2009 has been a year filled with joys and challenges. Here are a few highlights of how God has enriched us.
As a family we started the year with a clear goal-- we felt led to adopt a specific nine-year-old girl from Taiwan. We signed with an adoption agency in March, completed our home study, sent our dossier paperwork to Taiwan and received adoption approval from the orphanage in June. Unfortunately in August we received word that the orphanage had changed its mind and rejected our application. This was very disappointing, as we had already begun to love C*** in our hearts. We did all we could to appeal, but finally had to conclude that short of a miracle, there was nothing more to do. Then earlier this month God sent that miracle! The orphanage contacted our adoption agency and specifically asked if we were still interested in adopting C***. After prayer and some really neat confirmations from God (that’s another exciting story…), we decided to jump back into the adoption process. If all goes well, we will have C*** in our home next fall(???)! In the midst of all these adoption ups and downs, we finally sold our house in Richmond, Eric received his 3rd degree Black Belt and started teaching karate in Chattanooga, Jennifer started a part-time job (she works in the coffee/juice bar at the new Earth Fare in Chattanooga), and Jennifer’s parents moved to town. Noelle brightens our days as an energetic three-year-old. She continues to blossom and grow before our eyes.
The church is doing very well. We are blessed to be in partnership with such loving, faithful people. Over the last year we have added a staff family. Roberto and Rhesa Rodriguez are specifically responsible for developing our Hispanic ministry. We are expanding our outreach to our Spanish-speaking neighbors, offering ESL classes and have even started Spanish as a Second Language classes for those who want to better communicate with our neighbors. We took our first step into closer partnership with our Jewish neighbors and offered a “Philanthropy Camp” one week in July. We look forward to partnering in future compassionate ministry activities and meeting the practical needs of our community. Our music minister Rob Hambrick expanded his scope and started a small-group ministry. It’s been neat to see new families enter the church through this Bible Study/Fellowship group. The children’s ministry is thriving under the leadership of George Lawson. We had close to thirty kids in the children’s program earlier this month (almost double from this time last year-- thanks Christy & Sarah). I wish I had time to share with you about our Spring Homecoming or Fall BBQ outreach; our different prayer groups and Fall revival or simply how people keep asking, “Can we start this new ministry?” It’s hard to keep up with all the great and Godly opportunities!
As we come into the New Year we simply ask God for strength to stay near to him. We are confident that as we hold close to God, he will lead and provide all that is needed to grow in him and serve others!
May your joy be found in Jesus~
Eric, Jennifer and Noelle
EDIT: Ultimately that Taiwan adoption did not come to fruition, but He did use the process and the journey to teach us some important lessons and prepare us for the future. He always knows what He is doing!