Jayawardhana Christmas Letter 2015

Our warmest wishes of the Christmas season to you and your family. It’s so true what they say about how quickly children grow up and as we fast approach the end of another year the likelihood of this being perhaps one of the last few years that we’ll all get to holiday together as a family before each of our children will, one by one, want to do their own thing is becoming more apparent. So we’re definitely going to cherish every moment with them these coming school holidays. Below is a brief snapshot of our year….

PJ has had a busy and, at times, quite challenging year. He took on a more hands-on role with the transition from Crown Financial Ministries Australia to COMPASS – finances God’s way Ltd (http://www.compass1.org.au) and was kept busy modifying the existing materials to suit the Australian market. All of these books and study guides have now been printed and are ready to go! This year was also his last year of teaching Religious Instruction at Aspley East State School in lieu of him needing to free up some more time next year to promote COMPASS around Australia. Both PJ and Gwenda also travelled to Singapore in September to attend COMPASS’ Asia-Pacific Conference and it was such a joy to worship God alongside attendees of some ten other countries and to hear from them firsthand the openness and the challenges that they face in their countries regarding the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ. It was really quite a whirlwind trip as PJ needed to get back to Australia only two days into the conference so as to attend a 5-night Father-Son Adventure with Taruna. He literally flew into Brisbane from Singapore at 8am one Thursday morning and flew out again that afternoon with Taruna for their adventure together in North Qld. This was another important milestone in Taruna’s rite of passage and they both enjoyed their time together immensely. PJ’s role as Chairperson of the Grace Lutheran College P&F Association continued to be fulfilling and this year he was instrumental in introducing Fathering Adventures to the school in order to prepare and educate the students (and the parents) on the rites of passage rationale behind the student’s Googa Outdoor Education experience which they attend in Year 10. The biggest highlight for PJ this year was turning 50! To mark the occasion PJ cooked and served up a curry meal to a small selection of family/friends who have made an impact on his life over these past fifty years (we wish we could’ve invited everyone who has made on an impact). In total we hosted fifteen dinners over the year and had the pleasure of entertaining fifty-six people in our house over this time. It was a fabulous time of fellowship plus the night enabled PJ to individually express to each person his appreciation of them. Meaningful conversations were had and some amazing commonalities between our guests were unearthed as the invitees met for the first time and got to know one another over dinner.

Better late than never so they say! Back in early January, Gwenda attended her first ever Soccer/Football match (Asia Cup) at Suncorp Stadium followed the next night by attending her first ever Cricket match at The Gabba (and she has lived in Brisbane all her life). Although she enjoyed both experiences, soccer is definitely the more appealing of the two for her! Another real treat for her this year happened in February when PJ drove Gwenda and the family out to Warwick for a day trip (!) so that she could see the sunflower fields whilst they were still in bloom. This year Gwenda continued her role as Schools Liaison Representative for Bridgeman Baptist Community Church. She also completed the bulk of her Master of Divinity degree at Malyon College and hopes to submit her final 8000 word Project by Easter next year. These past eight years of study for her have proven to be challenging, transforming and rewarding and it will feel strange for her to not have any assignments to complete nor college deadlines to meet. She continues to follow God’s leading and await His timing re vocational ministry of the Word.

Taruna has had a good year academically at Grace Lutheran College (Year 11) and again received Subject Prize for Accounting. His results have meant that next year he is able to attend a first-year Accounting Subject at QUT whilst doing his Year 12 studies at Grace. He will then receive credit for this subject when he officially starts his Accounting Degree in 2017. Taruna also finished the year off by getting his Learners Permit and now has 100 hours of supervised driving to clock up before he can go for his Drivers Licence sometime in December next year. He is also booked in to get his wisdom teeth out on 17th Dec so Christmas this year will be a little different for him food-wise.

Year 9 has been a difficult year for Rasika friendship-wise with her once-solid friendship group splitting early on in the year. Although Rasika has at times struggled to know where she now fits in to these new friendship groups, she has shown a maturity beyond her years in coping with this upheaval and we’re hopeful things will settle down for her in this area next year. She would like to become a counsellor once she leaves school and so we’re sure that these experiences will help her to become an even better one! Rasika enjoyed her time this year being a PAL to a group of the incoming Year 7’s at Grace and she also uncovered a natural talent in the area of Media (Film & TV) editing and producing. She also attended a Father-Daughter weekend camp with PJ in June.

This was Prashan’s final year of Primary School (Yr 6) at Aspley East State School and boy has it gone quickly! Mid-year he went on a school camp to Currimundi which he enjoyed. The lack of variety in his diet is still a huge challenge for his parents but this year we all, as a family, started drinking green smoothies in the morning and so we know that at least he’s getting some nutrition through drinking these. This year Prashan took a break from playing Soccer and instead spent Term 4 playing Milo T20 Cricket on a Friday night under lights. This is definitely the BEST way to play (and watch) cricket during the cool of the night in summer. This year we also discovered that one of Prashan’s hidden talents is waitering. Prashan relishes the opportunity to serve others by taking around platters of food at events and getting drinks for them and he is well appreciated for his efforts. At one event he exhausted himself so much in being the waiter that he had to have a day off school the next day (which he didn’t mind at all). He also has a natural singing and dancing ability which his parents are hoping he’ll explore further during his Middle and Senior Schooling years.

Well that’s a quick overview of our year. A cursory glance at the wider events that have happened around the world this year have again highlighted to us the fragility and fleetingness of life. It’s so good to know that God our Creator will one day create new heavens and a new earth free from the effects of sin and evil. And it’s even more exciting to know that when we invite Jesus Christ to be Lord and Saviour of our life we can look forward to dwelling with Him forever in this glorious new abode.

This Christmas we again remember and give thanks to God for little baby Jesus, born in a manger, who brought hope to the world.

We wish you a very blessed and joyous Christmas and New Year season.
With love from our family to yours. xo
The Manger of My Heart

This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for this Holy day and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.

The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.

Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth,
when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
And angels announced, “Into your darkness, God brings His Light.”
“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Lord. It’s in Your wonderful Name I pray.

©Renee Swope 2011