June 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

Here’s hoping this letter finds you all in good health and spirits.  We’ve had a great year full of God’s little blessings and are ready to share a few of our memories with you.

We began our second year of marriage celebrating at the Storybook Inn, the bed and breakfast where we stayed the first night of our honeymoon.  We enjoyed a fun tour through the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin.

The Tiffany Suite at Storybook Inn

The summer passed too quickly as usual.  Alison helped out some with Vacation Bible School at their church and took Taylor one afternoon each week for some quality aunt-niece time.  A neighborhood friend has a swimming pool we often visit as a relief from the hot summer sun.

Mark continues to work in the Information Technology Department of LeTourneau University.  He is now the senior programmer/analyst over web development, and still enjoys computer work as a career.  The school built a new auditorium meant to be useful for community events as well, and Mark played an important role in implementing and supporting the ticketing software for the Belcher Center.

In August, we once again celebrated Alison’s birthday with her family at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  The weekend was shared with Taylor’s birthday celebration at favorite Dallas restaurant, The Magic Time Machine.

The end of summer brought Alison to her fifth year at Bramlette Elementary.  This year proved to be a growing experience for Alison, as she was assigned a few special needs children to be provided with full inclusion kindergarten (meaning those students were a part of the classroom for all subjects without  a full-time personal aide).  She has learned a lot about the growing population of autistic children and how to work differently than she has been accustomed to in the past.

This year’s winter computer programming conference sent Mark to Atlanta, Georgia, where Alison again took a few days off work to join him.   We had the opportunity to take a tour “Inside CNN” and found the inner workings of the news quite interesting.  The Georgia Aquarium provided a fun day’s activities as well, with their large array of marine life, including a couple of whale sharks. 
The beautiful view from our hotel balcony

Christmas was again celebrated in Dallas with Alison’s family, with a quick trip to Austin to share with her big brother’s family.  This was the first time we met newest member of the Gell family, little Anthony.  We also got to visit with old family friends of Mark’s, the Hoxmeiers.

No new nieces and nephews joined the crew since our last newsletter, but we did adopt a little boy from Peru through Compassion International.  We enjoyed getting a letter from Angelo and are blessed to know that we can so easily make a difference in his life.  

Fellowship Bible Church finally completed the building of our new worship center, and it is beautiful.    With the rearranging of classes came a lot of work, and Alison was happy to help in a small way with painting the hallways and rooms of the education center.  Both Mark and Alison were moved with their 2-year-olds to the 3-year-old Sunday School class, and we greatly enjoy the fun they can be each week.  Mark continues to play the piano each Sunday with the worship team, and Alison remains a nursery volunteer.  We are still involved with the small group of young couples and like taking our turn to host the group at our house every now and then.  In the spring, we again joined a team of workers from our church in framing a Habitat for Humanity house (pictured below).    

Alison helps lift the first wall.

Mark cuts and carries wood.

Working together to hammer in a wall.

Alison up high.

Additional community involvement hasn’t changed much.  We are still a part of the planning committee for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, although we did not step into the role of event chair this year (last year’s chair wanted to do it one more time before handing the position to us).  Mark continues to sing with the East Texas community choir.  He was pleased that he could again rejoin the East Texas Opera chorus this year as they performed H.M.S. Pinafore.  Alison did her part of the Opera by helping her husband and several other men put on stage makeup before performances.

Summer comes again, and with it all the familiar summer activities.  Alison is helping with Vacation Bible School as a preschool teacher, and has moved into a “full-time” nursery worker position for the summer months.  We have also been moved back into the 2-year-old Sunday School class temporarily while that teacher takes maternity leave.
Just a backyard picture of us 
dressed for a wedding one June afternoon

Alison was happy to see her “baby girl” (the one whom she babysat full-time from age 5 months to 4 years, shortly after that they moved to California).  Madison, now age 12, and her mom came to visit their old neighborhood in Red Oak.
Madison is as tall as Alison!

The summer computer programming conference was scheduled during our 2nd anniversary, so we celebrated in Denver, Colorado.  Some area sites we visited included Red Rocks Park and Tiny Town  (small reproductions of buildings).  We were blessed to be in town during a performance of Cirque du Soleil, and will have fond memories of our “mile-high” anniversary.

At Red Rocks Park
The Dr. Seuss house at Tiny Town

Our contact information has not changed, so keep in touch, and have a wonderfully blessed year.  

Mark and Alison