Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye to 2016!

Stollen. No German Christmas is complete without it. Thanks, Mom!
Normally, I decorate our Christmas tree the day after American Thanksgiving and take it down on Canadian Boxing Day. But what is "normal" anymore? (And yes, it is my joy to decorate, not my husband's!)

Without the constriction of the 4th Thursday of November, the tree went up at mid-month. I wasn't ready to pack up after Christmas, either. (It was like the holiday hadn't quite happened yet.) 

But yesterday, after a gathering for neighbors to say goodbye to the past year, I'm done. I started putting things away when the last guest left.

This has been a week of thinking and planning. Looking back. Dreaming ahead. Scheduling and finding new ways to think about what we're learning. 
Hmm - does he ride in the 2-reindeer open sleigh,
hop on the bike ... or climb into the wheelbarrow?
I admit to hibernating a bit, processing. Of course we are glad to be here. By now it's home. But still ... how strange to spend our first Christmas away from the big-city friends nearby. Without any of our family or old friends. My heart felt lonesome, even with a full calendar.
8' between you and the neighbor? Build something
W is nearly finished writing a lectureship. He's been poring through theological texts. I edit the almost-done versions of his papers. I'm glad he knows how to auto-format footnotes and can write in good English. But theology is not my first love so I crank up music from Focus at Will while I read.
Checking the list twice: a peek inside from the porch, before neighbours arrive
Saturday, December 31, 2016
A part of culture shock is relearning how things are done. When cooking for 30 (or 50) without a dishwasher or other conveniences, good help is a godsend. On New Year's Eve, part-time helper IbuA brings her daughter to help her wash up and cook. 

By the time they arrive in the afternoon, I've made the main dishes. They cut fruit, wash vegetables, cook papaya leaves and red-berried bitter veggies, and make rice. There has to be rice, even with mashed potatoes, egg casserole, and other starches.

We relax in the company of our wonderful neighbors. Some visit in the house. Others sit on the porch, enjoying the breeze coming over the hill. It's been a hot dry week.

Villagers and city-folk alike are shooting off firecrackers (no regulations here!). The crack-crack echoes off the hills and punctuates our conversations.

We have too much food: nearly every guest brings along something. Afterward, "It's like shopping, isn't it?" laughs a dear friend as she and the other women load plastic bags with leftovers. That's another tradition here. Why cook tomorrow when a friend will share her bounty with you? We have plenty for another day, too.

The year in brief review: New friends. Monthly movie nights of 30-60. Lots of people over = a lot of cooking. Weekly gatherings to study Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Proverbs, Mark, and Luke. (We read and observe together.) Conference calls and meetings. Team recruitment. Teaching in Indo, Singapore, and the Philippines. Language school. Parts of 4 months spent on USA citizenship issues. (W's interview is in 2 weeks.)
Admiring a beautiful silk batik scarf
Thanks for your prayers and partnership! We are looking forward to the new year and God's blessings on this city!

Read more:
*How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore. Psalm 133:1,3
*Agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Corinthians 13:11, 13
Moravian Prayer: Almighty Father, we give you thanks for the blessing of another year. We ask for the Spirit to be in us as we start the new year. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy. Amen.

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