Our Christmas letter
Dear friends and family,
Greetings to you all. We thank the Lord for each of you and especially
for your prayers for us. What
was 1997 like for you? Did
the flood waters rise and the storms of life rain on you? Did the winds
of change blow through your world?
If so, we understand...
In January, Jon (Craig) and Philip flew to Iowa for a surprise 85th
birthday party for his mother. Many friends and family members delighted
Adelaide with a wonderful party. Craig
made a video montage of family slides, which everyone enjoyed.
He also brought up a large seapack of fresh shrimp and oysters
from the Gulf Coast for Sharon’s Dad.
Little did we know, this precious time together would be their
final face to face visits until heaven...
Meanwhile, on February 3rd, we welcomed the birth of our first
grandchild, Kayla Marie Strzelecki.
A few days later, her daddy Adam had to say good-bye to his
little family and spend four months in Kuwait.
Rather than stay alone at Fort Hood, Rachel and Kayla spent the
time here with us until June when Adam returned.
Rachel often would have supper ready when we got home, provided
childcare for Ben and Tim when they were sick, watched Philip after
school, took care of video business for Jon, all the while being a great
mom for darling Kayla. I
think Rachel enjoyed having time with her brothers as well, but was very
thankful for the telephone technology that kept her connected to her
Late in February, Grandpa Al became very ill and was
hospitalized. Sharon made
airline reservations for the first week of March, planning to travel
with Ben, Grandpa Al’s “birthday present” for 1996.
The day before the scheduled departure, Ben came down with
chicken pox, and three others were suffering flu symptoms, so
reluctantly, that trip was postponed.
Meanwhile, on Friday at work (when Sharon would not have been
there had the original plan continued), a first grader was choking as he
was leaving school. Sharon
was able to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him and a hard candy flew
out of his throat and hit the wall...
We don’t always get to know the “whys” when ‘our plans’
seem to be thwarted...
Meanwhile, Grandpa Al held his own with help from his sister Anstes who
stayed with him and mom during this difficult time.
Her nursing experience and sisterly love was a great comfort to
him and to Irene. Sharon
and Ben were able to go to Iowa for Easter instead and had a wonderful
family time during her spring break.
It was probably the first Easter since college days that all four
Tweito siblings were together. Dad
enjoyed seeing how Ben had grown since his previous visit as a newborn
last July. Grandma Adelaide
said he “looked familiar” and shared stories of her babies and
coffee and cookies in the red house in Northgate....By late April, dad
returned home and the next day, Adelaide fell from the steps in her
Although her injuries appeared minor at first, she had
cracked some ribs, but was expected to recover.
On the Sunday before Mother’s Day, we received a call from the
hospital that she was in fact not going to survive and she passed away
while we were on the speaker phone with Donald and Signe in her hospital
Jon, Rachel, and Baby Kayla flew to Iowa for the funeral service. The
casket was adorned with her wedding flowers:
five Easter lilies, one for each of her children, and sixteen
yellow roses, one for each grandchild.
The grandchildren and great-grandchildren sang Jesus Loves Me,
and it was ‘a beautiful day in Ioway...’
The last week of May, Dad once again returned to the hospital, this time
with heart trouble, in addition to the chronic emphysema he called
“the beast.” Throughout his stay in the hospital and nursing home in
Waukon, I would send Dad faxes. (Talking on the phone was too hard for
him). The morning of June
2nd, I faxed a prayer which mom read with him.
He died that afternoon.
Aaron, who has always looked like his grandpa, accompanied Benjamin and
me to Iowa for the funeral. Before
we left on June 3rd, we called Jon’s office from the airport.
(We knew Jon was awaiting
word regarding the latest round of ‘corporate restructuring’).
A recorded message said, “Jon Aldrich is no longer at this
our plane landed and I was able to speak to Jon, I told him,
“Congratulations on your promotion in FAITH...”
Following Dad’s death, we received literally hundreds of cards and
prayers which were a great comfort to us.
The day of the funeral was rainy, and, at the graveside service,
in the height of the storm, as the cold wind blew and the thunder
rolled, my brother Gary quipped, “Dad always wanted to go out with a
bang...” Later that
evening, the sky over Spring Grove, and soon after, Waukon, was filled
with a glorious rainbow, a visual reminder that the promises of God are
from everlasting to everlasting...
The day after we returned from the funeral, Rachel and Kayla moved back
to Fort Hood for their long awaited happy reunion with Adam.
In July, we rented a
pick up truck to transport some of Rachel’s things to them at Fort
Hood and then proceeded to Dallas to see niece Kari and her family in
their new home. There we
enjoyed a surprise birthday for Jon and Ben.
Jon drove the truck back to Houston and the boys and I proceeded
north to Iowa.
Jon flew up later so we could attend our 25th high school reunion.
Although we were not the ‘parents of
the youngest child,’ the ‘most recent grandparents,’
the ones who had ‘come the longest distance,’ nor the ones
‘least changed,’ we were ‘in the running’ for all these
categories. We enjoyed
seeing many classmates once again, including Deb Howard, who later drove
from Des Moines with her family to visit us in Houston.
While Sharon and the youngest boys spent time with Grandma Irene,
‘Craig’, Aaron, Marilyn, Charles, Don, Lois, Connie and Don Garbe
followed the Canyon Lands tour, seeing many beautiful sights including
the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas.
Then, Jon returned to Texas to pursue his job search, and was
ultimately ‘rehired’ one floor down from his previous purchasing
department location and began a process engineering position with Amoco
in early August...
Shortly thereafter, Jon returned to Iowa once again to join his siblings
in the division of his mother’s household goods.
Enclosed in prayer, it was a bittersweet time of reflection and
of thanksgiving for the godly heritage left by their loving parents...
Nephew Nathan came down to see us in August as well.
School resumed in mid-August, with Aaron:
a 6’4” Junior
who is now driving and begging for a car; Philip:
a second grader who loves to beat Daddy at the video game
“James Bond,” Tim:
age 3 and full of mischief;
and Ben: 1 1/2, walking,
and learning to talk. The
two youngest go to Children’s Corner Daycare next door to Sharon’s
school. Sharon has a new
principal this year and continues teaching kindergarten at Northside
Elementary and singing with the Grace Community Church choir.
Jon’s video business provides him daily
with challenges and rewarding experiences.
This year, Drew
Kraus, a multi-talented computer wizard and all around great asset, has
joined the Keepsake Video/VTI staff along with our other expert
personnel Quinton and Terry Rogers. VTI (VideoComm
Technologies International, Inc.),
our video service for businesses, is now in its fifth year of
operation. We are an
Internet Presence Provider and expect many new opportunities ahead on
the “world-wide web”.
In September, Rachel, Adam and Kayla moved to #5 Martin Court, Chicago
Heights, Illinois 60411
completed his military service (Army) in October and
now works for UPS. He
enjoys hunting and fishing in his home territory.
Rachel has been adjusting to winter in the Midwest and
appreciates visits with Aunt Connie, who lives near them.
The little Strzelecki family will be expanding next summer, as
Kayla anticipates the arrival of a new brother or sister!
Uff da!! :-)
We are looking forward to Christmas with Grandma Irene.
She has driven down to Texas with her good friends Gib and Eileen
Felton. We also look
forward to two special weddings: cousin
Laura in San Antonio in May and niece Renee in Germany in June.
So, back to my original question... What did 1997
bring your way? In less
than 5 weeks, we experienced a concentrated dose of the storms of life:
the deaths of two beloved parents, the loss of a life-long
career, the moving away of our oldest child, the resignation of a
boss... Through it all, we
have learned that the JOY of
the Lord IS our strength. He
is faithful to give peace in the midst of the storm (Phil 4:6-7).
He is a strong tower, a refuge, a mighty fortress, a sure
foundation, and MUCH MORE!
Despite the wave of circumstances flooding in, we
rejoice and give thanks because of Who He is.
May you be encouraged this holiday season to examine where your
foundations are laid. The stock market goes up and down...but, our earthly jobs are
not our True Security or Provider.
There is a Friend who sticks closer than a Brother.
Christmas is here once again to remind us “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and
God is with us. Joy
to the World-- the Lord is
come!!! Tell someone
the good news!!! Merry Christmas
and may God’s provision be with you in the coming
Love from us all---
Jon Craig, Sharon, Aaron, Philip, Timothy, and Benjamin