Having had his job outsourced in October 2014, Stephen had a special nine-month consultancy contract with his former employer. This helped ease the transition for the organization as they dealt with a new bookkeeping firm, and also provided partial employment for Stephen. The contract ended in the summer, but there has been a trickle of work since then, which has reduced to one or two hours of work per month. This year, Stephen will be unemployed full-time. With very little chance of finding other work on the island we are on, this has given more time for working in the garden and for morning and afternoon walks.
While Margot's neurological condition, Frontal Temporal Degeneration, is classed as a degenerative disease, she is functioning at much the same level as she has for the last few years. This very slow progression has been a surprise to us, as other family members with the same genetic make-up progressed at very rapid rate. So it is looking as if we will be living much the same (rather quiet) life for the next few years as we are now. This will give us a good quality of life, provided we don't try to do too much at any one time.
We are still worshiping with the local Pentecostal church, and take part in their weekly ecumenical prayer circle on Monday nights. While most members of the prayer circle are retired, we have recently been joined by a young couple just starting their family life together. We also attend the local Lutheran parish church when we can. They have just installed a lovely wheelchair ramp and new front steps in red and grey granite, matching the church's 600-year-old stones. The new ramp and steps are substantial. It is nice to see something built now that should serve many future generations.
As we look to our near future, it seems as if it will be similar to our recent past. But with the uncertainties, it is good to reflect on God's goodness over the previous years. 2015 marks several anniversaries in our life:
40 years (1975)
Margot first visited the London Mennonite Centre, and later that year we became engaged during Stephen's first trip to Finland.
30 years (1985)
Our second child (Timo) was born, and we as a family moved to Nepal to work with United Mission to Nepal, supported by Mennonite Board of Missions (now Mennonite Mission Network).
20 years (1995)
Stephen started working as a bookkeeper for the United Methodist Church in Turku (a job he continued until 2010).
10 years (2005)
We bought our house in Korpo, which was the start of our involvement in our current community and churches, and in which we look forward to retiring.