for Christmas (which is celebrated on the 7th of January) we are doing a lot of outreach, inviting people to our gospel oriented, Christmas service. Please pray that God would prick the hearts of money to come and hear the good news of Christ this Christmas. I hope to be doing more intentional outreach with the two churches after Christmas as well.
Tirzah turned four this year. We had some kids from the church over along with a few of the adults whom she is close to. A fun time was had by all.
Rebecca is doing very well, and not so well all at the same time. We are expecting our third child! It is very early in the process (4th week) so I would normally not mention anything yet but she has been having such extraordinary morning sickness that she has not been able to get out of bed pretty much for the last ten days or so. Now Rebecca, being the pioneer mother, amazing enduring woman that she is, when she says she can't get out of bed means something is really up. She has lost about 16lbs in the last ten days or so. So far she is not dehydrated but the weight loss has me worried. She seems to be feeling better yesterday and today and we seem to have found a few foods that settle well with her. So please, please, please keep Rebecca and the new baby in your prayers.
I am still trying to figure out a way to work in the town of Oktobersky. Please keep praying.
This week we were able to take a mother and her child to the hospital. Our car serves the town in this way not infrequently. Thank you for making it possible for us to be here, have a car and serve the people here. Thank you all!
Special thanks to everyone who has used our Amazon.com shopping link on our website. It's a big help!
My Grandma, Harriet Walker, passed away last week. I mention this because both Grandma and Grandpa Walker (Grandpa passed away last year) were exceptional people. They embodied so many of the qualities which I covet for myself and my own legacy. Faith, family first, service, hard work and an endurance, a tenacious stubbornness to live, not just exist, but to live life fully to the end. I had a very hard time coming to grips with Grandpas passing. It was like looking at a map of the world and finding one of the continents gone. He, it seemed to me, was a force of nature in life, and his passing was as unreal to me as the loss of gravitation, or some other prime force. Grandmas passing has been no less moving. But the take away from this is, for me, to see such brilliant lights moving on before me into eternity and to aspire to live a life full of those same qualities as they so wonderfully exhibited.
Why did Grandpa and Grandma seem so immovable, so strong, such a force of nature? Possibly the myth of childhood lingering in my adult mind, but even looking through the lense of adult "objectivity" one could not help but see their strength: the ever present gratitude for life and for family, the constant choice of putting famely first, the reliance on faith as the anchor in the storm of old age and sickness. These things are all too real, and a testimony of a transcendent power for all who are willing to look.
Grandma Walker was born in Africa, the daughter of missionary parents at the beginning of the twentieth century. Grandpa the son of a Kansas circuit preacher. I am blessed to have had such people in my life. The heritage they have left me is extraordinary. Truly the Lord has blessed me, my portion has fallen in pleasant places.
But bare with me yet a little more. I was thinking of this amazing heritage the other day. Amazing because two people decided to live their lives on purpose. They had vision and did what was needed to attain that vision and bring it down into the world. They bore each others burdens and the burdens of others and loved each other through all the valleys and peaks of life. All of their descendants, myself included, feel the weight of the glory which was their love and life which they gave to us. And they were exceptional because they chose to be so. They chose to do righteously, love mercy and walk so humbly before their God in a time of ever increasing cynicism. They chose to make their home a haven of faith and love in a time when homes were breaking. They chose. By the grace of God let us choose as well.
Justus, Rebecca, Tirzah and Adara