Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Here is our annual family letter we send out each Christmas:
Khisimusi Lomuhle! What? Can't speak siSwati as the people do in Swaziland, Africa? Well then allow for interpretation...Merry Christmas!

As most of you know, siSwati is something that all of us Macs are speaking to some degree around here lately. In 2008, Elysa took A & B on a short-term trip to S'land with Children's HopeChest. Since then, God has done some major changes in our lives as individuals & as a family. What God started in 2008 --- turning our eyes off of ourselves & back onto His priority of loving those in need, His precious "least of these"--- is steadily growing. It's been painful at times, but we wouldn't have missed these changes & blessings for anything.

For a year & a half now, our whole family has been involved with two different ministries located in inner-city Jackson, WE WILL GO & THE WINGARD HOUSE. We help by serving meals, working in the free clothing boutique, washing dishes, collecting/donating food & used clothing, doing yard work, giving out lots of hugs, praying with people, & just doing whatever we can do to love on His children. It's a huge blessing to watch our kids, even the youngest ones, walk out the love of Jesus.

Our oldest daughter A is now 16 & spent a month in Swaziland this past summer working primarily with orphans & other at-risk children as part of an Adventures in Missions' Ambassador Team. B, who is now 14, will be going with the same missions program to Romania this summer to serve the Roma (Gypsy) children, many orphaned, for a month.

This coming spring, Jim & I will be helping lead a missions team to Mexico. A group of about 20 folks from our church will be building a home for a family in Juarez as well as doing other ministry. We will be taking along our sons, D (who will be almost 13) & P (who will soon turn 11) . This will be both their first time out of the country & first missions trip. They are excited!

Even though we are presently all the way across the ocean from Africa, we try to do what we can to minister to the people of Swaziland. Our love & passion is being shown in different ways, one of which is a HUGE answer to prayer. Next September, Jim & Elysa will be traveling together to Swaziland with a group of sponsors to minister at a carepoint that provides meals, Bible discipleship, and other basic needs for our Children's HopeChest sponsored children. Elysa is already counting down the days til she gets to return to her beloved Swaziland & also really looking forward to introducing Jim to the "home of her heart". After the Beveni team returns to the USA, Jim & Elysa will stay behind for a few days to spend time with friends of Elysa's and to explore future ministry options. Yes, FUTURE MINISTRY OPTIONS! Our family is in the process of seeking God's will for our future which just might include our family moving overseas to serve God as full-time missionaries.

In the meantime, what other things are we up to? Jim has been promoted to director of the drillers licensing & dam safety division. He is an assistant scout-master for our son David's troop, has been able to be the fill-in preacher a few Sundays at church, & has been learning how to play the guitar & do wood turning. He & Elysa both teach Sunday School at Restoration & serve as missions coordinators on the church servant team. Elysa homeschools all 7 kids, leads the local homeschool group, daily blogs, & is a part-time artist at a local children's specialty shop. A is in 10th grade, has her driver's license, & is now working in housekeeping at a local Christian conference center & camp. B has worked hard academically & as a result has also moved up to the 10th grade. She is our homeschool group's spelling bee champ for the last 4 years & will participate for the last time this school year. She is in the process of fundraising for Romania, is hoping to participate in her first musical play in the new year as well as start art classes. 7th grader D is learing to play the guitar & is very active with his BoyScout troop as well as joining A & B in the homeschool teen club & church's youth group for the first time this year. He has been selected to represent his BoyScout council this coming summer at the nationwide Jamboree which will be celebrating 100 years of scouting in America. 5th grader P is also involved in Scouts & will be crossing over this coming spring from CubScouts to BoyScouts. He hopes to start drum lessons in January & is now active in the pre-teen boys' class at church. He has a puppy, a stray that followed B home, that he is actively training. He, D, B, Jim, & daughter LG all ran in the Fun Run at the statewide homeschool camping trip this past October. All of them placed well, in fact, 8 year old LG came in first place for her age division. As a third grader, LG loves learning how to spell new words, making home movies with her siblings, taking care of our bajillion kittens, & having her best friend Lizzie over to play Littlest Pet Shop. She also learned to swim this past summer while she was still 7 & enjoyed our times at the local swimming creek & fitness center pool. 6 year old T is in kindergarten this year & very motivated to learn to read & write. He loves playing on the computer, jumping off the water fall at Merit Creek, learning to swim, acting out "pretend stories" with his siblings, riding his bike without training wheels, & building roller coasters and bridges with wooden train tracks. Baby M is now 4. She is music crazy, loves painting & drawing (even on things she's NOT supposed to decorate), is a good "mommy" to her Blue Baby Doll, & enjoys doing inner-city ministry time more than just about anything in the world. She is quite a favorite there with her happy smiles & big, blue eyes.

As a family, we feel very blessed to be given this life we live here on our little farm in the heart of Mississippi but we're also excited to see the places God is going to take us over the next year. We mess up a lot but God keeps on forgiving, growing, loving, & using us. We are so thankful & blown away that He would let us participate in His plans for giving new life & hope to so many who are hurting, hungry, lost, & lonely. And in the process, we are being transformed. What an awesome God we serve.

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas & a Happy New Year realizing in a very real way how much you are loved by God!

Jim, Elysa, and all the seven blessings :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

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