Monday, December 23, 2013

"We'll Be Home For Christmas . . ."
. . . and not just in our dreams ~ we are home!  To each of you, our family and friends, we send our love and warm wishes for a wonderful Holiday season and a sacred time to remember the Savior of all the world.
It's wonderful to be home again ~ home with family, home with friends, and yes, "there is no place like home." We spent 18 months and two Christmases in Fiji, a time of loving and being loved, of trial and testing, of sharp contrasts in culture and environment, yet a time of strange familiarity with people we must have known before coming to earth -- a happy reunion to be sure, with friends we will treasure forever.

Now we have gone from our Fijian Christmas tree . . . 
. . . back to a Noble Fir harvested just up from our home and now nestled in our living room in Corvallis.

From a hot and steamy Christmas season in the islands . . . 

. . . to the joy of winter in Oregon

We left village life and our "family" in Fiji . . .

. . . and came home to our beloved family in the States, several of whom met us at the SLC airport (where we began our family visits before eventually heading home to Oregon).

 And before we knew it, all 33 of us were gathered for a family reunion (seven children, six spouses, and 18 grand children - two born while we were gone).

On the island of Taveuni, we lived in the middle of two worlds positioned between "yesterday, and today" . . . 
 . . . with our yesterdays being filled with missionary life and living in a third-world island culture where we taught beautiful people about the Savior Jesus Christ, and the "plan of salvation" made possible by His love, life, and sacrifice on our behalf.
Our todays are filled with family and projects, of service in church and community, of life in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of home.  We will always remember you for your help and support while we were gone, and hold dear our missionary opportunity amongst those beautiful brown skinned and happy people.  How could we not love them?

Merry Christmas,

Annie & Tom

And now, for those of you who know our kids and would like to see an updated picture, here 'ya go -- from oldest to youngest:
Our son Matt with his wife Jessica, Sofia, and Lizzie Jane
Nate, Tyler, our daughter Sara with husband Birch, Alex
Chloe, Cooper, and Alysee
Our daughter Emily with her husband Ryan
Mila, Hazel, and Sage
Daughter Leah and husband Geoff
Isaac, Lucy, and Kate
Our son Seth and wife Caroline
Tommy and Cali
(this is the family who were in the auto accident in Africa --
doing so well now and we love having them live near in Corvallis)
Our daughter Laura with husband Jared
Isla and Sawyer
Our son Luke, with sisters Emily and Sara