Snapshots of 2016

A Traditional Christmas Letter from the Floreens

Dear <<First Name>>, 

We trust you've had a wonderful Christmas season celebrating our Savior coming to earth! We just finished cleaning up after having 134 people in our home for the (eighth annual) IBF Church Christmas Parties! It's a lot of work, but we enjoy providing a venue for our church to practice Christian fellowship.

In this age of Facebook and Twitter, the once-common Christmas letter is becoming a rare treat. Every year, a handful of you send us one, and we love to see an annual synopsis of all God is doing in your lives.

We've tried to recreate that feeling with this collection of some our family's highlights of 2016. We're sending this for New Year's, since Christmas letters are customarily late. Just imagine this coming in a colored envelope with festive stamps!
Christmas Mango Tree


This year I took on a second "job." In addition to continuing as Associate Pastor of International Bible Fellowship Church, I also took on responsibilities as Director of Finance and Professor at Central African Preaching Academy

New things I did this year:
  • Got ordained
  • Ran a 10k race
  • Taught my first MDiv class
This year, I spent a lot of time:
  • Learning QuickBooks and Malawian tax laws
  • Organizing houses and visas for our new team members
  • Exchanging dollars, depositing kwachas, and signing checks
  • Figuring out how to work without electricity
Things I've really enjoyed: 
  • Having meaningful conversations about sin, forgiveness, and faith with both my daughters
  • Watching my students become excited about the sufficiency of God's Word for complex problems in their churches
  • Leading a care group of young singles from church
2016 in a word: "Transitional"


I didn't take on a new job this year, but my existing responsibilities grew - in good ways! It was a fun year and I've really enjoyed our family, good friends, and our growing church body.

Things that grew:

  • Homeschooling student population doubled 
  • Counseling grew so much we set a limit of 4 per week
  • The size of groups that came to our house: Christmas parties were bigger than ever, Ladies' Bible Study now fills our (large) living room, hosted 100+ people for a good-bye party for friends, family of 7 lived with us for a month. 

What I did for fun:

  • Two days away to Ntchisi rain forest with friends in May
  • Ran a 5k for the first time ever
  • Tried and really enjoyed some new water painting techniques

Great discoveries for the year:

  • Date night kid swaps with the Kopps every Monday night
  • Camping just gets better and better as the kids get older
  • Candle wall sconces make every power outage beautiful
2016 in a word: "Full."


Abi turned six this year.  

New things I did this year:
  • Got a bike
  • Started swimming lessons
  • Went to Disneyland
  • Learned how to wash dishes (with help)
This year, I've spent a lot of time:
  • Reading. I love reading!
  • Doing school with Mom and Naomi
  • Picking up clothes, toys, books, and shoes
  • Pretending to be animals with Naomi. I love animals!
My favorite: 
  • Food: Indian food or sugar
  • Book: Voyage of the Dawn Treader [3x this year!]
  • Song: "Nothing but the Blood"
  • Sport: Swimming
  • Animal: Mongoose [since seeing one on our street!]
  • African bird: Pied wagtail 
When I grow up I want to be: A veterinarian & birdwatcher.

2016 in a word: "Terrific!"

Abigail Quotes from 2016:
Abigail: "What is that slimy stuff?" 
Rachel: "Butter."
Abigail: "Oh good." 
Abigail: "Do you like my dress?"
Matt: "Yes."
Abigail: "Now pretend you're a different person. Do you like my dress?"
*Violent retching noises coming from the bath tub.*
Rachel: "Everyone ok?"
Abigail: "We're throwing up. We have malaria. It's just pretend."
Waiting at the gate to board our flight, Abi exclaims, "Dad, our flight left!" I look up and see the monitor she's looking at: 
   SA 203
   New York 
   Priority (Left) <<

"By order of the Roman emperor, this (rubber) duck has to swim with me all the time."
"Mom, do elephants have disposable thumbs?"
About Naomi: "She's really balancable."
"But Mom, I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes closed!" 


Naomi (or Omi) turned three. Although she has a "big girl chair" and "big girl bed" now, she still loves to be held and snuggled. Her vocabulary has exploded this year. She may be shy when you first meet her, but once she warms up she'll be telling you all about her Hello Kitty shoes or what noise an elephant makes. 

New things I did this year:
  • Rode a horse
  • Got a bunkbed
  • Joined Abi's Sunday School class
This year, I've spent a lot of time:
  • Singing
  • Dressing up like a ballerina 
  • Opening seed pods
My favorite: 
  • People: Mr. Maya & Mrs. Maida [she prays for them every night]
  • Food: Baked beans or bananas
  • Book: "Baby Jesus" or Thumbelina 
  • Song: "The horsey song" [William Tell Overture]
  • African bird: "Tuwaco" [Livingstone's Turaco]
When I grow up I want to be: A princess. Or a baby lion.

2016 in a word: "Am-AAA-zing!"

Naomi Quotes from 2016:
Naomi lays on the ground and flutters. "Me dead moff."
Matt: "You're a dead moth?"
Naomi smiles and nods proudly
Matt: "... And baby Jesus was lying in a ..."
Naomi: "HAMMOCK!"
Naomi nick-named herself "Honey." Conversation at dinner: 
Abigail: "Omi, say 'Na-o-mi.'"
Naomi: "Honey."
Abigail: "(sigh) Maybe someday you'll call yourself Naomi."
Naomi: (in falsetto) "I Elsa."
Abigail: "You mean you can freeze things when you touch them?"
Naomi: "Yah, like crocodiles."
Naomi: "Ballerinas!"
Matt: "Um, no, these are disciples, not ballerinas."
Abigail: "We tied!" 
Naomi: "You tied, I won!" 
Abigail can't think of anything to be thankful for.
Matt: "Is everything in your life terrible? Are you eating worms and sitting on nails?"
Naomi tries to help: "Are you sitting on a cwockadile? ...some pokey fings? ...some candle wax?"
"God is with us! He is everywhere. He's coloring with us, and He has the blue."
From our family to yours, may the year 2017 be full of joy as you continue to explore the unfathomable depths of God's grace.

Much love to you all,

Matt, Rachel, Abigail & Naomi