Tuesday, 7 December 2021

2021 - The Beginning of the End (of Desperate Times)


2021 – The Beginning of the End (of desperate times).


2021 has been a year to remember or forget. As the third lockdown in Ontario, kicked in we had reached a point of desperation. The bad dream we had been in during 2020 began to feel like Groundhog Day, with no way out or forward in the year ahead.

We couldn’t really complain. We had a very comfortable house, with garden to expand into, ongoing lists of odd jobs and each other. We were connected via the internet to the rest of the world via Zoom and WhatsApp. We spoke to family members and friends on video daily. Hardly a picture of unmitigated hardship, but the dis-ease which we felt at just knowing how small and limited our lives had become, with no clear way out in sight, somehow brought us to a point of desperation. I know we were not alone. Looking back, it sounds a bit frivolous to complain, but the fact is we found the front end of the year hard.

Having said that, the year is now over and on reflection we have had a passably good year. We did make it through the 3rd Covid19 Lockdown in the winter months. We have even anticipated the fourth wave in the fall with dread, only to find that with most Ontarians double vacced, it has turned out to be a bit of a non-event. Thank you, Lord. Slowly but surely, it’s beginning to feel like we’ve turned the corner on Covid and the end of the tunnel looks a bit nearer.

So how has our year shaped up? Pretty well, all things considered. Here’s how it went.


Elaine's birthday always cheers us up in January
Our January is always brightened up with the opportunity to celebrate Elaine’s birthday on the thirteenth. As you know, in the Land of Covid, people live in Bubbles, exclusive to a handful of other people. Elaine, Sammy and Esther, along with Elaine’s father-in-law Apacha next door along with his full-time caregiver Tinnu were in their own Bubble. Cher and I had to choose if we were to be part of Elaine or Julia and Chris’s Bubble. For a couple of reasons, Julia’s Bubble was a bit bigger and leakier than Elaine’s. Covid forced us to some hard decisions. It was very difficult to cut ourselves off from our regular visits with Julia and Chris and their three boys, but we did manage regular brief and cold front door masked hellos. Not being able to give and receive hugs was one of those intangible Covid hardships which we found challenging. Ultimately for our own pre-vaccination safety and Apacha’s, who was in his 80’s, we decided to join Elaine’s Bubble. This meant we could visit and join in with a scaled down birthday party. I (Rob) had taken to doing a daily Crossword puzzle and it was fun to have Apacha sit alongside me and add his suggestions and comments. Anyone who knows Apacha would know that he is a man of very few words.  Helping me with a crossword or two amounted to almost a lively conversation with him. I was grateful for those times. It was sad that only a few weeks later towards the end of February, Apacha took a bad turn and passed away within hours at the nearby Markham Stouffville hospital. Living in the townhouse next door, Apacha had become a big part of Elaine, Sammy and Esther’s lives. Not having him there left a significant hole for them and us. Tinnu, who had become a good companion for Elaine, had to find work elsewhere and moved out shortly after Apacha’s passing. The home next door has become a quiet and lonely place which has been sad. Between Elaine and Apacha’s home they have seen three deaths in the last 6-7 years: Alex’s Mom and Dad, Mary and Apacha and then Alex. This has left only Charles, Alex’s brother, as the final survivor in that family. Hard for Charles as he lives in New York State and all his cousins and aunts and uncles are in the Toronto area.  Now that Apacha and Tinnu were gone, Elaine, Sammy and Esther were very isolated and having us able to visit became more important than ever.

Rob's brother Alan, joined us
snowshoeing once or twice
What do Ontarians do, in the depths of winter, in the midst of snow in a strict lockdown where about the most exciting thing one can do is an adventure to the grocery store, or another round of Scrabble? Well, snowshoe of course. We had never done it before, but hey, if there was ever going to be a good time, this would be it. Compliments of Amazon, we were soon proud owners of some lightweight, aluminum snowshoes – bright blue and pink of course.

Our first attempt we did on our own as we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves in company. Once we had figured out the basics, we were ready to go. Our good friends down the road, Bill and Karen Anderson, were already champing at the bit to introduce us to the delights and we were soon headed for nearby Durham and Glen Major Forest. It turned out to be a great way to spend a few hours outdoors, get some good exercise and discover muscles that had been too long neglected. By and large the forest protected us a bit from the wind and cold and even at minus 10 degrees Celsius we were soon stripping off layers to cool off a bit.

We managed a number of outings in January and February and Alice and John Chase joined us a couple of times, but then the snow began to run out and we faced a bleak few months while we waited for the weather to warm up, before we could get out and about into the garden and beyond.

Our final lifesaver which kept us going during the third lockdown, were our twice weekly Zoom meetings with our Small Group from our church. We would meet for coffee and a chat after our Sunday morning online services and then we would meet weekly on a Tuesday night for a study and or prayer. This regular human contact really kept us going, although my patience with Zoom meetings had a definite time limit on them. After an hour or so of being trapped in front of a screen, I would start to get antsy and needed to walk around a bit. Nevertheless, we were both very grateful for the fellowship and friendship which our Small Group represented for us. It was and continues to be a lifesaver.

On the spiritual side of our lives, the winter months were a mixed bag. We found online church to be very difficult. We sang the same songs and listened to the same sermons we would have done, as if we’d been attending in person. However, the lack of human contact and fellowship turned what is normally a rich and fulfilling weekly activity into just another content filled exercise. We have been reminded afresh of the fact that as human beings we are designed to be together in person with each other and the lack of human eye contact and touch is deeply missed. The saying that “we come to church for the spiritual input, but keep coming back for the friends”, has taken on new and fresh meaning for us.

Each season has its blessings. In this case we
were visited by snow angels. 
Our winter was significantly brightened when we watched Season 1 and 2 of “The Chosen”. This is the first ever TV series on the life of Jesus and His disciples. It is being funded 100% by crowd funding, so the producers are not beholden to investors and any ulterior motives. Ultimately there will be seven seasons. The key facts remain true to the Biblical story. However, what the show does is go and create a back story that arrives at the Biblical story. So, it is a type of faction. The writers do a wonderful job of helping us to envisage what the background might have been to the Bible story we know. For us and many others, The Chosen has brought the story of Jesus to life in a wonderful way. There are many scenes fixed in my mind which bring me to tears. If you have not seen it, set aside some time and just do it. You can find it online for free at “thechosen.tv”. We have been watching this together with our Small Group and then discussing it when we meet. It really gets our juices going and we are enjoying doing second and sometimes third viewings.


Spring is a lovely time in Canada. The bleakness of winter begins to recede, but the warmth and color of summer has not quite arrived. It is a transitional time, like the coming of the Kingdom of God – it has been achieved but still in the process of being realized. In the Spring, we know the blossoms and blooms are coming, the evidence is there, but they don't fully emerge for another couple of months. The temperatures are not conducive to sitting out, and the ground is still frozen, so gardening is not only a waste of time, but impossible.

Before - 17 years of loving RV use
beginning to show
What is one to do in the Spring during a Covid lockdown? Well, if you own an RV its obvious. Renovate. In 2020, Cher and I had embarked on an ambitious external renovation of our 2004 RV. We had resealed the rubberised roof, removed and replaced 16-year-old dried and baked on decals, replaced the tires and generally spruced up the outside so at least we didn’t need to feel embarrassed about driving down the road or parking alongside a half million dollar luxury RV in a campsite somewhere. Despite it’s age, the engine on our RV has only done 50,000 miles so it is still a baby mechanically. The inside of the RV had been lived in one way or another for 17 years and looked like it. So, mainly out of the need to have something to do during lockdown, we decided to do the unthinkable – we would renovate the interior. I am not a practical guy at all and it’s a measure of my desperation to do something, anything, that we were willing to give it a shot.

Stripped of all her former glory

It’s instructive that once one starts a project and just follows logically one step after another, how things just seem to proceed quite naturally. We decided on a completely new look. We would repaint the walls, which ultimately, we never did, re-upholster the furniture, change the carpets, light and plug fixtures, add a few lights and put backsplash in the kitchen and bathroom. We changed the mattress on our bed and re-did all the window curtain fittings. We started with a long and seemingly impossible list of things to do. We kicked off by keeping Amazon afloat for a week or two with our orders alone. We also contributed significantly to the local economy at Home Depot, carpet, fabric and upholstery stores. We parked the RV on our driveway for close on a month while we went hard at it. It was quite a scary feeling when we had stripped it all down to the bare bones and we seriously wondered if we would ever get it back together again. 

Kitchen backsplash - check
By the end of April, we had pretty much broken the back of it and in May we chipped away at some of the smaller jobs. By the end we felt pretty good, although our budget had taken quite a hit. We could console ourselves a bit on that score by realising how much we had saved by doing it ourselves.  Even so, our budget is nowadays to be found whimpering and cowering in a dark corner. It may take a year or two before it recovers from the trauma and emerges back into the sunlight.

Cher - presiding over the new look
Nowadays we are now full out cleanliness freaks with anyone entering the RV, especially grandchildren. Muddy or sandy feet must be wiped, shoes removed, hands and hair scrubbed, behavior must be exemplary and only Sunday best clothing is allowed. There is serious talk of an RV Re-Entry Passport. Would be entrants must be double inspected to make it through the front door. Failure to make the grade results in the miscreants being barred entry and left outside to their own devices. Grandchildren have been known to hanker after the good old days when they could enter at will and were even allowed to put their feet up on the furniture. Gone are those days. We are now into the new normal.

Part of the renovation team 
on Rose and Roy's house
Soon after the Great RV Reno Show, at the beginning of May, we had the job of joining a team of people in Peterborough who were renovating my sister Rose and husband Roy’s house there. Rose and Roy have been living in South Africa for the last twelve years, working with Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) and were returning home to retire after having been with WBT for 50 years. Quite an achievement. Whilst in South Africa, they had been renting out their home in Peterborough for twelve years and it showed. The whole place needed a thorough going over. My brother Alan from Whitby joined Cher and I and a bunch of church friends from Peterborough. Us “out of towners” camped in the house for four or five days, while the local folk went home every night. We did our best to social distance, but it’s hard to do that properly when working cheek by jowl for days on end. None of us caught Covid as far as I’m aware. Painting was the main task, but each room yielded up its own list of extra To Do’s. Freshly confident off our RV reno, I was feeling cocky, and my jobs extended to laying vinyl flooring in a corner of the basement – never again. By the end of the week, the team of stagers moved in, and the place looked like it was ready to sell for a million bucks. When Rose and Roy arrived a day or two later, they thought they had landed in a five-star hotel. It was a fun project to be part of and it felt good giving Rose and Roy, retiring missionaries,  a good start as they embarked on a new life in Canada.

Sammy, Rob and Esther at Scarborough Bluffs
Cher and Rob kayaking in a local stream

Beautiful spring day at Mara Beach

Sammy and Esther rescuing
ice shards - early spring

Julia and Chris enjoying the better weather

James, Kai, John and Peter - partners
in crime

Peter, James and John - tree climbers extraordinaire

Once that excitement receded, we were back to mundane life at home, whilst we awaited “gardening season”. We decided to do some local exploring and did a day trip up towards Orillia, following the Lake Simcoe shoreline along. We discovered all kinds of small settlements and villages we never had any idea of, ending up with Mara Provincial Park which had a gorgeous wide beach with lovely green grass and shady trees to sit under. We popped into Orillia and ordered Chinese take out and returned to Mara PP to watch the sun set over the lake. We have so much natural beauty in Ontario. Covid has forced us to explore more locally, and we haven’t been disappointed with what we’ve found.

Birthday blanket in bed for Cher
My To Do list has taken a severe hit during Covid. Never has it looked so depleted and low. Nevertheless, some of those jobs have proved remarkably tenacious and resilient. For the eight years we have lived in our current house, Cher and I have thrown our garden waste into a big pile in the strip of forest between our house and the one behind us, to make compost. Covid isolation, left us no choice but to sort and sift it. This turned out to be quite a task. I framed a gigantic sieve and Cher and I went at the pile with a vengeance. My job was to dig it out, take out the big sticks and dump the rest on the sieve. Cher’s job was to sift the “good stuff” and extract the big pieces and endless pinecones, which we put into garden bags. Sixteen garden bags and three days later, stiff and sore in every part of our bodies, we called it quits. We had dealt with about a third of our pile and had one nice pile of “good stuff” to use during our gardening season. We will face the remaining pile next year – maybe. There’s a limit after all, to how much compost we can use in any one year.


Summer this year was as it should be. Lots of sunshine, outings galore and opportunities to eat breakfast, lunch and supper on our back deck. The season is short, so it’s party all the way.

The Canadian family has grown in the last year. 

Thalya - everything goes better with Coke

L-R John, James, Peter, Esther, Sammy at back

Rose and Val share a moment

Rose and Roy were back from SA after twelve years and Al and Rose were home, Covid having clipped their wings from travel to be with their kids. We had Mariah, Thalya and Kai with us. It was clear that as soon as the weather improved, we needed a gigantic Family Get Together. We tried two or three times to get a date planned, but the goal posts kept shifting on us as vaccinations were happening or not, sizes of groups permitted to meet were a moving target and bottom line, the ability to plan an event was nonexistent. We finally decided that things would surely be opened up by Canada Day on July 1st. Not. Finally, we managed to all get together outside on July 10th in Al and Rose’s back garden. It was fun. Backyard table tennis, soccer for the kids and BBQ. Now that is what summer is all about. We are thankful that our family is broadening its base and growing in this part of the world.

The rest of our summer is really a blur of RV related activities interspersed with the occasional visit home to do some laundry, pick a few weeds, and then pack up for the next trip. Our first foray was with Elaine, Sammy, and Esther for about three weeks in June. This trip had gone through a few mutations because of our good friend Covid. It had started with me wanting to spend the summer doing a three month RV trip to Alaska. Alaska is a long way and Cher persuaded me to be less adventurous, so we decided we would do the Southwest USA which has been on my bucket list for a while. Then Covid came along, and we decided to stay in Canada and do a 5–6-week trip with Elaine, Sammy, and Esther to the Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). That would fit well with some of the home-schooling project the kids had been working on. Then we realised that the Atlantic Bubble would not allow us to visit that part of the world and our plans morphed once again into a three-week trip of Southern Ontario. This tale is a vivid illustration of how Covid has clipped our wings and boxed us in. No wonder we all feel a bit out of sorts.

Julia and boys joined us for
five days at Sauble Beach

Trips to the beach with all our gear
were quite an expedition

Sandcastling at Sauble Beach - Summer Perfect

Trip to a local Nature Reserve - fun for all

Julia and Rob stringing up 
canvas covers for the tents

Beautiful scenery near Tobermory

There's a bird up there somewhere

Cher, Sammy, Elaine and Esther beaching 
it at Port Dover


Our first stop with Elaine, Sammy and Esther was north 4- 5 hours to Tobermory, which is on a peninsula which divides Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron. It is a beautiful part of the world. We arrived as things were beginning to open up and were able to do a glass bottomed boat ride to an island where we saw some interesting rock formations. We also visited The Grotto, which was stunningly beautiful, making us feel like we were on the Mediterranean coastline. The kids loved our campsite as there was a pool. They swam quit happily in the freezing water but seemed oblivious to that fact. Because we were now going to be relatively close to home Julia and boys, John, James and Peter decided to join us for a week in Sauble Beach, where we stayed in a very nice campsite, about 10 minutes bike ride from the beach. Julia, and boys were staying in two tents. We were expecting some rain, so spent some time fixing her up extra coverage over her tents. We were quite proud of the result. There were nine of us by then, and we made quite a sight as we all rode our bikes down to the beach in single file every day. The highlight of our final day was when we rescued a seagull with a badly broken wing, from the beach. He was happy for our help and seemed to enjoy our company in the box we organised for him. Julia took him on her way home the next day, to a rescue centre where his fate was uncertain. Enough said. We moved on from Sauble Beach to Southwest Ontario via some gorgeous farm fields and ultimately ended up in Niagara where we spent a few days doing the sights. Many things were still closed at that time, so once again we found the pool was our best friend and the kids made friends with another family who they have continued to have contact with.

Carla Daniel and Cher taking it easy

Esther, Elaine, Sammy & Cher at Niagara


Rob and Cher cycling between 
Southampton and Port Elgin
Cher checking out Parliament Buildings, Ottawa

Neil and Carla Daniel, Rob and Cher
kayaking trip on Saugeen River

For the rest of the summer Cher and I did a series of four-to-five-day trips across Southern Ontario to Port Elgin area, Rockwood Conservation Area and Kilbear Provincial Park with friends Carla and Neil who have their own trailer and once with our neighbors Bill and Karen Anderson. With Carla and Neil, we camped on the Saugeen River, near Port Elgin and discovered there is a 4- 5 day canoe/kayak trail that can be done down the river. We did a couple of stretches of it in our inflatable kayaks and enjoyed some quite good “rapids” which was fun. While we were at Rockwood we visited the St. Jacobs market, in the heart of Mennonite country. It was the biggest crowd we had been in for a year and a half, and it felt great to be back in the bustle with real people again. The fresh produce was irresistible, and we came home with bags of it.

Our summer is never complete without our annual family week at Fairhavens Family Camp in early August. This year, we had Rose, Roy, Mariah, Thalya and Kai with us for the first time, so that made for a bigger crowd with about 15 of us in total. Al and Rosie had to cancel because they had gone to Greece to visit Rosie’s Mum. We love the opportunity to be together as a large family and Fairhavens is a great time for the cousins to build lifelong friendships. Towards the end of August, we have typically taken Sammy and Esther to Beavermead campsite in Peterborough, while Elaine has prepared for school. This year we decided to have Julia’s three boys John, James and Peter join us. Rose and Roy’s house is less than a kilometer away so they too would be able to join in the fun. Cher and I had been having second thoughts about having all five of the kids with us together, as we find we don’t cope as well as we used to with the constant chaos. Did we ever? As things turned out, one of Julia’s boys was sick and we didn’t want to cross infect the rest of us, so we ended up having Sammy and Esther for 2-3 days and then Julia’s boys for 2-3 days each when we figured they were on the mend. This arrangement worked out well.

Team effort to flatten the floater

Fairhavens - kids learning to dive

Fairhavens - our biggest family group yet

Fairhavens - Roy with a bunch of 

There were some other highlights during the summer. Getting vaccinated was wonderful, along with the promise that there is actually some hope that we could get through this Covid blight after all and life might eventually be able to return to some type of normality.

The other highlight of the summer was that our baby, Julia, turned 40. I am still reeling from the impossible idea that my youngest chicklet could possibly be that age. We had wanted to give her a big party, but of course our good friend Covid ensured that any plans we would like to have made were impossible and then we were limited to partying outside and numbers needed to be limited. We were sad that we couldn’t celebrate as fully as we’d like to have done, but such is life under the thumb of The Bug.

Kilbear Provincial Park - site of some
spectacular scenery
At the end of September Cher and I did a final weekend RV trip with our neighbors Bill and Karen to Kilbear Provincial Park. This is a spectacularly beautiful part of our province, and we marvel at the privilege we have for such easy access to so much of it. Our farewell to summer every year is when we do the final clean up of the RV and drop it off at the storage yard. We put it to bed for the cold months by snuggling it up in its cover and bidding it farewell for the meantime. It triggers so many happy memories for us and we are grateful to the Lord for a toy such as this to entertain ourselves with. Bedtime for the RV is a sad time but tinged nevertheless with a sense of anticipation as we move into the next season and what that might hold for us.


The grandkids strut their stuff  before our 
departure for South Africa. 

Picnic with the grandchids before 
we headed to South Africa

A much reduced family group for 
Thanksgiving this year.

The Fall generally kicks off with Thanksgiving at the beginning of October. Cher and I volunteered to have our grand family get together and turkey fest at our house. For weeks the feast was planned. At one point we were expecting about 20 or so folks all in, when we included all the cousins, boyfriends and so on. We were scratching for chairs but figured we could just make it. And then one by one the numbers started to drop. Elaine was going to Saskatoon to visit a friend. Zahra, Rose and Roy’s granddaughter and boyfriend, couldn’t make it. And then the Trotter household, Julia, Chris and family started to get sick one by one. Eventually the whole household was down with something. Covid has made us cautious, so that whole group of eight couldn’t make it. We didn’t want the risk of their bugs. Finally, 9 of us were left on the day. It turned out to be exceptionally warm for that time of year, so we ate outside on the deck. Once again, it seemed like for the umpteenth time in a year and a half, Covid, or fear of it, had kept us from being with our family. Will this ever end? Having said that, Cher and I have been remarkably healthy for a year and a half, so I guess we do have Covid precautions to thank for that.

Cher had not been able to see her 96-year-old Mom in person for almost two years. Along with that we received the shocking news that my brother Neville had been diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma throughout his body. Despite the severity of the news Nev’s oncologist was relatively upbeat, touting “immunotherapy” as potentially delivering very good outcomes. Nevertheless, I felt I needed to get back to South Africa to see Nev. So, despite the risk of travel we decided to book flights and take our chances. 

From mid October to end of November Cher and I were visiting South Africa. We were having a holiday with a difference.  Cher and I were having separate holidays. Cher was visiting SA primarily to see her ageing Mom in East London and I was visiting mainly to see my brother Neville and family. Neville had recently received news that he had stage 4 melanoma. Despite him having started a recent “wonder treatment” called immunotherapy it seemed a good time to visit.

Cher and I spent the first 10 days together

We did some great beach walks together

We found a deli in Cintsa that we gave lots
 of business to

Mom Tobin and Rob doing some bonding

    After a week isolating in a cottage in Cintsa East, close to East London we moved in with Cher’s sister Lynne for a few days which gave me a chance to visit with Cher’s Mum, Daphne. It was lovely to see Daphne seeing Cheryl for the first time. Normally on her daily WhatsApp video calls from Canada, Daphne barely acknowledges Cher. When Cheryl appeared in person, Daphne exclaimed out loud “Oh my Darling” and did her level best to get out of her wheelchair to hug her. It was a sight to behold. Daphne also gave me a big hug and definitely recognised me. Her response made our trip worth it just for that. For the next two days, Cheryl got the same response from her Mum each time she visited, before Daphne got used to the idea of seeing Cher daily in person.

After two or three days at the end of October, I flew from East London to OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, to spend time with my brother Neville, his wife Maureen and their daughter Lindy. Lindy was visiting from Australia to be with Neville during the initial stages of his immunotherapy treatment and help with the various appointments and so on.  She had been there for two months and planned to leave December 9th. Lindy was almost at the end of her five-year waiting period to qualify for Permanent Residency in Australia and had a “Travel Exemption” which allowed her to get back into Australia in December.

Cher visited a project where pop bottles stuffed
with recycled materials are used for building.

Cher had chance to visit with some old friends. 

Cher and I were to be apart for a month, one of our longest stretches ever apart. She in East London and me with Nev, Mau and Lindy. Life soon settled into a steady rhythm for both of us. Cher, was staying with Lynne and one or both of them would visit her Mom a couple of times a day. I was helping Nev to clear out quite a lot of his surplus clutter. Nev had recently handed over his business to his son Doug and I helped him clear out his office and a micro storage unit full of a lifetime of accumulated files and papers at the office and at home, including a couple of storage rooms.

For the last ten days of November, Nev, Mau, Lindy and I flew down to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and then drove to St. Francis Bay where Nev and Mau had recently bought a retirement house sight unseen (that’s a long story). Their son Doug, wife Kim and kids live in SFB and Nev and Mau are considering retiring there to be closer to Doug’s family. We were there to check out the new house and help get it set up so Nev and Mau could return in December for the summer/Christmas break which is South African’s primary vacation time of year.

Lindy and niece Annie - hang out time 

Three brothers, Nev, Al, Rob 
- a rare opportunity  to be together

Nev, grandson Tommy, and Maureen

Janine, my niece and Nev and Mau's first 
daughter joined us for a weekend. 

Rob, Nev and Mau - Sunday morning breakfast

Three generations of artists - Annie, Lindy, Mau

Nev, Linday & Mau - hanging out 

Nev and Mau's  son Doug, in foreground

Al the handyman recruited for house set up jobs

Rob and Nev - we did a lot of 
odd jobs together over the month

My second brother Alan, who had recently arrived from Canada, joined us in SFB to help with any jobs that needed doing. So, all in all it was quite a nice family reunion in SFB. This is where our story begins. We had finished most of the work on the house and had a couple of days to wind up in relaxed fashion before returning to Johannesburg on Sunday, November 28th, where Cher and I would meet, visit with Nev, Mau and Lindy for a couple of days before we caught our scheduled KLM flight home on November 30th. We were looking forward to our business class flight. Cher and I had never paid for business class before and had treated ourselves for this once in a lifetime thing, thinking that we might be breathing slightly more rarefied air than the rest in economy, in the hope we might reduce the chance of picking up Covid on the plane. We were all set. That’s when things started to go wrong, and all our plans were rendered obsolete.

Our trip home was a major challenge due to the sudden and unwelcome arrival of the Omicron virus to South Africa. Our efforts to get a last-minute flight, when our scheduled KLM one was cancelled due to Omicron, made for a pretty torrid trip home. I threatened to write a book about the week we spent trying to get home in a hurry but have settled for a blog post instead. If you like reading horror stories, then you can read our story at our blog site (robwithcher.blogspot.com) titled “Oh My Cron Strikes”. If you intend to travel again, only read it if you have strong nerves.  

So here we are sitting out our first two weeks in December doing what we started the year doing – sitting in isolation, while we wait to see if the mighty Oh My Cron has struck us or not while we were in South Africa. We are thankful that we are double vacced with the promise of a booster shot on the way. The dread and fear of the bug is reduced significantly. Its main bite these days, lies in its ability to keep us always guessing as to what happens next.

As we reflect on the year 2021, we are grateful to the Lord who watches over us in good times and bad. We are very conscious that we are living in challenging times. So many people are facing difficulties of various kinds. Whilst our lives are not problem free, Cher and I sometimes marvel at how God looks after us daily and over the longer term. We have been challenged in recent days to “Stand” in the faith and again to “Have an Attitude of Gratitude”. This is good advice for us all. The times we live in are stretching. We are grateful that the arrival of God’s greatest gift, Jesus, is a time for celebration and cheer. Let us do that this year with great Joy.

May this Christmas season be a time of blessing for you and your family. May 2022 be a good year for us all. May our attitudes overlook all the tough times and our overwhelming approach be one of gratitude to our great God, who loves us even though much of the time we are not very loveable.

Merry Christmas,

Rob and Cheryl Cornish