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.
Jim and Lynda