Rebekah, Nick and Ezekial came to Meadow Lake a week before Christmas for the Christmas holidays and stayed with Deborah, Ernie, Sonja, Sasha and Kohen at their home. We ate with them most nights. One of the things we shared was a 24 hour flu that each person (except Ernie as of December 30th) had his or her turn with.
December 23rd was my turn. December 24th I was well enough to write our annual Christmas news letter (text below). I think it may have been somewhat tainted by my temporary malaise as well as my inherent self centred perspective. For a real Christmas newsletter check out this letter from Dick & Ruth Browning. Inspirational and humbling. Linked totally without permission.
Alton Christmas Letter:
We trust this e-mail finds you and yours all well.
It's been quite the year for us.
January started with a drive to Las Vegas to pick up a fire damaged motor home and follow it back to Texas to the ministry that had bought it. Then we went to Big Bend National Park for a week before returning to help restore the motor home to useable condition.
February found us at a SOWERS project at Victory Camp in Alvin, Texas
In March we returned to Canada.
April through June we lived in Regina with daughter, Rebekah, son-in-law Nick and Granson Ezekial. Paul worked at the spring shutdown at CCRL refinery and Juanita volunteered at the Mennonite thrift store. In June Paul's mom died after breaking her hip and falling. That called for a couple of trips to B.C.
In July we worked at getting things in order around the place and getting the trailer ready to head south again so it wouldn't be the usual last minute scenario and prepared for our trip to Ireland in August. Lawrence Dubray came by and installed the electrical entrance service for the shop/studio we have been building for several years now. We applied to Sask Power for an electrical line into the property.
After our return from Ireland in August, NIck came and helped Paul do the rough-in plumbing and that was successfully inspected as was the electrical service when the electrical inspector came down the wrong drive way and stopped to ask for directions. He pointed out one change he wanted, answered some questions I had about wiring options and left. The welder came by a couple of evenings and did a sturdy, more permanent repair to the trailer frame than the temporary one from February. Then it was off to Fort McMurray, Alberta for Paul and to Fort Saskatchewan for Juanita. Paul was to do some instrument installation in a potable water plant at Syncrude and Juanita to mind Ezekial while Nick worked at a shutdown at the Husky Refinery in Lloydminster.
In September while in Ft. Mac Paul mailed in the application for the electrical permit for the shop/studio wiring and on days off bought and installed new, extra-heavy duty tires for the trailer and bought most of the wiring and electrical components at a wholesaler in Edmonton. The trailer was all ready to head south! Way before time to leave. Actually way, way before time to leave we were to later learn.
Also in September we started learning about some U.S. tax rules that if strictly interpreted mean could mean Juanita owes hundreds of thousands of dollars for not submitting paperwork to the U.S. IRS in penalties even though she has not owed any taxes. In October we learned of the implications some other tax rules have on Paul and decided that it was best to reset the clock on days in the U.S. by not going there this winter.
Pre-retirement Paul had suffered with GERD, a stomach acid condition which gives heart attack-like chest pains. This had been well controlled with Ranitidine (a generic form of Zantac). With retirement and the drop in stress levels the pills went from a daily thing to a couple of pills a year thing. I guess the stress of being foreman and not getting enough sleep living in camp and worrying about the tax issues took its toll. Convincing chest pains put Paul in an ambulance to Ft. Mac hospital and our travel health insurance on hold until subsequent tests established it was not a heart thing. Prevacid seems to be doing its job and Paul is on waiting lists for some scope work to see if it is more serious than just acid reflux.
In October, Juanita's sister in California died. Going from "I don't feel very good" to collapse to med-evac by helicopter to dying in a matter of hours.
Since return from Ft. Mac and Ft. Sask we have been busy (no time for web site work) getting the shop/studio livable for when it is too cold for living in the trailer. Nick and Ernie came by and helped a day with the wiring. Paul finished up and the electrical inspector was happy with the results. That meant we could insulate the inner walls and cover them with sheet rock. The septic tank was installed in October and a water line and power cable was buried from the house to the location of a shed for a water tank. The water shed is completed on the inside so we not only have all the plumbing fixtures we could have running water. Except it is only a week and a half and we will head out to Nicaragua to work with Way of the Cross to prepare for Medfest and then play it by ear on what we can find to help with before our scheduled return to Canada in March.
Nick and Rebekah and son are in Meadow Lake for the holidays staying with Deborah and Ernie and kids. We plan to have an enjoyable Christmas with everybody together. We trust your Christmas will be blessed and you have a great New Year.
Paul & Juanita Alton
Construction continued apace. We bought a cabinet for the bathroom and stained and varnished it. The dry wall was finished in the bathroom and painted. We installed the tub surround and trim in the bathroom. So the bathroom is totally complete including a medicine chest. You could close the door and think you were in a finished house.
We bought a fridge and stove. Debbie and Ernie came by to help unload it and carry it in. We bought the sections for kitchen cabinets. Nick helped assemble those. The base unit was installed and the counter top added, along with sink, doors and drawers and drawer pulls. The top units can wait. Juanita did a bunch of insulation and Paul did some dry walling. Never a dull moment.
With us going to Nicaragua next month we celebrated my birthday on New Year's Eve.
The Big Feed went on without us as these things tend to do. WOTC built a church. The Cooks were there to help. Leonard with the church building and Karen with the Big Feed itself. Leonard sent some pictures.