Seven has always been my lucky number (its the number of perfection, after all), but 2017 was not my year. Its easy to list off the struggles and hardships: To start, Trump was inaugurated into office, and within weeks he had signed several executive orders that would make my new job as an immigration attorney that much more difficult. However, by the end of the summer, I would be demoted away from my immigration focus as my office laid off an attorney due to budgetary issues and asked me to step back into my original role. Then there was Jeff Sessions’ announcement to end the DACA program, leaving me to wonder the fate of my own DACA boyfriend. However, soon after my birthday, that boyfriend ended our relationship just before he took off for Wales. (While no break-up is ever easy, I felt relieved to be single again, but also concerned that he might not make it back into the country.) Around this same time, my legal assistant left for another job, leaving us without help over the holidays while seeking her replacement (who would become the FIFTH legal assistant I’ve worked with during my almost five years of employment at the Mission). September was marked by other losses of life, too — I learned that a Team Mission colleague’s son had committed suicide, and we gathered around to support him in the grieving process. I also traveled to Phoenix with my other college roommates for one last hurrah with Tiffany in what we thought might be her final days in the fight against colon cancer. Just when I thought we had rebuilt morale at the Mission, my office was served with a lawsuit by a long-time attorney volunteer (who was also a good friend, former classmate, and co-editor on the Falcon, our college newspaper). The media approached us in the weeks before Thanksgiving–our prime donation season– and I learned that both myself and David, my supervising attorney, were mentioned in the facts of the complaint. There isn’t much more I can say, especially knowing that I will likely be deposed in the next year.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I totalled my red Rav4 in the weeks before Christmas. I hit a school bus with one child on it — a girl with Down Syndrome. Everyone walked away unharmed, but it broke my heart to leave behind my beloved Joyota at an auto repair shop, knowing that our nearly-11-year-relationship was over. I cried more nights over that car than I did my last boyfriend.
When I think about my hardships in comparison to that of my clients this year — mothers who have been kept away from their children, pro se litigants who have been denied justice in the courts, fathers who struggle to pay their child support and make ends meet without returning to their old drug addictions — it helps give me perspective. But it also burdens my heart as I can’t help but feel their pain through my advocacy.
As I write this Year in Review, I am choosing to remember the highlights of 2017 rather than dwelling on the trials. I will be thankful for every success, every relationship formed, every trip that inspired me, and every goal that was achieved.
- Taipei and Taichung (Taiwan)
- Seoul (South Korea)
- Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)
- Flathead Lake, Montana
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
- Newport Beach and Anaheim, California
- Portland, Oregon
- Washington, DC
Best day: Celebrating Kasie and Jacob’s wedding on May 27, and having a date to dance with me.
Worst day: Probably learning that the Mission was getting sued. Or watching Travel Ban go into effect on January 28. Or losing my car on December 5.
Coldest: that one frigid day in Seoul, South Korea when I tried to explore the city when the temperature was in the teens
Warmest: Temperatures in the 100-and-teens during our last day in Phoenix, Arizona (thank God for swimming pools!).
Most clear answers to prayer: Both when Jason came into my life and wanted to date me, as well as when we said goodbye
Most inspiring: So many Christian friends have inspired me this year to continue running the race (both figuratively and literally) — Jess Downs, who led our book club and shared her own struggles of waiting for unanswered prayer. Scott “Scooter” Sowle, who faithfully served at the Mission until he was hired on as the health and wellness coach. Tiffany Mealman, who continues to glorify Jesus as cancer overcomes her body. Or David Bieraugel, who obediently took a new assignment as lead pastor at Blue Sky Church when Steve Morgan and many others from the original church plant left to do it all over again in Austin, Texas.
Most influential person: I hate to say that Donald Trump or Jason were the most influential people in my life this year…. but when I think about who has shaped my thoughts and actions (more for worse than the better), its these two men. I never thought I would lump them together, but here we are at the end of 2017. Nothing surprises me anymore.
Most stressful moment: 4 am on the Ragnar race trail, parked in the La Conner High School lot, when I realized we needed to be in Port Orchard in an hour … and I had to drive the 15-passenger van because our driver had refused to go on.
Biggest accomplishment: Speaking on immigration to other legal aid attorneys at the Christian Legal Society conference
Weirdest moment at work: Catching a rat in the file room. Yes, a real live rat.
Biggest heartbreak: Saying goodbye to the Joyota.
Saddest moment: Saying goodbye to Tiffany at the Phoenix airport and boarding the plane to Seattle with my other crying roommates.
Best decision: Either purchasing a NY Times subscription or deciding to sign up for salsa lessons again after ending a relationship
Hardest transition: Saying goodbye to the friends who started Joshua Church and watching Blue Sky flourish, even as I doubted my place in it.
2017 was a tough year but here’s what I’m looking ahead to:
New relationship: my black Nissan Rouge — I still need a name for this car. So far, I’m liking the heated seats, the back-up camera, and having a phone-charging outlet that actually works!
Next trip: Greece with Laurie! (Or maybe back to DC?)
Resolution: Studying joy in the Bible.
Alissa’s Academy Awards
Movie: Wonder woman. But “Justice League” and “The Greatest Showman” are close behind.
Album: Hamilton soundtrack. I listened to this in my Joyota for a month or more before returning it to the library. But Kalani gave me the Hamilton mixtape for Christmas, so all is right in the world, and I can nerd-out while driving anytime.
Book: Uninvited or Hinds Feet on High Places.
Podcast: Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is the podcast that made me want to start downloading and listening to podcasts.
TV show: Its a toss-up between the serious drama of “This is Us” or the fun fashion and social commentary on age in “Younger” or the addictive nature of “Game of Thrones” (which I started watching only because of a certain boyfriend and probably won’t go back to watching unless I get HBO for a season).
Most intriguing celebrity: Meghan Markle. She’s living every American girl’s dream.