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Dear Family and Friends!

Amazing! Crazy! Emotional! Exciting! Scary! Exhilarating! Anxious! Fun! Wonderful!
What a (insert your word above here) year this has been!

It’s so hard to imagine that the last year has come and gone. But it has. Life is constantly in motion full of many ups and downs. But through it all, our Lord and Savior has been our constant! Providing for us in ways that we would never have imagined when we first started our journey together over 15 years ago! While we can’t write a dissertation on the past year of our life (well we could… but who would want to take the time to read it) we can give you some of the highlights!

2013 in Review:
January – Eric celebrated his 37th birthday! / Jocelyn got her first pair of glasses!

February – Went to Branson MO with the Held/Hulsman Families.

March – Celebrated Hailey’s 9th Birthday! / Celebrated Easter in Ohio with the Ekong’s.

April – Eric was certified for placement!

May – Call Day – May 1 – We found out we were headed Back to Michigan!!!!
Graduation – May 17 – Eric received his Masters of Divinity!

June – Purchased our First Home!
Celebrated Jillian’s 2nd, Jocelyn’s 6th, and Jonathans 11th Birthdays!
Eric was Ordained and Installed as Senior Pastor of Trinity on the 23rd!

July – Getting settled in our new home and enjoying the lazy days of summer.

August – Celebrated 15 years of Marriage!!
Celebrated Hannah’s 13th birthday! (pray for us we have a teenager) :)

September – School began for the kids and they were super excited to get to know their new school and their new friends! Hannah played volleyball for the Mustangs!

October – Eric and Linda traveled to Boyne Mountain for their first All Pastors Conference while Linda’s mom and grandma held down the fort at home.

November – Celebrated Linda’s 37th birthday. / Celebrated our First Thanksgiving in Jackson!

December – Celebrating the Amazing Advent Season & Christmas at Trinity complete with yummy soup suppers! / Christmas at Trinity – A combined Adult Choir and School Choir & Band concert which was such a wonderful way to celebrate Christ’s Birth!

I know it may not look like much … but trust me, we are super busy! Eric is enjoying getting into the groove of sermon prep/preaching, doing home visits and hospital visits, teaching religion at the school, confirmation, adult classes/bible studies, meetings, and all the other many duties of a pastor. Linda is spending her days keeping Jillian entertained, volunteering at the church and spending time with the Ladies Groups when she’s able, substitute teaching at the school and subbing when needed at church. And of course keeping up on the kids homework and social activities! The kids have all adjusted well and love our new home and the space we have here to spread out. They love their school, teachers & friends. And they love our new church family!

We can most certainly say that we are “Blessed By the Lord”!

We hope and pray that you are all doing well and that you feel God’s love each and every day and know that you too are truly Blessed by the Lord! May you have a blessed Christmas and a very blessed 2014!

Much love to you all In Christ Jesus,
Eric & Linda Ekong
Hannah, Jonathan, Hailey, Jocelyn & Jillian

December 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm 2 comments

Getting all Settled In …

Hello again! Yep two posts in one day! Don’t get used to it! :)

Finally have taken the time to get the pictures onto my computer from the camera for the Ordination and Installation so I figured I might as well just move right into the next post about settling into our new home.

Here is our new home!

Here is our new home!

When Eric and I first heard where we would be going on Call Night (May 1st) the next thought in my mind was … We need to find a place to live!! (Eric’s was… I need to finish classes) :) So, while he focused on classes and graduation, I focused on figuring out where our new home would be! Thanks to a great realtor and member of the congregation, my mom who helped me search online, and a great friend (Amy Z.) who traveled with me to check out some houses we had an offer on a house and it was excepted all by May 14th. Talk about a whirlwind! After graduation Eric and I traveled up to MI to have the inspection done and to meet with our Trinity Family. Then we went back to STL so the kids could finish out school, pack, and move.

We are all moved in now … the boxes I want to unpack are unpacked. Now we are just slowly but surely making our house into a home. We have various things yet to do…get pictures hung in a couple of the rooms, things up on the kids walls, and a few more items to eventually purchase (chairs for my hearth room) but these additions will come with time. :) Enjoy a couple of pictures of our home.

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Dinning Room

Dinning Room

Hearth Room (with our built in desk - done by Clint Genthner).

Hearth Room (with our built in desk – done by Clint Genthner).

Our "Bible Study"  Room (or as we affectionately like to call it the Michelle Christ Sun Room) :)

Our “Bible Study” Room (or as we affectionately like to call it the Michelle Christ Sun Room) :)

Our Little J's Room

Our Little J’s Room

Big J's room.

Big J’s room.

Our H's room.

Our H’s room.

Linda's Craft Space

Linda’s Craft Space

Kids Toy Room

Kids Toy Room

Toy Room

Toy Room

August 23, 2013 at 4:19 pm 1 comment

Moving, Ordination & Installation, Bdays …. Boy was June Busy!

Well it’s been a couple months and I do apologize. Life has just been busy in the Ekong house. Boy has it been a busy summer! But June was an especially busy month!

As we loaded up the truck (in 2.5 hours thanks to Mike Zeigler and an amazing group of seminary friends) and said “see you later” to some really great friends and a really great home/community we were all very teary as we left. St. Louis will forever hold a very special place in our hearts. Our fifth child was born there and brought home to the seminary. Jocelyn and Hailey both began their elementary school years there. Jonathan and Hannah both grew and changed there. Many friendships were made and cultivated there. Lots of learning was done there. Life happened there. And what an amazing time those four very quick years were. We were blessed beyond imagination. God is so good!

And even though we were VERY sad to leave STL we were very excited and happy to be going “back home” to Michigan.

DSC_0202_2Blog Many cheerful faces came to greet us at our new home and help us move in. What an amazing crew of people this was! People were everywhere! In and out through the doors, upstairs, downstairs, EVERYWHERE I looked there were people! And it was awesome! We had the truck unloaded in an hour and beds were underway! Lots of people stopping by to say hello and welcome us! Yummy cookies and treats and meals were shared with us. What a blessing our new congregation is!!

IMG_6008 In June, Eric was ordained and installed as Trinity’s Senior Pastor! It was a beautiful day and it was an amazing God filled service. We were blessed to have so many friends and family join us for this special day and truly felt so much love and support from our new Trinity Family as well as our friends and family that traveled to be with us that day! Here are a few pictures from that day:

Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer preaching.

Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer preaching.

The laying of the hands by all the pastors during the service and reciting the Lord's Prayer.

The laying of the hands by all the pastors during the service and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Eric's Dad giving him a blessing.

Eric’s Dad giving him a blessing.

Blessing from Rev. Erber - Missionary in Africa - and member of Trinity.

Blessing from Rev. Erber – Missionary in Africa – and member of Trinity.

Blessing and words of Ordination by Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer.

Blessing and words of Ordination by Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer.

Eric's dad placing Eric's Ordination Stole upon him.

Eric’s dad placing Eric’s Ordination Stole upon him.

All of the Pastors with Eric for a group shot!

All of the Pastors with Eric for a group shot!

Eric and the Associate Pastor at Trinity - Rev. Michael Hanson - after the service.

Eric and the Associate Pastor at Trinity – Rev. Michael Hanson – after the service.

Eric and I after the service.

Eric and I after the service.

Here's our family on this Happy Day!

Here’s our family on this Happy Day!

And since everyone was in town for the special weekend we also celebrated the kids birthdays (Jonathan, Jocelyn & Jillian). It was so nice to have friends and family here to help us celebrate these amazing kiddos!

DSC_0307_2

DSC_0303_2

DSC_0298_2

June was definitely a busy month… but one of the best and most memorable! We thank all of you for your continued love and support!

August 23, 2013 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

June Newsletter

Hello Everyone! It’s definitely been a whirlwind of a month! We are in the final days of our time here at seminary! Definitely bittersweet moments!! Packing is in full swing right now and we are getting excited about starting our next journey at Trinity Lutheran in Jackson!

Here is the June Newsletter. This will be our final “seminary newsletter”. Which is also a sad moment. But I will certainly try to keep the blog going and hope to update once a month. Someone please hold me to that!! :)

June Newsletter

June Newsletter

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I’m not really sure how to start off this letter. For four years, I have written you as a seminarian on a journey through formation. As with any journey, there is a beginning and a finishing point. Sadly, this is also the case now for me. Four years of seminary formation ended on May 17, 2013 around 9pm when Dr. Meyer officially closed the academic school year.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for ever matter under heaven: … a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b)

Four years of learning, struggle, happiness, mourning, and joy ended with the closing of the school year. As my classmates looked around at each other after hearing our journey here was over, you could see as everyone reflected on whirlwind of memories from arrival at orientation to this very moment. I’ll admit, I’m pretty attached to my classmates. I’ve been privileged to watch them grow and each has shown that God is truly at work in their lives. I look forward to keeping up with each one of them as God has blessed congregations and the ministry immensely. I am personally blessed in knowing that each one of my classmates has helped to form me. I am excited to see what my classmates and I will be doing in 5 and 10 years and how we have grown in our ministry.

Four years of being trained, cared for, and loved by the greatest staff and faculty that I have ever encountered. Whether it was that instructor that took a special interest in me or staff members that treated me like family… they too played a very important part of four years of formation. Classes, papers, tests, assigned readings, meetings, study sessions, and conversations I miss already. Seminary has been home for four years, our journey through formation.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for ever matter under heaven: … a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b)

Funny thing about journeys is as soon as one ends, another begins. This closes our Seminary journey through formation into a pastor. Now begins the journey of formation of pastor into pastor. Another journey continues; the journey to be more Christ-like in every action in life. Through these journeys, you have been right there with us praying, providing words of encouragement, and financial support. Seminary has a habit of humbling the proudest of men. Many things can humble someone and for me it has been your selfless acts of mercy for my family and I. You are forever in our prayers and in our hearts. You are family to us and we welcome you to join us on our next journey. We can’t imagine embarking on the next journey without all of you.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for ever matter under heaven: … a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b)

Four years ago, God planted us at seminary and in each other’s lives. God has prepared us, formed us, and is now ready to pluck us from the seminary and plant us at Trinity Lutheran in Jackson, MI. Come join us as we join Trinity to do God’s work amongst the people of Jackson.

Ordination/Installation Service
Sunday, June 23 at 3:00pm
Trinity Lutheran Church
122 W. Wesley St.; Jackson, MI 49201
Reception will follow at Trinity Lutheran School

We hope you will be able to join us for this special day!

In other news we have purchased a home and plan to move to MI in June! We’d love to hear from you from time to time, so please stay in touch!

Eric & Linda Ekong & Family

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Thank You
Each of you are so important to us and we thank God every day
for the support (prayers & financially) that you have given us
these past 4 years. We couldn’t have done this with out YOU!

Eric & Linda Ekong and kids

June 5, 2013 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

April/May Newsletter 2013 – Call Day

Well here is our April/May Newsletter! Seemed better to just combine this issue! :) We will try to do another one the end of May beginning of June which will hold Graduation and Ordination/Installation information!

Here we go:

April May Newsletter 2013 page 1

April May Newsletter 2013 page 1

April May 2013 Newsletter page 2

April May 2013 Newsletter page 2

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Greetings the Day before Call Day 2013,
We are one day away from arguably the biggest day of our seminary journey thus far. This will be my fifth Call Day to experience in my life. My very first experience was my father’s 15 years ago this month. I remember being in awe at the number of people gathered, the powerful voices singing emotional hymns, all the men dressed in all black suits and clericals. I remember hearing Ohio District, Victory Lutheran and being happy he would be close to where we grew up and the adjustment would be minimal.

My second experience occurred our first year when I watched men and women I had only known for a year receive their vicarage assignments and placements into the ministry. It was overwhelming because at that moment, I realized each year would be same thing, growing close to each other only to see them head off into the ministry. What a bittersweet moment; happy to see these fine people be used to do God’s work and sad to see them leave our community.

My third occurrence occurred my 2nd year. Here I may have missed parts of the experience because I was focused on where I would be going for the next year. However, the same feelings of first year remained. Proud to see whom the LCMS was getting to serve and feed God’s people. Sad to see them go again.

The fourth occurrence was my 3rd year on vicarage. Since, I had a local vicarage in nearby Florissant, MO, I was able to be present for both services. It was a weird feeling as I look back on the event. In one service I would learn who Blessed Savior’s next vicar would be after my time was complete. Again the same feelings from the previous year were present, but with a new twist; Call Day brought with it this time a heavenly roar saying my time was near to begin the final leg of the seminary journey.

Here I am, one day away from learning my future. Ready to serve where ever God desires. I have Isaiah 6:8 playing out in my head over and over. Yes, I’m ready Lord! Send Me! Send Me! The other thought that has been in the forefront of my mind is the calling of the Disciples. In less than 24 hours, I join my brothers and sisters as we march into the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus with each person hearing Jesus say, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

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Greetings the Day after Call Day 2013,
Did anyone get the license plate on that Call Day bus that ran me over? I think I was lucky enough to be involved in the vicarage assignment service early in the day. It took my mind off the evening service coming up. Pictures before service with the family and spending time with my classmates in the basement were what kept us all sane. The excitement and emotion was at the highest level of my entire time at seminary. I’m pretty sure we all missed what the sermon by the N. Illinois District President was about. Our focus was solely on Call Placements.

I would not have to wait long once we got to that part of the service (I was the 13th person alphabetically). So, as our row stood up and we filed out into the aisle to line up, I glanced at my mother and father one last time before learning the future for us. Almost replaying seeing my father in the same spot some 15 years ago. There I stood trying desperately to clear all distractions from my mind to hear my name and future, I made the worst mistake of making contact with our proud professors and District Presidents. That glance distracted me just enough to the point that before I knew it, it was my turn.

“Eric Ekong, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church,
Jackson, Michigan, Michigan District”

I looked over to Michigan District President David Maier and smiled. Proceeded down the greeting line and then back down the aisle. As I came to our aisle, I locked eyes with Linda to let her know that I loved her and I was thankful for her support through this part of the journey. I then sat down, looked at my phone, which had some 35 txt messages, 14 twitter mentions, and 60 Facebook notifications. What I would later find out after service was that many of these greetings was from our new family at Trinity Lutheran. By the time we finished with the MI District President after the service, talked with the congregational representative, and returned to the apartment my picture and name was already on Trinity’s website. The running joke was I had finally met my match by being placed at a congregation with members who are engaged with social media just like I am. I want to say, I spent the hour and half after I got home responding to congratulations and welcome messages.

So, now I sit here the day after Call Day after hearing and seeing all the connections I already had to Trinity Lutheran and never knew it. Reviewing our time at seminary and seeing God’s hand at work unbeknownst to our family, working behind the scenes leading us to Trinity and Trinity to us. To say I am excited is an understatement. We are ecstatic and eager to return to Michigan to join our new family at Trinity Lutheran, ready to join them in being lights of the Gospel in the Jackson area.

While we didn’t see God’s hand at work in connecting us with Trinity, we have seen God’s hand at work through the likes of you over these four years of our journey at seminary. Even at this moment of exuberance, we are humbled in knowing that through it all you have been praying, donating, and encouraging us every step of the way. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you from every part of our hearts. Thank you for everything you have done for us along this journey. Please know that everything you have done has been a blessing and not taken lightly.
In His Service,
Eric & Linda Ekong
& Kiddos

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Thank you!
Each of you are so important to us and we thank God every day for the support (prayers & financially) that you have given us these past 4 years. We couldn’t have done this without YOU!
Eric & Linda Ekong & Family

May 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment

Eric has been certified!

(Some would say he was already certifiable)

Well another step has been completed in this journey to becoming a pastor.

Eric received word yesterday evening that he (and his fellow 4th years) have been certified by the faculty of Concordia Seminary which will now allow him to receive his first call on Wednesday, May 1st! We are super excited to have yet another check mark in our list of events for this year!

We thank God for this and as always for all of you for your support and encouragement during our journey!

Be sure to watch it live at http://callday.csl.edu/

Blessings in Christ,
The Ekong’s

April 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

March Newsletter

Well here is our March Newsletter! We pray you are all doing well!

March Newsletter

March Newsletter

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Alleluia! Christ is Risen Indeed!!! We pray that you are doing well and are enjoying the celebration of our Risen Christ! We have been very busy at the Ekong household already in this final quarter, but I wanted to take a few moments to share some update with you!

By the time you receive this, the Ekong Family and the rest of the 4th year class will be in the final 30 days leading up to Call Day. All team ministry interviews for our class have been completed. Both the 2nd years (preparing for vicarage) and 4th years (preparing for placement) are working hard to stay focused on our studies. Recently (3/12), I received notification that I have successfully completed the two-part process of certification. Having completed this phase my name is now passed onto Concordia Seminary’s faculty for the official certification (4/11) for the ministry. Once they do this, our fourth year class names are passed onto the Council of Presidents so that they can sort out the placement in various congregations.

Classes have been fun thus far. I have a really spaced out schedule with only 3 classes. This has left me ample amount of time to study, spend time with friends, and have more than enough time for family events. I couldn’t have planned my last three classes out better. All three are very relevant to the world and the future of the LCMS. I am taking LCMS Controversy’s of the 60-70s, which really brings to light a number of the issues our church body dealt with then and today. I have Theological Ethics and it is interesting how Ethics became separate from faith. Somewhere along the way, what we believe and how we live were separated. The last class I am taking is Psalms and Writings. Thus far it has been a blast. The last class period we focused in on Psalm 1 for 90 minutes. We also studied this text my first year in Hebrew Readings, but there I was on the edge of my seat amazed to how much was packed into the 1st six verses of Psalm 1. It has also brought on a new challenge to pray the Psalms during the last quarter as well.

Our Student Association hosted Concordia Theological Seminary’s Student Association last week and it was a joy to sit down and chat with our brothers and sisters from our sister seminary. I’m especially happy with the discussions and plans between the two student leaderships moving forward.

I think I may have forgotten to mention in a previous letter that I was accepted into the Graduate Program here at Concordia Seminary. The grad school offers three ways to complete advanced degrees (Masters of Sacred Theology, Doctorate of Ministry, and Ph.D.); full-time, part-time, and modular course work (2 week intensives twice a year). I wanted to make sure I shared that good news, it seems in the midst of a busy quarter that bit of news simply fell by the wayside. Finally, as I turn my attention through these remaining days of April leading up to May 1st, I realize my family and I would not be in this position without God’s faithful people walking with us throughout this seminary journey. I’ve said it every letter, but Thank You for all you have done for us. The journey continues… May 1st is right around the corner.

In His Service,
Eric & Linda Ekong
Hannah, Jonathan, Hailey, Jocelyn & Jillian

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Call Day

Join us in all the fun by going to the CSL Call Day 2013 website: http://callday.csl.edu

Call Day is May 1st at 7:00 p.m. CST. It is one of the few events that no matter where you are in the world, you can watch online and feel the excitement just like those sitting in the chapel. I’m extremely excited as both our (Linda and I’s) parents will be right there with us as we learn about our next steps in the ministry.

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Easter Sunday

Easter 2013

Easter 2013


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Thank you!
Each of you are so important to us and we thank God every day for the support (prayers & financially) that you have given us these past 3 1/2 years.
Eric & Linda Ekong & Family

April 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm Leave a comment

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