Dear Family, Friends and Anybody Else Who Is Interested,
We’ve talking for more than a month now about what to share in our Christmas newsletter to friends, family and whoever else is interested.
Getting tattoos together
Over a bowl of butternut squash soup yesterday at Bob Evans, we finally decided to fess up about the matching tattoos that we’ve been talking about. Yup, you read that right.
You might read this and say that you’d expect me to do something like that, but not Gladys. Let me get back to that with some photos.
Somehow, we missed sending out a newsletter last year and when we thought about an Easter newsletter, we were celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus in a condo just down from the Danube River in Budapest.
Our two grandkids
So I’ll try to fold in the past year plus some to catch you up. But I’m not going to do this in chronological order.
I asked Gladys what I should lead with and she pulled out her wallet and pointed to two pictures, one of our grandson Xavier who speaks to his pre-school buddies in Croatian and English when he’s at home and the other was of our new granddaughter Gretchen who was born in early November.
Story of our granddaughter
Gretchen Kate was born November 3 in a small hospital in Bosnia where our son-in-law
Adam and daughter Krista live. When our daughter went into labor my son-in-law called me on my cell phone while I was standing in line at our neighborhood Walgreens.
Waiting to pick-up some eye drops, everybody saw the really big smile on my face and they knew it was better than winning the lottery. Gretchen was making her way into the world.
On the way home, I couldn’t get the smile off my face. It got even bigger when Adam called back and said their daughter had been born and everybody was doing great.
Keep in mind this happened in a village where Adam had to call the doctor himself, bring a heater for Krista’s room, along with bringing her own toilet paper.
Xavier is a pre-schooler
Highlights of our Bosnia trip
If we had a video of the highlights of the trip, it would have to include:
- A visit to the Stop Coffee Bar in Livno that Adam and I made on Psalm Sunday morning. It reminded me a lot of Bay City where I grew up because it was filled with real people facing life with hope for a better future for their kids.
- A Turkish general in a small restaurant in Livno who looked like he was straight from a movie set and who took time to come over and talk to my grandson who hollered out “Ciao” to him in a way that only a two year old can do. It was a magical moment where walls went down and there was a bond that could not be broken.
- Eating in a outside restaurant in the Old Town of Sarajevo with a plate of flat bread which folded over sausages and onions with my grandson on my lap. He hollered with glee every time a tram car passed us.
- Passing through areas that had been hotspots in a genocide a little more than 20 years ago. We got a taste of what can happen when people don’t get along.
- Driving through the mountains left an indelible impression on me. I just trusted my son-in-law’s driving skills which are considerable.
We spent our last day in Split, Croatia. It’s right on the Adriatic Sea just a ferry ride from Italy. When I saw the water, I told Gladys that I wanted to move there. Then there was the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian that has been transformed into shops and apartments which backstop a waterfront with outdoor cafes where I could see myself reading the newspaper everyday.
Justin and Lauren celebrated one year
Justin works for a start-up called HelloWallet.com and his wife started one called UmbaBox.com. They came to Michigan for my birthday and for Thanksgiving.
I’ve had lots of highlight moments in my life and one of those involved his wedding where I was Best Man. That ranked up there in the top tier of things in my life. I’m proud of him.
Are you still wondering about the tattoos that Gladys and I were talking about? Good. Back to those in a minute.
Meet Supervisor Gladys
Gladys is back in the classroom, lots of them. She’s a student teacher supervisor for
Spring Arbor University. This past year I would drive her from school-to-school in mid-Michigan to the classrooms where she was observing. In the process, I found every McDonalds with free wi-fi access.
More missions trips
What about me and politics? It just didn’t happen this time around. I found myself more interested in what was happening in other spots in the world. This was partially because of a place in East Lansing called Friendship House MSU. When a friend of mine, Rich Bearup, became executive director about a year and a half ago, he asked for my help.
He wanted my help in establishing a social media presence for this ministry started by a forward-looking campus Lutheran church which saw the coming of globalization to the campus. They started with volunteer-led classes to help Internationals with learning English conversation and about daily life in the United States.
Super-wife and I have both been involved. Gladys has been teaching a group of Internationals who are getting ready for a tough English proficiency test and I continue in helping to build an world wide community to present, past and future students and their families. We have really enjoyed that. It’s like being on one big mission trip.
Inside right arm
This comes from a two-year-old sermon at our church where our pastor, Jeff Manion, taught about a handful of verses from Ephesians about being adopted as sons and daughters by God. We are his. He picked us up and took us in. That’s where we get our hope.
We are his loved children. That’s our primary identity. As we moved through our daily lives since that sermon, I have found myself dwelling on that truth more and more. We both nod our heads that we are who we are because of our great God.
And this all took on an earthly shape with the birth of Jesus. That’s what this season is about. He came to earth. He died. He was raised from the dead and went back into heaven.
And, I’m his son and Gladys is his daughter. That trumps everything else. It all trickles down from there.
We wish you a great Christmas. Please stay in touch.
Wes and Gladys