2016 Year in Review
Settling in a Changing, Unsettling World
Susan Smith, Pittsburgh, PA
My desire for most of 2016 has been to find a more settled life that is meaningful – well, and to hold onto relationships while generating new ones.
I spent the first five months of 2016 living in Garoua Boulai, Cameroon continuing my work with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic. This included the partners’ consultation in GB with Central Africans and representatives of partner agencies from Europe and the USA.
I travelled to the CAR a couple of times. Just after the partners’ meeting Jakelle, Willie and I spent four days there and then I went to Bouar and Bohong for the first youth gathering in five years. Both trips went well.
In June and July, I travelled to North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, Chicago and Ohio as a part of my Home Assignment travels. This included the Summer Missionary Conference.
For four months, I stayed with a generous friend Beth Siefert in East Carnegie in Pittsburgh; I am glad to have had the time for conversation and getting to know her better. From there I also travelled to Mechanicsburg (central PA) to see Mom and help her clean out her storage locker. I also visited Philadelphia to see my sister and her family, San Diego to see my brother and his family, and Los Angeles to see my other brother. So, in one month (November) I got to see all my family – just not all at the same time and place!
I had wanted to find a job so that I could find a place to live nearby, but time went on and the job situation was still unsettled. So, I decided to move into an apartment in my old neighborhood – Friendship, in the East End of Pittsburgh – before winter set in. December 2, I emptied my storage locker. Unpacking things from 4 ½ years ago was sometimes like an early Christmas although I used the time to give away things that I decided I would be unlikely to use in the future.
This is a lovely apartment with bedroom, living room, office, kitchen, and bathroom has four nonfunctional fireplaces although central heating for the cold winters here. Ironically, I had only one fireplace in Garoua Boulai (in the tropics) but it worked. I have decorated this place with a mixture of Central Africa/Cameroon, Pittsburgh, and other places I have visited. Some things made the transfer from GB to Pittsburgh. I also found places for going away presents.
In November I started volunteering at Casa San Jose, an NGO that works with Hispanics in this area. I enjoy speaking Spanish again. I have also started attending my home church, East Liberty Lutheran Church again. And, it was hardly a surprise that I was elected to the church council at the annual congregational meeting.
As I said, my priority was to find a job so that I could find a place to live nearby. That didn’t happen but God is watching out for me. This week I have a second interview at a place within walking distance from my new apartment! I don’t want to jump the gun and name the place, but it looks likely that I will have a new job come January. It is just the kind of thing I have been looking for – using educational skills, knowledge of languages and culture, and providing service to others and meaning for my life.
I am dismayed by the increasing polarization in the world and the USA. I will work to inform myself, be open to the beliefs of others to better understand them and decrease antagonism. We are in for more rough times. May each of you do your piece to make the world a better place.
May 2017 bring you challenges and peace.