Monday, September 25, 2006

Off we go...into the wild blue yonder...

Hello everyone! I wanted to post a quick little entry before I lose my internet access for a little while. I have been at training for a couple of days now, and I have to say most of all that it is overwhelming. There is so much information to process...I think my brain is on overload. Add into that all of the feelings I have about leaving home, friends, family, and my's pretty difficult. I am excited and sad at the same time. It is a tough combination to deal with.

Anyway, on to more fun stuff. So, I have been in Phildelphia since Sunday for Trainee Orientation. This is where we meet all the other people that will be serving in our sector (mine being Small Enterprise Development), as well as meeting some Health sector trainees that are going over as well. It has been a lot of fun meeting so many people from ALL over, and everyone is so excited and we share such a common bond. We are all trekking off into this unknown land...and at least we have eachother. There is something very comforting in that.

Everyone knows that my favorite day is tomorrow. What is tomorrow you might ask? Well...VACCINATION DAY! WOO HOO! Um...NOOOOOOOOT! I have a the craziest fear of as long as I don't physically harm someone while they try to poke me I will be okay. Lord help me tomorrow...I am going to need it.

Anyway, back to my update. We leave tomorrow night to take a flight from New York City to Paris, and then we go from Paris to Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso). From there we are going to be transported to a smaller city in Burkina for our PST (Pre-Service Training). Upon arrival in the smaller city we will go through an adoption ceremony, where we are officially adopted into a local Burkinabe' family. We will live in their village with them for the 3 months of training. That is where we will be bombarded with tons of language, health, and technical training....OH MY! It should be a pretty intense few months. I am sure I am going to wish my francais skills were much better.

For those that are concerned about communication, I will have VERY limited access to internet and phone. Text messaging me is probably the best option for now...once I get settled in my adopted families house (which is supposed to happen on Oct. 1st or so), then I will work out the internet. I want to get to my village and get a "lay of the land." Then I can figure out what internet cafe to go to, etc. may not hear from me for a while.

Anyway, things are really good so is exciting, daunting, nerve-wracking, challenging, and all around wonderful. I just want to thank EVERYONE for their calls, their emails, and their messages. I am going to do my best to get in touch with everyone personally...but it is a lot to deal it may take some time. Thanks to EVERYONE for their thoughts, their prayers, their well wishes and more. I can not tell you how much I appreciate it! My address is posted on the if you are ever bored, pop a letter in the mail. I plan on writing to everyone at some don't be shy.

Thanks for everything, I love you all, and "Ag Jamm!"

Monday, September 18, 2006

Battered, bruised, excited, sad, nervous...and on and on...

Well, my brother and I finished the Coosa River Challenge. I have to say that it was a lot harder than I had expected! The mountain biking portion was rocky--and that is putting it mildly. I made good friends with a tree and hopefully haven't broken a rib...although I don't have medical insurance to even find out...hah! I am sure the pain will go away eventually. Besides that it went pretty well! It took us about 5 1/2 hours, and we did everything from trail running, mountain biking (or in my case--crashing), canoeing (or in our case--tipping), mud pit crawling, bow and arrow shooting, 15-foot cliff jumping and much more. We don't really have any pictures during most of the race, but here are a couple that Lindsay (my brother's wife) got of us:

Here is a pic of us rowing across the river--and yes, our canoe is backward--shush!!

Here is a pic of us FINALLY crossing the finish line!

Even though it wasn't always fun, we had a great time. Even better, Mike was there at the finish line to greet me! He came down for the weekend to hang out, and to come to my Birmingham going away party and more. Here is a cute pic of us after the race, while we were watching the Auburn v. LSU game (WAR EAGLE!)

There are more pics available on my brother's Flickr page which you can access through mine I believe...his username is SteelerDave.

My mom threw me a little going away party on Sunday, which was great. I got to see a lot of great thanks to them for coming out. It is getting closer and closer, and as it approaches the more insurmountable the challenge seems. I finally finished ALMOST all of my that's good. As far as that 80 lbs. limit that I am supposed to have...I just have to say, HAH!

Well, I have had a wonderful time home. I got to babysit my nephew, hang out with my sis, relax, spend quality time with the 'rents...overall it's been great. I am sad to leave, but I know it isn't forever...

Anyway, this has been a bit of a long post. I guess I am feeling a bit more apprehensive and scared as it approaches. I leave for NYC on Wednesday and to Philly on Sunday for training. Let the games begin!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Parlez-Vous Francais?...Ummmm, not really!

So, the days are really ticking down now, and it seems like it is FLYING by. I don't think the idea that I have to say goodbye to my family for 2 years (or at least a year until I come visit) has sunk in yet. I started to picture what it would be like the night before I left and I had to push the idea of it from my mind. I have been having so much fun spending time with my mom, and with my little nephew Drew (picture below...isn't he adorable!).

It's hard to imagine that the next time I see him he will be 1 1/2 or 2 years old. I will have to send him pictures and gifts so that he remembers who is Auntie is, and knows who to come to when he wants to get spoiled!

All my preparations seems to be going pretty well. I have almost all that I need to finish packing. I have a few more doubles on my toiletries that I have to times. Mike is coming down this weekend to watch me run in the outdoor triathalon with my brother, and to come to a going away party on Sunday. It will be nice to have him here with me.

I have to admit that I am getting a bit nervous about this whole French requirement. Yes, I fulfilled what the Peace Corps asked of me (to pass through Level 1 and Level 2 of college French). But, my speaking skills are less than stellar, and I am so scared that they are going to boot me or something because of it. I am trying to study on my own, but without speaking it to anyone or even hearing it, I am finding it pretty difficult. Anyone have any ideas?

C'est la vie I guess...A bientot.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Cruisin' Along...

**A picture of Mom and I with the captain of the boat and a pic of Mom and I in Costa Maya!!!**

Hello all (or the 2 people actually reading this--and that includes my mom)--

We just got back today from our WONDERFUL cruise to Mexico. We left from Mobile, AL and took a 5-day cruise! It was our last chance to spend some quality time together before I ship off to Africa for 2 years...and it was definitely time well spent.

As you can tell by the pictures, which you can access at:, we had ab absolute blast. We met some amazing people who made the trip so much more worthwhile and fun! We danced, drank, talked, tanned...everything that we had hoped!

I have 13 days and counting before I leave for NYC, and 17 days until I will be in orientation for the Peace Corps. It was a bit odd to be cruising around, and thinking about the decadence that is a cruise...and then comparing that to what I am about to encounter. I felt a little bad that I was enjoying such frivolities...but, at the same time I wanted to enjoy myself and be happy for the time I spent with my Mom.

Regardless of my sometimes sad thoughts I had an amazing time...thanks to my Momma and everyone that we met on the cruise for making it memorable!