“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,”
says the Lord. "My Spirit, Who is on you, and
My words that I have put in your mouth
will not depart from your mouth,
or the mouths of your children,
or the mouths of their descendants
from this time on and forever,”
says the Lord." (Isaiah 59:21)
Dear Friends and Family,
This verse means a great deal to me because I felt God gave it to me on August 2, 1993, almost 23 years ago. I have prayed it often over the years. Even though it was a promise given to the children of Israel, I have claimed it for our own children, and theirs, and those yet to come.
This email is about family and extended family. So, while J.L. is in Kenya this week (see a brief update at the end of this report), I am going to fill you in on the “Williams Clan Reunion”, July 2-9, that took place in Destin, Florida. It was for J.L.’s extended family, the descendents of Clarence and Edith Williams. And it was to celebrate the Godly inheritance that the two of them passed along to their children and, just like the verse promised, even to the 4th generation. Including another family who joined us, we looked like this:
We were spread throughout 4 houses but ate our evening meals together. That’s why the back of our matching t-shirts, designed by Barkley and Mark Loser, said:
We descriptively divided our family into three groups. The first group was known as “The Originals,” since Clarence and Edith are with the Lord. The couples left to right, in birth order, are: Ed and Becky Williams, J.L. and I, Keith and Hannah Thompson, and Charlie and Judy Baer. Some childhood events were a little fuzzy in the reminiscing and even remembered differently depending on who was talking…but they made for some very entertaining times of storytelling!
The second tier of the family was called “The Middles”. Throughout the week, these first cousins and their spouses really enjoyed the trips down memory lane. After all, they had not only spent time with each other as children here in the USA, but had traveled together with The Originals on various trips to Europe, India, Nepal and Haiti.
Left to right, in birth order, they are: April W. Atkins, Carrie Baer, Joseph Williams, Camille Thompson, Whitney B. Finley, Jonathan Williams, Josh Thompson, and Barkley B. Loser. Our oldest daughter, Trish, would have been the first one on the left, but she and her family were unable to attend the reunion.
The last level, but in no way the least, was “The Littles”. They knew about each other, but most of these second cousins had never met before. It was a lot of fun watching them get acquainted, playing volleyball, cops and robbers, wiffle ball, dance contests, karaoke, eating huge ice cream sundaes, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, etc. Most thought it would be great fun to live next door to each other so they could enjoy more time together. They are pictured here with three friends who were also visiting with us.
Fifteen boys and five girls, ages: 19, 16, 15, 15, 14, 14, 13, 13, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5, 3, and 10 months!
As is always expected at family reunions, pictures were taken in spite of the protests (“But I want to get more shells!”) and the demanding logistics of getting everyone together (Does anyone know where ____ is?) before the sun went down.
Here are pictures of our immediate family:
Mark, Emma, April and Matthew Atkins
Nathan, Susannah, Joseph and Abigail Williams
Jonathan, Owen and Luke,
Julie and Joy Yael Williams
Our whole crew!
The week was wonderfully engaging, exhausting, funny, chaotic…and memorable! Probably never to be repeated, I’m guessing, at least not during the week of the 4th of July. One and done for that time of year! We’ll be looking for another midway point to bring us together from Oklahoma, Texas and North Carolina for another never-to-be-forgotten week!
Now a brief report on J.L., who, as you know, left for Kenya and Zimbabwe on July 22nd. Thanks to WhatsApp, he and I talk everyday – for free! He’s doing well and we’re very grateful that the Lord is giving him the strength he needs each day to accomplish the work God has called him to do. Arie VanWingerden is with him to help lend his expertise to the agricultural programs in both countries.
One of the national friends that J.L. visited on Monday is Mbaruka. He is from Kurungu/South Horr in northern Kenya, the son of a Samburu pastor who was also a master chef. Mbaruka has just completed his first year at the university in Nairobi, majoring in agriculture. He received a government scholarship but still had to pay an additional $1500. His father died recently and he is struggling to earn enough this summer to take care of next year’s fees. He is working at the sports’ camp that is run by Stakwell and Francesca Yurenimo. Mbaruka is very eager to return to his home region after graduation and teach his tribe how to grow crops successfully and more efficiently.
A selfie taken by Mbaruka of himself and J. L.
Your love and support are appreciated beyond any words I could express. Thank you for your continued prayers for J.L. and his health, for this ministry and us. As we rejoice in spiritual legacies and the passing on of Godly values and principles, let’s also rejoice that we are a part of God’s forever family!
Love in Christ,
“…the whole family was filled with joy,
because they had come to believe in God.”
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