Feliz Navidad!

Needless to say, 2020 has been a crazy year for all of us. I have heard some say, “I just want to forget that this year ever happened.” I pray that we don’t forget. Let us remember the fun times, the extra time with family, and all the good that was done. But also, let’s remember the hard times, the ways that God grew us, and the lessons that we have learned. I pray that we can take all of this and turn it into praise.
With that in mind, we thought we would do a quick wrap up of what 2020 has looked like for our family and our ministry.

FEBRUARY 1-8: A medical team from Springs Church came to serve with us in Panama. The team provided medical services and anti-parasite treatment to over 200 kids. The gospel was shared, and these kids were loved on and reminded that God has a purpose for their lives!

FEBRUARY 25: At 99 years old, Mama Tance went to be with Jesus. She was one of Angie’s heroes; she was determined, straight forward and loved the Lord. Thanks to a generous family member, we were able to fly home and celebrate the life of this sweet lady.

MARCH 13: The craziness begins. Corona hit Panama and Angie was sick for over a month. Panama enforced a strict quarantine and many families in Panama (especially in the GlobalFingerprints program) were without work, meaning they had no money for food. We put out a request for help, and praise the Lord, many of you stepped up! We were able to supply food to hundreds of families during this time. We could not have done this without your support and faithfulness. Thank you!

JUNE 18: As Panama continued the lockdown, our family, with the support of ReachGlobal leadership, made a decision to take a humanitarian flight back to the US. The next few months were full of Zoom meetings, hundreds of Whats App texts and a new form of ministry for us. We saw our partners back in Panama step up in an incredible way as they served their communities and were the hands and feet of Christ. Food deliveries continued as the pastors shared the hope of Christ with families.

OCTOBER 16: Surgery day for Angie. The doctors told her this would be a tough surgery to which she thought, “Surely it won’t be that bad.” She was wrong. After a 5 night stay, she was able to go home (pic below). Recovery was hard, but God is good. All the pathology came back clear- no cancer! We are still waiting for her to have complete medical clearance, but are so thankful for medical technology and the fact that the cyst was found so early. Did we mention… God is good!

NOVEMBER 6-13: Matt made a quick trip to Panama. Since we were not planning on staying for such an extended period when we left, there were several things that had to be taken care of back at home. Matt was able to connect with some of our team members and our pastors. It was a sweet time and we are so thankful for our friends who are checking up on our house, coordinating the gardener and sweeping up the critters that have made their way inside! We look forward to being back in Panama!

NOVEMBER 8: Norris Ferry Community Church spotlighted the GlobalFingerprints program on Orphan Sunday. With the difficult situation in Panama, 20 more children were identified as “at risk,” and praise the Lord every child received a sponsor. We now have 104 kiddos in the program. Thanks to generous sponsors, the GF kids have food on the table, medical care, and are learning about Jesus!

NOVEMBER 29: We received a call that Matt’s mom had a mild stroke. They said she was OK, but we chose to drive to Austin to check on her. When Matt arrived at the hospital on Monday morning, Nancy was unresponsive. Tests showed that she suffered a massive stroke during the night on Sunday. We are thankful that we were in the States to have some time to say goodbye to an incredible lady. Nancy went to see Jesus the morning of December 4th. She will be missed. While going through photos, we realized that Reeves looks SO much like her Nana. Below is a photo of Nancy as a child- Reeves actually thought it was a pic of herself “in weird clothes.”

So what are our major takeaways from 2020?

1) God is in control! While our lives have felt so chaotic this year, we have constantly been reminded of this. I think of Jesus sleeping during the storm. The disciples were stressed out and flat out scared (just as many have been this year). In Mark 4:39-40, Jesus got up and said “Quiet. Be still!” and there was calm. And then he said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid. Do you still have no faith?” It makes me think….How have we responded to the storms of 2020? Where is our faith?

2) Joy is a choice! Over the past months, the Lord has shown us that yes, the enemy will come to steal, kill and destroy…. but one thing about it, the enemy can’t take our joy. Now don’t get me wrong, there has been sadness and mourning and pleading with the Lord this year, but we have learned that we can still be joyful despite the circumstances. “The joy of the Lord WILL be our strength!”!

3) Our kids are awesome! We are not braggers, but we have been so thankful for our kids’ steadfastness and adaptability. We have lived in 3 different places since we arrived in the States, they really don’t have any of their “stuff”, and we have had some pretty significant life events this year. They have been leaders in their youth group, played with the band, sang at youth group, learned new instruments, and overall, had really great attitudes. Honestly, the way that the Lord has grown them can sometimes bring us to tears. As we’ve said… God is good.

4) We love hand me downs! We have been so thankful for hand me down vehicles and winter clothes during this time. Thank you to family members and friends that have loved us so well with these blessings!