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British Expat Newsletter:
5 January 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter. In the light of the tsunami catastrophe we felt it inappropriate to stick with our usual lighthearted style and content, so this newsletter follows a rather different format than normal.

In this issue

  • This week: Tsunami disaster
  • Aid agencies
  • Short Story
  • Next Week…
  • Quotation and poem

This week

There can be only one subject for this newsletter – the tsunami catastrophe on 26 December.

The first we knew of it was when we started receiving emails from friends who knew we were in Thailand and were anxious to know if we were OK. Based as we are on the Bay of Bangkok, we were far away from the Indian Ocean and had no inkling of what had happened. It quickly became clear that there had been a major disaster, and the numbers of deaths have continued to spiral ever since.

It’s almost impossible to imagine human misery on such a scale, and I can’t begin to find words adequate for it. One of our newest forum members in Sri Lanka has posted a very powerful and moving message which looks at the way the tragedy has shown some of the best and, sadly, the worst in human nature – and calls on us all to choose how to respond to the challenge.

Aid agencies

The BBC has listed agencies who are working to provide aid to the disaster-hit areas:

If you’re planning to donate, please be very careful to do so via a recognised agency. Sadly, but predictably, there are many scams around.

Short story

The Carpenter’s House

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family.

He would miss the pay cheque, but he needed to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favour. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter.  “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”

What a shock!  What a shame!  If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized that we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity. The plaque on the wall says, “Life is a do-it-yourself project.” Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

(Author unknown)

Next Week

We plan to go back to our usual newsletter format next week, including all our usual humorous stuff.

Till next time…



“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

– Dale Carnegie, author (1888-1955)


For obvious reasons, we’re not including a joke in this issue. Here’s an inspirational poem instead.


There will be storms, child
There will be storms
And with each tempest
You will seem to stand alone
Against cruel winds

But with time, the rage and fury
Shall subside
And when the sky clears
You will find yourself
Clinging to someone
You would have never known
But for storms.

– Margie DeMerell

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