Year of Change – 2016

2016!  Its an exciting year for us Waldrons!  Big things are happening and we are buckling our seat belts for the ride!  If you have a few minutes and want to get caught up on our news, please read on.   

I will start with the kids.  They bring so much joy and fulfilment to our lives!  We are grateful every day (well, almost every day) for all 3 of them.

We officially have a teen-ager in the house!  Marae turned 13 on the 10th of January and we celebrated!!!!  Raising teenagers can be daunting, but we feel a real sense of anticipation – that we are beginning to embark on a new journey with her, that will bring a closeness we haven’t experienced before (and LOTS of fun too!)  Our dear Marae fills her days with all sorts of activities.  She started learning piano towards the end of last year, and that is delightful!  She finished Grade 7 in December and in South Africa, that means the end of primary/elementary school.  Soooo… she has officially started high school!!  Her primary school career concluded with the honour of being named Dux (highest marks in her grade) and she walked away with about 11 trophies, 10 academic and 1 swimming.  She continues her swimming career too, and is one of the top swimmers in her age group in our province.  She was baptised last year and is often looking for ways she can serve God and others.  We are incredibly proud of our girl.

All those trophies!  And Marae's wonderful Grade 7 teacher!  We love Mrs. Aissing!

All those trophies! And Marae’s wonderful Grade 7 teacher! We love Mrs. Aissing!

Marae and some of her close friends at her birthday party.

Marae and some of her close friends at her birthday party.

Nate is 10 and full of spunk.  He is definitely the character in the house and keeps us all laughing.  From attempting street dance (mimicking a library how-to book) in the living room to telling long, drawn out jokes with questionable punch lines – life in the Waldron house would definitely be a bore without this “little” man.  And he is NOT so little!  10 years old, but wearing size 12-13 clothing!  And those feet!!!  :-)  He finished Grade 4 in December, also first in his class, and is now well into Grade 5.  His big love right now is Minecraft.  I hear more about that game than I care to share, but we try to keep it all in moderation.  Soccer remains his first sporting love and reading books (thankfully) keeps its spot as number 2 in his use of spare time (mainly because mom strictly limits video gaming…)  #meanmoms  He has asked to be baptised soon and LOVES our church.  We have a new evening service that he is super glad about because he often has soccer matches in the mornings.   Nate brings us so much joy and we are super proud of him!!

Nate receiving his "first in class" certificate.

Nate receiving his “first in class” certificate.

Forgot to mention Nate's love of the great outdoors and creepy crawlies!

Forgot to mention Nate’s love of the great outdoors and creepy crawlies!

And the baby…  Elise is 8 1/2 years old and is quite an interesting little soul.  She is super logical and analytical (we think she might be the lawyer in the family), yet loves her girly-girl lifestyle, with ballet, pink and purple clothes, etc.  The other day she wanted me to bring my shampoo for her to use because it said “salon” on it – and the one in her shower didn’t.  Haha.  She needed the salon touch!  Grade 2 was a lovely year for her last year.  She loved her teacher and performed incredibly well, also receiving the “first in class” honour.  Last month marked the start of her Grade 3 year and she was pretty nervous.  She walked up the steps to the school saying, “Mom, my stomach feels like a knot of butterflies.”  Sweetheart.  We are confident she will do well.  Her extra-curricular pursuits remain ballet and swimming.  She looks like she may be a swimmer like her older sister.  She has picked a different stroke to excel in, so they probably won’t race each other! :-)  She has also started piano lessons this year and got a hamster for Christmas – so her little life is very full.  That hamster, Stitch, reads with her, comes to supper with her, watches TV with her, etc..  They have quite the bond! ;-)   She loves our family devotion time in the evenings, and if we are ever tempted to skip because we are tired or busy, she keeps us on track!  We are so very proud of our youngest and know God has wonderful things in store for her.

Elise with her achievement certificate!  Proud of you, sweet girl!!

Elise with her achievement certificate! Proud of you, sweet girl!!

Love that smile!!

Love that smile!!

Thanks for letting us tell you all about our kiddos!

Silly outtakes from our family photos.

Silly outtakes from our family photos.

Dad was making them laugh...

Dad was making them laugh…



Now onto Carl and I.

Michelle – 2016 is looking like it is going to be one of the most exciting years yet! ;-)  I had foot surgery two weeks ago.  I had a bunion (do I sound like a granny?), that was giving me a lot of grief and limiting my activities, so finally decided to get it fixed.  My mom arrived on that same day and will be with us until the middle of April. She spent about 2 months with us last year and will be with us for about 2 1/2 months this year.  We are really excited that she is here  again.  Living alone hasn’t been easy for her (after the death of my dad last year), so we are thrilled she is here and will get to hang out with our craziness!  She also cleans, cooks, reads to kids, helps with homework, drives, etc, etc, etc… so it is a bit of a working trip for her!! ;-)  We also have about 4-5 groups/individuals that are coming to visit during the first 6 months of the year.  Always fabulous to have visitors!

I have been really missing acute care nursing, so this year came across an opportunity to attend a 2 week medical conference in Greece!  That will happen in April of this year.  One of my closest friends, Ruth, who is a missionary in PNG, is  going to be coming also!  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this conference!  Ruth is the friend who convinced me to go with her to the Philippines, which is how I met Carl!  She and I have not had more than an afternoon together in about 20 years!  So my excitement cannot be contained!

On the Seed of Hope side, I also have fantastic news.  We went through a process last year to find a suitable replacement for me at Seed of Hope; I am slowly working myself out of a job.   We found a wonderful social worker and she started with us this year.  I am incredibly excited about the future with Patronellah Kadungure on the Seed of Hope health team.  We will be going through a process of handing over leadership of the health team to her this year.  Pat has 8 years of experience in NGOs similar to ours, and we are confident she will take us to new heights.  I will remain working with Seed of Hope, and after the gradual handover, will focus my time on health curriculum writing and HIV trainings.

That leads us to Carl.  I wanted to let him write this part, but honestly, he is racing just to keep up with his own responsibilities, so I’m writing to update you on his behalf.  Seed of Hope is growing to new heights every single year.  Our programs have grown in depth and quality, in addition to quantity.  Carl is a fantastic leader and the SOH team is the healthiest non-profit team I have ever seen (although I am a bit biased.)  He remains an elder in our church and really enjoys the team of elders that he serves with.

His extra-curricular pursuits, unfortunately, have been curbed because of his ankle injury two years ago.  He had surgery on it last year, but is still not on the basketball court (much to his dismay.)  This year though, he and Nate are going on a 5-day men’s hike in the Drakensberg Mountains with guys from church – a great father-son bonding time.  AND a test of that ankle!

The biggest news is our upcoming transition.  We have been praying for years about when is the right time for us to return to Canada.  When we moved to South Africa, we thought it might be for 3-5 years.  And we are about to hit our 9 year mark!  Finally last year, we really felt God’s directing that this was the time.  Over the last year, Carl has been preparing the organisation for its next season under new leadership.  Carl will transition out of his role as CEO towards the end of this year and we will move back to Canada in early 2017.  He will then take on the role as Canadian Director of Hopeshares (which is a partner of Seed of Hope), so we will still be very involved with SOH’s ministry.  We will continue to be serving in missions and community development, just in a different and broader way.

This won’t be an easy transition.  We have been preparing our children for more than a year already, and more than a few tears have been shed.   South Africa is home to us all, but especially for the kids, so moving back to Canada will feel foreign and “cold” (in more ways than one.)  We have found a lot of great resources to help us all with this transition, and are grateful for that.  We are preparing ourselves for a bittersweet season of change.

Our family loves South Africa and always will.

So that is our big news.  Good-byes are never easy, and hello’s are sometimes just as hard.  So thank you in advance for your support and your prayers.



22 Responses to Year of Change – 2016
  1. Sylvia Polachuk Reply

    We are excited about you coming back to Canada!! Praying for a good transition for all of you. God bless!

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Aunt Sylvia! We are excited too (mixed with sadness…)…

  2. Paloma Reply

    I’m sure that everyone there will miss you terribly. Your faith and determination to pass the word of God on and to help others knows no bounds.

    For those of us though that have been waiting patiently for your 3-5 years to be at an end…YIPPEE!!!! Is it to early to start the countdown? I can’t wait to see you all.

    I hope this last year there is one of great triumph for you both. Take some time to really see all that you have accomplished.

    See you soon!

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks so much, Paloma! You have been such a loyal (and patient) friend through our entire time in South Africa. Looking forward to making more memories together! And even going to church together! So great!

  3. Rachel Reply

    Oh WOW! You guys are just fabulous!
    Thank you for sharing about each of you and your news. I just love to read it!
    What a big change ahead. I’m sad I’ve not made it back to Seed of Hope and now probably won’t before you guys move on.
    What an awesome way God has used you to bring SOH and Bhekulwandle on though. I praise God for all that he has done, is doing and will do through SOH.

    Keep going you lovely Waldrons and friends at Seed of Hope!

    • Michelle Reply

      thank you, sweet Rachel! We will be going through England again on our way home. Would love to get to see you again! ;-)

  4. Amber Reply

    Wonderful to read about what’s current with you & yours Michelle! We will keep you in our prayers as you wind up your time in SA, and sure hope Calgary is on your radar for when you move back :)

    • Michelle Reply

      Hello dear friend! Thanks for your prayers! We are so blessed to have so many fabulous friends – all over the world! And Calgary holds a lot of pull for us – but our present plan is to move back to St. Albert and see what happens from there. I still dream of living in Calgary one day, though! ;-)

  5. Scott Cowan Reply

    Michelle (and family),
    What a great update and what exciting news. I can only imagine how difficult it will be to leave, but every transition is for a reason and many more opportunities and blessings are in store.

    It is so exciting to see bit of a window into the kids lives! Your descriptions really paint a picture of their personalities! It is so awesome to see them grow and change!

    Thank you (and your whole family) for the work that you have done, and continue to do. Big things are in store for both the Seed of Hope and for your family, and we are excited along with you!

    Thanks for taking the time to share it all!

    Scott (and Shauna) Cowan

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Scott (and Shauna) for your great note. We so appreciate your friendship over the years! Looking forward to some catching up on that side of the ocean!

  6. Michael Reply

    Wow!!!! There’s a lot happening for you guys. This transition can’t be easy for all of you. We will keep you guys in our prayers. Needless to say, we’re also excited to hear of your move back to Canada…particularly your Grandin neighbours.

    • Michelle Reply

      Grandin isn’t going to know what hit it when we get back! ;-) Gonna be some fun times! Thanks for your prayers! We love you guys!

  7. Shauna Reply

    Oh my word, such a letter of great tidings. Three kids on the honor roll. Wow, what a feat that is. Great job kids.
    I feel your heart Michelle, as you are transitioning back. I have a small idea of your feelings, as we too, have transitioned back to Alberta, after Two years in B.C. I understand the Good-byes, and even some hello’s, can be difficult. I did not want to come back to the Winter tundra of Alberta. I did not want to come back to a place where, I had suffered so much loss and grief. I am however grateful that God gave me some respite and healing, in a tiny town called Pritchard.

    Here we are, and although I miss the scenery and photography bliss of B.C, It has been okay being back home. I will tell you, that this has been the best Winter weather, that I have ever known for Alberta. Truly amazing, very little snow, and very decent temps. such a blessing to come back to, because I DREADED our return to ALBERTA WINTER!!
    So just know that you have dozens of friends here, that are excited to welcome you back home. I imagine Bev, is over the moon to have her bestie coming back.
    As you prepare you kids, and your hearts
    my simple prayer for your family is this,

    May God Bless You and Keep you, May his face Shine upon you, and his favor follow you always.

    Such a good news letter
    love you guys<3

    Shauna T.

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks so much, Shauna! You are a very sweet, constant friend – even across the miles!

  8. Ruth Reply

    I’m a little teary…at the joy of getting to see you and just the sacrifie of soon transitions. I know it is all good, but even going home is hard. Praying Michelle for your family and you as you follow that still small voice that we both love. And we will have to have a little conversation about where I live, when we are together in Greece. ; ) HaHA.

    • Michelle Reply

      I can’t wait for those conversations! Hope we remember to sleep!! ;-)

  9. Luana Reply

    VERY excited that we’re down to counting months, not years now! We know very well those bittersweet feelings of goodbyes and hellos! Carl was the one who told us a month to adjust for every year away. That was fairly accurate for us after 10 years away! It isn’t a lot of fun some days, but we’re definitely looking forward to having all of you nearby again in the countable future! Love, Mom/Nan

    • Michelle Reply

      We are very excited too! Not sure when we should start a countdown. :-) Love to you and Dad!

  10. Mom Reply

    Dearest Michelle,
    Transitions are always hard; whatever they may be. God will be with your family as you make this move.
    Children are resilient; they will be able to handle the move, because you and Carl will be there when they fall apart a few times.
    I know the Waldron tribe and the Kelch tribe are thrilled for you to be on our side of the “pond” for a change.
    Looking forward to March!!!
    Love you so much,

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Mom, for your constant support and love!

  11. Corinne Pulvenis Reply

    You are truly an amazing family, such incredible role models. We will truly miss you when you go, as I know Seed of Hope will too. I know you are going to be overwhelmingly blessed in the years ahead. Thank you for giving into our community Amanzimtoti, and South Africa as a whole. Xx Wes and Cor

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Wes and Corinne! You guys are also an inspiration and we have been blessed to walk alongside you in various ways over the years.

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