Teaching Mission: Day 5

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these entries are taken directly from my personal journal kept during my week in La Cucarita.

This morning my alarm wen toff and I would’ve given anything to sleep 30 more minutes. Breakfast was pancakes and cream of wheat…not very exciting. Thank God I put a cliff bar in my backpack! The day went very well. The morning was focused on Ash Wednesday. We did a little Mass or prayer service. The music teachers sang and the 8th graders did the readings. We ended the service by receiving our ashes. It is crazy to think the last time I was in the DR I got ashes for Ash Wednesday.

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Lunch was fish, potatoes, beans and rice. The fish and potataos looks like canned peaches. I ate it Monday but I couldn’t do it again. So today I had rice for lunch, very boring. I told myself I was fasting for Lent.

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After lunch we were wandering around the little town and one woman invited us to sit down. She offered us coffee. She said once she was in a new town and a stranger showed her kindness, so now she shows kindness to strangers.

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The afternoon we worked with our English Groups to read scripture in English. They read the Good Samaritan and then wrote their own version of the story. We filmed them reading in English so they could hear themselves. I LOVE my group! They are so silly and fun, but so eager to learn. One of the girls in my group Helena is awesome. Every time I praise her progress her face lights up. She always thanks me at the end of the day.

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When we got back from school we hung out on the porch. Before dinner we walked to the primary school. The sun was getting ready to set so the sun was hitting the mountains perfectly. It was beautiful. The thing I love most about this group is that we do everything together.

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Dinner was pasta y tostones. The pasta was SO good. One of the guys in our class is training for the Olympics. He stopped training to take a picture with us. So sweet.

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I have missed being away from my kiddos, but I have been able to facetimed them a couple times. Their silly questions cracked me up! “Why is your hair blue?” (I was wearing a headband). “Why are you wearing the same shirt?” (because I only packed so many) “How’s Africa?” (not in Africa). “I LOST A TOOTH!”

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*wrote this quote in my journal “Some people are to tired to give you a smile; give them one of yours, as none need a smile so much as the one who has no more to give.”





Teaching Mission: Day 4

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These entries are taken directly from my journal kept during my trip.

Today we woke up to my alarm. I slept well despite the crazy day before. I honestly don’t think my body could take not sleeping. I was just so exhausted both mentally and physically. Breakfast today was blaah, so I only ate a little oatmeal and a piece of bread (un poco de pan haha I was practicing Spanish in my journal!)

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Daniel and I went to the school “library” down the hill for some books

Luckily today was a repeat of yesterday but with a different group of teachers. Today’s group had so many fabulous ideas and they were so gracious to have us there. My Spanish is getting better and better and I am getting more and more confident in trying it out. Explaining games for Math is hard. Thankfully they laugh with me (not at me) and somewhat understand what I am saying…I definitely had act a couple things out.

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these cuties were heading back from the river with water

Lunch was…can you guess? Chicken and rice and corn. It was the best chicken we had all week. At the school the bathrooms did not have running water so each time you needed to flush you had to walk and get a bucket of water. It is crazy to me that we take something as simple as a flushing toilet for granted.

My English group in the afternoon is amazing. They are SO eager to learn English. I kept telling them I would them English and they can teach me Spanish. When we finished today one of the girls in my group told me “You are a very good teacher” It made my day, because I had not been feeling very effective.

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dinner chicken, rice, potatoes

We got back to town and Becca was finally home from her adventure to the hospital. Our injured team member called us after dinner. I think it was good for everyone to hear her voice. She was going to be flown back to the USA.

At night we had reflection and went over the next day. Daniel is doing a religion day for Ash Wednesday. Poor Daniel is the only boy in a group full of chatty ladies. He was getting so frustrated because we kept interrupting him! haha! I was dying of laughter. We also have a new house pet…Gerry the mouse. We are all on high alert tonight!

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Salon de Mission

I finally got to wash my hair for the first time all week! It was in a sink. The town has no water so we are using buckets. We turned our house into a salon. It feels magical to have clean hair. Friday we will get a REAL shower. I am SO PUMPED!


Day 3: Accidents and Angels

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This is taken  from my journal kept during the trip, I have edited a little for privacy, this is hard to share because it does involve a medical emergency, but like I always say my blog is MY place to share.

Today was extremely draining…probably one of the scariest days of my life. I am currently writing this from the kitchen of our mission house. The others are playing cards and their laughter is comforting after the day we had.

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the view from the school

The morning started off great. We woke up and headed to the school. We were teaching the local teachers. I was in charge of math games. I planned 4 centers and thanks to my wonderful Spanish speaking teammates we ran some awesome centers. It seemed like everyone had a blast and I loved seeing and feeling the excitement fill the room.

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Math Centers

After lunch we split into English groups. I was with Daniel y los estudiantes almost at the top. It was fun to work with them…I felt my spanish getting better by the minute. We ended the day at 3:30 and headed back to the mission house. The drive is very steep and we ride in the back of the truck.

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Back of the truck selfie!

Our entire group decided to a trip to the waterfall was a must. We ALL went together. Jessica and I were in our sandals and the hike was just as steep as yesterday. This is where everything went wrong. We were almost to the waterfall when a member of our group fell. She fell bad. I watched her fall several feet off a ledge and roll past me. She came to a stop and I rushed over to her to help. I heard others shouting not to move her. We got a few more hands to steady her and slowly rolled her over. I can’t get the look on her face out of my head. She was not moving, and we all feared the worst.

One of our group members ran back up the hill for help. Two boys were coming up from the waterfall and we pleaded with them to run for help “EMERGENCIA RAPIDO” we kept yelling. They slowly strolled off and I was convinced we were screwed. We were in the most remote place ever in the middle of the mountains.

The group needed someone to join the other member up the mountain so I ran as fast as my body would take me. Thank GOD there was a house 1/2 way up the mountain. I am still to this day in shock at the ANGELS watching over us that day. I have never seen a community come together like the people of La Cucarita came together that day. People came out of the woodwork to help. Someone drove their car down to help. This entire time was less than 30 minutes but it felt like an eternity. My entire body was shaking when I made it to the mission house.

The car was getting ready to pull off and I said a quick prayer. All the sudden I heard shouting, and realized the car had pulled off with none of our group members inside. TeAni took control and shouted for another car, I was sent to find Daniel (we wanted a Spanish speaker at the hospital). He was still walking up the mountain, so back I ran through the town to get them. By the time we made it back to the mission house another member had gone on the back of a motorbike to catch them!

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a glimpse at the hike…this was just the beginning of it

We were all in shock at the events of the afternoon. Anxiously waiting words. I felt relieved when the others who stayed with her said she was talking when the car came. It was dinner but no one could eat. We headed to the chapel for prayer. We used it as a chance to decompress and share our thoughts. We all agreed is was the ANGELS of this town that saved the day. I am still so shocked and thankful for the generosity of the people here.

After reflection sweet Brittany was outside and ran and jumped into my arms with a giggle. It was just what my heart needed. Moments later we got the word that our team member broke her wrist and only needed 3 stitches. The only word I could think of was MIRACLE.

The rest of the night was spent together. This group is truly amazing. We came together today and I feel so blessed to be with them despite this terrible accident.

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In my journal, I added Brittani’s favorite thing to say before bed “Duerme con los Dios” sleep with the Gods.




Teaching Mission Day 2

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These entries are taken directly from my personal journal kept during the trip

This morning I woke up to a rooster outside my window at 3 am…I miraculously fell back asleep until 7:30. I do not think I have ever slept so well…especially in such an uncomfortable bed and LOUD bed. Seriously every time I moved it made the loudest sound!! My poor bunkmates! But I was so tired it didn’t even phase me.

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horse spotted on our hike

Breakfast was toast with an egg cooked in the middle and oatmeal. I swear oatmeal in the D.R. is a million times better than oatmeal when I cook it. After breakfast our group met for EVER to finalize plans for the week. 9 teachers collaborating to teach other teachers is VERY stressful, lots of different opinions…but we eventually finished and packed up all our supplies.

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My favorite picture, because in the lower left you can see La Cucarita

Lunch was chicken, beans and rice PLUS fried eggplant! So yummy. After our big lunch we embarked on a big hike to a cross up at the top of the mountain. It was a very tricky hike straight up a rocky road…the same steep road the kids and teachers take to school every day…The entire time we had a spectacular view. The hike was tough, but I knew the view would be worth the hard work. Seriously, when will I learn to get in shape???

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that view.

We took a TON of pictures and it was nice to have our entire group together for this special moment. Walking back down was a nice bonding for our group. We chatted the whole way down, stopping frequently to talk with the locals. I met one beautiful little girl I had spotted on the way up. She had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen!

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Jessica my FABULOUS photographer!

Since it was Sunday, we attended a prayer service in the chapel. There is not a permanent priest in the small town, but a man came and led the service. I have always loved seeing how different cultures interpret religions. Music was an INTEGRAL part of the service and I loved every second of it…even if the entire thing was in Spanish!

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After dinner I played a new dice game with Daniel, Gretchen, Becca, and Maribel. Later TeAni came over with her adorable daughters Brittani and Tiffani. Brittani has already wiggled her way in my heart. She loves taking pictures, making movies on my phone, and she LOVES to sing Adele’s Hello.

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Teaching Mission Day 1

Teaching Mission

The following entires are taken directly from my journal I kept during the week. 

Last night my nerves were going strong. I woke up around 2 am and began to PANIC. I tried to calm myself down by breathing slow. I was eventually able to fall back asleep. My alarm went off at 4 am and it was time to get moving. My mind was finally calming down and I was ready for my adventure. I had stayed the night at my parents. Saying goodbye brought back the anxiety, but I knew this trip would be amazing.

Dad drove me to the airport and I met up with the group. Sitting and chatting while we waited for the group helped calm my nerves. We were a group of 9, Gretchen, Maribel, Daniel, Beatriz, Becca, Gracie, Jessica, and Gloria. We all work at different schools in the Diocese. Jessica and I are the lone English Speakers.

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the truck we would eventually be riding in

I slept for most of the flight and when we landed, I made it through customs with only one mishap. Maribel and I totally walked past the customs line! whoops! After getting through we met up with Caesar who would be our driver and one of our main contacts. Then we embarked on the world’s longest travel day. We started the day on a lovely air conditioned bus. We rode on this from about 11 am-4 pm, then switched to the back of a truck for another 2 hours.

Before, the truck we stopped at a house where 37 students live. They go to the local high school. After school they come back for English and Math lessons. We ate a late lunch and the kids gave us a tour. One girl N showed us around, she loves Nicholas Spark’s books! We bonded over this! After the tour we climbed on the bus and drove another hour or so. We pulled into a gas station to get water bottles. OF COURSE my bag broke and bottles went everywhere! Thankfully the kind men sitting out front helped me carry them to the truck. Our new ride was the back of a truck. We piled in and got ready for a 2 hour ride up through the mountains. It was spectacular view the entire ride.

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driving through the mountains

The drive was very rough. We finally arrived close to 6 pm and my body was past the point of exhaustion. When I got to our little room with bunk beds, my vision got blurry and I began to shake all over. I was worried I was about to pass out. I quickly made my way back through the tiny house racing for some fresh air. Once outside I threw up twice. I literally thought I was going to die (I can be a bit extreme in my thought process) the whole time I was trying to picture how they would get me down the mountain. I calmed down and was able to eat a little bit of dinner.

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some of the houses we saw on our way up the mountain

We then met in the little chapel right next to the mission house to go over the plans for the week. We would be training 50 teachers from the mountain schools. We also went over house rules…the small town was in a drought so conserving water was extremely important. “If its yellow let it mellow if its brown flush it down…” and by flush it down I mean put several buckets of water in the toilet tank and then flush. We were all falling asleep at this point and so ready for bed. When I finally crawled into my mosquito net I was OUT.

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the chapel 

Teaching Mission Dominican Republic

Teaching Mission

I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to get to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. My principal was in a meeting a few weeks before the trip and they were searching for a few more teachers to join the trip. She knew how much I had been wanting to go on a mission trip so she instantly texted me. I remember getting the text and INSTANTLY responding yes. This was before I knew any details at all. It was going to be a week long trip away from my students, and I had to attend a meeting that Sunday!

When I met with the group Sunday I was so nervous. This trip sounded very intense. I was expecting going to the Domincan Republic and teaching cute little kiddos English…that was not what we were doing. We were leading Teacher in services to train the teachers of the region. I speak very little Spanish so I was VERY nervous.

Below is the video Recap of my trip! In the days to come I will be sharing my journal entries from the trip. They are very personal and close to my heart. We had quite an incredible trip with a lot of ups and a couple downs, including a medical emergency.  Stay tuned to read all about the WONDERFUL experience I had in the beautiful mountain region of the Dominican Republic.

Tips and Tricks for Packing Light

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The past few trips I have gone on have been quick weekend trips. It is important to utilize your space when packing for such a short period of time. I definitely used to be the person who overpacked…but now I pride myself in fitting everything I need into a teeny tiny bag!

Carry-On is the WAY to go: 

The last thing you want to do on a quick trip is spend forever waiting on your luggage. If you are only traveling for the weekend you can DEFINITELY fit everything in a carry-on. My dad hasn’t let us check luggage in years so I have become a PRO at packing. I have several bags I loved to use when it comes to carrying on. Depending on the airline I am flying I will rotate between these.

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      1. Rolling Carry On, I use a  Delsey Luggage  that I found at TJ Maxx. It has been FABULOUS plus I love sticking stickers from my adventures all over it
      2. Tortuga Backpack: This is my dad’s latest find. I was a little skeptical because the backpack looks HUGE! I never thought it would fit in the overhead…but it does easily. I packed in this for a week in the Dominican Republic and plan on bringing it for three weeks this summer!
      3. Vera Bradley Small Duffel  this is my go-to for those stupid flights that charge you to carry-on…it fits under your seat so you do not need to pay
      4. Eagle Creek Tarmac Weekend Bag (pictured above). When I need to pack a lot, but still carryon I will pack my suitcase and this weekend bag. This fits under the seat as well, so I can also interchange it with the Vera Bradley duffel.

Only Bring the Essentials:

When it comes to packing the extras I am very aware of the added items I am putting in my bag. On my last trip to Atlanta I had to decide between my hair straightener or my laptop. I chose laptop because I knew my friend had a straightener to borrow…and to be completely honest I used my laptop ONCE so definitely could’ve left that behind. When it comes to packing my make-up/beauty products I am very selective. I normally only wear a little cover up/mascara so thats all I pack. I do not need all 50 shades of eyeshadow sitting in my cosmetic bag!

Plan Your Outfits:



Ugh. This is the hardest for me. So many times I have packed light only to be disappointed with my outfit planning. I think it is extremely important to bring items that can be intermixed. Solid color t-shirts are great because they can be worn with jeans, shorts, skirts etc! I also love to throw a scarf in because that can easily dress a simple t-shirt up! I saw on Pinterest the 5,4,3,2,1 rule and I thought it was GENIUS for a longer trip. I have to give credit to A Pair and a Spare for this great tip and awesome graphic!

Utilize Your Space:

ROLL, ROLL, ROLL! Rolling my clothes has saved me SO much space. Also…wear your biggest shoes/coats etc on the plane. Yes, it will be a pain going through security when you have to take your giant boots off, but just imagine all the extra space you now have!

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I miraculously packed for an entire three day weekend in this itty bitty duffel!

Do you have any tips and tricks for packing light? If so share them in the comments below!