The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of Elon University, the U.S. government, or the Peace Corps.

Monday, September 26, 2011

When will I learn that the only thing - the only person - I can count on in this world is Jesus?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. And lots of bacon.

Maybe it was the 9 month "sabbatical" I took only 6 months into my service. Maybe it was the 18 countries I visited, or 33 beds I occupied within a 3 month period, but I felt pretty prepared to tackle this foreign land of "AMERICA."

Culture shock?


Until mom sent me to the grocery store unaccompanied.

Looking for "normal" bacon.

Whatever that is.

In fact, I'm still not sure.

Cause you know what?

America has A LOT of bacon.

Hickory smoked

Sugar cured

Thick cut



Of bacon.


"Honey, do you need help?" Says the unsuspecting supermarket attendee.

YES. What am I doing here? I forgot what I was looking for. I'm blinded… by BACON.

I lasted about a week before I was planning the next adventure. I promised myself I would take July "off." I'd seen the world.

Fallen in love with a country (Bulgaria… lipsvate mi).

Romanced my sojourner tendencies. And returned home. And found it horribly overwhelming. So I found a way to pack my bags again, and did just that.

On Friday, I took another leap of faith. You say, "already?" I say, "it's been awhile."

Too long, actually.

So I moved to Baltimore. Sans job. "Baltimore? But WHY?"

I'll tell you why.

God is moving here.

I don't know how or why or what I expect to do here, but I have faith that God will provide, and that He'll do big things through these two calloused hands of mine. And I can't wait to see how he does so. It's been my dream to live in the city and serve God here. To experience life and love on people and exist in "the gutter" in a way that's new and exciting and raw and deliberate.

So here I am. Waiting to hear back on a full-time opportunity to serve God in this city. To love and be loved. To build community. To grow and mature. Radically.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

HOME.... Two weeks from TOMORROW!!!

Leaving in the morning for a couple days in Romania (original PC travel goal of hitting all 5 bordering countries will be complete!!), then finally meeting up with mom and dad on the sea on Monday! Few days on the beach, few days in Instanbul, then.... SAMOKOV!!!

And final goodbyes. :(

Monday, April 25, 2011

Not enough consistent internet at this point in my travels to keep this updated... But track my whereabouts on Facebook if you are interested!! 

Thus far: Sofia, Bulgaria -> Belgrade, Serbia -> Sarajevo, Bosnia -> Mostar, Bosnia -> Dubrovnik, Croatia

And I am writing this to you from Korcula, Croatia before I move on in the morning via Adriatic water taxi!

I am loving the freedom and independence I have to move at my own pace, plan my own interests, and combine wanderlust with forethought.

I may never be able to vacation ever again after this...


God is good and faithful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And so it begins.

Next stop - Belgrade, Serbia.


(Sent from my Palm Pre on AT&T)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

And so begins...

... my last week as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer. In just a few short days, I close my service and will board a bus to explore the rest of the Balkans before meeting up with my brother and sister in law in ITALY in less than a month. For those of you that keep in touch, I'll have access to my email whenever I can pick up wifi, so don't be strangers!! I'll probably not be posting lengthy updates on here or posting pictures for awhile since I won't be traveling with my laptop, but I intend to keep people apprised to where in the world I am - so stay tuned to my adventures! 

Until then, more goodbyes and lots of emotions to deal with... Bulgaria? Ve4e mi lipsva6. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I HATE goodbyes...

And I've certainly never been very good at them, despite the fact that I think I've had more than my fair share of practice. But seriously, other than excitement revolving around the next step, who really likes to say goodbye to people they care about? Until my dad retired from the Navy, I moved every 2-3 years growing up, and I remember how awful it was each time we left "home" to move to another. I never quite caught on to the fact that "Home" was a feeling that developed very quickly for me. But still... this time things feel different. My investment and relationships here are deep and grounded, and I've been dreading these goodbyes.

Even though I had my last day teaching in the kindergarten last week, I went back yesterday for what I thought was a celebration of International Roma Culture Day. I knew it was also going to serve as a pointed platform for goodbyes, but I had no idea how amazing the morning was going to be! The teacher I've been working with opened with an address for me, then the kids sang songs and did a couple of poem repetitions before singing a few Roma songs. Then I was presented with a certificate and some gifts (2 Samokov folklore cds and some little keepsakes :)) and a whooolllleee lot of hugs. I nearly fell over a few times when my knees would get attacked by my fav kinders. :)

Singing during the program. :) So cute!
I can't get over how adorably sweet these little ones are.
Katie-Kinder pile! I'm down there somewhere... I LOVE this photo.
Me, the chickens, Iskra (on the left - the teacher I work with most directly), and then the director of all of the kindergartens in Samokov of Lili, the other teacher for my class.
This was probably taken about 30 seconds before I almost capsized.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

T Minus 7 days

In exactly one week, I'll be on a bus to Belgrade, Serbia for the first stop on the whirlwind tour of Europe I've been saving for since the beginning of high school. It also means that I'll no longer be a Peace Corps Volunteer, and will be soon facing goodbyes to the people who have become my family and the place that has become my home.

Never were there more mixed feelings... 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hey Look!!

Actual photos with ME in them! I had an "order" from both my mom and Katya that I needed a photo in the new computer lab with the kids. There are VERY few photos of me during my time here... a few from various trips with friends, but I can almost count on two hands the number of photos I've had taken of me and my work here. Most of that is because I absolutely hate having my picture taken, and partially because after I broke my leg I splurged on a pity gift for myself - a Nikon D60 DSLR. And... very few people feel comfortable enough actually using it.
"The woman behind the camera."
I like it that way. And with almost 4,000 pictures representing almost three years of Peace Corps service, my time here is well documented. I just have very little proof that I was actually a part of any of it... So here you go. For all you "doubting Thomas's" out there who question my Bulgarian existence...
I can't believe that the tiny, shy, timid 6th graders I met 2 and a half years ago are the mature, confident, vibrant kids in this photo!

My last day with the kinderbabies. I can't express how much I'll miss these little guys. And if I'm still single in 20 years, you better believe I'm returning for the little stud in the blue under my right cheek.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Computer Lab!

Many, MANY thanks to former US Ambassador to Bulgaria Mr. Sol Polansky, and the Bulgarian American Society!

As a result of their amazingly generous donation and continuous support, we were able to bring a brand new computer lab to Association Svetlina!

Equipped with 4 desktop computers, a new printer/scanner/copier, internet, and a selection of educational software, the Svetlina team and a newly contracted IT teacher will work with the kids to incorporate the computers as a learning tool for our after school program, as well as a mechanism for starting to build some professional skills that will hopefully give these kids an edge when they are ready for the work field.

"This computer lab was generously donated by Sol Polansky and the Bulgarian American Society"
The finished product!
We were able to purchase the computer desks as well from the project budget.
I think Katya is most excited about this beauty!
Some of our 8th graders- our initial target group for the project (with a push for earning their diplomas next year) - checking out their new tools.

Скъпи хора от BAS - Много благодарим от децата и екипа на Сдружение Светлина в Самоков!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I walked into the kindergarten this morning (my second to last visit with them...), and was immediately greeted with a whole lot of yelling. As soon as I got them to speak one at a time, I realized that they were all shouting that their parents had given them permission to accompany me to America. 


Not so adorable when they all started laughing at me later when my eyes got a little misty....

Gonna miss my chickens! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kid's got talent!!

One of my 5th graders showing off his beat box talent:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When we quote Jeremiah 29:11 ("For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope"), why do we always stop there?

 I find such great comfort in the part that follows (v12-13): 
"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Peace Corps!!!

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. All month, the PC worldwide is celebrating their 50th anniversary. It's a very exciting time to be a volunteer, especially when you consider the fact that during the last half a century, more than 200,000 Americans have served as volunteers to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries.

Even more impressively, Peace Corps Bulgaria is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year! Nearly 1,250 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Bulgaria since the program was established in 1991. Currently, 166 volunteers are serving here. We work as English teachers and change agents in the realms of youth and community development.

Last week, I went into Sofia for an afternoon celebrating the last two decades of development work here in Bulgaria, as well as the opening of an awesome photo exhibit in the park in front of the National Theater which showcases our presence in country as volunteers.

The photos all turned out great. A member of my volunteer group took this one, and it was so great seeing my B24s represented!

My sitemate Ursula and I got to hold the birthday banner during the ribbon cutting for the photo exhibit. :)
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Favorite word in Bulgarian

I've got a few favorite words in Bulgarian, but "глупости" (pronounced glue + po + stee) is one that I've always especially appreciated. I've often found it creeping up even into conversations I have in English. In general, I'd use it in circumstances/exclamations where "nonsense" or "ridiculousness" would come in handy. Since I love that this word seems to appropriate so frequently, I wanted to go ahead and post the laundry list of definitions that Google Translate provides, because it makes me giggle:

  1. noun
    1. nonsense (the definition I give most often)
    2. crap
    3. shit
    4. bullshit (this is the definition Bulgarians give most often)
    5. rubbish
    6. guff
    7. baloney
    8. rhubarb
    9. drivel
    10. junk
    11. fudge (hehe)
    12. gup
    13. blah
    14. bull
    15. applesauce (ten bucks to a person who can actually make this one work!)
    16. monkey business
    17. blether
    18. humbug
    19. fiddlesticks
    20. jiggery-pokery (love it....)
    21. fiddle-faddle (mom, this one makes me think of you! Although its usually just "fiddle," right? :))
    22. balderdash
    23. boloney
    24. flapdoodle
    25. poppycock
    26. tommy-rot
    27. footle
    28. tack
    29. bleat
    30. cod
    31. eyewash (hmmmmm)
    32. truck
    33. buncombe
    34. bosh
    35. punk
    36. rot
    37. blague
    38. hokum
    39. piffle
    40. kibosh
    41. slush
    42. trumpery

  1. nonsense
  2. nuts
  3. shucks
  4. stuff and nonsense
  1. phrase
    1. all my eye (what does this even mean????)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My big brother and sister-in-law have their plane tickets and plans are set to see them in Rome on the 7th of May! We've got a lot of ground to cover via European railway until mid-June, at which point we'll meet up with my parents on the Black Sea in Bulgaria (verdict to come in regards to camp...)! A week on the beach, a few days in Istanbul, hiking the Rila 7 Lakes as a family (most beautiful place on earth), saying my final goodbyes... and then the grand finale: landing on American soil on July 2nd!! 

Which just so happens to be my quarter of a century birthday. 

All 5 of us will take our jet-lagged selves to Sweetwater Tavern for my first meal back - Ossie rolls, an ice cold microbrew, smoked salmon with garlic mashed potatoes, and a delicious flourless chocolate waffle for dessert. I don't care if I'm that predictable - my mouth is already watering! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

As gorgeous as I think my little country in the Balkans is, it doesn't seem to hold up very well aesthetically during the winter. The gray communist block buildings and even grayer sky often lends to being more than just mildly depressing. No wonder a good ratio of us PCVs seem to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It's just depressing....

UNLESS, it is covered in the beautifully soft snow that just so happened to blanket my town in the mountains yesterday. It has been a pretty cold winter and I've been consistently bundled up for months, but I am confused as to how we severely lacked the pretty white stuff that finally arrived yesterday. A couple months too late.

As much as I love snow, I am tired of the cold and the mad dash from the unheated bathroom on chilly mornings to my poorly heated bedroom.


You may be from Alaska and Canada or somewhere else with a constantly snowy tundra, but you'll never understand cold - true cold - until you understand Eastern Bloc cold. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Habakkuk 1:5

"Look among the nations, and see;
   wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
   that you would not believe if told."
I've been informed that perhaps I've been slacking a little bit on here. It is true that over the last few months, I have posted more pictures than actual narrative posts, but такъв е живот. :) Besides, how can you not fall absolutely head over heels in love with my kids after I've posted so many awesome photos of them? If I've said it once, I'll say it again: I want the world to see them the way I do.

That being said, this particular update is long over due... the day after I said goodbye to all of my beloved B24s this past fall, the last two of us left in Sofia took a bus up to another town where a tattoo artist I'd read a lot about had a studio. I'd known for much of the last year that I was ready for my third (and most likely final) tattoo, and I had a design in mind that would capture the essence of my Peace Corps service and the person that I am, and highlight my love for the country that has come to mean so much to me.

This isn't such a great picture (the ink is on my left inner wrist and its a little distorted from the angle my wrist was in when I took the photo), but it says "Faith : Hope" and "Love" (which is the biggest word: "the greatest of these is love") in Bulgarian across the top, with the celtic trinity knot that I've been fascinated with for as long as I can remember. My life verse (1 Thess 2:8 - we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well) is referenced on the bottom as well.

I absolutely love it! It turned out great, and I love that it serves as a constant reminder about my priorites and why I am where I am - especially right now.

I also wanted to share with you the story about the 4 Orthodox saints that gave my ink even more meaning: there were three sisters named Vyara, Nadezhda, and Lyubov (faith hope and love).Their mom Sophia and the three girls appeared as a group before the judgment of the pagan court, which offered to release the entire family providing that the mother would deny the Saviour and raise her children as pagans. All three daughters looked up to their mother to assure her that they would remain as steadfast Christians with her and that she should feel no guilt should they be put to death. The agonized Sophia was torn between the love for her children and the love for Jesus Christ. She turned to the court to plead that her children be released, and they could inflict their tortures upon her. The three sisters cried out to their mother that they would rather join her in death to be reunited in the Kingdom of God, than to remain behind without her. Sophia's glance at the magistrate told her the next move was his. Incredibly the magistrate was unmoved and ordered the first of the girls, Faith, to be put to torture before the eyes of her mother. When this failed to bring the mother to pleas for mercy but instead the praises of the Lord, Faith was put to the sword. Hope followed her sister in death, as did her sister Love, three innocents whose horrified mother was dragged to the side of their bodies, over which she continued to pray as she herself also died for the Lord.

How cool is that???
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

4estit Praznik na vsi4ki Bulgari!

Честит Ден на Освобождението България!! 

Happy Liberation Day Bulgaria!!