66 St Denis Road, Birmingham B29 4LR, UK Tel:+44 (0)7979 811 809
Dear family and friends
This year has flown and it is time to bring you my annual news, a tradition of over twenty years! After a tough 2015 with prostate cancer treatment, my health has returned to ‘normal’ and my blood PSA is still low, PTL. But now my attention has moved to increasing pain through osteoarthritis in my left ankle, the one that was not operated on in 2014! The orthopaedic surgeon will try me on an injection first in the hope of avoiding surgery again.
I was on study leave this year, first spending almost five months at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, where I shared a weekly graduate teaching seminar on World Christianity with the renowned Professor Lamin Sanneh. I was Senior Mission Scholar in Residence at the Overseas Ministries Study Center, a short walking distance from the Yale Divinity School, where I led a three day seminar for the scholars there (mostly Presbyterian Korean missionaries) and gave two public lectures. Because of misinformation provided on my need for a work visa, I had to leave the US after three months for a week in April when my friend Michael Wilkinson arranged for me to take a graduate seminar. I stayed with Michael and his family in Langley, BC and I also had opportunity to visit with Cam and Marg Connor, my aunt and uncle. Tragically, on the morning I left BC Michael and Val’s 19-year-old son Alex, died of an accidental drug overdose. Michael took me to Vancouver Airport early on 13 April and he discovered Alex on his return home. I learned the devastating news in a short note from Michael when I reached Boston that afternoon.
My trip to Boston was twofold: to visit with my former doctoral promoter Inus Daneel, now 80, and his wife Dana Robert. Inus had suffered a brain aneurism recently, but we had wonderful times together and it was very special to talk with him again after a very long time. Dana had also invited me to give a lecture at Boston University, which I did on the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth, 14 April 1916. Then I returned to by train to New Haven for the last few weeks that included the annual workshop of the Oxford Studies in World Christianity (where my 2013 To the Ends of the Earth is published). This was followed by a happy few days’ visit to my sister Carol on Pine Island, SW Florida, with her husband Randy, my niece Janine and great-nieces Samantha and Sarah. Carol had just taken retirement the day I arrived. Then back to Birmingham for a few weeks in May and June, interrupted by a conference in Uppsala, Sweden.
The next event in July and August was a research trip to Soshanguve near Pretoria, where I followed up on my research of twenty years ago, in preparation for my new book The Spirit in a Spirit-filled World, contracted for publication by Palgrave-Macmillan. My study leave was supposed to get this finished but with all the other things I had to do, I now hope to complete the book by April 2017. It was also great to catch up with family and friends. Matt was with me for the first two of three weeks, and among other things we made a three day visit to Pilanesberg National Park. One of the highlights was a reunion with around twenty of the graduates of Tshwane Theological College on my final Saturday, where I was principal 1988-95. I had not seen most of them for over twenty years, and we had all changed slightly!
I was back in the office in September in preparation for a busy semester teaching. Nine of my PhD researchers are in the final stages of their thesis writing. Three of them have now submitted and passed their examinations in the past three months pending corrections, and others will submit in the next few months. My total PhD researchers will drop from seventeen to eight when they have all got through and I will have 44 PhD graduates by then. I have three new supervisees this year from Ghana, Kosova/US, and China. I now have to think and plan towards retirement in the next few years, probably in 2019 or 2020 when my financial commitments will have eased.
Matt hopes to complete his PhD in biochemistry (cancer research) at the University of Bristol by March, and has been busy sequestered in his room writing for the past three months since he returned home to save money! He wants to find a postdoctoral research post in Bristol, where his Spanish girlfriend will be working from February. Tami still works at the Hilton Hotel and has just moved into her own comfortable one bedroom flat, which she has been busy furnishing. We will again have Christmas Eve together, as Tami has to work on Christmas Day this year.
We wish you a blessed, peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.
With love from us all,
Allan, Matt & Tami