Year of the Rabbit

Happy 2023 everyone! This post is more of a reflection than anything, but I do want to provide an update to how we are doing and life here in Macau.

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for praying for us over the past two and a half weeks. As Mainland China and Macau scrap their “zero-covid policy”, the entire Howard family here in Macau caught Omicron after three years of dodging the virus. I was particularly concerned with my wife and two boys who are not vaccinated, but thankfully and prayerfully God has helped us through this endeavor. Fortunately, we no longer are positive. Our youngest one though, little Daniel, still has a pretty terrible cough and we are keeping a close eye on him to make sure it does not turn into something else. But thank you all for your prayers, I have wanted to write an update sooner rather than later but I have been particularly lethargic and preoccupied helping the Howard family recover.

It had been an eventful 2022 to say the least, God has provided in countless ways. 2022 was probably one of the busiest years I have had on record and I am hoping to change pace here in the year of the rabbit. Going into this new year, I wanted to post some goals for myself as to better help keep myself accountable. I plan on providing updates throughout the year regarding some of those goals and adjusting when needed as I go along. The primary areas of focus this year will pertain to my Faith, my family, my career and several hobbies that I hope to take it up a notch. I want to find more of a balance in 2023 because I felt like 2023 was extremely busy in terms of completing my masters degree in Applied Linguistics and TESOL Education, training for Cambridge AS/ A Level History/ IGCSE History, completing all of the requirements to maintain my teaching license from British Columbia in Canada. 2023 was primarily focused on my professional development, but not only am I burned out, I cannot continue to these extremes.

Most of these goals, I have not entirely settled upon how they will be implemented throughout the year. Unlike years in the past, I think it is alright to decide as I go along as opposed to trying to have it all figured out before the new year.

Family Goals
1. I have sacrificed a lot in 2022 to accomplish all that I have, this year I want to dedicate more to my family. I would like for us to establish more traditions or hobbies geared around all of us. Family nights and hobbies to do with just my wife and with my boys.

My Faith
2. I finally finished the Bible in its entirety in 2022, but not in the year as I had wanted. It was a check off list that I had started two years ago. That being said, I want to devote more time to my quiet time, evangelism, Biblical history, memorization of Scripture and completing the Bible in one year.

3. This was a definite area that I lost focus on in the past couple of years. In 2023, I want to pick up the Ukulele again and try to practice it a couple times a week. Perhaps find some personal training to give me a better understanding and then pick up an online course.
4. I also want to pick up photography again because it had brought me so much joy in the past. I plan on combining this in with another interest I want to dedicate to is the Christian heritage of Macau here in on my blog. If you guys have any suggestions on some stories, events or places here in Macau linked with Christian heritage, please let me know.

Language Development
I no longer see language as just a tool for communication, but as part of an identity and a calling on my life. I wish to better hone these language abilities in Mandarin and Cantonese because of the people group that God has placed into my circle of life and made part of my family. I have a strong desire for my boys to have as much of a connection with their Chinese roots as they do with their American roots.
5. My Mandarin is alright, but I always find there is room for improvement. I want to continue on the pursuit of native-like comprehension and try to work on eliminating my accent. I also want to continue dedicating my time to learning written Chinese (Traditional) and reading Simplified. I would like to take the HSK 3 this year for Mandarin Chinese.
6. Another passion of mine is picking up more Cantonese. This was one of the primary reasons for wanting to move to Macau, but since we moved here, I have been getting by with English and Mandarin. So hopefully, I can continue on my Cantonese. I need to learn Jyutping (Cantonese Pinyin) and learn how to read the Portuguese Cantonese pinyin that is in use here in Macau.
7. I am not entirely sure to what level I would like to develop to in terms of Portuguese, but I definitely want to be able to read it. Currently, a lot of my friends tell me I am reading it like Spanish, but that is because I grew up “learning” Spanish. If anything, I would love to have a basic conversational level of understanding in Portuguese just to talk with many of the Portuguese here in Macau.

8. Being head of the department in history at my new school has come with its own rewards and challenges. As a way of giving back to my current school in providing me with this privilege and working over the colleagues in my care, I want to focus on developing my leadership skills. Instead of focusing entirely on my own professional development, I want to better equip myself to help those under my care develop themselves. I also want to better assist in making my current school a better place, serving God to the best of my abilities. In terms of myself, I want to become an expert in the new content I’ve been instructing in the Cambridge curriculum and better understand different educational laws and requirements here in Macau, particularly those given by the DSEDJ.

9. Last but not least, my health has been one of the last areas of focus in my day to day life since the pandemic hit. Covid restrictions and lock downs have taken a hit on my emotional well being and physical person. I want to develop a consistent work out schedule on a week to week basis, nothing extreme, but that will promote a better lifestyle for myself. I also want to get more rest and eliminate the need for caffeine. Instead of treating caffeine as a necessity, I would like to use it as a treat. Here in Macau, it is easier to find decaf coffees and other caffeine free alternatives to some drinks that I like.

Anyway, I will keep you guys posted. I have a general idea of how I want to work out these goals, God willing, but I have not committed anything to stone as of yet. I would like to keep a general plan and adjust as needed as I go along. There will be some definite goals, but in terms of logistics, that is opened to some flexible adjustments. In the past few years, I overly planned and became disappointed with the results. Perhaps this semi-structure approach will prove better. Anyway, God bless you all and I wish that God’s providence will guide you throughout this year of the rabbit!

~ by branhow on January 2, 2023.

One Response to “Year of the Rabbit”

  1. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walk next to you in all your endeavors. You have a heavy list. Prioritize. God and family first and with your hard work the others will fall in place. As the saying goes Rome wasn’t built in a day. God bless you and your family. As always you all are in my thoughts and prayers. You are a role model to many. Your friend in Christ, 宝美玲 aka Evelyn Bonilla PS I wholeheartedly believe Spanish is easier than Portuguese for the native English speaker. I can read Portuguese but cannot speak it and must listen hard when they speak. Good luck.


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