Newsletter: Christmas 2013

Dear family and friends,

Greetings from a very chilly Cyprus - for the last couple of days it has actually been warmer in the UK than here! 2013 has been a difficult and stressful year in many respects; the details are below, but here's a brief summary:

Richard continues to work from home balancing ministry work with the gradually increasing work with Malu Marine.
is still walking (sometimes) and writing (occasionally). Sadly her mother died in May after a brief illness.
Daniel and Becky
travelled extensively, but are now back in Carlisle, continuing their ministry work.
finished his MA, and has moved back to Cyprus for a couple of years; he is teaching music and IT at a local school.

January to March
We were all struck by a nasty bug last Christmas, followed by colds and lingering coughs that kept us under the weather for much longer than usual. Tim was able to spend over three weeks here, which was great, although being ill meant that he was unable to do much work, either for his MA or his paid IT work. Soon after he returned to Birmingham, Sue's mother had a series of falls and developed a nasty infection. She was admitted to hospital twice, and a barrage of tests began, culminating in a diagnosis of secondary cancer in her bones. Within a few weeks of the diagnosis, Sue's father, who had been suffering some unusual pains, also received a cancer diagnosis. The family was in shock.

Tim, who had still been living with Sue's mother, spent many hours travelling to and from the hospital and also researching into local care homes, since she agreed that she was no longer able to live in her house. He also got in touch with estate agents and began the process of selling the house. Meanwhile he was applying - in vain - for jobs, trying to complete assignments for his course, and continuing his paid work both in IT support and as a choir accompanist. 

On the plus side, the year-end accounts for Richard's ministry showed a far more encouraging picture than the year before, and he began to believe that, at last, he would be able to film the pilot programmes which he had started planning over five years ago. Daniel and Becky spent a few months on the Logos Hope, where they were able to help with both the media and events organisation. Sue continued walking regularly with a friend in the early mornings, her broken toes now a distant memory. We celebrated Easter Day with a traditional roast lunch and several friends.

Richard and Tim learning to play the game Agricolathe aqueduct, where Sue walks with her friend each weeka beach where we went for a walkEaster Day lunch

April to early May
We had planned to spend almost four weeks in the UK in April and early May; Sue's father was celebrating his 80th birthday a few months belatedly, with a large gathering of family and friends. So we decided to fly early enough to celebrate Richard's mother's 85th, which turned into a gathering of her extended family, including some cousins we had not seen for many years. 

We then spent three weeks in Birmingham, helping to sort out Sue's mother's house, which had received a good offer for purchase. We moved books, ornaments and other items to the lovely care home where she had moved in the middle of March, and where she seemed to be happy. In retrospect, we were very thankful for this period. 

On the negative side, Sue's father was very ill with a series of nasty infections; while his party went well, he was not in great health, and soon after was admitted to hospital; we returned to Cyprus after seeing him looking very ill indeed and were seriously concerned. Thankfully he started recovering soon afterwards. 

Tim, meanwhile, had not even been shortlisted for any jobs; unemployment for young people seems to be sky-high at present. So he decided that he would return to Cyprus for a year or two, either continuing his IT work long-distance while finding some piano students or - as he hoped - taking up a job teaching music and IT in a local private primary school. This was still under discussion at this stage, as the Cyprus financial crisis at the end of March meant that many parents could no longer afford private education for their students, so the school had no idea if it could employ anyone extra.

First family partySecond family partyAnne Bold, Sue's mother, in the garden in Maple DeneYet another family group

May and June
Daniel and Becky had planned to spend three weeks in Cyprus, since they had been unable to come at the end of 2012. Tim came too, and we had a wonderful few weeks together, playing games and seeing friends, culminating in a very belated extra Christmas celebration. As they prepared to return to the UK, Tim was feeling refreshed and relaxed, and intended to work on his MA thesis during June and July. 

Then, out of the blue we heard the devastating news that Sue's mother had developed a serious infection and had lost consciousness. Sue's siblings were all able to get to see her before she died peacefully a couple of days later. We were able to book tickets on the same flight as Daniel and Becky and spent a couple of nights with them before travelling to Birmingham for the funeral, and further clearing out of the house.

We returned to Cyprus with Tim the following day, feeling dazed and sad. Tim felt little inspiration to write, and the rest of the month passed in something of a fog, punctuated by a few games with friends, and the arrival of Tim's sea freight: eleven boxes of books, and his favourite arm-chair.

The family all together for a few weeksFamily game of Settlers of CatanWalk in the mountains with the familyOur very belated 'Christmas' lunch with the family

July to September
Summer, as usual in Cyprus, was hot. We slowed down, and Sue mostly stayed indoors. Even at 6.00am it was too hot for her to continue her early morning walks. We managed a couple of days in the mountains to celebrate our 33rd anniversary, but had to stay in touch with email as Richard's mother was in hospital having hip replacement surgery.

After that, Richard - at last - filmed the two pilot programmes had had been planning for so long. A bonus was that Daniel and Becky visited for another fortnight, Daniel to help with the sound, and Becky to take photos.

Tim made a brief trip to the UK, did some paid IT work, and some extensive research for his thesis, but didn't really get into writing until the deadline was looming at the end of September. By then he had started work at the local primary school, teaching and assisting in music and IT. He also celebrated his quarter century, so it was a busy month. But finally the thesis was complete, bound by Richard at home, and couriered, in great relief, to Nottingham. 

With all the extra books that arrived in June, we had to buy some new bookcases, and Tim re-organised his bedroom, which resulted in an extra bookcase for Sue's study… so that was also re-organised.

Hotel Semiramis in PlatresDaniel checking the cameraTim's MA thesis, bound and ready to send at lastSue's study, re-organised with a new bookcase

October to December
With his thesis out of the way, Tim helped to start a new home group for the 18-30s in the church, and started teaching a few private music students. 

At the end of October Richard had a couple of quiet weeks, so he and Sue flew to the UK again to spend time with family members. We drove 900 miles in all, starting in Sussex and finishing in Carlisle, returning, slightly to our bewilderment, with 60kg of checked luggage which we had managed to acquire. We had a good time, despite it being rather chilly at times; sadly, while we were away, our third cat Tessie disappeared one evening and did not return. Tim scoured the neighbourhood but to no avail. We have no idea what happened to her. 

In November Tim took part in a production of Roger Jones' 'Two Sisters and a Funeral', singing the part of Jesus. Richard did the PA for the island-wide tour and we hosted four of the visiting team from the UK. 

So it's been quite a full year, one way and another. Should you wish to read more about day-to-day life, or Richard's nautical experiences, our blog addresses are below. If you don't already get them and would like regular email updates about his ministry, with prayer points, please let us know. 

Wishing you much love, a very happy Christmas, and a blessed and peaceful 2014.

Richard and Sue