This charming graphic* seems appropriate at this time when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. The dove of peace symbolizes the Spirit of God that fills our hearts and minds with peace. The book of music denotes the songs of joy we sing as we worship during this season. The heart and the children from all parts of the globe with their call for peace signify the love and care that God would have us extend to all Godís children everywhere. The computer demonstrates the remarkable ability to communicate with friends far and near, old and new. The flower and apple remind me of the fundamentals of life, Godís good Creation and the foods that it yields to nourish our bodies. The school house represents the extraordinary body of knowledge and wisdom made possible by Godís most extraordinary creation, the human body with mind and spirit. We praise and thank the Lord Almighty for his goodness and blessings!
Having said that we are dismayed at the extraordinary ability we humans have for evil Ė wickedness, selfishness, greed, stupidity. Oh. Lord, forgive us for turning our backs on your Wisdom, and going our own way.
The year has been only moderately eventful Ė a February trip to Arizona for a seminary reunion, two reunions in July in St. Paul and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and finally an October visit to Billís sister in Rhode Island. One goal in all these trips has been to take advantage of our excursion to visit friends and relatives in the vicinity. As a result we visited the home of Motherís delightful 85 year old cousin, Lorraine Peterson, in Phoenix, stayed with a St. Olaf classmate in Wisconsin I hadnít seen in years, Marilyn Lee, and her husband Dick, and had lunch with a cousin, Mary Beth Jones, in Decorah, whom I hadnít seen since we were little. In addition we enjoyed visits with brother Bill and his wife in their Sedona timeshare and also in Golden Valley, with cousin Kris Goplen in California, her husband Ivan, and their handsome sons, Hans and Erik, and with cousin and fellow genealogist Ann Farning and her husband, Max, in Wisconsin. Hans Goplen is executive chef at a charming little restaurant in Hollywood called The Farm. Hansí grandfather was a great photographer and Hans found a bunch of old pictures he had taken down on the farm many years ago. Framed enlargements of these pictures provide the dťcor for the restaurant. The first picture you see on arrival is of his uncle Peter as a little tot hanging from the handle of the old farm water pump trying to get some water for his friend, who is looking on. One day this friendís son happened to visit the restaurant, recognized the picture, and had an unexpected reunion! Incidentally, in addition to treating us to a delightful lunch at The Farm, Hans came over one night and fixed a gourmet dinner for us. Heís one remarkable chef!
In between, lots of time spent in the garden (Kris), doing genealogy research (Bill), working with the synod Board of Global Mission (both of us, Kris taking over as chair), exercising the wonders of the computers and digital cameras. Kris has learned the painstaking process of editing and dubbing the video camera pictures taken in Tanzania last year to video tape, and has prepared programs for a few occasions. It can be very frustrating to spend an hour dubbing only to discover that things werenít set right and nothing was recorded! She has continued development of our Web site with much information on nutrition and sustainable agriculture for anyone who is interested, and even a section on Fair Trade and Justice. I hope some of you will be inclined to take a look. Be prepared to be startled if you do! Thereís also a little garden tour if you are interested, and a Letter to a Friend I'd like you to read.
News of the children is much the same as last year. Emily and Will are now 9 and 6. The Saturday after Thanksgiving we visited Willís hockey game! Itís so funny watching all these little tots scrambling around the ice and tumbling in a pile Ė they are well padded! Emily was pleased to announce that she has been picked as first violin in her little school orchestra. Dorothy has become an essential cog in the concrete business she started working for last year, works long hours, and is learning to Ďcost estimateí in the concrete business Ė but itís a typical modest-pay job with few benefits, as so many are stuck with these days. Things are about the same over at Pete and Carynís new house, with Pete and the builder locked in a battle over who does what when. We pray that it will end soon.
We wish you a very merry Christmas, good health in the New Year, and pray for peace and good will for our troubled world! Come and visit!
Kris & Bill
*Purloined from Christmas card of the Southern Poverty Law Center (www.splcenter.org), a worthy organization fighting to teach tolerance to our children and bring justice to those who promote hate and injustice.