Happy New Year!

Good Morning and Happy New Year!

Today I’m writing you a sort of ‘intermission’ between the years.  If, like us, you’re sort of spinning around and wondering what happened, then join the club.

2020 is over, proving, as many said, we now have valid proof that  “2020 Won”. (or as it’s written, 2021).

To bring that fact home, we had a vacation of sorts that was not the vacation we were planning.  Anyone else out there feeling the same? We were scheduled to visit a friend an airplane ride away, but at the last minute chickened out. It was only a domestic flight, but with the constantly changing border restrictions between prefectures, we were scared of getting stranded, either unable to come back home or else coming home to a government-enforced quarantine, to the tune of around $5000 for the two of us.

Now don’t laugh or mock us, but we HAD to leave our house, certainly not because we needed a vacation, but because I’d rented out OUR house on Airbnb and we had to vacate.  There is a long explanation for this; the week between Christmas and New Years is the peak of summer and when almost all Australians have a break from work (think 4th of July weekend).  Because of this, everyone’s looking for accommodation, and almost everyone wants to be where we live here in the Gold Coast.  People will pay enough in that week, especially for a whole home, that you can easily pay your taxes for the entire year with the profits.  Plus, it gives this old missionary a chance to do a deep clean and pack up and sort, taking time to evaluate the year’s accumulation of stuff.

So on that note, since we had to leave and had nowhere to go, I picked up the phone and called around, asking for somewhere that had cancellations, since our border to New South Wales had suddenly slammed shut just a few days before.

I know you Americans are shaking your heads at our concern Down Under, compared to the horrible reports that are coming down from the Northern Hemisphere. And you may have a point. I just pulled all the numbers I could find and came up with this thumbnail scorecard:

In Australia, we’ve had a total of 909 deaths attributed directly to Covid. With a population of 25,672,000, that comes out to about one death per 28,242 people. Keep in mind that at least three fourths of all Australians live way out in the country and hardly ever come in contact with anyone. Plus, while the Northern Hemisphere is in the throes of winter, we’re having a daily bake off of any germs that come by.

In the United States, I’m told that over 350,000 have died so far; with a population of 328,239,523, that comes to one death per 937 people.

With a worldwide population of over 7.6 billion and total Covid deaths recorded of 1.8 million, that comes to one death every 425 people.

Now, the skeptic in me wants to question the numbers, but I think the bottom line remains: our numbers here with a death ratio of 1:28,242 isn’t that bad, but we realize you folks in the USA are suffering, and our hearts go out to you. A church friend of ours from our youth died just before Christmas, making him the first one we personally knew to succumb to this pandemic.

But let me get back to more trivial things like where to go when our options were limited. My search finally landed a timeshare that somebody had been forced to cancel, so we booked it for half the going rate. It was just 10 miles from our house, in a beach area that we’d never visited (there’s too many to count right here on the Gold Coast).  Absolutely beautiful!  Soon the kids got wind of our good fortune and loaded up (at our invitation) and came with lots of food and sleeping bags. It was a week to remember.

In a lot of ways, I think a few days with the grandkids can be compared to last year, when we didn’t know what to expect from day to day. Some moments were Hallmark, Kodak, and “priceless”. Other times, well, we found ourselves tempted to dangle them over the balcony. Come to think of it, they would probably have been delighted, since they spent a great deal of their time trying to do just that.

But like last year, we mostly found ourselves thanking God for every moment and seeing how He has total control, loving and caring for us. I know we will look back on this event with smiles on our faces, and even possibly, want to do it again.

On that note, we moved into the New Year, complete with some beautiful little local fireworks at 9:00pm for us all to watch.

As I mentioned last week, Nicki’s pregnancy continues to be a joy for us, and we’ve started a series called “Letters to Schnicklefritz”, which we’ll be sending to the baby for the next 6 months or so.  Hopefully, it’s a niche that might attract a publisher, especially if you have an uncle or neighbor who is a publisher and want to recommend us to him.  So if you’d like to read these, send me your details and we’ll get you on the list to read the upcoming ones every Wednesday till July.

Next week I’m going to start a series here that Tony is currently preaching about “Light”.  I think it’ll be interesting, as some of us enjoy 4:30AM light in the heat of summer and the rest of you snuggle next to the fire trying to remember brighter days.

Cherrio………….and all the best for 2021

Marsha

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