Christmas Letter 2011

Here’s another fond look back at 2011; this is the Christmas Letter which was sent out to some of our family & friends. This is a tradition for me (since we started writing the Christmas Letter some 5 years ago) to post this on our blog as a sort of record & reminder to myself…


How are you? We hope this Christmas letter finds you and your loved ones well & enjoying the Christmas season. We are delighted that it is snowing right now & we might, we just might, get a white Christmas – i think we’ve only had 2 white Christmases since we’ve lived here, so fingers crossed 😉

Last year was a year of settling for us & this year has been a year of changes and new experiences. What a change! hehheee…

The biggest change of all is that Sandra has closed her book business. Some of you would have heard about this & the whole long rather sad, frustrating process of this, in February/March of this year. It all started with rushing to yet another great bookfair & assuming that all residential roads are 50km/h. Well, to cut a long story short, Sandra got a huge fine & had been informed that the Kanton (state) will not recognise her International Driving License & she will have to take all the tests from the very beginning to get a Swiss one. She did try continuing the business without the use of a car; but getting all those heavy books to different locations by public transport was just too hard. On hindsight, which is always 6/6, it was a good thing. God had already put in Sandra’s heart a desire to slow down & focus on the family, especially as Tobias goes to 1st grade. & without this happening, Sandra would have just tried to continue juggling everything. Now it is good – Sandra has time to focus on the things which God has said are more important at the moment – it is all in God’s good plan.

So that’s the other big change – Tobias moved from Kindergarten to 1st grade & he loves it! There are more things for him to do & learn, so much more interesting for him than Kindergarten. He has German, of course, Math, Science (or general knowledge as it is translated from German), Music, Gym, Workshop & Religion. He gets to move around & switches classrooms for most of the subjects. His 1st grade teacher is lovely & patient. i’m not sure if i mentioned it before, but in Kindergarten, his teacher insisted that there was a problem & after a few different evaluations & a fair amount of money, it was concluded that he has ADHD. But now it seems that he is coping well in 1st grade – so maybe he doesn’t have this, maybe he was just bored in Kindergarten? Well, whatever it might be, we are grateful & praise the Lord that he is enjoying 1st grade & doing well & pray that he will continue to do so.

Tobias has also picked up several other activities outside of school – all of his own choosing. Judo is on every Wednesday evening – he absolutely loves it & is quite serious about this. He will be taking his half-yellow belt test this evening. He also has swimming on Fridays & has just gotten his 5th badge a few days ago. Learning the Guitar has also become part of his weekly routine – Daddy teaches him at home so lessons are as & when Daddy is home & they have time. But he really does want to play like Daddy, even thought he complains that his fingers hurt. Walter says it will take lots of training for them to not hurt so much.

So between Tobias’ school & activities, & Sandra’s own appointments. The week can get quite full. Sandra is still attending German class one evening a week & BSF one morning a week. She’s hoping to be able to get to take her B1 level test for her German (she got her A2 level certification this past July) & then will take a break from it. She has also recently joined a book club – she is very pleased about that,; she loves books so very much. & she loves words too – this year for a second time she has managed to complete the 50,000 words writing challenge in November (NaNoWriMo). She is also still involved with the Day Away Association for Women, now co-leading the Bern team.

Looking out the window now, watching the snow fall (finally, it is so late this year), reminds us of the ski trip we took in February. We finally did the Swiss thing & booked ourselves into a holiday chalet for a week in a ski resort – Laax. We normally only go skiing for 2 or 3 days. It was nice to spend a whole week there – though i think any longer would be a bit much. It was wonderful to also have a dear friend join us for that week. We all, except Walter, took classes. Our friend had his first experience on a snowboard. Tobias went to ski school with the other kids & Sandra got to go to lessons to refresh her skiing ablities. Now Sandra can hopefully keep up with Walter, who has really gotten quite good, on the slopes.

Walter still travels quite a bit for work. The travelling comes in spurts & he has been quite a few times to the US & Canada. In the months of October & November, he was gone for almost 4 weeks straight. Walter is still involved with the worship team at church, though with his travels it can get quite difficult to stick to the planned schedule. The worship team & a few members of the church recently had a jam session, just playing great music & worshipping the Lord. It was fantastic!

Of course, one trip which we all did together was our annual trip home to Singapore in July/August. As usual, it was fabulous to be back home, where we have missed our family & friends & without a doubt the amazing Singaporean food. It was a great time of catching up and renewing relationships. Last year Sandra got a new toy. This year Walter got a new toy – a tablet! He loves it & spends a fair amount of time on it. Tobias likes it too cos’ he gets to play games on it – much better than playing on mummy’s little smartphone. All in all, it was a good time of wonderful food with family & friends. We came back well-rested.

Oh, we also did an overnight stay at a farmhouse. It’s called ‘Schlaf-im-Stroh’ – Sleep-in-Hay. There are farms all over Switzerland which offer this, from about April till October. So we booked ourselves a night in October. It was rainy & cold but we still had great fun! On this farm, we got to play with bunnies & helped the farmer feed the animals. We picked eggs & fed chickens, we (actually mainly Tobias) helped milked the goats too. Tobias also got to brush down a little pony & ride on her. He loved it so much that he has asked to go back again – this time for 2 nights! hehheee… just a little side note – if you intend on going to one of these, do check that you are allowed to help out on the farm. Not all the farmstays allow that.

As the year comes to an end & we start looking to the new year ahead, we have also re-looked at our Blog – Wir Sind Ausländern @ Sandra has felt for a while now that she really needs to keep this blog more updated; she has also been inspired by other blogger mummies & desires that this blog be more than just a record of our time here. She wishes that this blog would grow to cover issues we face as individuals & as a family, to showcase our thoughts & cares, our journey throught life & also to inspire & help others, just as she has been inspired & helped by others; so to this end, our blog will be re-lauched in January 2012 under a new name & at a new internet address. So stay tuned for more.

Oh yes, i have to mention – we have new additions to our family – Gerbils! We now have 2 little gerbils, named Nox & Puddles, who are just adorable & great fun to have around. They were given to us by one of Sandras’ writer friends who had to leave for university. Tobias has been given the responsiblity of feeding them & helping mummy to clean out their cage. You can see pictures of them on our current blog.

Us in Como, Italy, Dec 2011

We pray & wish you & your family a Blessed Christmas & a Fulfilling 2012.

With lots of love,
walter, sandra & tobias

The Winter Snow welcomes us back!!

We landed safely on Saturday morning 6.30am at Zurich airport, Switzerland. It was -1 & raining.
Later that morning, it started snowing heavily & kept on through the night & this morning (Sunday) we were greeted with at least 30cm of snow, if not more. The drive to church was terrible, there were jams as everyone had to slow down to about 40/50km, even on the highways! & there was a section of the highway which was not cleared yet – so it was a rather bumpy & icy ride. Then we got behind 2 snow-plows, which kept the speed at a steady 40km/hr. Then one of the plows got a flat & had to pull over. Nearer church the roads became clear. But it took us twice as long to get to church today, almost 2hrs instead of the usual 50mins!! sigh! Tobi got quite restless during the journey & towards the end kept asking to be carried! Also in part he had gotten used to being carried in taxis while we were in Singapore (no car seats in taxis).
Here are some pictures of the large amounts of snow.

Now let’s backtrack a little to the flight home:
Tobi bumped his head hard as he ran into someone’s trolley just before we were to go to the plane. So that was his major thingy before we left Singapore.
We had a delayed start as there was too much traffic on the runway & we waited an hour on the plane before we took off. During that time, the engines were off so the air-con was limited & it got really hot. The good thing was Tobi wasn’t bothered by the heat – he was so tired he just went to sleep. It was a midnight flight. Thank God he slept for a little more than half the flight – although he kept tossing around – at least he was sleeping & i could at least get some sleep too – even though it was interrupted sleep, still better than not getting any. Then i kept him entertained with food, Hi-5 video on the in-flight system, drawing, books & more food. He slept again an hour before landing – which i’m most grateful for.

Now need to get some sleep as Walt leaves early tomorrow morning for a business trip.

Answered Prayers

Yippee!!! We finally got a positive reply today from the airline & now Tobi & myself will be able to fly back to Switzerland on 3rd March as we had planned! Thank God for answered prayers!!! & thanks to all our friends who were praying too.
Another answered prayer was for our health – both of us are well on the road to recovery!
This afternoon i went down to the airline office, determined to get some sort of reply & to get the best possible plan of action in. So you could say i was only half hopeful! Oh me of little faith!! The lady who helped us today was very business-like but nice – she called the “seat controllers” but they were in a meeting – so she left a message for them & promised to give me a call by the end of the business day. When we left, i was feeling down at the thought of having to come down again the next day to sort this out. Once again, Oh me of little faith! Within 5 mins of us leaving the airline office, the lady rang us & said we have confirmation for the flight on Friday & if we could come back & collect the acknowledgment slip!! i was so happy – i literally jumped up & down for a few minutes after we collected the slip!!!
God answers prayers – big ones & small ones & medium size ones!!