If I Had Sent You A Christmas Card…

Last December I was awesome.

I mean, seriously, I had my stuff together, and early might I add.

Thinking ahead, I had Hunter take pictures of our kids in October – for cards I would design and print in November – to be mailed to us in Haiti by early December – so I could get all 100+ of them back out into the mail to make it to the States before Christmas.

I wrote letters updating family, friends, and supporters about our work in Haiti. I wrote an end of the year blog. I made picture books of the kids for our parents. Made a wedding book for my brother and sister-in-law as a gift. I even sent out an end-of-the-year letter via Mail Chimp just because I didn’t want to leave anybody out.

In the area of communication and Christmas gifts (despite my one typo on our Christmas cards), last year I received a solid A+.

This year… sigh…

I haven’t mailed out a single thing.

Haven’t sent any picture books.

Didn’t even get around to take our kids’ picture until two weeks ago, thinking perhaps we could pull the whole Christmas card shenanigan off in time.

But alas, we didn’t.

I kept thinking about it. Really, I did. But the task just seemed so daunting. And I never could seem to commit.

So this year, please accept my sincere apologies. Notify your refrigerator that my kids can grace their doors in 2017.

Now, if I had sent you a Christmas card this month it would have looked something like this:


My kids are pretty cute, don’t ya think?

This year, 2016, was a year of growth for our family.

Jake grew from a baby into a little boy. How he turned 2 so fast I have no idea. He’s obsessed with all things dinosaurs, animals, and super heroes. The typical little boy.


Nalandson and Dalencia officially became Kittrells through a national adoption.

*** See my ADOPTION page for our full adoption story. ***


Nalandson turned 10 and is really getting into building Lego models and reading Goosebumps. Both have made Hunter extremely happy considering they were his own childhood favorites.


Dalencia is now 8 and sassier than ever. She still dances all day long and loves taking care of Addy, her American Girl doll. (She still has yet to master hair care, but we’ll get there, hopefully.)


Hunter’s photography continues to gain recognition and has helped support our lives here in Haiti. His work is currently displayed at the Haitian Embassy in Washington, DC, and he provides regular photography services to various businesses in our city.


Beyond our own little home, Emmaus House is growing. We now have youth in two different homes rather than one. We have hired more staff, brought in more student, sent students off to university both in the States and in Haiti, and are now looking to purchase land and build.


Growth. Growth. Growth.

Everywhere I look seeds are growing into trees.

I keep telling my kids to stop. I sometimes joke about no longer wanting to feed them, hoping that time will slow down, that their legs will stop spouting up, and that they would at least fit into the same pair of pants for more than a month.

But they seem to be eating Miracle Grow by the handful or something. And so I keep on having to buy new pants.

As for me, I’ve grown a lot this year too. Grown as I’ve daily witnessed the growth in others. Every year here in Haiti has been drastically different. Each one lending it’s own sort of challenges. Each year full of lessons, lessons that gifted me wisdom to welcome in the next year to come.

This year, as I said, has been mostly about growth. Not so much of my own, but watching those around me grow. Tasting the fruit of my work. Seeing seeds sprout forth from the ground. Embracing the joy that comes when you realize your labor in those you love has not been in vain.

Watching my kids grow.

Hunter’s photography grow.

The youth I have so dearly loved since I was a youth myself grow.

Emmaus House grow.

My friend and co-worker Gerome grow.

Our board of directors grow.

Our future plans grow.

Being in the midst of so much growth has been infectious for my soul. It’s taught me to stop and trust in the ways of God. Because all this growing are gifts from Him. Gifts because He loves us. Gifts because His plans are always greater than my own. Gifts because He extends us grace even when we forget to give Him the praise.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2: 6-7

This has been my year. A year rooted in Him. A year watching Him build up those I love, including myself. And a year abounding in thanksgiving after thanksgiving.


Our family is both excited and anxious to welcome in 2017. There are so many unknowns ahead, but I take comfort in knowing God is in control. As He reveals His plans for us, I promise I will keep you posted.

On the adoption front: this time last year we had just deposited our adoption dossier to IBESR and had no idea how long our national adoption would take us. 1 year and 1 day later we held a completed adoption decree in our hands. We jumped. Danced. Cried. Hugged our paperwork as if they were gold that day. Now we are working on our application to USCIS for certificates of citizenship. We expect this to take somewhere between 5-6 months once we submit our application in mid January. Prayers, as always, would be much appreciated.

To all of you who support us in Haiti, continually blessing us with your encouragement and prayers, thank you! We love the work God has called us to and can’t wait to see what God has planned next for our family and Emmaus House in 2017.

May God bless you this coming new year- bless you with abounding faith, mounds of thanksgiving, and overflowing joy. Love and peace to you all!

~ Jillian

3 Comments on “If I Had Sent You A Christmas Card…

  1. I too had different intentions for Christmas 2016, so I especially appreciate your great letter and the link to the history of your children and the picture. You’re all in my prayers.and I look forward to your messages.


  2. Such a beautiful blog. So thankful to the Lord that he has
    Blessed you in the adoption of your children. So anxious to meet all of you when you come for a visit in 2017.


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