Greetings from Colombia,
As we ended year 2020 we have actually just begun our 3rd year with Samaritans Purse which is hard to believe. While our first year flew by and our second year was spent inside because of the strict Colombian lockdown, so it still seems like yesterday that we arrived. Reflecting back on this time has been a lot of fun for us. We remember how much we have seen things change and how much we have changed and adapted to our new home. When we first arrived, we said, “That’s different. What’s a plantain? What’s an arepa? And why does McDonald’s sell fried chicken?” When we came home in November, we caught ourselves looking around and saying, “That’s different. Where’s the plantains? Where’s the arepas? And why doesn’t McDonald’s sell fried chicken?” We miss our family, our friends, our church, and Cracker Barrel, yet we find ourselves feeling Cucuta is our home. How long will we be here? We don’t know. Initially, we followed in obedience with a contract for one-year. The Lord surprised us when we signed the contract, and it said two years. Samaritan’s Purse then changed it this year to an open-ended contract because the need is so great and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the Venezuelan crisis. We continue to serve in faith trusting in the Lord’s timing for any changes that may come.
2020 has been a challenge for all but is good to reflect on the greatness God has done for us and through us.
Many changes came in 2020 as we had months and months of being in a strict lockdown and only allowed out of our house one day a week for groceries. Since the boys attend school year-round(Jan 25-Nov 20) they only knew their teachers 7 weeks before going to completely virtual classes 8am-1145am daily using something called Zoom. Like many, we quickly had to learn how to do a one-room schoolhouse with multiple devices with added excitement of doing it in Spanish. Karen’s Spanish improved so much because of her diligence keeping the boys learning.
We celebrated birthdays in our apartment and were creative like so many were. This past week, Andrew celebrated his fourth birthday. Colombia has re-started its strict lockdown again, so all of us have now had an official quarantine birthday. Zoom, Whatsapp, and Piñatas ensured that he had a fun day with family and friends celebrating with him.
November came and brought great joys (for all of us) as we ended the school year and traveled home to the U.S. Because the weather doesn’t change here, Colombians do not mark time here that we do with the seasons. So instead of calling it summer vacation, it’s called holiday time because there are so many celebrations in December and January! Colombia has the most national holidays of any country, and most last more than one day with business closed and families celebrating together. Here are just the past few weeks: · Nov. 16: Independence for Cartagena · Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception of Maria/Night of Candles · Dec. 24-26: Noche Buena/Christmas · Dec. 31-2: New Year’s Eve · Dec. 6: Epiphany Day (Celebrating the Three Wisemen)
Back to November…it was a big decision to travel back to the United States because of the ever-changing COVID restrictions and rules. Quarantines, mandatory tests, and travel bans were all very real. There was also the fear of getting family members and friends sick but we did all the recommended precautions and all seemed to go well.
Our family focused on spending time with family and time to renew. We didn't get to see everyone this year but please know you were all in our hearts.
The boys enjoyed the freedom of playing outside in piles of leaves and even SNOW! It was very refreshing to simply open up the backdoor at Mema’s house, and the boys would run out with buckets and shovels, screaming in glee! They dug holes, buried treasure, and chased each other everywhere. The Lord truly blessed us with snow on several key days like when we arrived at Mema’s house in Illinois, left Michigan, and on our last day being in the States. We slipped and slid our way to the St. Louis Airport, and stopped along the way for a few snowball fights!
We are grateful for the time at HOME and felt renewed and refreshed as we enter 2021. We did ring in the new year with sickness but we see the end in sight.
Please continue to pray for our family as we have begun Year 3 serving the Venezuelan people in Cucuta, Colombia, South America. We are praying to know God's plan for the next year and where He has us. We covet your prayers.
As many of you know we were called here for Kevin's job with SP but we accepted the call as a family. We pray God continues to open opportunities for our family do ministry around our community and church.
Three ways you can connect with our family is through prayer, communication, and donation. Please ask us how.
From our home to yours may the Lord bless you in 2021!
Kevin, Karen, Benjamin(5 1/2yo), & Andrew(4yo).