Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 In Review

WOW! What a year it has been!! I have to look back through pictures to reflect on all that happened last year.  Here is a photo review of 2011.  


                       We continued to grow together as a family and bond with our newest addition!

Hannah's girly side came out and continues.  She prefers to wear dresses and skirts, but has no problem getting dirty with the rest of the kids

Hayden continues to grow up.  As sad as that can be, I am blessed to see the young man he is growing into.  2011 has been a great year for him!


February brought adventure as John and Hayden got to see Okinawa from a close overhead view!   
I took a job running the Student Ministry at our church.  I get paid to hang out with pretty much rocks! This particular day was a paintball day.  It's one of the boys favorite events and it is fun to listen to their stories and see the bruises.

My littlest man "hamming" it up! Such a classic photo!


 The beauty of homeschooling is being able to take early days and enjoy this beautiful island.  On this day we took a ride on a Ferris Wheel in American Village.  The kids loved it and I was able to capture this sweet moment on camera.

Hannah's birthday card she received from Grandpa Darrel! The card turned into a paper bouquet of flowers.  

The kids and I were involved in a homeschool co-op during the 2010-2011 school year.  One of Hayden's weekly classes was Japanese, which occasionally had an opportunity to do something hands on.  This particular week we were able to participate in a Tea Ceremony.  It was a sweet and wonderful experience!


I would love to tell you of all the wonderful things that went on in April of 2011, but I was a bit overwhelmed by planning our Student Spring Break Retreat.  All things considered it went pretty well, but between preparing, carrying out, and recovering there wasn't much else to do.  Enjoy these photos!

 Beach bonfire on the last night!
 Stuffing my face....what else do you do at camp?
 Food coloring water war!

Love these girls! 
Our group shoot!

Whew! May is always an exciting month!  
In the beginning of May is Golden Week here in Japan.  It is a week full of holidays and celebrations.  One of our favorite things to see are the dragon boat races.  We went at night this year, so we missed the races, but we were still able to enjoy all of the other festivities.  Like cotton candy!
 Eating fair food!
Fried rice for Henry.
Both of the kids got to jump on those giant trampoline things.  They had a blast and still talk about it to this day!
 We ended the night with fireworks!!
Hayden was a part of a kids choir this year and he did a great job learning the songs, singing them, and remembering all of the movements.
 Henry's 1st birthday!!! What a special day!
 Hayden completed two sparks books in one year!! He worked really hard and earned his ribbons!
 We had one family birthday party and one with a few friends for Henry's first birthday.  Well the day that was with friends we rented a bouncer and Hannah jumped to high/hard and flew off of it and hit her head on the corner of a brick.  She ended up with two staples and a 6 hour ER visit :)  That is one birthday we will never forget.

 We also experienced the worst typhoons in a long time! We have been through about 6 since we have been here and this one was by far the worst.  Almost everyone who had a storage unit on the base lost them and everything in it.  It did some pretty good damage and called for quiet a bit of clean up.
This is a boat that was blown over during the typhoon.

Brought us family to Okinawa and near us for the first time in 7 years! John's sister Jenn and her husband Matt and their two kids Parker and Jillian were stationed here in June.  They actually got a house across the street from us and it has been such a nice change to our island life.

A dear sweet friend of mine took us out and shot some family pictures of us! Here are some of my favorites!

June also brought a trip home to the states for Henry and I.  John sent us home for the Eliel Family Reunion and so that everyone could meet our newest family member.  I had a wonderful trip and realized just how much I missed everyone.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive family!  Here are some pictures from our trip!
 Henry eating at one of John and I's favorite restaurant!
 Home sweet home!
Henry meeting Grandpa Darrel for the first time!
Playing with Great Grandpa Miller!
 Henry's first Cardinals game!!!
First Ted Drews with Grandad!
 Henry with a fro.
Henry with Uncle Erik!
Henry playing in the water...who needs toys?
 What my family does best!
 Cowboy Henry
 I love Montana.  It is such a special place to me.

After being home for 2 days from the states I hopped on a jet plane again and headed to the Philippines where John and I led a youth mission team. 
 Some of the girls playing with the toddlers...
 Dressed and ready to go to Malabon.
 Hand games are universal! 
 Helping clear away the rubble to help make progression on the remodeling of the old building.
 We planked things...this one is of John planking a Jeepney!
One of the boys planking the basketball hoop!

The whole time I was in the states and went to the Philippines my step-mom came and stayed with the kids, which was such a blessing to us! The kids had a great time with Nana here!  After our busy few weeks we took a short vacation with her to Okuma before she headed home.  Oh! We can't forget Sushi-Go-Round too! 

We clean up well!!

August led to some changes in our ministry.  God revealed to us His plans in how we did ministry.  It was a bit scary by stepping into the unknown, but looking back He was faithful and laid out exactly what we needed to get everything started.  At the beginning of the school year we started a youth group during our Wednesday night church service.  It has led us to be able to reach out to students that we were not previously reaching.  It has also allowed us to cover things that we are not always able to get through in Sunday School.  Wednesday nights have allowed us to have small groups for our students which was a big need that we had tried to fit in other places, but just wasn't working out.  All in all it was a healthy change and I am thankful that God can see the bigger picture when I only have one piece of the puzzle.  

August also led to to some adventures for us as a family.  We found a great river to go river trekking in.  The kids love it and it is a nice change of something to do during the warm summer months!  

This month led to some big spiritual challenges and changes.  John and I began to read a book called Radical. by David Platt.  It helped us to see just how blessed we are and because of our blessings we began to change the way that we operated as a family.  But somehow this month passed us by and I have nothing to show of it in photos...oh well the rest of the year was busy enough.  I'll make up for it there!


 Fun fall traditions....caramel apples.  And this year it was even better because the kids got to do this activity with their cousins.
I made the kids costumes this year.  They didn't like them, but I had them at least take a picture in them and then they changed into dress up clothes to Trick or Treat in.
My handsome little man and his first haircut! He looks so grown up!
Hayden's 7th Birthday Cake! It looked much better in person.
Hayden our little Luke Skywalker enjoying his birthday presents.
He also got to go to Round 1 a fun indoor play place with sporting games and video games.  Here he is shooting balls at kids :) lol

We had our Student DNow at the beginning of November and that began the busy holiday season for us.  DNow was a blast and we were so blessed by our students, our team, and the families.
Senior High boys having their Bible study around the fire.
 Rocking out to Kutless!
 Yea...he's my big kid!
Trust games...this is harder than it looks!
 Hannah going ice skating for the first time.
My "big" kids waiting for the green light to skate.
 My little girl having a blast.
Hayden taking a turn around the ice for the first time.
 Henry wasn't feeling so well this day, but this was a fun little ride on the ice.  He enjoyed it while it was moving, but fussed any time it stopped.
 The Senior High student went zip-lining.  This guy's got tricks!
Yea...they pretty much rocked this course!
The whole group! What a great weekend! We were so blessed to be a part of it!

It always gets busy around this time of year.  We had a student Christmas party at the beginning of the month.  Then we got to have a teenage son for a week while his mom ran the Hawaii marathon.  We had a week full of Christmas parties and dinners and then packed up and got ready to go to the Philippines.  Our trip will need its own blog, so I will go into more detail later, but overall December was a crazy wonderful amazing month.


  1. Wow! What a testimony in pictures of how great is His faithfulness in all of you. We love you!
    The Ishikawas

  2. So great to see how God has continued to bless your family and to use you in His service! We still miss y'all at Crosswell, but God definitely had plans for you when He sent you overseas. Can't believe how much Hannah and Hayden have grown! Keep us posted!
    Love in Christ, Carol Russell