In 2017 we added two new grandchildren in the same year for the first time. We now have six grandchildren.
Our youngest son Josh and his wife Dani had a son Levi in September during Hurricane Irma. He was born six weeks early and they had to send him home a little early because the hospital in Columbus, Georgia, was receiving babies from the hurricane zone. The eye of the storm passed directly over their city the day Levi came home, but it was only a tropical depression by that point. Ironically, they were housing guests from the coast who had evacuated for the hurricane. But the Irma changed course and turned west instead. Levi’s first night home also happened to be Josh’s first night in his new home, as he was in the process of transferring from Hawaii. The result was a cacophony of tired adults, scared children, many pets of various kinds, and a remnant of Hurricane Irma. Too bad Levi won’t remember any of it. It’s a great homecoming story.
Levi had a little trouble eating at first, but he’s become a chow hound and is doing very well. Josh has been reassigned to Fort Benning, Georgia. He was still stationed in Hawaii when they wanted to induce Dani’s labor in Georgia, but fortunately Josh was able to fly there in time for Levi’s grand entrance. Levi is their first child.
Our middle son Joel and his wife Cara also had their first child, James, this year. James was born last month in Minnesota while Carol and I were in Georgia seeing Levi for the first time. (Mass production can create real drama!) We got to meet baby James on our way home from meeting baby Levi in Georgia.
James is doing well. It looks like Cara will step away from her job at the bank to care for him at home in Watertown, Minnesota, at least for awhile. Joel began a new job at a bank closer to home earlier this year.
Our oldest son Nathan and his wife Francine’s four children finally have cousins. Jonathan is in the fourth grade. Justin is in second grade, Francesca is in kindergarten, and Evangeline is about to enter the “terrific twos.” They all live in Shakopee, Minnesota, where Nathan still works in a computer business and Francine works as a full-time chauffeur for four kids.
At the home front, we are now into our seventh year of pastoral ministry at New Life Church in Clarkfield, Minnesota. One highlight for the church this year is the growth of the after-school Good News Club at the local charter school. New Life launched this community outreach in November 2016. It has been very well received.
In January 2018 the church will send a small work team to south Texas to help rebuild after Hurricane Harvey last summer. I will be a part of this group, along with three other men, working under the auspices of Samaritan’s Purse.
I was recruited to teach general music classes at the local charter school when the music teacher suddenly resigned last January. It was supposed to be a temporary position, but when no other candidate stepped forward during the summer, I kept going this fall. It’s officially just a half day per week, but the need is much bigger than that and I spend a lot of time at school.
Carol’s garden was smaller this year, but she still managed to try some new things. She makes and distributes water kefir most Sundays at church. Carol also works occasionally as a substitute aide at the charter school.
It’s good to hear from many of you during the holidays. Thanks for sharing your cards and letters! May you all have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year in 2018.