We’re already into March now and, against all odds, seems like another year has passed. It’s time again for some reflection and a new family update. Looking back at last year’s letter, I can smile at my goals a little: sort of depressed, difficult, and yet unwavering. This year I’m writing our family update with love for the changes God has made in us, perhaps even some optimism about the future He has planned.
It’s been a good year, all around. Our daughter, Gabriela Shalom Winton, was born on the 20th of August, 2011. Santiago (3 yrs old) has a little sister to play with now. We couldn’t have asked for a better gift! They are adorable and daily remind us of the love God gave to each of us freely.
Gabriela’s birth also gave us the opportunity to test out one of our goals from last year: the half-time income. After taking time off to be at home on family leave, I went back to work at 20 hours per week. The income from those 20 hours (as well as the many gifts) have been more than enough to cover our living expenses so far! In reality, this sort of downward mobility has been a real source of spiritual liberation for all of us in different ways. I get to spend more time with the kids and I also have more time to explore the work I see God leading me into. We both appreciate the new strength we feel in co-parenting, and as a result, Julissa has begun exploring some of her interests like teaching children’s Spanish classes and developing a Spanish story hour at the public library.
Picking up where my 2011 letter left off, I think I can honestly say that my life is becoming more intentionally focused and less dualistic in terms of work and family. Last year I had so many questions about our way forward—and they continue to impact me—but those questions are also slowly being answered through opportunities to assist others, both at my paid employment as well as at the Jesus Center where I volunteer. Like I wrote back then, the tensions with my paid employment definitely still exist. But now I see more clearly how God can use me where I’m at for as long as I can remain faithful to Jesus’ leading there. If the time comes for me to end that relationship or just to move on, I think I’ll be able to follow him and wait for him to show me the next steps.
As a family, we have been attempting to develop a more communal space out of our home for ministry with our neighbors, family and friends. We live in a somewhat economically depressed area, 3 blocks from a local homeless center (soup kitchen, job resource office, and women’s shelter). In an effort to assist the folks who go there for food and support, we began a community garden at our house back in 2009 and I now offer free counseling during the meals over at the center two times a week. It’s been quite a journey.
Looking ahead, we’re asking God to make the volunteer and ministry work even more available to us as this next year unfolds. We continue to trust that God will provide for us richly in all our needs and questions along the way. We’ve seen this happen beautifully already, especially leading up to and within these last six months since Gabriela was born and I started working a new schedule. So please pray with us as we wait for God and ask for his help to accomplish the work we feel inspired to do.