later, Scott came home from work to find a marshy back yard and
floating fish. Who knew that they don’t like cold tap water?! Live
and learn. The good news is, we were able to find similar-looking
replacement fish for $0.79. As soon as we can teach Nemo #2 to
fetch, I don’t even think the owners will notice the difference.
serious news, we performed roughly 30 concerts (if you can call them
that) in 2005 as SoulWork Ministries. Granted, some venues were
quite small (i.e. The Luther Ridge Retirement Community cafeteria
lounge seats about 20, and the attendees tend to nap during the slow
parts of the show). Still, we were able to donate over $10,000 this
year as SoulWork Ministries for various charities supporting
education, health care and human rights. Believe us, sometimes
writing the checks was hard but we are so glad we did it! We’ll be
slowing down with concerts in 2006 as we try and figure out what
direction our nonprofit should take.
As for Gabby,
she started school again after 14 years to take a Statistics class (yucko!)
at the local community college. We are happy to report she passed
with flying colors! Unfortunately, her new-found statistics
knowledge has not made her any more interested in the useless,
trivial facts that Scott stores in his head.
Did you know
the shopping cart was invented in Oklahoma City, OK? Fascinating!
She was taking
the course because it is a prerequisite for the Masters in Social
Work at the University of Texas. Due to her intellectual prowess
and genuine can-do-anythingness, she was accepted into the program
for 2006! Ordinarily, she would jump at the chance to follow her
passion, but God had other plans.
As you can
tell by the photo above, those other plans involve the excitement,
intrigue, lifelong anxiety and brief-but-excruciating pain of
childbirth! That’s right, we are due to have our first baby in
March! Baby Boy Dannemiller is due to enter the world on March
30, 2006. He seems excited too and is kicking a lot to remind Mom
of our little miracle to come. As you might expect, Gabby vetoed
the large majority of Scott’s name suggestions, as they reminded her
of either a) nicknames for hoodlums in a 50’s biker gang, or b)
Harlem Globetrotters. (What’s wrong with Skeet or Ace, I say?)
Luckily, the list has been whittled down, though we won’t have the
final verdict until the kid shows up.
On the job
front, after a long and somewhat lazy search, Gabby got a job at
Meals on Wheels and More (MOWAM) as a part-time bilingual case
manager. MOWAM is a local non-profit that provides a nutritious
noontime meal to homebound people. Gabby’s job is to go to different
clients’ homes to see if they qualify for service and assist them
with other needs as they arise. What qualifies clients? Are they
homebound? Mentally or physically disable to the extent that they
can’t prepare meals? Are they alone during the day? Interestingly,
there is no income restriction and the service is free to all who
qualify. It’s an awesome organization, and she loves the work, even
though it cuts into her valuable social time. Her experience thus
far has been wonderful, and has given her a good perspective on
social work and the many nonprofit services available in the Austin
When she’s not
at MOWAM or school, Gabby also volunteers at SafePlace, a local
domestic violence shelter in Austin. Here families can find a safe
haven from abusers to restart their lives. It can be very sobering
but often it’s much more hopeful than depressing – seeing people
overcome their fear of failure and building a new confidence in
themselves. It makes her answering phones and working the security
gates seem like a valuable service to the community.
Scott has been
busy too -- don’t let him tell you otherwise. Besides the concerts,
he has been acting as the Music & Missions Director for a new church
development at Dripping Springs Presbyterian Church. He leads
worship each week with our friend and pastor, Nancy Marroquin and
has coordinated several community projects. It’s a great thing, as
it gives him a chance to write new music, and even give a sermon
every once in a while, though it’s less hellfire and brimstone and
more goofy stories with a rambling point (much like this letter).
missions front, Scott began a relationship between the church and
the local food pantry, Helping Hands. They’re a cool organization
that provides food and financial assistance to about 200 families
per year who need it most. He’s had folks participating in
fundraisers like the Empty Bowl project, food drives, and even a
Christmas gift-giving campaign called Project Elf.
All of this
wonderful work has been a true blessing, but it is a 100-mile round
trip, so Scott will be ending his service in January to seek
opportunities closer to home. He’s looking forward to getting
involved with a local nonprofit that teaches English classes to
immigrant workers at their job site. It’s through a program called
English at Work. Now, if he can only remember how to say
“screwdriver” in Spanish, he might actually be a useful teacher.
Scott took a leadership role in raising money to support folks in
Guatemala who recently suffered devastating losses due to Hurricane
Stan. Over 200,000 people were displaced many of whom lost their
home and their jobs due to massive flooding of their home and the
agricultural fields where they work. In partnership with CESSMAQ, a
Presbyterian Social Outreach organization, we are looking to support
the rebuilding of 33 communities in the Western Highlands of
Guatemala. If you are in town on January 29th at 6:30pm,
swing by the 290 West Café in Austin. Scott and “The Church Band”
will be opening for Ruthie Foster for a benefit concert. All
proceeds go to the relief efforts. If you drop a few bucks into the
donation bucket, you might even get Scott to throw you a sweaty
towel or guitar pick as a souvenir. They’re HOTTTTT on E-bay!
As far as a
job, Cornerstone Learning and Development is up and running again,
and things are going well enough that Gabby should be able to stay
home with the baby (so long as grocery stores still sell Ramen
noodles and Vienna Sausages). Scott has decided his favorite boss,
besides the big guy upstairs, is himself. As a corporate
trainer/consultant he will have more flexibility (he can almost
touch his toes) and more time with family. Though the job will
require him to travel from time-to-time, when he is not on the road,
he can work from home (and help clean up all of the things that come
out of either end of a newborn kid).
We traveled a
lot to visit family this year. In March we were in Nashville and
then to Ohio to welcome in our newest nephew, Jackson Kubo Brand.
Gabby got some good baby practice with the newborn and stayed for 2
weeks to help out Kerri.
Scott ran his
first 5-mile race in Nashville over Thanksgiving where he came in 20th
in his age group, jus behind all runners from Kenya and Namibia
(he’s wishes!). Gabby, on the other hand, enjoyed the views while
chatting with her friend Nancy as they walked and searched for a
port-o-potty on a construction site at mile 4. All were rewarded
afterward with a giant Thanksgiving Day feast later that day.
participated in two wonderful weddings this year. Congratulations
to Brian & Rebekah McDonough and David & Carla Taylor. Both are
cause for much celebration. Scott stood in Brian’s wedding and
Gabby in Carla’s. The October wedding date gave us a little bit of
a scare when Gabby’s alterations lady told her two weeks before the
wedding that “the dress will not zip”. With much determination,
some help from the baby and backup pliers in hand, the dress was a
snug fit on the big day. It was an extra-special occasion, as Scott
got to officiate the wedding. With a little help from lenient Texas
marriage laws and ordination via the First International Church Of
The Web (no lie), Carla and David were pronounced husband and wife.
If any of you are lookin’ to get hitched, just give him a call! He
even has the ordination certificate of authenticity and a laminated
wallet card to prove it!
We hope the
year has been as wonderful for all of you as it has been for us. We
are confident God was present in your lives - lighting the way for
each of your paths. We are so very grateful for the love and
friendship that each of you has given to us this year and pray each
of you will be blessed in this coming new year.
With Love, Los