I am a month late for "Year in Review" and "New Years Resolutions"...but who cares? Lets do it anyway! I thought some pictures would say a thousand words, something old, something new, something...blue...eh, I forget that saying. Moving on.
Here is our year in review, praise God who has better adventure plans than we do!
January: Mary Got a Haircut to try something different...and hugged a tree in Newberg.
April: We went to a friends' wedding in Grants Pass. Ben wore a bow tie. Smiles were had by all.
May 4: Remember THIS mountain?!? Yeah. We did that. Happy Anniversary to us. One year of life together and we are both better and different than we could have imagined.
May 11: So there we were...five days later we are standing on top of Mt Adams. On a snowy and sunny day. Without sunscreen. See those hats? Useless. I'm going to burn them one day. Really. If you will kindly direct your attention to the slope picture that was par for the course. It's an "easy" mountain. Heh.
May 13: Saw friends off to Alaska with poofy lips and peeling faces. We miss you, Adam and Lauren! And the three of us finally coerced (yes, coerced) Mary into wearing shoes! Hold your heart attacks until the end...
June: Took the host family kiddos on an adventure to the Mount Baker Wilderness unprepared and totally joyful.
September: Took a date weekend to Deception Pass and sat for hours just listening to the water and staring at the waves. This was pretty joyful! Also, God gave us a home. Seriously awesome. Found the place unadvertised through a professor's wife at Trinity Western, within the price range, out of town(quiet), in a cedar grove(gravy for Ben), Christian landlord, and wonderful neighbors.
October: Our good friend Jahnathan and new friend Carilyn got married. After we threw Jahnathan off a bridge. No really...that picture is ON the bridge!
November: Went to see Ben's Momma and took a trip to Astoria's Tower for the first time. This was the first time in something like seven years that Astoria had a clear sky and it lasted for three whole hours! Woot! (hideous exaggeration mine)
November: This is a really really big root ball from a bamboo row; with the roots it weighs a bit less but you are looking at around #150. I put my glove down for size comparison. This job has been a blessing so very many times over I am stunned. It paid more than all other jobs I've had while in Bellingham. It allowed me to see Mary much more. Being an introvert, I get to spend most of the day by myself and working at my own pace (effective but completely without pattern). It's outside, which is fantastic in good weather and desireable even in bad weather. I got a raise! And in December, when we were praying about what Mary should do for work, the owner offered Mary a job!
December: Christmas with the families! A wonderfully raucous day with the Owen clan and we got Dominion from Mary's sister and her husband! Awesome points were liberally awarded and we immediately broke it in. Then a pleasant quiet day with the Stapleton crew. Sigh! Best of both worlds. We have very very good family.
February: Now with the weather improving, Ben has been in a frenzy of DIY, homesteader projects. Among the successes: Pickles (Mary likes this one), Chocolate made with coconut oil (we both REALLY like this one), pickled kale, beet greens, bell pepper, and onion. The bowl of unidentifiable goo is soured Quaker oatmeal to act as a starter and for meals. It's kind of fun to keep adding to it; kind of neglect combined with tasty treat payoffs. The antique hand grinder we got from Ben's step-dad works great and we use it as often as we make coffee. It's quite effective and only takes a few minutes to grind up a full batch for the french press. One of those little adjustments to learning how to live without electricity...
In the hopper: Beet cider! More as that one ferments.
We also have access to a metric ton of bamboo our boss can't use and Ben is playing with different joining techniques to put together wind chimes, a bookshelf, a step ladder, a turning barrel compost bin, and a structure to hold the barrel-ponics project.
In seeking a sending body: Word Made Flesh is in the final steps of our application process. These guys are big on long term relationships and Christ-centered community development. In January, Mary chatted with one of their recruiters and we had a very positive "That's exactly what we do! You should work with us!" So after a great phone conversation a week later between the three of us, here we are! We are praying for God's direction and would appreciate your prayers.
We started attending a new church in Bellingham and fell in love when we had a chance to serve the community the first Sunday. Every component we wanted to be present was there in spades and after praying before going into the service we had confirmation that said loud and clear: "Go here." Praise God for talking loud.
Otherwise, we are putting together a hand tool kit for PNG. Ben is wanting the professional grade stuff for tree felling, auto repair, and carpentry. This guideline is subject to change, but since we aren't taking a generator: no power tools. Suggestions and donations are appreciated here, thank you!
May and June will be school time for Ben when he will attend classes in Permaculture Design and Medical Missions Intensive (focus on tropical disease). August will be the capstone for Ben when he attends Remote Medical International's Remote EMT course in the Okanogan National Forest.
In the meantime, we are trying to keep our little hands busy getting ready for what amounts to homesteading. Questions for you, our friends: What should we be practicing? Laundry by hand? Construction? Home school curriculum? Let 'er rip, brothers and sisters!
Finally, remember we love you all and pray for you daily. Let us know what needs you have so we can intercede for you and more importantly, keep us updated! It is always a blessing to hear answers no matter what they are.
In His Grace,
Benjamin and Mary