Christmas Letter 2013

How terrible am I? Fully intended to keep writing a blog…..then a whole year goes by….never mind, let’s start again…

Here is our Christmas 2013 letter…..

Dear friends,

We are approaching our second Christmas in Essex, surrounded by Christmas Jumpers, fake tans and glittery nails.

Last Christmas we had a bit of a shock, we were getting ready to go off to Hockley, for Phillip to take the Christmas morning service, when we had a call from Theresa. She’d only had one present from Gordon, which was a Mickey Mouse, upon which he had written “Will you marry me?” As you can imagine she was quite excited, but not as excited as Jessica, who danced around the room in her onesie, singing, “My sister’s getting married, I’m going to be a bridesmaid.” The wedding is set for 5th April at Hanham in Bristol. Rev Andrew Prout is taking the service, so Phillip can be Father of the bride. Jessica indeed will be chief bridesmaid, and is organising the Hen do, and Caroline has been very busy making invites, orders of service etc. In the summer we went over with Theresa, and Gordon to visit Gordon’s parents in France, to get to know them, and we got on with them very well. We are very much looking forward to the wedding.

Theresa is still at Frenchay hospital and is doing well in her training to be a Health Care Practitioner. Theresa, Gordon and Dany the dog are happily living in our house in Bristol. Dany is still as energetic as ever.

Jessica returned from the Philippines after we wrote our letter last year, and has been pleased to hear from the family she was adopted by, that they are safe (following the recent typhoon). In January she got a job at the new Sainsbury’s that opened 9 doors up the road from us, and enjoyed working there till something else came along. At the end of May, she took up a post working as a Holiday Courier for Spring Harvest Holidays, in Le Pas Opton in the west of France. She had a wonderful time there, and made lots of friends. We picked Jessica up from the station on her return from France whilst we were at Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival in Cheltenham in August. She went straight to the Christian Aid tent, as she began a new role as an Intern. She is now living in Nottingham and working from the Loughborough office, speaking at churches and youth groups. In early October she spent 2 weeks in Columbia for Christian Aid. So if you need anyone to speak at any of your Church services, speak to Jessica, and she’ll find someone for you.

We haven’t seen so much of the girls this year, but Theresa was able to join us at Greenbelt for a day. We all had a lovely weekend in Nottingham in October. We were due to take the caravan, but that was the weekend of the “big storm”, so we chickened out and found a cheap hotel. (Of course we had to find one that took Dogs. The manager of the hotel had a dog too, so on one afternoon, we had 2 dogs chasing round the hotel lounge like mad things). Phillip was indulged as we spent the day at the Tramway museum at Crich.

Caroline is being very greedy, in that she now has 3 jobs, all part time. In January she started as a relief librarian, and since they have opened the new forum library, she can find herself being at work up to 10pm at night! She is still working 1.5 days in St Andrews school. In October she began work as a Church Administrator for her friend Den in Cheshire, which may seem a bit distant, but in these days of cloud working, seems to work well. Caroline sings in a Choir that is performing at one of Phillip’s churches on Friday, and has had a number of successful concerts throughout the year. Caroline also does their website, and all their programmes (on Phillip’s copier!). She is still enjoying her Photography and has had a “Highly Commended”, and a “2nd Place” in the digital competition. This year, she has had a keyboard as an early Christmas present, and is beginning to learn again.

Phillip has been quite busy, and is now 15 months into his ministry at Rayleigh and Hockley Methodist Churches. In that time, he’s introduced them to Messy Church, Café Style Worship, Puppets, Stalls at the Christmas Lights, Vision day, a 5 year plan, and a few other things. His churches are exhausted! At the Carol Service the Beverly Sisters sang Little Donkey; well the puppet Beverly Sisters did. Phillip has wound up his Engineering Consultancy and has completed his theological studies; and in September was awarded a Bachelor Of Arts with Honours in Theology For Christian Ministry And Mission Upper Second Class from Winchester University. Caroline was present when Phillip Graduated at the ceremony held in Salisbury Methodist Church. Phillip is now on his second year of what the Methodist Church call “probation” (sort of on the job training, as decreed by Mr Wesley), and is due to be ordained on June 29th in Birmingham. He has also launched a monthly Worship Academy for the circuit. Phillip has also had an early Christmas present in the form of an Electro Acoustic Guitar. He is hoping to play for worship.

Since moving, we find we spend more time together, and often manage to coincide our days off. We’ve gone into London, Houses of Parliament, Chatham Docks, Duxford. We’ve also spent some time with Den in Cheshire after Easter, and we popped up to see Jonathan Pye in Kendal. In May, Phillip celebrated his 50th Birthday, and both churches were involved in a deceit which ended with over 50 people in the manse for a Birthday celebration. We also had a lovely weekend away paid for by the family, when we also went to the Bletchley Park Code Breaking place, and Caroline had an “exciting” time at the Museum of Computing (Not!). If Phillip lived closer he would love to volunteer there. What was worrying was how many exhibits he recognised. In the summer we also had a lovely holiday in the Lake District (via a very expensive new clutch for the car. Caroline said it was an interesting experience being towed with a caravan on the back). We were able to meet up with Andrew and Julie, who were also staying up there at the time. We were able to do another guided walk, which we very much enjoy. Next year, we will be celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary, and we are looking forward to a few days in Barcelona and a week near the Fjords in Norway. We will be going to Greenbelt in August, hope to see some of you there!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas, and every blessing for a Happy New Year. Phillip & Caroline

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