Christmas Time ~ Part 6

Friday, December 31, 2010

I must say that I think one of our very favorite Christmas activities this year was making a gingerbread house. It was so fun!!! In past years I've considered attempting this project, but for some reason it just never happened. This year I told the kids that we were going to try it - that helped hold me accountable to actually do it =). Well, to be truthful, when the day came that we planned to do it, I was really not looking forward to it. I think I was just a little nervous at taking on a project I had never done before and wondering how difficult it was going to be.



Once we started, the ideas just kept coming. It was a great activity to work on with the kids. They really got creative. So, for the record....baking and decorating a gingerbread house is loads of fun!!! If you have never done it, I would definitely say "go for it". It's a great project for the whole family. We are looking forward to doing it again next year. I think we began a new tradition this year.

Enjoy the pictures of our first gingerbread house!


waiting for the house to dry



let the decorating begin



Sarah frosted and decorated the trees


Caleb putting in the front walkway



everyone enjoyed helping


we had lots of fun being creative




our first gingerbread house 2010

Christmas Time ~ Part 5

The Festival Grounds in Tallinn is a great place for sledding in the winter. We were in Tallinn and decided to stop in for some fun before returning to Toila.






The kids had a race down the hill. Sarah had the new and best sled which is probably why it turned out the way it did. Daniel is on the left of Sarah and Andrew on the right.

Enjoy....

video

Christmas Time ~ Part 4

What a joy it was to gather with other missionary friends during the Christmas season. The Grazianos graciously opened their home for the get-together. The evening started off great with some delicious food.





Ron is enjoying chili in a bread bowl, pulled pork, and home made tortilla chips

Then we sang some Christmas carols.




Caleb sang along - his favorite Christmas songs are
Away in a Manger and Joy to the World





Then Matt Graziano read the Christmas story and shared some challenging thoughts.




All the kids exchanged gifts. It is so fun to watch kids (little and big ones) open gifts. Cleaning up the wrapping paper was the funnest part. You can't just throw those wads of wrapping paper away....you have to throw it at someone first. The kids and some adults joined in the fun.

Caleb's dart gun was a big hit and all the little ones took turns trying it out.


Thanks, Ryland, for the very cool gift for Caleb...he loves it!


I think Sarah's favorite part of the evening was helping take care of Ryland. She loves babies and enjoyed her time getting to play "mommy". Ryland's mom asked if she could borrow Sarah, and although I know Sarah would love it, I wouldn't know what to do without her.


It was a wonderful evening. We are so thankful for the friends God has given us to fellowship with and share special occasions/holidays with.

Christmas Time ~ Part 3

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We love baking special cookies each year at Christmas time. This year we baked lots and LOTS of cookies...and pumpkin bread. Then the kids and I joined Ron and his English students for their class. Ron let the classes out a bit early and we served them cookies, pumpkin bread, tea, and coffee. It was a great opportunity for me to get to meet his students. Of course, everyone enjoyed the yummy cookies. We had also prepared each student a bag with candy, oranges, a Christmas tract, and a couple chic tracts. My prayer is that God will take this little act of kindness done in love and mulitply it as only He can do.


the boys making Chocolate Crinkle cookies







Sarah making Snickerdoodles!
how fun it is to decorate yummy sugar cookies
painting on the frosting....it was much more fun to use a paint brush than a knife =)

Caleb loved using LOTS of sprinkles on his cookies

Christmas Time ~ Part 2

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This year I planned something special for the kids for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. One of the first things on our list to do was......
♫ ♪ Christmas caroling ♪ ♫


Our home church goes Christmas caroling each year to the elderly and shut-ins of the church. When we are in the states, we enjoy that special tradition. So this year we went caroling too....via SKYPE!!! Our first stop was my brother (Stephen Benefield) and his family - who are missionaries in Cambodia. Then we caroled to my other brother's family, my sister's family, my parents, and my in-laws. This just might become a tradition in our house. So if I have your phone number or have you as a contact on Skype, don't be suprised if you have Chritsmas carolers from Estonia next year at Christmas =)!

Christmas Time ~ Part 1

Each year our family looks forward to setting up our tree and decorating the house. Now that the kids are older, they can decorate the tree almost all by themselves. Of course, Daddy helps with the lights and mommy does the final touches. The evening is fun as we work together. After the tree is done, we watch our first Christmas movie of the season.

While the boys decorated the tree, Sarah was busy in the kitchen making snickerdoodles to go with glasses of milk...mmmmm!





Daniel putting the tree skirt around the tree.


Daddy helping Caleb put the star on top!




All done....now to get some presents under there.

God is Good!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday was an AWESOME day! What a joy to have four of our regulars in attendance and three visitors. We sang Christmas carols, read the Christms story, and had a message from God's Word. Here is the challenging question that was asked...."do you have room for Jesus in your heart and life?". When Joseph was looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem, no one had room. Do you think that someone would have made room or maybe someone would have given up their room had they known the baby that would be born that night was JESUS? Too often Christians get too busy for Jesus. Then there are those who are not Christians that think they do not need Jesus and don't want to make room for Him in their life. Oh how I want to give Jesus room to do HIS will in my life.


Sunday, December 26, 2010 (Daniel is missing since he took the picture)

After the service we had such a wonderful time of fellowship. Since we love pumpkin pie at Christmas, I thought it would be a fun, festive treat to share. Several people had heard of pumpkin pie, but no one had ever tried it. It was a big hit! In fact, a few people had more than one piece.


Valodia eating pumpkin pie for the first time!

We invited Marita and Olga to come to our house and eat Sunday dinner with us. We were so glad they were able to come...we had a wonderful time. When we got home, the kids all went outside to play in the snow. The rest of us got busy in the kitchen - peeling pototoes, washing dishes (no, I didn't have all my dishes done before walking out the door for church), setting the table, and lots of visiting =).



Since we had already had pumpkin pie at church, I decided to let them try some of our goodies from America - chocolate kisses, peppermint kisses, peppermint patties, peanut butter cups, and tootsie rolls. It was a special treat for all of us.
After awhile our conversation turned to spiritual matters. Olga is searching! I believe that with time and prayer, Olga will understand salvation and accept Christ personally. Ron prayed with her about a personal situation that she shared with us. We assured her that we will continue to pray for her and that we love her. I can not explain in words all that happened around our table Sunday afternoon, but I believe the Holy Spirit is working!

Olga


God has given me such a love for the people that we are working with. I am so thankful that God led us to Johvi, Estonia. Ron and I are so excited about what God is going to do in 2011!

December 25, 2010


What a wonderful day our family had spending time together. We are looking forward to a great day in church tomorrow. May each of us remember God's gift, JESUS - the greatest gift ever given. Our desire is to tell the people of Johvi, Estonia about the free gift that God has for them.

Germany

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We loaded in the car and headed out with much excitement. Our first part of the trip was to make the 5+ hour trip to Riga, Latvia.


From there we flew 2 hours to Germany!


From the airport we had another 2 hour drive to our hotel. Needless to say, we were exhausted when we got to bed around 3 a.m.

After a night of rest, we looked out our hotel window and saw the first place we wanted to eat....Kentucky Fried Chicken. YUMMY!!!

There were several other places that we recognized - Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway (we didn't get to eat there), and Toysrus.




Friday night was a Missionary Christmas Banquet at Rhein River Baptist Church. The church was decorated beautifully with lots of lights, Christmas trees, poinsettias, and candles. The evening was wonderful with delicious food, good fellowship, singing, specials, and awesome preaching.

Ron and I in the hotel lobby waiting for our ride to the Banquet.


People from Rhein River Baptist Church handing out gifts to the missionaries.
We enjoyed the Banquet immensly and the service the next morning was also a blessing. It was a joy to meet lots of other missionaries. Before the Banquet we only knew one other family there. By the time we returned to Estonia, we had established friendships with several other families. The greatest joy was seeing our kids in the company of other missionary kids. Email address were exchanged and our desire is that some lasting friendships may develop as a result.
The people of Rhein River Baptist Church went all out to make this a special occasion for missionaries. They were a huge blessing to our family!
It was a special treat to get reaquainted with the Shipman family (missionaries in Germany). We met them years ago while on deputation. We had a couple of opportunities to spend time with their family which was a great blessing.


Sarah and Joanna Shipman (missionary in Germany).


Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly:..." Well, Caleb took this verse to heart and was very friendly and made lots of friends.

Caleb and Mrs. Hornbeck
Mrs. Hornbeck is a fellow missionary (military in Germany) and was also one of Caleb's teachers on Sunday. He found her at lunch and visited with her. Then he found her again Sunday night after church. When I walked into the fellowship hall I found them sitting together eating dinner.

Caleb's teacher for Sunday School (which he freely showered with hugs)


This little girl's family is also missionaries in Germany. Her mommy asked if Caleb would take a picture with her. Since it's so cute, I thought I would add it.

Caleb and two of the Shipman boys (missionaries in Germany)
Daniel and Andrew made some friends too. These boys are brothers and their family serves in England. They were able to spend a lot of time together Sunday and I am hoping a great friendship will develop between them.




Daniel and Andrew with Judah Shipman


eating lunch Saturday afternoon with the Shipman family

We enjoyed doing some special things as a family too. The mall was decorated so beautifully for Christmas that it was fun to just stroll around and look.


at a little bakery in the mall getting hot tea and cookies
Monday night we got to go to a Christmas market. It sure was festive!!!










Caleb in one of the shops we went into to get warm.


in another shop (didn't mean to get Caleb's head in the shot)


they were smiling even though they were freezing cold


enjoying some German food at the Christmas market


we found this little shop to wait in out of the cold. Of course, we had to try some goodies and have hot tea.
Our time in Germany was fantastic...we made lots of memories. One of my absolute favorite things about the trip was the preaching we heard. We were so thrilled to find out that Dr. David Gibbs was the special speaker for the Banquet Friday night.


Then the icing on the cake was that he preached two more time Saturday and three more times Sunday. WOW!!! Every sermon was just what I needed. Bro. Gibbs is one of my very favorite preachers. Some of the stories he told were incredible - one was about the funniest story I have every heard. Everyone was rolling with laughter. In fact, I laughed so hard I was in tears. Another of his stories was so touching there was probably not a dry eye in the place. Yet another was quite shocking and very convicting. With every single story was a challenge from the Bible on how to be a better Christian.


our family with Bro. Gibbs
We are thankful for the opportunity we had to attend the Missionary Christmas Retreat in Germany. It was a blessing!
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