Christmas Letter 2023
Dear Friends and Family,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! What a year this has been–a year of travel and adventure, a year of changes, a year of learning new things, and a year of drawing closer to each other and to the Lord.
Daniel had the opportunity to spend eight days touring Israel and Jordan this spring with a group of pastors from the KY/TN Conference. Dr. Michael Hasal, their tour guide, packed their itinerary! Daniel walked the streets of Jerusalem, climbed the Mount of Olives, sloshed through water in Hezekiah’s tunnel, and watched excavations of the Pool of Siloam. He found stones in the valley where David fought Goliath, toured Peter’s house in Capernaum, and floated in a boat on the Sea of Galilee (in the rain!). In Jordan, Daniel climbed the 900 steps to see the incredible facade of the Monastery at Petra! Other notable adventures included: swimming in the Dead Sea, seeing the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and visiting the ruins of many ancient cities mentioned in the Bible. In Lachish, they saw where an ivory comb was discovered with alphabetic writing from the time of Abraham. It was truly a life-changing experience to walk in the footsteps of Jesus! Our local newspaper even ran two articles about his trip when he got home!
Kristina had a booth for Kristina’s Kitchen at the ASI Southern Union meetings in Gatlinburg, TN. Daniel came afterwards and we spent two days exploring the Smoky Mountains. The weather was perfect and the skies were clear, so we had spectacular views of the mountains from Newfound Gap, which made Kristina very happy! We watched a herd of elk in Cherokee, NC, just as the sun was setting over the mountains. One curious elk walked right up to Daniel and looked straight into his camera!
In July, we finally took the road trip that we had planned for our honeymoon 14 years ago (a severe blizzard had canceled our plans). We now have a little tear-drop camper (a queen bed on wheels with an outdoor kitchen in the galley) that we can pull behind Daniel’s car. Kristina dehydrated veggies and prepared yummy backpack-style food. We were on the road for 16 days, enjoyed amazing meals on the road, never ate at a restaurant and only had to buy some apples and a loaf of bread for food during the whole trip!
We watched a beautiful sunset behind the Arch in St Louis, and arrived at the Grand Tetons just in time to watch an incredible sunset over the mountain range! We were in awe as we climbed the towering mountains through fields of wildflowers that skirted quiet lakes. It felt like a piece of heaven!
We traveled to Yellowstone National Park in time to watch Old Faithful’s dramatic display, with a flaming red-sky sunset forming a perfect backdrop behind the geyser’s blast!
The next morning we watched the sunrise over the misty river while a large herd of Buffalo grazed around us. We enjoyed an incredible drive through Yellowstone and marveled at the diversity of landscapes! Tall mountains, wide open plains, steep canyons, magnificent waterfalls, desert sage brush, grassy hillsides, and wooded terrain all had their own beauty and wildlife. We stopped for lunch at Buffalo Paddock and were interrupted by two bison bulls walking within a few feet of our picnic table!
It was so special to visit Kristina’s family in Montana. We enjoyed seeing her mother and step dad, her grandma, her brother and his wife, and her step sister and her husband! We had a special Sabbath with one of her adopted Grandma’s, too! Kristina’s mother and step dad went camping with us at Glacier National Park. We watched a moose who was eating only a few feet off the trail, picked huckleberries, saw rocky mountains towering over the famous Going to the Sun road, hiked the steep steps to Hidden Lake overlook, and watched the mountain goats grazing on bushes near the trail. Daniel was videoing the sunset at Many Glacier when a couple mountain goats ran right behind him over a small bridge! Kristina made the best huckleberry pancakes at our campsite!
Kristina was so tickled to purchase some fresh whole wheat flour from our restaurant bakery supplier, Wheat Montana. We drove past the Badlands in South Dakota and visited Mount Rushmore. Our favorite view was seeing Mount Rushmore through the Scovel Johnson Tunnel tunnel on Iron Mountain! We surprised friends at the Black Hills Health & Education Center and spent a fun weekend with LaRee’s family at their cattle ranch in Nebraska. Our final stop was to see Esther and Robbie’s new home, only days after they moved from Kentucky! It was a bittersweet visit, because we miss them in Kentucky, but we are excited to see how God will use them in ministry there! The best part of our whole trip was spending time together, just the two of us, getting rest, and having a break from ministry. It was a big boost to our health and we came back refreshed and ready to begin again!
We made several shorter trips during the year, including camping at Laurel Lake and a church campout at Blue Heron. We experienced city life during a short visit to Chicago to see Daniel’s brother Timothy. Our favorite part of that trip was riding bikes for 13 miles along Lake Michigan! We had a quick weekend trip this fall when Kristina was asked to speak for a homeschool convention in Alabama, and to share about Kristina’s Kitchen in Georgia at the OCI meetings on the same weekend! We made it worth our trip by visiting friends and family in the Chattanooga area and doing some hiking at Foster Falls near Jasper, TN on our way home.
Kristina still volunteers full-time at Kristina’s Kitchen and serves on boards for the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Commission, Farmer’s Market, and Banquet of Blessings. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since we started the restaurant! It has been so rewarding to see lives being touched through the restaurant ministry. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t thank us. We have seen customers reduce weight, lower cholesterol, get off blood pressure medications, have their A1C levels return to normal, and reduce inflammation, just by eating at Kristina’s Kitchen and learning how to eat healthy at home! Our favorite part is the opportunities to share Jesus with them, study the Bible with them, pray with them, and invite them to church! We also have a monthly interdenominational women’s Bible study group that meets at Kristina’s Kitchen and Kristina is still teaching her monthly cooking classes.
We are so excited that Kristina’s Kitchen is now a 501c3 non-profit corporation! Each day is a miracle as God helps us to pay the bills and keep the restaurant going! If you would like to support this ministry financially, you can now send your donations to Kristina’s Kitchen and receive a tax-deductible receipt!
Church ministry has been such a blessing for us. Daniel is still pastoring four congregations full-time (Stearns, Monticello, London, and Williamsburg Kentucky). He’s also finishing his last classes for his Master’s degree. This fall, Daniel used his Israel experience to create a full 17-part evangelistic series, “Ancient Worlds of the Bible,” which he preached in London. We are looking forward to doing a similar “Ancient Worlds” series in both Stearns and Monticello next year.
Kristina is Daniel’s assistant in ministry. She preaches sermons regularly at Stearns and Monticello churches, teaches Sabbath School, and helps with church evangelism. She is now enrolled in a MA in Ministry program through the North American Division from Andrews University. She is so excited to be back in school for the first time since 2005! She just completed her first class this fall, and is looking forward to taking the course through a series of intensive classes and online classes over the coming years.
Daniel has not lost his passion for technology and digital media! In Israel, he recorded over 100GB of video and photos from his tour, which he has been using in his presentations. He enjoyed capturing the beauty of our summer and fall travels with his drone. This year has also been the year of AI. Daniel is working with friends to organize a collection of AI art and other Creative Commons media for teaching the Bible, and to make it freely available on the Internet. You can check out their Virtual Bible Snapshot Project at snapshots.vrbm.org.
As the year 2023 draws to a close, we want to pause and thank the Lord for you. Whether you’ve visited us, or called or texted, or sent us a donation, or just been friends with us on Facebook, you have made a difference in our lives. We pray that God will bless and keep you through the coming year. You are in our thoughts and prayers! May we all be found faithful and meet together on the sea of glass, where we will shout, “Hallelujah! Heaven is cheap enough!”
Love and Hugs,
Daniel & Kristina