Dad and Mom, I just read the notes about the goats and the gift of “a Mongolian ger and furnishings” that has been given in our name. Thanks also for the goat picture to show Nessa. It will be fun to explain that concept to her and that is a very precious picture.

A couple days ago in a Bible class, I was telling the story of the time when Kevin and I piped the “call” to Mongolia into your bedroom. Well, getting a yurt given in our name may not be as thrilling as being there in person, but it is a very tangible answer to our rather facetious divine call. And it is a great reminder of our own blessedness that we so grossly take for granted, nay worse, that we so grossly ignore as we gripe daily about our own more petty needs. Thank you, Dad and Mom.

We prayed for Luke at breakfast this morning and will be eager to hear news whenever you receive it. Elizabeth is getting some much needed sleep today. Nessa, Tobin and I went to a couple basket ball games last night. Nessa had a great time playing with a couple other kids her age and Tobin held up pretty well too.

We just took a family walk in the snow and looked at many tracks. In one place, a set of squirrel or rabbit tracks ran across a section of pavement and then ended abruptly where the snow was all beaten down. It looked very much like a hawk had snatched it right out of the snow. We pass a map of the US painted on the pavement outside an elementary school. Nessa likes to jump on each of the states where Katie and Joel, Kevin and Jessica, and each set of grandparents lives. She was thrilled to find that they were visible even under a dusting of snow. It always seems to snow good on the weekends. We haven’t used a single snow day yet this year.

Dad, Daniel is all lined up to speak to the entire upper school this coming Friday during our seminar week. Thanks for helping with that. He has great ideas for what to talk about with the kids. The seminar week looks fun. Daniel will be one of two visitors. The other will be a police officer and a detective together talking about problem solving in connection with criminal investigations. During the week, students will be competing in four teams on four different creative engineering-type projects such as a glider launching device and a programmable robot. They get some material and money to start with and then they can earn more money from the bank by taking out and returning puzzles form a cool library that we collected together from a wide range of sources. With the money, they can buy extra materials or save it up to earn extra points in the overall competition. On the last day, all of the projects will be judged and tested for aesthetics and performance. The winning teams then earn points toward the annual team competitions that we have running all year long. These upper school teams are all family-based so that siblings, and eventually children, will always be in the same team. (Just like Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, although we don’t have any competitions quite as cool as Quidditch.) For names, we used the names of the four beast that represented the four evangelists during medieval times: Eagles, Lions, Angels and Oxen. I am an Oxen. It is a slightly awkward name, but we have made the best of it with team T-shirts that have “Untippable” on the front and the team name on the back above the silhouette of an oxen cut out of a block of text containing multiple translations of Proverbs 14:4 (a verse for which the exact meaning of the first half is somewhat disputed).

Without oxen a stall [is] clean, And great [is] the increase by the power of the ox. (YLT)
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. (ESV)
Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest. (NIV)

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