Friday, February 19, 2010

Weeks 7 & 8 Update!

Hello everyone!

Hope you are doing fantastic! It's been a big couple of weeks here so without delay here are some updates!!!

1. I'M IN BELIZE! What? Yea, that's right, Belize! If you recall, when I first signed up for this trip I originally was supposed to be here, but due to some governmental issues the boats were "kicked out" and thus ended up in Honduras which is where I've been for the past 2 months. Well, over the past few weeks Chris (the director of Destination Paradise) has been working really hard to settle the governmental dispute to get the boats back in Belize, and finally this week he did! So on Tuesday we made an 18 hour overnight sail from Honduras to Belize and will be spending the next month here. The sail up here was so amazing. The stars were out and it was just us and open ocean. Nothing like it!! When we woke up in the morning, there was a ton of dolphins swimming right in front of our boat, welcoming us to Belize!
We are currently docked at a marina near Belize City and will be here for the next few days. We then will be sailing north to the Destination Paradise base to meet the rest of the DP staff and the diver's DTS. So we are all really looking forward to that! Praise God that we were able to come back to Belize and that we got here safely!

2. I'M GOING TO INDIA! Yea!! Last week the staff announced the location of our outreach and India it is! So on March 26 we'll be leaving Belize and heading to India for two months. Many of the details are still being worked out, but we'll most likely be in Delhi. The work that we'll be doing is also still being determined, but the staff has some good contacts there in India and are working with them to get everything arranged. I never dreamed I'd be going to India but am SO excited! We have been praying so much for this country and for it's people and we are all really excited to be there and be a part of God's vision for this country! I know He is going to do huge things and I'm excited to see how His plans unfold. I'll definitely keep you all posted on the details of the trip as they are worked out!

3. I'M GOING ON STAFF WITH DESTINATION PARADISE IN BELIZE! Big news here! As you know, the program I am on is a 3-part program. The lecture phase is what I'm in currently. Outreach as I said will be for 2 months in India, and the last phase is called Internship. Destination Paradise has a huge network of people they know all over the world and do a great job of matching students up with various organizations to complete their 4-month internship. Last week I was talking to Chris and just discussing some options for my internship. I told him that while I truly love the hands on, service aspects of ministry, my true passions lie more on the business/administration side of things and would love to be paired up with an organization that could use some help in those areas. Later that day, as I'm sitting with my friend in her room, Chris comes bursting through the door, his eyes all wide and says "I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but DP needs someone like you to help with social networking, support raising, and promotions!" Sooo trying to make a long story short, after some more conversations with Chris about what this would all look like and stuff, I made the decision to return to the Destination Paradise base here in Belize after outreach, and join staff not only for the 4-month internship, but also for a long term position! Read: I am going to be calling Belize home!!!! While on staff I will also have the opportunity to lead outreaches in future schools, which will be an amazing opportunity to travel and serve abroad.

I know this is a huge chunk of news to swallow! I told you it has been a big couple of weeks! But honestly I am so at peace about all this and am SO incredibly excited about it. The position with Destination Paradise is like a dream come true. I am so excited to be able to use my experience in advertising/promotions to support this amazing ministry. God has completely knocked my socks off here and I am so excited to be able to share that experience with other people.

In other news, as I am writing this I am working on the FB picture upload. I've got about half my pictures up and will try to put up the rest later! But you can go on and see what's up there for now!

Also, I know I say it all the time, but I again want to express my sincerest THANKS to you all for your support, prayers, emails, and LOVE. I appreciate so much that you are reading and following my blog and all the comments and encouraging emails are such a blessing! The financial support and prayers are also amazing. I could not or would not be here without you. I really do hope that you feel like you are part of this amazing journey with me and know that your support is a blessing not only to me but also to the many people that I have or will be working with in India and beyond! So thank you!

God's blessings and my love to you all!!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weeks 5 & 6 Update!

Hi friends!

I'm tired as I'm writing this; we are just winding down from a busy week! On Monday, we sailed to a small group of islands about three hours from Roatan, called the Cayos Cuchinos, where we did some outreach work all week. The Cayos Cuchinos islands are inhabited primarily by a people group called the Garifuna who are decsendents of slaves in West Africa.

The Garifuna are a friendly and warm group of people. The vast majority of them in the Cayos Cuchinos speak no English and their ways of living are very primative. Very small villages, no electricity, huts made out of wood/thatch, one room name it. Just like what you would think of a remote island village. But insanely beautiful! While we were there, we assisted our missionary friend, Renee who is a doctor on the mainland of Honduras, with some medical clinics. We did baby weighing and Renee also trained many of them on basic health stuff like CPR. We also spent a lot of time teaching English to both the kids and adults, and playing with the kids. Our last day there, we had a church service in the village where we sang some songs, did a few dramas, and shared testimonies. Overall an awesome experience!

Also, on the sail over to the Cayos, we saw about 10-15 dolphins! They were swimming and jumping alongside our boat and then swam over to the bow and swam up in front for about 5 minutes! I literally was about 3 feet from them. AMAZING!

I'm going to wrap this up because I'm really tired, and I'm going to try and post some pictures of Facebook tonight, God willing!

God Bless!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weeks 3 & 4 Update

Hi everyone and happy February! Hope you are all doing well and for those in the midwest I hope you are staying warm!

The past few weeks here have been really good. In between classes, we've had more opportunities to get off the boats to explore the surroundings and interact with the people here. Last week we made a 21 mile sail (took about 6.5 hours!) to one of the other Bay Islands called Guanja. We spent one afternoon in town and as soon as we got off our dingy we were immediately welcomed. People here are so friendly and hospitible. One guy named Wilson who is a ferry driver on the island took us on a little tour. We took a hike up into the mountains and saw some beautiful views, and then he took us around the town where we got to chat with some of the locals, play with some of the kids, and really just soak up their culture and watch them going about their day. Here on Roatan, we've been able to venture out a bit during the weekends. This weekend we went to the Western End of the Island, called West Bay. It's a really nice area, mostly targeted to tourists. I've been able to get out and do some running which has been awesome. It's amazing how much "cabin fever" really rings true when living on a boat 24/7.

Classes are going really well. Last week we dove into learning about about some of the world's major religions-Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. I am so fascinated by this stuff; learning about other's belief systems and worldviews. For my next book report, I am reading a book called Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. It's a pretty high-level book about the absolute truths/claims of Christianity and compares/contrasts Christianity with other world religions. Really great stuff if you've ever wondered WHY you believe what you believe. Two weeks ago our first book report was due. I read a book called Jesus of Suburbia by Mike Erre. I would HIGHLY recommend this book if you are looking for something new to read!

Next week we are going to be doing a "mini-outreach" and doing some work here in Roatan which should be awesome.

And now, here's a few tidbits about Honduras for you:

The main local food here is called Bailladas. Bailladas are delicious homemade tortillas with beans, cheese, eggs, and ham. Here on Roatan we have found a place that we go to a lot because the bailladas there are so amazing. Not to mention cheap. It's about $1 for one baillada and it's enough food to feed 2 or 3!

Honduras is the third poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti and Nicaragua. Here's something really really sweet though. The other day when I was at the market, I saw this poster hanging outside that read "Help Haiti" and listed some things like carwashes and other various fundraisers and stuff. How cool is it that these people, people living in the third poorest country in the western hemistphere, are willing to give what little they have away to Haiti? Amazing.

Ninety percent of the population is Mestizo, which is a mixture of Amerindian and European ancestry. About 7% belong to various indeginious groups, and about 2% are African American. The official language is spanish, although most people speak some, if not fluent English. White people like me are called Gringos :)

The main religion is Roman Catholic.

Roatan, the island where I'm at, is located along the second largest barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef). This makes for some sweet snorkeling and scuba diving!

If you have any questions or would like to know more about what I'm doing, what I'm seeing, what I'm learning, Honduras, Roatan, or whatever please drop me an email! I love hearing from you and also want to keep up to date on what's happening back at home!!!

Please also let me know how I can pray for you. We've been doing a lot of intercessory prayer, which is praying on behalf of other people. I'd be honored to spend some time praying for you.

And since some of you have asked, a big prayer request for me this week is having PATIENCE and humbling myself before my team members. Living in such close quarters and spending every waking moment with the same 8 people can really start to take it's toll, so patience is definitely needed! :)

Thank you all for following up on me and for your love and encouragement. Miss you!

Blessings and love,