Jayawardhana Christmas Letter 2019

Dear Friends & Family,

Looking back on the year just gone we are quite amazed at all that has happened and the many highlights in what has been quite a busy year.

PJ (Giga to his school friends and family) had yet another year of continuing to finalise his parents’ estates and after much toing and froing amongst the various Sri Lankan authorities he is the closest he’s ever been to having them finalised (phew!). February saw PJ and Gwenda volunteer at the Franklin Graham Evangelistic Outreach Tour held at the Riverstage in Brisbane and late into the night we helped to sort and process the response cards from the night so that local churches could then follow up with the respondents. Then in March PJ & Gwenda were given a two-week opportunity to travel the Great Ocean Road and visit The Grampians in Victoria. It was a fabulous time away with one favourite memory being visiting The Twelve Apostles at sunrise (it was cold!). 

PJ continued to volunteer as Finance Officer on the Grace Lutheran College Rothwell P&F Committee this year but his biggest highlight was helping to oversee the successful Australian Launch of Compass – finances God’s way. The Compass Board were joined by the new Compass CEO, Brandon Sieben, and COO Kyle Hasbrouck from the USA as well as delegates from the Asia-Pacific Region. Dave Briggs and Chris Goulard (pictured) also came and ran a Christian Stewardship Network seminar as a lead-in to the Compass Launch week with the seminar receiving rave reviews from those who attended. PJ and Gwenda also had a very busy but enjoyable time hosting our international guests including taking them on a Brisbane River tour to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary towards the end of the Launch week.

An early highlight in the year for Gwenda was being able to attend, with PJ & Rasika, a ‘meet and greet’ with the band ‘For King & Country’ and have front-row seats to their January concert at Riverlife Church in Brisbane. Gwenda also became the inaugural Chairperson for the Malyon Theological College Alumni Committee this year and, together with the Principal of the College and the Alumni Committee, they held a successful Alumni event in October with plans for another in late March 2020.

Gwenda also had a fruitful year of ministry at Clifford House including commencing a wellness initiative for the staff called ‘Tea For The Soul’ and helping to promote Carinity’s Christmas Appeal aimed at raising funds to enable Carinity to place more chaplains in our aged care communities across Queensland. In a God-directed move though, Gwenda is concluding her season as Aged Care Chaplain at Clifford House in 2019 as He has opened the door to a new season of ministry commencing in 2020 as Pastor for Connect Groups & Teaching at North-East Baptist Church, Nundah. She is very excited for this new season ahead which is the fulfilment of a promise God initially gave her some twelve years ago. She is going to miss all the residents at Clifford House (and they keep saying they’re going to miss her!) but she hopes to still be able to keep in touch with some of them through leading devotions from time to time.

Taruna also had a big year graduating from QUT with a Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) with Distinction finishing with a GPA of 6.00. Taruna has been approached by a local accountant to start work at his practice in the new year and he also has plans to do the H&R Block Taxation Course and commence the CPA Program in 2020. He is also looking forward to having a holiday in Japan in June to spend time with his friend Lucas who has been living there for the past year. Taruna also started to attend Rivers Baptist Church this year with his school friend Zac and they are in a connect group together.

Rasika also had a great year with her biggest highlight being when she was believer baptised at North-East Baptist Church, Nundah in August by publicly confessing her faith in, and commitment to, Jesus Christ. This exciting milestone was followed closely by Rasika’s 18th birthday party celebration held at her boyfriend Nic’s house (special thanks to the Grice family for graciously allowing us to host Rasika’s party at their house). Rasika and Nic are both Youth Leaders at North-East Baptist Church and this year they also led on the SU Qld Training Week and Splashout Camps and spent two weeks away with Power To Change down at the Gold Coast during Schoolies reaching out to the Year 12 graduates during what can be a lonely and confusing time for some of them. Rasika also finished the first year of her Psychology degree at UQ and found work through doing babysitting and tutoring throughout the year. Both Rasika and Gwenda also enjoyed trying their hand at a painting class in Brisbane and were very surprised at how easy it is to paint a half-decent looking picture when you’re shown how.

Prashan finished Year 10 at Grace Lutheran College this year and has chosen his subjects for Years 11 & 12 heading towards a possible career path in Engineering or similar. His biggest highlight was attending the Googa Outdoor Education Camp for four weeks at the end of February as both Taruna and Rasika had also done in previous years. Prashan found out at Googa that he has quite a knack for swinging an axe and making a delicious choc-chip cookie slice. Prashan also started regular weekend employment at the new K-Mart Stafford store in September and he continues to enjoy playing Badminton on a weekly basis at a local club.

As a family we also enjoyed a few days away in September at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers staying with PJ’s brother’s family in their new home which is literally across the road from the very popular and beautiful Laurel Bank Park.

Well that’s our year in a nutshell. We’ve left out all the boring bits and news about the inevitable changes that come with getting older (eg. getting glasses, increasing dental work, aches and pains etc.).

We’d love to hear from you with all your news!

We pray that you have a very joy-filled and holy Christmas as we collectively remember and reflect on Jesus’ birth and the life and hope that He offers each one of us.

With love from the Jayawardhana family.

PS. Gwenda’s Pastoral Induction Service at North-East Baptist Church, Cnr Chapel & Bage Street, Nundah is on Sunday 2 February 2020 at 9.00am.
We’d love for you to join us! Please RSVP your attendance to gwenda@acclique.com for catering purposes.

Birth of the Bethlehem Babe

Immanuel the God child born to be
on His mission sent from heaven above
to be the saviour of this sinful world
showing truly that God is full of love

But think and ponder for a moment
what if Jesus the babe had not come
to leave us in our sinful rebellion
then our future would be indeed glum!

Nothing but God’s wrath would await
an eternity of darkness always for ever
what foreboding gloom to think upon
the light of God’s love would be never

But God intervened showing His great mercy
to bring the birth of the Bethlehem babe
all our thanksgiving belong to a loving God
for the gift of His son who came to save

Copyright © Gordon McConnell 2016