Tonight, I was talking with someone about 2017 and I told them I didn’t have anything real big plans for the year. I realized that if I had been talking about 2016 a year ago I might have said the same thing. And, oh how wrong I would have been. Mostly that’s a good thing.
It would be easy to list all the things I did in 2016, maybe even do the year end top ten list. But thinking back, what stands out are the people in my life and how my relationships with them changed during the year.
The biggest change was my relationship with Dad. Although I believe that you can still have a relationship with someone who has left this world, it is a lot more one sided. I’ll always miss him.
I was in a relationship with a woman earlier this year. That came to an end. She was a good person, but it wasn’t meant to be.
I was elected to the Governing Board of my church last January. It’s been good to getting to know the other Board members better. I’m proud to serve with them.
I travelled to Tanzania with a group of 9 other people. I had only known one of them before our first meeting. They turned out to be a fantastic group of travelling companions. And the people of Tanzania were wonderful. I was talking to a teacher at Bomalang’ombe school and he said he would like to meet me again. I told him I felt the same way. But I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go to that school if I return to Tanzania since it is in a different area than Kidamali. But I told him we will meet again, if not in this world then in the next. He gave me one of those big Tanzanian smiles and laughed.
Even though my daughter was married twice this year I only gained one son-in-law. But he’s worth two, so I’m glad he’s a part of the family. I had the chance to meet his parents and several of his brothers at the various weddings. Wonderful people all of them. I am so pleased that our two families have connected.
I also gained a grand-niece when my niece Sarah had a baby girl in February. She’s a cutie. It was good for the Anderson side of the family to grow this year.
We went up to the North Shore this summer. My parents were there and for different parts of the week, most of their children and grandchildren were able to come and spend some time. I am so glad we could to do that for my dad before he passed away.
I’ve also been developing a relationship with the readers of my blog over the last 6 months. Weebly tells me the number of page views and unique visitors for my blog. For page views, I was averaging 21 per day for the first three months. For the last three months, I’ve been averaging 31 per day. So, I am honored to have been included in your readings. I appreciate your comments on the blog and to me.
I find the emotion that I am feeling the most about my relationships as the year draws to a close is gratitude. I am very thankful for the people in my life. I pray that you will all have a blessed new year and will develop a closer relationship with your God.
Saddened by the scenes from Aleppo. Sickened by reading the University of Minnesota's report investigating football players. Disgusted by the report in the paper that many kid's headphones that are sold as safe for young ears aren't safe.
How am I supposed to feel the Christmas spirit?
Once when I was little, I was watching TV. The evening news was on. Suddenly my big sister Kerry turned to my dad and asked him, "Is the news always this sad?" When Jesus said the poor will always be with you, he might have also added so will people doing evil things. Of course the news will always be sad. Bad news is easier to sell than good news.
It doesn't make headlines, but the world is becoming a better place. War and conflicts are no longer glorified, we see more of the true nature of war and its affects. Hopefully this reduces the number or wars. Sexual assaults are talked about and confronted. There is less sweeping under the rug and more support for victims. A grass roots movement created changes in our environmental laws that led to a better planet. Most of the animals I saw in the city when I was growing up were squirrels and robins. Now just in my yard, I've seen a bald eagle, wild turkeys and as I write this I can hear an owl hooting in the park behind my house. Good news is out there.
Good news is also there in the small things. Last Saturday I came up from my basement planning going out to use the snow blower on my driveway. My neighbor, Dwight, was in my driveway with his snow blower. He didn't realize I had a snow blower and was helping out. I told him I would finish up. As I was snow blowing I noticed another neighbor, Rob, was out shoveling his driveway. I know he has a snow blower, so I wasn't sure why he was shoveling. I asked if he'd like me to blow off the heavy stuff from the plow. He said yes. He told me his snow blower was leaking gas the last time he used it and he hadn't had the chance to get it fixed yet. So I blew off some of his driveway for him.
This was just a small example, but things like this happen a lot without much fanfare. Good people will always be with us.
Jesus is alive and active in this world. He came for each and every one of us. That such good news that in the past when they were deciding what to call the section of the Bible that tells Jesus' life story they could think of no better word than the Greek word for good news - Gospel.
Enjoy the season. Merry Christmas to you!
Let me start off with a prayer request. If you were reading my blog while I was in Tanzania you might remember Freddy Hanson. I had asked for your prayers for him while the doctors were trying to figure out what was wrong with him. He ended up having surgery and was expected to make a full recovery. Unfortunately, it has been discovered that it was cancer. Freddy has been at Mayo Clinic for radiation and chemotherapy. Your prayers, once again, would be a big help. Thanks.
In Tanzania I was bemoaning that my pictures of sunsets never turned out. Tom Olsen, who had volunteered to be our trip photographer, told me to try editing it and using a red filter. I was trying out the editing capabilities of my phone/camera. If you're a friend on Facebook, you might have already seen what I did. I posted a new cover photo that took a nice sunset picture that hadn't turned out and changed it to look more like the actual sunset. I improved some pictures from Tanzania. I'll give you a sampling below.
This got me musing about befores and afters in life. Sometimes it takes time afterwards for details to come forth and present a clearer, more understandable picture.
For years after the Twins won the World Series in 1987 I would have conversations with people where we were trying to figure out when something had happened. One or the other of us would say, "Well, I know it was before the Twins won the World Series." Or after. It was a shared event. After so many years of no championships for Minnesota pro sports teams, the Twins win created a shared sense of euphoria in Minnesota. We could all place when it had happened.
Before and after meeting Debbie. She changed me for the better. I was a different person back then and Debbie drew out the best in me. (She tended to have that effect on people.)
Before and after Debbie's death. A marker in time. Although on either side of it things are not clear. Her illness was a blur and afterwards I was in a fog of grief for some time. Bit by bit I progress towards being able to look back and understand.
I know that my life will now be divided into before and after Tanzania. This trip changed me in so many way, changes that I know about and changes that I haven't realized have happened yet. But I know that they are changes for the good.
I know that because of another before and after that's important to all our lives. As we celebrate Christmas this year, think about the before and after of Jesus. How this coming to earth changed more than just flipping the calendar from BC to AD. He comes as a child inviting us into a relationship of love. Accept the invitation with joy and afterwards...
It’s natural to compare things. Especially when you’re going someplace different. Tanzania was definitely different from Minnesota. I thought I would speak about some of the comparisons, including a couple of comparisons that along the lines of “you wouldn’t see that in Minnesota”.
Tanzania is a former British colony so they follow the British driving method. They don’t drive on the wrong side of the road; they drive on the left side, different side, or other side. Things that are different aren’t necessarily bad, they just are what they are.
You notice a lot of differences when driving. Where there are cities and towns most of the roads are lined with little stands selling things; food, clothing, furniture, and other items. They have a higher percentage of entrepreneurs than we do here.
Once you get outside the cities and off the main road there is no pavement. Also, where the pavement ends you pretty much stop seeing gas stations. I was seeing a lot of these roadside stands that would have a bunch of containers filled with a liquid that was about the same color as beer. I was wondering what they were, then I realized that they must be selling gas.
Many times we would see a canopy with a pool table underneath. In the evenings, there would be a light on in the canopy and people would be playing pool. Something you wouldn’t see in Minnesota with our weather. But, with the weather in Tanzania there is a rainy season and a dry season. So, they know when to expect rain.
Oh, that reminds me. Minnesota has a lot more snow than Tanzania. Not judging our state, just observing. And to tell you the truth, Tanzania has snow year-round if you include the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
When Debbie was in the hospital she had a nurse who was from Ghana. He told us that he was amazed by how weak the sun was in Minnesota. I felt that in Tanzania. Their sun is strong. You could feel the heat quickly if you were in the sunlight.
Speaking of sunlight, there are a lot more solar panels on houses than there are here. They don’t have the electrical system that we do. So, a lot of homes will have a small panel on their roofs. We toured a home with a solar panel. It powered three lights that were in the home.
Speaking of homes, we’re used to our floors; wood, carpeting, tile or concrete. A lot of their homes don’t have floors other than hard packed dirt.
Another thing you won’t see in Minnesota is people bringing water home from a well. Remember the movies where they try to improve young ladies posture by making them walk around with books on their heads. I was thinking of that when I would see someone walking with a five-gallon bucket of water balanced on their heads.
There’s another plumbing item that’s different as well. I’ve discussed this before. It was my biggest worry going into the trip. Our sit-down toilets vs. their squat toilets. Most of the time we stayed in places with western style toilets. However, we did have two nights in a place with a squat toilet. I’ll just say that I conquered that challenge. Anything further would be too much information.
The lengths of their church services are a lot longer than ours. In Minnesota if the service goes over an hour you start to hear grumblings. In Tanzania Sunday services were not so driven by time and they lasted quite a bit longer. I had heard this before and was worried that I might snooze a little, especially the first Sunday with the big time change. Like most of my worries about the trip it wasn’t a problem. They are very passionate about their worship in Tanzania and it was energizing.
So, many differences. But we are also alike in many ways. We all worship the same God who loves each and every one of us.
I wanted to add a clarification to my post from Tuesday. I'll be speaking in church on Sunday about my trip, but it will be fairly brief. Maybe 10 minutes total. You are still invited, as you are on any Sunday. I just didn't want anybody coming and thinking I was going to give a long talk.
We're planning that I will give a longer talk some evening and show my pictures from Tanzania. I'll post the date and time for that when I know.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.