The Freeland 2023 Christmas Letter

The big news for 2023 is that all two-legged members of the Freeland family have now earned Bachelor degrees. (The cats… they are all slackers!) Jacob and A.J. both graduated from Hillsdale College Mother’s Day Weekend.

The other big thing this year was a family trip to Israel with a group from our church. We we there the first week in September which was right before Israel began the three week celebration of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot which ended on October 6th. A.J. had been a little nervous about going to Israel and so we had to listen to him say “I told you so” when the war broke out on October 7th. I had been to Israel once before with the Gaither’s toward the end of the Second Intafada. My imagination for what might be possible was too small by several orders of magnitude. We pray that Israel will be able to quickly achieve their military goals so the fighting will end and the harm to civilians will be kept to a minimum.

A big part of Jacob’s senior year was writing and defending his thesis for the Collegiate Scholars Program. His topic was blah blah blah. Parents were not allowed to attend the oral defense before three faculty members, but A.J. attended and shot quite a bit of video for us. His opinion was that Jacob did an excellent job and that the panel was impressed by his research and conclusions. The week after graduation he traveled to Greece with a group from Hillsdale. Jacob hasn’t decided if grad school is something he wants to do or not. In the mean time he has been working for an arborist trimming and caring for trees which he seems to be enjoying.

A.J.’s senior year was dominated by preparations for his Senior Art Show. He and two of his friends in the Art Dept. had a week long show in the college’s art gallery. There was an opening reception that was very well attended and he really appreciated all those who made the drive up from central Indiana to attend. He had ?? pieces on display and the head of the Art Department asked afterwards for photos of the event to use for future promotional materials about the Art program. He was invited along with two other seniors to travel to CT after graduation for an event with donors to the college to show his work and the Art Department ended up buying one of his paintings.

Instead of perusing grad school for Art Conservation right away, he has decided to focus on painting. While he’s had considerable success selling his work for someone just graduating from college, it’s not enough to live on. He was able to get a job at a upscale restaurant in Johnson County where he hopes to eventually work as a waiter. The restaurant is only open for dinner five days a week. So if he is able to become a server, he should be able to support himself and have a generous amount of time to paint and do marketing. If you’d like to see more of his work his website is

Wendy’s office moved again this year. They are now located in the offices of the Indianapolis/Marion County Public Defender on the newly opened Criminal Justice Center near downtown Indianapolis. It’s a brand new building and very nice, but starting to get cramped as the Expungement Help Desk keeps expanding. Wendy will be taking over the job of supervising the paralegals as the previous supervisor took a newly created position connecting clinic clients with employment opportunities. It was another bumper crop year for pears and Wendy found a recipe for pear bread that is really amazing. One of the highlights of our time in Jordan was the camel ride she got to take in the Wadi Rum desert.

Business was good for me until August when things just died until things picked back up in mid-October. I continue to do quite a bit of network news which wasn’t the case five years ago. The most interesting thing I did all year was go to Havana, Cuba with Jacob on a Filter of Hope trip. If you’d like to read more about our time in Cuba, follow this link. Filter of Hope: Cuba 2023.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Freelands

John, Wendy, Jacob, and A.J.