Looking Back at 2018… Forward at 2019…

It’s 5 days into 2019! Wow! It’s not too late to look back at 2018 and share some thoughts and memories, right?

Here’s our annual Christmas letter from 2018:

HiHi

How are you? Hope this finds you and your family well and enjoying the festive season together, remembering that the reason for Christmas is CHRIST.

2018 has been a fairly emotionally intense year for us. We said a number of sad farewells to family and friends who are now with our Lord in Heaven.

At the end of March, on Good Friday, we received news that Walter’s mother passed away in the early hours of the morning. While we knew that she had been ill, in and out of hospital and this was not unexpected, it was the suddenness of the news which shook us. Walter was up in the air, in a plane, on the way back from a work trip when Sandra got the call in the middle of the night. We made hasty arrangements; got permission from Tobias’ school and, thank God, managed to get flights for the next day. It was a sad time but also a good time of closure and seeing the family pull together. We thank everyone who send their condolences and gave their support. It meant a lot.

In July, we said farewell to a church friend who suffered a second stroke. We were unable to say goodbye in person. Another friend, with whom we had lost touch, also passed away from cancer. We were grateful to have been able to visit with her and be there for her a little bit before she went to be with the Lord in August.

Our final farewell was to our beloved gerbil, Jules, who lived to a ripe old age of 3 years and 3 months; she joined her sisters in gerbil heaven in November.

But the year has not been all sad, there have been happy and great times too.

We welcomed a new family member in September, our little (now not so little) Schnauzer puppy, Lexi! It has been a time of adjustment, having a puppy is a whole new ballgame for all of us. Sandra has had dogs before but never a puppy; a puppy calls for patience which, at times, we didn’t think we had. Then she had a really bad ear infection and then an eye infection. But she is now well and settled in and we are learning to enjoy each other.

Tobias loves having Lexi and works to manage his time between his school work, his gaming time and time for Lexi. He is now in 8th class (Secondary 2 in Singapore) and is very self-motivated to do well at school. He cut back on his outside activities to be able to have time for dog school so he has dropped HipHop and now only plays the violin in an ensemble and he plays squash. He continues to enjoy being part of the teen class at church.

Walter had so many work trips to South Africa this year we have lost count. He traveled almost every week from the end of February to the end of November. It was hard work and difficult to have him away so much. But we managed and are very grateful that he has some respite now. Walter continues to serve on the worship team and as an elder in church.

Sandra scaled back her activities this year; she no longer teaches Chinese class and does not have an English Playgroup this school year. While the latter was not planned, it has been good to have that extra time to adjust to life with a puppy. She continues to teach Sunday School and serves as missions coordinator at church. She has also been working on her writing and hopes to find an agent to represent her in the new year.

In a bid to get more and better writing done, Sandra went to a weekend Spring Retreat organised by the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in April in the lovely Interlaken region. It was very inspiring and productive.

In May, we also enjoyed a wonderful time with our church family, when for the first time in many years, the church organised a church-wide retreat. It was great to get to know more people in an informal and beautiful setting (the Swiss mountains are always amazing to behold). We got to celebrate Tobias’ birthday while at the retreat.

Of course, we enjoyed our annual trip to Singapore in July/August. It is always great to catch up with family and friends and eat all the yummy foods we missed.

So all in all, it has been a pretty full year, once again. And it has been a year which we would not have gotten through without our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and our beloved family and friends who have been so supportive and wonderful. Thank you all.

Wishing you a most blessed Christmas and a fulfilling 2019!

Do stay in touch and let us know what has been happening for you.

With love,

walter, sandra and tobias, and lexi

And here’s our little Christmas/New Year Greeting (i had meant to post this at Christmas but never got round to it):

christmas_greeting2018.png

Wishing everyone a blessed and fulfilling 2019! Let’s go out there and make the world (or at least our little part of it) a better place!

syc

Not Made to Last…

Be warned… this is a rant.

Modern technology… it makes our lives so easy; helps us to do things faster and better, helps us to take nicer pictures with just one click, helps us to stay informed with the latest news, helps to us to stay connected always…

BUT…

…it is not made to last!

Whether it be your latest TV or kitchen gadget or mobile phone, they do not seem to last beyond a few years. One dent, one drop and they are done for… something just won’t work right anymore.

My rant today is specifically about mobile phones!

i have had my mobile phone for only 3 plus years and now i am having issues with the battery. For months now, every week there will be a day when it refuses to charge to 100%. And for the last 3 days, consecutively, it simply won’t charge to 100%. And get this, i did NOT drop it at all.

My dad is also having battery issues with his mobile phone. He is usually careful with his phone.

notmadetolast20180302My boy had accidentally thrown his previous phone (which had a clear plastic cover) onto his bed (a soft surface) and it rebounded against the wall, and that made it stop working. Recently, he dropped his current phone on the street and now that is not working. In this case, i understand, it was quite a forceful drop (the edge of the glass cracked) and it was without a cover. But the previous cases???

When i took it back to the shop to see if i could get it repaired, the customer service person informed me that it was not worth the repair costs. He also told me that i should always buy insurance on mobile phones because such repairs are costly and with insurance, i get a replacement phone almost immediately after filing a report.

i never had to insure a gadget before. We have a couple of antique phones at home, and i know if we plug those in, they will still work. My pestle and mortar most definitely still works compared to the modern kitchen aid which i have had to replace.

OK… maybe those are not a fair comparison but this is a rant… so i claim “rant license”.

All that said and done, my brother did point out that it does seem that these new mobile phones are made to fail in some small but annoying way so that you “need” to get a new one every few years… is this the manufacturers’ way of making money? i don’t know. But if it is, that’s not playing fair to the consumers, is it?

syc

Goodbye 2017… Hello 2018…

It’s the end of another year… time for the usual review (see below for our Christmas letter 2017) … and also looking forward to 2018! Happy New Year!

happynewyear2018

HiHi

How are you? We hope this finds you and your family well, all sharing and caring together as we celebrate the birth of love; the birth of Jesus.

2017 has been a year of ups and downs and quite a few medical encounters.

January and February saw us busy with Tobias’ recovery from his two broken arms. One of the consequence of Tobias’ arms being broken was that he was not able to his final primary school exams and it was decided by the school that his average grades would be calculated from his various tests throughout the year and that he would go into the apprenticeship track for secondary school, which was where we felt suited him best.

Another consequence of his injury was that we went to Paris for our Sports holiday in February instead of the usual skiing. It was lovely to finally see Paris in all its beauty.

The doctor finally gave the all clear for sports activities mid-February, much to Tobias’ delight as it was just in time for his class ski trip.

March and April was a time of much traveling for Walter, around Africa and Europe is mostly where he gets to. Sandra continues to teach Chinese class and Sunday School, as well as run her English Playgroup.

In May, Sandra attended her first writers’ conference in Brussels, hosted by SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators). She enjoyed it very much; the first time she has traveled within Europe alone. And she learned a lot.

Of course, Tobias officially turned a teen in May! Now a 13-year-old boy! No longer a little guy,; he is taller than Sandra now.

May was also when Walter’s father fell seriously ill and was hospitalised. His mother’s health also suffered and she was also in hospital. And they both remained in hospital and rehab care respectively until we arrived in Singapore in July.

So much of our July/August holidays was spent caring for Walter’s parents and arranging for long-term carers for them. It was a tiring and trying time for all involved but by God’s grace, we managed it, with lots of help and support from Sandra’s family and all our dear friends.

Mid-August, we came back to Switzerland fairly tired out but got right back into the routine of school and work, while trying to help keep an eye on things in Singapore.

September was filled with the usual school, work, church and weekend activities. Walter still leading worship at church and fulfilling his role as an elder. Sandra continues as Missions coordinator for the church and leading Mission Focus Sundays for the Sunday School. Tobias now enjoys being in the teen class at church.

October meant lots of work travel for Walter. We managed to squeeze in a short few days holiday in Copenhagen. We like the city a lot and Sandra can certainly see us living there… lol. Walter also had to make an emergency trip to Singapore as well, to sort out family issues and his parents’ care.

November was a whirlwind of activity for us; lots of concert rehearsals for Tobias and Sandra, work travel for Walter, as well as having Walter’s best friend and his family stay with us for 2 weeks, which was great!

Tobias also switched to the academic track at the end of November, which meant a new school (further from home), new timetable, new classmates and teachers, and having to catch up on work he’s missed for the last 3 months.

December saw us having our previous pastor and his wife (they are also Tobias’ Godparents) stay with us for a couple of days, which is wonderful because we have not seen them for quite a number of years as they live in New Zealand.

And now here we are at Christmas!

Wow! That was some year. And through all of that, we have to thank God for everything He has provided; in all of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs, giving us amazing people who supported, encouraged and prayed for us. Thank you all!

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a Blessed 2018!

syc