Dear Family and Friends,
We are really slow getting these out this year, but it’s a good thing we do these yearly Christmas letters, otherwise I’m afraid we would lose contact with some of you. We enjoy hearing from you and catching up on your latest escapades. We hope you are all healthy, wealthy and wise. Maybe two out of the three would suffice.
Instead of a trip this fall, we did some home improvements. We tiled our front entry way, and also poured a new patio and side walk, and we had our garage resided. We hired Rob’s golfing buddy Dave Moore to do the work and we were really pleased with the results. We dyed the cement a reddish color and imprinted the cement so it blends with the flagstone we already had. Once the patio was completed, Janet felt the garden area also needed attention so she planted more flowers, hauled rocks for a border and had Anthony prune the choke-cherry trees. She wants to put in a fire pit on the south of the patio so Steve already has work lined up for next spring.
We raised another big garden this year and it was fairly successful. Steve put in a raspberry and strawberry patch. We are going to focus on producing more fruit and less vegetables. We have several different fruit trees, but because of neglect the harvest was small. Janet also filled all of our bottles again this year; the final 50 were filled with pumpkin!
Janet has been the quilt guild president this year, and has had a lot of added responsibilities. The group has been very pro-active with community service projects: baby blankets for the two hospitals, a quilt camp for youth, quilt tying at Farm Days, made quilts for two fallen officers and another 2 quilts for a Cancer fund raiser and fire victims. Laurie and Brendan stayed in Blanding June 1-4 so Laurie could participate in Quilt Camp with Grandma. We had a lot of fun. The guild meets monthly. Even though they are a wonderful group of ladies to work with, she’s glad the year is about over.
We still run an addiction recovery class for the LDS church and have seen some success. We’ve had fairly good attendance and the group is very supportive of each other. This past summer our ward was dissolved (some say translated) and the members were divided up into three different wards. We were again called to serve as the YSA advisors in the Fifth Ward. The college dorms are in that ward, so we have about 45 young singles to shepherd. We attend the Young Single branch most of the time so we can interact with kids we’re working with. We also help teach the Temple Preparation class there. We’ve been hosting a Sunday dinner, in addition to a game night at least once a month with the kids. We enjoy working with them and hope we are a positive influence in their lives. Often our home is a bed and breakfast for YSA in transit. Steve continues to serve in the Monticello, Utah Temple each Tuesday.
In April we returned to Ganado where we served our mission, to attend the dedication of an addition to the LDS chapel. This doubled the size of the building and it is very nice. There were over 175 in attendance at the dedication. They had a wonderful dinner after the meetings so we were able to see and visit with many of our old friends. It was wonderful visiting with former missionaries and other special friends there. We are hoping Corey and Vanisha will pursue their plans for serving missions. The Lord truly needs valiant servants in the latter days. There is so much wickedness in the world, we all need to “rise and shine forth” if we hope to combat it.
In May we went with a large group of Blanding friends to Branson, Mo. The bus picked us up right in Blanding! That’s the way I like to take trips. No driving, no waiting at airports, and our reservations were taken care of. It took three day to drive to Branson we saw several interesting sights along way. We spent three days in Branson and saw nine different shows. On the return trip we visited the Will Rogers Museum, and also the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. We had excellent accommodations and had a very enjoyable trip.
In June we held our family reunion at Abajo Haven, six miles north of Blanding. It had four real nice cabins so not all of our family had to sleep in tents. Amy and Andrew were in charge of the reunion this year and planned lots of fun activities. We ate good meal, played games, hiked and swam in Recapture Reservoir and at the new Blanding pool. It was great to have all of the family together: 16 adults and 24 grandkids.
Other family highlights this year included: CJ getting his driver’s license; Sage and Daniel were both baptized in July; Jens Quentin was born May; Anthony successfully completed Law School in Dec. and is gearing up for the Bar Exam in March. We also made two trips to Phoenix to visit Quent and Anthony’s families this year, plus family trips up north and to Las Vegas.
In Aug. we went to Blackfoot, Idaho for a Murphy family reunion. It was good seeing many of the Arnold, Keeler and Jensen families there as well and catching up on the news. We also met up with Janet’s classmates at Heisi, and got to go see the Keeler Farm on Antelope. We’re planning our family reunion activity there next summer. In Sept. Janet caught a ride to Tooele and tended Nathan and Tammy’s children so Tammy could join Nathan in Washington D.C. for a few days. Janet had several fun outings with Laurie and Brendan and Autumn and Amy and their kids. She also reconnected with some of her college roommates. That same weekend we attended our missionary reunion and saw both of our mission presidents and their wives, plus many of the senior missionaries we knew in the Arizona Phoenix Mission. Recently all of the missions that reached into the reservation were combined into the Farmington Mission. Four Elders are assigned to Blanding and we’ve been helping them quite a bit.
This year has been one of wonderful highs but also some great sorrows regarding the little boy we hoped Rob and Kathryn could adopt. Travis’s bio- father petitioned the courts for custody earlier this year and even though he missed the deadline for filing, was not married and only worked part time, the judge in Denver still gave temporary custody to Travis’s father on Aug 28th the day he turned one. Travis had been in their family since birth. You can imagine the sadness that was. The judge allowed Rob and Kathryn to visit him every two week, but on Nov. 01, the judge gave permanent custody to Travis’s father. This has been heartbreaking for Rob, Kathryn and Ethan and the rest of us. We pray that he is being cared for and raised with love. But we know it will not be the same quality of life he had with Rob and Kathryn’s family. Kathryn also lost her father this past year, after a valiant fight with pulmonary disease, so there are two big holes in their lives.
We’re still working on several history projects, though Janet got a couple of books published earlier this year. She compiled a history of all of her sewing and quilting projects over a lifetime, as well as a tribute book about Lem Redd. Maybe this winter we’ll have some free time to really concentrate on it. Janet has nearly completed scanning our slide collection (3000+) and is now transcribing her Brother Clint’s letters. I’m working on my life story.
We are very thankful as we reflect on the past 44 years of life together, that God and his gospel have played such an important part in our lives. We are so thankful that our children, are passing on gospel traditions to their children. We know we didn’t do everything right, but we kept trying during those hard years. Without a belief in God, and knowledge of his Son Jesus Christ, the world and its problems would be overwhelming. We truly feel the peace and joy that the gospel brings. We pray that its light is reaching into your life as well.
Love, Steve and Janet Wilcox