Christmas 2008

Dear Ones,

The year has come and gone. In some ways we are richer, in other ways poorer. Financially we are poorer then wePaul & Deborah expected to be at this time. Our retirement annuity has suffered a huge set back. As I glide towards retirement my income has dropped significantly as I am only working (for pay) one week a month. If money were the determiner of our happiness I would have to conclude that we are less happy then we were a year ago. However, it is not and we are not. Despite our diminished financial situation we still have access to more resources then 95% of the world. We travel to Peru and Haiti and see the suffering and any qualms we have about our future is swept away by observing the present of others. We are so far from being poor that to even contemplate our setback in terms of the world is ludicrous. Rather than concentrate on what we thought we had but don’t we turn to those things that make us richer.

Paul & Masha, Angel's Landing, Zion Nat'l Park
Little Cassie
Ruben & Cassie

The greatest blessing we have received this year is Cassie Williams, Ruben’s fiancée. She has brought stability, peace and joy to Ruben’s and Cassie’s lives. (Yes! Both Ruben’s fiancée and his daughter have the same name!) Ruben (32) and Cassie continue to work at the Mountain Lyon Café while starting a cleaning business on the side.

Granddaughter Cassie (4) fills our home with light and movement and laughter as we continue to provide day care for her 3 – 4 days a week. She starts kindergarten next year and I am already grieving.

Rebecca (35), Pedro and Alexandra (3) remain in Paris. Alexandra switches between French, English and Spanish as the situation warrants. Visiting them and having them visit us are highlights of the year. There is something about playing with your grand daughter at the base of the Eiffel Tower that is charming no matter how many times you experience it.

Paul & Alexandra at Carousel in Paris
Alexandra, New Zealand
Rebecca & Alexandra, New Zealand
Alexandra & Pedro
Rebecca, Pedro & Alexandra on her 3rd Birthday
Alexandra on her 3rd Birthday
Jonathan & Alexandra

Jonathan (34) works for Continental and it is due to his flight attendant work that we are all able to flit between Paris and other parts of the world as frequently as we do. Matthew (32), a pilot for Chatauqua Airlines, provides us with benefits on Delta. The close second in the blessing category is his purchase of a condo here in Summit County. Matthew is nearing completion of his Bachelor’s degree which he works on when he is not out rescuing damsels in distress and others with the Search and Rescue Team.

Rachel (30), Kellie and Derek (3), live in Lincoln, Nebraska while teaching at the University of Nebraska. They are close enough to visit and be visited several times during the year. SKYPE, the free download video camera program allows Cassie and me to talk to Derek and Alexandra, Rachel and Rebecca as often as we desire. We sing and share stories, see artwork and hear about activities without any of us leaving our living rooms.

Rachel, Derek & Kellie
Cassie & Alexandra
Derek & Cassie reading to each other

Robert (31) remains where he is safe, San Carlos Correctional Facility. He is treated well. Jamie (31) works as a cook in a restaurant in Denver while he looks for a job in his graphic arts field. Jesse (29) has made a miraculous step toward sobriety and is enrolled at Weber State College in Utah. He is enjoying school and is taking an interest in maintaining contact with his three children and the rest of us in his family. Hope springs eternal! Amber (27) has a home in Denver where she works for Camping World. Brandon (27) works in Grand Junction.

Last but not least, the daughter of our hearts, Masha (16). After returning to her mother’s home for a year she realized that she needed a little bit more support and structure in order to graduate so came back to Colorado for high school. She spends vacation time with her mom and two sisters in Pennsylvania, which provides a good balance for all of us.

Paul supplements our retirement income by working at BigHorn Lumber. Though that is a full time job he still is treasurer of our church and serves on numerous boards. I continue to contribute to our retirement outgo by traveling to Peru and Haiti to work on various relief projects under the auspices of Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church and Summit County Rotary. The largest project is providing support for Good Samaritan Home for Seniors in Jeremie, Haiti. We encourage sponsorship of seniors at $40 a month so that we can continue to send them money for food each month. For more information please visit our website Donations over and above food expenses are being used to refurbish the home. In November we replaced the rotten and leaking dining room roof.

Jamie, Jesse & Amber
Masha dressed for Homecoming
Good Samaritan Home for Seniors gets a new dining room roof

Us? Poor!?!?!?! It does not enter our consciousness! We are rich beyond belief. We have a God who upholds us, family who enfold us and a Universe in whose embrace we flourish. December 24th comes and the world soulfully kneels in front of a fake manger by the glow of candles and sings smushy songs of silent nights, feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. The problem is that Jesus birth, life and death was never about warm fuzzies and reciprocal gift giving! If it is Christ’s mass that we are celebrating then the baby that needs our adoration and the focus of our attention and gifts is the one dying in Darfur and the little family in the stable needs to be found in Haiti. Jesus grew up. In the process he fed the hungry, healed the sick, comforted the dying, and served the oppressed. We are all richer for the example he gave us of a life well lived. A life spent in communion with the poor is a life spent in communion with God. What earthly riches can compare to that!?!?!

Love to you all,
Deborah and Paul