Newsletter: Christmas 1995
We wish you all a joyful Christmas season and God’s blessings in 1996.
Daniel and Timmy, now 9 and 7, have had a wonderful year back at St Francis school. They both brought home good reports in the Summer, and we have had very encouraging meetings with their teachers. Both have small parts as narrators in the school Christmas performances, and are caught up in the usual whirl of pre-Christmas activities. Sue has been helping in school this year - working in 4 different classes.
Daniel has been an enthusiastic member of Cub Scouts for this past year, attending his first weekend camp with the group early in June. Timmy is still on the waiting list for the Beaver pack; it’s very popular!. Both of them have joined a local independent children's choir and enjoyed singing at various concerts locally. Daniel has continued to show skill in painting and drawing, and both boys are still avid readers, getting through several books each week from school, from the library, and from Sue’s collection of children’s novels.
Music has become increasingly important to Daniel as he has continued to enjoy playing the recorder at school. He was able to start private piano lessons in September, and hopes to begin learning the clarinet at school next term. We were very impressed with a music evening at school, hearing the brass band and orchestra. Daniel hopes to play in an orchestra when he's older; Timmy would rather be the conductor!
1995 has seen change in Sue’s immediate family. Her parents have finally come home from the Middle East to retire, and are living in their house a few miles from us. The boys are delighted to be able to see their grandparents most weeks, and have learnt new skills such as ornamental wall-building from their Grandpa! Sue's brother Peter was ordained at the beginning of July, and is now a curate in Sheffield. Their sister Judy gave birth to her first baby, Andrew, the day after our 15th Wedding Anniversary, making us (at last!) an Aunt and Uncle, and providing the first real cousin for our boys.
We will be spending Christmas in Birmingham, for the first time in many years, having lunch with Sue’s parents and seeing other members of their family in the following few days. We shall spend the New Year in Sussex with Richard’s mother and grandmother.
We have been overwhelmed with God's provision during this past 18 months. We have been able to have new carpets in all the bedrooms of our house (the old ones were falling to bits!) and have a holiday in April, in California. Accumulated air miles helped with this, and we were particularly grateful to some friends who lent us their motorhome for the time we were there, enabling us to travel around without any schedule or pressure, enjoying the Pacific beaches and scenery.
We were delighted to be able to make a brief visit to Colorado Springs and go to the Vineyard for the Easter Day service. We were thoroughly welcomed back, and able to renew many friendships; we are only sorry we didn't manage to get to see more of our friends during the time we were there. Driving back to California we drove through Arizona amidst a raging blizzard, and visited various places of interest on the way. It was a wonderful time of relaxation for us all - the first real holiday we had taken for about four years.
Richard has been working partly for his organisation in Northampton, and partly for the International HQ is in High Wycombe. He has been able to do much of the work at home, and we currently have several computers in our attic which are responsible for sending electronic mail to and from many of the missionaries worldwide. He is very soon to be spending some time abroad (Switzerland and the USA) in preparation for moving the system elsewhere! Sue has been able to give a little assistance with email administration, and continues chatting via email with friends worldwide - an addictive hobby!
In spite of being involved in creative work, Richard has found the work increasingly frustrating. Partly this is because sitting at a computer all day means he is not involved with people; he also finds it rather too far removed from the field missionary work. The email work, while not exciting in itself, does at least have the value of connecting "real" missionaries on the field.
While we do not feel called to be on a field team at present, Richard feels strongly that he would like to be involved much more directly with supporting the teams. Please pray with us as we try and seek God's will and see what this might mean; we have had a lot of encouragement from people who share a little of this vision, but really not much idea of what it might mean in practise. We are committed to remaining in the UK until next Summer; Richard expects to be working more with the IHQ during this time, although we shall probably remain in Birmingham.
After next summer, we are still uncertain what will happen. For some years now, Richard has had the vision for a "Creative Support Team" working with Middle East teams, helping them with video and audio production, desk-top publishing and other creative media (along with email and other support roles). Some of the teams are getting to be involved in larger scale evangelistic work and so need assistance with events management. All these skills are related to Richard’s past experience, and with our local supporters in Birmingham, we’re trying to discover whether this is indeed God’s plan for our future.
Such a team should be set up with at least six adults working together, so that we could support each other and work together. Already a number of people have expressed interest in going in a team which Richard would lead. This would almost certainly have to be based in or near the Middle East, so it would mean another move for the family; Lebanon has been suggested and seems at present the most likely location.
This is always a difficult topic for missionaries to discuss. We have been thrilled that so many people have continued to support us during the past year, and that our Church has begun again to give us some significant financial support, although we neither asked for nor expected anything during this time. Our current regular income stands at around eight thousand pounds per year (the equivalent of about $12,000 US), which is just about the right amount to meet our needs.
In addition to this we have had some one-off gifts for various purposes, some tax due to covenanted income, and Richard has been able to do around two days per month freelance at Selly Oak Colleges - and some extra days at times - which have enabled us to buy a laptop computer (essential for the times when Richard travels) and more recently a second-hand car. Please pray for this car because already it has had some problems, and Richard is not mechanically-minded!
We don't believe it's right to ask anyone directly for financial support; indeed, if anyone who supports us financially has a change in circumstances making it more difficult to do so, then please don't feel under any obligation to continue, even for the next few months. It is possible that Richard's freelance work will stop fairly soon, which leaves us without anything extra for house maintenance. Perhaps Sue could find a part-time job, but with the current unemployment in the UK this seems unlikely. However we believe that God will supply our needs as he has done for many years, and we encourage you to bring these issues before him, and thank him that he already knows where the money is coming from to do his work.
Once again, our apologies for being so bad at keeping in touch... and an invitation to anyone who might be passing through Birmingham to come and stay, or at least pop in for coffee!