Monday, October 31, 2005

Back in Miami

I am back in Miami, living without power in our little house. We have candles and a gas stove. Last night I cooked cornbread on the stove top--who knew you could do that? :)
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

Last Day in the Swamp

I am writing my last post from the beautiful Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, I have come to see this place as beautiful, something I didn't think would be possible. Once I have a chance to post some pictures, you'll understand why I have come to really love this little place. Minus the mosquitos and snakes, of course.

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

Hurricane Wilma Update

Hey all... Well, I am still in the swamp! :) Good ole Okefenokee. Today we were out working on tearing down a shelter. Good times. There was a scary incident at the end of the day when one of the volunteers, Gordon, fell down through two beams. He is 74 years old, about. He fractured a rib. It made my heart race to see him fall. He is the sweetest old man! :) Also, he's from England.

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

One Cool Day

Today was awesome. We did some work here in Okefenokee. We learned how to use a bush wacker and hedge trimmer so that we could go out onto the trails around the samp and cleam them up. First, Jen and I were on digging duty. There was a busted pipe that needed to be dug out. Jen and I were well up to the task. However, every single man that walked by us while we were working had to drop by and give us advice. They told us nothing that we didn't already know. That's kinda how it is in the south--they don't really think that women are as capable as we are. Trust me, my female teammates are more than capable--they rock! :) To finish the story, we dug the perfect whole and then went to meet up with our team on the trail.

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

Stormy Weather

Two nights ago there was thunder in my backyard. Seriously.

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


I have been in Miami for a week. What have I done so far, you might be asking yourself. Am I reaching out and helping people?

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

Address at Charleston

Well, some people having been wondering what my address is. I suspect that some people have misplaced my letter with my address that I sent out the first day I was here. Silly people!

Here you go:

Marisa Stock-- ClassXII/Gold 5
AmeriCorps *NCCC
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


Well, we made it to Miami in once piece! Yea! :) It only took 11 hours to get here. We left at 4:30 am and arrived in Miami around 3. The van ride was bearable. I rode shotgun with Deanne (Team Leader) for the first 6 hours, so I had to stay awake with her. It wasn't too bad because we got to listen to some good COUNTRY music!
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

Public Service Announcement

In two days I will be leaving Charleston for Miami. I will be gone for a month (approx.) doing service that will be benefiting the people of that city. During the month that I am gone, I will have limited access to a computer. I know that you have gotten used to my fairly constant updates on my journey here, so far. So, when you pull up my blog and realize that there is not a new posting, please, reach out to those around you. Seek comfort and trust that I am ok. Whenever I have the opportunity, I will update you--hopefully with pictures. :)
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.

Thank you.

End Transmission.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Me in the Attic

This is out of order, but I couldn't get this picture to upload on my other post. :) Who's scared of heights? Not me, that's for sure!

Long Awaited Update!

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: 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!