For a picture of the whole family, click HERE

Christmas 2001 

Dear Friends and Family,

It was NOT a quiet year in Lake Wobegone - or anywhere. Of course the events of the larger world have affected us, as they have you, but we have had our own drama as well.

In the spring, Ross was in and out of trouble again for having written a critical review of a pamphlet called “Totally Teen,” prepared for adolescents and endorsed by HealthPartners.  It gave some good advice but much that was misguided. Although we are supposedly science-based and open to free inquiry and discussion, because two or three of the 100 + recipients of the review complained, I was threatened with possible dismissal. Many of you prayed and the result was very circumscribed: I may have politically incorrect opinions and share them, but just not over the distribution lists on the company e-mail. You can read about it if you wish.

Then on August 11, one day after the amazing birth of our third grandson (see below), I took a serious tumble down Vermillion Falls Canyon in Hastings while leading a group of kids on a hike. The injury (muscle pulled off the kneecap, six fractured ribs, collapsed lung, 40% blood loss) was complicated by denial, stubbornness and general lack of common sense. It is all written up, illustrated by Stacy. After a week in the hospital and a total of five weeks off work, I am back to my usual overextended schedule, which usually includes five and one half days in the clinic as well as teaching Junior Church, serving on the First Free Church Council and Outreach (Missions) Commission and keeping up the website for Twin Cities Creation Science Association. Twelve weeks of a knee immobilizer allowed me to perfect my "Wait for me, Mr. Dillon" impression. I also was invited to speak to the Unitarian Society on “An Alternative To Darwinism.” For a transcript, see "Evaluating Evolution."


Karin is still leading a discussion group for Bible Study Fellowship. She brings our oldest grandson, Christopher, with her to the children's program, so he stays overnight with us one day a week. Next year, grandson number two, Patrick, will get to go. Karin serves on the Worship Commission as well as coordinating the Drama ministry and co-chairs (with Ross) the Agape Class at First Free. She has been the hostess for many guests including Chinese friends, missionaries, our church and Sunday School friends, family, bridal showers and a Mothers’ Day barbeque. In July she taught children at the missionary candidate school of the Evangelical Free Church. And beginning in the fall, she has taught English to a Bosnian refugee family.

Karin's feet have been giving her more trouble, with ulcers that don't want to heal despite intensive treatment with very expensive tissue growth factor gel and shoes that look like clown feet. Now she is being told to stay off those feet, a difficult order to follow, what with her husband being semi-helpless domestically. We are praying for victory in "da feet.” In general her diabetes is easier to manage since going on an insulin pump in April 2000 which allows more freedom and flexibility with meals. She only wishes her husband were as easy to manage. (She is glad she was not made a widow on August 11!)

Ross & Karin took two trips this year. In April we went to Northern California for the wedding of our good friend Hong Shen to his bride, Sunny. We were privileged to meet Hong's parents who came from China for the occasion. We also visited our friends, Sheldon and Gwen Kwok as well as Viji and Venkat Sundarajon. San Francisco’s China Town was almost like being back in Hong Kong. Then we saw the magnificent scenery of the northern California coast and visited with well known psychologist and author William and Jean Coulson at their ranch.

We also spent the first two weeks of October in Vancouver, British Columbia and on Vancouver Island, for a medical conference and some sightseeing. The flowers are unbelievable, especially since we come from a place where, by that time of year, three fourths of the native species have either flown south or gone dormant. Our experience ranged from high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria to short hikes through spectacular gardens or northern rainforest to picture-perfect beaches and seascapes.

Jeff and Rachel are busy and productive. Jeff turned 30, so is finally considered an adult (according to his Grandma Olson — males mature late in this clan). He is in the second and final year of a masters degree program in software engineering at the University of Minnesota, even as he continues to work as a software engineer (but not yet a “master”) on the project for West Group. He is on call 24/7 doing technical support for the whole extended family and runs the website for First Free Church. Jeff and Rachel celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary.

Rachel is also getting smarter (as if she needed to), continuing studies at Metro State University for her BA in nursing while working as an RN at St. Joseph's Hospital's intensive care unit. She sings with the worship team at church and with "The Planters," a contemporary Christian musical group. Jeff and Rachel's website and e-mail now reflect the nature of their domicile,, housing Shelties: Molly and Elliot, and Guinea Pigs: Abby, Melvin and Petunia. The fish without number have remained nameless, probably because they are not as cuddly as the fur-bearing family members. Jeff and Rachel went to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this year as well as to a cabin.

Susan and Eric found a property that allows them to try living their dream of a more rural and simple lifestyle, possibly eventually running a small Christian retreat center. They found a house on 3+ acres of hobby farm in rural Ramsey, on the northern fringe of the Minneapolis suburbs, complete with a fenced pasture, a coop full of laying hens, a big garden and lots of room for more livestock and/or crops. After signing the purchase agreement and putting their house in St. Louis Park up for sale, Eric’s job with APG Cashdrawer was eliminated. They should be closing on the Ramsey property by Thanksgiving, so this may all be a done deal as you receive this letter. As we write, they have had several showings of their house with one offer so far, and Eric feels he can find enough Electrical Engineering consulting work to meet their financial needs. Their attitude is very commendable. Eric said, “We know God provided the house for us and are waiting to see what else He has in store.” Susan and Eric celebrated 5 years of their marriage with a camping trip.

Susan, after trying several jobs, has settled into one she really likes, as a hearing aid inspector with regular weekday hours at In-Tech, which is near their new house. Two cats joined their family in August, Josephine and Samantha. They still attend Grace Church where they both help with the 3 and 4 year old children’s program and Eric sings and acts in the annual “Sacrifice and Glory” Easter Drama. When that church moves to its new southern location, they will probably look for something in their own new neighborhood.


Tami and Jason have been married 6 years and enjoyed the first summer in their house with a big fenced yard that allows the kids to play outdoors. Patrick (2) however, became an accomplished escape artist. Christopher (5) made friends among the many kids in the neighborhood. After one early morning attempted visit he returned to tell his mommy, "I can hear someone in there, but they won't come to the door.” He is now home schooling for Kindergarten and making good progress. Jason continues to work for Berwald Roofing doing commercial flat roofs and taking on side jobs of house and garage roofs with no shortage of work and very few bad weather days. Patrick is considered behind in speech and is getting some in-home therapy. Maybe the fact that Christopher can talk for 30 minutes without a breath has something to do with it.


Their biggest excitement was the birth of son number three on August 10. Tami went into labor in the wee hours just before a planned induction and despite living only 5 minutes from the hospital, delivered him herself in the van within about a block of the parking lot, while Jason "drove like a wild man." All of them did well. His name is Aizec (pronounced "Isaac"), thus named because on his ultrasound he was laughing. (In case you still don’t get it, that is the meaning of the name.) Having experienced the "joys" of toilet training children after they are old enough to refuse, Tami started using a modified Chinese method with little Aizec before he was two months old. By holding him on a mini-potty chair when he is about to go, he has made the association and goes on command — he even prefers it to a diaper!

Stacy is at The College of Visual Arts in St. Paul and has about a year to go, with an illustration major. She and her work were featured in the school catalogue. She loves her classes and is very excited about everything she is learning. She is preparing for an exhibition in December at the Babylon International Gallery in Minneapolis and another at the Dreamcoat Café in Stillwater. At church she sings with the worship team and is helping with the Seekers Class, made up mostly of mainland Chinese scholars currently at the University of Minnesota. She also attends an international student Bible study near the University and is working on learning Mandarin. Part of this is in preparation for an anticipated trip to Hong Kong and China next May through  August, during which she will help with the Youth for Christ programs in the Hong Kong High Schools. She also hopes to work with the teens at Evangel Children's Home and go with a team, teaching English in mainland China.

The world is a very different place from what it was a year ago. Since the September 11 attacks, our sense of security has been shattered. There has been a lot of prayer and many people are turning to God. Even if everything is done that must be done to stop the perpetrators, we recognize that there is no ultimate security in human devices. As we are told to "go about our lives," it is clear that the only people who can really do that are those who are not afraid to die because they know where they are going. Once our eternal destiny is settled, we can "walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” knowing that “He is with us." But as the stage is set for the plagues and wars predicted in the book of Revelation, we know this also means that Jesus’ return may be very near. Alleluia!! 


May there be peace on earth… and in your hearts.

Ross & Karin, for the whole Olson family
5512 14th Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55417

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