Friday, April 06, 2018

Greetings from the Kleins at the end of 2017!

God has been very good to us. All of us. Everyone.
"Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!" — John Newton
We were condemned to die for our sins, which were many. We had no way to repay him because all our best deeds were like rubbish in the presence of his perfect holiness. But as holy and just as he is, he is also full of love. He is love, not superficial so-called love, not “only if you love me back” love. The Bible says he loved us when were just sinners, loving and living in our sin.
"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people!" (Luke 2:10)
When we awakened to our hopeless plight, we discovered that the solution to our worst problem had already been solved. Our worst problem was not the need for more money, better health, relaxation, better this or better that. Our worst problem was that we had offended a God so holy that a single sin is too vile for his sight. The price for our sin had to be paid. A righteous, perfect Judge could never overlook an offense and still be considered righteous. We all know that would be a travesty of justice. He could not accept our futile promises to reform ourselves.
"Then let us all with one accord, sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought, and with his blood mankind has bought." — 13th century
The price had to be paid. Our God of love paid it on our behalf! It took nothing less and nothing more than the sacrifice of his own dear Son.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!" (Luke 2:11)
That sums up the best news of our 2017. It is good news to all people!

Noah and Susanna, were baptized this year, declaring their intent to seek and follow Jesus. We are so thankful. Noah has grown in many helpful abilities this year which has been a big blessing. Susanna had a couple of months of down time with various health issues, but she is improving and learning to wait patiently on the Lord, which has also been a blessing. 
(Readers will note the frequent use of the word blessing in this letter.)
"Sometimes we go to the Koilpillais' house, and nobody gets married."  Daniel, 2017

This year on March 25, Miss Lily-Ann Koilpillai became Mrs. Benjamin D. Klein. And so, for that amazing occasion which occurred near the home of our dear friends, the Koilpillais, we headed west to Olympia, Washington. It was a misty, spring day, full of much joy and thanksgiving to God. We wrapped things up, headed home, and kinda settled down for a bit. However, this fall found us back on the road again, to rejoice with the Koilpillais again, for another celebration on a misty, fall day, November 4, when Abi became Mrs. Nathanael J Koilpillai.

Now, there was that one time we went to the Koilpillais and nobody got married... 

It was in August, right after that thing in the sky...what was that? Something like partial polar hairclip or something. We all drove to Wyoming, and camped on the side of the road next to the people from Poland, and we all wore welding masks. We were actually on the way to a much anticipated Bible conference in Oregon, but we were able to manage getting back up to Olympia and spending some time again visiting the Koilpillais'. That time, it wasn’t too misty, and nobody got married.  

The rest of the time, when we went to the Koilpillais’ house, someone got married. The weddings totally eclipsed that thing in the sky.

Zak and Beth continue to live nearby and are expecting a little girl in February, giving Great Grandpa Edd yet another chance for a descendent to share his birthday. Zak continues working mostly from home and enjoys opportunities to travel with the family and research geological features which reveal evidence for the global earth catastrophe known as Noah’s flood. Bethie keeps busy caring for Zak, John Mark (2) and Timmy (1), and their expected blessing. Also firm believers in catastrophism, John and Timmy happily conduct experiments on a local scale, usually involving blocks, books and of late, the salt shaker.

Abigail and Nathanael (Jebi) are happily married and residing in Olympia, Washington. Though our families have known each other for several years, it was Ben and Lily’s spring wedding that provided the time and opportunity for Abi and Jebi, who worked with planning and coordinating, to see in one another some very important and precious mutual priorities and goals. With much joy, we dusted off Ben and Lily’s guest list and planned a wedding which coincided with a fall tech event we already had scheduled in Seattle. There was not much dust to dust off.

Ben and Lily are happily married and are residing near us in St Louis. Their story began before our last year’s newsletter had been processed in the post office, as God’s wisdom was being sought by Ben, Lily and their parents. With much rejoicing and assurance, plans were quickly set in motion for a March wedding in Washington, as we were already doing a west coast tech event around that time.
Sarah happily joined in with efforts on both wedding celebrations, especially in helping us get from point A to point B with all our debris and in searching thrift stores for color coordinated attire. Music was a big part of both weddings, and Sarah cheerfully did what she could. She continues to work with Zak doing javascript when the opportunity arises. She has an interest in working on translation for those who have no Bible in their language. Her continued pursuit of Greek (between visits to the Koilpillais) has gone well. This is partly due to her diligence and enjoyment of Greek and partly due to the fact that Greek does not move too quickly.

Solomon has been a big blessing in providing cross-country transportation and did quite a bit of wedding photography. He plays a crucial brotherly role in the family in all he does, and we are so thankful for his efforts in that area. We had our final regional tech conference this year, but then started a new type of tech conference, which we expect to be annual and only based in the Pacific Northwest. Solomon kept busy with all the set up required for the new brand. The timing of our tech events this year heavily influenced wedding dates. Yes, we are getting inquiries about the timing of next year’s tech event. Solomon crafts exquisite macaroni and cheese and is great at replacing the occasional alternator on our van, which seems to be the kind of alternator we occasionally get.

Hannah was privileged to help by singing and figuring out parts for playing violin at both weddings. As our astronomical advisor during the- four-minute-thing-in-the-sky that we watched in Wyoming, she demonstrated the correct time to shed tears of joy. There were just a lot of things like that this year...blessings, watching the sky, and weddings. She stays busy with meal planning and preparation, shopping, musical arranging and projects, household organizing projects, science study and occasional field study, and booking accommodations for the events we help with... but her biggest accomplishment this year has been her completion of copying the entire Bible by hand... which she considers a blessing. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.

Joanna was a huge help to Debbie as they both set out to California to relocate Grandma Chris to Saint Louis. Joanna has taught herself some flute this year (after receiving one as a birthday gift), continues to study Chinese and continues to organize the annual St Louis Homeschool Missions Fair each February. Joanna joined in with musical help for both weddings. With each wedding in our family, we have been overwhelmed by the help of dear family in Christ who do abundantly more than we could imagine in the way of service. Both weddings this year featured delicious international cuisine contributed by many dear friends. For Abi and Jebi’s wedding, Joanna teamed up with her siblings as a dear family friend taught us how to make a very special Mexican dish called mole (mo lay). Mole is famed for requiring the use of almost every ingredient imaginable, even chocolate, so we had never dreamed of actually being able to make it ourselves. The counter was cluttered with bowls full of rare and diverse spices, seeds and diced produce. It turned out very good, though we noted the strange absence of goldfish crackers.

Rebekah conspired with Debbie to make what we thought was a surprise visit to Grandpa Bill in California for his 75th birthday. For a special gift, Bekah illustrated a storybook of Grandpa’s adventures with his prized puppy in days gone by. But Bekah’s surprise special delivery appeared to backfire, as Grandpa thanked her for the delivery with an almost straight face, said goodbye, and then shut the door. But it was a JOKE. Later we all had ice cream. Bekah joyfully helped with the weddings in many essential and artful ways. She enjoys working on special musical projects as surprises. She is full of surprises. Bekah’s own self-designed birthday cake was inexplicably garnished with chocolate dipped vegetables. It tasted as one would expect, and there was plenty to go around. For days.

Susanna has experienced relief from much of the constant pain which affected her for a couple of months. We are so thankful she was sufficiently recovered from outpatient surgery to participate in preparations for Abi and Jebi’s wedding, such as decorating and playing a musical instrument. Outpatient surgery helped, but she still has some inflammation in her ribs which limits her activity. She likes to find little ways to bless her friends and family. Sometimes these ways are very small, even miniscule. She has really enjoyed having a new sister (Lily) and brother (Jebi). She loves to make tea for loved ones, and continues studying German, and her vocabulary is shaped by her reading a lot of 18th century biography. And if we have told her thrice, we have told her a thousand times...

Noah is about as industrious as a colony of ants, but slows down a teency bit for his duties as “Uncle NoNo” when the opportunity allows. His growing set of woodworking skills has injected much sawdust into our dryer’s lint filter, but it has also helped to solve many practical problems around the house, and produced a very sweet anniversary gift for his parents, made almost entirely out of firewood. He likes baking, playing guitar, doing lawn care and home repair projects, all manner of woodworking, reading, and is itching to replace his first alternator, which may not be too far on the horizon.

Sammy has had great opportunities for photography, at both weddings, and during the total solar eclipse, and all the travel in-between. He loves to help with tasks at the nephews’ house. Hannah tutors Sammy in astronomy, and they keep us posted about upcoming night sky phenomena. Even if we walk away without seeing anything stellar, he gets some pretty interesting photos, which he also edits. He sometimes succeeds in getting candid photos of our local fox’s morning backyard antics, and he practices percussion. But not at the same time.

Gideon also put in a lot of time behind the seatbelt, reading away the miles, taking in many familiar roadside sights, stopping at the same truck stops, identifying the same road cuts. He kept Grandma Jemelie company as she ironed all of the green men and boys’ shirts for Ben and Lily’s wedding, which we caught on time lapse—amazing! We are very blessed. Gideon is always ready to learn new writing fonts, invent fonts of his own, practice calligraphy, and is wanting to learn the technique of illumination. He is an excessively happy uncle. Neighbors recently gave us a flute, which Gideon has adopted, and Joanna intends to help him learn it. We suspect we will not soon hear the end of it.

Joshie received a painted piranha souvenir from friends who are working to share the good news about Jesus in South America. He loves helping with practical projects, especially yard work, though he finds impractical projects almost as appealing. He enjoyed our family’s opportunity for helping out at the new location of the Mount St Helens Creation Center. His birthday celebration was at the Toutle River, the headwaters of which flow from near the north side of Mount St Helens. The younger brothers commemorated Joshie’s milestone by accidentally sending Daddy’s shoes down the mighty Toutle and floating out to the Pacific Ocean. Then, we went to a shoe store.

Daniel is five years old and his menu of adverbs is growing exponentially. He works with his big sisters on phonics, but often muses on the topic for his next podcast. He continues to volunteer his expertise in various areas, such as paleontology, culinary arts, American history, and, on the eve of losing his first baby tooth, dental hygiene. He enjoys drawing in the same way that most people enjoy breathing. For some reason, Daniel really enjoys putting on wedding attire, a task which he tries to work into his daily routine.

Dave and Debbie were overwhelmed and amazed, blessed, and thankful, but not thankful enough.

Well, it is just so amazing what the Lord has done for us all. No matter what 2017 brought us, nothing can dim nor outshine the tremendous gift the Lord has bestowed upon us, because of his great compassion and love. 
"Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

With much thankfulness, the Klein family:

Dave, Debbie, Sarah, Solomon, Hannah, Joanna, Rebekah, Susanna, Noah, Sammy, Gideon, Joshua, and Daniel

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