African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Petersen Christmas Letter 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Dear Friends and Family,
 I’m sitting here thinking about our past year and marveling at God’s hand in it all.  At the beginning of the year, God put it on my heart to go to Africa as a family.  This is something Drew and I had thought about doing years ago and the time seemed perfect with the ages of our kids.  We knew that the only way this could happen would be for God to intervene because we just did not have an extra $15,000 lying around.  After much prayer we pursued this adventure and found out there was a need for construction work through Wycliffe Associates in Cameroon, West Africa.  Wycliffe Associates is near and dear to our hearts, not only do we have friends that work for them, but we love how they come along other missions groups and offer support to those in Bible translations.  If you want to know more details about God’s provision please check out our blog (

 Despite our busy work schedule over the summer, we were able to make some awesome memories.  Drew’s parents brought us all (including Drew’s sister Deb and her son Parker) out to South Dakota, first to Mount Rushmore, where Drew was able to join us.  After a long weekend camping in the Black Hills, Drew headed home and the rest of us went further north to a ranch near Lemmon, SD.  We spent a week on a dinosaur dig.  Waking up early every morning to the most beautiful sunrise, we would be out to the dig site most mornings by 7am.  We found some enormous toe bones, vertebra, hip bone, jaw bone and leg bones of the Edmontosauras dinosaurs.  It was an amazing experience.   Afternoons were spent swimming in the Grand River, visiting the museum in Lemmon or just hanging out with our new friends.  Right after a quick supper we would all head out once again for more digging until the sun started setting.  It really gave us all a greater appreciation for God’s awesome creation.  Thank you Harlan and Rosie for the memories!

 While Drew was working hard, the kids and I went up to Story Book Lodge for a week.  Ellie and Levi were campers, Kyle was a junior camp counselor and I went to do some cleaning.  It ended up being like a retreat for me, since I stayed in a little cottage by myself and had time for reading once I was finished with my tasks.   It’s a beautiful camp; I can see why my kids love going up there each year.

 Kyle turned 15 this past summer but still loves climbing trees and going off jumps with his bike.  His passion is in music, he is still taking piano lessons, plays guitar, ukulele and is quickly learning drums.  He has been writing songs like crazy but is hoping someone else will add the words to them.  They are actually very good, he has quite a talent.  Kyle and I spent 4 days at a High School Leadership Training at St. Olaf College this past summer.   It’s been wonderful seeing Kyle grow to be a young man that loves the Lord.  Kyle was baptized in April; this was a huge step of faith because he had to share his testimony in front of our whole church congregation.  Kyle also auditioned and started playing guitar and piano in our churches band on the same rotation as his Dad.  He is definitely following in his Dad’s footsteps.  Kyle has become quite the hard worker this year, doing yard work to help raise money for our trip as well as buying more musical equipment.

Ellie turns 14 this week and is still as sweet as ever.  She is a very hard worker, in addition to her regular babysitting jobs; she has been cleaning a house with me to help raise money for Africa.  The 2 of us have also done some volunteer cleaning through Love Inc.   Earlier this year, she started a girls Bible study after church (called Girls Growing in God – or GIG).  These girls had a bake sale to raise money for Kids Against Hunger and raised nearly $1400!  We recently found out that Ellie has scoliosis and her attitude about this amazes me.  She has a very strong faith that I admire.  Ellie was in a musical this past spring at Faith Baptist Church.  This is definitely her passion and she hopes to do more in this area.  She is still taking piano and we have seen a big jump in her abilities – I love to listen to her play.  Ellie has loved having her cousin Kaley right next door to her bedroom; this is almost like having a sister!

 Levi is now 12 years old and continues on his quest to be the comic relief in our family.  Between him and his Uncle Al (who also lives with us), we get our fair share of laughter around here, that must be why we are so healthy.  Levi went to the emergency room twice this year, once because he couldn’t breathe due to his tonsils swelling so big.  The second time was when he dove into a friend’s garden while playing night games and a metal stake went into his neck.  We are thankful that even though it was quite deep it missed his vocal chords and larynx by ¼ inch.  He is my child that loves to sing and has a beautiful voice – that truly would have been tragic.  Levi used his voice in a musical this spring (the same one Ellie and his Dad were in), and did a wonderful job.  This year was Levi’s turn to go on a vacation with Grandma and Grandpa Petersen.  They went to Duluth and saw all the sites, camping on the end of a pier, and then headed over to camp at the headwaters to the Mississippi River.   Levi has been working hard on his French, hoping to use it while in Cameroon.  We laughed though when he called the peninsula where they were camped a “Pierre”.

Chris is 24 now and is renting a house just around the corner from us in our neighborhood.  He has been working doing cement and pavers and often working with Drew.  He will be snow plowing again this winter if it ever snow.  He just recently broke his wrist while snow boarding.  We will miss him while we are in Africa but he'll have Uncle Al here to visit if he gets lonely.

Drew and I have been married 18 years now and were able to spend a weekend at a friend’s cabin to celebrate.  We are blessed with the most wonderful people around us.  This year we have been humbled and thankful for all the gifts given to us towards our trip.  It blows our mind how so many of you have been excited for us and want to be a part of this adventure by praying for us as well as all the money people have invested in us.  Thank you for believing in what we are doing and encouraging us in our faith.  We leave for Cameroon January 5th for 10.5 weeks, please keep us in your prayers.  Have a blessed New Year! 

Love, Marie and Drew Petersen (Kyle, Ellie and Levi)

2 Thessalonians 1:11 -12a  “We keep on praying that our God will make us worthy of the life to which He called us.  We pray that God, by His power, will fulfill all our good intentions and faithful deeds.  Then everyone will give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus because of us.”


  1. Great letter and update. Your family is a blessing to many!

  2. Wow Marie!
    It's been awhile since we have talked, but I am so happy for you and your family!
    Be safe on your trip and Happy Holidays!