Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Newsletter 2012

Sarah's advent calendar

Philip and Thomas in Italy
Nicole in Italy
It’s almost December and I’m busy making advent calendars and ordering Christmas gifts on eBay and Amazon. I don’t actually have the time to go shopping at the stores. I personally hate the crowds and the stress. And it’s so stressful shopping for a big family. I made myself sit down and buy everyone’s gifts in one day. And now I just have to wait for those gifts to arrive in the mail. I do love eBay! And now I have the time to think about our Christmas letter. I guess a Christmas letter is a good way of looking back on what you have managed to get done in the year. And we have done allot. I won’t bore you with all the details. But we grew! For example Thomas was in another school last December.

And we moved him to a local school so he wouldn’t need to travel 2 hours a day. It took awhile for him to feel good in his new school. But I think he has turned the corner. And he looks happier and more at ease. He gave up the soccer team, and now spends more of his time on music and archery. He and Nicole have joined an archery club that meets once a week. Soccer was a 3 afternoon per week commitment. He plays soccer with some local kids , but doesn’t feel the stress of being on a real team.  
Last year Jessica had no teacher, or school. She ended up being home until August (12 months home). But now she has her own private helper. And she just began attending a disabled workshop. She feels safe enough with her teacher. And with help she can be slowly integrated into the workshop. Some things take longer then you think…but we still see great progress!   
Nicole is in her 2nd year at Art school. She had very good grades last year and showed her work in a summer art show. I see amazing progress. She is really going to be a good artist! Right now she is working on a sculpture and a drawing. Today Juergen  picked up a professional drafting table he bought for her (used). And I’m giving her some clay tools for Christmas. She will move from doing papier-mâché sculpture to clay and metal sculpture.  
Philip has been working at the school store. He seems to love business. He attends art class once a week. He also loves dancing. He will be attending another dance camp during the Christmas vacation. We need to give allot of attention to Philip’s future career training. There are 3 different levels of education in Germany. The students that are University bound, the technical track , and the students that will eventually be doing more manual and vocational work. If you can not be a doctor you should try to be a plumber. That is the sort of thing we need to help Philip with because he is never going to attend University.
Sarah attended summer camp for the first time this year. She also began the 3rd grade. We weren’t sure she would be able to manage the 3rd grade. But so far she is keeping up with the work. And she has lots of friends,
and also loves to play with her brothers. But more and more she also loves hanging out with her big sister Nicole. She love art, and watching cartoons on you tube.
My big thing this year was my garden. I grew thousands of heirloom tomatoes from seed. And I also canned hundreds of jars of tomato sauce. And Juergen and Nicole built me a beautiful greenhouse. It isn’t 100% finished. You can only plaster walls when it’s warm. And we will need to finish this project next spring. But it’s the coolest greenhouse I’ve ever seen. I also got to help with the English Alpha course. We had international students from a half dozen countries in this basic Christianity course. And it was an awesome privilege to get to know some of these amazing students. We also hosted the graduation party for the International health department at the University of Heidelberg. That wasn’t so much work. The University paid for a caterer I only needed to clean the house and set up the party tent. It was an awesome evening! And I felt honored to be with these special people who are such a huge gift to this world. They are the answer to HIV, Malaria, and food programs for the poor. I am just a stay at home mom, but I still dream of changing the world. I also lead an English small group from January until August. And we had great fellowship. I am considering another small group next year. Maybe another January to July group?  
And my Mom and Dad got to visit us for a few weeks last spring. It was a nightmare for my dad to travel, but I’m hoping he can manage the trip again. If I come to America to visit them, I can only stay a short time. We have much more time together if they come here. But if he can not travel, I’m sure I’ll come to America next year. And Juergen and I got to teach a 4 week seminar on End Time Prophecy. That was awesome. I found the topic exciting just for my own information. We dug into the topic, and often studied until 2am for 2 whole months. It’s nothing I could do all year long, but I would love to teach again next fall (if they want me to).
Juergen is working very hard at work. And he had such a long list things to do for our house in Leimen, and our house in Bad Schönborn. We tried to sell our house in Leimen until May. And every week Juergen would paint walls and put in new flooring. We put in a new front door, and a kitchen, and a new heater. The roof was repaired, and the garden cleaned. It was so costly in money and time.  
But finally we found a good renter(the house stood empty 11 months). And we would have much rather have a buyer, but in the present housing market we are grateful for a good renter. And Juergen also put insulation in the attic in our big house in Bad Schönborn. And we are also getting a new natural gas heater. This should cut our heating bill in half. I also want a wood stove. But this may need to wait until next year.
We did go on vacation this year. We spent 2 weeks in Italy. The first week was on the Riviera near the French boarder. And the 2nd week was in Tuscany near Florence. I loved my day trip to Florence with Nicole. We saw Renaissance Art and modern art. We also visited a Renaissance garden. The kids just loved hanging out in the pool, and playing soccer. I think Juergen loved seeing Monte Carlo. What a view! I would love to return to Italy in 2013.
We also took Sarah and Jessica to Disneyland Paris for a weekend. I could easily go on and on. In a family with 7 people there are allot of stories to tell. But the most important thing to tell is we are well. We love God, we love each other and we are all healthy and happy. We will be spending Christmas eve with International students (God willing). Christmas day we plan to go to Juergen’s Dad's house. We should be home for New Years Eve. And I don’t know if we will be having a party yet. The kids go to camp on January 1st. So maybe we will just have a birthday party for Philip. His birthday is January 1st. We will see. I hope I will see many of my friends and family in 2013. And I pray God fills your heart with joy. We are grateful for all of you. Merry Christmas and God’s blessing in 2013. 

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”
A.A. Milne

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