Monday, December 31, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas Letter

Last year, Jamie and I set a goal of writing a letter toward the end of the year to many friends and family members. Our list keeps getting longer, but we know that there are people we miss, so we thought maybe we could post it on this blog. That being said, here it is.

It’s been quite a year, and there’s so much good stuff to share that it is hard to know where to start, but we wanted to share a little update on 2012 with you!

Jamie started working part time in January at HealthWorks, a rehab and fitness center in Morgantown, WV. In her job there she helps people improve their lives through aquatic rehab, aquatic fitness classes, and even gives some swimming lessons from time to time. Her professors were eager to see her placed as she was one of the top students in her program, and she has such a deep compassion for others, that being able to help people improve their lives is part of her DNA. When she interviewed, she was able to negotiate a full-time job to be a part-time job, and was also able to secure time off so we can continue to travel together.

The majority of both of our families live within a couple of hours of Morgantown, so thankfully we have been able to see family a lot. We have managed to see both of our families about one weekend per month, and, in supplement to those trips, we have also been able to make visits for Thanksgiving as well as for Memorial Day and July 4th to Lake Floyd. Visiting the lake is like stepping back to a way of community life that has long been forgotten by many in our country—and we love it!

Aside from visits to family, we have been traveling the country sharing Nuru’s story and inviting others to join in our efforts to end extreme poverty through Nuru. This year we have made our way to Columbus, Akron, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Denver, Chicago, Indianapolis, and even a few different locations around West Virginia. We continue to be able to travel together for the most part, and on our most recent trip, we were able to visit Billy’s brother and sister-in-law in California (one day we even took a hike to the Hollywood sign). 

This summer, we traveled together to Kenya to document the growth of Nuru’s work. It was Jamie’s first trip in the developing world, and it was an utterly heart-wrenching and awe-inspiring experience to walk through together. Heart-wrenching, because when you see how desperately some people live, you can’t help but be stirred by it. Awe-inspiring, because we saw family after family who had turned their situation around and who were living a significantly better life because of Nuru’s programs. The trip served to increase our own resolve to continue to work hard so that our global neighbors have access to tools and knowledge to improve their lives and lift themselves out of extreme poverty for good! Here's a recent video from Nuru that shares a more detailed update of how lives are being changed. 

And as the year progresses, we feel as though each day is filled with sacred purpose as we learn how to better care for each other as well as how to better love our neighbor, particularly our neighbors who live in desperation. Jamie and I have both always been a little "granola," but we find ourselves striving to live more and more simply. We have both been very dedicated to our faith, but this year, we have an incredible sense of gratitude as we have seen such a robust cross-section of God’s beautiful world and the wonderful people He has made in His image, and to whom He extends love and mercy beyond comprehension.

And as we approach the celebration of Christmas, we are filled with gratitude for you, and the very special place you have in our life. May this holiday season find you filled, with faith, hope, and love.

Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy the photo too! J

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