(This is the first and only Christmas Letter I have sent out from 2007. Obviously, a lot has changed! Maybe I'll do another one this year.)
We would like to wish you a very blessed Advent and Christmas season!
2007 was quite a year for us! The four of us traveled to Egypt for five weeks in the summer. It was my parents’ first time back in 30 years and the first time for my sister and I. If you want more details, I have ample stories and pictures to share. My parents were able to visit their friends and we were able to meet them and visit our family. The trip had its ups and downs, but it was good to visit despite the hardships we witnessed. The trip gave us stronger sense of gratitude for the good life we live in the United States, truly the land of the free.
My dad is still enjoying his medical practice and we still get to see him every weekend. At work, he is in charge of the Depression Championship, designed to help people gain more insight into the roots of their psychological issues. He finds comfort in being able to share his Christian spirituality with his patients. Lastly, my dad is gathering a group of friends and acquaintances to help an Italian priest. The priest is living in Cairo and is dedicated to helping the poorest Christians in Egypt living in the Haret el Zabaleen (the trash district).
My mother is still hopping back and forth from Bakersfield to Simi Valley! She’s a very busy lady what with her daughters traveling all over the country, trying to keep track of us is a lot of work. She is also still active in our home parish, St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Simi Valley, Ca. She is part of two Bible studies and an active member of the Bereavement team. I am always very impressed by the fact that she is able to attend so many funerals during the year and be a source of comfort and grace for those who have lost their loved ones.
Nicole left her life in beautiful Costa Mesa, CA and a great business-consulting job to pursue a master’s degree in Liberal Arts/Philosophy at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. It is a Western Classics program; a cross-section of philosophy, theology, and political science. The classes are Socratic method (no lecturing) and only primary sources are read. While living on the East Coast, she is able to participate in the John Witherspoon Society, which both she and I are members, since our knighting as fellows under the Order of St. George in the fall of 2005 and 2004, respectively.
As for myself, I still fly around all over the country for my job. Thanks to my fabulous mother and friends Jasmin and Rebekah, I made some nice holiday weekends out of them. I was able to visit a lot of our family and friends. I also started taking theology classes at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, via their Distance Learning program. Maybe in 10 years, I’ll have a master’s degree. I have also gotten involved in a Catholic charismatic community called City of the Lord. I have been hoping and praying for such a group. Lastly, I moved into an apartment in Simi Valley with my good friend Rebekah. I’m loving my closet space, and being only 10 minutes from my parents.
With love, affection, and gratitude for you,
Simone & The Rizkallah Family
May the Lord bless each and every one of you in 2008!