And the week begins….

March 21, 2011 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

This is it- the week I leave!

Yesterday was “send-off Sunday” as I have mentally dubbed it. During church we had a time of prayer, then our Thailand team had our last meeting. We went over the actual trip in detail, from meeting 8 AM Thursday morning (American time) to arriving at Faith Village late Saturday night (Thai time). Also at our meeting we had to get documents notarized, get the rest of the paperwork in order, and inform all the parents of details.

After we ate the provided lunch, the parents were allowed to leave, but the team stayed behind to pack the donated items. We are taking all sorts of crafts supplies, athletic supplies, clothes, LOTS of candy, and even a wedding dress! We filled up 9 whole suitcases with items to take and leave over there.

The girls drew names for room assignments, but we’re all close so it didn’t matter who got who. We were assigned bright neon lamented numbers to attach to our suitcases so that everyone knows who is in charge of what. ( I have one friend who is responsible for her back pack, her carry on suitcase, her checked suitcase, and her donated-items suitcase!)

One lady in the church thoughtfully prepared each team member a goodie bag full of treats. I love goodie bags of any kind, but these are actually going to be really useful for the plane! They have Wisps, which are the tiny toothbrushes you don’t need water for, Kleenex, Wet Ones, trail mix, cheese-itz, and more. It will be a blessing to have these little treats for the combined 28 hours in a plane.

Now that takeoff is only three days away, its all starting to hit me. I have kind of started packing, but am planning on really finalizing my packing today and tomorrow. I have been having trouble sleeping at night because so many different thoughts have been running through my head and because I’m almost giddy with anticipation.

I have never been more excited for something in my entire life.

Counting down the days

March 16, 2011 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

So in these past few days Thailand has really started taking up all my thoughts. I leave in 7 and a half days! I have so much other stuff to do before then (including music accompaniment, college course, student council activities, NHS involvments, etc) that I feel like I don’t even have time to prepare for this trip. However, I know once I step on the runway headed to Tokyo (our first flight) it will all become real.

Speaking of Tokyo, if you’ve been living under a rock recently you may not know this, there’s been a massive earthquake in Japan. This, now, poses a radiation threat and has created quite the chaos. My team is scheduled to touch down in Tokyo, be there for only TWO HOURS, then fly to Bangkok. But now the whole Japan-problem poses quite a threat. The airport is fully functioning as of now, but people are very concerned. Our travel agent is checking out other possibilities for air travel, which could include going to Seoul, South Korea instead, but we shall see what happens.

Currently the biggest thing on my mind concerning Thailand would be packing. Ahh, the joys of being expected to stuff everything you need for a completely foreign destination where you’ve never been in a tiny little suitcase. Or not.

Since the culture is so different in Thailand, I have to be respectful in what I wear. Since the weather is so incredibly hot there right now (104 degrees last week!), I would tend to want to wear as little as I could. However, upon realizing shorts to the knee are required, I went scrambling around Meijer trying on all types of capris. I finally found a few jeans bermuda shorts and some light cargo-type capris that I think will serve me quite well. Paired with a few old T-shirts I should be able to handle the extreme heat in full stride. But now I have to examine all my liquids and cosmetics to make sure they’re under 3oz if I’m taking them on my carry on. And I have to decided whether or not to pack my soccer cleats (because there will be a lot of soccer going on!). And I have to figure out what would be appropriate to wear to a Thai wedding (because I get the honor of going to one!).

So much to be excited for, so much to do.

(7 days until take off!)

(And I would like to apologize for this somewhat scatter-brained post!)

Open-Suitcase-with-Clothing460x300

European Excursion

March 9, 2011 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

So while I am still incredibly jazzed to be going to Thailand in 15 days (!!), I also wanted to tell a little bit about what I would be doing after Thailand. Four days after graduation my mother and I will be embarking on a 17 day-long European trip. More details on this will definitely be coming, but I wanted to give a head’s up of where we’ll be visiting. We have decided to see as much as we can, and will be staying in these five cities:

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Salzurg, Austria

Salzurg, Austria

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland

Munich, Germany

Munich, Germany

Paris, France

Paris, France

Immunizations

March 2, 2011 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

My mother, who is acting as a chaperon on my mission’s trip to Thailand, decided it would be a good idea to call the health department. Turns out that contacting them was the right thing to do, since Thailand is at risk for several diseases. This morning I had to journey to the health department for vaccines- a task I was not looking forward to.

This morning as I was heading out the door my mom asked if I had taken tylenol. I was slightly confused – after all I felt fine and nothing hurt. But apparently taking tylenol before you get shots is a pain prevention method. Well that scared me for what was about to happen. I don’t mind needles too terribly much, but I do have a low pain tolerance. So after popping a few painkillers we were on our way.

After waiting in the health office waiting room for a few minutes, we were called back to the International Immunization nurse’s office. Because I’m still a minor my mother had to accompany me anyway, but it was comforting to know that she would be getting shots as well.

Once we were back in her office, the nurse began to explain which immunizations she would be giving us and which diseases Thailand was most at risk for. I was immensely relieved to discover that I would have to receive only one actual shot, and my other two immunizations would be in the form of pills. The vaccine I did receive, for a strain of Hepatitis, did not hurt, and is still not hurting, but may cause soreness yet. I will have to begin taking Typhoid prevention pills next week, and will need to take Malaria prevention pills once I am actually in Thailand.

Now that I have that dreaded appointment behind me I can appreciate the modern medicine that we are privileged to have in our society. Thanks to what I received today- both in shot and pill form – I hope to have a happy and healthy trip to South East Asia.

(22 days until takeoff!)

There’s a first time for everything

February 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Thai2_20

So I’m pretty sure I’m going to be doing this over spring break….and I can’t even wait.

 

(29 days until takeoff!)

We’re not in Kansas anymore…

February 22, 2011 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

This past weekend at our Thailand Team meeting, the leaders that have been to Thailand before thought it was time they teach us a few things about the custom and culture there.

When greeting each other, a slight bow is common. The proximity of your hands to the rest of your body while bowing indicates how much respect you have towards the person being greeted. For example, an airplane stewardess might bow with her hands pressed together in front of her chest, while someone giving you more respect might have their hands situated right in front of their nose during the bow.

To greet one another, females and males use different endings on the same phrase. Girls say sa-wat-dee Kah regardless of who they’re addressing. Males say sa-wat-dee kraup.

There is going to be a huge communication barrier at the orphanage. Only three or four kids actually speak decent English, out of all the children there. I’m excited to find new ways to communicate with kids.

I’m thinking smiles and shrugs are going to become pretty commonplace.

Thailand has a completely different culture than the US (duh), and that is one of the huge reasons why I’m so fired up about going there.

(30 days until takeoff!)

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

February 16, 2011 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

I can’t wait to go to Thailand- that’s no secret. However, the very first phase of the trip is going to be a little challenging.

My group leaves on a Thursday morning, starting with a drive down to Detroit. From there, we fly to Tokyo, Japan, where we will be laid over for a few hours. We then fly to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Then we take another short flight to an airport located closer to Faith Village. Finally, we end our journey with a couple hours in a van.

I have flown on airplanes countless times, and I enjoy traveling this way. Airports are definitely some of my favorite places.I like to watch people from all over the world. I like to read the monitors that display all the outgoing and incoming flights. I like to walk around the different terminals. I like to shop in the little gift stores tucked in the corners that have every kind of magazine available. And at Chicago’s O’Hara airport, I like to stand on the moving sidewalk in the basement while a lights/music show is going on overhead. On the actual airplanes, I don’t mind the ride. I can usually sleep if I’m tired enough, or I can find some other way to entertain myself. I don’t mind airplane food and takeoff and landing don’t bother me. So clearly, air travel is not worrying me at all.

What I am a little apprehensive about is the length of our traveling. We leave Thursday morning, and with all of the time differences, long flights, and stopovers, we will not arrive at our intended destination until Saturday night. We will be staying one night at a hotel in Bangkok, but the rest of those numerous hours we will be traveling. I’m not incredibly freaked out or anything, I just don’t want to be a grumpy, sleep-deprived mess. But really, it will just be my first of many adventures this spring break!

(36 days until takeoff!)

Where I’m headed

February 11, 2011 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

So far you’ve heard a little bit about where I’ve been and about what I love. But the real question is: Where am I going?

I made a promise to myself several years ago that I would make it my life goal to visit every continent. Why? Back then I didn’t really know. But why not?

Whether or not I will actually ever achieve this feat is still to be determined, but this spring break I’m going to be working at it.

I have the VERY exciting opportunity to travel to Thailand this spring break with my youth group. Surrounded by some of my closest friends, I will spend a week volunteering at an orphanage that houses about one hundred children and adults. I am not sure exactly what to expect, but about half the high schoolers I’m going with have been there before. I’m enlisting them to help me pack and to help me understand a little more about the culture I’m going to be immersing myself into.

More information to come soon!

(41 days until takeoff!)

London Bridge is Falling Down: Myth Busted

February 10, 2011 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Fact:

London bridge is super famous due to the song that little children enjoy singing/playing.

Fiction:

It is not this bridge, though many people think it is:

DigitalTowerBridge

This Bridge is the Tower Bridge. Not only is it beautiful, but people can walk across the top (in the blue section). This bridge crosses over the River Thames, connecting London and Westminster, which is an older area of London.

The actual London Bridge is pretty ugly and looks like a normal bridge here in America:

London_Bridge_Lake_Havasu

Funny that children would sing a song about this bridge, isn’t it?

My Favorite City in the World

February 5, 2011 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

My favorite city in the world?

Easy.

London, England.

When I was ten, my family had the amazing opportunity to temporarily live in London for two month’s time. We lived in a flat (apartment) in an area called Earls Court- a quite little neighborhood. Two of us three kids were at that time homeschooled, and we pulled my brother out of school for those two months, so it was fairly easy to keep up our schooling there. We set up an everyday schedule: schoolwork in the morning, sightseeing in the afternoon. On the weekends we sometimes took trips, like to Bath, England, Cardiff, Wales, and Edinburgh, Scotland. I got to experience, for just a couple months, daily life in England. Some of my favorite everyday memories include shopping for groceries, visiting the library often, watching British cartoons in the morning, going to church in the outer part of the city, riding the tube (subway) for hours every week, frequenting the bakery a block away from our flat, and so much more.

Then, of course, seeing the amazing sights in London was awesome too. Some of my favorites include Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, Chinatown, St. Matin’s in the Field, the London Eye and Tower Bridge. One of the coolest places I got to visit within the city was the Tower of London and because of my visit there, I have had a fascination with history since.

The city of London is the most amazing place I have ever been and I plan on living there when I graduate from college.

London-England-United-Kingdom

My neighborhood's tube station.

My neighborhood's tube station.

One of the coolest places I visted that wasn't in London (It's situated in the English countryside)

Warwick Castle- One of the coolest places I visted that wasn't in London (It's situated in the English countryside)

London Eye

London Eye