Dear family and friends,
It has been the year of the home..., and the home page. Our home at 5512 14th Ave. So., Minneapolis MN 55417 was soundproofed – for free -- by the Metropolitan Airport Commission. This meant new doors, windows and insulation. The planes seem quieter -- if we stay indoors with all the windows closed, something that is not a problem during the dominant season here on the edge of the glacial tundra. (For at least half the year, we are IN FAVOR of global warming.)
Ross got a new computer and, for the first time has internet access. Jeff gave a Christmas gift of helping set up a web site. This rapidly ballooned out of all proportion as all the previously unpublished "Op Ed" pieces, poetry and unrequited prose got posted for all the world to see (at the rate of three visits a day -- one of which is always Ross.) You can help pad that total by visiting www.rossolson.org or if you don't like "W," just rossolson.org .
Then, showing the same blind optimism with which he takes on home improvement projects, Ross volunteered to manage the website for Twin Cities Creation Science Association ( tccsa.tc ). Although he is sometimes referred to as "webmaster," he is generally a lot more like the fly than the spider. This site is more active than his personal site, with 40 - 60 visits a day, and chances to debate issues on line. In his spare time, Ross still works for HealthPartners as a Pediatrician, serves on the Council at First Evangelical Free Church where he also teaches Junior Church and Co-chairs the Agape Class with Karin. Occasional opportunities to speak come up (and the text of the talk is invariably posted on line.)
Karin is still a discussion leader for Bible Study Fellowship. Our Grandson, Christopher, comes over Tuesday afternoon, goes to the BSF Children's Program and goes back home Wednesday afternoon so there is usually about 24 hours of "grandma moments" (with occasional grandpa moments like hikes or fishing trips.) Karin also coordinates the Drama Ministry and helps plan worship services at church. She and Ross spend time with China Outreach Ministries, an organization that helps many visiting scholars from China as they get settled. The monthly meetings to which they and their hosts are invited often draw nearly 100 people. Our house guest this fall, Gulan Zhong, who e-mailed us before arrival saying, "I am searching for God; I hope you can help me," has now become a Christian.
The big event of the year for Ross and Karin, took place far from home as we took a two week trip to Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. We celebrated our 30th Wedding anniversary in Dublin. It was a "Christian History Tour" that emphasized Cathedrals, ancient monasteries, the campuses of Oxford and Cambridge, historic churches and homes of important figures such as the Wesleys and C. S. Lewis. We were amazed not only at the beauty of the architecture but also the powerful faith of God's people in the face of persecution and suffering. Both devout Protestants and Catholics died for their beliefs at the hands of those who were zealous but lacked understanding. We wonder how soon persecution will begin here.
Jeff and Rachel have improved their house, ---- --rd Ave. So., Minneapolis MN 55406, painting the exterior and rearranging the interior -- but somehow the kitchen does not get any bigger. Jeff is in a Masters program at the University of Minnesota in Software Engineering, while continuing to work for Westgroup.. He was elected to the Church Council and serves as Property and Finance Chairman. He also runs the church web site. Rachel is working at St. Joseph's Hospital ICU and at church, sings in both the choir and the contemporary musical group, "The Planters." She is thinking about going back to school -- "to have something to do while Jeff is studying." They adopted one of their foster dogs and went trick or treating with the two Shelties dressed as a bride and groom (but they report that there is no romantic interest between Molly and Elliot.) Miss Piggy, the Guinea Pig, died and her physical space is now occupied by Abigail Harriet (Abby) and Ellen Frances (Ellie), but how do you mend a broken heart?
Susan and Eric have a nice house in the suburbs, ---- -------- Ave. So., St. Louis Park MN 55427. Eric built an enlarged garden this year as a surprise for Susan. They got a new roof last year, helped by brother-roofer, Jason. Eric still enjoys his work as an electrical engineer at APG Cash Drawer. He performs in musicals at Grace Church and played Nathaniel in the powerful Passion Play, "The Sacrifice and the Glory" again this year. He is also the president of Lakers Toastmasters. Susan works half time at each of two jobs, as a Frame Stylist at LensCrafters and as a Green House attendant at Bachman's. (She once wanted to be a forest ranger.) They have a cat – Alexander, an Arizona Gecko – Buddy (who rode in a moving van with uncle Tim Falck last year), three little fishies, a snail and a crab. Both Susan and Eric work with the Preschool Sunday School and Susan also with the Wednesday Awana Cubbies (3's and 4's) at Grace Church.
Tami and Jason bought a four plus bedroom house --- ----- Ave., St. Paul MN 55106. It was built in 1884, at least the first stage of it, and has the feel of a big farm house with a basement. After a tiny apartment, they are enjoying the space and opportunity to decorate. It was in move-in condition but there are always things to do, so after a lot of initial help from the family, they will have projects on their list for years to come. Jason still works for Berwald Roofing, doing flat commercial buildings but also does residential on the side - and there has been no shortage of roofing jobs because of the wind and hail storms of the last few years. Tami has her hands full with the two boys and is preparing to home school Christopher next year. She has a computer at home and does a lot of crafts. Now there is room to spread it out and the next door neighbor even teaches ceramic doll classes. Christopher is four and one half and loves games, both board and computer. Patrick is 16 months and moves constantly. He drives his little car back and forth around his new house and (Grandma thinks) he looks forward to the day when he can go to Bible Study Fellowship with Grandma. They attend Eagle Brook Church.
Stacy does not yet have a house and has to settle for sharing one with Mom and Dad. She dreams of the day when she can live in a tiny bungalow... with a huge studio. She is enjoying every part of her experience at College of Visual Art (where some of her work will appear in the triennial catalogue). Right now she is deep into photography and the house has become a stage set for such artsy scenes as moths in a frying pan. She is also doing a project of informally illustrating the book "My Heart Christ's Home." She gets into very interesting spiritual discussions with fellow students. Stacy also sings with the worship team at First Free Church and has done illustrations for some of the bulletin covers. She has had a visit from long distance friend, Gregory Kwok, over the summer and will see him when they both attend the Urbana Conference on missions in Illinois just after Christmas. She has also been asked to sing at the wedding of her cousin Nathan Erickson in January.
So, although most of the extended Olson family have done things to improve their homes, we also recognize that this world is not really our home. As that world becomes increasingly chaotic and confused, we want to carry out the tasks we have been given, but also look forward to our real home with the One Who created all things but also humbled himself to become a little baby. He lived as one of us and then was willing to suffer and die, not for any fault of His, but in order to take our sins and allow us to live together with Him if we accept this gift of salvation and turn our lives over to Him. And He has promised us that He will return to take all who belong to Him to mansions He is preparing. It is sometimes frightening to really think of all the dangers we face, from biologic terrorism to environmental catastrophes, yet for those who know the One Who is Alpha and the Omega and knows the end from the beginning, it is also very exciting to think that we may be nearing the end.
May the real source of Christmas joy make Himself real to you this season.