Swiss Life in Partial Lockdown…

Today is Day 26 of partial lockdown in Switzerland. On 16th March 2020, the Swiss government decided that just asking people to social distance was not enough to stop the spread of Covid-19 so we went into partial lockdown. This flu pandemic which started at the end of December in Wuhan, China has, at lightning speed, spread across the globe and now most countries are in some form of lockdown.

But lockdown looks and functions differently in each country so what does it look like here in Switzerland?

Well, when i compare lockdown here and the stories of lockdown i hear from other countries, it would seem that here in Switzerland we have a rather relaxed lockdown, which is why i call it a partial lockdown.

Here all shops and businesses, other than supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, post offices, and other essential services are closed, even restaurants. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Students have home-school. Quite similar to the lockdown in Singapore (or circuit breaker mode, as it is called over there) which started only a few days ago. But unlike in Singapore, i still see construction work going on; a house on the neighbouring street is getting re-roofed and another near the edge of the forest is being built. i also see gardeners doing their jobs. But maybe they are allowed to carry on because they can social distance while at work? i am not sure.

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“hamsterkaufe”

People still do their shopping as usual, maybe with more hand sanitising and less often but it seems to be all normal. There was a tiny bit of panic-buying, or “hamsterkaufe” as it is called here, at the beginning, but only for that short time. Yes, of course, now and again over the last weeks i have seen a few things go out of stock but the stocks are usually there again when i go the next time.

Overall, people here seem very calm about it all. They do try to keep to the rules as much as possible but i have seen a few instances of people gathering together and you know they don’t stay in same house because it’s 5 adults and 7 kids in the forest, having a BBQ. The Swiss government has banned gatherings of more than 5. But i guess there will always be a few rule-breakers.

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plexiglass protection

There is only a small amount of fearful talk. People seem to be either quite stoic about it all or the seriousness of the situation has not hit home. i am not sure which is which, maybe it’s a mixture of both. But numbers here are quite scary, as of today, 24,051 cases and 948 deaths; for a population of just 8 million, that’s a high ratio.

The places which are open are doing their best to enable social distancing and to protect themselves and their customers. There is a limit on the number of people in a single shop (depending on their floor area), they all have plexiglass dividers at the payment counters, markings on the floor to allow for social distancing, and they advise all to pay by card so it’s more hygienic.

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floor markings reminding you to keep your distance

Going to the post office is like a little dance. The post staff stands away from the counter, behind the plexiglass, i step forwards, stating what service i require and leave all the appropriate documents on the counter. i step back and the post staff steps forwards and does whatever is required. He/she then steps back and i step forwards to key something into the keypad. And so we go back and forth till the whole transaction is complete. It’s quite funny.

What about wearing masks? Very few wear masks in public here. i have only seen a couple at the supermarkets. However, quite a few do wear gloves. The counter staff at the supermarkets near us, all have gloves on but no masks. The ladies at the pharmacy have both masks and gloves on, same at the doctor’s clinic. They even have patients wear single-layer masks while waiting to see the doctor.

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Even an accompanying parent had to wear these masks provided at the doctors.

i know because my son fell ill just a few days before the start of the lockdown. He had high fever and cough so we rang the doctor and were told come collect medication but to keep him at home, isolated and ride it out. Even when we did finally see the doctor on the 6th day of him being ill, he was not tested for Covid-19 because he was not in the at-risk category. We did the responsible thing and isolated ourselves as much as possible, although the doctor said my son was the one who had to isolate. We don’t think he had Covid-19 but it would have been good to know either way. He is now all recovered, after 2 weeks, and was able to catch up on his schoolwork.

How are the kids managing for schoolwork? i think most kids here do ok. It’s the parents of primary school children who probably have the most to do with homeschooling. i have a teenager in pre-uni so he gets his assignments from his teachers and he does them, with a reminder here and there. The primary kids have crafts and worksheets to do and most of the time the parents have to watch them, making sure it’s done right. i heard from a friend in Hong Kong, whose kids have not been in school since the end of January and will likely not go back to school till after the summer, they are expected to log onto the online platform and be “at school” for the normal school hours. Wow! That’s expecting a lot. My heart goes out to her; she has 3 boys!

How is working from home? Well, i already work from home before so it’s kinda the same for me. BUT it has changed for me in other ways for me. Because before i would have the whole apartment to myself and can blast whatever music i want to motivate myself to work, now i can’t because there are 2 other persons trying to work also and i need to be respectful and not disturb them. It took some getting used to. We are getting there and finding a rhythm around each other.

IMG_20200407_134919It was announced the day before that these current measures, which were supposed to end on 19 April, will be extended for another week till 26 April. But even then, it will not be a complete return to business as usual. The government will advise us of their plans for a slow, gradual relaxing of restrictions on 16 April. So we will see what happens then.

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy, keep washing those hands and stay at home.

Oh, i want to leave you with this heartwarming story about how teenagers are volunteering to help the elderly shop as they don’t have to attend school for now. And this cute picture which i took on one of our dog walks; it says “Happy Easter AT HOME 2020”.

Happy Easter!

syc

Starting the Year with Thanks…

Thank You!

Thank You God, for being the wonderful God that You are, for being the healer-God, for being the God who reassures, for being the God who loves us so much.

i want to not only thank God but i also want to express my most heartfelt thanks to all my family and friends who have been with us over the last few months. You all cared, you all prayed, you all showed your love and made such efforts to reach out and help.

THANK YOU!

Some of you might not know – my father had been in the hospital since mid-September last year and finally, after more than 4 months of various complications, he is home now! Praise the Lord!

It has been most amazing to watch how my family (aunts, uncles, cousins), my friends (you know who you are) and my churches (both in SG and CH) gathered forces and surrounded us with love and prayers as we navigated this difficult time with so many ups and downs.

It was very difficult for me to not be there for my dad and my mum, and my brother. But God is good! He provided for others to care for my parents and brother. It truly showed me the love of God which flows through His people.

i did get to go visit a couple of weeks ago. It was good to have been there to get more details from the doctors as well as be there for the sudden down and up again of my dad’s condition. i was so glad that the day i had to leave he was well enough to sit up without the oxygen. And of course, now he’s home and able to celebrate the Chinese New Year at home.

Once again, Thank You!

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i leave you with this lovely image that greeted me as i flew from Singapore back to Switzerland. The Lord is the one who makes the sun rise every morning and He is the one who holds my future, our future. And i know that the future is secure in His Hands.

syc

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):

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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