i realised i forgot to post my Christmas Letter 2014… so here it is:
How are you? We hope this finds you well and enjoying this holiday season together with family and friends; remembering that the reason for the season is Christ our Lord!
In last year’s letter, I said 2013 was about stepping up to changes. Well, 2014 is also about stepping; stepping OUT into new things / roles.
Let’s start with the biggest and most recent news of the 2014 – we bought an apartment! Yep, a home to call our own. It’s a nice little 3 bedroom place with a large open concept living / dining / kitchen area, on the ground floor of a sweet little 1930s house, with a small garden at the back. We got the keys middle of December and plans are to move in near the end of January.
Last year Sandra talked about setting up an online shop to continue her support of special needs orphans. Well, it happened! On 21st March 2014, Angel Crafts Shop was opened! Check out the website at www.angelcraftsshop.com and let us know what you think. Sales has been okay for a first year. She hopes it will pick up in the coming year so more can be given to the orphans.
Sandra also started an internship at the local playgroup in our village as part of her Playgroup Leaders course which she started in 2013. It was once a week for 2 hours. There were stressful times but overall it was a wonderful experience and she learn a lot. The lady who so kindly allowed her to intern there is great and very supportive, so much so, Sandra has an opportunity to start an English-speaking playgroup right here in our village in the coming year! Stay tuned!
Tobias has stepped out into many new things too. He has taken up Unihockey since February and Squash since August. Which means he is no longer doing Judo, but it’s okay, he much prefers these 2 sports he is involved in now, even though there is a steep learning curve for both. And for the last 10 months or so, Tobias has also been going to a Chinese class every Saturday morning during the school term with one of his best friends. This has really helped keep his interest in Mandarin and he is doing quite well in it, even thought he doesn’t yet speak it fluently.
Walter had a difficult start to 2014. He was quite seriously ill, losing lots of weight quite suddenly. And for a while the doctors didn’t know why. After weeks, they finally diagnosed Hyper-thyroid. Now he is on meds and doing much better. But to be so ill was very new for him and we are all so glad he is in a stable condition now and back to normal, or better to say a new normal, as he has to be on these meds daily for a couple of years at least.
Walter has a new role in church – he was nominated and elected an elder in our church. We are still unsure as to how this will impact us as a family but we look forward to be of service to people in our community.
And as a family, together with our church, we have come along side some dear friends (whom Sandra got to know through orphan advocacy) to aid them in their work with special needs orphans in Ukraine. The Johnsons arrived in Ukraine just a couple of weeks before the riots and uprising of November 2013 broke out. They stayed through it all because they knew God wanted them there. Our church stepped up to support them financially and recently, through serving a Thanksgiving dinner to about 40 persons, we raised enough to get them a van so they can continue their work (their means of transport up till now was very difficult to arrange for). So proud of how our church pulled together for this wonderful event! Read more on their website http://www.wideawakeinternational.org
On a sad note, yes there is at least one a year, one of our 4 mice passed away while we were in Singapore in August. Ruby, the little albino one, passed away without warning. It was sad that Tobias and Sandra could not be here. At least, Walter was able to bury her next to our 2 Gerbils who passed the year before. And Patch, Patches and Sam carry on strong and healthy.
With regards to our travels as a family, we had to forgo a ski trip to Austria due to Walter’s illness but made up for it by taking a short few days rest in April on the island of Majorca in Spain. It was warm and lovely. We were there before peak season, so it wasn’t overly crowded which is great cos we were there for R&R and nothing more.
Then of course, we made our annual pilgrimage to Singapore to be with family and friends and eat ourselves silly 😉 It was nice to explore a new neighbour since my in-laws moved into a smaller place but at a more convenient location.
And in October, a couple of friends from Singapore were going to be in Venice and asked us to join them which we did, for 4 days in Venice! It was the fulfillment of Sandra’s dream to visit this enchanting city before it is lost to the waters. Lots of walking but well-worth it!
Walter still travels a fair bit for work – this year mostly to South Africa and around Europe. And of course, he still enjoys his work. Worship-leading is still part of his responsibility at church, when he isn’t traveling.
Tobias continues to enjoy school but he is learning that friendships and social interaction can be complicated. We try our best to help him understand and navigate these gray waters. His violin lessons are going well and he has done a few concerts with the ensemble this year.
Sandra still teaches at Sunday School and continues to advocate for special needs orphans.
Well, that’s it from us.
Wishing you a most Blessed Christmas and an Amazing New Year!
Please do stay in touch and let us know what has been happening for you.
walter, sandra & tobias