Day 3: Accidents and Angels

Teaching MissionDay 2(1)

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

Teaching MissionDay 2

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:

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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!

Happy Easter

  
I have spent Easter in some very exciting places…a ski lodge in Colorado, the local beach, California, and DC. As much as I LOVE traveling, I also love spending holidays at home. The most important thing to me is spending it with family, where we we may be. 

   
Easter in DC complete with cherry blossoms! 

 Skiing after Mass on Easter Sunday in Keystone Colorado.

 
Super old school Easter at Cocoa Beach! I think this was before we had our condo! 
This year is pretty low key, we are home in Florida. This morning started with 8 am Mass. The rest of the day will be filled with family and food! I hope everyone has a very wonderful Easter. 

Ski Weekend in Park City

PARK CITY

When my parents got invited to a wedding in Park City, Utah they started planning a weekend getaway. Initially, I was not invited…because I do not enjoy skiing. I did not think it was fair that my brothers both got to tag along and I was going to be left behind. I sold my case and was invited to join. I would fly out Thursday night with my parents and back on the red eye Sunday night. The rest of the crew would stay till Tuesday. I didn’t decide to ski until we got there. I knew if I didnt I would regret it. Even though I am a very apprehensive skiier, I wanted to try again. (Backstory: I first learned how to snowboard and did that for about 5 years, then switched to skiing when I became too much of a scardy cat skiing, everyone convinced me skiing would be better…) Screen shot 2016-03-26 at 8.20.08 AM

We stayed at the Westgate Canyons Resort. It was a little outside of Park City but had its own ski-lift and little town center. Westgate was fabulous. They had shuttles to take you into Park City. We found the place we stayed using VRBO. My favorite part about Westgate? When you were done skiing you just dropped your skiis and boots. You didn’t have to lug them around with you! They would bring them out to the mountain when you wanted to ski.

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My dad hung with me on day one, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly skiing came back to me. I will be completely honest when I say I DO NOT LIKE SKIING. It is HARD. I really only skiied for two half days…and next time I think I will just stick with exploring the town.

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That being said…I did make it down a couple easy blue runs! My brother Ryan and my parents are definitely the skiiers in the family. Matt and I…not so much. We still had a great time…only minimal tears on the mountain!

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The best part of skiing is definitely the views you are treated to. The thought of missing these beautiful shots may force me back on skiis another time! We were lucky to have fresh snow on the mountain making everything look magical!

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Our favorite spot in Park City’s downtown was Highwest Distillery. We went here for dinner on Sunday night…before my red-eye home. They have delicious food options…but even TASTIER drinks!

The worst part of the trip? Having to take the red-eye home on Sunday night and drive straight to work on Monday morning. It was worth it for a fun weekend…but definitely not recommended! And now I leave you with my little Park City Video (I am really into the videos now!) ENJOY!