Wishing you a Blessed Christmas season
and Joyous New Year!
It was wonderful to hear from so many of you as you shared your year — thank you!
As we write this letter we are getting ready for another trip to El Salvador; it will be Chris’s seventh trip and Kent’s sixth. As you probably all know, our church has a “sister community” relationship with a group of small, rural communities, all clustered around the largest of Guillermo Ungo. We have made many friends, and watching the children grow up is so much fun!! The big accomplishment is that they have built the school up to grade 12.
We decided that the best way to help is through scholarships, since even elementary school has a registration fee and other costs. On our last trip we helped set up a local scholarship committee, and they awarded approximately 50 scholarships. We also provided funds for school equipment. We have also assisted in healthcare with medicines and partial salaries for the health promoters.
Last Christmas we mentioned that our church congregation was on the verge of closing. Although now it seems so long ago, March 2 was the last service for our congregation of Light of Life. We dissolved as a congregation and sold the building to the City of Scotts Valley. It is ironic, but one of our top goals as a congregation was that the people of Scotts Valley use the building more. It is now the city’s community center, and the hub of activity! It was a very hard time for us, but we are active in the Lutheran church in Santa Cruz – St. Stephen’s. We are grateful that they had partnered with Light of Life in the El Salvador relationship, so we already had friends and a mission. We are continually reminded that God does not live in a building but in the hearts of people everywhere – God is so portable!
We had a couple of trips this summer that helped the healing process. We went on a cruise with Kent’s brother Steve and wife Nancy, and Chris’ mom & sister Dorothy and Susan. It was the Baltic Scandinavian cruise which started and ended in Copenhagen, with stops in Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (2 days), Estonia, Gdansk (Poland), and Oslo. Each stop was really too quick, but it was wonderful to see so many places. We stayed an extra 2 days in Copenhagen at the end and generally just had the best time. Our second trip doesn’t sound like as much fun, but was a healing trip. Chris was a delegate to the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA held in Milwaukee, so Kent went too. With a theme like “For the Healing of the World”, how could it miss? We learned a lot.
We also had an addition to the family. After our female Springer Spaniel Bridget died last November, we felt like Moses needed some company. But Chris waited, knowing that a dog would show up. Sure enough, someone at the groomer’s had a dachshund puppy who needed a home. So Shaggy (who we renamed Shadrach) came to live with us. (Reference Daniel 3 to learn more about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). He had his first birthday December 7th, and he is absolutely the cutest thing – when he isn’t being a complete terror. Our dog-sitter described him as a stick of dynamite on four legs – which describes him perfectly. He is supposed to be a mini dachsy, but he is now 15 pounds, so someone goofed. We always scoffed at little dogs, but this dog has sooo much personality. He does not seem to know he is little, except when it comes time to sit on laps. Kent has missed having cats (he is terribly allergic) who cuddled on laps, and Shadrach fills that need. And fills it. And fills it (you get the picture). Moses doesn’t exactly adore Shadrach, but he does have company and he does get more exercise now, although sleeping is still a favorite pastime.
Our employment remains the same. Kent continues to work for Sun Microsystems as a project manager in Information Technology. Chris is starting her fourth year full-time teaching nursing at Cabrillo College, and has been recommended for tenure. She’s not exactly sure how or when that happens – but being recommended is a good thing! She teaches pediatrics in the Spring, and is becoming much more comfortable with that. In Fall, she teaches advanced Medical-Surgical content. That will all change in 2006 when her nursing program will start admitting students to the nursing program every semester instead of just every Fall; it will mean teaching pediatrics full-time. There is a lot to be done in the meantime, since this means a total curriculum overhaul. Kent is already getting a headache in anticipation of the moaning and groaning he expects.
In summary, we had a pretty good year with a very difficult beginning. We have so much to be thankful for — continued good health, a home in one of the best places in the U.S.A., and the love of family and friends. We have plenty of room for guests and we’d love to show you around!
Kent and Chris