A picture of a handmade Christmas card that says, "Merry Christmas." Handmade with love by Sandy.
Our Adventures,  Phil,  Sandy

Our 2022 year in review

I prayed for patience and God gave me opportunities to practice patience…

What an exciting year 2022 has been!  After Sandy left her work with BT/Openreach at the end of November 2021, we got busy getting our house put up for sale so we could move back to the States.  It went onto the market on Boxing Day and was sold just one month later.  The sale completion process was a bit of a hassle.  We didn’t finally get a closing completion date from the buyer’s solicitor until early May and finally by mid-May the sale was complete.  We prayed for patience.

A picture of a realtor's sign that says Sold with the caption, "Sold in less than a month." Clicking the image links to a YouTube playlist about Phil & Sandy's house move.
Click to watch our UK house sale playlist on YouTube.
A picture of the US flag flying in the breeze.
Welcome home!

Sandy moved to the States at the beginning of April along with our dogs, Anna and Elsa so, for over a month, Phil was “home alone” in the UK managing the final house sale details and getting the rest of our 20 years of life moved out of the house.  We prayed for patience.

Read Sandy’s account of the move, here.

And Phil posted an update on YouTube, too.

Our UK church family is extremely generous and hosted a leaving party that we will never forget.  It was such an outpouring of love that everyone in our little group participated in.  We are grateful for these wonderful friends and glad that we’re able to continue to travel back to the UK and visit with them regularly.  They, as well as Phil’s parents, have graciously hosted Phil while he’s been in the UK without Sandy through the year.  We pray they remain patient with us as we continue to wait for news of Phil’s visa.

Picture of a banner that reads, "May God bless your adventure."
Oh, how God has blessed our year!

At the end of May, 11 months since applying, we got word that the first step of Phil’s visa application had been approved and it moved to the National Visa Center for processing.  A couple weeks ago, they determined that despite the money from our house sale in our bank account, because Sandy doesn’t have enough regular income as a self-employed content creator, she couldn’t be Phil’s sole sponsor.  Fortunately, brother-in-law, Andrew, has a regular job and agreed to be a joint sponsor.  That paperwork went in at Thanksgiving and now we’re waiting for the next hurdle for them to throw at us.  And before you say it, yes, we too wonder if it might have been easier to come in through Mexico, but as we’re this far through the process, we’re trying to be patient and let the process take its course.  We pray for continued patience.

For Sandy, this year of being a jack-of-all-trades has been cathartic.  Our YouTube channel features lots of experiences.  From having trees felled to mushroom hunting and lots more.  And she’s spent a lot of time volunteering at church.  Sandy joined the Altar Guild and helped set up a new chapter of the Organization of WELS Lutheran Seniors, acting as its Secretary.  She helps out in the church office doing the monthly newsletter mailing and helps out at the bi-monthly nursing home worship service.  Additionally, we’re using our computer skills on the A/V team at church and regularly manage the presentation slides and Facebook livestreaming platform during the Saturday night worship service.  You can watch it by following Zion on Facebook. Or on YouTube.

Logo of the Organization of WELS Lutheran Seniors that includes a picture of an owl within a circular frame.
A screenshot of a storage unit auction page with the caption, "We bought a storage unit."
Click to see our YouTube video showing some of the auctions we won this year.

We’ve had fun buying storage units at auction and selling or donating the stuff we can’t use.  We won 11 auctions during 2022 and have had lots of fun treasure hunting through the boxes and totes.  We’ve had everything from a barber chair to legos, from handguns to a hookah, and literally hundreds of items in between.  We’ve used eBay and Facebook and yard sales to move the inventory, although quite a few items don’t sell as fast as we’d like and we are paying to rent a large barn just outside of town to hold the slower-moving stuff.  We pray for patience to deal with the clutter.

We’ve got grand plans for next year to get a box truck and to build a workshop on a plot of land that Dad has just south of Crete where he stored his excavation equipment years ago.  We purchased a vacant strip of land just behind the property in a tax auction which will allow us to build a slightly longer building and as that sale finalizes, we’re starting to formulate a plan for the building project.  We pray for patience with each other as we embark on these ambitions.

Phil’s been busy learning and practicing his video-editing skills and continues to be a moderator for the Baker Creek Seed Company’s large Facebook group.  We have over 80 videos on YouTube and various content ideas in our back pocket for 2023.  Along with spending time on the computer, he was instrumental in helping us plant up the garden this year.  All three of us worked together on it, but Phil was the one who enjoyed it and we all wish he could have been involved with it more, but he spent July, August and most of September back in the UK.  We prayed for patience with each other as decisions were made about what and how to plant.

An aged wagon holding three large pumpkins on a leaf-strewn lawn.
Click to read about our Gardening year in review.

Phil also helps with the Facebook and eBay listings when Sandy needs assistance, but the delays with his visa have made it a struggle to do anything that pays a regular wage.  It’s hard to commit to a job in the UK when he hopes to get a visa soon and he doesn’t work here in the States since he’s here as a visitor.

Sandy had to get her Illinois Driver’s License this summer.  Because it was expired for so long, she had to re-prove her identification (and fish out her social security card) and re-take all the tests.  She got through the written test with flying colours but was taken aback when she failed the driving test the first time.  Sandy didn’t realise that the residential speed limit in the test area was 25 (which wasn’t posted until half-way through the test route), rather than 30 which is common in Crete.  And the lines for getting a license were soo long.  It took three trips and many hours each visit to finally get the license.  What a palaver!  We prayed for patience while interacting with the DMV staff.

Although Phil and Sandy are both currently suffering from coughing, sniffling, runny nose colds, we are both happy to say that we’ve got our health.  Phil had quite a bit of dental work done in the UK through the year, but otherwise all is well in terms of our physical selves.  We pray our bodies remain patient with us as we exercise them on our various adventures.

Anna and Elsa adjusted to life in the US pretty well, too.  They have a large back garden to run around in, and “grandpa” also put up a long wire in the front yard on which they can run back and forth along the line.  It is a shame that they are not able to be off their leads; they are not good at coming back when they’re called and too easily distracted by everything.  Anna, in particular, took a long time to get used to grandpa.  For quite a long time, she could not be in the same room as him, let alone go to him for treats or petting.  We prayed that grandpa would maintain his patience with them and are thankful that God provided – they are getting more comfortable with him every day.

A picture of a black dog in a yard with patio furniture with the caption, "Elsa goes bananas". Click the image to watch a YouTube video of our fur baby releasing a load of energy.
Click to watch Elsa on YouTube.

Through all these opportunities to practice patience, and so many more, we continue to be grateful that God was ultimately patient with us, even when we failed to be patient every time we had opportunity.  Thanks to Jesus’ birth and life here on Earth, we know that God will not lose His patience with us.

As you celebrate the holiday, we pray that you maintain your peace and patience as God gives you the opportunities to practice, too.

And, if you would like to send us a message, feel free to use the form below.

All our love,

Phil & Sandy