December 2013

Dear family and friends,

It is frosty in Newhall this morning but I know that many across the country are facing much colder weather.  Here this cold seems fitting for the season, much better than the years of heat for the holidays.  We hope that this letter finds you, too, preparing for Christmas and the new year. 

Most years seem to seem to fly by, but 2013 was so full of differing periods that it seems impossible that it all happened in only one year.  What follows is a few of the high points.
In late January Jenk and I left on our adventure to Xi’an, China.  We moved into a sunny, two-room apartment in the teacher’s dorm of GaoXin No.1 High School.  We were greeted by two of our Chinese “sisters”, Fan Hui and Yanli along with their families.  Over the next three months we spent wonderful hours with so many friends, welcomed into their homes and families.   We experienced Spring Festival (known to us as Chinese New Year) which can be compared to a combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all in one!  I did some teaching while Jenk worked on his computer and explored the city of 9 million people by bus and on foot.  Four friends from California visited in April with whom we traveled to Shanghai and Beijing.  In May we headed to Japan to visit our first exchange student from 23 years ago.  The three days we spent with Misako and her family were unforgettable.  It was hard to believe that Misako is now older than I was when she lived with us! 

Though it was hard to leave our friends in China, it was great to see our kids and friends back home.  I started back to working on the China Exchange immediately as we had a group of kids planning to leave for China on June 1 and then to prepare for our second summer camp for 25 Chinese students.  Jenk returned to his duties as a member of two homeowners boards, and as chair of the finance committee at church.  He also supervised some long-needed work on our home which finally included removal of our olive-green kitchen!

After a two-week trip back to China to help our group settle in, Jenk and I had the joy of welcoming “Linda”, Yanli’s 11 year-old daughter to our home for one month.  It was such fun to spend time with her!  She also participated in (and helped with) our summer camp activities.  Those weeks flew by!  Summer camp also provided our non-profit with the funds to help send more of our students to China.

During the fall I spent many hours working with our exchange, but Jenk and I took time for a 2-week trip to Texas to visit many members of Jenk’s family, and then welcomed two friends from France for 3 weeks.  With Michele and Gerard we traveled to San Francisco, Big Sur, Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon.  It was great to see the parks in fall without the crowds of summer.  Retirement is great!

Both of our “kids” are doing well in their chosen professions and we are lucky that they still seem to enjoy spending time with mom and dad.

As we begin preparation for Christmas and another new year we take the time to think of our family and friends.  We are indeed blessed with friends and family around the world.  Each of you has impacted our lives in so many ways.  We thank the Lord for you!

Merry Christmas!  May 2014 be a year of good health and happiness for you and all those whom you love!

Jenk and Patty