Thursday, December 29, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Unfortunely, I know that break is going to go by so quickly and part of that knowledge makes me sad because I know that there are people that I won't get to see or spend time with. A week and a half is too short a time!
I've enjoyed my experience so far in AmeriCorps and I am looking forward to the next 7 months. I hope that we get a project not in Florida--that's definetly not my favorite state, but I put up with it. I'll probably never lose my tan this entire year.
We had a memorial service for Amanda on Tuesday morning and it was very nice. It brought some closure to everything that happened. She was a wonderful person and that was very evident by everyone's remembrance of her life. She served others with a passion that was exhibited in every touch, in every word spoken. She will be dearly missed by everyone who knew her.
I received an email from my aunt a couple of days ago with a little Christmas Story... I want to share it with everyone else because I thought it was a beautiful reminder of the Christmas season.
The "W" in Christmas
Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating and even overspending. Yet, still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant". I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All Parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I didn't expect anything other than fun commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.
So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters and bright snowcaps upon their heads.
Those in the front row - center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song As the class would sing "C is for Christmas, " a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her. A small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".
The audience of the 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake, but she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".
Although many teachers tried to hush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In an instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.
For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"
Saturday, December 17, 2005
So, one of my teammates started calling me Reese... and that evolved into Buttercup. Most of the team still calls me Reese, which is cool, but it kinda reminds me of 4th grade when I went by that name. Buttercup is an original and I'm not going to lie, I like it. So, I was playing around on google and I found this image of this little girl and I was wondering what she was from...PowerPuff girls. Who knew? :)
So, I wanted to find out a little more about her and what she's all about:
Buttercup is at tough, hotheaded tomboy. Buttercup doesn't have time for plans; she's all action. And don't try getting in her way! She fights hard and has a pile of victims to prove it. Buttercup takes her super strength super seriously. When evil emerges, Buttercup is toned and ready to fight fast and furiously.
Interestingly enough, some of this fits my AmeriCorps year so far... I am tough, and I am a bit of a tomboy, especially when in uniform--it can't be helped, it turns you into a boy. yuck. I'm also all about getting things done--heck, it's part of the pledge! And I take my job seriously...very seriously! :)
If nothing else, I'll have a cool nickname to look back on fondly when I'm 80.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
"In Learning By Heart Corita Kent suggests a simple exercise to help us be more attentive to our surroundings. Find an empty 35mm slide holder, or make one by cutting a rectangular hole in a small piece of heavy cardboard. Carry it in your pocket or purse and take it out when you go to the farmers market or a park and look through it for half an hour at the things and people around you. You'll find yourself focusing in on details you would normally have overlooked. You can do the same thing with a camera view finder, but the temptation is to snap a photo. The point of this finder is simply to 'see for the sake of seeing.'"
I found this short article in a magazine called Skirt that is local to the Charleston area. It's a pretty awesome magazine.
Something else that they recommended was a website that you can write yourself a letter that will be sent to you at a later date. Their inspiration behind this was that they believe that "we all need ... encouragement, especially from ourselves." The website is www.futureme.org.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
We were able to go and see the movie last night... It's SO AWESOME! Please, if you haven't seen this movie already, do yourself a favor and go see it! You won't regret it, I promise. It's a very moving story and Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were amazing!
Funny thing happened though--towards the end of the movie a green line appeared on screen. Luckily it was only for the last 5 mins., so it didn't really bother too bad. It's just funny that something else would happen. Why do I have such bad luck with AMC movie theaters? :)
Sunday, December 11, 2005
We are headed back to Florida! Fort Myers this time...which is pretty much on the opposite side of the penisuila from Miami. We will be working with another team (we don't yet know which) and we will be there for six weeks. Our project is with Habitat for Humanity. Since it is still a ways off, we don't have too much more information at this time. Hopefully we will kinow more before break, but we will have 8 days when we get back from break to do project prep.
So, I'll be turning 24 in Florida. Crazy.
We are hoping that this time, Florida will be good to us! Unfortunetly, we already had a stroke of bad luck. Friday night after dinner a few of us went to see Walk the Line. About 30 mins. in, the volume went out. It's the curse of Florida on our team. Hopefully, it will be broken before we go back! :)
This is our last week at Eagle Harbor. This has been another unusual project in that we don't have a good way to quatify what we have done during our time there. Not that we have to give numbers in order to have an impact, but it's more difficult to explain what we have been up to for a month. I hate getting attached to the boys because I know that after this week, we won't really see them. We plan to try and stop by when we are back in Charleston between projects, but it's hard to know if that will happen. They are super cute boys though and I really have enjoyed my time with them.
We made the boys and Danny and Liz breakfast one time. They really enjoyed our cooking! :)
In other news, I am looking forward to Christmas break. I hope that I get to see some of your lovely faces while I'm at home. If you're going to be around, give me a call!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Wednesday night is skate night! Ladies get in for free! :) I've perfected most of my moves--I'm trying to tell the place that I can't compete in the Olympics because I already have other commitments that would interfere with further training. They were pretty disappointed.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
So, here it is:
Things I'm Thankful For, 2005:
1. Going home for Thanksgiving--that was the coolest thing ever. It was such a nice surprise and all the family was totally shocked. I think that I almost gave Aunt Rebeca a heart attack. :)It was super nice to breathe some nice So. Cal air, even if it was for just a couple of days.
2. All my family and friends--I think I have the best family and the most wonderful friends in the world. I think it's a fact.
3. Having a pretty cool job. I get to travel, meet new people, hang out in cool places and have tons of adventures.
4. My health--last sunday, our pastor was talking about taking things for granted, like our family, our body and our health. I'm pretty well off compared to so many people in the world and I am very thankful for that.
Short and simple. I'm so blessed. :)
Work has been going very well. Eagle Harbor is a pretty awesome place and we have been getting a lot done. The boys are all really sweet--most of the time. Boys will be boys, as they say. :) I'm glad I had a brother to prepare me for this project. That's all I'm going to say about that.
All for now. Sorry there's not much more to say! :)
Love you all. Grace and Peace.
Monday, November 21, 2005
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.
In honor of TL Amanda--Red 5. You will be missed!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
80,700 lbs of food distributed
1/4 mile of trail cleared
400 lbs of exotic plants removed
1,200 of underbrush removed
2 acres of land cleared of brush and exotic plants
33 new plants planted
160 trees/shrubs transplanted
2,000 trees tended/cared for
6 community parks restored
2,600 lbs of trash/debris removed
Pretty crazy, huh?
Monday, November 14, 2005
We will be starting our new project on Thursday. I found out today that we will be doing a combination of working on various buildings and also working with the boys at least a couple of nights a week. I'm really excited about that aspect. I have to admit that I miss being a substitute in that regard. It was always fun to work with the elementary school kids--they were (usually) so darn cute!
All for now. It's been a long day of work!
Grace and Peace.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Atlanta is a beautiful city! It's "cityesque", but it has trees everywhere that are starting to change color--so pretty! :)It's also fairly cold. Well, it's cold to me because I just came up from Miami where it's like 85 degrees with humidity. Basically, my body hasn't adjusted to cooler weather yet. Charleston is pretty cool, weather wise, right now as well. Something I will have to get used to! :)
So, about "pre-Thanksgiving"--Alexia and two of her cousins from Uncle Bob's family decided to have a pre-thanksgiving because they weren't going to be together for the actual Thanksgiving (at least I think that's what the story is... it could be more complicated, but that story works for my purpose!). They just happened to be having the dinner today, which is GREAT news for me! I LOVE TURKEY! So, I'm kinda going to have a thanksgiving celebration this year, which I thought wasn't going to happen at all. In case you're confused as to why, we only get Thanksgiving day off, not the friday--so I can't really fly home. Plus, it's only 4 more weeks until I'll be flying home for Christmas--Yea! :)Long story short--I probably will be doing something for the holiday, but it won't be "traditional." Anywho, I've gone on way to long about this! Sorry!
In case you're wanting a bit more information on what I actually did during my first spike, here's a bit of a breakdown:
1. The first week we picked up about 2 tons of trash and debris that was along the parks that border Biscayne Bay. It was gross, nasty, smelly work, but we did it and we did it well. We worked with a lot of the Solid Waste workers from the city of Miami--they were pretty funny and it was fun talking to them about their city and telling them about our program. I think they thought we were all pretty crazy. :)
2. We spent the next week in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. I wrote a lot about my time there so I won't go into to much detail. I'll sum it up with these words: Canoes, lopers, motorboats and ATV's.
3. We went back to Miami about 3 days after Hurricane Wilma hit the Miami area to a house without power. For three days we worked with the City and FEMA distributing ice, water and food at three different locations. It was hard work--my arms were bruised and my back was killing me, but it was amazing to be working there and seeing the faces of those who were affected. It's something that I will never forget.
After that, we spent the rest of our time working on Virginia Key. We removed a whole lot of "invasive exotic plants" (aka weeds) from areas that had native plants. We worked on clearing out the nature trail so that people would be able to acutally walk through it and we worked in the nursery--cleaning it up and transplanting different species so that they could develop a bit more and then be moved out into the hammock area. We also planted some new plants while we were there. Overall, I think we got a lot done for the area. If we had more time and no hurricane, I think we could have done a lot more, but I was pleased with what we did accomplish.
Overall, we had a pretty atypical first spike and we had a lot of bad luck. I hope that it doesn't follow us for the rest of the year! :)
All for now-- the turkey is calling my name!
Grace and Peace.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I'm writing from Miami for the last time. I am sorry that my posts have been so infrequent, but we have been living in a house without power since we came back from Georgia. :( I can only imagine what it was like for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Luckily we have a gas stove, so we have been able to cook meals for dinner, but living on PB&J sandwiches for a week and a half for lunch has gotten a little old. So has no air conditioning, no lights, no hot showers and no laundry facilities. :) it has been pretty trying for our team, but we have done well.
Let me tell you a funny story:
Two nights ago at 3am, one of my roommates, Meredith, woke up suddenly. She put her hand to the floor and felt water. Her first thought was that one of our other roommates, Whitney, had spilled her water bottle during the night. Then she realized that the water was pretty deep and it was in the entire room. Whitney, Jen and I woke up shortly after her and we all realized that our room was flooded. We could hear water running somewhere in the house, but we had no idea where it was coming from. My three roommates got up and went exploring. I was a little slower--I kept focusing on the fact that it as 3 in the morning and I wanted to sleep! :)
Once they got into the living room, they realized that the entire house had 2 1/2 inches of water in it due to the water main on one of our toilets mysteriously breaking at some point during the night. Luckily, it was CLEAN water. We spent the following 2 hours brushing and moping the water out of our front door. We also had to remove everything that we had on the floor that had become sopping wet: air mattresses, sleeping bags, backpacks, clothing, computers, cameras, books... all that we owned in the house. Everything ended up on the front lawn. Around 5:30, our sleep deprived bodies couldn't handle anymore and we all went back to sleep--some people on the front lawn, some on the couch, some in the van. We woke up again around 8 am and continued the clean up process by pulling together all our wet clothes so that we could take them to a laundry mat. As our house is right next door to a school, you can imagine the questioning looks that we received as parents dropped off their children and teachers came to work. Some people thought that we were having a yard sale--it pretty much looked like it. :)
We are leaving Miami tomorrow and driving back to Charleston where we will be working until Christmas break. Our next project is with Eagle harbor Home for Boys. The boys are either neglected or abandoned. We are not sure what we will be doing there, but we are looking forward to going back to base to have some personal space. Living quarters here have been very tight and we all are excited about having our own rooms again.
That's all for now. Once I get back to Charleston I hope to post some pictures from my adventures here. There are some good ones. :)
Grace and Peace.
Monday, October 31, 2005
The past three days we have been working with FEMA and the City of Miami at a Distribution Center. We have been passing out ice, water and food. Good times. One of the benefits of working with them has been all the beautiful looking men. No joke. All us gals have enjoyed the "eye candy" after not really being around guys for awhile. :) Yeah, we are pretty silly.
Tomorrow we are finally going out to Virginia Key. It got hit pretty hard by Hurricane Wilma, so we might be doing more debris removal and less invasive exotic removal. We also might be staying an extra week here in Miami to replace the week that we were gone in Okefenokee.
It has been an eye opening experience being back in Miami after the hurricane. Seeing trees completely knocked over with their roots exposed is just unbelievable. Also, just seeing the impact on the community has been interesting. There is only about 23% of Miami Dade county without power, and of course, it's mostly the lower income, "ghetto,"areas that are without power. The estimated time of turn on is November 8. Hopefully, it will be turned on before then. Being without electricity and living with eleven people is trying.
I truly can't believe that it will be November tomorrow. Time is going by pretty quickly, but I also can't help but look forward to Christmastime. Several reasons for that: A. seeing family and friends 2. playing my piano III. not wearing my uniform for an extended period of time.
That's all for now folks. Gotta keep the computer use to a minimum since battery power is not at a high level.
Grace, Peace and lots of love.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Today I spent the day with two park Forestry Technichians named Howard and Reggie. We drove out to the north entrance of the swamp and marked timber that will be cut and sold to the highest bidder. I got to drive and ATV all by myself. I had to make my own trail in the forest and--to make a long story short, I crashed. I hit a tree stump that was like hitting metal. The type of tree that it was doesn't rot, it just stays as a stump. So, when I hit it with the front right wheel, I shot up into the air and I fell off hitting a cooler that was strapped to the back. The ATV fell to the left, as did I. God's angels were keeping me safe--the ATV just missed landing on me. Reggie saw the whole thing happen and had already come running towards me when I finally yelled help. I am ok, just a little sore and I have a bruise on my butt. :) Things could be MUCH worse!
So, like I said at the beginning, this is my last post from Oke. We are leaving in the morning to head back down to Miami. There is still no power at the house we are renting, so things should be pretty interesting for awhile. Last we heard, the power is supposed to be back on in our area around November 4. We could get lucky and have it come one sooner, but we won't know until we get down there. Also, there is a curfew in affect, so we will have that to contend with as well. Eleven people in a small house with no power will definitley be trying for our team. Time will tell how well we deal with this new challenge. We are clueless as to what we will be doing once we get down there. All we know is that our project sponsor wants us back down there. We are also unaware of how long we will be down there this time. If and when I can I will post some sort of update. We have not had a typical spike so far--some of my teammates are struggling with the situation, so, if you remember us at some point during your day, offer up a prayer for patience and selflessness. I think we will really need it!
All for now. Grace and Peace.
Here I come Miami, again.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Onto the hurricane update. We are still planning on being here through tomorrow because Miami is still out of power. The Miami Herald predicted our area to have power again by November 4th... So, the odds of us going back down to Miami are slim. We will probably stay in Oke through the week, but after that is up in the air. We might possibly go to a different spike before heading back to Charleston. I will try and keep you posted! :) Also, I cannot access my email here at all. Just FYI.
Please pray for my Grandma--she is in the hospital right now. My Dad is out my way in Gulf Breeze to keep my Grandpa company. :) Thanks.
All for now. Grace and Peace.
Monday, October 24, 2005
We had to wear waders. Unfortunetly, I didn't have my camera to take pictures for your viewing pleasure, but let's just say I looked pretty hot. Also, I haven't showered in a couple of days because the water here smells like rotten eggs. So my hair is piled on top of my head like a big rat's nest. I looked perty! :) So we cleaned two miles of trail, in the waders with the bush wackers. Also, the park ranger, Russell, who was working with us took us on an ATV out to a place to work. I got soooo muddy and it was AWESOME! We saw bear markings on the trees which was a bit scary because we were out in the middl eof nowhere, but it was still awesome.
At the end of the day, we had to go back and get the van. Since I am a certified van driver, I got to go back with Russell on the ATV. This time I rode on the front with Whitney and we had SOOOO much fun. It was a pretty long ride, and Russell went pretty quick through water and mud, over tree stumps and boardwalks. It was just incredible.
Then, (can you believe there's more?) on our way back to our trailers, Russell was in front of us on the ATV. He had stopped on the side of the road and motioned for us to stop and come out to him. We walked over to him and realized that he was holding a baby alligator in his hands. I got to touch a baby alligator. It was rough like leather. That's the only way I can think of how to describe it. Mama alligator was just down the rode, so we walked over to her and she hissed at us. It was SCARY. Seriously, she could have charged us and we would have all run like the wind. :) Great times.
That's all for now. We are pretty glad that we left Miami because they got hit pretty hard by Wilma. We had some crazy wind and rain here last night, but that's all. Good times. We will probably be heading back on Wednesday.
Grace and Peace! And lots of love!!!
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Or at least that's what it sounded like.
At 3:00 am, my roommates and I were awoken by the sound of thunder and our room being lit up by the lightning that proceeded it. It was the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life. It was a bit on the scary side, I'm not going to lie. At first, I tried to just go back to sleep, but then I realized that everyone else in my room was awake and a bit scared too. We were all on our own air matresses at time and shortly after we woke up, we were all on two. We thought about turning the air off, but we were afraid because it was metal. We also were concerned about the power surges going on and we were convinced that we wouldn't have to wake up in the morning for work because of the storm.
The storm was gone in the morning and we did have to work. Oh well.
The next day, Friday October 21, we found out that we were going to evacuate to Okefenokee Georgia. It's a swamp that is right on the other side of the Florida border. As we were driving there, we got caught in a lot of rain. The bands from Wilma are already affecting northern Florida. That's how big the storm is-- it's HUGE! There was lightning on all sides of us and I was scared. Seriously, I've never seen lightning like I did last night. Luckily I was sitting next to Alena (teammate from Boston) who assured me that we were OK and held my hand through the rest of the ride. Yeah, I know I'm a big dork.
So now we are in a huge swamp that is half the size of Rhode Island. Tomorrow we are going on a Canoe ride for 14 miles and we will most likely see some alligators-- there are a lot around these parts.
I have to admit that even though I've been gone for less than two months, I've done so much that I never would have if I hadn't come to AmeriCorps. Who knew.
Grace and Peace.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Well, sorta. :)
We have been working in parks along Biscayne Bay which is the body of water between Miami Beach and the City of Miami. We having been picking up trash and debris from the Hurricanes and from just normal life. Unfortunetly, I have seen my fair share of washed up shoes, plastic and glass bottles, styrofoam, needles, plastic bags (large and small), straws, etc. if you think of something in your mind, I probably picked it up. And the smell hasn't been pleasant at all.
However, our site supevisors are AWESOME! Their names are Juan and Ernesto and they are both from Cuba. They speak pretty good English-- I have no problems understanding them. I love their accents. And they are very nice. They introduced us to Cuban coffee which is basically a shot of really really strong coffee. Literally, a shot of it. Crazy. But so good. All of us really enjoy them and they make picking up trash and weird stuff a little easier. If I get a chance, I will try and post a picture of them, but I might not be able to until I get back to Charleston.
In case you're wondering, yes, I am in the path of Hurricane Wilma. Rest assured, I will be safe. We are not planning on evacuating at this time, but that is subject to change. Our house that we are staying in is pretty secure and our supervisors have assured us that we will be ok. Considering they work for the City, we are feeling pretty good about their advice. Plus, none of us have been through a hurricane, so we are truly relying on their experience.
It's hard to believe that I have only been gone for 6 weeks. It feels like it has been much longer than that. I am doing better with homesickness, but the close quarters make it difficult not to day dream about my beautiful house in San Clemente and think fondly of my bed and bathroom. Sharing two small bathrooms and a tiny house with only a couch and oversized chair for furniture is frustrating and trying. I'm sure by the end of this year, I will be able to look back at my time with a great appreciation for the experiences it provided me. Right now, I just want some personal time! :)
Grace and Peace.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Here you go:
Marisa Stock-- ClassXII/Gold 5
2231 South Hobson Ave.
Charleston SC 29405
That's all for now... I have to go to the store with my team. I will post some more about Miami as soon as I can! Grace and Peace!
Friday, October 14, 2005
As we were driving down here, I couldn't help but think about how crazy my life is. Crazy in a good way. I drove down to a part of the country I've never been to before with 10 people I met a month ago, to work with people I've never met before. I can't say that I ever imagined my life would be include this experience. I feel truly blessed and in the same breath, I know that this is going to be a challenging time. Our house that we are living in is a four bedroom, two bath, single story, with a small kitchen and a central living room. It sounds like it would be a good size, but it's pretty small. I'm sharing a room with Meredith, Jen and Whitney-- we have named our room, "The Oldtimers Room" because out of the Corps Member girls, we are the oldest--me being the grandma of the group.
This morning we had a brief orientation to Virginia Key plants (exotic and native). We haven't gone out to the island yet, but the pictures they showed us this morning are beautiful.
Not much more to write for now. Grace and Peace!
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Also, if you send some snail mail-- I WILL recieve it. They FedEx a package to us once a week with the mail that has been sent. However, I WILL NOT recieve packages until I return to Charleston. If you are planning on sending something (and I don't want to discourage you from sending packages, because frankly, they rock) edible, I may not get it before it spoils. I will be returning to Charleston November 11 (FYI). Please, if you know of someone whom this might affect--give them a call and give them the 411 (information). I appreciate the chain of love and support more than words can express.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to all my blog fans for taking so long to update! I've been meaning to for about 5 days, but I just haven't really had time to sit down and do it right... And if you're not going to do it right, you should just wait until you can. That time came and it is now. :)
I've been super busy with training and making sure I'm getting enough sleep. That is very important here because we do so much and are exposed to lots of other people's gross germs and if you're not taking care of yourself, you're just asking for trouble!
This picture is from Downtown Charleston. There is a waterfront park with fountains and a pier. It's really beautiful and there are many palmetto's there for your viewing enjoyment. South Carolinans are very proud of their palmetto's. Who knew. It's on their state flag--which is everywhere! The Californian's on my team were talking about how we don't really have much state flag pride. I think it's because our flag really isn't all that snazzy. It actually took us a bit of time to remember everything that was on it. Enough randomness!
If you look on one of my past posts, you'll see a picture of my team infront of the house that we worked on during our time with Habitat with Humanity. Here is a picture of what the house looked like after our three days of work. We really got a lot done and I was
very proud of my team and what we were able to accomplish. We did work with another team which was also awesome. There were several members on my team that had no experience with any type of construction and it was wonderful to see their enthusiam for learning and getting things done. That's what we're about here in AmeriCorps. :) For me, I really enjoyed all the hammering and the new construction experiences I was able to have... Like putting on a roof--using a 2x4 as an extended arm to get the tresses on the top of the walls... hammering support beams in the attic. I have officially conquered my fear of heights. I figure if you can be climbing on 2x4's that are about 2 feet apart while bent over trying not to hit your head, in Ronald McDonald size steel toe boots, hammering nails that have a coating that makes them impossible to hammer in less than 5 minutes per nail--- I think you're good. :)
Onto other very important news... In case you haven't already heard: I'M GOING TO MIAMI!! Our first project will be in Miami! How cool is that? We are going to be working with Miami Parks and Recreation working on Virginia Key. As to what we are going to do while we are there, we will be doing some disaster relief (removing debris from Katirna and Rita) but mostly we will be working in a "hammock" that they have set up on the island--removing invasive exoctic plant species (fancy way of saying pulling weeds), planting things that are supposed to be there and working in a nursery that they have set up. We are going to be living in a house that they have rented for us down there. If you want to know more about the area you can go to this website: http://www.miamidade.gov/Build/history_virginia_key.asp It well tell you a bit about the keys history. It's very interesting.
Something that is going to be very neat is that Sara will only be an hour away from me so I'll be able to see her at some point during the month that I am there. If you don't know why Sara will be there.... give her a call! :)
Right now, it's raining cats and dogs here in Charleston. We're being affected by Tropical Storm Tammy. The roads on the base get flooded and it is so much fun driving the vans around! :) Really, it's not that bad and people here are much better at driving in rain than people are in Southern Cali. What a relief! :)
That's all for now folks. I'm going to be hanging out with Alexia (cousin for those of you who don't know) this weekend. We have Colombus day off and so I get a three day weekend. I have no idea what we will be doing, but it will be awesome to get off the base for an extended period of time and to not wear my uniform for three days in a row! Yea!
Monday, September 26, 2005
In other news, I have been a bit ill. I think it could be due to the fact that last week I got about 5 hours of sleep per night and three of those days I was doing construction with Habitat for Humanity-- not easy work, let me tell you. It could just be allergy related, but my attempts to get the problem to go away haven't worked at all. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Our team name has changed. The "Phantastic Five" wasn't really cutting it for pretty much everyone. I'm not certain how it got voted into place, but no one was supporting it, or even refrencing it. We've come to an agreement on "Gold Rush." Personally, I like it-- it has a Cali ring to it, which always makes things better.
Speaking of Cali, I got myself into a bit of trouble with a North Carolinan. Our two teams were working together at the Habitat house and we got to talking as we were putting the tresses on the house using 2x4's as extended arms (quite the experience, I assure you). Anyways, he asked me where I was from and I said "Southern Califonia." Of course his response was enthusiastic. I, in turn, asked him where he was from. "North Carolina," he replied. "Oh," I said, with no enthusiasm. He took offense, in jest, but it was funny all the same. We both agreed to visit the others state since we had both never been to each others. To be honest, unless I end up there on a spike, I'm not sure I'll keep up my end of the bargain, but he is definetly planning on heading out to Southern Cali next summer. Oh, his name is Addison.
I went to a local bar on saturday night and it truly was a locals bar. A teammate has a friend from her hometown that works there and we went to meet up with her. The name, in case you're wondering, is "Buffalo South" and there slogan is "Where the locals roam." It was an interesting night. :)
Not much else to report, things are going well. Hope to find out where I'll be heading after training sometime soon. When I know--you'll know.
Grace and Peace.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
In mosquito related news--my toes are healing quite nicely. However, I seem to be consistently getting more bites despite the aresenal of bug repellent I have (which , of course is kept at my bedside). I currently have one on the back of my left knee that is the size of my calf. Thankfully, it has been getting smaller due to the application of hydrochloride (anit-itch) cream. My team members were good enough to pick some up for me and I will be forever greatful.
We finished van training today. It really wasn't so bad--6 of us with the Supply Manager driving around Charleston. James (S.M.) gave us a tour and pointed out places we might like to visit while we are here. However, it wasn't all fun and games. There were a good 30 minutes of sheer horror in which I lost all color in my face and had to restrain myself from puking (which I hate to do beyond anything else in this world). James had each of us swerve in and out of cement islands across the width of the parking lot. In a 15 passenger van, it takes a bit of skill, but mainly, the passengers just get pretty nauseated. Then he had us drive to one end of the parking lot stop, floor it and then wait for his signal to slam on the brakes. Each of us did this three to five times. I almost lost it. Mind you, when it was my turn, I performed all tasks beautifully--give a little shout out to Class B van driver training. :) Holla back AC's!
Not much else to report, so I'll end this post for now. Mind you, this is my second time writing it and I think the first message was better. It's always difficult to re-create your wit and actually be pleased with the outcome.
I won't lie to you, I've been a bit homesick. Not for the smog (Brandon), but for all the wonderful people I cherish as my family and friends. I received my first letter today (From Dr. Carlson) and my first package today (from my amazing parents). I was thrilled.
One last thing-- our team name (for now, it's possible that it could be changed) is Phantastic Five. Don't ask.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The Ophelia effects on our weather have passed and so its been really warm and humid today. No fun at all! And because the wind has died down, the mosquito's have come out in full force. Last night I had a one on one with my team leader, Master D, and during our 30 min. conversation I received 12 mosquito bites--mostly between my toes as I was wearing flip flops and pants. Not good at all! My toes have never been so itchy!
Gotta keep this short, but thanks for all the shout outs. They make my day.
Stay Classy. :)
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
At this juncture I would like to take a moment to say how blessed I feel to have a team of people who doesn't willing want to participate in "summer camp" as we fondly refer to things like what happened at lunch. We are, for the most part, fairly enthusiastic and willing to do our part, but we don't have to express ourselves with ridiculous chants, clapping or playing elementary school games. On a side note, I usually don't mind running around like a 5 year old, but there are always times when it seems to be untimely--this was one of those times.
completely changing subjects: P.T. starts bright and early tomorrow morning at 5:30 am. I'm hoping that some of the wind that is being generated by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ophelia dies down by that time. I went for a run last night with a teammate and it felt like I was running the wrong way in a wind tunnel. It was pretty bad. Only time will tell. I do know that they are preparing us for a 5K at the end of training. Good times will be had by all.
Not much else to report besides the FACT that I am beginning to miss people from home. The initial enthusiasm of being in a new place has begun to wane and I am starting to feel a little lonesome. Generally this only happens in the evening when I don't have much going on. So, if you get a call and I just want to hear a familiar voice, please just humor me. Thank you, in advance.
Grace and Peace.
Monday, September 12, 2005
We had a really fun time. There is an open market with fun jewlery, hand made baskets, purses, clothing, scented oils... the list goes on and on. It was really fantastic. Later on that night, a few of my team members and I came back downtown to see the local bar scene. We went to one of the bars that had a live blue grass band. They were really good. They had a fiddle, mandolin, banjo and bass guitar, and of course they sang as well. :) It was good times.
After hanging out there for a bit, Naomi (a teammate from Maine) and I decided to take a rickshaw ride. They aren't traditional rickshaws (they are pulled by bikes), but it was very fun, all the same. We went through Battery Park and drove past all the old mansions along the water front and a bit inland. They were some of the most beautiful houses I've ever seen. Our driver, Jared, informed us that they ranged from 4-6 million and they were mostly second homes. Gotta love the rich! :) It took a couple times to get this picture and even still, it's not the best! But there we are, en route.
Other than that, we haven't been doing too much. We had our physicals (I was cleared without any hiccups). What was a little gross was that they had us line up for our peeing in a cup and then the bathroom was right next to the line. So all of us had to walk out with our pee in our cup right by everyone else. I walked proudly by.
I haven't been too homesick yet. The weekends seem to be when it will hit the most because they don't have as much for us to do. But I was able to go to church and I went to the beach on both Saturday and Sunday. Good times. The beach in So Cal is 100 times better.
Peace and Love.
Friday, September 09, 2005
We've had some good times so far together as a team. We have been doing "In Processing" the past two days-- SO MUCH FUN! Who knew filling out paper work could be so thrilling. Not really, not even a little bit.
We have been attempting to come up with a team name and have thus far been unsuccessful. Our unit number is Gold 5. Here are some of the ideas we've come up with so far:
1. OG5 (as in Original Gangsters--not my idea, but I kinda liked it!)
2. Fly Five
3. Five x 2 +1 (there are 11 of us)
4. the Really Really Really Really Ridiculously Helpful Team
Can you tell we've had our creative juices flowing? :)
In other news:
We got our uniforms issued today. Once I get a chance to suit up I'll try and post a picture of the fabulous "outfit" (and I use that term very loosely) that I will be living in for the nest 10 months. So much fun, I can hardly stand it.
It hasn't been too warm here and the humidity hasn't been that bad either. So, no Mufusa hair yet. I'll keep you posted on that. I'm sure that it will eventually happen. So far, it's been manageable.
The mosquito's are not friendly here at all. So far, I have five or so bites. There is one on my right hand that has become swollen. Not good, but I still have full functioning of my hand, so I'm not worried yet.
Right outside the dorms there is a "wooded" area. Now, by "wooded" I mean real woods where you can't really see too far into them without seeing more trees. Pretty crazy. Last night I saw a little fox meandering around the parking lot just outside of the woods. That is something that you don't really see in Riverside. :)
Tonight our team is headed out to Downtown Charleston to get an idea of the city and see a little bit of what goes on Friday nights. We are all looking forward to our adventure. We are also planning a beach trip on Sunday... So, as you can tell, it's not just hard work around here. :) We like to spice things up from time to time.
That's all for now folks. Peace and Love from the Cali girl breathing clean air.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Well, I made it safely to the other side of the country. The plane rides were a little on the bumpy side, but I was able to make it to Charleston without any hiccups. Once I got to my destination, it was a different story!
One of my bags didn't make the plane from Atlanta to Charleston--the important one with all my clothes in it, of course. So, while I was reporting that, the NCCC lady took my duffel bag and toiletries bag and loaded it onto a van. There were two other people with lost luggage and she took their stuff as well.
So, after speaking to the Delta man about the missing luggage (btw-- he said I was the nicest AmeriCorps member he had met over the years that he had worked at the airport) I got on a van and headed to the Naval base. Once there I checked in and I was given a room number. Well, I went to that room and it wasn't the right room. Major bummer because at this point, I'm sweating, I've been up since 3:30am after going to bed at 2, and I haven't eaten. So I walk back to the other building and they give me another key. Same room, different building. Also, the luggage that I did have is MIA. So at this point all I have is my backpack. So I go upstairs to the new room and there is nothing in it and my name isn't on the door. So, back downstairs to find out they changed my room to another, at least in the same building.
Once I get to my room, finally, I go and get my box of stuff that I sent out. At this point I'm thinking that if nothing else, I will at least have bedding! :) Once I retrieve my box, it's time to head back down to have our first meeting and meet our teams.
My team is really great. One girl is from Temecula and another is from Fresno--at least there are some other Californians! More about our teams later!
So around 8:30, after our meeting, I go searching for my luggage. As I am talking to some team leaders, a man comes in with my lost luggage. Praise God! And shortly there after, we find my other luggage in the back of a van.
Also, my roommate didn't show up until 10:45. Good times!
So overall, a pretty eventful day! :)
More to come... Uniform sizing is calling my name. ...
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Well, this is my last post from San Clemente. Yikes!
I leave in less than 7 hours for the beautiful city of Charleston to begin my adventure with AmeriCorps. I am very excited, but nervous and anxious at the same time. Please keep me in your prayers for health and safety.
I'm not sure when I'll be updating this blog, but I will make every effort to keep it as current as possible!
I leave you with a parting quote:
I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it. ~Rosalia de Castro
Thursday, August 25, 2005
My blog fans have been requesting an update to read... but I don't have much to say.
What's new, you might be asking, in my life:
1. Had a great time in Hawaii with the fam. Spent a night at the Grand Waliea... The coolest hotel ever built.
2. Spent three nights by myself at the new house-- and survived, just barely. I don't like the sounds of the new house... :)
3. Had a little party-- a gathering of friends. Good times.
4. I've been getting ready for my upcoming departure. Less than a week to go. Yikes!
Sorry I haven't been more up to date... Crazy times in the life of Marisa
More soon, I promise!
Monday, August 08, 2005
If you're at all curious as to what I'll be doing, here's the website:
Check it out...
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Speaking of Charleston, I leave September 7-- in case anyone is wondering. :) It's coming up real quick. Yikes.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
The countdown will begin Saturday afternoon, with liftoff scheduled for 10:39 a.m. Tuesday.
Discovery's mission would be the first space shuttle flight since its sister ship, Columbia, disintegrated over Texas on February 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board.
Discovery's seven-person crew is led by retired Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, NASA's first female shuttle commander. Over the course of the planned 12-day mission, the crew will test a battery of new tools and techniques NASA engineers developed in the aftermath of Columbia to inspect the spacecraft's heat-resistant exterior tiles for any damage that might have occurred during liftoff.
I hope that everything works out safely this time! ... When I was at KSC in June, they were all really looking forward to the launch. We drove on the road that goes behind Discovery in this picture. It was the coolest. :)
Thursday, July 21, 2005
I'm hoping that my leg heals quickly because the rest of my body isn't really diggin' the whole crutches thing. PLUS, I have a limited supply of movies because they are all packed in boxes down at our new house. This is just a crappy situation I'm in, that's for sure!
If anybody has any great ideas for things to do... please, let me know! :)
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Yikes. The day before I almost kill myself by dehydration, what is going on here.
Actually, if I had fallen about an inch to the left, the damage could have been much more serious. Like, I really could be dead from a head injury.
Luckily, I just tore some ligaments in my left ankle. I had to go to the ER and make sure that there was not any fractures... yeah! there isn't! :)
The good thing about it all is that it gave me some time to read Harry Potter! BTW-- the cute ER doctor saw it in my purse as I was hobbling out and asked if it was HP. To which I replied "Of Course!" And he then informed me that he was 50 pages in and it was all he could think about, and he couldn't wait to get home and read it.
Of course my next question was, "Are you single?"
Monday, July 18, 2005
5. Count bushes
4. Wave at the people with AC while making weird faces
3. Sing at the top of your lungs
2. Count the beads of sweat on your legs
and the number 1 thing to do:
PRAY! A LOT! :)
FYI-- yes, my car started to overheat on my way back to Riverside from Havasu... I drove through the desert with no air. I am in recovery as I type this... don't let it happen to you!
Friday, July 15, 2005
In other news:
For those of you who remember when I started this blog, skip ahead...
It's incredible that last October I started this blog while my parents were in Gulf Breeze helping my grandparents with their destroyed house (courtesy of Hurricane Ivan).
...This past weekend, Hurricane Dennis struck in pretty much the same spot as Ivan. My grandparents had just recently finished completely rebuilding their house. When the hurricane warnings came, they left for Indiana to be with my Uncle Si. Fortunately, Dennis did not cause near as much damage. There was minimal damage to the inside of their house and only two parts of the house (garage and sunroom) were affected with water. Praise God! My aunt and uncle who live down the street also had damage to their house, but they were in the house when Dennis hit, and they held their glass screen doors in place to keep the water and wind out of their house. Brave people.
So far, it doesn't look as if Emily is heading their way... I'm keeping my fingers crossed. That area is still trying to put itself back together after Ivan.
Happy 50th Birthday Disneyland. I wish I could be there to celebrate!
Sunday, July 10, 2005
This past Friday, Kev (The Hobbit), Saundra (the cuz) and I went to see Batman Begins. It was ridiculous. They were walking in and out of the theatre, talking, letting friends in through the emergency exit. It was the 10 o'clock showing-- isn't that past their bedtime?
THEN, last night, Saundra and I were at Ralphs around 10:30 and there was a group of boys on bikes right outside. As we are walking back to the car, they hit on us...Really? Oh yes, please can I be with you little junior higher-- can I sit on your bike handle?
Yeah for junior highers. God Bless their parents, teachers and everyone else who works with them! :)
Sunday, July 03, 2005
So our praise of You must rise above our humanity.
Magnificent is Your power.
Your wisdom has no limits.
And we lowly creatures aspire to praise You. What is a human being, but a particle of Your creation? Each human carries within the mark of coming death. That mortality bears witness to human sinfulness. It declares to all that You rebuff the proud.
Yet despite our lowness, human beings aspire to praise You, though we be but a particle of Your creation. You awake in us a delight at praising You. You made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it finds its place of rest in You.
From The Confessions of St. Augustine
Friday, July 01, 2005
''Before I was a Scientologist, I never agreed with psychiatry,'' Cruise said. ''And when I started studying the history of psychiatry, I understood more and more why I didn't believe in psychology ... And I know that psychiatry is a pseudo science.'' Disputing the effectiveness of antidepressants generally, Cruise said, ''all it does is mask the problem.'' He added, ''There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.''
Really, Mr. Cruise? I think someone could benefit from a visit to a psychologist!
I'm glad someone is saying something back:
Actress Brooke Shields on Friday fired back at Tom Cruise after the actor criticized her for having revealed she had taken an antidepressant to cope with post-natal depression.
Shields called Cruise's comments ''a disservice to mothers everywhere'' in an opinion column for The New York Times. ''To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general,'' the actress wrote.
''If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease.''
I seriously hope his new movie flops.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Visiting Cape Canaveral was definitely a highlight of the trip. We got to see some amazing things. For, more info.--call me.
Another highlight was seeing my family (Dad's side). My Uncle Si played his guitar for us--Watch out Eric Clapton! Seriously, he's that good.
Since we got back, I've been doing a lot of packing and getting ready for our move.
Who knew packing could be so much fun! YUCK!
That's all for now! :)
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Actually, despite the weather, it's going to be a pretty great trip- DisneyWorld, Cape Canaveral, seeing family, can't ask for much better than that.
I just wish it was in a place where my hair doesn't look like Monica's in the Bahamas-yikes! :)
Also, for those fashion conscientious readers, I will be sporting a new trend out in Florida. The line will be called brick wear. It's hurricane weather fashion- shove bricks in your pockets so you don't blow away. Inspired by Brandon Reed. :)
I'll make sure I post pictures when I get back.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte and Traveling Light by Max Lucado. Interested? Read on...
The Club Dumas is about a man who is a book detective. He is basically a book mercenary, hired to fund rare editions for book nuts. One of his sellers brings him a part of the original manuscript of The Three Musketeers (by Alexandre Dumas-- hence the title for those of you who are familiar with the movie and not the actual book). Along with the extensive plot line about the manuscript, there is another story that makes the book more interesting-- a book that was written for the purpose of summoning the devil.
I must admit, at times this book was a bit creepy (devil worship and occult practices are not my cup of tea)... However, the book was an enjoyable read. There's a bit of mystery and a puzzle to be solved, so the reader gets very involved in the book. To quote a critic of the book, "Think of The Club Dumas as a beach book for intellectuals."
Traveling Light is about the burdens we carry in life that keep us from enjoying what we are called to do while on this earth. It is based, cleverly I might add, around the well known twenty-third Psalm. (The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.) Lucado talks about rest from endless wants, arrogance, fear, shame, loneliness, disappointments, envy, doubt... the list goes on. He reminds the reader of one of Jesus' greatest promises (in my opinion), "Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28). This book is worth the read and reflection it brings with it.
That's all for now-- more books to come! :)
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Friday, June 03, 2005
"Sacrilege can only be justified in faith. Only a believer can sense the terrible enormity of the deed. We'd feel no horror at profaning a religion to which we were indifferent. It would be like an atheist blaspheming. Absurd."
More to come when I finish the book...