Jayawardhana Christmas Letter 2020

Dear Friends & Family,

At the beginning of this year there were plenty of puns going around that this was going to be the year of 2020 vision; however, as the end of 2020 fast approaches it’s really hindsight that has given us 20/20 vision this year because I don’t think any of us could’ve predicted what was going to unfold (except God of course!).

The beginning of the year saw Gwenda commence as Associate Pastor for Connect Groups & Teaching at North-East Baptist Church (http://www.neb.org.au). This was an exciting time for her as she stepped into the calling that God had placed on her heart many years before. However, within six weeks or so of her commencing, COVID-19 lockdowns and physical distancing commenced and church and connect groups went ‘online’ making it quite a challenging time for her to get to know others and help everyone else feel connected during a pandemic no less! Now that church has started to meet in-person again she is only just now starting to feel like she is getting to know the congregation at a deeper level and they too also get to know her as a person, not just their Pastor. Gwenda is now a registered supervised Qld Baptists pastor and a registered marriage celebrant. Gwenda also continued to Chair the Malyon Alumni Committee. This year they adopted a simple constitution in preparation for officially launching the Alumni to all the graduates early next year.

The videoconferencing software package, Zoom, also became a regular feature of her week for quite some months during the height of COVID-19 restrictions in Australia but it will never replace the benefit of meeting up with people ‘in the flesh’ or attending a conference ‘in-person’. One benefit though was being able to have Zoom reunions with family and friends living in Sri Lanka and other parts of the world.

Optometrist and dental visits also ranked highly early on in the year with Gwenda having to get a root canal (which went extremely well) and glasses for night driving. The optometrist says she’ll be hanging out to get reading glasses by this time next year – we’ll see!

Giga (PJ) continued with a similar year to 2019 being Chair for Compass – finances God’s way Australia, Finance Officer for The Grace P&F Association, and continuing to finalise his parents’ estate with various authorities in Sri Lanka. Compass Australia saw it’s best year so far with quite a few online courses being run (they were running online courses before it became fashionable!) as more people became aware of the importance of being good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to them (http://www.compass1.org.au).

Giga spent time this year being mentored as he went through the Equipping Partners for Ministry course with David Bates. It was a very encouraging time and an opportunity for Giga to really get to know David and be able to call on him when the need arises in the future. Gwenda was also blessed this year to be mentored by David’s wife, Helen, who has many years of ministry experience. Both Giga & Gwenda also continued this year to be active members of the marriage enrichment groups they’re part of. They also valued the increased opportunities to get together with their former connect group members and this group of twelve grew ever closer as the year progressed.

Walking also played a big role in Giga and Gwenda becoming fitter and healthier and they enjoyed tackling walks such as Mt Ngungun and the new Mt Coot-tha summit walk with like-minded friends. Gwenda also started using Noom and was able to reduce her weight by 8kg in just over 3.5 months – just in time for a special occasion that happened in December….

Taruna had a great year commencing as a Graduate Accountant at Good Life Accounting in Redcliffe. He also commenced his CPA studies which will take a few years to complete. Taruna works part-time and has a great boss who gives him the ongoing flexibility to work one day at home during the week. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Taruna had to cancel his planned trip to Japan but was given a travel voucher to use within twelve months. With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 he’s not quite sure yet when, or where, he will use this voucher.

Rasika completed the 2nd year of her Psychology Degree this year and continued to be involved in Youth Ministry at North-East Baptist Church. Her BIG news was that on 25th July she became engaged to Nicholas Grice and on 19th December they were married at Bob Grice’s Macadamia Farm in North Maleny. We are thankful that restrictions had eased enough by 19th December to allow them to have a normal-sized COVIDSafe wedding. Both Rasika & Nic have now moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Kedron which is close to everything they need (and mid-way between both sets of parents).

Prashan completed Year 11 at Grace Lutheran College Rothwell this year. He did quite well in his studies towards the end of the year but found the transition to online learning earlier on in the year quite challenging. Prashan continued to play Badminton (when the Club was still meeting) and continued to work part-time at K-Mart Stafford even throughout the lockdowns. Prashan is now considering pursuing a career in Cyber Security and IT. One of the highlights for him this year was being able to build his own gaming computer from scratch. He is also getting close to completing his 100 hours of supervised driving and will be able to get his Driver’s Licence in April next year.

Although 2020 didn’t turn out quite how we expected it to we still saw God’s faithfulness, provision and blessing throughout it all (as we hope you did) and we look forward with anticipation to 2021.

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

Wishing you all a very joy-filled and Happy New Year!

With love from the Jayawardhana family.