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    Happy 25th Birthday, David!

    My Dear David,

    Happy birthday!!!

    Can you believe the past year?! You finished your first year of teaching, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary, we moved across the world, and have traveled thousands and thousands of miles.

     

    Photo of David and Leah in Amsterdam, Netherlands

     

    I am privledged and proud to be your wife! I hope I keep you laughing and smiling as much as you do for me.

    Here’s to our many more adventures!

    I love you!

     

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    Guilt

    Moving overseas has changed my life in so many ways. In some aspects, living in Turkey is similar to when Leah and I lived in Virginia. Our families in Michigan are not physically accessible, but they are only a phone call or video chat away.

     

    The Benedict family

     

    However, something I’ve struggled with since I first moved away from home was my longing to still be an active participant in the lives of my brothers. Being home-schooled first through eighth grade, I interacted closely with my four brothers. Whether we were chasing each other around with sticks, pulling each other into a fort with a rope to depict the Ascension in our “Easter Play,” or making a roller coaster by riding Mom’s baking pans down a ladder, there was always a level of appreciation and companionship.

    Being away from my brothers has had a major impact on me. I often wonder if there’s more I could be doing to encourage them in their spiritual and personal endeavors. It is an uncomfortable feeling, but one to which I’ve become accustomed. I’ve missed many concerts, musicals, and sports events. It’s left me wishing Leah and I could be beamed home to Michigan at any time.

    Lately, this feeling has been much stronger.

    The birth of Joe and Brittany’s son, Jonah, is something that has brought joy to my heart. I am so happy their family is safe and happy. I am very excited to meet my new nephew. While I’ve seen him through Skype, my heart aches to hold him and let his tiny fingers latch onto mine. Joe and I used to be roommates at home, and I have fond memories of our relationship. He and Brittany will be great parents. I’m excited to be Uncle David.

     

    Joe, Brittany, and Jonah

     

    I miss being at home for Sam’s high school years. I have followed his athletic stats online after every game. One of my favorite things to do when I’m at home is to watch Sam play baseball and basketball. His knowledge on and off the field and court amazes me. I miss joking around with Sam. He has a great sense of humor and a great personality.

     

    Sam playing baksetball

     

    I also miss my interactions with my youngest brother Benny. Although I am 14 years his senior, we have an interesting relationship that is constantly developing. With him, it’s the little things I miss – the “funny” jokes he comes up with, his crazy brain and its academic achievements, and running around the house during Nerf wars.

     

    David and Benny

     

    I have enjoyed Daniel’s time with us in Turkey. Ever since we were little, we have been great friends (whether we wanted to admit it or not). I am sad I will miss his graduation from Liberty. Other than last semester, we have never lived more than a 40 minute drive apart.

     

    David and Daniel on the 2nd floor of the Hagia Sophia

     

    It’s not just my brothers that I miss. I miss being able to talk face-to-face with my parents. I’m almost 25 years old, and I still think my Dad gives the best hugs. Those hugs have embraced me during some of my most difficult and exciting moments. He and mom have always been a solid support system. I miss my grandparents and Leah’s family. I wish I could see Mary run cross country for her college team, and I wish I could see Leah’s mom at her various award ceremonies. I miss my close friends and my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

     

    Hugging my dad

     

    Grandpa and Grandma Wilcox

     

    I think these feelings of guilt have spurred from a lack of trust in God’s plan. Lately, God has been teaching me something valuable. Who I am and the level of influence and support I give has nothing to do with my physical presence in the lives of those I love. God has placed us in different places of the world for a reason; my responsibilities lie where God has placed me. I pray that by following His will for my life, I will be an example of Christ. Rather than being bogged down by guilt, I can praise Him for the relationships we have. 

    I’ve wallowed in self-pity because there were events I could not attend. I have realized this kind of thinking prevents me from being effective in my current career. I am surrounded every day by kids who look to me for guidance. As a teacher, I have an opportunity to display forgiveness and other character traits to my students.

     

    My sixth grade class

     

    I often take for granted the relationship I have with my wife. Leah is my best friend. She does so much for our relationship and constantly devotes herself to loving me. I am so thankful God brought us together. I want to to focus on being a better husband and communicator.

     

    Izmir sunset on the water

     

    While I may never get completely accustomed to missing important events in the lives of my family, I can rest assured my hope and my contentment lies in my devotion to Christ. My underlying fear has been that I am not fulfilling my responsibility as an older brother. I choose to redirect my thinking so I am measuring my life’s value not by my physical presence in the lives of my family, but by my obedience to Christ.

     

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    We Have A New Nephew!

    Horray! We are excited to announce the birth of our nephew Jonah Joseph Benedict! Jonah was born yesterday, January 24 at 7:11 MST. He is the first grandchild for David’s mom and dad. We are so happy for David’s brother Joe and his wife Brittany.

    Isn’t he a cutie?

     

    Our nephew Jonah was born yesterday!

     

    I like to design birth stats for friends and family with my favorite fonts:

     

    Jonah Birth Stats

     

    We can’t wait to meet him in person!

     


     

    Update: We got to meet him through video chat! Technology is awesome.

     

    Meeting Jonah through video chat

     

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    Daniel’s Here!

    David’s brother Daniel arrived in Ankara yesterday! (There are five boys in the Benedict family. David is the oldest and Daniel is two years younger than him.)

     

    Picking up Daniel at the airport

     

    Daniel is finishing up his undergrad in Psychology at Liberty University. He will be staying with us during his 3 month internship where he’ll be learning more about the Turkish culture, language, and people. He also hopes to assist in some humanitarian efforts with refugees.

     

    Daniel's first Turkish meal

     

    After taking his luggage to our apartment, we took him for a tour around our neighborhood. We showed him the school and went out for dinner. Daniel’s first Turkish meal was lamb śiś kebap. He also had his first of what will be many cups of çay!

    We are excited to have Daniel with us and hope he will enjoy Turkey just as much as we do.

     

    PRAYER REQUESTS

    1. Daniel’s Transition: Please pray he will get over jetlag quickly and for his transition into a new culture.
    2. Finals and Testing: This week is finals week for our high school students. In addition, many of the elementary kids – including David’s class – have standardized testing. Please pray our students will do well and not stress.
    3. The New Semester: I am busy preparing for a new elective class (yearbook) that starts next week!

     

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    Christmas in Michigan

    One of our sponsors blessed us with a trip home to Michigan for Christmas!

    Despite a few travel delays, we made it home safely and had a fantastic 12 days with family and friends!

    David’s family and my mom live a 45 minute drive apart. We feel very fortunate to be able to spend time with both families during breaks and holidays. My dad moved to Georgia a few years ago, but still visits Michigan every Christmas, and it was good to see him as well.

    Christmas for us is getting to see David’s brothers’ recitals, concerts, and games:

     

    Sam playing basketball

     

    Hanging out with my mom, sister, and brothers, and having our usual Military Monday lunch at Applebees. We got to watch Skyfall with Mom and Matt. I was tickled to hear that people at Mom’s work said she reminded them of M. She does have an air of mystery and power about her, especially in uniform!

     

    My sister Mary

     

    My Mom

     

    Seeing all of David’s mom’s side of the family at Wilcox Christmas. (Although, we missed David’s brother Joe and his wife Brittany! They are 8 months pregnant and couldn’t travel.):

     

    Grandpa and Grandma Wilcox

     

    Wilcox grandkids and great-grandkids

     

    Caroling Christmas Eve and the fondue after party. This year was the 29th annual!:

     

    Christmas Eve Fondue Table

     

    Fondue Meats

     

    Christmas with the Fausts. (My Aunt Lois and cousin Vanessa joined us this year!):

     

    Faust Christmas 2012

     

    Christmas at the Benedicts:

     

    Benedict Christmas

     

    Mom and Dad B

     

    And connecting with sweet friends and family:

     

    Christmas with Dad F

     

    Hanging with the Harris fam

     

    Other highlights included enjoying a few snow falls, eating American food, seeing church family, shopping at Meijer, and getting a new camera.

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    Thank You To Our Veterans (Especially My Favorite Ones!)

    My family has a wonderful history of military service, including my dad, my mom, two of my aunts, one of my uncles, and my brother.

    My mother enlisted in the Air Force when she was 18 years old. She served part-time in the reserves while she raised my siblings and me and went full-time with the Air National Guard when I turned 10. She was promoted to the rank of colonel in 2010.

    I am thankful for all she has sacrificed for our family and for our country. I am so proud of my mother!

    Mom served in Iraq a few summers ago. On top of her regular duties, she helped women and young girls with their English. She also got to meet, greet, and escort several high profile people. (My sister and I were amazed she met Angelina Jolie and one of my brothers was excited she met Stephen Colbert. My mom had very little idea who these people were at the time.)

     

    Fourth of July Speech in Iraq

    Mom giving a speech at the Fourth of July celebration in Iraq.

     

    My Mom and Joe Biden

    My mom and vice president Joe Biden.

     

    Mom's Colonel pinning ceremony

    Mom’s colonel pinning ceremony.

     

    Check out Mom’s ribbon bling! There are even several missing in this picture:

     

    Mom's Air Force ribbons

     

    My brother, Matt, also recently served in Iraq with the Army. I like this picture of my Mom and brother a lot:

     

    Air Force and Army family

     

    THANK YOU to all our wonderful veterans! Thank you for your service and sacrifices.

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