Happy New Year from Bishkek!

We started 2022 in our old home in Portland, Oregon; we’re ended it in our new home in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan. We never would have imagined!

12 months ago, the Foreign Service was just dream. I applied for the job early in 2021 and interviewed later that year (see the timeline here, if you’re a foreign service hopeful and are interested in the details). In January of 2022, we were in the waiting place.

The Waiting Place – from Dr. Seuss, of course!

Somewhere in the ether, my name was on a list of hopefuls, and then passed from one list to another, for months, with no clear timeline.

While waiting, I was testing other waters as we tried to figure out what was next for our family. I had a job offer from a local clinic (sorry for turning that down, Andy!). I was moonlighting at a clinic in Washington State (sorry for bailing, Todd! Good luck VC!).

In March 2022, “possible” suddenly became real when I got a job offer and an invite into an orientation class! All our theoretical plans sprang into action as our What-if?‘s became Oh-shoot!‘s.

Patsy is so happy with in her new home!

We scrambled to sell cars, make home repairs, pack, quit jobs, rehome our beloved dog, saturate ourselves in the love of our family and friends.

Some last-minute home repairs in progress last spring.

And then I left for training in DC, and Jen and the kids stayed behind to keep playing and working for the summer.

Jen: I thought I would hate all the chaos of moving. I thought it would destroy my peace. But, counterintuitively, it gave me energy. If there are contractors to call, work to arrange, paperwork to take care of, files to organize...I thrive. It's not exactly what I used to do for work, but close enough. I may not be the best cook or housekeeper, but I found I was good at getting us organized for this new lifestyle.

At the end of summer ’22, we reunited in Washington DC for about a month, then bam, we were en route to Bishkek. And here we are!

Except… we went the long way around, East.

2022 was an expensive year. All the steps above were eased along by spending on rental cars, airport meals, an ipad and headphones and other accoutrements for travel, summer camps, life/job coaches, online shopping to outfit our new house, even a trampoline to set up inside since it’s too polluted here to send the kids out into the yard. I took a pay cut for this job. Some monthly expenses disappeared (pre-K, 2nd car, utilities), but other monthly expenses cropped up (local driver/translator, local nanny). We’re still waiting for the dust to settle, and 2023 will be a year of financial belt-tightening, but we should come out of it stronger by the end.

2022 was a year of health struggles. I started the year having just done my 3rd ultramarathon, then did my 4th in the spring of 2022… but working two jobs wreaked havoc on my training, as did some foot and knee pain. Then COVID-19 set me back drastically – any COVID “longhaulers” get lots of empathy from me! Moving twice, the stress of all the change, even jet lag – these took a toll on all of us. Once we all arrived here in Bishkek, we kept getting sick over and over. We’re still waiting on our fitness equipment to arrive with our big shipment (not to mention, our van!)

Me and Jen at the finish line of the Tillamook Burn 50k, April 2022.

Yet, despite the struggles, despite having our work cut out for us as we move forward, we’re happy. We’re together, we had a wonderful Christmas, we have lots of new friends, and we’re in close touch with old friends. We have all the yak meat we could eat. Will this job turn out to be the dream job I hope it will be? Will this lifestyle deliver on the hopes we have for our family? 2023 will go a long way toward answering those questions. For now, we’re proud to be here, a teeny tiny cog in the machinery of countries talking to each other to make a more prosperous and peaceful world for all – like this delivery of hundreds of thousands of books to local schools and libraries.

2022 was wild and worthwhile. Here’s to a wild and worthwhile 2023! 🥳

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men and Women Everywhere! 🕊️

❤️ Love from Bishkek! ❤️