Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 Shumway Family Christmas Letter

December 23, 2008
Dear people who still remember who we are:
At one point in my life I had big dreams of putting San Juan County on a strict financial budget, but I don’t think many people supported my views of “saving for a rainy day”. After that dream disappeared I signed up to save Australia from its spiritual demise. Interestingly, I have found the people in this country to be very tolerant of my religious views, but have been advised not to share my conservative politics with anyone. I suspect that is a good thing. My lovely wife and I have found joy in the work, and are contemplating signing up for another 18 month tour of duty. Since we no longer watch TV and basically only have one topic of discussion we are kind of out of touch with the rest of the world. However, we trust that since our departure from the USA just over a year ago, that the economy is none the worse for wear and the Republicans are still in control.

Sister Shumway wants me to share a little information about the “Literacy Project” we are involved in. About March of 2008, she had this idea that we should develop a program to help some of our aboriginal friends to learn to read and speak English. That was good, but being a little bit crazy, she wrote a grant which the Church accepted and funded. That was good, except that the proposal she wrote would normally take MIT seven years to develop, using an entire department of resources full time. President Quinn felt sorry for her and so he sent her two wonderful sisters to help in the project. Since that time we have been working 24/7 (well, almost) to put out a product that is really exciting. Several influential groups, such as Charles Darwin University, Sandover Schools and Central Desert Shire have reviewed it and are very excited about its potential as they begin utilization of the new resource. We will all be very pleased when we can quit sitting at our computers day and night and once again have a life. Next time Sister Shumway has a big idea she can hire a hundred employees or divorce me. Her choice, but I know which one I would pick. Sister Shumway adds: We have been greatly blessed by the Lord and he has sent us what we need, when we have needed it, including help from back home with some wonderful literacy bags, toys, supplies, etc. God has helped and guided us through the process.
I would like to share a few irrelevant minor points of interest;
Camel tastes a lot like stringy beef, kangaroo tastes better when cooked with the hide still on and the innards still in, but even then it somehow reminds me of a pet rabbit, and crocodile tastes like chicken going bad.
We have yet to find any poisonous spiders or snakes that are less fearful of us, than we are of them. However, I am happy to report that while I was out bush in a little Aboriginal community I accidentally stepped on a toy snake and it made me scream like a boy from San Francisco.
Whenever we approach most of the people here they reply “She’ll be alright, mate”, or “no worries, mate”. At first this “mate” thing really bothered me, but as time goes by I find it rather pleasant to have so many “mates”.
Our children are far away and have discovered that they really don’t need us. That’s ok, because it costs way too much to send Christmas presents from Australia. I believe we are experiencing double savings as we faithfully serve here in the outback. #1, we aren’t spending anything on Christmas and #2, we trust that the investments we made in the stock market a year ago are growing exponentially while we are away.
During the summer in Alice Springs, it is very hot. During the winter in Alice Springs, it is less hot. It is now summer and Christmas will be slightly over 100 degrees. Merry Christmas to all, especially to those of you who have seen snow in the last two years.
After an intense 18 months as missionaries, Sister Shumway wants to go back home and teach for a few more years. I committed to apply for a job as a Wal-Mart greeter, but she put her foot down; so I guess I am just going to go home and be “a kept man.” She will soon learn that I have rather expensive tastes, but I guess that is what Social Security is for.
Well, May, the month we are being required to return to reality is fast approaching, and we have much to do, and so without any further deep thoughts we wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Jim and Lynda Shumway
P. S. Laura is enjoying some great successes in the school where she teaches. From our perspective, 10,000 miles away, her sweet children Christina, Jared and Analisa are very close to perfect. Mike has made and lost about one million dollars this year, but he still has the best band in Utah and he’s on his way to his second million. Lisa and Shawn are very happy in their new home in Michigan. Their marriage is very blessed with 2 beautiful children. Shawn is busy making a living. He spends a lot of time with his work in Europe. I’m sure this helps to hold their happy marriage together. Arah had her tonsils removed about December 17th. I’ll bet Steve enjoyed a few days of blissful silence. Arah’s wonderful mother-in-law took good care of her and their perfect son Gavin for several days. Then Lisa surprised them one morning, knocking on their door. She came to take over those responsibilities and to get even for the way Arah had helped to paint Lisa’s new home. Arah started feeling so much better that she will probably be able to eat soft jell-o by Christmas morning. Julee and Zeb added a lovely little daughter to their family in October. With now having a boy and a girl I think they are happy with life. Ayden is a handsome blonde haired boy whose complexion is a lot like his mothers, but Siarah Lynn is rather dark complected and looks a lot like her dad, except that she is beautiful. We can hardly wait to see all of our wonderful grandchildren and look forward to most of them and their parents meeting us in Hawaii in May. The parents are coming along so that when the grandchildren get tired and grumpy someone will be there to take them off our hands.
Keep the faith, and if you are thinking about sending best wishes, or anything like that, skip the thought and just send money.
Love again,
Jim and Lynda


Arah Debra said...

Hilarious as usual dad! I'm sure your investments are thriving. As they say, "Ignorance is bliss." You forgot that my husband took care of me too when he didn't have to work. And for you information he loves my beautiful voice and missed it horribly!

I'll make sure to read this to Steve, Gavin, and Mike on Christmas Eve. Love you lots and Merry Christmas! And sorry but we wont be sending any money due to the economy. Oops, sorry to burst your bubble.

Anonymous said...

I really believe my year would not be complete without reading one of these letters. As usual, I had a loud laugh as I read it.

Maybe in you are ever in China I can introduce you to some stir-fried cicada or scorpions and then later we can have some barbecued dog or donkey for dessert.

You guys look wonderful and happy. It does my heart good to be able to actually cut through the plethora of censorship here and actually be able to open your blog.

With Love, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!


Aleesha Gibby said...

As always, I enjoyed your Family letter...or should I say your Family P.S. It is so nice to read what is going on with you two. You are an inspiration to all of us. I cannot believe it's been over a year since you guys headed down under. May will come so fast and you will be back in the snow in no time. Having a hot Christmas is nothing new to us, as we live in Hawaii. Are you guys really coming here? That is so cool. I can't believe that you have tried all of those foods. You know how when you hear about different cultures and half of the things that people say about them aren't true? Like how some people think that we so not where clothes in Hawaii. Or how we still ive in grass shacks that we make ourselves (two people I met at BYUH said that and they were scared to come to school.) Anyways, I was thinking that people eating Kangaroo was a myth, but wow. Can't believe it is true. Good job, Aunt Lynda, keeping Uncle Jim in check and making sure that he is not driving everyone mad down there. Well, I'm sure that Christmas has already passed down there, or are you guys behind? I can't remember...but MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! We love you so much!! And I would have loved to hear you, Uncle jim squealing like a girl over a PLASTIC snake (could you imagine the scream if it was real!!!:)) Well, now that I have typed so much and cannot remember if what I wrote even makes sense, I say Aloha!

Love Always, Aleesha Gibby

Lisa said...

Glad to see you're staying up on current events dad. : )

Autumn said...

Merry Christmas!! I love your sense of humor! Hope you guys are melting while we are here in Utah FREEZING!!!

Julee said...

great letter like always Dad! to bad you dont know how to spell your grandsons name though (Ayden). We love and missed you guys at Christmas. Cant wait till you are back to take care of my children every friday night. Are you really considering another 18 months?

Updates From The Outback said...

Nice to hear from everyone. No, we're not really considering another 18 months. I knew that is the way you spell Ayden, I suggested it. Oh well, it's fixed.

Lorene said...

Merry Christmas to the 2 of you. With what has been going on around here I wish that I had joined you. It would have been less costly. We do have some pretty good news. # grandkids in the cooker, Shauna will have hers (a boy) taken on January 14th, Brets Wife Andrea (a girl) in mid March, and Robs wife Shannon (a girl) in May. Work hard. The Gospel is still true here as well Bill

The Spin-ster said...

Three things:

1. Jim you are a very entertaining writer. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

2. I enjoyed Linda's comment above even more. It's classic. CLASSIC. :)

3. Did I mean nothing to you? I mean I visit and I don't get a picture, a mention on here, NOTHIN'?? Sheesh, I posted you guys on my blog for crying out loud. I thought the feeling was mutual.

Enjoy your last couple of months!

Updates From The Outback said...

I actually feel a little guilty about that. We loved seeing you and Garret and being able to go out bush together. It was a great experience well worth blogging about. We've been a bit slack about a lot of things we should have blogged lately. Just haven't spent much time blogging; we're busy pushing to get finished. We love you both!