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:


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):


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!


Looking Back at 2015…

As i have done in the last couple of years, i am posting my Christmas letter here as a way of reflecting on what 2015 has brought me and my family…


Christmas 2015


How are you? We hope this finds you well and enjoying this holiday season together with family and friends; celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ with great joy!

2014 was a year of new things for us and 2015 is a year for settling in.

We have been in our new home for 11 months now! Time has certainly flown by. We celebrated with a little house-warming party in May. We are settled in and really liking living in the middle of the village and being much closer to the shops and bus stop. We have lovely neighbours and get along well with each other. Tobias has only a 5-minute walk to school which is fantastic.

It is also only a 5-minute walk to the playgroup which Sandra runs every Thursday morning. Publicity was done in the months of February and May and there was interest but only 4 have been registered. Although there are only 4 kids for now, it is a nice little group with 3 boys and a girl. The children were unsure at first, as was Sandra, but now it’s running along nicely.

Even though it is only one morning a week, it still takes time to prepare each week and this means that Sandra has had to spend less time on her online shop, www.angelcraftsshop.com, which helps to raise funds for special needs orphans. She hopes to sort out some time management and get new crafts into the shop to boost slightly sluggish sales. As well as continue to advocate for special needs orphans as much as she can.

Tobias is now in 5th Class or 5th year of primary school. There is a lot more homework and more emphasis on academics than before. The school is gearing the students up for taking the major exams in the middle of their 6th year, which for Tobias is in about 13 months. Those exams will determine which stream of studies he gets to go into.

Because of the heavier homework load, Tobias and his friends have had less time outside of school to meet up and play. But most Friday afternoons, they find some time to do something together.

He has given up Unihockey as of the end of September and is now enjoying Hip-Hop classes with his best friend. He continues to go to Chinese class every Saturday morning and is getting better at Mandarin but he still is reluctant to use the language. I suppose there is little opportunity to do so here. Squash is still very much part of Tobias’ weekly routine and although he does get frustrated at how hard it is to be good at squash, he carries on.

In our last letter, you read that Walter had developed a thyroid issue. He had been on daily meds for almost 2 years and recently his doctor decided that he was well enough to stop taking the meds. We are very pleased with that progress. He continues to play football with his colleagues when they can and badminton too.

Walter’s role as elder in our church has seen him more involved in church-life with many meetings and much prayer involved. Walter also continues to lead worship whenever he can. And Sandra teaches Sunday School. She has also stepped into the role of Mission Liaison for the church and is loving the contact with all the mission partners and hopes to help the church be more involved with missions in a more practical way.

Here’s our one piece of sad news: our 3 remaining mice passed away in early September. They had lived a nice long life and it was time, even if it was sudden. However, we weren’t without pets for long. In October, we welcomed 3 new Gerbils: Belle, Jules and Claudia. They are cute and lively and certainly very entertaining.

Our family travels this year has included a trip to Liverpool, a place we love visiting, in April, to catch a football game, and yes, of course it’s a Liverpool game! It was wonderful to experience a live game, especially for Tobias.

Then in October, we went to the Expo in Milan, Italy! It was an eye-opener. Very tiring on the legs with all that walking but well worth it. We also got to spend lovely time exploring a bit of Milan with some friends.

Of course, our annual visit to Singapore is not to be forgotten. This year it was extra-special because we were able to attend a dear friend’s wedding! It was lovely! And we, once again, stuffed ourselves with wonderful local food. Our stay there was extended because Sandra’s father went into hospital unexpectedly and we stayed on to make sure he was recovering before Sandra and Tobias flew back by themselves. Walter stayed on even longer so he could catch up with his best friend whom he hadn’t seen for years.

Walter’s work travels this year have included South Africa, and other parts of Africa, Slovakia and other parts of Europe. He still enjoys his work and looks forward to the coming year.

Well, that’s it from us.

Wishing you a most Blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

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

With love,

walter, sandra & tobias

email: mesandra@hotmail.com, hawkeyesgp@hotmail.com

blog: http://trippingdifferently.com


 t11birthday20150528e Us on Tobias’ 11th Birthday!


What has 2015 been like for you? i know there has been ups and downs for everyone. i hope you have had more ups than downs and i pray that 2016 will bring you and your loved ones a whole ton of blessings!


Belated Posting… Christmas Letter 2014…

i realised i forgot to post my Christmas Letter 2014… so here it is:

Christmas 2014


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.

With love,

walter, sandra & tobias