Merry Christmas!

Hard to believe another year has flown by, and it signifies a year and half for us in the DR. These last six months have definitely felt different from our first year; we feel more settled and accustomed to life and the culture here.

The kids have adjusted to school well for the most part. Jolie is thriving, having made friends, and is now singing on a regular basis during chapel at school. She also joined our church choir for the upcoming annual Christmas program. We are thrilled with how she's made a complete turnaround and now loves living in the DR, does her best to learn and speak Spanish, and loves to be involved. Again, thanks to all who have prayed for her; God used your prayers to work in a mighty way in her heart and life.

Ivan has made friends at school as well, and being the social kid that he is, it has made a real difference for him. He is much happier here now. We are hoping to get him involved with a swim team soon, in which a friend of his also participates.

Samuel is doing okay but hasn't made many friends yet. Will you continue to pray for him? Melody has made some friends but also endures some bullying at times, usually involving a couple girls pushing her to the back of the line. Thankfully, she has a fierceness to her personality and it doesn't faze her much. 
Skatechurch continues to go well, with our highest attendance at 24 kids. Although they can get pretty squirrelly at times, some listen very attentively and are really interested in hearing about Jesus. A couple weeks ago, one boy prayed with us after the Gospel presentation. We are excited to be reaching the neighborhood, and as our Spanish continues to improve, we hope the ministry will segue into discipleship as kids come to Jesus and desire to follow Him.
The outreach we'd been hosting as a VBS-style activity in our yard saw a significant drop in attendance after the start of the school year, so we haven't held many this fall. We plan to host an activity over Christmas break, and hope to see a renewed interest in continuing with this activity on a weekly basis for the duration of the school year. Pray for the Lord's leading in this.

Our big news is that we plan to go the US for a visit next summer! We'll have been here for two years by then, and will be ready to see people and places we've dearly missed. We will be located in the Portland area, so if you hear of a possible housing situation for us, please let us know! At this point, we plan to be there for about two months, from late June until mid August. We will also need a vehicle.

Prayer requests:

-That the Lord will continue to draw kids to Skatechurch, and that their hearts will be open to Jesus and His love for them.
-Wisdom and direction for schooling for our kids for next year.
-Increased opportunities for ministry. We are open and desirous of being involved in more capacities.

We are happy to report that our projected monthly support goal for $3,000 per month for 2018 has been met and then some! Praise God, what an encouragement! However, since this goal hadn't included monthly tuition costs or the fact that our house in Portland was vacant for about 3 months last summer, we are still in need of some additional support before the year ends. If you're looking for a place for your year-end giving, please consider us.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you! We wish you much joy and peace as you gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Many thanks to all of you for your love, support, prayers, and encouragement of our family.

With love, 

Ben, Tonya, Jolie, Ivan, Samuel, and Melody

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