In less than twenty-four hours I will embark on an adventure that is unprecedented in my family. I will be crossing the pond and spending the next six weeks in Ireland. I will be honest, I have been trying to write this pre-departure post for a while, and I have made numerous edits as the summer progresses.
My summer began with a few days of visiting family back in Orlando after finishing finals and then a quick turnaround as I left for a mission trip in Alabama. Throughout the week I had the privilege to work alongside members of the Montgomery community as we served by cleaning damage due to storms, volunteering at the Salvation Army and moving items around a thrift shop and assisting customers. I was able to grow closer to others and really learn about the community I was serving. From this short trip, I became increasingly excited about my time in Ireland as my purpose there is to serve the youth, specifically through the Bohermore Community Center and learn about their culture. In addition, I was able to get a feel about what it would be like to travel with a group close to the size of my study abroad group, and I had a chance to test out my fanny pack. So I give this trip two thumbs up (three if I had an additional thumb)!
After my mission trip, I spent three weeks working side by side with my old man as we replaced ceilings, painted houses, and a bunch of other stuff. It was the most effective way to raise funds for the study abroad at this point, so I was glad to do it. Well, glad for the most part. It wasn’t easy work, and having your dad as your boss is not always the best thing. Multiple showers a day were a must as well, but hey, I made it! I would give it two reluctant thumbs up I guess… or maybe just a peace sign.
At the beginning of June, I fulfilled a previous engagement as I travelled up to Lake Lure, North Carolina and spent what was supposed to be two weeks assisting in any way. I worked at Lurecrest as a counselor last year and although I was unavailable to spend the whole summer as a counselor again (I assume you know where I will be instead), I support their mission and desire to help where I can. I was there for a week working hard but finding enjoyment in the work. Some friends and I got a little crazy with the spray paint at one point and may have sprayed each other just a tad bit. Here is the evidence:
A week later and all the paint came off except on my toenails… How convenient. I was asked if I painted my nails numerous times and I even matched colors with a lady at my church. That was slightly embarrassing but incredibly funny. Take a look at my toes.
The two weeks in North Carolina were cut short as there was a passing in my family. It was a difficult time and still is, yet my family is strong. We keep our faith and hold on to the hope we have. With that said, Ireland kind of left my mind for the time being. Every time someone would ask about it I would make a joke saying “Ireland feels like a world way right now, both figuratively and literally” (I’ll admit, I’m not the funniest person out there, but it made me smile). I just spent time with my family. Basically all day and all night. If you were looking for me at any given evening, you would have found me at my grandparents’ house. In the end, it was much needed time with them and I am thankful for it. Below is a pic of my mom, a couple of my siblings and me, just chillin’ at a spring.
It was not until this week that I really began to think about Ireland again. At this point, I have such a diverse mixture of feelings. A little piece feels as if I have worked so hard to get to this point and that I am proud to be where I am. Another is excited to learn and experience a whole new world (I even sang “A Whole New World” from Aladdin to really get myself pumped). There is that anxiousness from taking a step into the unknown, and I haven’t been able to shake that feeling completely but the assurance of being with friends calms my nerves. Lastly, I am feeling a small bit guilty about leaving my family, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they support me as I travel abroad for the next month and a half. Overall, I am unprepared, but I’m going for it, head first. London tomorrow and Dublin by Sunday. The summer has been busy so far, and it’s really just begun.