Dear St. Paul’s family,

This week I will give thanks to God for my first six years of ministry with you. This is without a doubt the best job I’ve ever had, and of course it’s much more than a job. One of the many reasons I am grateful is that our church recognizes that the work of a parish priest is demanding, even relentless, as we accompany our people through all the most profound moments of their lives. So the church provides for periodic sabbatical leave, times of extended rest and renewal or a dramatic change of scene.
I will be taking some sabbatical leave this year, starting with the month of March which I will spend in Costa Rica. As you may know, I have been taking Spanish lessons for four years, and I took over as pastor of our Spanish-speaking parishioners last July. The purpose of the trip is to take my Spanish fluency to the next level. I am going on my own but will take group language classes five days a week and will stay with a local family. I will spend two weeks in the capital, San Jose, and two weeks at Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. I hope to do some sightseeing on the weekends, as Costa Rica has much to offer.
I am excited about visiting this beautiful country and about becoming more comfortable in Spanish. I’m also apprehensive about spending a month in a strange country where I know nobody. I will miss all of you, too! I have been in touch with the office of the Anglican bishop there and will spend some time visiting with our Anglican cousins. I hope to come back with lots of good stories.
I leave on February 28 and return on March 30, just in time for the final preparations for Holy Week and Easter. It will be a very different Lent from any other that I have experienced.
Meanwhile, who’s minding the store back home? Our wonderful staff team, led by Jeff, Brooks, and Kathleen, will take care of you. Kathleen will monitor my emails.  We have lined up clergy to help on Sundays, especially with the Spanish service. As two of our regular assisting clergy will be away at the same time, we will likely have to reduce the schedule of weekday Eucharist services: stay tuned for notices about that. I am grateful to the diocese for giving me a grant to help with expenses including supply clergy.
Later in the year I will take some time in June, not for another extended trip but for rest and refreshment: more about that when my plans are firmer.
I am confident that my ministry will benefit from the time away, and I am grateful for your support of this important element of clergy wellness. I hope you will keep me in your prayers.
Your sister in Christ,
Penny

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