Monday, June 29, 2015

Safari Weekend!

There aren't really words to describe how amazing going on safari was. I think I had a gigantic smile plastered across my face the whole time :)
We went to Ngorongoro Crater which was unbelievably beautiful. There were several times throughout the day that I was on the verge of tearing up just because it was so awe inspiring. 
The crater is a volcanic caldera and apparently the largest unflooded and unbroken one in the world. We had to drive up the mountain before we could descend down into the crater. Watching the clouds roll in over the rim was so cool.

And then there were the animals! Too many pictures to post all at once so here are just a few....
The next day we went to Tarangire National Park which was a complete change in terrain. It was much taller grass and trees and there were elephants everywhere!
One of the animals we hadn't seen all weekend was a male lion and we happened to be able to see one right as we were leaving the park. We were able to get so close, it was pretty incredible (don't worry, I had a great zoom lens on my camera, we weren't actually as close as it looks)!
I'm so behind on blogging and its about to get even worse because Mary Grace and I depart for a 5 day safari to the Serengeti today, so excited!!! Good thing we go to South Africa in a week and will be able to be lazy and catch up on everything :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Africa - Week 1 (Continued)

I love the colors in Africa, not just the green like I mentioned in my last post but the colors in town too. Besides the massive amount of Coca-Cola advertising there are these really great blue tones everywhere. 
And then there are tons and tons of sunflowers mixed in with all the fields of corn and of course there's Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, I mean how could you not love it!
I'm realizing as I write this that of course I would love the scenery, I literally just left the "concrete jungle" of NYC and am in an almost actual jungle in Africa :)

Ok, enough love fest, more story....

As part of our cross-cultural experience we have lots of learning activities planned. One was a tour of the local hospital with the chance to talk to local doctors. It was so interesting touring the hospital especially since I just spent the past year and a half working in a top notch cancer center in NYC.
It was a tiny bit different to say the least!

But it was also beautiful, I mean look at the views!

I know it sounds like everything has been so wonderful but I would be omitting a little info if I didn't confess that Africa, as much as I love it, is kicking my butt! Our days start much earlier than I'm used to and the kids have soooo much energy,  I am constantly exhausted and dirty.  

At the end of each day sometimes I'm so tired its hard to form complete sentences (which is part of why I'm so behind on blogging). One of my awesome roomies has been using the term "struggle bus" for those moments we aren't functioning adults anymore :)
Its all totally worth it though, I mean look at those sweet faces, love them!!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Africa - Week 1

Africa is not really anything like what I expected. Granted I was told over and over to have an open mind and not go in with expectations so maybe its just that I didn't really know what to expect? The area I'm staying in is so green, not at all the dry landscape you usually think of when you think of Africa. It was even cloudy and rainy for a lot of the first week. I never really thought I would be cold in Africa, ha!
I'm volunteering with Cross Cultural Solutions in Moshi, Tanzania. One of the reasons I chose this volunteer organization was because of how organized and structured they are, they really take care of everything. The house we live in is fantastic and all of our meals are provided. They even try to throw in some American food every once in a while. 
Ok so maybe they don't take care of EVERYTHING, you do have to do your own laundry or pay to send it out. So far I'm choosing to send it out :)
My volunteer placement is at Mageraza Nursery School, its located inside a prison complex. I'm just going to gloss over the prison part because I try not to think about it too much. From my very limited understanding, the nursery school is for the police officers' children. I'm in a classroom teaching English to 2-5 year olds. 
Luckily I have another volunteer with me, I don't think I could do this on my own. Its so much more challenging than I had thought, mostly because of the logistics, not the actual teaching. The school has very few resources and/or teachers. There was one day we had over 80 children just in our one classroom! The other volunteer and I had moments where we looked at each other in sheer panic. 
The children are so precious though. They don't know much English but absolutely know how to say teacher and start chanting it when we arrive. It sounds a little more like "tee-cha" but walking up to school where the kids can't wait to run and hug you is pretty awesome :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bittersweet Goodbye

Its been a looooong time since I last posted and I was actually considering just shutting down my blog but as I read through the posts it was so wonderful to have those memories recorded. There were pictures I didn't even remember taking, in particular pictures with a sweet friend of mine who passed away. I decided to keep the blog...and then life got really crazy!

Here's a short synopsis -
1. Decided to volunteer in Africa
2. Quit my job
3. Packed up all my stuff and moved out of my apartment
4. Left NYC to drop Rosie in Arkansas
5. Flew to Africa
This all happened in a little over a month, maybe two. For most of the time I felt like I was running around like a crazy person. I had always thought that I was a planner but apparently that was only in comparison to John :)

If you know me, you know that I had been talking about leaving NYC for a while but couldn't ever decide where to move. Somewhere along the way I got tired of trying to figure everything out and came to the conclusion that instead I would just take it one step at a time. I knew that a transition between cities would be a great time to travel/volunteer and why not take the chance when you have one, so here I am currently in Africa!

Its all been so overwhelming and intense but also surreal; to get to travel for two whole months is pretty much a dream come true! Anyway, I'll have more to post about Africa but I wanted to put a few pictures up of my apartment just so I had them to look back on.
My apartment was such a sanctuary for me in what has turned out to be an incredible journey. If I could say thank you to NYC I would, it will always be a very special place for me. Its where my life once fell apart but I learned how to put it back together and stand on my own and for that I am very proud.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Tattoo

A while ago I got a tattoo :)
I had contemplated one for a long time but could never think of something I wanted to have on my body for the rest of my life. However, going through the process of separation and divorce I found myself clinging to a verse from 1 Corinthians about love.

"Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." - 1 Corinthians 13:7

I know, I know, 1 Corinthians 13 is usually used in wedding ceremonies. At first I read this as I should never give up on my marriage and I should always stay hopeful, but the more I read it I started to realize that God is the one whose love never gives up or loses faith. Even though the man who promised to love me forever changed his mind, God will never do the same!

This became hugely symbolic for me as I was struggling with the idea of taking my wedding ring off. As something I had worn for so long, it was a comfort to me, a sense of security, and a reminder of all the good times in our marriage. Taking my ring off was scary and so painful. I wanted my tattoo to be a new reminder of God's love, the man who will never leave me. And so, I modified a tattoo I had seen online of an infinity symbol with the word love to have the L become a cross.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Anthem

One of the things that really resonated with me throughout this whole situation was the song "Oceans" by Hillsong United. The song is about God calling you out into a scary, unknown place where you can learn to truly trust in Him. Obviously it makes sense why I love the song :)

The line about keeping my eyes above the waves was one I repeated to myself over and over. If I could just remind myself that God is so much bigger than what I was going through at that moment and focus on Him instead it really helped!

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Year

So its literally been a year since I last posted and it has been an intense year to say the least! Honestly it feels like its been even longer. This past year has probably been the toughest of my life but the whole thing has been an incredible growth experience and I am so excited to see where God is taking me.

For those of you who don't know, my husband of almost 9 years decided that he didn't want to be married anymore. Its so much more complicated but that's all I feel like diving into for now. John broke the news in January and moved out in March.

It was a long road to pick myself up off the floor and get to where I am now and I know I'm not done traveling, but I'm kind of proud of myself! Not to say I did it alone, I absolutely could not have survived this without God and my amazing family and friends. This has been such a learning experience in so many ways and one of them was me learning to lean on others.

I feel blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people. My 31st birthday was in August and its so strange but I really feel like I turned a corner and am coming into my own. My new mantra is "31 is going to be a good year"!