The next morning we were off to North Carolina with a quick stop in Columbia, SC to see our friends, Benjie and Laura Ingram. We were greeted with warm hugs, yummy steak and a HUGE basket of all the essentials so we wouldn't have to go to the store once we reached the mountains! How thoughtful is that! Thanks guys!
Once we reached Beech Mountain it was a quick night's sleep and we were off to worship at Banner Elk Christian Fellowship. We had the privilege of sharing what God has been doing in our lives and the vision for Vienna. They were very encouraging and have committed to becoming a partner church with us! We praise God for our relationship with this vibrant church.
Because Beech Mountain is one of the kids' favorite places to go...we had the kids make lists of what they wanted to do. Luke and Abby said skiing, and fortunately there was just enough snow to make that happen. It was Abby's first time skiing. She was such a trooper and really got the hang of it after 3 days in a row. Both Luke and Abby are soon to surpass me in their skiing abilities! We also found time to sled, ice skate, go fishing and swing from the trees...on a rope swing that is! :)
Speaking of trees...there is nothing like chopping down your own 11 foot tall fraser fir with a busted hand saw and a few pushes from your three chidren for only 40 bucks! We managed to find a few leftover Christmas decorations (including an ancient plastic illuminated manger scene that you can see in the picture here), and our friends and teammates Jeff and Jodie sent a few ornaments to add to the bare branches! (They were perfect! Thanks!)
The Couric family then joined us, along with our moms, to celebrate Christmas. We had so much fun EATING, talking, playing and continuing to make lovely Christmas memories together! Did I say EATING?
The 26th we were off to St. Louis for the Urbana conference...here are some fun statistics:
3780--miles put on the old mini-van as we traveled through 8 states
44--different state license plates seen on the highways (Brad became obsessed!)
12--movies watched in the car
23,000--people we worshipped with at Urbana
10--years since the last Urbana that Brad and I attended...when we were just dating!
96--Diet Cokes consumed (rough estimate!, hopefully overinflated) along with eating 3X our body weight in fast food
0--family members sick during the trip (Halleluia!)
Our role at Urbana was to recruit both for the Vienna Team and for World Harvest Mission (WHM) in general. There were 24 other WHMers there, and it was exciting to meet lots of people that we hadn't met before.
While we were in meetings and manning the WHM booth, Kelli and Corey Tolle were laying down their lives to care for our children. (NO KIDS ALLOWED at the conference...so Urbana lovingly told us! Ha!) The Tolles have 3 boys and our kids felt like they were an extended part of their family...they had so much fun that they actually didn't want to leave St. Louis!:) We will forever be grateful to them, as we really could not have done it without them!
On our way home, we passed through Atlanta on Jan. 1st and visited yet another special family, the McCaigs. So fun to see how our families have grown!
Now we are glad to be home and sleep in different rooms from our kids once again, but our hearts are heavy as we arrived to find out that Brad's 95 year old grandmother's health is quickly failing... Please pray for her. Brad has had some sweet words with her since we got back, but pray for him and all of our family in the days that lie ahead.
Also, we know that many of you who read this blog pray for us and we would appreciate some specific prayer for my mom, Mary (aka MeMoo). What started as a cold has now turned into a major ear infection and possibly the flu. She has been to the Dr. twice and has yet to see any improvement. They have started her on yet another antibiotic and some steriods. Please pray for her quick recovery.
ps Thanks to Gordon & Marilyn Woolard for checking on our home while we were away! (Sorry we gave you the wrong code for the alarm...oops!)