Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends and Family:

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
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