Welcome to our post-Christmas newsletter! We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. As you read on you’ll see why our annual newsletter has reached you a little later this year.
It certainly has been a busy year. The year started on a big high with PJ being believer baptised on 6 January, 2008. In other words he was fully immersed in the baptismal waters as a symbol of him starting a new life with Christ at the head of it. It’s been amazing to watch how God has moulded him over the past year.
After a ten year break Gwenda went back to Uni to start a Master of Divinity at Malyon College, Mitchelton. This essentially is a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology. It was a steep learning curve for her to get back into researching, essay writing and studying in general, let alone also be a mum to three children, and a wife. But the experience so far has been immensely rewarding and life changing. Gwenda also continued to play an active role within Bridgeman Baptist Community Church, singing on the worship team and helping out wherever and whenever she can. She also started saxophone lessons and was progressing quite well. However, with her music teacher moving to the Western suburbs early next year she has decided to forgo formal lessons for a while. The month of May also saw the passing of her dearly beloved Grandfather. He was 91 years of age and a great inspiration to us all.
The second half of the year was particularly challenging. Our entire family experienced health challenges which quite upset the routine we had established. One by one each of the children got chicken pox and finally PJ, as an adult, succumbed too. PJ’s consulting trips were more frequent from May to October and we have since realised that PJ was away from home (work/bowls) for four months of this year. Gwenda also experienced adrenal fatigue midway through the year (we think it must have been stress…). This meant her immune system was functioning below par so it was hard for her to stay well. So we are all planning to make 2009 a little more relaxed, if possible.
We also had a new addition into our family early in the year – Charm, the tortoiseshell cat. We adopted her from a kitten rescue place and she has certainly lived up to her name – charming her way into all of our lives.
Rasika continued with her dancing changing from tap dancing to jazz ballet. We managed to persuade her to persevere till the end of the year which was worth it as she absolutely loved performing in the end of year concert. Prashan started back at swimming lessons in the second half of the year. He is a natural-born swimmer and loves the water. Taruna had a fairly quiet year preferring to play his Gameboy whilst he got dragged along to dancing and swimming lessons, but he did enjoy a term of Auskick.
We capped off the year with a 4.5 week long trip to Sri Lanka. In the beginning of the year we were unsure of whether we would still go as the cultural war had begun to escalate again after the ceasefire ended in January. However, since that time the Sri Lankan army have progressively been making inroads against the separatist group.
Apart from the heavy military presence within the country and checkpoints along the highways there was no sign of terrorist activity within the capital city or within the parts of the country we visited. For most Sri Lankans, living alongside military personnel flanked with machine guns has become their way of life and it is difficult to see how their presence will now ever fully leave the city streets. Our children were quite unfazed by their presence and our whole trip really showed us how easily our children could adapt to their changing circumstances and surroundings.
We had the privilege of spending a week at a boys’ home and girls’ home run by Aroma Ministries in the North West Province. They have 36 boys and 57 girls. They loved having us visit and we organised activities and also provided spiritual input.
We also had the privilege of meeting our sponsor child, Nilantha, who lives at the boys’ home. He is 11 years old and would like to be a pastor one day! If you’d like to sponsor one of the children there too then let us know as we’ll put you in touch with Pastor Colin Patterson who oversees the ministry.
The rest of the trip was a combination of rest and relaxation, and catching up with family and friends. Overall it was a wonderfully enjoyable experience with many great memories.
On the way home we spent two days in Singapore and Gwenda was also able to catch up with her High School friend who is now Associate Pastor of The Harvest Force Church. It was quite a shock to go from the surroundings of Sri Lanka (crowded, dusty, dirty, small family-owned businesses) to Singapore (clean, shops everywhere, materialism in the extreme). It certainly allowed us to reflect on the changing nature of this world.
The lead up to Christmas when we got back home was wonderfully quiet and I’m (not too) sorry to say that the Christmas tree did not even make it out of the box this year! The severe storms in November did not directly affect us although nearby suburbs really copped the brunt of the storms and one family we know lost everything! It will be another year for them before their new home will be ready.
The kids had their photo taken with a very special ‘Santa’ this year. Afterwards, Taruna came over to PJ with his eyes beaming and said, “Dad how did Santa know we went to Sri Lanka?”.
The big finale to the year was PJ’s father’s 80th birthday celebration on Boxing Day. It was another wonderful Jayawardhana celebration and a great finish to the year.
Love and God Bless, PJ, Gwenda, Taruna, Rasika and Prashan