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Recap of Year 2017

2017 was quite the year, wasn't it?  I am learning more and more that life in general is a paradox.  At the same time that we experience sorrow and difficulty, we are learning and growing.  In one facet of our life we might be struggling, while we're receiving great blessings in another facet of life.

As Charles Dickens so famously wrote, 
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct to the other place....
Yes, 2017 was definitely a year of superlatives, of contrasts, and of paradoxes for us.

We were going through a tough situation at our church, yet we got to know people at a deeper level and we grew very attached to our home group/university-age Bible study group as we saw them grow spiritually.

Some days at work were pretty tough and I don't think I've ever had so many people mad at me.  On the other hand, there was enough positive feedback that I still love my job!

As John headed down the homeward stretch on his doctorate it was pretty stressful.  But the joy of having him finish and thinking of ways he can use what he's learned are rewarding.

We hate the separation from our kids.  It's probably the hardest part of being in Niger.  But the reunion we've had with them has been oh so sweet.

The shock of moving from one country to another, really from one world to another can be so overwhelming!

All the travel we do is exhausting, but it's balanced by being with old friends and making new friends.

Here's a review in pictures.

The highlight of every January in Niger is definitely our Spiritual Life Conference.  We get to spend time with all the SIM missionaries in our country, sit under some fantastic Bible teaching, pray together, and hear each other's stories.  It's rejuvenating and fun.  And exhausting for the introverts among us!

John continued his research which involved visiting different churches, which we really enjoyed.  God is at work!  This wasn't specific to February only, but according to my picture file there wasn't much else happening (more likely I was too busy with the ordinary to take pictures).

Working on John's doctorate was a bit of a major theme this year!  It's a bit hard to tell how much work is involved in this picture, but John printed out the transcription of every interview and then I cut them up and pasted them on index cards according to the information he wanted to use from those interviews.  This took hours.  Ummm, I confess, I watched 10 seasons of Magnum PI and a bunch of other movies.  It was hours of work, but nothing compared to the amount of time John put in to transcribing the interviews!

April was crazy!  I can't just put one picture here.

We attended the wedding of our friend's son.  He is from the majority so their weddings are very different from Christian weddings.  We love this man dearly.

John attended the doctoral defense of a young man from our church and in the evening we went to a party to celebrate his accomplishment.

Two students from our Bible study were baptized.

We had Easter Sunday.

And our bi-annual administrative meetings took place.  I always attend these.

It was hotter than blue blazes, John went to England for his six week study requirement, and I soldiered on at home.  Before John left, we got one last Bible study picture and then I got to go to their graduation.

In June my car fell in a sink hole, John came back from England, and we made a trip up to the village where we used to live, and we got our house organized and stuff packed so that somebody else could live there the year we would be gone.


We said good-bye to our friends in Niger

and enjoyed time with John's mom and a two-week vacation at our new digs in Pennsylvania.

We had a happy reunion with our kids and grandkids and met the twins, Levi and Everett for the very first time.  We also met our foster granddaughter and celebrated Tera's birthday at the Columbus Zoo.

After enjoying the grandbabies, we headed south and took in the solar eclipse.

We also had our visit to our mission headquarters and then headed to Florida to visit my parents.


We spent most of the month in Pennsylvania and worked hard to put together an audio-visual presentation and John worked on messages to share at churches.  We got to get together with my dad (visiting PA), my aunt and uncle, and two of my cousins.  There are only five months between the oldest and the youngest of us three.

We were at a church presenting our ministry almost every weekend.  We visited Boston.  We also got to celebrate Hezekiah's first birthday.

We were still on the road and presenting our ministry almost every Sunday.  We got to meet up with a lot of people who have prayed for us and or supported us for many years.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Suzanne's family.

In December John defended his thesis, the culmination of seven years of very hard work.  His work was accepted with minor corrections which he has already submitted.

The other highlight, of course, was Christmas with our kids and grandkids, something we haven't done for seven years.  Somehow the twins didn't make it into this picture.

And that's a wrap on 2017, done and dusted.  What will 2018 hold? I don't know, but I came across this poem last week and thought I'd share it as we start a new year.

God Knows
(sometimes called The Gate of the Year)
by Minnie Louise Haskins

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."

And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone Earth.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows.  His will
Is best.  The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God.  Our fears
Are premature; In Him
All time hath full provision.

Then rest:  until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When as the sweeter features 
Of Life's stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God's thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

May God bless you in 2018 as you place your hand in His!
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