This summer an old friend from my youth ministry days contacted me to see if I could photograph her family while they were here in America this summer. The special occasion: The finalization of their second son's adoption (a two year long process) and US citizenship! What an honor and a thrill to help them document this momentous occasion!!!
God is good!
Tony and Melinda both teach internationally in Africa. Before that they lived in Laos. They have two beautiful adopted boys, Nico and Zef. To celebrate the occasion of Zef's adoption and citizenship, Melinda and Tony decided on a patriotic color scheme for their "forever family" portrait session. Great choice!
After their session our families enjoyed getting reacquainted (and meeting each other's children for the first time) over barbecue at our home.
I first met Melinda when we were both single. I had recently moved from the Chicago area to Dallas to take a position as a youth pastor at a church in Pleasant Grove. Melinda had recently returned to the area as well and we enjoyed getting to know one another - through her mother's introduction.
Melinda's parents, Dick and Edith Hugoniot, are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators and have dedicated their lives to providing the gospel to people groups around the world who do not yet have God's Word in their native tongue. I met them at the church I was working - which is their home church and a sponsor of their ministry work with Wycliffe.
Edith became a dear friend to me. She always took time to mentor and encourage me whenever they were in town from their travel abroad. Her warm hospitality and listening ear greatly encouraged me during my own years of ministry. She was a solid voice of reason and cheerful positivity when I needed direction and encouragement. I will always cherish our sweet talks!
Though these pictures were taken months ago, there's no better time than the holidays to celebrate good friends and strong Christian families - knit together by God himself! Melinda and Tony, Melinda's parents, and her siblings are still actively serving God and faithfully telling others about Jesus Christ - all over the world.
I'm glad I saved their post for this Christmas season. Theirs is a family who dedicated themselves to telling others about Jesus - the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I'm grateful for their sacrificial service to God.
May God continue to bless their ministries and their families this coming Christmas and in the New Year to come.
And to the rest of us: You don't have to move to another country to serve God. Be a good friend to someone who needs one. If you are married, be a faithful spouse and a loving and patient parent. Be a godly example to those who look up to you. Find ways to support the needy in your community - maybe even a neighbor. Spread a little cheer to those who are going through a tough time.
There are endless ways to serve God - right where you are.
Today, I'm thankful to the men and women who dedicate their lives to missionary work around the world. May God bless you!