Chris receiving letters and packages

Wishes for a Merry Christmas and Blessings and Peace in 2008!

When last heard from, Kent & Chris were on their way to El Salvador to help lead the annual “delegation” from our church to our sister community (actually, communities) in Guillermo Ungo, El Salvador. This is happening annually now; we went December 30, 2006 and we leave again December 29, 2007, returning January 8, 2007. We are truly achieving our mission of “building relationships for better lives”. We accompanied another couple to El Salvador Thanksgiving 2006 as a surprise to a young woman who had just graduated from high school. It was fun to wander around the community just to say “Hi” to the people that we know without the agenda of our usual “January” trips.

Besides preparing to leave for El Salvador, when last we wrote Kent was waiting to hear if he was hired at a Financial Planning firm – a job he found out about in one the first classes on his journey to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). He did indeed get the job with Founder’s Financial in Cupertino, and has been working there since January 2006.

He really likes it – what a change from working for a company with 30-35,000 employees to one with eight. He is in the “back office” (using his computer skills) but also learning a lot about the financial planning business. Classes were finished in June 2007 (yes!), and Kent took the exam in November. Preparation started in September, and used up all available time this fall. The test itself is in three sessions, a total of ten hours (Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon). Unfortunately, the results will not be released for six weeks or so – the wait is almost unbearable! Once Kent passes (we hope it’s this time!), he will need one more year of experience (three total) to be certified. It’s a long road, but he’s making very good progress.

Chris continues to teach pediatrics and advanced skills in the nursing program at Cabrillo College. The latest development in nursing education is simulation. High tech manikins have come down in price (to “only” $40-50,000) so – with the help of grants – nursing schools are able to afford them. But simulation is more than just manikins, it is the desire and ability to re-create a clinical situation for the students – but where everyone is safe. So there is a LOT of work involved getting our lab set up, learning how to do simulation correctly, making scenarios, etc. Looking back over the calendar, we see that a lot of Chris’ time has been spent on this. During summer 2006, she was one of four faculty who went to a post-graduate certificate program at OHSU (Oregon Health Science University) on simulation in nursing education. It was stimulating, and a lot of work. The work continues as we try to set up a quality simulation program in our college. The Fall 2007 semester was the “maiden voyage”when the first set of students went through simulation. Hard to tell who was more nervous — the students or the faculty.

Our trips have been curtailed due to Kent’s new job, and school. We traveled to Los Angeles to our niece Shannon’s master’s ceremony in June 2006. It was a great Madsen family reunion. We drove so that we were able to stop and see our god daughter Ariana Stevenson (oh, and the rest of her family too!) in Simi Valley on the way home.

Chris also took some trips in 2006 without Kent, with her sister Susan and mom Dorothy. Dorothy lives just 2 miles away, so we see her a lot. She has us over for dinner once a week, so we get at least one home-made meal a week. First they went to Minnesota in the summer of 2006 to see Dorothy’s 2 sisters – Anna & Lucile – who live in the Twin Cities area, and had a great time toddling around. We were incredibly grateful we made this trip, for just a few months later Anna died suddenly.

That inspired us to go to Whittier in November 2006 for the 50th anniversary of St. Andrew Lutheran, the church where Susan and Christine were confirmed, and Dorothy and Marvin attended since 1961. Dorothy was able to connect with several old friends; We had lunch with one special friend Selma, and Chris was able to connect with Selma’s daughter Kris- her ‘bud” who she hung out with every Sunday for the years from 4th – 12th grade. Now she is someone who has not gotten any older – totally amazing.

Fall 2006 also saw the arrival of Kent’s grand nephew Seth Madsen, son of Scott and BeeJai Madsen, in Tucson, Arizona. We visited them in February 2007 to get acquainted with the little tyke. We’ve practically worn out the line about always knowing Kent is a good uncle, but now we’re sure he’s a great uncle (ba-da-boom!).

In June of 2007 we traveled to southern California again to attend the confirmation (or as Lutherans call it now, Affirmation of Baptism) of our god daughter Ariana Stevenson. We also attended a concert performance of older sister Katie’s community chorus. Excellent music skillfully performed!

In July 2007 Kent, Chris and Ruth Cruddas (good friend and co-conspirator on the El Salvador Sister Parish effort) traveled to Guatemala for a week-long intensive Spanish course at the Guatemala Discovery School run by Miguel and Susan Pineda, former Santa Cruz residents (and members of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church). It is located in Xela, in the high country of east central Guatemala. It was fun to learn about another Central American country and culture, and we improved our Spanish too!

Kent is still president of the church council at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Santa Cruz. Church activities and fund-raisers for El Salvador have taken up a lot of our spare time this year.

We enjoyed hosting Thanksgiving dinner in 2007, with Chris’s mom Dorothy, sister Susan and Kent’s brother Steve, sister-in-law Nancy and niece Shannon joining us for the traditional feast. We viewed Steve and Nancy’s photos from their recent trip to Egypt (I guess there is something about being retired …). Shannon has moved back to the Bay Area so we look forward to seeing her a lot more often.

Now we’re looking forward to a busy and joy-filled Christmas season with our next trip to El Salvador following close behind. We hope that your holiday time will also be filled with the joy and wonder of the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.

Kent and Chris

Miguel, Ruth, Chris, Sergio, Kent