JOY to the WORLD
The LORD has come
Happy New Year! We interviewed the kids individually about the best parts of this year and what they saw God do. We pray that this letter will bring you a chuckle, a bit of inspiration, and a sense of awe at our mighty Lord.
Hello my name is Lydia, and I’m 8. This year I’ve started learning a new language: Chinese. I really love it! I can’t believe I’m learning three languages! In January of 2021, God was letting me have video chats with Lindsay and also with Mima (my grandma Schaller), and it really helped me feel better about my school. This year, I have a teacher who is interesting and lets us make choices. Before he became a teacher, he was a magician. I’m in a mixed class of 3rd and 4th graders. Normally I am in 3rd grade, but my teacher thinks I need to do 4th grade work. I like it a lot, and I have some good friends in school too. Also this year I spent a few weeks in America, and I did a whole bunch of fun water slides and I had my birthday there too!
Hi my name is Rachel and I like to dance and color and my wish is to be a ballerina on a stage. I am 6 years old, and I’m in CP, which is like first grade. I’m in the elementary school now, and I already know almost everyone in the whole school! So, if someone is sad, I learn their name and ask if they want to be my friend, and they do! The best thing this year was my birthday party mostly because, well, presents. The second-best thing was our new baby. I saw God make her like a melon, and now she’s my sister Elise! Also God helped me to memorize John 3:16 in French. There’s a song about it, so it was easy.
Hi, I’m Tessa. I’m thwee yees old, and this is my favorite book! (hugs a tiny book called “Jésus apaise une tempête.”) My best thing about this year is reading books! The best thing about America is the big BIIIG water slides and my cupcake birthday party! I like school because my teacher is so nice and I get to SING and dance. (She spends mornings at school, which is new. Considering she was a pandemic child and knew five words of French, we’re praising God that she loves it so much!) Um, I saw God WOOSH the waves away at the ocean. It was going at the children, and then God just wooshed it away! Hehe!
I’m 6 months old, cuddly, sweet, and motivated to explore. My name is Elise Mary. Mary is after the mother of Jesus, Mauricette’s middle name, and my great-grandmother who is 96 and just beat Covid. Praise God! “Elise” is after Papa’s cousin, Elisa, who is with Jesus. Originally a French name, Elise means “My God is abundance.” When I was 6 days old, Mama took me to Paris to get my passport. God answered every prayer in perfect timing— about my birth, the passport, travel, health, every thing. I got to meet the whole family and everyone cried, even me. Even though I slept a lot in America, I’ll always remember the kisses, voices, and smells of those who held me. Back in France I developed a cough that lasted months. I refused to sleep anywhere except by Mama during that time, but she and Papa kept trying this crib thing on me! Papa then moved the crib to a different room! I don’t mind my bed now, and my parents are very pleased. I still sneak an occasional nap in their arms. My sisters all love me and play with me non-stop. I adore them too. And now I can even chase them by army-crawling!
Hey, it’s Trent. I am now a father of four girls, a fact that still surprises me. This year God showed us that his Word is not restrained even when we are. Current events have pushed technology to the forefront of our ministries. Since my team came together ten years ago, we have worked on so many projects. This year we focused on something important, something we parents also teach our children: cleaning up after yourself before getting out new toys. We streamlined our web sites, financial tools, communication and security systems. These are all global tools that my team is helping develop, rather than each country having their own. What, none of those sound like toys to you? Well, I had fun with them. My favorite part of 2021 was taking all my ladies to the States to see loved ones, young and old.
Am I still Tara? Who are these kids? We’ve had a tumultuous and beautiful year– grieving a family member, visiting America, exhaustion, sharing the Gospel, Mauricette ill with Covid and cancer, getting involved in kids’ ministry at church. Down, up, down, up… but Christ is our constant, our rock. In my free time, I grew a baby. Meeting Elise was my favorite part of this year. For six months I bounced between brain fog and cloud nine— going crazy. Sleep-deprivation and baby blues rendered me unstable, to say the least. I was on the edge of a breakdown, so we reached out for help. God immediately provided a babysitter, a different schedule for Trent, and prayer warriors encouraging us. In December, God finally healed Elise’s cough, but she still slept poorly. After just one night of Trent’s help, she’s become a good sleeper! Halleluiah! It’s a Christmas miracle! Other than keeping small people alive, I’ve been planning a couple outreaches for children.
This winter we had prayed about how to invite kids to come hear the Nativity story and have a party. We wanted to be upfront while not sounding like a Bible study. We crafted an invitation saying, “You’re invited to a Christmas party with desserts, games, a skit about the original Christmas story, and a glow-stick dance party.” We invited 18 children, and 14 came!
Welcoming the kids were Tara, Trent, babysitter Julie, and Marie-Helene (friend, full-time children’s ministry worker, and glue to this party.) The kids ate while Marie-Helene learned their names in minutes. Soon we did the skit. Rachel flew on Trent’s shoulder announcing between giggles, “Do not be afraid! I am an angel! I have good news!” Marie-Helene narrated confidently from scripture, then paused to ask the kids, “Do you know what Mary named the baby? The Bible talks a lot about him.”
The kids were silent. Lydia and Rachel raised their hands, but Marie-Helene asked if anyone else knew. One child guessed a random name. An overwhelming sadness struck Tara and Trent. “His name is Jesus.” A few kids said “Ohh!” Most had never heard the name Jesus before. Maybe their parents didn’t know what “the original Christmas story” meant either. The children’s eyes opened wider and wider as Marie-Helene told them that God came down to earth as a baby. The sky filled with angels singing “Glory to God in the highest!” The shepherds went to the stable and found the baby just as the angel had said. In walked Lydia dressed as Mary holding Elise, wrapped in a blanket. The kids crowded around “baby Jesus” who smiled and cooed and reached out to them. Marie-Helene continued to explain why Jesus had come. The kids really seemed to understand! Why wouldn’t they? God wants to be with us, so he came to us.
To end the skit, we gave the children glow-sticks and they shouted Luke 2:14 as angels. They nearly shook the house! Then a few kids asked questions while we played games. “Why doesn’t everybody know about this?” And one little boy just needed to verify, “So is this the Jesus who is sometimes on a cross?”
The next day we heard back from many parents. To our relief, they were enormously grateful! The children have been asking if they can come again, too. Please keep praying for our relationships with these families. We’re so grateful to God for these opportunities! Thank you so much for your partnership. Hopefully you have been receiving our email newsletters; let us know if not. May you be filled with God’s love and inspiration this 2022!
Love, Trent, Tara, Lydia, Rachel, Tessa and Elise