Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Christmas Letter 2009

Merry Christmas

This time of year brings us to share once again the journey of our growing family. We have had another wonderful year with little ones making new discoveries. Older children maturing and making their own discoveries. We grow older together and enjoy watching it all. We are also excitedly awaiting our 10th baby to join our family next spring.
Six of the children (Abigail, Gabriella, Mia, Peter, Esther and Rachel) enjoyed another year at the Charter School. As we recount how far they have come and how much they have learned, we are astounded. They have memorized poetry, explored Chemistry, diagramed sentences, and read great literature. Not only that, but they have watched ballets from the professional dance company and went to the Shakespeare Festival. Then they themselves learned Martial Arts, danced on the Hult Center Stage, and learned piano and violin.
The little ones, Anne, Bridget and Rebekah, are learning right along side each other and their older siblings. There is not much that they miss out on seeing. The older children have the privilege of watching their younger sisters learn about life and exploring the world around us. The farm life continues to grow with more dairy goats, sheep, ducks and chickens and holds great fascination for each of the children. We hatched our own ducks this year which was a time of great excitement for the kids.
Our next great adventure is taking us on a turn that we had not expected or anticipated, and in fact had given up on the idea as not God’s will for our lives. Now we consider it an honor and privilege to announce that we believe God is calling us to family Missionary Life. Missionary work has been on our hearts since we were both teenagers though the opportunity has never materialized. We knew, of course, that we are all called to be “witnesses” to the power, glory, and love of Jesus in our daily lives, no matter where we live, but there is something different about getting out of the “American Culture” and living and learning among a foreign culture.
Our hearts desire is to live the gospel simply, raising our children among other people who live simply. We hope and pray that with our children we can lead others to deepen their existing faith, to work for the hearts of father’s to be turned back to their children, to practically and spiritually strengthen families, and to encourage others to come to know Jesus in a real and tangible way.
We were drawn to the Family Missions Company (FMC) last June. We found their website and began reading it with mostly curiosity. As we read more, we began to pray and wondered if this would indeed be the time for us to join FMC. Mark brought it to the family and we talked about it. He then asked if each one of us would pray and ask God to let us know as a family what was His will. We received many confirmations over the course of a week as well as each of the children’s hearts were in agreement.
At that point in our lives we were looking for a farm here in Cottage Grove, close to his parents and big enough for our nine children. We finally sold our house in Montana and thought that now we would be able to see this dream materialize, but events kept us from accomplishing this and we really did not understand why. We believe in Divine Providence and know that our lives are directed by Him and see now, that the Lord was preparing our hearts for a big change and that much of what were desiring will be fulfilled in missionary life.
Our plan, for the moment, is to leave for Kansas City this month. We will spend a few months with Lora’s parents. Training with FMC starts in September and lasts for three months. From their we are not sure where we will be sent. This will be a two year, minimum commitment, but we will not be surprised if this will not be for longer. We have started a blog so that you may follow us on our journey.

The Eckstines

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