Dear family and friends,
While I sit down to draft our Christmas letter in our living room this year I look around and see sights vastly different then a year ago! I see a blanket fort covering my coffee table and couch, children’s toys, homemade colored pictures hanging by the desk, and I hear two sweet children going over math flash cards inside the fort. Our cat Scat periodically jumps out of the blankets to attack our dog Belle. Wonderful pictures of God’s kindness and faithfulness to our family. I pray that each of you have also experienced a year full of the love and joy of family.
As you know, we traveled in January of this year to Ethiopia to complete our adoption of Fikadu and Tigist. This journey was extraordinary in numerous ways. While we had fallen in love with the pictures of two adorable children we got to embrace them for the first time and take in much of the culture they spent the first years of their lives in. This 7 day journey was memorable in so many ways and you can read all about it by clicking HERE and reading about our time in Ethiopia.
The months that followed were filled with many changes as we sought to understand each other and teach Fikadu and Tigist English. While we experienced our fair share of misunderstandings this transition went better than we had ever imagined and stretched us as we focused on communicating in creative ways. Our greatest lesson learned was that love and playfulness go a long way in easing this major life change. We’re a family that loves to play, share, dance, and laugh together. You can click HERE for some great dancing movies and HERE for some fun pictures and Taylor home videos.
This summer Fikadu and Tigist experienced the awesomeness of Northern Maine that was preceded by the not so awesome car ride that took as long as the flight from Ethiopia to Virginia! (17 hours) We spent a week in Maine attending Aunt Hillary’s wedding and meeting Joshua’s side of the family, followed by time at G & G Blackstone’s house and camp. You can see the photo highlights HERE.
The summer ended with a trip to Ohio for a Silvieus family reunion. It was a fantastic long weekend spent camping out in Grandma and Grandpa Silvieus’ front lawn, swimming and fishing in the pond out back, and seeing the vastness of Lake Erie. The kids loved the waves and sand; and Josh and I had a wonderful chance to reconnect with family we haven’t seen in such a long time. You can see pictures by clicking HERE.
Since Fikadu and Tigist have joined our family we have made the decision to home school. This started in January when they first came home with a desire to have as much time as possible with them and focus on catching up with English and reading skills. But we have loved our time together and this fall we decided to jump in full swing and order an entire 1st grade curriculum. I have gained a love for teaching and watching Fikadu and Tigist learn new things each day! In August we had a little family celebration complete with certificates of accomplishment and a chocolate cake! I’m continually amazed at their progress and ability to absorb so much information in the short 11 months they have been in our family!
Just recently we celebrated our first family Thanksgiving together and what a plethora of things we had to be thankful for! We drove to Lynchburg and stayed with Melissa and Aaron and had a great time visiting with Luke and Anna and Mom and Dad Blackstone who flew in to celebrate. Some of the highlights were baking together, puzzle building and Lego cars. You can see the photos HERE.
As we prepare for our first family Christmas we look forward to seeing the delight in our children’s eyes as they open presents and are blessed with gifts like never before. Because for sure there will be more packages, bags, and bows then they have ever seen gathered in one place as we visit Grammy and Grampy Blackstone, Nana, and Grandpa and Grandma Taylor. They’ve begun to catch wind of the idea that there may be a gift or two or ten involved with Christmas and its fun to watch their excitement grow. But even as I realize that they have no idea of the extravagance they are about to encounter I also remember the poverty and sorrow they lived in less than a year ago. They have never had a Christmas before. Last year they were waiting in an orphanage for a mommy and daddy they did not know, with only a hope and prayer that their lives would soon change.
I simply can not end our Christmas letter without mention of the 143 million orphans still in need of a family. You see, what we thought was a simple decision to create a family has become so much more. We are changed by what we have seen and experienced. You just CAN’T walk away from 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone and go back to normal American life. In the Bible Ephesians 1:4-7 says,
“Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. ” (NLT)
Everyday we have a very tangible reminder that God loved us enough to adopt us into his family. And this motivates us to reciprocate this same kind of love to others. We are excited to begin pursuing a second adoption in 2010 and look forward to having another face or two in our Christmas cards to come! Feel free to stop back by our blog often for updates, or read through previous posts. May you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year! God Bless You!
Joshua, Bethany, Fikadu, and Tigist