Christmas Letter 2019

2019 is coming to a close, and with it so is our time “home.” It is hard to believe how fast the time has moved. We spent so many moments, even days, looking forward to our time stateside and now it is gone like a vapor. Admittedly, we had romanticized it as if being in the U.S. would be a kind of “break” from the battle. But within the first couple of months here, we learned and began to struggle with the reality that there is no “break” from the battle. There is no “bunker” on this side of Heaven. Suffering may take on different forms, but we have grieved with and for the many Americans who are hurting too. The grass may look greener, but it’s dying too. The reality that there is no location where one can hide out from the curse of sin is a heavy one to absorb. We have experienced moments of near anger in desperation asking God, “Why would you leave us here? Why haven’t you come to get us?” To be honest, we didn’t want to stay in America, but also didn’t want to go back to Zim. We, like C.S Lewis have “found in ourselves desires nothing in this world could satisfy.”

But then His reminder came, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…” He reminded us that we have His Spirit and His power to help us navigate our way through the wilderness to the Promised Land. He reminded us that we still have brothers and sisters out there who don’t yet know Him. The war has been won, but it is not yet over. We have a mission to accomplish. There is purpose in the pain and because of the victory Jesus won, He gives us JOY and abundant grace in and for the journey.

We have been overwhelmed by our time stateside, visiting churches, and meeting countless individuals who make up this amazing body of Christ which works together to make His name known to the nations. We’ve enjoyed date nights, amusement parks, the Florida beaches, the Smokey and Utah mountains, ready-made meals, fast internet, hugs and laughter with friends and family. We’ve watched our kids flourish at a school where they were welcomed and loved so well. We have seen God’s faithfulness over and over through, yet again, another season that is closing. We praise Him for His kindness to us as our faith grows in His promise to “be with us always.”

At the start of the year, God did some remarkable things by answering two of our biggest prayer requests. His timing was perfect (imagine that!) in presenting these good gifts. First, He brought us a family to labor alongside of us in Gweru!! We can’t stop thanking Him for our new partners, the Lancasters. Secondly, He led us to visit a small church in Gweru that we’d noticed several times but never visited. We were invited for lunch by two of the leaders and learned that the church was dying and nearly ready to close its doors. This conversation led to more conversations and we have been praying and moving toward “re-planting” this church upon our return. In short, God is basically providing a building and a core group of believers to start a brand new church in a very strategic location. What an amazing answer to prayer! For numerous reasons, the end of our first term was difficult, but this small group of believers brought us so much encouragement that we didn’t even know we would need. In them, God gave us the gift of fellowship for which we had been starving. We are so eager to get back to these people and see what God has planned for this new body and how He will use it to reach Zimbabwe with the hope of a coming King and the promise of His Kingdom.

I recently read a quote by E. Stanley Jones that stuck with me, “The early Christians did not say in dismay, ‘look what the world has come to,’ but in delight, ‘look what has come into the world.’” In light of this truth, our hope this Christmas, though surrounded by all things America (that we missed so much), is the same hope that we had in Zim. That Jesus is our King and He knows our names. He covers our shame, carries our burdens, and calms our anxieties. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother and He is preparing a place for those of us to love and trust Him. We tell the kids regularly, keep looking up and waiting eagerly—He’s coming back for us!

We pray you have a MERRY CHRISTMAS, celebrating the One who is most worthy of celebrating, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

With Love,

Nick, Kyndra, Jake, Jimi, Libby, Sophia, Kate, Juliet, Johnny

If you want to know more on the individual crew, you can read below:

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Nick spent the early part of the year trying to get things wrapped up from our first term in Zim so that after our time STAS we would be able come back and hit the ground running in our second term. Once we got home in June, Nick dove straight into a full schedule of speaking engagements, Ph.D dissertation study and writing, and teaching a course on Personal Evangelism at his alma mater, Boyce College, all while trying to keep up with happenings on the ground in Zim. Almost immediately upon arrival, Nick began experiencing some sustained health issues. After several rounds with several different doctors, we believe we have gotten some answers on the best way forward on these things and feel confident that, despite the struggles he has had while in the U.S. the problems will continue to improve once we return to Zim. Please pray to this end.

Kyndra: I can barely remember the start of 2019. It honestly feels a bit like a blur. All the kids worked really hard to finish an entire grade to be ready for the American school schedule. A big bulk of my time was in this as well as getting the house and the crew ready to head stateside in June while I killed flies by the pile and wrestled growing mountains of laundry due to power outages. We survived. I’ve enjoyed American food a little (like 20lbs 😳) too much, and not having to cook everything. I enjoyed a few opportunities to speak to women’s and WMU groups as well as teach chapel a few times at the kid’s school. It’s been fun, but I’m ready to get back into the Zim swing and back to work. Please pray for my adjustment back into Zim home life.

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Jake (14) has passed Nick by about 2 inches and 30lbs. He’s like a gentle giant and hard to not love. He had fun making friends at school and he’s always up for a good conversation about life in Zimbabwe. He got into computer coding and began working on creating a website. He still keeps us entertained with goofy dance moves and perfectly timed movie quotes. He started playing drums and hopes to be able to continue learning how to play. He says he misses the laid back lifestyle in Zim and life not feeling so busy.

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Jimi (13) can be found in his room shredding his electric guitar, writing songs, drawing comics, or dancing around the house in some kind of 80’s attire. He is determined to reach his potential in whatever gifts God has given him. He’s witty and always up for a good pun. He made several friends and excelled in school. We were encouraged by some stories the teachers told us about him sharing truths with his friends. He seemed to be a teacher favorite (not something I can relate to- km). He got it from his Daddy. He’s looking forward to being outside, exploring, and seeing some of his friends in Zim.IMG_4996

Libby (11) has made me feel like I cloned myself. She has been a huge blessing to me in meeting needs. We’ve been able to go on dates and come home to a clean house and kids asleep in bed. She’s quick to see needs and meet them. She has a compassionate and patient heart. She remembered most of her new friends birthdays and wanted to be sure to make them feel special on their day. I know she will be missed. We were blessed by her gift of singing as she sang at most of the churches we visited while a slide of pics from Zim played behind her. Libby is looking forward to being back at our house and being with the people in Zim.

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Sophia (10) is a self-taught/self-proclaimed gymnast who prefers “cartwheeling” and back bending over walking. She got to have her big 10-year birthday party in November. True to her spunky style, she chose a skating party complete with a sequined outfit. Her personality has come out more this year and she’s kept us laughing with a voice for different characters she takes on depending on her mood. I guess this could also be known as schizophrenia, but I’m hopeful it’s just her weird humor. She is a social butterfly. I know details about every kid in her class as she studies people and is fascinated by their differences. Sophia misses our house and the people in Zim.

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Kate (8) never leaves you guessing about where you stand with her. She’s an open book that can be fun and exciting to read or rather frightening. She’s not lacking in opinions or personality. She told me the boy she liked doesn’t like her, and followed the thought with, “that’s his loss…” as she skipped away. She loves a good meal and was blessed with a metabolism most “foodies” would covet. She’s a deep thinker/feeler and often surprises me how perceptive she is about situations and feelings. I can see her possibly having a gift of discernment that when paired with the Spirit’s wisdom, could make use of some of her outspoken, often unwelcome views. I have no idea where it comes from. Kate misses “home” in Zim. She is looking forward to having her room back and not having to share a bed.

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Juliet (6, will be 7 in January) is usually in the middle of drawing something, hopefully on paper. She is very expressive, compassionate, and affectionate. Nearly every time one of her siblings is crying, she is somewhere nearby crying with them or drawing them a picture to make them feel better. If there is a dog within reach, it will have her heart and attention. She’s as sweet as can be, but her scream could break glass. She’s eager to read and is working hard to learn her letters and blending sounds into words. Juliet misses her dogs and the yard in Zim. We are the world’s worst parents for giving the dogs away, so pray we can find a couple puppies for her soon after arriving. Her crying could break the hardest of hearts.

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Johnny (5) might be the friendliest little kid I have ever seen. He has broken the record for how many kids call him their “best friend.” He has a gift of getting along with just about anybody. He’s had so much fun meeting new friends, and reconnecting with old friends/cousins. He randomly walks up to Nick and me throughout the day to give us hugs and tell us that he loves us. He loves dinosaurs and superheroes. It’s hard to get on his bad side, but one sure way of crossing him is to hurt his big sister, Juliet. He’s very protective of her and you rarely see one without the other. Johnny misses our house and his friends in Zim. He has asked “when are we going home?”

As much as I love Zim and want to see disciples made there, I am begging God to make them in our home too and it is my main prayer/focus for this season. They have walked with us in the ups and downs. They’ve been hurt and felt our hurt. They’ve rejoiced themselves and rejoiced with us. They really are amazing partners to have. They forgive quickly when wronged and have a faith in prayer that puts us to shame. Of all the things God has used to show us his love and to challenge/sanctify us, nothing compares to how He has used these seven little people. Thank you for praying for them, loving them, and caring about how they are doing. There is no greater thing you could do for us than to pray for their health, safety, growth, spiritual, and emotional well-being.

We are working to complete our medical clearance and hoping to leave before the end of January to begin the New Year in Zim.

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