Happy 2021

I will start this year I have started some years… With our Christmas letter from the year which just closed behind us.


HIHI

What a year we have had! I’m sure you’re tired of hearing that expression. Yes, we have had an unprecedented year where the world was held captive by something which can only be seen under a microscope, and we found our lives dictated by the rise and fall of the number of people infected by this virus called Covid-19.

But that’s not all that happened, the year is not all about the pandemic. Under these strange and difficult circumstances, lives were still lived. We hope and pray that your year has been filled with more good moments than bad ones. At this Christmas time, let us think about the small precious gifts of a positive word, a smile shared, a heart warmed, a Saviour come to earth.

In 2020, we have carried on with life as best we could.

Sandra went, on her own, in January, to visit her family in Singapore because her father had been very unwell and in hospital for many months. Walter and Tobias, along with Lexi, managed quite well by themselves for 10 days. It was good for Sandra to have been able to spend this time with her family as she tried to help as best she could in that short time. The good news is that Sandra’s father was discharged shortly after she returned to Switzerland. While he did spend more time at the hospital in August, he is now better and at home. We would like to especially thank family and friends who have so helpful and supportive through this tough time.

At the end of February, our church welcomed our new pastor and his wife, but 2 weeks after that, lockdown happened. Everyone had to find new ways of doing things. It really makes you realise the things we take for granted, such as the ability to meet whoever we want whenever we want. It makes you miss simple things like walking into a store without worrying about the limit on the number of persons allowed inside.

Being shut-in gave us the opportunity to learn and polish skills such as mask-making and baking. Walter worked from home and Tobias attended classes online. For Sandra, home was always where she worked at, so being home is the norm for her. However, we did have to find a new rhythm of working and playing as there were now 3 persons in the house all the time; each with a need to have their own space and time to do what needed to be done. One family member did absolutely love having all at home – Lexi! She could run from person to person all day along to get the attention she wanted. She is a happy girl and fills our days with joy, barks, cuddles and laughs.

Tobias spent his 16th birthday at home as everything was closed but we made birthday cupcakes and delivered them to his friends. Then at the end of July, when restrictions were eased, we were able to celebrate with a paintball afternoon with some of his friends. A rather painful but fun experience.

Walter went from travelling a lot for work to working from home, to working short-time; where the office was officially closed for a couple of days a week, pay was pro-rated to save the company money. Then in September, he went back to the office 100%. But that was short-lived and now he is working from home a couple of days a week. It’s worth noting that this is the first time in all the years Sandra and Walter have been together where Walter is NOT constantly flying off for work.

We thank God that almost everyone we know has remained healthy, although a few did test positive in Tobias’ class and he had to quarantine for 14 days at the start of November.

Tobias is now in the second year of Gymnasium (junior college in Singapore) and seems to be enjoying his classes and time with his friends. Unfortunately, he has not been able to play squash for several months now. His squash teacher is in the at-risk group so he has stopped teaching. Tobias is thankful that his violin lessons have carried on as that’s done through his school.

Church went from being online in March to being in-person again from the beginning of summer but with limited numbers in the sanctuary and online streaming. The work to rewrite the church constitution, which Sandra was involved in, was paused during lockdown but restarted in June and we are glad that it has been successfully concluded with the church adopting the new constitution in November. Sunday School classes are also functioning again; Tobias attends the teen class. The Sunday School even managed a fundraiser for missions in the last couple of months. Walter continues his work with the worship team and eldership, as well as helping our new pastor to settle into his role in these unusual times.

Another church member and Sandra had arranged for a speaker to come and give a seminar about Revelations 2-3 but it had to be moved online due to Covid restrictions which prevented the speaker from flying in. It was slightly stressful and quite educational to have to make adjustments and coordinate such an event.

Speaking of flying, we could not go to Singapore for our annual visit in summer this year because while there were flights, we would have had to quarantine for 14 days on arrival and in a specific quarantine facility, which would then leave only a week to see family and friends. So we stayed here and did a couple of overnight trips to nearby cities in Germany.

So much upheaval in 2020 and maybe life will not go back to exactly what it was pre-pandemic, but the one constant in our lives is God; Jesus has been, is, and will be with us through all our ups and downs and we are so thankful for that. We pray that you have been able to and will continue to see His Love manifest in your life always.

Faith makes all things possible,
Hope makes all things work,
Love makes all things beautiful.
May you have all three this Christmas and always.

Do keep in touch and let us know what’s happening for you.

With love,

Walter, Sandra, Tobias and Lexi


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

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…

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Christmas 2015

HIHI

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

Picture:

 t11birthday20150528e Us on Tobias’ 11th Birthday!

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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!

syc