2011 Letter

Here is our 2011 end of the year letter. I hope you can enlarge it to read the words, but just in case you can't, I will paste the words of the letter below these pages.

Dear friends,

Ethiopian Connection: "Mark, I just heard someone speaking Amharic!"  Amy and I were at one of Colette's track meets among a culturally-diverse crowd of parents. The man and wife were Ethiopian enough in appearance that I dared to ask:  "Did my wife hear you speaking Amharic?"  We spent the next 10 minutes excitedly speaking Amharic and English with them.  Two months later, the Assefas invited us to their older daughter's college graduation party where we enjoyed the company of about 100 Amharic speakers. As we feasted on Ethiopian injera, our hosts made it clear that our enjoying their food made them very happy. Amy and I were married in Ethiopia in 1975 and spent 3 years in ministry there.  Few things made our African friends happier than when we entered their world - sleeping in their homes, enjoying their food, and drinking coffee together.  This reminds me that people everywhere want someone to enter their world and love, enjoy, and respect them, on their turf and on their terms.  (written by Mark)  

Important Question: Recently I (Amy) was challenged by one of my mentors to evaluate my life by drawing up a "life wheel," dividing it into 8 wedges of categories.  I chose the life areas of health, family, spirituality, business, recreation, finance, friends, & personal growth. My mentor told me to track my activities for a month by category and then ask the killer question:  Do these activities represent how I want to spend the rest of my life?        That was a wakeup call for me.  I called Heidi to plan a lunch date with her. Meeting with her could not wait another month and would not happen unless I scheduled it.  Spending time encouraging women in their walks with God and helping people discover natural solutions to different health issues - are a big part of how I want to spend my life.
Thriving Freshman at Bradley University: Have you ever heard of a "piano jury"?  Part of Kinza's final exams involved such a "legal" process whereby a student performs before all her piano teachers to be evaluated on progress made. Kinza was "acquitted" and has now completed her first university semester.   She has also landed 3 different part time jobs, working as a videographer at school sports games, playing the piano at a local church, and being rehearsal pianist for the Bradley chorale.  She has made some great Christian friends and earned the respect of dorm mates who don't share her faith but can feel her friendship.

Adorable young adult takes on large department store by storm: Colette, a senior in high school, landed her first "real job" at Kohls' Department store in August.  Her awesome people skills make it natural for her to relate well even with disgruntled customers.  She is looking forward to attending beauty/cosmetology school next year, entering a field where her artistic and relational skills will be valuable.    From Ethiopia to Wisconsin & many places in between:  Meeting the Assefas reminded us that life has never been consequential or meaningful without first awkwardly entering someone else's world, making it our home, and building relationships, from Africa to the dorms of Penn State University, to Milwaukee's inner city, and now to the wild jungles of Green Bay Packer land.  We treasure each of you whose lives you allowed us to enter and who have entered our lives

Blessings, Mark, Amy, Kinza, and Colette Hagerup