We had a marvelous, restful Christmas vacation, and I landed to voicemail detailing work with Graceworks ( http://GraceworksInc.com ) that starts Wednesday. Also, Joyce gets back into her masters internship soon, so we're hitting the ground running!
Happy New Year!
Rich & Joyce
Rich Swingle, who was born and raised in the Medford area, helped develop a documentary about Olympic champion Eric Liddell with a production company in Hong Kong. The film will make its West Coast premiere Sunday, December 28, in Medford.
The four-time Academy Award winning film, Chariots of Fire, tells how Eric Liddell broke the world record in the 400m at the Paris Olympics in 1924. Olympic Hero in China: The Eric Liddell Story shows the bigger picture of his life: how he was born in China and returned there after Olympic glory to serve the Chinese people until his death in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
Swingle has performed Beyond the Chariots, his one-man play about Liddell in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Medford. It was through his Hong Kong and Shanghai performances that Good News Communication, International discovered Swingle’s work. They hired him to write the initial draft of the documentary, which was then fine-tuned by a Chinese writer to target Asians more specifically.
China recognizes Liddell, who was born to Scottish parents, as the first person born in that nation to win an Olympic gold medal. In January 2007 the first Olympic insert in China Daily, the national Enlish language newspaper, led with an article on Liddell. His story was previously told through a documentary on their national television, CCTV. NBC also aired a brief documentary focused on Liddell’s connection to China during summer Olympic coverage.
The first release of Olympic Hero in China came in time for the Beijing Olympics, and narration was in Cantonese and Mandarin. When Swingle was in Hong Kong to perform his play during the Games he recorded the English narration, which will be shown on the 28th for the first time outside the New York City area. Swingle has lived in Manhattan since 1993.
A graduate of Phoenix High School, Swingle also connected the production team with people who knew Liddell. Numerous relatives and acquaintances of the athlete/missionary have now seen Beyond the Chariots. Swingle wrote questions for many of the interviews in the documentary and interviewed Mary Previte, the daughter of Hudson Taylor, a pioneer missionary to China. Previte lives near New York City and was interned with Liddell by the Japanese.
Her brother, Dr. Jim Hudson Taylor, III, was also interviewed regarding his memories of Liddell in the internment camp. A pre-war student of Liddell, an Olympic torch-bearer and daughters of Liddell are among those featured in the documentary, which was filmed in China, Hong Kong, Toronto, Scotland, England and New Jersey.
The greater vision for the project includes dramatizations in which Swingle will portray Liddell, but filming permits were not granted in the run up to the Olympics.
Olympic Hero in China will be shown at Medford Friends Church, which Swingle attended before enrolling at George Fox University. The single screening of the 45 minute film will be during the 9:30am service on Sunday, January 28.
My brother, Bob and I went out for a five mile run, missed our turn-around and transformed it into an 8.5 miler! It was good for both of us, but especially him, as he is training for the Mickey Marathon in Orlando in a couple of weeks.
On the way back from our run, five deer crossed the road in front of us. This last one had a bit of a limp. She walked right up to the fence and seemed to plead with her friends to go a different way, but then she easily did a standing jump over the fence and cleared the five foot (with the embankment) barrier with apparent ease.
Something you don't see in NYC, though I have seen raccoons and a fox in Central Park.
Photo by my brother, Bob Swingle.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas and wondrous New Year.
Here's our year at a glance:
A huge blessing – especially as we go into the economy to come – was the culmination of our 10-year wait for an apartment at the Manhattan Plaza. This federally and locally subsidized housing was initially built as luxury housing in the 70s. Resistance to the relatively rough (at that time) neighborhood (called “Hell’s Kitchen,” clue, clue) forced the developers out and the government in. The complex, which includes two large buildings, a greenhouse, outdoor playground, pool and gardens, became housing for performing artists, the elderly and those displaced by the erection of the complex in the beginning. Rent is determined by your income (one-third of estimated earnings, up to a cap that lies well below market rates). We were blessed in June with a lovely, large 1-bedroom apartment at close to $900 less/month than we had been paying; we recently learned that we will pay 46% less in 2009 than even this (a reflection perhaps of the market’s pummeling of our savings but welcome nonetheless). A great view (from our bedroom) of the Empire State Building can be found at RichDrama.com/MP.
For our new address send an email.
Another blessing was the culmination of a long-standing dream to bring the story of Eric Liddell, man of God and Olympic athlete with ties to Britain and China, to China during this Olympics season. We traveled with a lovely friend from our church Ava-Gaye Parkes to Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing and Dandong in China, telling Eric’s story through Rich’s play Beyond the Chariots, which tells of Liddell’s post-Olympics tenure in China and through the presentation of a documentary, Olympic Hero in China, for which Rich wrote the initial script and recorded the English narration. Our adventures, which were many and rich, are told in our blog at RichDrama.com/NewsBlog in the archives for August and September.
Joyce continues to complete the Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling by focusing on her internship (RichDrama.com/ReconciliationRoom). Currently, I have two sites at which I work: Nyack’s Undergraduate Manhattan Campus, where I work with those students who desire counseling and at Westchester Chapel, our home church in White Plains (WestchesterChapel.org). Anticipated graduation is May 9, 2009 but two large comprehensive exams remain to be conquered (yikes). I’m still considering whether I will be pursuing licensure, which requires a lot more hours a week than I am currently doing and would probably prohibit any pastoral work.
On the pastoral front, we continue to serve at Westchester Chapel, where Joyce is an Associate Pastor and Rich leads the drama ministry. We love our church family and are proud of all that God has done for His people there!
Rich continues to press on in his ministry, performing while writing more extensive work, such as a documentary about Eric Liddell, Olympic Hero in China, which he'll show in it's West Coast premiere on Sunday: RichDrama.com/Itinerary. He's also writing a screenplay for a movie about Eric Liddell. This latter project, which is a true labor of love, seems to have attracted some serious investment and could well be developed next year.
Rich also continues as Director of the Drama program at the MasterWorks Festival (MasterWorksFestival.org), where he co-directed last year’s play Tartuffe and will do the same on this year’s Our Town. It is a special joy and privilege to serve these budding artists and young Christians in their professional and spiritual walks.
We have most especially been blessed this year with the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose healing in our lives has enriched our joy immeasurably. In particular, He has blessed us with a special understanding of how to live in His strength and joy on a daily basis and we now know this is the true treasure of Christmas. Our prayer is that He touches you in this way as well.
In His Love,
Joyce and Rich Swingle
For more info on this fabulous ministry visit JoniandFriends.org.
Today I'm driving to Medford for Christmas with my family. I'm trying to beat Joyce to the Medford airport. She's flying several times faster than me, but I think I've allowed enough of a head start.
I was scheduled to fly from Chicago to Minneapolis to Seattle to Medford, OR, where I was raised. The flight from Minneapolis to Seattle was canceled, and the only available seats to Medford weren't available until Christmas Eve. Another wrinkle was that there were three different carriers handling my flight and they all kept sending me to the others. Finally Kasha, a wonderful woman from Poland secured a seat for me on a flight to San Francisco, which is close enough to drive to Medford. Kasha walked with me to the carrier whose flight was cancelled and insisted that they clear that flight for me, which they finally did.
It wasn't until I boarded the plane that I thanked the Lord for Kasha's miraculous upgrade to a fully reclining business-class seat.
Though there were none in my service that indicated that they'd dedicated their lives to the Lord, the pastor said two people approached him saying they're closer to making that decision.
Pray for their readiness and willingness.
One hundred and forty-six people braved the weather, which was on it's way down to five below zero with a wind-chill factor of 25 below (and it's not called the Windy City for nothing).
Most wonderful of all was that a woman rededicated her life to the Lord, after walking away from Him for many years.
That's what it's all about!
He goes in early every morning to minister to inmates at Cook County Jail, the largest in the US. Once a week he stays late to disciple those that have committed their lives to the Lord.
He's seen a lot of fruit over the years. He often hears, "Cruz!" when he's recognized on the street by those who have been released, and many of them are still walking with the Lord.
Once, as he was escorting a prisoner away from the courtroom, where the man had been sentanced to an extremely long term, he said to Jim, "If it would have been anyone but you I would have gone off."
Cruz is Spanish for "cross". Pray for him as he shines the Light of The Cross in dark places.
The flight attendant was taking classes at the Charlotte, NC, campus of my seminary, Gordon-Conwell.
The guy I sat next to may hire Graceworks: http://GraceworksInc.com
Marvelous Divine Appointments that came through such great prayer coverage! Thanks so much!
My flight is still posting an on-time departure...and, on the 4 hour, 38 minute flight, "Beverages available for purchase." Thanks again, Joyce and Lord, for swinging the free upgrade to first class!
Keep praying for the flights! Thanks to the award-assisting free Wi-Fi (take a hint, airports that charge!) I see that the winter storm advisory is still in effect for Philadelphia & Chicago.
My brother and his wife run it as a sideline and as a place to sell their fine art. Right now my brother's photography is on display.
The little building used to be the dentistry office for the father of Doc Severenson, thus the bandleader's nickname.
Though I'm still bummed tonight and tomorrow have been my first two cancellations due to weather that I can remember in 13 years of doing this full-time, I did have a great time reconnecting with Ben Crisman (MWF '05) and Brandon Langeland (MWF '0?-'08).
Ben's sister, Katie, met with me to plan a retreat in January on the Oregon Coast, where I'll be performing A Clear Leading, among other things. Also, Ben and I are going to perform a piece I wrote in college in the late '80s.
Ben was there for a read through of our script and Brandon met us there.
As always it was an amazing MasterWorks reunion.
My brother and sister-in-law run an award-winning company called Lightbourne that creates book and CD covers and interiors as well as doing web site and ad design.
To get more exercise they bought a stationary bike with handles that could be adjusted to hold their laptop and a keyboard. They switch back and forth and each ride about two hours a day at an easy pace as they're prepping for the Mickey Marathon in Orlando next month.
The next step: wire it to generate electricity!
The good news is that we've already rescheduled performances for January: RichDrama.com/Itinerary.
Annapolis was our nation's capitol (and remains the capitol of MD). Their State House used to serve as the US Capitol Building.
The photo is by Dr. Timothy Beal, the pastor of Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, where I performed Views of the Manger: http://RichDrama.com/ViewsoftheManger. We attended one of their worship services this morning and I was so moved that if I weren't already a Christian I'm sure I would have given my life to the Lord today! One of the reasons I was so touched was that Dr. Beal's message was on Joseph, who's story is at the middle of the five-character play. So many of the points Dr. Beal made paralleled things in Views of the Manger that I knew would reinforce his message. The Lord set it up!
We were delighted that they focused on carols proclaiming the birth of Christ.
But I over-estimated what kind of shape I was in and let the leader drain me in that first km, but I managed to stay in 8th place and brought home a 2nd place medal for my age group. My time for the 5k course was 19:55, way off my college times, but I haven't raced at this distance since then, so I guess it wasn't too bad. Most of the run was on the Austin Peay State University campus. Their banners proudly encourage: "Go Peay!"
From Clarksville, TN
What an amazing place I found Clarksville to be. I often create albums separate from this blog when I visit foreign cities because I find myself taking so many photos. This is the first US city for which I've created a separate album. It's that picturesque. A lot of the photos are from their extensive Christmas lights: Clarksville, TN.
From Clarksville, TN
I had performances in Clarksville, TN, but I got to fly into Nashville, so I drove through Downtown to reminisce.
For my first visit I parked in this parking lot before hitting the town. It was on one of my first nation-wide tours and we'd driven a long way that day. My friend, Steve Prusko, and I took a nap so we'd be fresh for the sites. When we woke up everything was closed! We had to leave for a performance the next day, but I was able to return for a Compassion artists retreat at Michael W. Smith's ranch and to teach DJs a class called Theatre of the Mind at the Gospel Music Association.