Monday, 1 February 2016

2015: A Year in Review

I thought that before 2016 ends I should probably review 2015! It was an incredible year.

January started by flying back to Czech after being in NI for Christmas. It also saw a fun day with friends in Vienna and my team hosting the Academy conference for the second time for over 200 leaders from our ministries. February was a quieter month with my only time away from home being for our church’s youth weekend. In March our team had our annual planning retreat, and I was in Slovakia for a day of their national youth work conference, and Krakow for a project day and then a women’s retreat.

In April Rose came to visit! And we hopped in my car and drove through Austria and Slovenia to get to Croatia for a couple of days. In May, as always, we had Spring Conference and the interns arrived, jumping in with the Amazing Race and Intern Training, which is always one of my highlights.

The interns arriving always marks the beginning of summer for me and this year work travels took me to visit or be at camps in Hungary, Poland, and Albania. And in between those travels I seemed to spend a lot of time learning about European VAT law, and celebrating two years of calling Czech home. Rest came in the form of a two-week break in Italy and that was oh so good for my soul.

In September we had our annual Fall Camp meeting and spent time debriefing the summer and planning the next year with those who lead our camp ministries. And as that ended we went into Fall Conference with over 300 people! Not to mention the excitement of the first ever JVUK board meeting. I also became a little more Czech that month.

October saw me start home assignment. During my two and a half months in the UK I was mostly in Northern Ireland, with some brief trips to Wales and England. It was such a privilege to be with so many friends, family members and supporters. I was also able to share in a few churches how God is moving in central and eastern Europe and invite people to be part of that.

And I marked the end of 2015, and the beginning of 2016, in Czech – in my beloved Český Těšín with midnight being celebrated by watching fireworks light up the skies over Czech and Poland.

2015 was a good year. As I look back I see so much evidence of God’s incredible, unchanging grace.

I am a goal setter and 2015 was no different. Some I definitely didn’t do much with beyond writing them on a Post-It note. But I do feel like I made significant strides in a few areas. I went into 2015 with my chronic back pain being worse than it had been in years and, gratefully, I ended the year in a better place – thanks to wonderful care in Czech, a chiropractor in Northern Ireland, and a lot of work in between.

The craziest goal I set in 2015 was to read 20 pages a day – although by February I’d realised that wasn’t stretching enough so I increased the goal to 30 pages. The rule was that I couldn’t read ahead (ie I couldn’t read 60 pages on a Tuesday and count 30 of those for Wednesday too) but I could catch up (if I didn’t read on Monday I could read 60 pages on Tuesday). As a result I read a staggering forty-one books in 2015!

I’m so glad I made that resolution. In that forty-one books there was the seven Chronicles of Narnia books, some work-related books, fiction, biographies, and others. I am not carrying this resolution into 2016 but it was definitely fun to do!

So I look back on 2015 with thanksgiving –

thankful for the people I met, and those that I continued journeying with,

thankful for how God has called me to serve Him in this place,

thankful for the travelling adventures and the coming home again,

thankful for the hours of Czech study and the little glimpses of progress,

thankful for time in the UK,

and, most of all, thankful for the God who is so faithful and whom I know better because of 2015.

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