Posted by: andwego | January 2, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!                                                                                                                                                                          

Things have changed more than we ever could have imagined from the time TJ wrote our Christmas letter last year and we thank you for keeping up with us!  2010 brought a major change in scenery, as we left Vancouver and moved to Florida, as well as a huge shift in the way we live.  We went from on-campus townhouse life to living on a 4-acre piece of land and starting a small farm.  What an unexpected surprise!   There is much to cover, so here we go…

Thaddaeus (TJ) turned 2 in November and is definitely all boy!  He is a running climbing machine, constantly getting into things he shouldn’t.  Unfortunately it’s very hard to discipline him, as his smile and ‘charmer’ attitude keep us laughing constantly.  He is our little hambone.  TJ attends Mother’s Day Out at church twice a week while Charlotte is at school, which is a great social time for him and a wonderful break for me.  We are working with him on his language development, as he is a bit behind from where he should be, speaking-wise.  But the words are starting to come a little faster now, and we are thankful for that!  We know he understands EVERYTHING and is a smart little bugger – he just points at objects and says ‘this!’ when he wants something.  Boy, has he got us trained!

Charlotte, our little princess, is now 4 and growing up so quickly!  She is in preschool at Merritt Island Christian and LOVES every second of it.  She can write the entire alphabet and is learning basic addition, things she practices at home without us even asking!  Her artistic skills are rapidly developing, as she spends at least an hour every day drawing or painting.  One of her favorite activities this fall was her involvement in the ‘Tiny Toes’ dance class offered through Rejoice Dance Ministry at our church.  She is learning basic jazz and ballet movements and is actually getting a bit graceful!  Charlotte is at the age where she is starting to ask questions about God, Jesus, what happens when we die, etc.  It has definitely stretched our minds to begin thinking theologically in more childlike ways, and we are realizing more and more how important a role we play as parents in this day and age.  It truly is a gift!

I have always embraced change well if I throw myself into activities where I am surrounded with people, so that’s what I did this year!  A goal of mine was to attend and complete WEGO’s Discipleship Training Course this year, something I just accomplished 2 weeks ago!  The year-long course was an intro to Biblical Christian counseling and delved into a wide variety of subjects from theory to practice.  I also spent the fall in a women’s’ Bible study on John, using Jean Vanier’s work on the book as a guide.  Lastly, I was given the opportunity to teach the ‘Little Feet’ dance class offered through our church dance ministry.  It has been a busy yet fulfilling year for me!

Jonathan has thrown himself into our life here, embracing his new-found role as ‘farmer’ (as you will read below) as well as working to make the coffee company profitable.  While not learning about and practicing organic farming, he is working on finishing his M.Div through Regent; he has only 1 course left!  When he does have free time, he enjoys hunting with Taxi and fishing with friends.

As you all know, our move to Florida was prompted by our decision to work with WEGO Ministries here, starting a coffee company to help support an orphanage in Nicaragua.  Through selling coffee in farmers’ markets we began to develop relationships with local farmers here in Florida and open our minds to the idea of growing our own food.  The desire to help the Nicaraguan coffee farmers in their agricultural practices quickly spilled over into our personal lives – why should we not learn to farm on our own as a way to better connect with the farmers abroad, as well as educating our local community in sustainable agriculture?  Well, this small idea has grown into a larger vision that is now leading our family in a new direction. 

After our initial plantings this summer we realized we needed more help.  An ad posted on craigslist for farm help needed resulted in over 100 phone calls in a week and the quick formation of an intern program for our farm!  There is a huge desire locally to learn about organic sustainable agriculture and we are taking advantage of it.  We have rotated through 6 interns since August who work several hours a week for us and also have one full-time farmhand.  Two things we feel are vital to this idea of local farming are hospitality and community.  Inviting different people in this community to work and eat with us has been life-giving and we have had friends, school groups, homeless people, neighbors, homeschool groups, church families, recovery groups, etc., come through our gates to learn and work alongside us.  Food connects people in so many ways – growing it, as well as eating it, together forms unique bonds and offers new perspectives in relationships. 

As a result of the importance we have found in farming, education, discipleship, and feeding, we have started our own not-for-profit organization, Keipos, Inc.  The paperwork should be completed by the middle of January.  With that said, we will no longer be raising support through WEGO, but will now be taking donations through Keipos, Inc.  However, we still intend to work with WEGO to help keep the orphanage operating.  As we have found the coffee market to be rather hard to break into (without any large amount of startup finances available) our focus is now shifting towards helping the orphanage’s 180 acres be put to good use, using the land to grow food that can feed not only the children but also their local community.  Jonathan will be heading down in January to see what can be done to get things moving in that direction. 

We look forward to 2011 with the hope that we, through Keipos, Inc., will be able to educate and minister to our local community while also helping those abroad.  Thank you to those who have given so generously to us this year; we appreciate all gifts that have come in and express our early ‘thanks’ to those of you who will choose to support our ministry in this coming year.  Any year-end gifts can still be made to WEGO; after the 1st of the year we will switch to Keipos, Inc.  

One more unexpected surprise…we are expecting another baby!  He/She will join our family next summer!

We pray that you would experience God’s love and peace in powerful ways this coming year and that your lives would reflect His love for each of you.  He is good and He is faithful, even when we can’t see it at the moment J

Grace and peace,

Jonathan, Catherine, Charlotte, and Thaddaeus (and baby #3!)

jonathan@keipos.org / catherine@keipos.org

321.544.2851 / 321.544.2821

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