Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Christmas Letter

December 2012
Dear Family & Friends,

            We are so thankful for another year!  We’ve been blessed with good health and plenty to keep us busy.  We’ve continued to grow through challenges and blessings.
            As we mentioned in last year’s letter, we were planning to hike the Grand Canyon in March.  It was a very memorable backpacking experience.  We got to do it with family (Beth-Anne’s dad, Ted, brother, Jason-- as well as her grandmother, Vera, and her husband, Ed, for part of the trip) and friends (Kristin and Lucio) which made it even better.  Something that really made the trip special were the daily worships we had.  Each person led out in a worship thought on different days and we were able to enjoy not only the splendor of the Grand Canyon, but the depth of growing closer spiritually as a group.  We both feel that it was one of the most spiritually uplifting trips we have been on.
            Beth-Anne is continuing to work on her Master’s degree.  She spent all summer down at Southern, staying with her friend Kristin, to work on four classes.  If everything stays on track she will finish this summer!  Beth-Anne loves her degree in literacy and has been tremendously blessed throughout the experience.  However, it will be great to be done too!
            Matthew has recently applied and been accepted to Montana State University for a Master of Science in Science Education.  Most of the classes will be online but he will also get the opportunity to travel and do some hands on classroom work in Montana.  He will begin classes in January and is excited to begin!
            We were both privileged to be able to do two presentations at the North American Division Convention of Seventh-day Adventist Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee this summer.  Beth-Anne spoke on autism and reading aloud to students.  Matthew spoke about being happy-healthy teachers and studying the Bible with our students.  It was a new experience and one we both enjoyed and learned a lot from.  We enjoyed learning and networking with other teachers.  It was especially fun to run into former teachers and friends from all around the globe!
            As many of you know, this last April was a heartbreaking time for us.  Beth-Anne’s second grade student, Marissa, died. Shortly afterwards, her great-grandmother, whom she called Tai Tai, also died.  Though Marissa was young and Tai Tai had lived a long life--it was hard to say good-bye. We are never ready to say good-bye. Marissa was so funny, and full of love and life that everyone who remembers her talks of those things. She loved Jesus with commitment, and lived that out. Tai Tai is the spiritual pillar in the Shiroma side of Beth-Anne’s family.  She is the love that binds them together.  Jesus’ love flowed through her tho touch everyone who knew her--and continues to flow from family member to family member. We eagerly await the day when we will all be reunited together.
            We were asked in our Sabbath School class recently that if we had fifteen minutes left to live what would we say to people?  In thinking through that, we have to realize that we never know when the last moments are.  So here is a little something we’d like to say.  We are not perfect-far from it-but it is in Jesus that we have found unconditional love.  In that unconditional love there is also the amazing promise that He can change us from the inside out, to become more like Him.  Our prayer is that you too would find this amazing relationship with Jesus and surrender yourself to the unconditional love and promise He has for you.  God has always been there for us, and we know He is there for you.  We both pray that we will all be together when Jesus returns to Earth to call His people home with Him.  Time is short here on earth, but we want to spend eternity with all of you.

Love & prayers,

Matthew & Beth-Anne
(and Hana, Mei Mei, and Nani too!)

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8

Saturday, December 15, 2012

First Advent -- Second Advent

Today at church Matthew and I sang Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice.

Last night when we were practicing there was a verse that, in light of the shootings and deaths yesterday, seemed especially hard to sing.

"Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world."

Losing Marissa last April was....and is....undefinable.  And as I think of the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school, and the students--I cannot put into words exactly how I feel.  I think of my own classroom.  I think of my nine heart-strings that walk around in my room.  There were teachers who died shielding their students yesterday.  There were teachers who survived and must live through the trauma.  Emotionally, mentally--I cannot imagine the scene.  I choose not to.  

We sang Welcome to Our World last year for church and as part of the school Christmas program.  Marissa was with us and now she's not.   And there are many families who were looking forward to having Christmas vacation with their families that are now missing parts of their hearts.  

Jesus coming to earth was the most amazing gift and blessing.  But somehow, it makes me ache for the second coming all the more.  For all things to be put to right.  For every tear to be wiped away.  

I want the "All is well" to be final.  For it be all well...for all eternity.