This year, Ross spent nine months interning at River City, a homeless day resource center.  During his internship, he was mentored by Anthony Wood and concurrently took a class at the grad school taught by Everett Huffard called Spiritual Leadership.  Under the leadership of these men, Ross rediscovered his spiritual gifts of evangelism, preaching, and leadership.  Ross also got a good dose of cross-cultural ministry experience at River City.  Throughout the year, Ross made steady progress towards the Masters degree in divinity.   His days were filled with reading, researching, and writing, but he made time on most days to get outside with his male teammates and Marco the dog to go on “Afro-ready runs” in the woods.

For Heather, the year of 2009 was the year of nursing.  This meant early morning wake-ups to get to clinical on time, long drives to Little Rock, and many hours of studying.  She completed mental health nursing, adult nursing II, pediatric nursing, OB nursing, and adult nursing II, ending her learning experience with an intense internship in the ER working nights.  Heather would take breaks from her studies to manage the house and cook supper most nights.  At least once a week or more, guests ate at our table, or we ate at a friend’s table.

Throughout the year, we continued to meet with our team and the missions committee at Downtown Church, working steadily towards the goal of church planting in Tanzania.  We also continued to live in the heart of Searcy where we tried to intentionally bring the love and words of Christ to our neighbors.

One of the unexpected gifts of 2009 was the development of a genuine friendships with some of “missionary” peers (still students at Harding) who have different theology than we do.  During spiritual discussions and times together, we have learned a lot from them about liberation theology and life in the context of community.  In November, we participated in a month long celebration with this group of friends in which we ate in each other’s homes and prayed together most mornings and evenings.

At the end of the year, both sides of our families invited us on fancy tropical vacations during Christmas time and we enjoyed spending over three solid weeks with family.

2009 has been a year of discovering spiritual giftedness, academic growth, spiritual maturation, and rich community life.

2009 Snapshots

During the summer, we went to VA Beach to stay with Heather’s Dad for five days.  We hitched the catamaran sailboat to our little Toyota Matrix, drove it to Heather’s Dad’s house, and parked it on the beach.  We sailed every day and enjoyed spending time with Heather’s Dad.  After this trip, we drove the catamaran back to Searcy so that we could enjoy sailing it on Grier’s Ferry Lake this summer.  Ross sailed it sever times this winter already, including twice over Thanksgiving break.  He persuaded Heather to sail with him on one of these icy ventures, but after that fateful trip, she refuses to sail with him again until the Spring!

This year, Heather’s Mom helped Heather’s sister, Haley, lease a horse from the Adair family.  We have enjoyed watching Haley ride on the farm and also in barrel racing shows.  Haley has even given Heather some riding lessons and taken her on a few trail rides.

During 2009, the Makonde team that we are on took two fundraising trips to raise money for the Makonde mission.  We took the first trip to Lexington, SC (Ross’ hometown) where we met with the elders and the church members from Lexington Church of Christ and presented a case for the Makonde during their church service.  The second trip was taken to Christina Brazle Meeks’ home congregation in Ohio called Great Falls Church of Christ.  We met with the members there and also did a presentation on Sunday morning.  See for more information about what our team did this year.

Marco helps Ross Study Hebrew.  Ross surprised Heather with a puppy in last January, and we have put a lot of work into raising him to be a good dog.  Marco is a Weimeriner, and he requires a lot of exercise.  However, as the picture above shows, with lots of love and training, he has turned into be a very studious and helpful family member.

Dec 30, 2009 marked our third anniversary!  We cannot believe that we have been married for three years–the years have flown by so fast.  We feel that marriage has truly been a gift from God, we praise him for the time we have had together, and we look forward to the future God has for us together.