Wednesday, December 10, 2008


How quickly this year has passed! Once again we are receiving wonderful letters, emails and cards from our family and friends. In this brief letter we want to renew that link with some we have known all or most of our lives, as well as with those whose journeys along life’s path have only recently shared with ours’. We trust that this Christmas and new year will be a time of joyful celebration, reflection and refreshment for you.

We want to take this opportunity to thank God for another year, in which we have been well and able to continue making contributions to our community, and our family. We value simple pleasures around our home and garden, and I (Joy) enjoy Thursday morning tennis when I can.

Noel has continued his work focus in the Aitex business, as well as fulfilling the commitments as Session Clerk at our Church. I have enjoyed another year of midwifery practice, including teaching and mentoring, and volunteer work with mothers and babies in peer support groups. Any work commitment can be deeply demanding at a personal level, and we value the support and love we receive and give within our dear family.

Recently I have worked on a fairly ambitious project to place family photos and historical records on the Internet. I have set up a series of blog sites, each one focusing on a line within our families. This work does not require a high level of technological skill, and blogs are free to set up. I have enjoyed the challenge of collecting and displaying family photos and information. Links to the various blogs can be accessed from

We are hoping to be with our young ones for Christmas dinner in Bendigo. We hope to have a family photo to add to this letter, which will be stored with other annual letters at the family blog.

We look forward to contact with all our dear family and friends, whether it’s a phone call or a cup of tea, or a longer visit.
With our love
Noel and Joy Johnston

PLUS a couple of pictures of Grandpa and Granny in action.

Monday, December 8, 2008


As we join each year in the celebration of Christ’s birth, the annual letter has become a moment in which we reflect on the year that has passed, and look forward to the coming year. We remember our first family Christmas letter, sent from Michigan USA in 1973, complete with a picture of Noel and me proudly holding our baby Miriam. Over the years that picture has developed, as you know, and this year we are delighted to include our new son-in-law, Alistair Gray, who married our lovely Rebecca earlier this month.

The other highlights for us in the year past include visiting family members in Queensland and New South Wales, as well as being able to welcome loved ones into our home. We enjoyed our month of relaxation and refreshment in January, driving long distances across this vast sunburnt country.

This year Noel’s mother Lily, who is 95, has moved from her own home into residential aged care. Although frail, she is looking well, and enjoys outings to special events and family meals.

Noel continues his work in our company Aitex, as well as being Session Clerk in the Church. I have been privileged to continue in midwifery, attending two or three births a month; most in the home. This year I have increased my role in facilitating peer support groups for new mothers.

This sort of letter would be incomplete without a brief mention of our young ones – each precious to us. Miriam lives in Sydney; and works as Project Officer in a government health service. Rebecca and Alistair are setting up home in Bendigo, and Bec has transferred her employment to Bendigo. Paul, Leanne, and Poppy (who is a dear 3 ½ year old) live in Boronia, at the foot of Mount Dandenong. Josh and Anna have returned after a wonderful short-term mission experience in Cambodia, and are settling into new jobs.

Last month we celebrated Noel’s sixtieth birthday, and are thankful to God for his health. Our prayer is for wisdom as we go about our daily tasks, and the unexpected challenges that come from time to time, and for strength sufficient for each day.

With our love and prayers for God’s continued blessing on you,

Noel and Joy


12 December 2006

If it’s true that a picture is worth more than 1000 words, I’m sure you will appreciate the value of a picture, rather than a long letter. This shows most of us at the recent wedding of Noel’s niece Francine Collier to Guy Jeffrey from Perth. (Miriam was not able to come to Melbourne at the time, and Poppy was being cared for at home.)

For several years now we have valued your prayers on major health problems faced by both Noel and Paul. We are thankful to God for the measure of good health that we have had this past year, and thank you for your support.

Noel and I are planning to ‘go bush’ for this coming January, and are looking forward to a complete change of pace. We haven’t had a month away from home and work duties, since school days! We are planning to stay at ‘Euthulla’, a property owned by the Clarks at Roma.

Noel is continuing with his business interest, treating farm water with Chlorine Dioxide. My commitment to midwifery continues, and my hope for reform of maternity services keeps me professionally active. Christmas is a time of great energising in my line of work, as I ponder birth at its purest and best. I could write many words about the story as we have it in Scriptures, and as I know from an understanding of the natural processes, and how that informs and guides midwifery practice.

Please let us know when you are coming to Melbourne. We would love to see you, and share a meal or just a cuppa with you.


From our letter ...
December 2005
This year’s photo brings you smiles from Noel and our darling wee Poppy who has sweetly taught us a new dimension of love. They were helping stir the Christmas cake, which has now been baked. A tree has been beautifully decorated, and a pudding is hanging up to dry. Our curious collection of old and new traditions that come together for the Christmas lunch all contribute to a very special occasion.

Noel has recently taken an extra responsibility in the Church as the Session Clerk. I (Joy) enjoy singing in the choir, but my professional duties sometimes take me elsewhere. I have been blessed over and over again in being ‘with woman’ in the birth of their little ones, usually in their own homes. As I grow older I find being called out at night more draining on my energy, but it’s a joy for me to be able to do this work. It’s great when your work is also your passion.

We are well, and thankful for (fairly) good health. Our days are shared between our jobs and family matters, with Paul, Leanne and Poppy being the ‘upstairs family’ and sharing our home. Paul’s health has improved since he had surgery and radiation therapy earlier this year. Thankyou to all who have prayed for Paul, and for all of us in this difficult time. We hope for continued recovery.


December 2003

Our dear loved ones
As we approach another Christmas celebration our hearts are thankful for the many wonderful people with whom we share parts of our lives. We can say with thanks to God that we have, in the past year, experienced more and more “how great is the love the Father has lavished upon us.” (1John 3:1)

We are thankful for health and strength to do our daily work. Noel has continued in good health, since a couple of severe set-backs a year ago. Noel’s business is becoming more established, and Joy has continued her midwifery practice, despite obstacles. (you may read something about stubbornness here!)

We are thankful for our wonderful daughters, Miriam and Bec. We continue to learn from them as they develop their skills.

We are thankful for Paul; for his recovery, and for the provision of good jobs. We are thankful for Josh and his delightful fiancée Anna.
Our lives have been very blessed.

May the Lord continue to bless you and to make you a blessing to others.


The year 2004 has been special to us as a family. We have happily welcomed two new members: a grand daughter, and a new daughter-in-law. In June, Poppy Isabella Johnston was born to Paul and Leanne, with midwife Joy in attendance. Poppy is a delight to us all.

Last week Josh and Anna (Rosen) were married. It was a lovely Melbourne day, and Josh and Anna looked radiant. Both families are very proud of them.

The wedding was a good reason for all five of Joy’s sisters to come here from Queensland and northern New South Wales, as well as a number of Josh’s cousins.
I (Noel) was able to briefly visit China where I went to a village area with a friend.

We thank God for the health and strength He has given us and for the opportunities to help others.


Loving greetings from the Johnston family in Blackburn South
December 2002


Each year over the past three decades, as we have crafted a brief annual report to our small group of friends and relations, there has been a sameness about it all. We have been an ordinary Australian family, with young ones growing up, living in an ordinary house in an ordinary suburb, and having pretty ordinary jobs (or not having, as it goes). We have experienced the usual highs and lows that are to be expected, but on the whole, life has been good to us.

As we face a new year there is a new sense of gratitude in our hearts to God, that we can report that we are sound in body and mind.

Noel has recovered well from the stroke he experienced in July, and is working ‘full time’. He has regular medical checks to try to prevent a recurrence of the clotting problems he experienced, and looks just as fit and strong as in the past.

Paul is recovering from the surgery he had last month to remove a brain tumor. He will need regular checks, but the prognosis is said to be good. A couple of his uni exams have been deferred, and he plans to sit them in January. Paul and his fiancée, Leanne Kay, plan to be married in March at the Gold Coast.

Miriam is living in Perth, keeping up with her ‘day job’, providing physiotherapy support services to children with disabilities, and her ‘other’ job using voice and violin to lead the music ministry in her Church. Rebecca is now in a position as Senior Landscape Architect for an engineering firm, and is active in her Church. Josh has enjoyed a good year at university, studying computer science, and is committed in the student ministry of the Christian Union, as well as a local Church. He also had a brief visit to Kunming in Yunnan Province in South China, visiting friends who are linguists working on a dictionary.

I (Joy) don’t know what to say about myself! Having spent the past decade practising as the ‘village midwife’, working closely with women who are taking up the challenges of motherhood and family, I can say that I have been in a wonderfully privileged position. However there are now big questions about future independent midwifery practice. This is as a result of the insurance crisis, in that no insurance is available, coupled with a new government policy mandating insurance for all health professionals. I am not taking any new clients at present. I continue to sit on the Nurses Board of Victoria, and am doing my best to protect the scope of midwifery practice.

Noel and I plan to celebrate thirty years of married life in January. Some of you were with us at Windsor as we exchanged our vows. We thank all who have stood by us in prayer over the years, and particularly lately with your messages of love and concern.

May God’s blessing and encouragement be yours in this Holy season, and in days to come.

With love,


The children and spouses and (most of the) grandchildren of Frank and Ella White.

Cousins at the White family reunion, Mt Tamborine, Qld.

21 December 2001
This letter comes with our love, and as an expression of our thanks to you for the contribution of dear friends and loved ones in our life's journey. We have been blessed during the past year, and over many years, with a very wonderful family and group of friends.
Our four young ones continue to bring us much joy, as they take up their chosen fields of work, and mature roles in our society. We treasure our time with them, and the trust they they place in us as parents, and sometimes as confidants and mentors.

Noel has continued to pursue the establishment of business that focuses on water treatment with the chemical Chlorine Dioxide. ...

My work (Joy) in midwifery and through writing and political activity has continued to be enjoyable and very challenging. I believe I have been given a special role in the reform and improvement of maternity services.

The sudden and unexpected home-call of my dad soon after his 90th birthday brought us to a time of sadness combined with rejoicing. Our family reunion in October was a wonderful and memorable time. One ongoing project is the establishment of a family homepage on our website - it contains some documents and photographs which we treasure.
We wish you God's peace and strength as we move together into the new year and new opportunities in 2002.


December 2000
Loving greetings at this festive season, as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

The photo on the front of this homemade card is our most recent family portrait - taken 12 months ago.

The year 2000 has flashed by, with hardly a dull moment! Joy has been well occupied in her midwifery practice, and related political and professional activities. She has been appointed to the Nurses Board of Victoria, which has the statutory duty to 'protect the public', through registration of nurses and midwives, and dealing with complaints.

Noel's endeavours to establish a new business seem to be reaching a positive conclusion ... we believe that his long period of under-employment will soon come to an end.

"Never shone a light so fair,
Never fell a sweeter song
as the chorus in the air
chanted by the angel throng.
Ev'ry star took up the story:
"Christ is come, the Prince of glory,
come in humble hearts to dwell.
God with us, God with us
God with us, Immanuel."

F J Crosby


[Please click on picture to enlarge it]


January 2000
A memory from my childhood is writing letters to Grandma or to family friends. I remember starting with the same words each time:
"Dear Grandma, I hope you are well. We are all well."
As I 'grew up' I decided that sort of letter was too childish. Now I am close to 50 years old, I am returning to the essence of that statement:
"We care about you, and we want you to know that we are OK."

Our children have grown and each is living an increasingly independent and individual life. It would be difficult for me to write a brief report on each. I hope the photograph tells you something of who they are, and that each of the four is treasured and respected within our family unit, and within their circle of friends.

Noel and I have continued to work through the changes that have confronted us since he was retrenched from his University job. While continuing to search for appropriate employment Noel has provided invaluable service to us, and to his mother, and has worked consistently within our Church.

In many ways Noel's lack of paid employment has enabled me (forced me?) to advance more in my professional activities. I had, for many years, seen myself primarily as the home maker, with midwifery being my outside interest - along with painting, patchwork, gardening, and other simple delights. That has changed to the point where my time is now fully committed to midwifery - a couple of births each month, and many other professional commitments. The more homely interests are luxuries that I engage in when time and energy allow. If you want to know more about midwifery, please go to my website.
We are grateful to God for good health and strength, for provision for all our needs, and for family and friends with whom we share this journey.


This is the letter and photo from 1996.



1988 - 1990



Noel grew an impressive beard.

Josh began his musical studies.



Joy worked night shifts at the Royal Women's Hospital through the 1980s.


Josh with cousins Michelle and Francine Collier.




We welcomed Josh into our family.


Miriam, Rebecca and Paul


Paul with his Great Grandma White at Redland Bay.

We came home via Hawaii!


Our little family grew again with Paul's birth.

Excerpt from our letter to our parents, 31 December 1977
From 703-202 Cherry Lane, East Lansing, Michigan 48823 USA

"It seems that this will be our second last letter home from here [Michigan]. I don't quite know how we are going to do all the packing, but at least the thesis is shaping up nicely. Noel is working on it now. ...
"When we arrive in Melbourne it seems now that we will try to find some place to base ourselves until we can find a house or apratment to rent. We should not be too tired, as we will have good sleeps in Hawaii Wed-Thurs nights, leave Friday after midnight (we may be able to have a late check-out from the motel) and be in the air for about 10 hours. We miss Saturday completely, and land in Sydney 8.15am, leave at 9.30am and arrive Melbourne 10.15am on Qantas flight 4. By the time we are through Customs and collect our baggage it will probably be around noon. We will be ready for lunch and a sleep, I'm sure. Noel will go back to work the next day. I am trusting the Lord to give me the help I need for the children and all that has to be done. I can't really plan it, because I can't really visualize what it will be like. It will be great to have Mum & Dad J when they can come.
"One little word to all the family - we do not buy lollies for ourselves or our children, and we would appreciate you all supporting us in this. Acceptable treats for the girls woudl be nuts, dried fruits, or fresh fruits. In our family these are "God's candy". We have read so many medical reports on the adverse effects of excess refined sugar on general health as well as the teeth."



Rebecca Amy joined our little family in May. My mother, Ella White, came to stay with us, and is photographed here holding baby Rebecca, just prior to her baptism.