Friday, December 30, 2011

What are you getting Jesus for Christmas?

the Avett Brothers is playing in the background as I recall this question.

while at a Christmas party, I was chatting with the mother of one of my girls, also a dear friend. she asked me this question. i was quite taken aback, not so much with the question, but because I was unsure of my answer. she said that it was my trip, but I guess i still wasn't happy with that answer. since my trip is for school, it's not completely altruistic. God has definitely called me to Haiti, but my reasons for going there for such an extended length of time are to get school credits. I will be earning something tangible, or pseudo-tangible. my transcript will reflect that I will have earned credits while in Haiti.

so my answer was that I will be helping support friends on their mission trips.

but really, what do you give Jesus that you shouldn't already be giving him? we are called to offer our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). can we give anymore than that? probably [definitely] yes.

my mission is to give Jesus something more. and not just something more on His "birthday" something more everyday, because He gave His life for me. it's the least I can do.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

fa la la la la

I cannot believe that Christmas has already come and gone. I feel like it surprised me with it's visit. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Erie had it's first green Christmas that I can ever remember.

In other news I got my passport in the mail last week, and I also got my birth certificate back. I also had my appointment with the travel doctor and he gave me lots of antibiotics and anti malarial and a Typhoid vaccine. Now I just need to make an appointment with my family doctor to get a Hep A vaccine and I will be all set to go!

In stinking awesome news, Meg Chilcott will be flying down and staying with me for the first month of my trip. She is so cool and will be doing doctor duties at the Clinic while I will be in the classroom.

This is a super short post since I really don't have anything more to say. I have been starting on crafting projects for things to take with me like a cord/electronics organizer that is the size of a book and other handy things. Still debating on whether or not to buy an iPad to take with me. Any suggestions?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Au Revoir, Scott..

Monday, my friend and fellow youth leader, Scott will be leaving for Port au Prince, Haiti. He will be there over Christmas. Please keep him in your prayers! Cause I'd be the only crazy college aged student with an extreme passion for Haiti if anything happened to him. =]

As for my trip, I had my meeting with Mr. Alan Karns, the professor who handles placements and PIPing/Student Teaching. He started a file for me, and has given me his blessing for the trip. He used to teach with Kate and told me a story about the two of them seeing Les Mis during a conference. I love how telling people about my trip takes down formality barriers. How many others can have common conversations about life like that when planning for their carrier? I also have an appointment with the travel doctor on Tuesday, I will hopefully just going over the vaccinations I need and how much they will cost. Later that afternoon I go for my follow up after getting my wisdom teeth out a month ago (WHAAT) Please pray for a situation with my Mercyhurst tuition, there has been a fluke and as of right now I owe the school $3,000. The fix is "simple," PHEAA needs more information from my parents so it is a matter of them collecting it and sending it in. Regardless I need it done soon so I can register for classes!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Why in God's name would you go there..."

This post was titled by a nurse at my doctor's office. She called me today because my doctor wrote that I needed an appointment with Infectious Disease Control (the Travel Doctor) and she needed some more information from me. So I told her the reason why, and she replied, "I don't know why in God's name you'd want to go there." One statement was droppable, but she went on to say "I can tell you it's going to be hotter than hades." I decided not to snap and correct her, which I was on the verge of doing considering my past week. I knew that this nurse was picking up the work load of two people. I just remained as pleasant as I could because she was really helping me out.

This brings me to the fact that so many people don't understand why I'm going to Haiti. I could do my PIPing/Internship at any other school in the area, but I'm choosing Haiti. The real thing about it is that I don't really understand it either. For some reason, God has put the children and people of Haiti in my heart in a strong way. The past 6 years of my life, I have had a longing to go to this country, completely opposite of my world, and do whatever I can to help them. And still the reason I cling to that I am actually going is God, there is really no explanation because this trip has fallen so easily to me.

I'm not saying that to be a "Christian" you must go and serve in Haiti, or Africa, or the Dominican. I'm just saying that this is what God has given to me as His plan for my life. His plan is different for everyone. When you see a glimpse of it, cling to it.

The school that I will be teaching in is not much different from any school in the Erie Area. They may not have the most up to date or "practical" things that US classrooms have, but they have more than most other children in Haiti have, a safe, secure school where they are being taught by a (real) teacher. They have supplies, desks, a chalkboard.

I am so excited to get to teach these students in such a raw way. It will be so refreshing because I think sometimes kids minds get clutter from all the buzz that we have in the US. I mean right now I'm typing this, but I also have four other tabs open, iTunes playing, Twitter app open, and another window with a giveaway that I'd like to enter. That's all just on my computer, I also have my phone on, and I can hear the heat running. It's 8:28 in the morning on a Saturday, and that is all that is going on in JUST MY BEDROOM. It's quite crazy when you think about it. So that leads me to wonder, how are young students US classrooms feeling? My bet is that some of them are okay with it, some of them could have more buzz, and many, many need less. My prayer is that while I am in Haiti, I can learn how to cut out "buzz" in both my life, and in my future students' lives.

To end this post, I will post pictures of Kate and the school and some of her students.

Aren't they beautiful!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Passport Progression.

Alliterations are wonderful, but that one isn't very good.

Today I finished applying for my passport because education majors minor in procrastination. One would think it would be an easy thing to do, but this is me we're talking about.

It started with how I still get 12th and 26th streets confused. Which is silly since I've lived in Erie my whole life, but anyways, I almost got to my appointment late. Passport 1 Katie 0.

I got there and sat down with the passport guy, honestly, if you need to get a passport go to the Presque Isle Post Office. The guy was Ron, he is in a wheel chair, and the nicest guy ever! I gave him my paper work and the first thing out of this mouth was "oh no, the back." I had gotten my passport application from the Study Abroad office at Mercyhurst, and they printed the application front and back. So right off the bat of the meeting I had to re-fill out all the paper work. Passport 2 Katie 0.

Ron continued to look over the rest of the information, birth certificate, social security card, etc. The second thing he said to me was "Who took your picture? It's all wrong! They won't accept this, we have to take a new one." Considering I had already paid $10 for the first picture from Walgreen's, and Ron had informed me over the phone that if I needed a picture taken it would cost an additional $15 (to the $135 just for getting a passport) I was quite frustrated. Passport 3 Katie 0.

Ron told me to take the photo back to Walgreen's and demand a refund because they did it wrong. He took a new, and much better picture, for me there. Then it came time to pay and we had already chit chatted about my trip, he told me that I didn't have to pay for the new picture since he really liked what I was doing. Passport 3 God 1 Katie 0.

I did end up getting my money back for the previously poorly taken passport photo. From there on out my day didn't go much smoother, lots of snags with financial aid because of PHEAA which I am about ready to scream about and have SFS's phone number memorized. BUT I got approved to work extra hours from my boss's boss, and my boss is totally cool with me picking up extra hours whenever I need to.

So, from here on out I will be busy and memorizing room numbers of the boys who sign girls in all the time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

From the beginning...

Many people have asked me in the past few months how this whole thing started; the answer isn't "Recently!" the answer is "when was this whole thing not in motion?" Let me explain...

Compared to my peers, I've always been one step ahead. In fourth grade, I learned about this high school called Collegiate Academy, from that moment on I knew I was going to go there. This is nothing and everything to do with my trip. Since I was young, I've KNOWN in the bottom of my heart what the next step is for me. It started with my high school, then it was my major, then I slacked and made one of the most wonderful decisions of my life: to go to Mercyhurst College. The first semester of my Senior year is a blur. There was a nasty break up, then applying to colleges. I had no idea where I wanted to go, which was strange for me. I mean, come on, I knew in 4th grade where I was going to go to high school. I applied to seven schools: Gannon University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Penn State the Behrend College, Edinboro University, Thiel College, Allegheny University, and Mercyhurst College. Growing up, never in a million years did I ever imagine myself going to Mercyhurst. It's right around the corner from my house, you go away for college blah blah blah. The more I thought about, the more my heart was drawn to this school. I ended up attending an accepted majors day at the college, and I was set. Early/Special Education Duel Major. Deposit. Books. Go.

Weeks before school started, Kate was in town. I had sent her a graduation announcement, so she asked me where I was going and for what, then it happened. She invited me to come to Haiti and teach with her. Little did she know that going to Haiti was something I had desired to do since I started high school. But high schoolers don't go to Haiti, so I didn't. I would when I was in college with the church I figured. I had plans of going with the church, which happened to fall during my Spring Break. Then something happened, Haiti experienced an earthquake. I remember the day vividly, I was at the gym with a friend, she slapped me on the shoulder and frantically pointed at the television above us. Ruins. That was all that was on the screen. My plans were smashed. God was telling me "wait."

The churches trip was cancelled, so I had nothing to do but wait. At the end of the year, I had advising. My plans were simple: duel major and start a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis while working on my undergrad (remember, I'm ambitious).  I went over classes with Dr. Roberts. She asked if I had anything else, and I said "Yes" and I told her about Kate's offer. Then my plans for college fell apart, or together, however I choose to look at it. My intentions were to simply see about going for two weeks with the church, and getting a credit or so, considering I would be working in the classroom the whole time I was there anyways. But Dr. Roberts, and God, had something else planned. PIPing. Pre-Teaching Internship. Being an almost teacher. In Haiti. Dr. Roberts got Kate's contact information from me. When Kate was in town that summer, they met.

Upon returning to school, I met with Dr. Roberts. We talked, and decided that if I was going to do this, I should do it now. Spring 2012. This school year. Plans started, meetings with Dr. Roberts bi-weekly to catch up. Preliminary Study Abroad Applications, checking on my financial aid, length of the trip? Classes? Money. Passport Applications.

Financially, I have everything covered, given that my mother's parents have passed and I have access to some money, enough that I can comfortably complete any plans for college without taking private loans. Classes? I'll be ahead. Taking classes online, and teaching adults English in the afternoons will keep me on track, a head even, of my peers. An appointment with a travel doctor is planned.

I truly believe that God has blessed me with this opportunity to serve in the country that my heart lies. There is no other explanation for how smoothly these things have progressed. I do not think I am able to thank God enough for this opportunity. Seriously, how many people get to go to a fourth world country for college credits?

I am set to leave March 13th, and return to the States on April 30th (Happy 38th Birthday Momma!)

Reader: thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and the story, please feel no obligation to support my trip financially because I will deny your offer. Instead I would ask that you donate to Kate, or provide school supplies for Cowman International School (crayons, pencils, glue sticks, construction paper). Please join me in praying for Kate and the students, along with the rest of the paperwork for myself. I still need to get my passport, make new skirts to take, and finish this term!