We did it! Another year managing our physical and mental health despite nearly 2 years of a global pandemic. Zoom continues to be a constant companion and we’re still walking the neighborhood loop to shake us out of the digital doldrums. 2021 offered some bright spots inviting us to jump into a new year with anticipation…
In January, Tim began serving as the Director of Chaplaincy and Care Ministry with the Christian Reformed Church. He works remotely (e.g. he lives at work) and enjoys connecting with chaplains, learning about their unique ministry settings and ways to resource them in their career. The role brings together all of Tim’s ministry experiences and taps into his gift for strategizing for future growth. This really is the perfect job for him. In his free time, he still enjoys trips to the mountains and beaches as well as catching a bite to eat with William in LaJolla or Lauren and Brian in Long Beach.
I’m in my third and final year of seminary which includes providing spiritual direction to college students. This has been the highlight of my time at Talbot and keeps me hopeful about the future: these students are thoughtful, adaptable and very curious. Trust me–the world is in good hands. As part of my program, I went on a 3 week silent retreat in Gig Harbor, WA. I stayed in a large home by myself with no books, no radio or TV, no electronic devices, no cell phone. I met with a therapist every day at 5:45am-I’ve never been happier to wake up and talk! I confess that I smuggled in contraband, including a copy of Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” which I memorized during my daily walk in nature. Thinking about the experience 6 months later, I’m grateful for the retreat–it was life-changing and I fully recommend it… however, I’m not ready to sign up for a repeat performance.
The last 6 weeks of 2021 were packed full of excitement. In November, Tim and I along with Lindsey and Lauren celebrated Lindsey’s birthday with a safari in Kenya. Lindsey was the consummate guide with restaurant recommendations and ideas for how to unwind in the busy city. While in Nairobi, we hiked, played with elephants, fed giraffes and made a stop at the Karen Blixen house (from Out of Africa fame). The second week we flew to the Maasai Mara and enjoyed 4 days of game drives, good food and were serenaded by hippos at night. We saw the “Big 5” and even watched lions eating a giraffe–you can’t make this stuff up. Kenya is fantastically friendly and hospitable and all four of us agree we’d like to return AND more people should see this part of the world. Check out pics of the trip: http://www.rietkerks.com.
December brought the kids home to Escondido and we celebrated with Lauren and Brian, who were married on December 20 in Las Vegas. Following a ceremony at the Neon Museum, the happy couple was toasted with steins of beer and oompah music at the Hofbrauhaus in honor of their Hohenfels, Germany connection. They will have a second wedding in San Diego in July. We also celebrated the engagement of Lindsey to Michael Garretsen, a Navy guy who somehow finds himself learning to love an Army family. The two met overseas and bonded over a shared sense of adventure. Lindsey continues to live and work in Washington DC while Michael currently lives in Virginia Beach. A fall 2022 wedding is planned and we couldn’t be happier. They bring zest to life!
We hope this greeting finds you and yours enjoying the start to a new year. We are thankful for relationships both near and far and the memories we hold of friends who are no longer with us. May this year offer more opportunities to listen generously to diverse voices and to work together for the flourishing of the world.