12 January 2017

Wrapping up 2016

The past few weeks have been full!  There was Christmas...and New Years...And in the midst of all this, AUNT AMY's visit!  Now we've gotten back into the "normal routine" of school and work.  But we didn't want to get too much further into 2017 without wrapping up 2016 well.

Highlights of Christmas Day!
Gifts & time together!
Nick opening his "Christmas Shoe" 
Bracelets from MaMa 
Cashino Royale

Unicorn Emma in her science lab

Brunch!  A highlight not only of Christmas but of LIFE. 
The Galley and Dining Room Teams doing a walk of honor around the dining room - they do SUCH a remarkable job with this special meal!
Joy to the World all over the place!

Aunt Amy!
We don't have nearly enough pictures from Christmas Day with her in them...but she was here and that was a highlight!

And Highlights of New Years!

4 shots of espresso in my favorite new mug that kept me up to ring in the new year!
Games! In light of Nick's recent thoughts on triangles and circles, it was interesting to see the many circles that were happening all over mid-ships...
Bananagrams - en Espanol

Ninja...or something like that

Uno with a whole lot of extra rules

 The confetti!  It was rather epic (and cleaning it up wasn't so bad either).

 And, of course, AUNT AMY! (and cute pirates named Ben)

2017 has gotten off to a beautiful start.  We're excited about what this year holds...and we'll be putting our trust in our Ever Faithful God every step of the way.  Thank you for continuing to walk with us on this journey.

Surely there will be more to come.

05 January 2017

A letter to my sister.

Dear Amy,

What a remarkable person you are.  You came all the way across the ocean to sit on the couch and share coffee with me.

Thank you for the financial investment you made to come visit us on the Africa Mercy in Benin. Thank you for getting shots and taking malaria medicine.  Thank you for enduring the hassle of the travel (...on both sides of your trip.  Just how many trips through immigration did you take?!).  Thank you for navigating foreign airports and for not melting into a discouraged puddle on the curb when you couldn't find us straight away at the airport in Benin.

You jumped right into community life here...from getting an extensive tour of the ship while we "drove around looking at Christmas doors" and caroled our way around the decks (you've seen places that many of our crew never have!) to happily putting your shoe out on Christmas Eve and helping to deliver gifts around the ship...you contributed more than you realize!

You easily fit right in and made life all the more enjoyable.  We're so glad you were here to celebrate Christmas and New Years with us....and thanks for participating in the everyday normal of our life here.  I appreciate how you let all 5 of us just be us.

From sharing waffles to going to the pool to walking to get icecream and enjoying our favorite restaurants...from playing clue and banangrams and beat the parents (expertly, I may add)....to enjoying the inexpensive coffee and the plethora of options in the dining room - your presence was a welcomed addition to us these past 2 weeks.  

Thank you for giving me the chance to see this vessel and her work afresh through your eyes.  Going to the Hope Center and down to the wards and being in the rehab tent with you refreshed my heart in ways that I can't fully put words to.
...And experiencing Ouidah with you was extra special. Knowing how very much you care about freedom and justice and the right treatment of humans continues to speak volumes to me.
I loved getting to be with you as you were introduced to the craft market and the fabric market (and the ever-challenging art of just walking away) and to shawarmas and to the sights, smells, noises and amazing vehicle-carrying skills that make up the streets of Benin.  I love that you had Ani make you so many wearable and giveable souvenirs.
You embraced the slice of this incredible continent that you encountered with so much love and courage.  It's beautifully different here....and you chose to see the beauty (like you always do).

Speaking of beautiful things, I can't believe I didn't take you to get a sugar cake!  Next time we're in Cotonou together we'll definitely hit up La Galette a Sucre.

Thank you for believing in us as a family - and for believing in me as a person.  You give me way more credit and accolades than I could ever deserve.

Thank you for loving us enough to come be a part of our world (sounds alot like Jesus to me).  The gift of your presence is absolutely priceless and we will always be grateful for these 2+ weeks that we were able to share with you.  We made memories that will last a lifetime.

As you arrive back home, we hope you settle back into life in Athens peacefully - but forever changed because of what you got to experience in and around the AFM.  May you find plenty of willing ears ready and eager to hear about the goats on the roof and how you helped with the casting.  May there be plenty of people interested in hearing about Noelle's smile and Elizabeth's lovely face.  May you even have words to describe the not so delightful noise of needlegunning.  

We love you so very much.  Thanks for loving us in such a significant and tangible way.

For all of the Cash Crew,
Your littlest YOUNGER sister who also happens to be your friend (always and forever),

Surely there will be more to come.