Dear friends and family,
It was seven and a half years ago years ago that Liza and I first moved our family halfway across the country from west coast Surrey, British Columbia, to the prairie province of Manitoba. It’s amazing how much can change in that amount of time! When we first moved here, Hannah was going into Kindergarten, Austin was in Grade 3, Tori was in Grade 4, and Caleb was in Grade 6. This year, Hannah is in Grade 7, Austin is in Grade 10, Tori is in Grade 11, and Caleb is in his first year of University.
One of the highlights for our family this year was our road trip to BC in August for a wedding. It was the first time we had travelled back to British Columbia in over four years, and was a great opportunity to see many of our friends and family there. Our trip included many stops at Tim Horton’s along the way (Liza and I had to have our large double double coffees). And don’t get me started about the unscheduled four hour delay on the side of the highway because of an accident that blocked traffic (on the hottest day of the trip with no air conditioning in the van) outside of Revelstoke!
On our BC trip, we enjoyed several beach days at White Rock (where our daredevil children jumped off the pier into the water), fresh fish and chips by the ocean, a stop for ice cream with our friends Jen and Kareem at La Casa Gelato in Vancouver which boasts over 500 flavors of ice cream (including some interesting ones like chocolate bacon and wasabi), indoor swimming, a fun day at the Extreme Air Trampoline Park in Richmond with Angela and Ella, and many great family bonding moments.
After we returned home, we went on a camping trip in Minnedosa with my mom and sisters and their families. Although it was great to see everyone, unfortunately, the trip was cut short because we were rained out.
One of our family’s favourite weekly traditions has been hosting people (mostly youth friends of our children) at our house for lunch after church on Sundays. There’s always a full house, and never a dull (or quiet!) moment.
In the spring, I (Chris) auditioned for a role in our local theatre company Haystack’s performance of The Beverly Hillbillies playing detective Lieutenant Frank Richards. My activities this past year have included everything from pastoring our church and leading our church’s youth group, to blogging and writing a column for our local newspaper. In August, I led our church’s fourth mission trip to Costa Rica (with Tori and Austin joining me) and this summer I celebrated 25 years of walking with Jesus!
Caleb graduated from high school in June and began attending the University of Manitoba in the fall where he is currently taking kinesiology / sports medicine. He also played football for the Fort Garry Lions, a majors team in Winnipeg, where they won a championship over the Mustangs. He continues plays drums on Sundays once a month at church with our youth music team. He worked at the Co-op foot store until December when he quit his job there to start working at our local ESSO.
Tori was involved in a local theatre company’s production of Anne of Green Gables playing Rachel Lynde in the spring. She is currently rehearsing for their spring 2015 performance of Beauty and the Beast. In March, she got her learner’s license, and this January will be going for her road test. She has a great love of reading books and enjoys playing guitar on our church youth music team. She was awarded the MVP on her basketball team.
Austin got involved with our local branch of air cadets in the fall. This program develops attributes of citizenship, leadership and fitness in youth. He was involved in our youth theatre company’s production of Alice in Wonderland this month playing Humpty Dumpty. He too is an avid reader, and plays percussion in band at school. He helps out teaching one of our church children’s classes.
Hannah is currently taking Jazz dance lessons in Oakbank for the second year in a row. She plays the flute in school band, and enjoys taking photographs. She loves to craft.
Liza continues to work part-time at the church as our office administrator and book-keeper, and she also does a fabulous job of leading our children’s ministry. She did another Vacation Bible School for kids in the summer. She still plays the piano at home all the time, which I enjoy listening to. This coming March we will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary!
One of our annual family Christmas traditions includes packing shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. We take the kids to the local dollar store to choose items to fill shoeboxes for needy children around the world. We want to teach them that the true spirit of Christmas isn’t about getting – it’s about giving.
This December I will be celebrating eight years of ministry as the lead pastor at Beausejour Community Church. This has definitely been one of the most challenging years for us, but one of the things we have learned is that no matter how dark a storm or a valley we go through, God will never leave us and His love never fails. God is good all the time, and His grace truly is amazing.
This Christmas season, we are praying that you and your family would experience the good tidings of great joy and peace that the birth of Jesus the Saviour is all about!
With love and prayers,
Chris, Liza, Caleb, Tori, Austin & Hannah