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New Year, New Mercies

By Rebecca Hopkins

I heard a little commotion behind me and had barely turned around before the blowing of six horns interrupted the quiet of the river scene.

I chuckled, then rolled my eyes at my teammate. “Thanks a lot, Kathy.”

She shrugged, smiling big back at me.

New Year’s noisemakers in Kalimantan. Photo by Rebecca Hopkins.

Our friends had brought the hot dogs, corn on the cob … and apparently, enough loud paper horns for each of our six total kids. I brought watermelon, burgers, and my very quiet homemade pickles.

My teammate, Tim, got a bonfire going for our New Year’s barbecue at our MAF hangar next to the river in Palangkaraya, Indonesia. We joked and laughed and talked and ate. We sent the kids off to blow their horns—on the far end of the MAF property.

Pretty soon, people all over our town began shooting off fireworks. Many years, the rain of rainy season dampens the chance to use fireworks. That night, though, was clear and beautiful. The river broke up the reflection of the fireworks into even tinier little colored spots, then moved them along in its steady, relentless movement.

Photo by Rebecca Hopkins.

Indonesia has three New Year’s Days: one for the Muslim calendar, one for the Chinese calendar, and one for the first of January. Some of the other local traditions for the various New Year’s include praying special prayers, cleaning out last year’s spirits from a store, and giving away money to neighborhood kids.

Three chances for a New Year. Three chances for a fresh start. I like this country.

This year, I really wanted all the hope that turning a page promises. I spent time praying and reflecting. I came up with a “word of the year.” And I considered a couple of resolutions. But what has stuck with me into late January has been the relentlessness of many things in my life—things that seem to have no beginning or ending. Parenting. Homeschooling. The year-round humid heat here. Complicated needs with no easy solutions. Situations that could use a new beginning.

As the fireworks are replaced with almost nightly January rainstorms, I’ve shifted away from simple answers into day-in/day-out intentional choices of living well, loving well, and being grateful that His mercies (and help) are new every single morning.


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