It’s a joy to look through our calendar at the end of each year and see how God has been at work. This newsletter is intended to be a blessing to you, but it’s also a type of “memorial stone” for us. It is a time to reflect on the faithfulness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Will you rejoice with us again this year?
Ministry. God has been so gracious to us and the ministry in Yucca Valley. Our church has grown to 80 regular attendees. Stephen is preaching through the Book of Isaiah on Sunday mornings and is developing a basic discipleship program called “Growing in Christ” on Wednesday nights. He conducted 3 weddings, 3 baptisms, a marriage class, and a membership class this year. Exciting!
We’ve also been blessed by our first college intern who began in January. Ryan is a BAT (Bachelor of Applied Theology) student at Cal Baptist University and hopes to go into full-time ministry. What a privilege to help train up future leaders! And what a blessing he is to us!
At the beginning of the year we began hosting a young adults/singles lunch once a month in our home. Our singles have ranged from college students to widowers in their 80s. We love the diversity in our congregation.
It’s also been encouraging to see a growing evangelistic spirit at the church. We hosted summer VBS, fair booths on Memorial Day weekend and July 4th, a one-day missions trip to Pomona, and a Halloween outreach to over 600 trick or treaters.
Travel. We traveled a lot this year. Stephen was able to return to Together for the Gospel in Louisville and attended a Nine Marks “Weekender” conference in Washington D.C. While in the capital, he got to visit the Smithsonian and see the actual B-26 bomber Flakbait that his Grandpa was crew chief on during WWII!
In May we took our summer vacation. We tent camped off the Santa Barbara coast for four days, spent two days visiting the Monterey Bay aquarium, then joined Grandpa and Grandma in their cabin (our first visit) in some gorgeous mountains. Just look at our van! Tent camping, hotel life, long drives and food meant taking a lot of stuff. And yes, the door did close — barely!
Some of our other excursions included a field trip to the Natural History Museum of L.A., an Angles baseball game, and an anniversary getaway to watch The Screwtape Letters brilliantly performed by Max McLean.
Family. After some serious health problems in the spring, Natalie has been feeling much better and her blood pressure is much more under control. Thank you so much for all your prayers.
Dylan (2nd grade) and Heidi (Kindergarten) are learning lots of fun new things. We just finished studying inventions like the cotton gin, and concluded by designing our own dams using dirt, popsicle sticks, and pebbles. We’re not sure who enjoys the experiments more - the kids or us parents! Dylan really enjoyed learning more about the Civil War and even meeting “President Lincoln” at a Civil War reenactment in October. Heidi is starting to read and got so excited the other day when she spelled the word “rat” in a game all by herself!
Abigail is nearly two now and talking in her cute little toddler voice. One of her favorite phrases is to playfully say, “Mommy? Mommy? Umm!” She’s finally able to play with her big brother and sister and loves it! From playing with Duplo blocks to sitting on people, to discovering her alphabet, there’s rarely a dull moment with Abby around! And she loves Christmas lights. As we drive around, she’s constantly on the lookout.
We were able to visit with Natalie’s parents and Stephen’s mom several times this year (and with Stephen’s dad through Skype). We traveled to San Diego for Cousin Cara’s wedding (welcome to the family, Alex!) and to San Clemente to remember the life of Stephen’s Uncle Dave. In the spring Natalie’s Grandpa Parker also passed away. We dearly miss them.
The Lord blessed us with some extra time, funds, and energy to tackle several projects around the house. We painted and organized our family room, bought solar panels, tiled the living room, and installed a wood burning stove. We’re thankful for these improvements that will make our home more energy-efficient and comfortable for visitors.
So those are some of our highlights from 2012. We’ve seen God’s faithfulness in new ways and old, and are one year closer to heaven.
We love you and pray for you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Stephen, Natalie, Dylan, Heidi, & Abigail Jones