...And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger...
Luke 2:16 KJV
First, the happy news is that Grace was married on September 26th, my 55th birthday! (SMILE) Our new son-in-law is Chirag, a graduate student at the University of Alaska. He is originally from Mumbai (Bombay), India. He and Grace met in 2007 and became friends. That friendship blossomed into a wonderful relationship! We are very happy to have Chirag become part of our family! Grace and Chirag have recently added a dog to “their” family. He is “VW, the love Pug!” See the little heart that forms when he wrinkles his forehead? (SMILE)
In August Grace and I took a short, weekend trip to the Portland, Oregon area for a Smith family reunion. I saw cousins I had not seen in many years, and Grace got to meet more of our family. Some of my family also drove up from California - sister Becky and her husband Reggie, brother Dwight and two of his daughters, Kayla and Shyanne and our parents. It was so good to see everyone. The last time Grace and I visited some of these family members in Oregon was in 1991, and Grace had not visited with the California family members since 1998.
Don and I took some Bird Identification classes at the Alaska Bird Observatory in the Spring and enjoyed seeing new birds this year. I took a lot of photos! We saw a lot of shorebirds and ducks, as well as some song birds we had never seen before. We had several pleasant hikes at Creamer’s Field and on the Boreal Forest trail.
On November 9th my father, William Clarke “Bill” Smith, left this earth for his eternal home. Due to his health problems, we knew he only had a limited time left on earth, but it was still very hard when his time finally came. Don and I made a trip to California for the funeral. There were many family members and old friends in attendance. The military gave him a 21 gun salute and a United States flag was presented to the family in honor of his military service during World War II. It was good to get to see our families while we were there. We only wish it had been better circumstances. Daddy is in a better place now and free of the physical ailments that had plagued him for several years. We rejoice that his spirit has gone “home.” I am also thankful that Grace and I were able to see him at the reunion in Oregon in August.
On August 20th, Grace’s grandmother, Lorraine Farstad, in Ketchikan, Alaska, died very unexpectedly. She was a loving and generous lady, who was always baking and sharing cookies with her friends and neighbors. She joined her husband Lars in their eternal home. He passed away on July 15, 1999. Unfortunately, we already had plans to be in Portland on the weekend of her memorial service, or Grace would have attended it.
Earlier this year, two of my mother’s sisters passed away. On February 8th, my Aunt Charlotte Parham joined her husband Leroy in their eternal home. He passed away on May 28, 2007. My Aunt Carrie Murphy passed into eternity on March 6th. All of these loved ones are greatly missed.
I just learned that a friend, a college professor of mine passed away December 1st. He was 93 years old. Robert Roth was my upper division Biology professor for many classes at Cal Baptist. He had retired from the University of California at Riverside, and then taught at Cal Baptist for many years. I have stayed in touch with him and his wife for the last 31 years. He was a wonderful Christian man and will be greatly missed.
Many people in our city of Fairbanks are also mourning the loss of a local man who was murdered recently. Daniel Frederick was a colorful character; eccentric maybe, but a man who would help you if he possibly could; a man who loved his pets like they were children; he was a fixture in Fairbanks for many years, running an Antiques and Military Surplus store named "Blondies." He was a good man and did not deserve what happened to him. He will also be greatly missed.
As you can see, for us it has been a year of joy and sadness. We do rejoice knowing that our loved ones are safe in the arms of our Saviour this Christmas. But we still miss them.
We rejoice in God’s plan of salvation for us all. Jesus is truly the Reason for this Season. Have a very Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.
Barbara and Don, and Grace and Chirag