New Year Letter 2014

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We are marking our first year in Yokosuka on New Year’s Day. We have seen the different seasons this country has to offer: a heavy snow, the beautiful cherry blossoms, the scorching heat of summer and the relief provided by the rainy weathers, and the colorful autumn that led us back to this sometimes unbearable cold winter. The earth never failed to remind us that it constantly moves. Earthquake jolts have become a norm.

In 2013, many of our friends lost a loved one. James also lost his last surviving grandparent. The night before she passed on, James was awoken by a vision of her and wrote her a tribute.

The kids love their new school (Jason as a returning student); though Jason had a hard time adjusting at first. His grades went down and his appetite for books seemed to have decreased. When he moved to fifth grade, he made a remarkable improvement. His grades shot up again, and during summer he read the entire The Chronicle of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. His favorite reward is playing Mine Craft and Tanki Online for hours. This year, having turned 10, he got his military dependent ID and his own house key. He breezes through his piano lessons with ease and later this year was advanced to Level 4 in the American Red Cross swimming lessons.

Jasmine, now 8, absolutely adores her teachers especially her second grade. She is well advanced in her reading level and has read all the Magic Tree House books including some classics such as Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, and Wizard of Oz. She is an apt writer with impressively constructed paragraphs in her stories. She plans to buy all the Barbie dolls in the Navy Exchange before our next rotation. She loves getting origami prizes for doing a good job in her piano lessons and is currently at Level 3 in the ARC swimming lessons.

Annaliza assumed the Lead Petty Officer role at her job and it came with unrelenting challenges. In general, it wasn’t an easy year for her, but she has constantly learned from all the leadership experiences and continues to mentor and coach her team to make the right decisions. She has completed all her academic requirements in her associate degree and expects to graduate in May 2014. She continues to volunteer at the many events on base and was happy to see her mom come visit a couple of weeks ago.

James has had the longest unemployment streak this year thanks to recession and government sequestration. This is something he has to endure every military move – leaving his job and transitioning to the next. He took the opportunity to go back to school and expects to earn his second master’s degree in June 2014. That’s concurrent with his doctoral studies. He took his homemaker job seriously and chauffeured the kids to their extracurricular activities, learned new recipes and posted the finished products on his Facebook. He spent more time blogging and his timeline on the Permanent Change of Status has helped many military families (1,961 hits so far). His article on male military spouses was featured at Military OneSource’s Blog Brigade, and he was twice featured at the Kanto Region Stars and Stripes – a local paper. He attempted to read 12 books this year, though he was only able to finish his 11th book. During the fourth quarter, he entered into his first government contracting job as a pioneering Program Support professional for Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO Navy Region Japan) and he is tasked at establishing retreats for service members throughout the region to include Sasebo, Okinawa, Atsugi, Misawa, Diego Garcia, Singapore, Guam, and Korea. He will be certified with DiSC Personality early next year and will be expected to lead and teach in the personal growth retreats.

We follow God’s leading and we submit our faith in Him. We may be far from our family and friends, but we constantly keep you in our thoughts and prayers. 2013 wasn’t an easy year and we were faced with many trials, but we have instead kept ourselves busy counting our blessings and are thankful that God truly loves us. 2014 is going to be a wonderful year, because God holds the future in His hands. It is also our hope that each of you will be blessed tremendously in the coming year.

Happy New Year and cheers!

Affectionately,

 

Jasmine Anne, Jason Alain, Annaliza, and James

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