Christmas again. Are you all set to celebrate the real millennium? We hope you have all had an interesting year. Here are the highlights (and lowlights) of ours.
We began the year with a big family millennium celebration. This included a telephone call to China at 1am on New Years Day (9am their time) to say ‘Happy New Year’ to Danny’s brother and his family. At Easter we made our customary annual expedition to Skegness for Spring Harvest - a Christian holiday conference. As usual we enjoyed the rain, the cold and the good Christian teaching. Our family holiday in the summer was our first taste of Eurocamping, and this in spite of the fact that Eurocamp is a Hartford-based company. We spent 10 days in the Vendée on the Atlantic coast of France followed by a further five in the Loire Valley. We had a wonderful time and, with the exception of the outward and return journeys, found it thoroughly relaxing.
The highlight just has to be Danny’s 50th birthday. We celebrated with a great family day together culminating in a meal at a small local restaurant. His colleagues at work also marked the occasion in a manner which left him with a number of special memories. When he arrived at work he couldn’t even see his desk, let alone do any work! The whole area was covered in streamers and balloons and the corridors were all liberally plastered in birthday posters. Each poster sported a photograph from his past, generously provided by his loving wife! In addition to all the effort they had gone to they also presented him with a delightful watercolour print of Borrowdale.
Much of Janet’s time, energy and effort this year has gone into supporting Helen and Jonathan. It’s a big year for both of them (see below) and many hours have been spent in parents evenings, reading prospectuses, making telephone calls and surfing the web for information, visits to colleges and universities as well as the usual humdrum "How are you getting on with that biology homework?" type of enquiry. She is still heavily committed to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in Chester and is now the Substitute Teaching Leader (effectively the No2 in the leadership team).
Helen’s year has been very full (but then they always are!) In the spring term glandular fever put her out of action for most of the term. She missed twelve weeks at sixth form college. We are all so delighted at the complete recovery she has made and are very grateful for those who prayed for her and also to God for hearing and answering those prayers so wonderfully. There are virtually no after effects. She is now slaving away at her A levels, English Language, Art and Design and Performing Arts. Though hard work she is enjoying the course work, but not the exams! Not content with the pressure brought about by her studies and her university application Helen is also now leading the Christian Union at her college, preparing to take a gap year next year (probably with a missionary organisation abroad), singing in the college choir, active in the church youth group etc., etc., etc.
By the time you read this Jonathan will be taller than his father. That will definitely be the highlight of his year! This is also GCSE year for Jonathan, a minor distraction by comparison with the important business of growing! He has been hard at work with course work and is now beginning to revise for mocks in January. At Dad’s "suggestion" Jonathan took responsibility for the annual battle to keep the grass at bay in the back garden and his contribution here has been significant. In November Jonathan was baptised (he had never been "done" as a baby) and confirmed. We all found this a moving and significant event as he stood with fourteen others and publicly declared his personal faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ.
In the summer both Helen and Jonathan spent a week at Message 2000, a work camp which sought to proclaim the Christian message by showing practical social concern in some of the deprived areas of Manchester. Under canvas for a week they both enjoyed a very active few days and came home exhausted but extremely buoyant.
Our wish for you all is that this Christmas time may be a happy and enjoyable occasion, that you all have the opportunity to rest, to relax and the time and space to consider the message of Christmas for yourselves.
With love, thoughts and prayers
Danny, Janet, Helen and Jonathan.