Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

From Nicaragua

to the top of Tumalo mountain a few days ago

we have had an amazing year. Every year seems like a better one then the last, and this one is no exception. It's been such a full year that somehow the news that we sold our home (in 5 days!) in September barely even made the list to be mentioned here!

Cory is working hard to develop and implement the engineering program at Redmond High School, as the department head. He loves the hands on classes he is teaching that inspire kids to come in during their lunch and groan when class ENDS. Julie continues to teach High school Spanish, elementary music, and piano at Central Christian School (and in our private home studio) where Cade and Bekah are 5th and 3rd graders. Both kids have found a love for soccer and are progressing nicely on the piano (and a little guitar!). My big project of the year culminated on Dec. 14th, with our elementary Christmas musical of 2 showings to a crowd of at least 700 folks that watched us sing, dance, and act out the truth that it truly is better to give than receive!

Our summer adventures began on June 20th when we hooked up the trailer and said goodbye to our home for a 10 week life on the road. It started in Zion National Park for 10 days. Then off to Nicaragua for 3 weeks. After Nica, we "convalesced" at Bryce National Park as Nica was quite exhausting. It was nice to get home to safe water, food, dry air, and our own vehicle after giving 110% for 3 weeks.

We then enjoyed a 5 week stay in Eastern California where we backpacked over 150 miles in the Sierras and camped in between trips. Nothing beats the Sierras for the O'Neills!!

Our mission trip in Nicaragua for 3 weeks was life changing, to say the least! It is our sincere prayer that we will get to return in a summer. I loved being able to connect with the locals through Spanish conversation and Bible schools I lead but it was amazing to watch all 4 of us discover our niche there. The kids played with the kids day after day as if they knew Spanish - Love knows no language! Cory and I got to spend a day fitting folks with eye glasses and never grew tired of watching faces of young and old light up when we found the right prescription and they could see for the first time! Cory also spent about 10 days working on an orphanage property installing solar panels - this was not pre planned. We heard about the orphanage, gave them a quick call, showed up and found that they had been praying for an engineer to come and help them with this project (and needed a worship leader too which Cory enjoyed doing in the evenings). Cade helped daddy a lot while Bekah and I played with the kids, led a Bible school, and helped in the kitchen.

Here's the main solar tower completed and ready to be anchored in the ground:The truth about short term mission trips is that it allows us to go to a different part of the planet and see a different face of God in the lives of those that live there. We did get to do some amazing hands on helping type projects, but the real lessons were the ones our hearts learned through the gracious people we met while there.

With all these epic trips, some of the best memories are contained in the simple essence of those moments when we deeply connect with someone -(Bullfrog lake below: another 12,000 foot lunch at an exquisite lake!) holding hands with Cade as we walk across a campground, a killer run that gets the sweat pouring, going out to coffee with a friend, a hug from a student, tea time with Bekah or a quick surprise visit from someone all weave the days together with true joy. We do feel so blessed at our full and bountiful life and for your friendship in our lives. May you have an amazing 2012, where you seize each day with joy and hope.

Love, the O'Neills
Cory, Julie, Cade, and Bekah


Jennifer in OR said...

A beautiful year!

Julia York said...

i may be slow, but i get there! reading this in February...and it feels like i am hiking the Sierras, visiting in Nic and welcoming the O'Neill family home from their adventures. God bless you, dear friends!

Julia York said...

i may be slow, but i get there! You made me feel as if i were hiking the Sierras, visiting Nic and welcoming the O'Neill family home after your summer away. God bless you, O'Neill family!