Friday, July 30, 2010


Wowww so things are moving quickly--not too much longer now! Part of me is so ready to just GO already. But then I think of all I have to do, and of all my family and friends, and I am grateful for another month.
I got a backpack finally! It's an Osprey Kestrel 48. I really like it; it has some cool features. It's adjustable, so other people in my family can use it. I got some pants and socks and such....So I am working on a packing list and looking at what I can realistically take. It's a bit overwhelming.
I got our entire itinerary today! It's crazy. The flight to China takes two days because we're leaving from Peru....I don't think many people go from Cuzco to Kunming. So we go from Cuzco to Lima to San Salvador to LA to Hong Kong to Kunming! I also had a Skype call with two other students tonight, one of TBB's founders, and one of my group leaders. It was really cool to talk to people and get to know them a little better. Both of the girls seemed really cool! Everyone is so different with all these different interests. I can't wait to meet everyone.
I've been reading some blogs from people that went on the trip last year--there are a couple alumni who are helping us out on facebook...answering questions, calming fears, etc. It's very helpful. :) Anyway, as I read these blogs, I finally realized exactly what I'm getting myself into...
You might be reading this saying, "Yeah, you should have realized that before." But it's 30 days left. Exactly one month from today, I will be on a flight from Miami to Costa Rica. I'll have left my family and friends for eight months. Eight months of new families, new religions, no real bathrooms (except in SA), poverty, sweat and nastiness, intense discussion and debate on topics I have really never studied, the same clothes all the time, no peanut butter or Dr. Pepper, and very likely, no Christians.
And to be honest, I'm terrified. Three people went home early last year. I'm not sure why, but they did. I'm terrified that I won't raise enough money. I'm terrified that I'll get sick or injured and I'll have to go home. I'm terrified that my host family experiences will be miserable. I'm terrified to meet all these new people--especially after leaving my friends of 12 years. I'm terrified that I will just become so spiritually exhausted that I won't be faithful to pray, to be in the Word, to love people. I'm terrified that I will put Christ to shame (more than I already do by being a sinner).
But I guess that's normal. And healthy. It would be a bad thing if I went in thinking that this trip would be a piece of cake or just all vacation. It will be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually wearing. I know this. But I also know that it feels so right to be preparing for this trip. I am at complete peace with the fact that I am supposed to be going on this trip. And all my fears and worries--simple unbelief. God will provide money. He will keep me safe. He will teach me through my homestays. He will provide good friends--different friends, but new ones and friends that will teach me. He will sustain me through each situation because He is a gracious and loving God.
Sorry this post is so personal. But I had to put these thoughts somewhere, and it all just kind of came spilling out. Did I mention I have one month left?!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Next Year

This is a long post--I apologize in advance! There's just so much to share! :)
So recently we got an email with country briefings--now I know exactly what I'm doing in each country. In each of the four core countries (Ecuador, China, India, and South Africa), we do service projects in the communities we live in (we live with host families by the way!). We work during the day and have seminars in the afternoons usually and spend time researching for our Presentations of Learning (POLs) at the end of the year.
SO. Here's my itinerary!
COSTA RICA (Sept. 8-20):, we have orientation: seminars, communication skills, some training stuff, and team building. Then we have some fun outdoor stuff: kayaking, snorkeling, a rainforest/waterfall hike, yoga (that should be interesting haha), and a boat trip.
ECUADOR (Sept. 20-Oct. 28): We'll be working with the Fundacion Yanapuma. We're working in the Bua community doing reforestation--planting trees. :) The people in this community are from the Tsa'chila tribe (apparently pronounced like "spatula" without the p!). I think I'll be in Ecuador on my birthday.
PERU (Oct. 28-Nov. 4): We hike the Inca trail! We go all the way to Machu Picchu. It's gonna be awesome. We also stay in Cuzco for a bit.
CHINA (Nov. 4-Dec 17): We'll be working in schools teaching English and such in the Yunnan Province (in the southwestern part of the country--bordering Laos, Vietnam, and Burma). Our partner is the Yunnan Center for Cultural Learning and Development. We'll stay in Kunming most of the time, which is the capital of the province. The other part of the time, we'll stay in the Shaxi community. I'm in China for Thanksgiving.
CAMBODIA (Dec 17-Dec 26): We're in Cambodia for an "Enrichment Week," like Peru. It's like vacation--full of sight-seeing. We're going to Phnom Penh, which is the capital. We'll see sites from the time of the Khmer Rouge like the Killing Fields and Toul Sleng. There are other sites like museums, palaces, and markets that we will go to. After Phnom Penh, we'll go to Siem Reap, which is the home of famous Angkor Wat (huge, ancient temples). I'm in Cambodia for Christmas!
INDIA (Dec 26-Feb 12): India will be very interesting. We study agriculture while we're there, so we're going to be farming and doing research....yeah. :) Our partner is the Indian Network for Development Exchange. We'll be staying in Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. We also will be working with a local social enterprise in Jaipur, Go Seva Sangh. We'll be taking a "weekend excursion" in Pushkar, which is a pilgramage site for Hindus. There we'll be visiting the Brahma Temple and taking a Camel Safari! (Jaron, if you're reading this...there is NO camel safari AT ALL. :) Haha)
For our enrichment week, we're staying in India--but going to Delhi and Agra! In Delhi we'll go to the Red Fort, Jama Masjid (India's largest mosque) and Humayan's tomb, as well as different markets and museums. In Agra we'll go to the Taj Mahal, the Old Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri (a fortified ghost city).
SOUTH AFRICA (Feb 12-Mar 31): Our partner in SA is Willing Workers in South Africa. But we'll be spending our time in Plettenberg Bay, working with careworkers from PlettAid. Plettenberg is in the far south of the country on the Indian Ocean. It's pretty much directly in the middle of the country. We're studying public health and HIV/AIDS in SA, so we're going to be shadowing careworkers as they work with sick people. We'll also be doing some service projects in the townships (working in orphanages, gardening at women's shelter, or a building/painting project).
Plettenberg is such a cool area--it has SO much to do! Part of our enrichment week is just in Plett. We can go sky diving, bungee jumping, shark diving, canoeing, ziplining,go to the beach....We're also gonna go to Monkey Land, Birds of Eden, and a couple different hikes. For the rest of our enrichment week, we'll go to Addo Elephant National Park for a safari.
We return to the states April 1st! While we're in the states, we work on our POLs and meet with people from places like World Bank, the UN, and other development organizations. Our first stop is New York City! Family members are allowed to visit April 1-3 (Mom is so pumped to take a trip to NYC :) haha). We're in New York April 1-8. Then we head to DC, April 9-17. In DC we'll spend a day lobbying Congress from RESULTS (scary...). We spend April 18-30 at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Virginia. That will be a time to process (or try to) the experience and perfect our POLs. May 1-6 we split into groups and go to places like DC, NYC, or Boston to give our POLs. Then graduation is May 6-8!!
I can't believe this is actually happening, haha. Looking at everything I get to do, I realize how blessed I am. I am so excited! I'm especially excited to get to know my host families--I am already praying for our time together. I will have so many opportunities to share the gospel, and I'm praying that I will be bold and clear. I'm going to learn so much--about the world and all these issues, and about myself and how I can be an advocate for these people. Agh! This is craziness.
Fifty-seven days...!!! :)