Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas from Us!

Ellie loved that you could stand "inside" the Tree
As I write this it is Christmas Adam! Our family is very excited about Christmas. We're looking forward to reading the Christmas story (not watching it...I've never seen "A Christmas Story"...judge me if you must). It's been a whirlwind of a week for us. Ellie is finally out of school for Christmas break and we're excited about spending more time with her. As best we can remember, for the first time in our lives, we won't see either set of parents for Christmas, so we're pretty bummed about that, but we thank God for Facetime and Duo so we can video chat with family! But has been gracious and kind to give us each other to spend time with! I've spent more time with the kids and the kids have been forced to enjoy spending more time together too! Jodi has a decent schedule going for the boys through the morning each day, so she's having a few moments of potential sanity.

The kiddos enjoying a tree!
This week we went to Longwood Gardens with some new friends. We enjoyed seeing all of the trees lit up and the kids enjoyed the children's area. In the coming week we're going to Herr's Potato Chip Factory to tour it. A family from Tennessee with be around visiting some of their family so we're going to take a morning and do that tour with them. We're looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.

It has been sweet in the last couple of days as we've prayed together. Will has been volunteering to pray. That's new for him. He usually says no when asked, but over the course of the last week or so he has prayed some pretty cool things. He has thanked God for his parents, which really blesses our hearts. He has also thanked God for his siblings, without be pressed to do so. Finally this week, he prayed and thanked God for moving us to Oxford! I know he's only 4, but I pray he knows and understands that we're aiming to follow the God he is praying to and that this God is leading and guiding his life, not just his parent's lives.

Ellie mostly had a good week, but we ended poorly. Thursday night she asked me to talk to Jodi again about homeschooling her. She has asked about that several times in the last month. She says she works hard on her school work when she's supposed to be doing that and she enjoys that part of school, but during free time she doesn't like school. She says people don't really care if she's there or not and no one pays attention to her. She told me she tried to talk to one person and he just told her to stop over and over again. She says at New Union everyone was my friend, here no one is her friend. She tells me people ask her every day if she's the new girl. She says she knows the answer to that question because she is the new girl. However, they ask her other questions that she doesn't know the answer to. I'm not sure what these questions are though, she hasn't ever told me. Jodi and I are trying to decide if we should schedule a meeting with her teacher after the break and get her teachers opinion on how things are going. I trust there must be some good things happening and she's probably doing fine in school, but it's no fun seeing her demeanor down so much when talking about school.

On a positive note though, she's home with us for a bit so we're looking forward to that. Together, we've got a birthday cake to make for Jesus, a Christmas Eve church service to go to, and Christmas morning, which includes gathering to worship with our friends at Wrightsdale! We're looking forward to catching up with friends and family over the holiday as we try to video chat with as many people as possible! If you want to connect, let us know and we'll schedule a time to talk with you too!

Here are a few ways to pray this week:

  1. Pray for our family to spend time celebrating Jesus this weekend!
  2. Pray that God would help us make friends as we know many people are lonely in these coming days and weeks. Perhaps God would allow us to care for some folks who are tired and weary.
  3. Pray for Ellie.
  4. Pray that Jodi and I would know how to encourage Ellie. Ask God to give us wisdom about the best way to ensure she's properly educated.
Thanks again for you all do to encourage and care for us! Many of you have sent Christmas cards...thanks for doing that. Some of you have sent gifts...thanks for doing that. We love you and we're grateful to be on this journey!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Conversations

It's time for another update from our world. You would probably think that since we moved in life has slowed down a little and we're bored to tears, but actually the opposite has happened. It has been a little bit of a surprise to us that we've been as busy as we are.
Last week I told you about our tree lighting experience in Oxford. This week we have had more normal tasks to do! I had to go find new car insurance, so I visited a couple of agents. Both were friendly and asked if we moved here because of work. I said, "Kind of...it's something like that." I shared with them, like I've shared with others, that we have moved to start a new church in Oxford. The second agent I talked with invited me to come to his networking group that he started so I could meet other people in the area! I'm very excited about that. I also, by way of connection through another pastor, had lunch with our State Representative this week. I got an opportunity to ask him a lot of questions about Oxford so I can try to learn the area as fast as possible, so we get a better sense of what the church needs to look like and how she can best serve the community.
So far, I've found a local coffee shop I like that I plan to spend more time at and Jodi found the library and took the boys to story time! We've been to Wal-Mart more times than we can count and we've found that lots of places know how to make good pizza!
All in all, most of the people we've met have been kind and friendly (except for our first cashier at the store). We continue to pray that God would help us make friends. We've gone to Wrightsdale Baptist Church the last couple of weeks and they have been very kind. Pastor Steve and Kathy have really made us feel very welcome! We are incredibly grateful for their friendship and encouragement along the way! Mrs. Kathy even made our family chocolate chip cookies on Sunday. We really enjoyed them and they made a feel even more at home here!
We're grateful for your friendship and encouragement on this journey. Thank you for supporting and praying for us. Here are a few ways you can pray for us in the next couple of weeks:

  1. Pray for Ellie. She's still having a rough time with the transition. She's cried this week because she misses her friends and Mrs. Alonso. She's written notes and drawn pictures, but she still misses her friends. She hasn't really spoken of any friends she has made yet, though she says she has made some friends at school. She's shared of not having anyone to play with a recess and she's asked us a couple of times why we had to move. Pray that God would encourage her heart and that we'd be sensitive toward her as she struggles.
  2. Pray for the boys. They're a train wreck most days! It's been very difficult to get them settled in a new routine. 
  3. Pray for Jodi. She's managing all of this very well, but it's a tall order with the new baby. Pray that she continues to find her hope in Jesus and that he gives her the grace she needs for each new day. Pray that God would help her find friends as she seeks to build relationships at the Library and other places she's trying to go!
  4. Pray for me! Pray that I balance everything well. Pray that God brings people into my life that would be open to the gospel. Pray that I'd boldly proclaim it. Pray that I can set up some meetings for after the first of the year with some people I'd like to meet around town.
Thanks again for all you do to love and encourage us! You're a great blessing and a gift to our family and we thank God for you!

Monday, December 5, 2016

We made it and Christmas in Oxford!

Well, we made it! We arrived last Wednesday after a day-long drive in the rain. We tried not to complain about that because we knew our friend James was driving our moving truck in the rain too. We kept checking the radar to see if we could guess where he (and Adam and Whitney who were driving with him) might be along the interstate to see if they might be out of the rain, but we supposed they were always getting rained on. James reported upon arrival that it didn't rain for about 30 minutes of his 16 hour drive. Words cannot describe how grateful we are for our friends who came to help us get all of our stuff here. We're also grateful for new friends from Philly who came to help us unload the truck too! The easy part is done! Though it seemed hard at the time.

Now it's time to unpack all of our things! There's so much left to do! We've got the living room, kitchen and the boy's rooms set up. We've still got plenty to do in Ellie's room, our room and some in the dining room. We took a break from unpacking on Saturday to put up the Christmas Tree. We're doing all we can to try to make it feel like home. It's really weird being 800 miles from nearly everything know, but we're doing well. The kids loved decorating the tree, even though it meant they had to stay up beyond their normal bedtime.

Oxford, PA Christmas Tree
We are working hard to get settled in here, so we're trying to be social as best we can in the chaos of our lives right now. On Friday night, we went to, "A County Christmas" in downtown Oxford. It's was the lighting of the tree and other fun things vendors provided. We really enjoyed it. We ate some Pizza Hut stuffed crust pepperoni pizza and walked through the downtown area. The lighting of the tree kind of made us think we were in a magical little town from a movie. There was hot chocolate, facepainting, bird feeder makers and a variety of stores and street vendors. We all got a little cold, even though it was probably 40 degrees because the wind was colder than we were used to.


Here are some ways you can pray for us this week:

  1. Pray for Ellie as she starts school today (Monday). She's nervous, but we think she'll do OK once she settles in.
  2. Pray for Jodi and I as we try to finish getting unpacked. Once we get unpacked our schedules should start working themselves into a rhythm, which will be good for all of us.
  3. Pray that we might make a friend before Christmas. 
  4. We still need to raise about $9,000 for the coming year. Please pray that God would provide the resources needed. We're praying for 8 people that might feel led to give $100/month over the next 12 months toward the work of planting the new church. If you'd like to do that (or if you might want to give $25 or $50/month) feel free to reach out to us or choose one of these 2 options to give a) www.encounterlifechurch.org/give and put PA Plant in the Notes/Memo section or you can mail a check to Encounter Life Church PO Box 375 Manchester, TN 37349. Include PA Plant in the memo of the check.
  5. Pray for opportunities to have gospel conversations.
  6. Finally, pray that God would help us find some people of peace who can help us learn more about Oxford so we can better figure out how God might call us to serve here.
Thanks for everything! We're grateful to be on this journey and we thank God he's allowed you to be a part of our lives!

Billy and Jodi