Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2008-9 ** 12/31/08

Happy New Year 2008-9 

Temp -13c
Wind 18-20 mph
Blowing snow

Tonight is New Year's eve and I have been reflecting on the past year; on our home we've left with Janell and Peter, on the friends who sent us off with hugs, big signs, and lots of love, on our MTC group, some of which we still have contacts with, our arrival here, and the baptisms of people who have since become friends. A lot has happened in this 6 months.

Today was a little unique in that it was the last day that I could post anything financial for 2008 and I worked hard all morning and into the afternoon to be sure everything had been done before we had to go home at 3:30 PM. This is considered a dangerous holiday for our missionaries and they are in lock-down from 4 PM on to protect them against young, male revelers who will be soaked in adult beverages and might want to test their metal by challenging some young Americans. Looking on from our window, I am fully convinced that the streets are not safe tonight.

As we walked toward our home with the Assistants to the President across an almost empty parking lot that looks like a postcard of Colorado, I thought how unlikely it was that I was trudging through the -13c twilight with a 20 mph head-wind blowing snow off the ground and into my eyes in Siberia, trying to get home before curfew on New Years' Eve 2008. Who would have thought it? Could I have even imagined it last New Years Eve while playing Hand-and-Foot (a canasta game) with our friends and talking about our operations, our next trip (to Tahiti), and our grandkids. It is so unlikely that it was not on anyone's radar, but neither was the epidemic of cancer in the group, the by-pass operation, or the other missionary calls accepted by people who were there that night.

Now, sitting in our little kitchen at midnight with Cindy writing her December email to 250 of our closest friends and me writing this, I just have to pause and reflect on the wonderful things God has allowed me to experience this past year. It has been a year of family successes and challenges, friends with their various health and family crises/adventures, music with the ward choir that I loved so much, the mission application process and deciding to be "Green Beret" missionaries (going anywhere we're sent for 23 months), our Temple shift crew of God's finest, the anticipation of the call and trying to find Novosibirsk on the map, the wonder and power of the MTC experience, the shock of our new "home", making new friends amid the isolation, learning to love the difficult and tolerate the unlovable, and now, walking with young men that I love like sons and admiring them daily for their character and strength I have to say, "What a country".

Who could have imagined? How could I have prepared? What can I do better here? Are there limits to who I can learn to love? Will I make a difference?

What a country. What a challenge. What a blessing.
P.S. It is 12:05 AM and The battle of Novosibirsk has begun.

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