Happy Christmas
Peace in the New Year

... for a child has been born
... and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
....Prince of Peace.


Highlights of our year included a wedding, two new grandchildren and a four months trip to UK and Ireland. David's youngest son Andrew and Paula's second child Thomas Malcolm was born 30 April, and Mikaela Jane the second child of Simon (Hazel's youngest) and Anita was born 15 July. That makes six grandchildren for David and seven for Hazel. Let no one think we're counting!

Andrew and Paula with Thomas and Amelia

The year began with summer holiday activities including a trip to Tasmania visiting David's brother, sisters and extended families. We again took Dylan and Blake to Church Camp in March, enjoyed the Ballet and a weekend caravan trip to Queenscliff for a gathering of the PNG Group and Sunday Group interests which David has joined. In April David decided to have the Wesburn bathroom renovated and amazingly it was finished in time for our departure and one of our exchange families. A good deal of time and effort over many months was spent on the Internet organizing three house exchanges which dovetailed into one period of three months for our trip. The exchanges all worked well. Before we left David did a six weeks job filling in at the central church in Ballarat.

In May, Robert, David's eldest son, whose first wife Mandy was killed in a car accident in 1990, married Catherine Schneider another lovely addition to our family. Robert continues his own computing business working from home in Elwood and Catherine manages a specialist business within a department store.

Robert and Catherine 2 May 2004

We began our first exchange at the end of May at Clevedon near Bristol in a roomy apartment in a Victorian house overlooking the Bristol Channel. Resident cats, Vladamir and Leon loved us right away. We eventually realized that the revolutionary posters around the walls explained their names. The same couple also allowed us to use their London home for two weeks where we met Dave the lodger, enjoyed the theatres and galleries, discovered the dockland developments in company with Hazel's cousin Martin from Perth, and pursued family history interests. At this time we were able to meet for the day with friends from the U.S. Don and Linda Kimmelman. Don and Ron were at Drew Univ. N.J. together many moons ago and it was great to catch up again whilst being shepherded around Winchester by Kathleen Hill with whom we later spent a week at her sister's home in Keswick. We then flew to Dublin and the coastal village of Greystones just south of the city for four weeks. We enjoyed the history, the modern prosperity and the special ways of the Irish, and the city of Dublin although not the crowded roads. It was good to see the Johnston family, the west coast and a family history site in Northern Ireland. We then returned to Clevedon where we received news which changed everything.

One of the year's highlights became a cause of great anxiety when little Mikaela, born 15 July and after a normal birth became desperately ill only two days after coming home from hospital. She was kept alive for some weeks by ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) similar to a heart-lung by-pass machine. After a cardiac arrest, heart surgery, many later operations and nearly three months in intensive care she has made enormous steps towards recovery and is now at home. The medical and nursing teams were wonderfully caring and professional and we cannot thank them enough for the dedicated work they did in preserving her life. There were many people too who although they didn't know each other, formed a chain of prayer around Mikaela. Hazel had returned to Melbourne in the middle of our trip to be with her family for four weeks in this time of crisis when the baby's survival was very much in doubt and then came back to the UK where David had remained. He had moved from Clevedon to the third home exchange in Bentley Heath, Solihull, near Birmingham.

Anita and Simon with Mikkaela and Hamish

During this time David had worked on his research into several lines of family history in Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Lancashire, Birmingham and London. We extended our trip by a month to complete our original travel plans.

We were fortunate to have three weeks at the Yorkshire home of Jan Green who had married David's nephew Jeff earlier in the year and generously offered us her Tockwith Village house. It was very near Cromwell's old battlefield of Marston Moor and close to historic York which we enjoyed. Not far away was Halifax, home of Wendy and Alan Dunstone so we were able to visit on two occasions, worship at their Church and talk of many remembrances of Rarongo days. We also enjoyed a day with Dawn and Jim Burton who took us on a wonderful tour of the Dales from Ilkley. We enjoyed nearly a week and in the Lake District with Katheen and we managed a few days in Wales. Finally we had a week at Cheltenham to complete the original purpose of the trip to visit Hazel's old home town where her brother Hugh and his wife Joyce, some of their family and Hazel's cousins still live. We timed our trip to be with Hugh and Joyce for Hugh's 80th birthday. We had seen them too several times on day trips from Clevedon and Bentleigh Heath. It was most interesting for both of us to visit some of the places that were familiar to Hazel from her youth, the vibrant Anglican church she grew up in , the hospital in Birmingham she trained at, still central to the life of the City after nearly 200 years and to follow up some of her family history in Gloucestershire and Cumbria.

Joyce, Hazel and Hugh at Cheltenham

Our "retirement" still remains very active and enjoyable, although we do complain of our aches and pains at times and only hope that our arthritis "drug props" remain on the market. Hazel is already missing her Vioxx which was recently taken off and David has just started a new one.

We are thankful for the richness of our lives made all the more special by the many friends we still have like you to send these too long letters to. We wish you much joy this Christmas season with your friends and family and good health to enjoy in the year ahead.

With love and the blessings of Christmas,

Hazel and David Beswick

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