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Goals: A Look Back, A Look Ahead

As 2017 draws to a close and 2018 careens its way toward us, I’ve been thinking about the goals I set for myself in 2017. I blogged earlier this year about a couple of my goals so thought I’d report on those and what I’m looking ahead to accomplish in 2018.

A Look Back at 2017

1. 52 Book in 52 Weeks

I’d set a goal to read 52 books this year and met that goal in mid November. This year, roughly 1/3 of the books I read were non-fiction. I’m not against reading fiction, I was just surprised by this outcome for the year. I’m currently reading book #59 but I don’t know if I’ll get it done before midnight tomorrow.

Bonus goal:

In January I started reading through the Bible chronologically. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up due to all the traveling we did this year. Turned out I didn’t need to worry. I finished reading through the Bible in mid November. In fact, book #52 for the year was God’s Word. I thought that was pretty great!

In the process of all our travel, the Bible I’ve had and used since I was 17 started falling apart. 🙁 The binding broke and everything from I Timothy on fell out. As I continued to use it, Romans and on started looking iffy and I had to stop carrying it to church. I finished reading through it this year and I’ll be carefully using it for future Bible study. It’s hard to let go of an old friend!

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I have another Bible my parents gave me when I learned to read. It hasn’t been used as much since I got the other one. I’ve been refamiliarizing myself with it the last couple months and using it when we go to church or attend classes to help the other Bible last longer.

2. Keep a Journal

My goal was to write in my journal at least once a week. I didn’t quite make that goal. Most weeks I kept up pretty well. Some weeks I wrote more than once. Other weeks, I was so busy it didn’t happen at all. That’s okay. The goal of journalling is to write things I want to remember, verbalize things I’m struggling with in an effort to lower my stress level, and write down goals and ideas I have. I accomplished those goals.

I started a new journal at the beginning of December, another one I’d gotten at the little shop in Egypt. It’s my favorite color and has smooth, lined pages. I’m loving it!

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3. Bonus Goal #2: Fitness Tracking

James and I got fitness watches in 2016. The first week of January, the app announced an achievement award for making my fitness goals every day for the whole week. Being the overachiever that I am, I earned the “award,” virtual though it was. Then it offered an “award” for meeting the fitness goal every day of the month. Then another if I did it for 100 days. Well, you get the picture. It wasn’t a goal I originally set out to meet, but day by day the year passed and here we are. If I meet the goal tomorrow, I’ll have done it every day for the whole year.

Looking Ahead to 2018

1. 52 Books in 52 Weeks.

Yep, I have that goal again. 🙂 It’s become a tradition. This year, I’m doing a challenge with some online friends. The first month I have to read a book published in my birth year. The book I’ve chosen in #4 in a series, so I have to read the first 3 books before I can even meet the challenge for January. Should be fun. There are several non-fiction books on my To Be Read list this year, too.

I’m not making a Through the Bible in a Year challenge this year. I’d like to concentrate my study on the New Testament, using a Bible Study book my friend Rachel Miller put together, In All Thy Ways.

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2. Keep a Journal

My goal this year is still once a week, but I might try for a few minutes three days a week instead. Either way, it’ll get those thoughts and ideas out of my head onto paper.

3. Fitness Tracking

I’ll hit 500 days sometime in April. Why stop now? 😉 It’s become such a habit, that I’d feel weird stopping. 

4. Swahili Study

I need to get over the hurdle of not being able to use the Swahili I understand. It’s frustrating to know what someone is telling me and not be able to reply. It’s mental hurdle that I’m determined to beat. I have all the tools I need to meet this goal, I just need to use them.

Once I’ve accomplished this, I’d like to start teaching Sunday School in Swahili for practice. It doesn’t bother me as much when kids laugh at me as it does when adults do it. So there’s that. Hah! 😀

5. Writing and Editing

I’ve got several books in various stages of the writing and editing process. This fall, NaNoWriMo introduced a goal tracker. Check the little box when you reach your goal for the day. I’ve set it up to write or edit one hour a day, five days a week. It’s more than the hit and miss I’ve been doing up to now and I’m looking forward to seeing how much I get done when using it.

That’s pretty much it for now. I’ve got some sewing and crochet goals but those are rather fluid, whatever is most pressing gets done first.

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How’s Africa – Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in Africa is, in many ways, the same as Christmas in the US, but in some ways it’s different. The differences surprised us when we first came to Africa.

First, and most noticeable, is the temperature. Christmas where we live falls at the end of the rainy season, just as it is changing over to the dry season. Some years we get our last rain for three months during the week of Christmas. It’s cooler than normal for here when that happens. But most years it’s hot and dry. We make plans to go swimming that week because it feels so nice to go in this weather.

Another difference is that people don’t put up Christmas decorations until about 2 weeks before Christmas. No one puts lights on their houses. All the grocery stores put up decorations and play Christmas music. But outside everything moves on as normal.

Christmas here isn’t a huge merchandise driven holiday, though it has become more than way since we first arrived. People buy each other gifts of food, or clothing and shoes. The price of many food items increases in the middle of November. We’ve learned to stock up on essentials like flour, rice, and oil at least by the beginning of November so we can miss out on that price hike.

Cost of travel also increases in December. People like to travel to their village to celebrate the day with their family and the taxi and bus services take advantage of that desire. 

Thursday last week, James and I needed to go to town for a couple things. Town was crazy busy! We struggled to move around because of all the vehicle and foot traffic.

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We walked down to town today and got pictures of those same intersections on Christmas Day.

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You almost expect tumbleweed to roll across the road and a gun slinger to ride out of the dust. There were more people in town today than I expected, but still no where near what there are on a normal day.

All the protestant religions hold services either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, sometimes both. We had our big service yesterday and it lasted until late afternoon. There were choir specials. Many visitors attended. It finished with a big meal and cake. (You can read about it in my blog post about the wedding.)

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We followed our Church people from Isanja and Ngarama home as they rode on the truck and sang hymns all the way.

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So, while Christmas here is different in many ways, we’ve all come to love and embrace those differences.

A Wedding With a Murphy’s Law Twist

Sometimes you have those Murphy’s Law days, also known as “if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.” We’ve had a few of those days this week.

It started on Friday when I was making cake for the wedding today. I ran out of flour in the middle of a recipe and, in an effort to not forget how many cups I’d already added, I totally forgot to add the sugar to the cake. Oh. The. Horror. It can’t really be counted as cake if it has no sugar, right? No one here likes super sweet things, so I decided to improvise. The cake tasted fine, good even, it just wasn’t sweet. So I cut the layer in half,  filled it with icing and put it back together, then iced over the whole thing. It actually tasted pretty good that way. 

I’d baked all the cakes on Friday and planned to decorate them on Saturday. I made the same amount of icing I’d made before….and it wasn’t enough to ice all the cakes, let alone decorate them. Thankfully, I’d gotten extra icing ingredients, but even those weren’t enough to do more than just spread a layer of icing over all the cakes and smooth it out. How could we decorate them without icing?

Then I remembered the sprinkles I’d gotten on clearance last year in the states after Christmas. I’d planned to use them on the gingerbread houses we decorated but forgot all about them until it was too late. God knew I was going to need those decorations for the cake. I found some red ribbon and wrapped it around the cakes. Elizabeth came behind me and arranged the sprinkles. Problem solved.

This morning, James discovered that the marriage vows he always uses had been deleted from every form of back-up we have. He had to find a copy of the vows to replace the ones he’d lost before we could leave for church.

We were almost half-way to church when James remembered that he’d forgotten to grab a dress shirt to wear with his suit and tie. He had everything else *except* the shirt. This seems like a small matter. He could borrow one, right? Not so easy here. On average, he’s a foot taller than all the men. He couldn’t wear his suit without a shirt and he *had* to wear a suit for the wedding.

But everything worked out just fine. The cakes were beautiful and everyone loved them. 

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We found a solution for James’ dress shirt dilemma.

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(I’m pretty sure Hawaiian shirts everywhere are screaming in protest at one of their brothers being worn with a tie, which goes against the point of even wearing a Hawaiian shirt in the first place. But sacrifices must be made for the greater good. 😉 )

We had a fantastic time with the children.

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Three Wise Guys…er, I mean Wise Men even showed up to tell us about their search for Baby Jesus.

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At the end of the day, Kiza and Jaqueline ended up married. Which was kind of the point of the whole thing.

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Exciting Progress!

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Remember when the church at Ngarama looked like this? We didn’t know how it would ever be repaired but we knew God is able to answer prayer. Our church people prayed. We prayed. God provided for the repair.
 
A couple weeks ago it looked like this:
 
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It was progress but we were still sitting outside for church.
 
We arrived this Sunday and it looked like this:
 
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There is the church that God built! The church thrummed with excitement about the new building.
 
We had to take advantage of the weather and get a picture of the church people in front of the building.
 
There is still a little work to do on the inside and some landscaping and cement that needs to be finished on the outside. They are busily building the toilet now that the building is almost done.
 
Elizabeth told me she wanted to learn how to teach the children in Sunday School so she worked hard to get the lesson ready for this week. She did a very good job, much better than I did my first time teaching children when I was her age! 
 
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Most of the adults were already there so they heard her teach, too. Everyone listened in rapt attention. She taught again at Isanja to a packed house.
 
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