Christmas Letter 2014

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1:32-33 (ESV)

Merry Christmas and a happy new year!  As the year draws to a close, we are reminded to remember and reflect upon the goodness and mercy God has shown to us.  He has blessed us with health, financial stability, and a wonderful church family.  Most importantly, he has given us his Spirit, who is transforming us into a dwelling place for God.  This aspect easily summarizes the year for us.

For both Jisu (age 34) and me (age 33), not much has changed on the job front; I still work in aviation maintenance management and logistics at Camp Humphreys, and Jisu takes care of our home.  In contrast, however, this year has seen immense spiritual growth.  Jisu got baptized in March.  For me in November, and Jisu in December, we each attended a Tres Dias weekend, a three-day retreat and spiritual journey, with an emphasis on studying scripture, living a life of piety, and being men and women of action.  Each morning we wake up to Scripture, and a time of family devotions with Q&A precedes bedtime for the kids.  God has shown us that teaching our children about him is the single most important thing we can do for them as parents.  At our church, I continue to lead worship a couple weeks each month, and Jisu has been active in the nursery.

Zoe is almost four years old.  She takes ballet lessons twice a week with most of her day care classmates, and loves showing off her arabesque.  She enjoys reading the back of the cereal box and helping make pancakes.  She is outgoing and friendly and greets everyone she sees, oftentimes making their day.  She learned the Lord’s prayer after listening to me pray with her before bed.  She has since followed that up with memorizing Bible verses, reciting them to me each day as I leave for work.  She prides herself on being a good big sister, quick to console a crying Susie with a heartfelt embrace.

Susie’s second year has been full of firsts.  She began walking the night before her first birthday party, and like her older sister, rides the swings like a boss.  At just shy of two years old, she is an adept communicator.  She fearlessly tries out new words and is patient and persistent when we do not immediately understand; as a result, her vocabulary is easily in the hundreds of words, occasionally speaking entire sentences, and in multiple languages (though thankfully not usually at the same time).  The other day she was flipping through one of the myriad hardback children’s books we have in the house.  I asked her what she was reading, half-expecting a structured response detailing the cardboard pictorial’s deeply profound subject matter.  True to my smart-aleck genetics, she replied, “a book.”  She loves everything about her big sister, mimicking her at every opportunity.  When Zoe started praying for Mom to go to the gym, a few nights later she followed suit with a simple prayer of her own: “Mommy… gym.”

Though our girls provide many smiles and laughs, they are a gentle reminder that our work is not finished.  And we can be sure that the job is not ours alone, nor are we alone during any of the other trials we experience in our daily lives, as God will never leave us nor forsake us.

May God richly bless you and your family in the coming year.

With love,
Erich, Jisu, Zoe, and Susie Oelschlegel

christmas letter 2014

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.” – C. S. Lewis

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (ESV)

Christmas Letter 2013

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14 (ESV)

Merry Christmas!

As the sun shines its final rays in 2013, it is helpful to look back upon the many ways God has blessed us.  Easily the greatest blessing was the addition of a baby girl, Susie, to the family.  Our beloved family Bible study disbanded this year due to some key people leaving, but it allowed us to get more involved in our church – I currently lead one of the worship teams at our church and Jisu is a key volunteer in the nursery.  In November, after almost three years living in the same apartment, we moved to an apartment complex across the street due to our former landlord having to sell the place.  We had to give our piano to Jisu’s sister and rearrange furniture accommodations, but on the whole I am happier with our new, cozier home than our last.

I turned 32a this year to little fanfare (just the way I like things).  I still work for CACI as a defense contractor at Camp Humphreys supporting an Army aviation/intelligence unit in the maintenance and logistics arena (four years now).  The turnover rate among soldiers is horrendously high, but at the moment there are good leaders in the shop, and my boss is a Christian.

Jisu is 33b and a stay-at-home mom.  She meets weekly with a friend for Bible study, and goes to the gym each evening after the kids are in bed.  She likes watching Person of Interest with me and enjoys a good beer every now and then.

Zoe is just shy of three years oldc.  She is fluent in Korean and pretty good at English – her pronunciation isn’t bad, but occasionally we find ourselves wondering which language she is speaking in.  She is defiantly independent, but still sweetly says “coming, Daddy” when I call her.  In the mornings, she sits in a big chair and eats cereal with me; in the evenings, she sits on the toilet and reads me Dr. Seuss.  Recently, she has taken up ballet, attending two classes per week in the afternoons.  Her favorite thing is crawling into bed next to me about fifteen minutes before the alarm goes off.  (How do they know?!?)

Susie turns the big ONEd on January 10th.  Hard to believe, almost a year ago she arrived, plenty big (9+ lbs), but thankfully short on labor.  She is very quick to learn and pick up new abilities.  She says “mama” (baby Korean for food), “appa” (Daddy), “umma” (Mommy), and sometimes “unni” (big sister, i.e. Zoe).  Baby sign language for more and all done round out her communicative abilities.  She can stand on her own and bob up and down without losing her balance but doesn’t walk quite yet.  She enjoys putting things inside other things, knocking over block towers, and being carried by Jisu.  She unknowingly plays coy to strangers, and her dimpled smile greeting me after work is like hot buttered rolls.

Amid all the turmoil going on in the world and in our lives, we may remind ourselves to love one another, both in times of accord (which is easy) and in times of disagreement (which is not).  This Christmas, we celebrate the birth of the one who came to bring true peace – not to broker the trivial arguments of man, but to bridge the infinite chasm of sin that separates us from God.  But his example of humility sets an example for human relationships, too.  This Christmas, resolve to heed Christ’s command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Were we truly to love one another, peace we would have.  May the Lord bless you and your family this Christmas.

Erich, Jisu, Zoe, and Susie Oelschlegel

christmas letter 2013

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Philippians 2:3-7 (ESV)

a This required some mental calculation, as my thirties have taught me that one’s age is easily forgettable – among other things.
b American age.
c 35 months and 4 days, to be more exact.
d This is the last footnote.

Christmas Letter 2012

My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.  Luke 2:30-32 (ESV)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  James 4:8 (ESV)

Merry Christmas!

God has been good to us in 2012.  My mom made her annual journey to help celebrate Zoe turning the big ONE.  We became pregnant, visited Hawaii, and saw my sister get married (though not all at once).  We started attending Songtan Central Baptist Church, and still do a family Bible study in the afternoon.

I turned 31 this year, acquiring only gray hairs in exchange for the red/brown hair that disappears along my hairline.  (At least my beard is still red and doesn’t seem to be going bald.  Yet.)  I am still working in maintenance and logistics for an aviation intelligence unit here in Korea.  My work centers so much around soldiers that sometimes it feels like I’m still in the Army, although without the PT and uniforms.  Since my position is largely continuity (due to 70% annual turnover), the biggest challenge is finding the middle ground between doing all the work and merely supervising.  That and trying to persuade the Army from freaking out every time Lil’ Kim up north rattles his saber.

Jisu is 32 and a stay-at-home mom.  She maintains close friendship with our next-door neighbor, studying the Bible together and letting our children play together.  She’s about fourteen months pregnant, judging from the size of her belly.  She is due to give birth on January 19, the day after Zoe celebrates her second birthday, though I suspect we will meet #2 (another girl!) before that time.  And it couldn’t be better timing, since only recently have we figured out how to find free time with one child.

Zoe is twenty-three months old, and is an absolute sweetheart.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that she entered the world and changed our lives.  She is growing by leaps and bounds in just about every area.  Physically, she is tall for her age, but not in weight.  She loves people, and more importantly, loves her family.  She has a spoken vocabulary of maybe a hundred various Korean and English words (at least ones we understand), and can recognize about half of those in written form.  She can count to ten in English and five in Korean.  She loves physical activity, being swung around and flipped over, and out on the playground loves the swings, shouting “Higher!” as soon as she sits down.  She protests when we pray without including her, and demands infinite singings of Twinkle, Twinkle every night.  This month, she started going to day care (conveniently on the first floor of our apartment building), which has given Jisu some much-needed rest.

Our lives are rich because of Him who made us.  In times of plenty and in times of want, God’s grace and love abounds.  This is all too evident in the work of his Son, whose birth we celebrate this Christmas, and in the gift of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “That man is truly happy who can say of all his substances, be it little or be it much, ‘The Lord gave it to me.’”  We are made in his likeness, and that is enough for me.  May the Lord bless you and your family this Christmas season.

Love, Erich, Jisu, and Zoe Oelschlegelhawaii 2012

Christmas Letter 2011

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

Merry Christmas!

Let me begin by saying it feels a little strange to be creating a word document instead of typing a quick status into Facebook or Twitter in this modern age of social networking.  Years ago, I would sit next to my mom as she typed out her annual January Christmas letter.  Now, as most of you already know, I have a family of my own, and would like to continue her tradition in some fashion or another.  Most of you reading this will likely already have “friended” Jisu and me, so you should be pretty much caught up with our lives.  For the rest of you who haven’t seen me in several or more years, here’s a quick recap.

In 2003 after graduating from Pitt, I joined the Army.  During that time, I was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, which is where I met Jisu, who was a kindergarten teacher at the time.  We got married, I completed my enlistment, and I found a civilian job with the Army.  As of now, I have been in Korea for four years – two in the Army, and two as a civilian.  I work for CACI as a maintenance and logistics supervisor, supporting a unit that collects and analyzes aircraft-based signals intelligence based at Camp Humphreys.

On January 18, 2011 at 9:35pm, Zoe Lee Oelschlegel was brought into the world: perfectly normal, healthy, and completely wonderful in every way.   She was due on the lunar new year (one of the biggest holidays in Korea), but arrived two weeks ahead of schedule, and so we are thankful there was no shortage of hospital staff at delivery, and a potential disaster avoided.  I can’t tell you what a blessing she has been in our lives.  Her name comes from Greek, where it means “life.”  In Korean, her name is spelled 조이 (pronounced “joey”), and means “morning joy” in Chinese.  And she lives up to her name quite earnestly, if morning is defined as 5:30am and joy means cries of hunger.  She loves robot noises and helicopters flying past the window (my daughter); she sleeps with her arms above her head and is ever-curious about food (Jisu’s daughter).  She gets excited and repeats the baby word “aht-da” when the security system in the living room announces my arrival into the parking garage, knowing that I’ll walk in the door within a few minutes.  Then again, she says the same thing when the helicopters go by, so maybe not.  Bottom line is we love her in a way neither of us ever thought possible.

Jisu spends her days at home taking care of Zoe.  In between Zoe’s particular needs, she fixes lunches, cooks dinners, does laundry, cleans the apartment, pays bills, exercises nightly, and meets weekly with our neighbors for a study of The Purpose-Driven Life.  She also recently got her driver’s license.  She saves judiciously, planning on graduate study at Drexel University in the field of library sciences.  She loves Billie Holiday and Coldplay and good jazz music.  Most of all, she embodies what it means to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother, and willingly accepts both roles.

Life for me in Korea is full of ups and downs, and has been lonely at times.  Although I work around lots of people, the turnover rate is high, and true deep friendships are hard to come by.  In April, God answered that prayer with a Tuesday night men’s Bible study.  One of the men in the group, John, was a pilot who flew the type of aircraft I work on.  I had known him for only four months when tragically, he was killed in a motorcycle accident.  For many of us in the Bible study and those in our families who know John, his death was a catalyst for change in our lives.  Jisu and I started going to a Sunday afternoon fellowship, where John had usually led worship by himself, playing guitar.  Now we have a full-out band; others have also rediscovered their musical abilities, and I usually end up playing whatever instrument is left over (typically piano).  The biggest blessing has been an outpouring of love and generosity, friendship with the men and women, and godly examples all around of how to live life and raise a family in Christ Jesus.

God has been good to us this past year.  He has blessed us in every way imaginable.  He has provided for all of our earthly and spiritual needs and then some.  And the best part is, his blessings never run out, if we continue to ask him for them; Matthew 7:11 reminds us: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”  Our prayer is to forward those blessings on to other people.  The other day I read an article highlighting random strangers paying down layaway accounts at Kmart stores across the nation.  While that’s noble indeed, our family’s desire is to see God paying down the debts of those he has placed in our lives, and using us in the process.

This season, we celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham two thousand years prior: “All nations on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).  May God bless your lives as richly as he has blessed ours.  From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Love, Erich, Jisu, and Zoe Oelschlegelchristmas letter 2011