Rear-view Mirror

2015 is officially over.

It really is amazing how much can happen and change in just 365 days. Over the past week or two, I have been thinking back over this past year, thinking of all that has happened, all that I’ve experienced, the lessons I’ve learned and all the friends and neighbors I know now who I hadn’t met or hardly knew this time last year.

Before I fully fix my sights on the year ahead and the goals and hopes I have for the weeks and months to come, here is a little glance back at a few highlights from this past year:

1    adorable and much-anticipated baby boy, Noah Ricardo Coco, born to Stephanie and Fabio at the end of November!

5    trips taken: 2 for F.U.E.L., the leadership development program I am in, 1 for CA’s European staff conference, 1 for the annual UCBC conference (the sponsoring organization for my visa), and 1 for a Soul Care Retreat and Training (required by CA for all new staff).

7     groups of family and friends who came to visit (a total of 10 visitors)

8     number of months since I moved into my apartment (it took at least as many weeks to clean it and repairmen to get everything in working order!)

12   the number of events we hosted this year (these include: the Palazzo Party, Easter Egg Hunt, 4th of July BBQ, 2 Baby Showers and the Thanksgiving Feast)

14   number of weeks I have been teaching English lessons

16   number of participants in my FUEL cohort. In this leadership development program, 8 of us are with Christian Associates while the other 8 participants are from G.E.M. (Greater Europe Mission). Getting to know and learn from and with this great group of folks has been a huge blessing!

19   blog posts published. A few of my favorite ripe banana stories from this past year include: A Banana Named Mo, A House-Sized Banana, Of Packages and Party Dresses and Not By Chance

26   our largest shindig was our July 4th BBQ. We had 26 guests in all!

120  total number of hours for the online TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) I recently completed

Some of the best moments and memories however, aren’t ones with a specific number attached to them. I don’t know exactly how many conversations I’ve had with my neighbors I pass everyday on the street, how many friends I’ve chatted with over coffee or a gelato or perfect strangers I’ve met on my travels, while waiting for the bus, at the immigration or doctor’s office, in line at the pharmacy or while ordering salami from the deli down the street.

What I do know as I look at my current list of things to do, is most of the items on my list involve people who I didn’t know this time last year. Here are a few examples: “Finish making gift for _____”, “Bake cookies for ______’s family”, “introduce Stephanie and Fabio to ____”, “contact _____ and _____ about meeting for coffee next week”, “send message to the ____ family to make plans to get together later this month”, “talk to ____ about planning next English movie night”, “set date with ______ to start Bible study together”, “call _____  and invite over for dinner soon”…  Most of these examples involve people I’ve just met this year and all but two of my closest friends here, I barely knew or hadn’t met 12 months ago. The Lord has truly been gracious to me in so many ways but perhaps what I am most grateful for are the beautiful friendships He’s given me along with the ever-widening network of folks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this past year. Please continue to pray for these relationships as I seek practical ways to nurture, serve and inspire both individuals and my greater community while inviting those around me to join me in experiencing the real, radical, infinite, unshakeable, life-changing love Jesus offers us and sharing that love with others.

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