Happy 2021

I will start this year I have started some years… With our Christmas letter from the year which just closed behind us.


HIHI

What a year we have had! I’m sure you’re tired of hearing that expression. Yes, we have had an unprecedented year where the world was held captive by something which can only be seen under a microscope, and we found our lives dictated by the rise and fall of the number of people infected by this virus called Covid-19.

But that’s not all that happened, the year is not all about the pandemic. Under these strange and difficult circumstances, lives were still lived. We hope and pray that your year has been filled with more good moments than bad ones. At this Christmas time, let us think about the small precious gifts of a positive word, a smile shared, a heart warmed, a Saviour come to earth.

In 2020, we have carried on with life as best we could.

Sandra went, on her own, in January, to visit her family in Singapore because her father had been very unwell and in hospital for many months. Walter and Tobias, along with Lexi, managed quite well by themselves for 10 days. It was good for Sandra to have been able to spend this time with her family as she tried to help as best she could in that short time. The good news is that Sandra’s father was discharged shortly after she returned to Switzerland. While he did spend more time at the hospital in August, he is now better and at home. We would like to especially thank family and friends who have so helpful and supportive through this tough time.

At the end of February, our church welcomed our new pastor and his wife, but 2 weeks after that, lockdown happened. Everyone had to find new ways of doing things. It really makes you realise the things we take for granted, such as the ability to meet whoever we want whenever we want. It makes you miss simple things like walking into a store without worrying about the limit on the number of persons allowed inside.

Being shut-in gave us the opportunity to learn and polish skills such as mask-making and baking. Walter worked from home and Tobias attended classes online. For Sandra, home was always where she worked at, so being home is the norm for her. However, we did have to find a new rhythm of working and playing as there were now 3 persons in the house all the time; each with a need to have their own space and time to do what needed to be done. One family member did absolutely love having all at home – Lexi! She could run from person to person all day along to get the attention she wanted. She is a happy girl and fills our days with joy, barks, cuddles and laughs.

Tobias spent his 16th birthday at home as everything was closed but we made birthday cupcakes and delivered them to his friends. Then at the end of July, when restrictions were eased, we were able to celebrate with a paintball afternoon with some of his friends. A rather painful but fun experience.

Walter went from travelling a lot for work to working from home, to working short-time; where the office was officially closed for a couple of days a week, pay was pro-rated to save the company money. Then in September, he went back to the office 100%. But that was short-lived and now he is working from home a couple of days a week. It’s worth noting that this is the first time in all the years Sandra and Walter have been together where Walter is NOT constantly flying off for work.

We thank God that almost everyone we know has remained healthy, although a few did test positive in Tobias’ class and he had to quarantine for 14 days at the start of November.

Tobias is now in the second year of Gymnasium (junior college in Singapore) and seems to be enjoying his classes and time with his friends. Unfortunately, he has not been able to play squash for several months now. His squash teacher is in the at-risk group so he has stopped teaching. Tobias is thankful that his violin lessons have carried on as that’s done through his school.

Church went from being online in March to being in-person again from the beginning of summer but with limited numbers in the sanctuary and online streaming. The work to rewrite the church constitution, which Sandra was involved in, was paused during lockdown but restarted in June and we are glad that it has been successfully concluded with the church adopting the new constitution in November. Sunday School classes are also functioning again; Tobias attends the teen class. The Sunday School even managed a fundraiser for missions in the last couple of months. Walter continues his work with the worship team and eldership, as well as helping our new pastor to settle into his role in these unusual times.

Another church member and Sandra had arranged for a speaker to come and give a seminar about Revelations 2-3 but it had to be moved online due to Covid restrictions which prevented the speaker from flying in. It was slightly stressful and quite educational to have to make adjustments and coordinate such an event.

Speaking of flying, we could not go to Singapore for our annual visit in summer this year because while there were flights, we would have had to quarantine for 14 days on arrival and in a specific quarantine facility, which would then leave only a week to see family and friends. So we stayed here and did a couple of overnight trips to nearby cities in Germany.

So much upheaval in 2020 and maybe life will not go back to exactly what it was pre-pandemic, but the one constant in our lives is God; Jesus has been, is, and will be with us through all our ups and downs and we are so thankful for that. We pray that you have been able to and will continue to see His Love manifest in your life always.

Faith makes all things possible,
Hope makes all things work,
Love makes all things beautiful.
May you have all three this Christmas and always.

Do keep in touch and let us know what’s happening for you.

With love,

Walter, Sandra, Tobias and Lexi


Blessed Christmas!

i know i’m 3 days late but there are 12 days to Christmas, right?

Wishing you and your loved ones a most blessed Christmas and may 2021 be a peaceful and healthy year!

syc

Book Review: Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar

I chose to read this book because I am interested in history, especially of Asian countries and this book promised a different perspective of a very significant time in India’s history; a time when Gandhi started his campaign towards India’s independence from British rule.

I had read a bit and heard much about what Gandhi had done and how he advocated for civil disobedience as a non-violent way to make his point. But it was always from an adult perspective and usually from a rather politically-one-sided recount of various different events.

Kelkar made a ten-year-old girl, Anjali, the centre of the story and we see how the independence movement affected her and her family; how it confused her and turned her world upside down, how she coped with all the conflicting emotions within herself and the incomprehensible reaction of her best friend, who was a Muslim.

As we walk through the story with Anjali, we learn how these historical events affected the lives of the ordinary people and how the caste system was very much a part of life in India. We also see what might be the motivation of different people who joined the independence movement, also how political will, even if it seems to be for the greater good, might not translate into immediate benefit for every citizen.

All these are written in an easy to understand language yet Kelkar kept a good pace which maintained my interest in not just Anjali’s story but also in the lives of the people around her and in the outcome for Anjali and her family and also for India as a whole.

I think this book is a great way to introduce middle-graders to what might have otherwise been a very serious and complicated historical event.

Have you read other historically based books which you would recommend?

syc