One year check-in/checklist


As I woke up this morning, I did my standard ritual of sleepily pawing at my phone which lay next to the bed.  I picked it up, checked the time, gave into my Facebook addiction, and scrolled down the newsfeed.  The first story/post that popped up was a one year reminder of a blogpost that I shared on Facebook just before Lindsey and I departed on a plane to Africa to embark on our service term.

1 year, 12 months, 365 days…I’ll stop counting before I start singing songs from Rent.  As is usually the case when one reaches an anniversary or milestone of some sort, I am reflecting and asking questions like: How has time flown by so quickly?  What has changed?  How am I different?   

There aren’t any big surprises or revelations.  Lindsey and I do a lot of processing & reflecting in general, and we have had plenty of time to do that in a foreign country over the past year.  I’ve known that our one year of service anniversary was coming up, but I forgot about the blog entry I posted a year ago about a final checklist before leaving the U.S.  

I thought that this one year marker would be a good opportunity to look back on that checklist and create a new one that has been completed for this past year.

New checklist:

  • Being called a “lekgoa” (white person) 1000+ times
  • Friendly children cheering me on jogs through nearby neighborhoods
  • Being laughed at and not taking it well
  • Being laughed at, followed by laughing at self, and then laughing with others
  • Renting and living in first house as an adult
  • Owning first pet as an adult (Siggy our German Shepherd!)
  • Being chased by and running away from a donkey
  • Being chased by snarling street dogs
  • Learning how to quickly deal with donkeys and dogs coming at you with ease
  • Having a cockroach crawling on face during the night and freaking out because of it
  • Overreacting and irrationally worrying about cockroaches crawling on face for way too many nights after one incident
  • Attending a variety of events in a new culture (wedding, funeral, church services, dances, a play, movies, awards ceremony, workshops, meetings, sporting events, a festival, birthday parties, community initiatives, etc.)
  • Committing cultural mistakes or no-no’s by accident ✓✓✓✓
  • Standing out everywhere I go
  • Experiencing the kindness and warmth of local people
  • Crying on behalf of others because of injustice
  • Rejoicing and celebrating triumphs (small to large triumphs, both personal and of others)
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation from family/friends
  • Making wonderful new friends from various countries
  • Missing home and country
  • Being embarrassed and angry at home country
  • Admiring and experiencing the peaceful nature of a new country
  • Some new stereotypes being formed
  • More stereotypes being broken
  • Expanded worldview
  • Learning  and understanding that there is more that I don’t know and understand
  • First Christmas overseas
  • Losing family members while being overseas
  • Being kept up all night because of worries/concerns for wife’s health
  • Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and out of place
  • Feeling like I am in the exact, right place God wants and is calling me to be
  • Being verbally threatened by strangers
  • Being honored, flattered, and humbled by the generosity from strangers
  • Going through withdrawal from bagels, smoothies, Mexican food, and waffles
  • Continuing to have access to delicious hamburgers, steak, and ice cream treats after assuming I would be without these foods in a foreign country
  • Trying and loving new foods (seswaa, oxtail, magwinya, chakalaka, and braai meats just to name a few)
  • Incredible support, reminders of love, and messages from family/friends back home✓✓✓
  • Breathtaking sights & experiences in Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls, and Kruger National Park
  • Experiencing failures
  • Redefining failure and success
  • Experiencing successes
  • Daily reminders of poverty and white privilege
  • Redefining and understanding “wealth” differently
  • Being ignorant and oblivious to my surroundings at times
  • Making an effort and being intentional about my interactions with others
  • Walking with others on their personal and spiritual journeys
  • Growing and maturing spiritually, emotionally, and mentally as a person more than any other one year stretch in my life


What a year ay? Can’t wait to see what year 2 has in store!





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