Dear friends and relatives,
Over half our tour of duty here has past. We have had the worst times and the best times of our lives since moving here. For sure, it is never boring, except when we saw Don Carlo, an opera that lasted 4 and 1/2 hours.
We have toured Pompeii and Herculaneum with a real archeologist. We took a ferry to Capri. We had a marvelous time at a church lectureship in Athens, Greece, which included a trip to ancient Corinth. We had quite an experience on our first, and hopefully, last flight on a military cargo plane to Frankfurt where we spent one night in a pleasant German hotel. The remainder of that trip we toured London, England. We also enjoyed a recent, refreshing trip to the U.S.
While most Italians are wild drivers, all Americans here drive crazy. We found driving in the States to be quite boring. Here we are constantly on the alert for big holes in the road, cars going in reverse on the highway, and water buffaloes or a herd of sheep in the way. We have been lucky to be involved in only one small fender-bender. One of the worst hassles here is getting car repairs.
We have witnessed the evacuation of an entire city (pop. 70,000) near Naples because of earth tremors. The geologists say there is a threat that a new volcano may form and erupt. This could happen next week or in a hundred years.
We have two lemon trees and a eucalyptus tree in our yard. We built screens in the spring which made the summer more bearable with fewer bugs in the house this year. After a mild summer, we are preparing for another wet, cold winter. With the average indoor temperature being in the 50's last winter, long underwear and electric blankets are essentials of life here.
Jeannie took two Italian courses about the language and culture. She is very active in the hospital officers' wives club and is the chairman of the committee that arranges tours for the group. She went to a ballet at a royal palace. She holds a ladies' Bible class weekly at our house.
I was promoted to lieutenant commander this year. In Kansas City, I was conferred a Fellowship degree in Family Practice. I have a very rewarding practice at a branch clinic twenty miles from the hospital. I have enjoyed my monthly preaching responsibilities.
The kids seem to enjoy travelling, especially on airplanes. They nearly lived on their new swing set this year. They again took swimming lessons and did remarkably well. They enjoy our computer when they can get their dad off it. They quickly learned where all the keys are on the keyboard.
Steven (3) is now out of diapers. He goes to school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. He talks to everyone about flying on a big airplane and going to Arkansas.
Angelique (5) is now in kindergarten. She spends hours reading, writing, and drawing. She said she knows how to cook only three things: "cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and waffles."
My parents very much enjoyed their visit here. Others are welcome! We now have a telephone. (Dial 011-39-81-867-7747 direct from the States.) Let us hear from you, at least by mail. May God bless you in the coming year.
Buon Natale (Merry Christmas),
Michael, Jeannie, Angelique, and Steven
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