In our 2019 Christmas letter, when I was wondering what the new decade of the 2020’s would bring, the Corona virus was not even on my radar screen. I heard about it in January 2020, but dismissed it as nothing to worry about. The first month’s entries in my 2020 calendar are filled with normal in-person church and community activities. Then comes an entry on March 15—“No Church” followed by two in-person activities on the 16th and the 20th, and then lots of crossed out and blank spaces. The Corona virus partial shutdown had begun.
While this year we have experienced many limitations on in-person gatherings, we have maintained normal contacts within our family. Ron, Mark, and I spend a lot of time together at home, and I really enjoy being with them. We see the Rempe family (daughter Beth, husband Steve, and their five children) regularly. I babysit for them on Fridays and we get together for holidays and birthdays, etc. We took two trips to see the Roberson family (daughter Christine, husband Dan and their two daughters) and the Duke family (daughter Karen, husband Jason, and their three children).
The first trip was in June when our whole family gathered at a vacation rental in Florence Kentucky. We were uncertain whether we could or should go. But the owners of the rental house fairly pleaded with us to come, and a Zoom conference among our children and their spouses produced a unanimous vote to take the trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our time swimming in the rental house’s pool; making foamboard planes and flying them at a nearby park; fishing; playing board games; toasting marshmallows for s’mores over a fire pit, and just hanging out. We are already signed up to go back to the same place next year. In August we visited the Duke and the Roberson families at their homes and had a very good time seeing them. I will let Mark tell you more about that.
In May I injured my leg which hampered my mobility for a couple of months. It is back to normal now, for which I am very thankful. I am also thankful for Zoom, phone calls and email that cut the isolation. What will 2021 bring? I can’t even imagine. But I am most thankful for a God who is in control of it all. May God be with all of us in the New Year.
News from Ron
A common theme we all share these days is that major pieces of our lives are missing. The hardest loss in our family was the passing of Bill Torreson, husband of my youngest sister, Martha, following a brief and difficult battle with cancer in May.
Here at home we have been able maintain visual contact with friends in church and the community through Internet technologies. Many of the folks I serve, by virtue of our age, are in a high health risk category. So the unanimous decision of our church members is to suspend in-person gatherings until we can all get vaccinated. Now we limp along, using Zoom for worship, Bible study, and fellowship. One of the rooms in our house serves as a recording studio with lights, green screen, and a high tech camera to record lessons for the ChristDeaf YouTube channel.
One important area of ministry these technologies have not been able to reach is our Deaf friends in prison. I look forward to the day when I can return to encourage my incarcerated brothers in Christ.
News from Mark
What a year this has been. Even though COVID 19 shut everything down for most of the year, I am thankful to God that I have made lots of good memories.
Before the Covid shutdown I was able to spend time with my Spina Bifida friends at a Spina Bifida game night that I really enjoyed.
The biggest event of 2020 was when the Fairfax Falcons wheelchair basketball program (which I volunteer for) went to Baltimore for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s East Coast Conference Championship Tournament and won the championship game. They were supposed to be going to the National Tournament in March, but that got cancelled because of the virus.
Mom told you about the reunion in Kentucky, and that was fun and a high point of the year.
In August we were able to see family, in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. We visited my sister Karen, and her family who live in Morton, Illinois. While we were there, we went to Tanner’s Orchard. The park had a mini golf; a tractor; and a bus that kids can sit and play in; huge pieces of pipe that kids can push from the inside; and of course, animals. We had a fun time that day.
When we visited my youngest sister Christine and her family, they had moved from Watertown, Wisconsin, to Neenah, Wisconsin, not far away from Green Bay. The highlight for me on the Wisconsin part of the trip was visiting Lake Winnebago and the two parks that were near the lake.
We still watch my Rempe nieces and nephews on Fridays, and Dad joins us as to teach science and sign language to the kids.