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

Belated Posting… Christmas Letter 2014…

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

Christmas 2014

HIHI

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

DSC_1682

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014…

Today is the last day of 2013! Thank you for reading and being with us in spirit through 2013.

So here’s our annual summary of the year for us (our Christmas letter)… click on the links to see specific posts about specific events!

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HiHi

How are you? We hope this finds you well and enjoying this Christmas season with family and friends, remembering that it is the Christ who has made celebrating Christmas possible.

 2013 has been a year of stepping up to changes.

 Sandra is into her second year of advocating and fundraising for special needs orphans. Many of you who are FB friends with her or read our blog would already have heard much about this ministry. Well, the Lord has given her a more focussed area to pray for and work with; Asia. She has been helping to highlight families who are adopting from Asia as well as Asian special needs orphans. This year also saw the first 2 orphans she prayed and advocated for home with forever families and it truly warms the heart and spurs her on to continue, even though there are times when it seems her efforts has made little difference but the Lord knows and the Lord works in His time and in His ways.

 She is no longer involved with Day Association for Women as a team member because the Bern team closed this Spring. But she stayed on as a web content update person for the association in general. The weekly BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) in Bern has also closed this June.

 Both of which has opened the door and freed up time to pursue yet another orphan related project. Sandra is setting up a social enterprise, selling handmade crafts where 50% of the sale price would go to special needs orphans. The hope is to have the online shop open in early 2014. So stay tune for that news!

 Tobias is in the 3rd grade this school year. He has more time in school now, 5 mornings and 3 afternoons. It also means that the work has become more challenging but he still enjoys school and looks forward to going each day.

 He continues going for Judo trainings on Mondays with his best friend. And recently took part in his 2nd internal competition. This year there were much tougher opponents, although fewer of them. He still managed a 3rd place and we are very proud of him.

 His passion for playing the violin has grown and this year he has been motivated to try songs he has heard, either on the radio or on YouTube. So Sandra spends a fair amount of time searching for scores to certain songs for him to play. They both played in a Christmas recital recently and their teacher has a few more concerts planned in the next few months.

 Walter has had to travel quite a lot this year and mostly to different parts in Africa. He came back in November and fell really sick. We thank God that he made a fairly quick recovery after a week of being ill. Just in time to make the trip back to Singapore in the first week of December to help his parents move into a smaller flat. And of course, when he is here, he continues to lead worship at church.

Travels for us this year consist of the usual; our trip to Singapore to see family and friends and enjoy food we miss so much, and our ski trips – this year we did 2 trips instead of 1 week-long one. Which was great as we got to see / experience a new place – Saanenmoser and enjoy an old favourite, Wengen.

We did not do a farmstay this year but did a number of day trips instead during the Autumn school holidays (Week01, Week02, Week03), this enabled Walter to join us on at least one occasion which is great!

 Last year we related the sad news that we lost one of our Gerbils, Nox and this year Puddles passed away (likely of old age issues) early November. We were much sadden and had considered for a while whether or not we would have more pets.

 We very recently decided, after much persuasion by Tobias, that we would but because of some strict rules here, we found out that actually the cage we have was a bit small for Gerbils and so took a recommendation to adopt some little mice instead. So we welcome Patch, Patches, Ruby and Sam into our home.

Us having fun at the Singapore Discovery Center in July 2013.
Us having fun at the Singapore Discovery Center in July 2013.

Well, that wraps up 2013 for us.

How was the year for you? Do write and let us know.

 Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a Fulfilling 2014,

 With love,

walter, sandra and tobias

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As i look forward to 2014, i’m excited to see how the hopes planted in 2013 will come to fruition in 2014.

Hoping that 2014 will be a year filled with much hope and fulfillment!

syc