A merry Christmas from the Jebi Koilpillai family! What a precious time of year this is to reflect on the great gift of God to our fallen race: his own Son Jesus Christ, sent to be the blood sacrifice for our sins, and make our peace with God.
“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (I John 4:9).
While we’d hoped to send a New Year’s letter back in January, our new year “hit the ground running,” and correspondence had to be put on the back burner for the time being! We thank the Lord for a full and fruitful past two years, the many opportunities to grow and be stretched, for his comfort in the times of sorrow, and for vivid experiences seeing his hand guiding our steps in answer to our prayers. There is so much joy in being in God’s will, seeking first his Kingdom and his righteousness. So to very briefly (we hope) sum up highlights of last year, 2018…
Probably the most amazing moment was in late April, when we learned to our great joy that Abi was carrying a little one. Over the months following, we were awed by the work of God’s mighty and tender hands as we learned more about how our baby was developing. We felt keenly how every minute with our child, even while in the womb, was a miracle. In those months and up to the end of the pregnancy, God guided and protected—miraculously— in ways we never could’ve imagined.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2).
In 2018, we were blessed with multiple opportunities to travel across the country to be with family for very special times, including the wedding of Abi’s younger sister Joanna to Ezra in Saint Louis, MO, and to be with all Abi’s family in the Fall, for the send off of Joanna and Ezra to full-time mission work in Brazil. Most memorable of our 2018 trips, transportation-wise, was in the Spring, an epic 2,000+ mile road trip from Olympia, WA to Saint Louis, MO, carpooling with our married siblings, Ben and Lily. It went famously, as is always the case when we four are together. Praise the Lord for great fellowship, and safety on the road.
One day in early July, I received a phone call that rocked my world. My cousin and dear friend, Reggie, had suddenly died of a brain aneurysm. Sweet Abi was a comfort to me during that dark time, staying at my side, bringing to my mind Jesus’ words: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). We have never been more grateful for the promise of eternal life that Jesus sealed through his death and resurrection. Reggie’s faith was in Jesus, and we will one day see him again.
On November 4th, 2018, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Every single day has truly been a joy, a precious gift, to press on the upward way as pilgrims hand in hand.
“Take heart, my friend: we can walk together, And if our burdens become too great, We can hold up and help one other, In God's love, in God's grace” (Fernando Ortega).
Then came 2019… The morning of New Year’s Day began with Abi discovering the baby was coming very soon! Her due date was nearly a week away, so this was quite a surprise. A little over 48 hours later, after a long but (praise the Lord) uncomplicated labor, Annah Melody Koilpillai was born on January 3rd at 7:47am, weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces, 21 inches long, with blue eyes and soft, fuzzy, blonde hair. We saw her take her first breaths, and it changed our lives. Abi’s mother and youngest sister, Suby, had traveled out to be with us for the birth, and my mother and two younger sisters, Rachel and Bekah, also assisted. We are deeply thankful to the Lord for giving Abi the endurance to bring little Annah safely into the world, and for a healthy, strong baby girl. (And yes, we quickly realized that writing and mailing a family letter around this time was a bit too ambitious. Ha!)
We soaked in the fleeting newborn days, with all the sleepiness, feedings and diaper changes around the clock. Sometimes all we could do was gaze into our daughter’s beautiful face, realizing that this child, “the incarnation of our love,” was given to us by God only to be given back to him. Yes, it was an exhausting time, but it was such a gift, one that we cherished. My parents and siblings were a great help to us, for which we are very grateful. And we were completely surprised when Abi’s father and remaining nine siblings (Mommy Klein and Suby being already here) showed up a few days after Annah’s birth, having driven all the way from Missouri! It was a precious time for both our families to rejoice together over this new life.
This year, God answered our prayers for my work situation. First, I was offered a summer job in the international department of a local university (where my family hosts TalkTime for international students). Then this Fall, I got work at the nearby Target warehouse. It’s seasonal work, but there’s potential for it to become full-time work. It’s a good job; we’re grateful for God’s provision. As we give thanks, we’re also seeking God for a home for our little family, and we’re trusting he will provide what we need, when we need it. Our Heavenly Father cares for his children. We’re grateful to him that for now we have a place to live in my parents’ home. We’re grateful to my parents, too!
God opened the door for us this year, between my job opportunities, to do some more traveling. First we flew out to Missouri in June and spent nearly two weeks with Abi’s family. During that time we all made a three vehicle caravan to Cincinnati, OH, where we spent two full days visiting the Creation Museum, my (and Annah’s) first time there. It was amazing! In August, we traveled to Bend, OR, for the annual Berean Call Bible Conference. Abi and I joined her siblings in leading music, and we were encouraged by the teaching, and fellowship with family and like-minded believers from all over the country (and even from out of the country!).
Around the time I was offered the the warehouse job, we welcomed the joyful news that—Annah is being promoted to big sister! Abi’s just entered her second trimester of pregnancy, and both she and baby are doing well. We are so looking forward to meeting our second child around late May, 2020, Lord willing.
For the last two years, we’ve been volunteering at the Mount Saint Helens Creation Center on close to a monthly basis, and this summer I accepted their invitation to join the board of directors. MSHCC is a special place for us, because it was through this ministry that the Kleins and Koilpillais first met. I’m still regularly teaching the holy Scriptures at our local fellowship. Please pray for my ministry and for our church, brothers and sisters, as we pray for yours. In my free time (um… what free time?) I’m working on a music project: songs about the soon return of Jesus. Songs that have been encouraging to me. You can find out more at jebikoil.com.
Abi’s days are full with caring for Annah (and Baby #2!), maintaining orderliness in our area of the house, and helping the family with various homekeeping tasks. She’s looking forward to managing her own home—trusting God’s perfect timing. While she waits, Abi serves the Lord wholeheartedly where He’s put her. She is so precious. When she has time, she enjoys working on correspondence, and her artwork (some of which is featured here). She’s my favorite artist, and I say that unbiasedly. We want to continue growing our business, Pilgrim’s Rest Tea. Abi is excited to help out, and I’m so grateful for her enthusiasm and encouragement.
Annah is a sweet little thing. She’s just over 11 months old, and is a happy, friendly, increasingly mobile (!!!) little girl. She has an exuberant “Hi!” and dainty hand wave when she sees a familiar face (and occasionally, a stranger passing her in the grocery store). Amongst her decipherable words are “baby,” “Bible,” “apple,” “amen!”, and “boo” (her word for cows, which apparently say “booooo”). She loves to page through any kind of book (“Bible”) and she loves to be sung to, and to listen to music, which she is pretty convinced always comes off of vinyl. We aren’t sure how much she understands, but Annah is very excited about “Baby” coming, and frequently greets her new sibling via kisses to Mommy’s tummy. She dearly loves her Thatha and Pattima (Grandpa Don and Grandma Ann-Marie), and playing with her local uncles and aunties. And even though we can’t see them as often, she is thrilled when she gets to see her Pa and Grandma (Grandpa Dave and Grandma Debbie), and her many uncles, aunties, and cousins in MO (and in Brazil!), whether in person or through video chats. We are so blessed that our children have a rich heritage of loving, godly family.
Perhaps in this coming year our Lord Jesus will return for his own. Our prayer is that each of you would be ready to meet him, looking up, and keeping busy about his work, till he comes to take us home!
“And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment—so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)