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This is our Christmas letter from December, 2001. You can click on any of the highlighted words to go to a gallery showing photos from each of our trips (except for Penang, Malaysia, whose gallery isn't yet ready). These galleries all use frames. If you'd like to view the frame-less versions, access them through the Photo Galleries index page. (This will also allow you to see more photos, many of which are not associated with one of our trips this year.)

December, 2001

Dear Friends and Family:

Merry Christmas! We never expected that we would be writing a third Christmas letter from London, but here it is, nearly 2002, and we’re still living (and loving!) the expatriate life! We’ve come to appreciate: driving license delayed until 18 years old (positive to parents, anyway!), great public transportation (we still have no car but it may be time to break down and get one!), no gun-toting citizens, and an intimate school with extraordinarily well-behaved kids! We’re becoming more involved with our community and neighbors. It feels like we’re “settling down,” but don’t worry - we’ll be back to the US!

Of course, one of the most wonderful advantages of living overseas is the opportunity to travel. We went to Penang Island (Malaysia) in February for Spring break, and Italy (Tuscany, Rome, Pisa, Sienna) with our friends the Ruch-Rosses in April. (Caryn celebrated Easter mass in St. Peter’s Square with the Pope!) Once school was out, Andrew went to Spain for 3 1/2 weeks and improved his Spanish while living with a family in San Lucar de Barameda, while Ron and Katy visited friends and family in the USA. Camp Nana was a winner again.

In July, Ron, Andrew and Katy headed out to the island of Lewis, Scotland, to search out the Neolithic stone circles there. In August, we all set out for a week exploring Wales, a few days back “home,” and then a week in Moscow, our first visit back since we had lived there in 1994. Central Moscow is really looking great.

September brought the beginning of the new school year, Andrew in 10th grade, Katy in 5th, Ron still teaching high school math. It also brought the tragic events of the 11th. Our church, The American Church in London, became a focal point for many of the services and ministries which followed. It became clear to us how closely London and New York are tied - the shared grief lessened our sense of loss and separation. The tributes laid out at the American Embassy were moving and touched us and every visitor deeply.

Caryn’s mom managed to visit in October nonetheless, and we were grateful for her company. Together, we spent 3 days in and around Vienna, Austria. Later that month, Andrew bought an Otis Spunkmeyer muffin at school which, much to his horror, had a large cockroach baked into the top (and which brought him a bizarre kind of celebrity for several weeks).

Caryn is still working for BP, and finds the work rewarding, even if it does involve many late nights and frequent travel. She is also active in the church, singing in the choir and participating in a study group. She also took an in-depth first aid course, acquiring skills she hopes to never need! Ron is on the church council, teaches an adult Sunday School class, and sometimes plays guitar for small evening services. He is also taking guitar lessons and trying to improve his photography.

Andrew has picked up several part time jobs and is also taking guitar lessons. He’s learning to write computer programs, starting judo classes, and traveled to Zurich with youth from churches from many countries. He’s now several inches taller than his dad, although only 15 years old! Katy, now 10 years old, is showing her musical talent. She has a lovely voice, and will have a solo in an upcoming concert and CD. She is also studying piano and has recently taken up the ‘cello. In a change of heart from a year ago, both Andrew and Katy would love to stay in London at least a couple more years, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

As much as we are enjoying our time here, we do miss our friends and families very much. We look forward to seeing everyone when we get a chance, and hope that you’ll consider visiting us if you can. Until then, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and joy.

With love,

Ron, Caryn, Andrew and Katy