Sunday, January 18, 2015

Holidays 2014 - Part Two

We did not celebrate the holidays with family nor even with our colleague who was back in the States, but we did have the joy of celebrating with another American family.  In November, we received an email from our friends who were having some visa issues in their host country and were told they needed to leave for at least fifteen days before reentering.  Needing a last minute place to stay we as a team offered to host them.  Melissa lent them her apartment which provided the space we all needed considering we had six kids between both families, and we hosted meals from around the corner.  Although their kids are a bit younger than ours, it was like having little cousins around and it was great fun.  Another bonus was that they are from the Grand Rapids area as well as one of our supporting churches meaning that the kids made an immediate connection of places, people and fun points of interest that they frequent on visits to grandparents.

The kids finished school on the 23rd, making Christmas Eve a little bit more frantic with preparations just not having the time prior while schedules were at full intensity.  We enjoyed a Christmas turkey dinner akin to Thanksgiving, but who doesn't like a roasted turkey more than once a year? 

Just a little work in the kitchen on Christmas Eve :)

Christmas morning the kids were up early, eager to open presents, of course. We had a quiet morning together enjoying the conclusion of our Advent readings and then watching overjoyed faces as everyone opened gifts. The kids got an archery set and that was a huge hit. Books, LEGOs and rubber bands also made the favorite list.

Luca's new scarf immediately turned into a Ninja costume

Wood burning tool for the boys
Our visitors left for a few days to visit Venice during the middle of their stay, at which period I got knocked out with a cold in part probably due to exhaustion.  I basically tried to do nothing for a few days and made good progress in my recovery by the time they returned.  New Years was low key for us playing games and watching movies.  The kids always love to watch the fireworks display from neighbors as we ring in the new year.

On January 3, Jonathan boarded a jet plane and headed to Dublin for a week. His third master's module was again a great time of learning and encouragement for him and I am so thankful for this opportunity for him to pursue higher education through the Irish Bible Institute. It was hard having him gone especially over the final four days of vacation for the kids, but having our friends around through the 6th was a helpful distraction. However, when he returns his bag is full of foreign delights such as half-priced Starbucks and Cheddar cheese--I am easily consoled!

For the first time ever I took people to the center of Torino all by myself for sightseeing. We braved public transportation with six kids and are so glad we got out on the most beautiful day of December with weather in the mid-50s that had us peeling off our jackets. All of Torino was out touring as it was the National Museum Day meaning that all museums in Italy were free admission. Of course, one would have to brave the lines to get in which we did not find worth it with our crew of youngsters. We walked and walked who knows how many miles, ate pizza and gelato on a final hurrah before they left.

This pretty much sums up our Christmas of 2014 and start to the new year.  We are excited to see all that the Lord will do in 2015--through the highs and the lows may He be glorified as our faith is increased and our hearts continue to be transformed to the image of Christ. I'll do my best to keep you posted along the way.

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