Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Handling Culture Shock

When I first got my Trip Guide, I read through it right away but had a good laugh over the "Handling Culture Shock" section. I proceeded to tell everyone that I doubted I'd be struggling with culture shock in Honduras after having lived here my whole life. As you all know, I live in the poorest country in the world. Just stepping outside of my house, I see extreme poverty - people living in broken down huts, garbage strewn everywhere and little kids running around with barely any clothes on. I wonder if when I get to Honduras, I'll be shocked by the poverty that I'll see there. I've grown up seeing it here every day. Therefore, I decided that it wasn't really worth taking that section seriously.

Then one of my friends pointed out that even if I didn't think I'd experience culture shock in Honduras, I'd definitely be experiencing it 4 days before when I got back to the States. And he's right.

So, I actually thought about the "Handling Culture Shock" section and applied it to my move back to the U.S.

So today, I'd like to share what my trip guide says about how to handle the inevitable culture shock. I won't share everything because I don't want to deprive the "future-sponsor-trip-goers" of that section in their trip guides. ;-)

Symptoms
Here are three of the seven symptoms that the guide had listed:
- a strong desire to be back home
- unwillingness to learn the language
- frustration over differences in the country

Now, I already speak English so I don't have to worry about that second point but I may be unwilling to learn how to use an ATM machine or put gas in a car. Those are some of the things that I will have to learn as I become a more independent adult.

Overcoming Culture Shock
- Prayer
- Communication
- Health and processing

As I move back to the U.S. and say goodbye to Niger for probably a very long time, these 3 points are extremely vital. I do not consider the U.S. my "home" or my "home-country" so it will be hard to accept that I'll have to call it one for a while. But I am so thankful that even though I will be leaving behind friends, "family", my house, my pets and my favorite foods, I will still have GOD and my FAMILY. God is already helping me through the culture shock and the transitioning.

Communication is probably the biggest thing for me to get used to because I either don't deal with things or I just keep them to myself. I'll need to learn to voice my feelings and concerns with my family and with my friends.


If any of my readers are about to experience culture shock or a something new, please share below in the comments and I'll be sure to pray for you! 

How can you pray for me?
Please pray for . . .

- my parents and all the choices they will have to make about moving back to the States and saying goodbye to Niger
- my brother who is graduating pretty soon and is also dealing with having to say goodbye to his home
- all the mixed feelings I have about saying goodbye, moving back to the US, traveling to Honduras and going to college. There's a lot to think about and process
- me to continue to draw near to God. He is the only one who is fully capable at getting me (and my family) through all of this

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Honduras Trip Update #5: The What-Ifs

Just a few days ago I got my trip itinerary, list of other sponsors going and the names of the Compassion centers that we'll be visiting. It's safe to say that this trip has finally sunk it. I've also
been spending tons of time looking online on Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon to find the best (and cheapest!) gifts for my kids.

But even as the trip approaches (less than a month already!) and I prepare myself, I still have some "what-ifs" in the back of my mind that sometimes get in the way of my excitement. Today I'd like to share them with you:

  • Luggage: Do I just take my backpack and carry-on? Do I take a backpack, carry-on AND a checked bag? What happens if my checked bag gets lost?
  • Pictures: Everyone knows how important pictures are on trips like this. You want to remember all the memories and share them with friends and family. What if my camera breaks? What if I take hundreds of great pictures and they accidentally get deleted? What if I forget my camera on the Fun Day??
  • Meeting my kids: What if they're too shy to interact with me during the day? What if one of them gets sick and can't make it? What if the sponsorship stops before I even get to Honduras?
  • Time: What happens if I don't have enough time to spend individually with each child? What if while I'm in the States (the 4 days right before the trip) and I don't have enough time to buy all the gifts for my kids?
  • Traveling: I've never traveled alone before. What if I get lost? What if there's a problem with my bags or ticket on my way to Miami and I don't know what to do? What if I get sick on the plane? What if I miss my flight on the way back to NC?
  • Health: What if I get sick or dehydrated (unlikely after living here though) while in Honduras? What if I'm too sick to see my kids?
  • God: What if I don't clearly hear what he wants to tell me while I'm there? 
  • Language Barrier: What if I'm not able to have fun because I won't be able to communicate with my kids?

I have so many what-ifs and fears for this trip that sometimes I let them overtake me and I forget what really matters.

I am not going to Honduras for myself. 

Who CARES if a bag gets lost? My kids are not excited about me visiting so that I can shower them in gifts. They're excited for me to shower them in kisses, hugs and prayers. They just want to spend time with me. Not with my carefully planned gifts.

If I've learned one thing since first registering for this trip, it's that if this is his will, God WILL provide. I don't need to be worried about whether things go wrong. NOTHING can go wrong when God is in control. 

I have Acts 11:17 written on my bathroom mirror. It says "How could I stop the work of God?" We can't get in the way of God's plan. I believe that God wants me in Honduras this summer so I KNOW that he will provide for my every need. Sure, things may SEEM as if they're going wrong but that's just God working in ways that I cannot fathom. Trust is vital.  

I also have Die Daily up on my mirror. This reminds me that my life is not my own and I am not living for myself. God lives in me and he is in charge of me and of my circumstances. Forget the "what-ifs". God's definitely in control!

"Do not worry (or be anxious) about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God's peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts in Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 4:6-7


If you'd like to subscribe to my GoFundMe updates, donate to my trip, or send me a gift card, please click HERE




27 more days . . . 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sponsorship Saturday: Mother's Day

For my Compassion Bloggers assignment, I've been asked to write a letter to my mom for Mother's Day. However, I decided to switch it up a bit and instead post the letter that I am planning on sending to my sponsored kids this month.

Dear _____,
Greetings to you and to your family. I hope that you are all in good health and are experiencing all of the Lord's blessings. 
I would like to tell you about a special holiday that I will be celebrating on Sunday called Mother's Day. This is the day when we take the time to say "thank you" to our moms for all that they have done
for us. We also thank God for creating them and putting them into our lives. 
My mom is special to me because of all the love that she has shown for me, my family and also for others. For as long as I can remember, she has been my greatest supporter - always attending my music recitals, my plays, and my other activities. She also has a big heart and loves to serve those in need. For example, after the incident here when the churches were burned, she was the one who organized different conferences to help those who had lost everything. She is always willing to put others first even when it's hard. 
Not only is my mom strong and compassionate but she also gives great advice. She has helped shape my faith and image of myself. When I was younger, I sometimes struggled with seeing myself through God's eyes. She was always there to tell me that I was beautiful and special. Now that I am older, I will never forget that. 
Sometimes my mom and I don't get along but we always know of our love for one another. I am very thankful to have her in my life. 
WHY IS YOUR MOM SPECIAL TO YOU?
Even when it's not Mother's Day, we need to remember to thank our moms for taking care of us, helping us with homework and with friends, and praying for us each and every day. Please take the time today to tell your mom that you love her. 

What do you think? Should I add anything? Keep in mind that the letter will be slightly different for each of my 5 sponsored kids (especially the ones that do not live with their moms) but this is the general idea. Are there any Bible verses that I could include? Please comment below!

How are you sharing Mother's Day with your sponsored kids this year?


I still need some help funding my upcoming trip to Honduras. I will be going to see two of my sponsored kids: Ali and Fadi. Please consider helping me. Click HERE to learn more. Thank you!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Honduras Trip Update #4: IT'S HAPPENING!

I just wanted to post a quick update on how all my trip planning is coming along.

Yesterday, I finally got my Trip Guide. It took quite a while for it to reach me because I'm still overseas and had it sent to someone in the states who then brought it out here for me. But I finally have it. The funny thing is that they put me down as from Michigan because that's where all my stuff was sent too:


I also received my baggage tags, a cute little Compassion International bag filled with goodies for me and for my sponsored kids and a notepad. I'm still waiting for my trip itinerary (along with information on what projects we'll be visiting) but that will be coming later. 




Even with my trip guide laying right beside me as I type this, this trip still feels pretty surreal to me. It hasn't really sunk in that I'll be traveling across the world to see Fadi and Ali face to face. It's crazy!

How can you support me?

Firstly, I'd just like to say a huge THANK YOU to all who have already prayed for me and donated. You all are wonderful and I pray that you would be blessed abundantly for what you've done.

I still need some money to pay for my domestic airfare and to buy gifts for Fadi and Ali. Click HERE  to donate and to hear more about my trip.

Prayer is still appreciated. I know wholeheartedly that God's going to change and transform me during this trip and I'm really excited. I mean, moving back to the States just days before this trip is going to transform me but I know that God's going to speak about his will for me while I'm in Honduras.

So... how can you pray?


  • Pray for God to guide and invigorate me as I address the preparatory details for this trip like flying to Miami (BY MYSELF!!!) and back and shopping for myself and for my kids
  • Pray that God will open my eyes, ears, mind and heart to Him in a special way during the trip
  • Pray for my fellow tour members (I will learn their names later), that they too will be open to all that the Lord wants to do in and through them during the trip
  • Pray that God will use me as an ambassador for Christ - that I would represent him well as I interact with children, Compassion staff, fellow travelers, and anyone else God brings across my path during the tour
These four points are taken directly from my Trip Guide from the Journaling section. They encourage me to start journaling and praying about the trip right now so that my heart may be ready. So, please pray with me! 

If you look to the right of this post, you'll see that I've been counting down the days. It won't be too long! I'm so excited!! 



Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sponsorship Saturday: Go Into All the World Review

A few months ago, I got the privilege of being one of the first to read David Chalmers' new book entitled: Go Into All the World. The book talks about him traveling all over the world to visit a little more than half of his 50 sponsored kids. Yes, you read correctly. David sponsors 50 kids! To put that into perspective for you . . I only sponsor two.

Anyway, David's book goes through his experiences visiting his precious children in many different countries like Bolivia, Brazil and the Philippines. He shares what it was like encouraging a hurting child, asking the hard questions to his sponsored children's parents about their lives, eating exotic dishes, and sharing his faith with people in poverty. With each page, I couldn't help but put myself in his place and experience everything with him.

The book also really helped to ignite my desire to see my own sponsored kids: Fadi and Ali. And I am excited to have the opportunity in June. From David's book, I've learned what questions to ask them, how I should be praying for them, and how I can put myself in their place as I hear their stories.

Go Into All the World is not just a bunch of memoirs or short stories. It is not just page after page of random percentages about child sponsorship or information about Compassion International. While that may be included, it is much more than that. It is filled with happy, tragic, uplifting, hilarious, and life changing stories about how God has used one man to change 50 different lives across the world. I definitely recommend this book to everyone - not just sponsors.

I'd like to end with a quote from David's book. It totally sums up why he chose to sponsor and why I choose to do the same. May it inspire you to make a choice like this too:

"I want to see kids sponsored. I want to see lives transformed. I want God to be glorified through it all. I want people, when they see my life of sacrificial generosity, to see God in me."


You can read more about David and his book HERE and you can get the book for yourself HERE.

Let me know below if you've read the book and what you thought of it!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

#Kaneiac Street Team

So, last night, I became a part of Spencer Kane's team. You're probably wondering what that means.

But first . . who is Spencer Kane?!?!


Spencer is an 18 year old Christian singer/dancer/songwriter/speaker. He hasn't been around very long but is already making a huge mark. His music mainly focuses around showing kindness to others and the prevention of bullying. You may remember that a while back, I interviewed him for the Bullying Prevention assembly that I had at my school. (You can click HERE to read about the assembly and watch my interview with Spencer)

Anyway, while I was reading some posts on Spencer's blog, I came across a really cool way that I can help him with his career and also get his insanely important (more on that later..) message out. So, I emailed his manager and had a quick chat with him about what it meant to be a part of Spencer's "street team".

And what does that mean? Well . . .

Basically, I am part of the team that supports Spencer and helps spread his music/message around. We help him out with voting, music ideas, and help out at concerts if we're able to.

What's his message?

Spencer speaks about showing KINDNESS and living your life as an example to others. It's kind of sad that when we hear the word "Kindness" we think of it as simply being nice to others. I throw the word around all the time when I see little kids bickering. But seriously, kindness is a huge deal. Showing LOVE is showing KINDNESS (and vice versa).

You all know that I'm pretty passionate about preventing bullying, suicide and other issues like that so that's part of the reason why I joined Spencer's team. I want to help him get the word out and do what I can. Being able to support Spencer and be a part of his team is another super cool way for me to be a "Voice for the Voiceless" which is what I like to say is the overall message of my blog. I want to speak up about different issues to give them a voice.

I'm excited about what all this will entail and I pray that God would use me (behind the scenes where I LOVE to be!) to help out. I've always been interested in the entertainment business but you can't really go anywhere when you're not able to act, sing, dance or direct a movie. So, I'm looking at this opportunity to help someone (who is in the entertainment business) spread Christ's light and empower others. I also really, really love Spencer's music and encourage you all to check it out!

Here are some ways that YOU can support Spencer Kane:
- Check out his music!
- Pray for him! (We should always be praying for others - especially those who have quite a lot of influence over other people)
- Join his Street Team
- Follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

#KANEIAC



** pictures belong to Spencer Kane

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Hair Care Plan

I've been wearing my hair natural (I cut off a lot of my hair to get rid of all the damage and have not chemically relaxed/straightened my hair) for about 2 years but just recently I've become REALLY obsessed with it. Honestly, I just want it grow. And I know that I'm impatient and black natural hair tends to take a while anyway but I want mine to grow NOW.

So . . .

I've created a hair care procedure that I plan to follow for a while - especially since I'll be heading off to college in less than 6 months (I'd like to have my hair long and healthy during college. Difficult? Most likely).

First, you all need to understand something. I am NOT an expert on caring for natural hair. I don't know the best products or best ways to achieve moisturized/shiny/frizz-free curls. What I'm posting today is just some steps that I plan to follow to keep my hair healthy and to hopefully help it grow faster. Feel free to comment below with tips or with your own hair care plan.

Cleaning

Here's my plan for washing my hair. Currently, I've been washing my hair every two weeks - shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioning . . .

But I've been reading that shampoo really isn't good for natural hair because of all the sulfates and other gross things that basically rip the moisture and strength from your hair. So, for this new plan, I won't be using too much shampoo (maybe once a month now).

How will I wash my hair now? CONDITIONER!

Here are my steps

the night before

  • put olive oil in hair and sleep in a shower cap
hair washing day
  • Before showering, add a small amount of conditioner to hair
  • Let hair soak in water while you shower
  • Rinse conditioner and oils out of hair
  • Add a large amount of conditioner to hair
  • Detangle hair with fingers
  • Step out and squeeze hair to remove excess conditioner
  • While hair's still wet, add moisturizers (olive oil/shea butter/argon oil)
  • Diffuse
every other week
  • Add deep conditioner (click HERE to see my recipe)
  • Cover hair in shower cap and let hair sit for 30-45 minutes
  • Rinse out deep conditioner 
  • Moisturize (olive oil/shea butter/argon oil)
  • Diffuse
Just to clarify: I've read lots of articles about whether or not it's a good idea to deep condition your hair once a week and from what I've read, it's ok as long as it works for you. My hair doesn't stay moisturized for very long so I think this'll help. If it starts to mess with my hair then I can always prolong it a bit. 

Moisturizing

I keep my moisturizer in a spray bottle. I spray my hair in the mornings, when I'm home from work and at night before I go to bed. It helps keep my hair healthy and allows me to manipulate the curls when I need to. Here's what I usually add:
  • water
  • olive oil
  • shea butter
  • argon oil
  • conditioner
Lately, all I've had is just olive oil, conditioner and water and it works fine. 

I also know that the "LOC" method works really well to lock in moisture. 
L - Liquid
O - Oils
C - Cream

LOC usually means adding water to your hair, followed by your favorite natural oil (olive oil/argon oil for me!) and ending with a cream (shea butter or a store bought cream maybe?)

Styling 

For the past 2 years, I've been styling my hair with bandanas, scarves, bobby pins and twist outs but because I want my hair to grow as quickly and as healthy as possible, I'm going to omit a few of my old styles for the time being:
  • Twist outs: This is when I take a section of my hair, spray with my moisturizer and comb out all the tangles. Then I divide the section into two and twist them around each other until they buckle. I then fasten in them in what I call a "doughnut" against my head with a bobby pin. I leave them in overnight and then untwist and style my hair in the mornings.  So why am I taking a break from twist outs? Firstly, to comb out my hair, I have to comb out all the curls which rips out a lot of it and causes split ends. That's not going to help my hair stay healthy at all. Secondly, Niger's pretty humid at the moment and the twist outs don't last longer than a few hours. It's become a useless style. And finally, I want to leave my curls alone as much as possible so combing my hair or spending hours with my fingers in it isn't going to help.
  • Bobby pins: I still plan to use my bobby pins once in a while to bring up the hair on the sides of my head or make a few small twists but for the most part, I'll be avoiding them for the next few months. They stretch my hair and sometimes add annoying tangles when I put them in wrong. Besides, my hair looks just fine in a scarf or on its own.

Tips

  • Be gentle with your hair. When detangling, don't rip out the tangles or go quickly. Take your time
  • Keep your fingers out of your hair when it's dry
  • Drink LOTS of water
  • Eat your fruits and veggies
  • Protect your hair at night. Either sleep on a satin pillowcase or keep your hair in a satin bonnet
  • Stay away from shampoo. However, conditioner tends to build up in hair so I plan to shampoo at least once a month
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