Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Counting My Blessings

2016 was an incredible year for the Atha household.  We have seen God's hand working in our lives all through each of the 365 days.  Listed below in chronological order are our top ten blessings of the year, in my humble opinion...

ESL Students
I was remembered by all my little ESL students.  This one even brought a cake!
God brought students to my door this year after Byron and I decided going into the big city was just not working out with that long bus ride.  Needing the money to help pay off a debt, I began to pray.  I very specifically asked God to bring them in and that each would be a good fit.  BTW, the debt was paid off before the end of the year.

 Our Sweet 16
Our youngest turned 16 this year and yeah, he's a guy, but this year he has blossomed and bloomed in so many ways.  Little whiskers on that chin, more outgoing, more finese with more instruments, and more mature in Christ.  Byron and I are very grateful for this young man in our house.

More Kids in Church
In February we were privileged to catch a group from the States that was in other areas churches for a Bible School campaign.  This big event saw several hundred children coming through our doors over the three days.  This great beginning to our year was the impetus for another Bible School campaign in July and a big Children's Day program.  We currently have 15 - 20 children coming to our Sunday School and 20 - 40 involved in a Saturday Bible Club.
Spunky and Wishbone
At the end of 2015 we lost our two dogs Tiny and Girl to a mosquito borne tropical disease.  I couldn't even think about getting new pets.  Once again God brought things to our door.  Just before Christmas of 2015 The Cat showed up and then Wishbone - both strays and then little Spunky was literally thrown out the door of a car with some other unwanted puppies at the end of our street.  There were three little pups.  One ran off never to be seen again.  We gathered up the two others.  Another missionary took one and we got Spunky.  She almost died after she'd been here about two months.  She came down with something like Canine Parvovirus.  I nursed her day and night force feeding broth and liquids and anti-vomit  and anti-diarrhea meds.  Amazingly she lived to grab things and chew things up another day.  She's lived up to her name!  We love them all.

 Olympic Torch Relay
In May the Olympic Torch came through our little town of Sobradinho!  It was a wild event.  We waited for hours in the hot sun to see the actual torch.  By the time it arrived, rushed in and was swooped away, we hardly even got a chance to see it.  But we made a bee-line for its next location - the big dam and canal and we got to see it and Byron even got to touch one that had been used in the relay.  Who'd have ever thought in the middle of nowhere this would happen?

William and Kerri's Visit
The summer of 2016 found us traveling to Salvador, Fortaleza, Madeira Cortada and doing all kinds of things around Petrolina and Sobradinho with William and Kerri for six incredible weeks.  They helped with one of our three day Bible Clubs, sang at various churches, and helped out with this and that around town.  All in all we were positively blessed.

Got to see old friends
 While William and Kerri were here we got to go to Fortaleza.  Our last trip had been over five years back.  Facebook and Whatsapp keep us somewhat current but there is nothing like a real hug and kiss.  My pal, Claudia, was actually involved in a kids' camp the week of our trip.  But we got to spend about four hours of precious time together.  We got to have Valdo, her husband and a dear friend, as our personal guide as we trekked the streets of Fortaleza.  Having been gone for so long it was great to have him with us.  He drove buses in the big city for years.  Valdo and Claudia were waiting for their day to come up on the docket for a kidney transplant.  Valdo was going to receive a kidney from his very own wife.  Their life is a real life love story with this as one of the greatest chapters. A few weeks after we were there, they finally were called up for the surgery.
 In September I wrote about the quilts I was making for grandbabies.  It was such an incredible experience to design and make two quilts for the children of Dalton and Destinie.  And God worked out a way for the quilts to get from NE Brazil to NC safely and securely before the new baby was born.  You can read all about it on another post @

Quilting for Love

I hit The Big 5-0
 And here's the man of my life doing the dishes on my birthday in November.  I have to say that it was one of my best birthdays ever.  Just to wake up and have peace and joy in my heart, not to mention being treated like a queen by Byron and Greyson!

Dalton and Destinie
Our biggest blessing of the year came in the fall when Dalton called to tell us of his salvation decision.  That call was the realization of many prayers of friends and family all around the globe.  Not a day has gone by since that moment that I haven't woken up praising and thanking God.  To extend our joy we have been blessed with two lovely grandchildren - Chase and Mariya.  Our hearts truly overflow after each video phone call with this family and to know they are in church, in Christ and in fellowship!  Thank you, God.

2017 will have to do a lot of work to pass the blessing level of 2016 but our God is great!  Pray with us as a family as we consider where God would have us minister in the future as we look to move on to a new location after our furlough at the end of this calendar year.  May God bless each one of you in this new year!

My buzz word for this new year is... 


Those who sow in tears,
 Shall reap in joy.

 Psalm 126:5

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