Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Yearly Christmas Letter - Version 2011

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

… a time to weep and a time to laugh

From Ecclesiastes 3

This year began with celebration! Once Celia and Keith and Colin and Jiayun returned from their Christmas trips, we celebrated Christmas as a family... by pounding Mochi with a special Mochi pounder that Colin and Dan made. (Mochi is a Japanese treat made from rice)

And Colin and Jiayun shared the exciting news that they had become engaged while in Texas!

Soon after, we celebrated my dad’s 90th birthday with family and a few friends. It was a special day for all the family.

…a time to mourn…
Mom passed away on March 16th. We had watched helplessly as she went downhill physically and mentally over the past year, but her death still took us by surprise. The grief I experienced was a continuation of the grief I had felt for the past eight years as Mom had slowly succumbed to dementia, but now it was final. Dad was devastated, and needed much care and encouragement. An earlier blog post gives my tribute to my mom. This picture captures the special relationship she had with her four grandchildren.

It was a blessing that Celia and Keith were still with us; they provided much needed support for me. They had become very involved in ministry with Japanese people through the “talk time” and “Alpha” programs at Westminster Chapel. They also attended a Japanese church that met at Newport. By March they were ramping up their activity around their “deputation”, in order to raise the support they needed to return to Japan. The earthquake and tsunami had brought Japan to everyone’s mind and attention. In early April they held a “Japanese Culture Night” at our church. It was a very fun event with great Japanese food, a tea ceremony, music, and an opportunity to share their plans with about 100 people. On the very day of their deadline for a July 1 departure, they reached 100%. It was definitely a God thing.

…and a time to dance

On May 21st, Colin and Jiayun were married at Newport Covenant Church. The wedding was very unique. About 10 people read the chosen scripture in different languages. Colin served tea to Jiayun’s parents and Jiayun served Dan and me. We are enjoying getting to know our new daughter in law, and we’re glad they live nearby.

Just a week after the wedding we journeyed to China to complete the celebration with Jiayun’s extended family in Shanghai. Besides Shanghai, we also visited Beijing and Yunnan province. In Beijing we were escorted to the great wall by a friend of Jiayun’s father, learning firsthand about the generous hospitality that is extended in China.

In Dali, Yunnan Province, we enjoyed the hospitality of the father of a UW student whom Colin and Jiayun know well. Touring with him for two days gave us a feel for the beautiful rural countryside, and a taste of the local cuisine.

And then the big adventure: a five day trip to the edge of China with several Tibetan tour guides. Destination: Yubeng, a village at 11,500 feet at the foot of Meile Snow Mountain. In order to get there, we had to drive through road construction for 100 kilometers. And I mean through road construction – over the unfinished road bed, through clouds of dust, among the workers and machines, with no flaggers. We stayed in a Tibetan-style hotel on the top of a ridge and woke up to this scene in the morning.

From there, we ventured down to the Mekong river, then to a trailhead, where we hiked from 9,500 to 13,000 feet and halfway down again. Yubeng is ethnically Tibetan, although in China. It was very, very rustic, but what a view. This was by far our most foreign experience ever.

In Shanghai we celebrated Jiayun and Colin’s marriage with both sets of grandparents, three aunts and uncles, and several cousins. Even though we weren’t able to understand each others' language, I felt that we communicated well our mutual love and well wishes for Jiayun and Colin. Several times while we were there we were invited to share lavish and artful meals with family and friends. The nice restaurants in Shanghai have many rooms for private parties, and most entertaining seems to be done in this fashion.

a time to plant and a time to uproot

Celia and Keith were in the throes of packing when we returned. We took them to the airport on June 30th. We were all excited for them, but of course, we were also sad to see them go.

At that point, all the losses and changes and exhaustion caught up with me, making for a difficult summer. But God was true to His promise to bring growth in our lives when things are difficult. I stayed very close to the Lord during this time of grief and sorrow. And I am happy to say that I am feeling much better now. I have resumed my work with KidREACH, the after school tutoring program, and I am very passionate about this work.

I also started taking voice lessons consistently, and have been encouraged by my improvement. I can now sing (most of) the high notes in our Opus 7 concerts.

Dan has immersed himself in music through performing in Opus 7 and an early music ensemble, taking guitar lessons and building instruments. He has completed a guitar, an ukulele,

and is now working on a shamisen. He attended the American Luthier’s convention this summer and the Midsummer Musical Retreat. He doesn’t seem to be getting tired of retirement, and I think he would say, like many others, “How did I ever have time to work?”

...a time to wander and a time to come home... (that's not really in Ecclesiastes, but it sounds like it could be)

After the big trip to China, we enjoyed taking some local trips. We never tire of the beautiful places to visit in the Northwest, and haven’t yet run out of new places. We took my Dad to the San Juans in July.
In August Dan and I took a week long camping trip to Hood Canal to canoe and hike. The weather was spectacular, the water was warm, and the wildflowers in full bloom. Couldn’t have been much better.

In October we visited the west coast of Vancouver Island.

So there you have it. If you are still reading this long tale...

We wish you a very joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Joann and Dan

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Tribute to my Mother

My mother passed away suddenly on March 16. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother and wife to my Dad for 69 years.

Mom's story:

Kay was born July 22, 1921 in Wichita, Kansas to Warren James Hazeltine and Lena Belle Eagleston Hazeltine. An only child, she was very close to her cousins who lived next door. Although her family didn’t have much during the depression, they were resourceful and grateful for what they did have. She learned to sew at an early age, a practical hobby that she continued to enjoy for many years. While attending East High School in Wichita, she met Lawrence Craig in her history class and thus began their 70+ year relationship. After graduating, she worked and also attended Kansas State, where she majored in Home Economics. Kay married her high school sweetheart on February 14, 1942. After a short time in Wichita, Kay and Lawrence moved to Colorado, where they learned to ski and met their longtime friends, the Chelminiaks. After the war they finished their schooling at U of Minnesota, moved to Seattle in 1947, and built their own home in Normandy Park. They raised their two children Larry and Joann and enjoyed many friendships in that community, where they lived for over 50 years. Above all, Kay took pride and delight in her cohesive family. Kay loved being a homemaker and was the perennial room-mother in Larry and Joann’s classrooms. She supported all

her children’s endeavors and became a “second mom” to several of their friends. The family spent winters skiing and summers boating together, often with a large group of friends from the boat club. They spent many evenings at home playing cards and eating ice cream.

Becoming a grandmother was a special joy for Kay. She loved being with her grandchildren, and invited them regularly for overnights at their house. Five times over the course of their childhoods the entire family went to Maui for Thanksgiving. Often at family gatherings she would remark to Lawrence, “Look what we started. There were two of us, and now there are ten.” She truly considered her family to be her legacy.

Kay’s hobbies and interests included sewing, knitting, traveling, meeting new people, and collecting glassware and angels. Lawrence and Kay traveled to destinations around the world, and were especially fond of Germany and Maui. But the northwest was their beloved home, where they never tired of the beauty of the mountains and the sound. They could be found cruising Puget Sound on their boat, the "Lady Kay", into their 80's. Everywhere Kay went, she found it easy and enjoyable to meet new people – and their dogs.

Kay is remembered as outgoing, spirited and adventurous, and will be deeply missed by her family and friends.

I wrote the following for her memorial service. This is my own personal reflection about what my mom meant to me. Dan read it for me.

Mom knew how to care for me throughout my life. It just came naturally to her. When I had difficulty going to sleep as a child, Mom would rub my back patiently and gently until I fell asleep. In her care for me, she also provided me with a wealth of experiences and opportunities, from piano lessons, to trips to the zoo, to story times that inspired in me a love for books and reading. I could always tell that Mom enjoyed being with Larry and me. She expertly got down at our level and played with us.

As a teenager, she found new ways to care. Mom encouraged Larry and me to bring our friends to our home, and she cared for them, too, always taking an interest in them. Regularly Mom drove our Ford LTD loaded with me and my friends to whatever sporting event we wanted to attend. Once in junior high I was seriously at odds with a teacher, and Mom tirelessly worked with the teacher and the principal to resolve the issue. Mom worried plenty about me, too. I suppose that is another part of caring.

In adulthood, the caring continued. She worked hard to take an appropriate role once I was married, still caring but not interfering. Mom and Dad visited my classroom when I was teaching and I knew they were proud of me. Mom still looked forward to spending time with me. She often came to my house to help me with my chores for that reason and we went on shopping trips and out to lunch together.

Mom blessed me in the way she cared for Celia and Colin. It was the same thing all over again. She played with them and gave them experiences and let them know how special they were.

Then in the last decade came the realization that the roles were reversing, and I found my self faced with the challenging privilege of caring for Mom. Dad set an example with his faithful and patient care for her. Their deep and abiding love for each other has been an inspiration to me and to the family.

Even in her dementia, Mom found ways to care for me. She recognized me and all of her family to the end.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Costa Rica

Dan and I spent Christmas in Costa Rica this year. We were interested in visiting Costa Rica after we heard glowing reports from friends who had been there, about how beautiful the country is, and how many interesting things there are to do. We packed the trip full of them.

These first three photos show us on a whitewater rafting trip, with a stop at a jungle "hotel" in the middle of the trip.

Class 3 and 4 - Hang on!
We are very far from the nearest road here, along the Pacuare River.

When the river trip was over, we rode in the back of a jeep with no seatbelts for five hours to get to our next location, at the active volcano Arenal. Our activity there was waterfall rapelling, followed by a soak in a wonderful hot springs.

We arrived at Playa Flamingo on Christmas Eve. That evening we went to a restaurant and sang Christmas carols karaoke style. On Christmas day we attended a Catholic mass with a very lively nativity scene at the front of the church.
We found an idyllic beach by kayak and did some snorkeling. The water was warmer than Hawaii.

The following photos were taken at Monteverde Cloud Forest, and it was misting, as is pretty normal there. At 5000 feet, it was a bit chilly and breezy. The most exciting part of this adventure was the really bumpy road on the way there. I almost kissed the ground when we arrived.

No trip would be complete without a ride in a typical wooden cart.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Other things that happened in 2010

Celia and Keith returned from Japan in early May. Celia brought me a Kimono! I don't know how to put it on, of course; that is a complicated process.

Shortly after their return, we hosted a get together for some of the people who had supported them in some way while in Japan. Celia prepared several Japanese specialties.

The family was together on Mother's day. Pretty special for Mom. We followed a long standing tradition of visiting the Arboretum.

At first, Celia and Keith thought they would be living in Vancouver, but didn't feel right about it. After a lot of prayer and thought, they moved in with us, on the upstairs floor. Thus began a long process of relocating and selling furniture we had no room for. For a while our entire garage was filled with the overflow.

Many have asked what Dan is doing in retirement. He has enjoyed experimenting with new recipes on his nights in the kitchen. The one below is quite creative... it is called Army base stew - it originated during the Korean war as a use for the ingredients scavenged from the army base.

He has been very active in musical groups, including the Continuo Ensemble, where he plays his baroque guitar, Matteo, and performs opera. Often tenors play the comic female, and he played a nursemaid in a recent opera. I took lots of pictures, but I'm saving them for bribery.
Dan and Allen, our neighbor, purchased a really big planer, to use for planing wood that they cut down in our yards. I think they are trying to look like woodmen in this photo.

We took a couple trips in the summer. Below are some highlights from our trip to the Kootenay region of Canada. It was a multi-adventure tour, including hiking, biking, canoeing and soaking in mineral springs.

Huckleberry picking near Snoqualmie pass - we picked about 6 quarts.

At our yearly Chili Cook-off, Celia's chili won a prize this year!

Dan took a trip to Mexico this fall with his brother and sister in law. He is checking out a vihuela at this store, which he ended up buying - and altering, to make it sound better.

Originally, I was to go as well, but my parents were going through a very difficult time at that point and I needed to be here. They have moved twice since May. They were in need of more care, since they both have dementia. The last few months have been very demanding and difficult for my brother and me. They are settled now, and seem to be doing pretty well at their new home. Changes are especially hard for those with dementia, so I am grateful that they are adjusting.

About this time, we started up KidREACH again - that's the after school tutoring program we are doing at our church. This year we are adding a second day, so every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon I am having a blast with a bunch of elementary aged kids and their tutors. I love doing this - providing extra support for kids, helping them to succeed in school, and loving them like Jesus does - it's my passion.

We had a visit from Dan's cousin, David. The weather was miserable the day he was here, but we had fun doing some indoor things. We went do dinner at Salty's and he enjoyed the view. We all did.

I love it when the snow falls early and the leaves are still on the trees. This snowfall happened before Thanksgiving.

We spent Thanksgiving with the Craig family - all of us together for the first time in a long time. We ate at Mom and Dad's assisted living community, Aegis Lodge in Kirkland. The food and service were exceptionally good - not institutional at all.

Dan and I and Celia and Keith had the opportunity to sing at the Christmas luncheon at the church. We sang several four part a Capella pieces, and Dan and I sang O Holy Night, with Celia singing one verse in Japanese. Celia and Keith played Ave Maria on piano and cello. It was very well received. Nice to have a musical family!

This Saturday we do our last Opus 7 performance of the year. It is such a joy to sing with such great vocalists.

Celia and Keith are spending Christmas with Keith's family in the midwest, and Colin is spending Christmas with Jiayun, his girlfriend, in Texas, so we decided to go away ourselves. On Monday we leave for Costa Rica.