Monday, December 29, 2008

29 December 2008

Dear Family and Friends

What follows is an update from Albert and Hanneke and girls! I’ve enjoyed reading some annual updates that were sent to us and thought that it must be our turn to update you on our year.

Our year has been very busy for all of us and another year of growing closer in all areas to the Lord. We have been challenged in all areas.

Our first change of the year was the safe arrival of Zara Rebekah in February. What a blessing she has been to us. Our little ray of sunshine. It has been a change in the family dynamics and I in particular found adjusting to number four difficult in comparison to the others. I suppose that life goes on regardless of whether a baby is there or not! Her older sisters love her to bits. Now that she is older, sleeps through the night and interacts more, life has returned to normal.

Our next change was Grace going to school. She was ready for it and she was full of anticipation of starting school just like Michaela. It has been a huge help to be familiar with school, the routines etc. With starting school comes a lot of preparation, birthday party, uniform, buying school books/bags etc. Albert and I miss our big girl at home as she often would accompany us on our lunch dates (at which she would eat a brownie!). Grace is really enjoying school and is thriving. She does well with some encouragement. As a result of her doing so well, she has progressed to the next classroom in the next school year!

Michaela continues to do well at school. She is a bright girl who needs just about no encouragement (apart from looking after her gear). She struck her first obstacle this year, subtractions! We are working with her on this and I’m sure it won’t be long before this is mastered also. She is growing up, no longer a little girl. We enjoy having real conversations with her. She has started to tell us jokes although she is not allowed to be funnier than Albert!

Kate is doing well also. She turned 2 this year in June. She has started going to Creche two mornings a week which she disliked for a couple of months. She is slowing warming up to the idea of being away from mum. Whenever I would pick her up she would just about run home with me! The reason for putting her into the crèche is that it is getting extremely difficult to get her into the private Christian kindy and crèche children get priority. It has been a blessing in disguise for me as well. I have enjoyed some time just with Zara and it gives me an opportunity to catch up on my housework. Overall Kate is doing well though and is excellent in playing by herself, she loves (this is an understatement) Poohbear and reads her Pooh bear book all the time.

Albert has had another difficult year this year mainly due to session. Please continue to pray for him that God may give him wisdom and patience to deal with the very difficult matter of shepherding the flock.

Albert’s work continues to be a real blessing to us. It has enables us to take time off when it is needed and he has been able to spend time with family.

I’m doing well also. I’m kept very busy with the girls, keeping the house tidy and under control. This in particular has been a challenge to me as I do find that number four makes a huge difference. I have been very blessed with help from several sources other then the help from mums and family members. Due to the huge rise in petrol earlier this year one of the school mums asked whether I would like to carpool. This has been a huge blessing time wise. I did not find it easy to balance a newborn baby and school hours, where do you fit your afternoon sleep in? All is well now and carpooling continues to be a blessing for both of us mums.

Another area that has been very helpful is the help of Elizabeth while her husband and Albert are at session/elder meetings in Palmerston North. (for those of you who are not aware Albert and Peter travel an hour there and back to Palmerston North for each meeting) Albert has been very busy with session and the meetings are long and difficult. I tease Albert regularly that he is going to turn into a pumpkin one of these days. (ie comes home after 12am). Elizabeth and I keep each other company while our husbands are away and achieve a fair amount of housework during that time.

I’m also busy with another (several in fact) projects. Pesto! In case you are not aware it is not a dip but a NZ Heading Dog. Pesto joined our family in July last year as a birthday present from Albert. I’m very busy training her in my spare moments. I enjoy spending some time away from the kids and enjoy getting some exercise at the same time. Albert is very supportive (even building a dog proof fence/area (at least so far!!) so that the children can play in the backyard with out the dogs being there) even though he prefers cats!

Our family highlights from this year include:

- A van der Horst family reunion. My brother TJ and Miriam (his wife) and Elijah flew to Palmerston North for about a week to spend time with family. We enjoyed having them at our place. We all enjoyed spending time together as a family at my parent’s place in Feilding. We played lots of games, ate lots of food (thanks to mama) and went swimming.
- A social weekend away in Taupo doing a 12 hour mountain bike relay race. It was a real blessing to spend time with other Christians and enjoy each others company. A highly recommended weekend.
- Of course the annual Lake Taupo race. This year Albert has set himself a strict training plan which he stuck to. It has been really good from a family point of view as he worked around the family’s needs. It meant that he did a fair few km’s (very early in the morning) on the trainer inside while I was out walking the dogs! His training was rewarded and he rode a good race. It was slightly hampered by the fact that another rider rode into his back wheel and broke a spoke. Albert managed to hang on and thankfully he was OK. A technician on the course fixed his bike temporarily and off he went again. Josh (Albert’s brother) and his father rode around the lake as well and we spent the weekend with them in a rented house. A very busy weekend but all of us survived the Lake Taupo challenge. Planning is already underway for next year!
- School trips – Albert has been on several school trips this year with the girls. What a blessing it is that he can take the time of work and enjoy spending time with his girls! All parties involved enjoyed them selves thoroughly!

On a personal note, we have been very blessed with 10 years of marriage this year. Wow I can’t believe it has been that long. Marriage is a truly blessing to the both of us, it is not easy to find time for us but we try and make time. The girls have a ‘cornflake’ dinner (which is a treat) every now and then so that Albert and I can have a dinner date (mostly at home) together. Both our parents have been great in giving us opportunities to go on the occasional dates.

2009 - We have made several plans although God is in control of all things.

- We have put an offer on another house, which has been accepted. This was followed by putting our house on the market. So far we have had no interest in our house. We are unsure at this stage what will happen and we will leave it in God’s plan. We do not have to move which in it self is a huge blessing. The ‘new’ house is a low maintenance house with four bedrooms and very close to school.
- Albert is planning a trip to Brazil next year to attend an international McKenzie Conference. Again we are not sure whether this will eventuate but we are hopeful at this stage and we will plan for it
- We are looking forward to two new arrivals in the Couperus/van der Horst families. Raewyn (Albert’s sister) being due in January and Miriam (Hanneke’s sister in law) being due in May.
- A Couperus family reunion is planned for July next year in conjunction with Heit’s (Albert’s father) 60th birthday party. As our family keeps expanding we have hired part of a camp in Hastings at Riverbend. It will be nice to catch up/get to know the nephews (no nieces at this stage).

Well that is about our update. We will continue to pray for all of you that you may continue to grow closer to God in the coming year.

Albert, Hanneke, Michaela, Grace, Kate and Zara.
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