Dear family and friends,
What a wild year 2020 has been! Here are some highlights for our family…
*We moved from the city of Winston-Salem to a small town we had never even heard of before! Our search for a fixer-upper home with sweat equity potential led us here, but since then we’ve seen so much evidence of God’s grace in the move and we’re grateful it worked this way. *Ethan flew to Thailand and introduced a team of college students to our work in Chiang Mai. *We started working in the state’s largest juvenile detention center, where we taught trafficking safety. We also mentored the kids while doing art and engineering projects. *Spunky turned seventeen and got her license. *Calico turned 10. *We took in a Thai exchange student, Ryu, and loved having him as a part of our family. *Giggles completed the classroom portion of driver’s ed. *We got one fairly decent snowfall.
*The Wheelers experienced their first tornado warning and learned how to hunker down in the center of the homeschool co-op building. We had another tornado warning at home that night, but half of the family slept through it. *When covid hit our area, the juvenile detention center closed down for visitors and put a hold on our work there, which broke our hearts. *With two Thai citizens living in our home, we scrambled as information kept changing in order to make sure they made it home okay. Ryu left when the local high school shut down. Gunya was on one of the last flights into Thailand at the time, and ended up quarantining for two weeks outside of Bangkok. *Suddenly finding ourselves with holes in the schedule, we started painting our entry and turned our attention toward our side business, Chapter & Verse Studios.
*Bubba turned fourteen. *We learned that June is not the month to walk through the woods behind our house, because that’s when all the ticks come out. *Spunky and Giggles applied and interviewed to join the city youth council. *We drove to Fort Wayne, Indiana to open a new project in Northeastern Indiana. Shortly after the project opened, our team was able to assist the local prosecutor and local law enforcement in a missing child/trafficking case. *We adopted two kittens, Charlie and Lola, whom the kids adore.
*Giggles was able to finally do the driving portion of her class, got her permit, and turned 16. *Ethan and Kimberly completed a very strange covid version of the 30-hour foster care licensing course. *We raked, blew, and piled up about a gazillion leaves. *In the interest of keeping a roof over our heads while continuing in ministry, we opened a temporary home decor/gift shop from our home, selling items we had been building since March when the COVID shut everything down. *We had a visit from Kimberly’s parents and were able drive to North Carolina’s Outer Banks with them.
Throughout this tumultuous year, there was one verse that stood out to us:
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
With so many unexpected changes in ministry, we were encouraged to keep giving ourselves fully to God’s work. Seasons change, and our plans change. We were reminded that our plans take a back seat to God’s plans (“If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” -James 4:15). In a year that we could see as one big disappointment, we instead look back at new ministry growth happening in NC (2 new youth facilities!), Indiana (new office and staff!) and Thailand (new registration and a bigger shelter home!). At the same time we watched our little side-hustle business turn into a small source of income at a time when support for the ministry and our family was often unstable. What a great reminder that God is never unstable. He’s never surprised. And He is still moving and working even when we can’t see past our immediate circumstances.
Which, again, is why 1 Cor. 15:58 is so meaningful to us this year. Don’t be concerned about your lack of control over your world. Be wise, but unafraid. Give yourself fully to the work of the Lord. He won’t forget you! Like us, you might find much to be thankful for when you look back later at the good things He has done.
We pray that you will be blessed in 2021!