Dear family and friends,
Picture this with me: I’m about three years old, and I am standing in the entry way of my grandparents’ home, staring up at a straw mat that hangs on the wall near where we take off our shoes, set down our bags and greet each other. During holidays hosted here, this is the spot you stand if you want to see the action in the kitchen (baklava for dessert, anyone?) as well as the hubbub in the dining room (who traveled the furthest to get here tonight?). The mat hanging on this wall is where my grandma displays the many Christmas cards and family letters that come to their mailbox each year from around the world. Family from Germany and Greece, former exchange students from Russia and Brazil, and loved ones across the United States send their season’s greetings to become what I have learned is the most important Christmas decoration we display. It should be no surprise to you, then, that one of the first items I purchased for the home we bought in 2006 was a hanging card display.
Perhaps it is obvious to you as well that writing this letter is one of my favorite activities in the world! I delight in knowing that at least once a year, I’ll record the best and worst of our lives, share the details with loved ones and know that long-time connections will remain intact for one more year, if only through my annual Christmas letter. As I picture in my mind that collage of Christmas cheer, its crowdedness the result of Grandma’s own faithfully sent letters, I know I was raised to write this letter, and I look forward to writing it as much as I look forward to receiving yours!
After that little anecdote, you can imagine how much I would enjoy writing monthly letters, if I had news to share each month (I don’t… yet). You see, Chris and I are embarking on a journey that will change our lives forever. We have applied for career missionary service with an evangelical missionary agency, and we hope to have our assignment by the end of the summer. Many of you know that we spent a couple of weeks this summer in Madrid, Spain, working with and visiting missionaries Rich and Cindy Brown. In addition to assisting with an English day camp for children, we visited three church plants, spent time getting to know some Spanish families and learning as much as possible about missionary life. We are especially grateful to our church, Eastgate Bible Fellowship, for their support in sending us, and to the Browns and their coworkers John Patton and Cami McGraw, who opened their homes and lives to us in Spain. We were also blessed to take a few days of vacation in the incredible cities of Sevilla (home of flamenco dancing and one of the largest cathedrals in the world) and Granada (a quaint college town that boasts the Alhambra, an incredible Moorish castle and gardens that put Victoria, B.C. to shame). It was on this mini vacation that we had time to debrief and talk about the possibility of returning to Spain for full-time ministry. Chris and I are so very different; I am laughing even as I write this: I heard God’s call to full-time ministry loud and clear. Chris simply doesn’t hear God saying no, so, off we go! Ah, marriage.
So, “what does it all mean?” you ask. Well, right now we are in the application process. It’s long and involves answering lots of personal questions about ourselves, our spiritual background and our theological knowledge. We’ll do a comprehensive oral exam with a representative from the agency and our pastor, and then, God-willing, we’ll be invited to attend a two week seminar that will prepare us for pre-field ministry and outline our educational needs. We will each take four classes before we begin pre-field ministry. When, where and how Chris will attain a ministry degree is still to be determined. Most likely he will get the degree through a distance learning program once we are already on the field.
All that to say that in a few years you may in fact be receiving monthly letters from the Duryees! Please pray with us as we embark on this journey!
Last year’s letter was relatively unexciting compared to this one. I could go on for pages about our year! Suffice it to say it didn’t start out well – I was laid off from my job at CRISTA Ministries’ Christian Veterinary Mission in January (yes, the job that I got the day after losing a previous job – it’s been…interesting), and I took eight (sort of glorious) months to find a new job. It was hard to lose what I considered my dream job, but we were SO blessed to be able to get by during the time I was job searching with only minimal lifestyle changes, and we learned many wonderful lessons about how God provides and what our priorities should be. I would love to be able to stay home and care for our house, so it was definitely “funemployment” for me, but it couldn’t last forever. In August, I started working for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, a fantastic nonprofit that provides mentors for kids who need or want one. I get to design marketing and event materials and work on donor relations as well – exactly what I did, and loved, before. I am so grateful for my job, my coworkers, and working for a mission I can get behind.
Chris is going on seven years at SanMar as a tech support specialist, which he mostly enjoys. Our passions remain at church, working with high school kids, and spending time with our families, whom we are so blessed to have nearby.
We leave you with a picture of our hopeful future in Spain. (Literature lovers, you’ll recognize the characters, and behind us is Cervantes’ home in Alcalá de Henares, Spain.)
Rejoicing in Christ’s birth,
Chris and Rose Duryee