Haiti | Service, Unity, and Love

May 9-17, 2017
What a week full of humbling sights and experiences, relationships formed and kept, God’s strength in serving, and love… Tremendous love. A week that will forever be cemented in the foundation of my heart. We immersed ourselves in a country in great need of this immense love. As we served and loved the Haitians, the Haitians served and loved us.


Perspective
Flying over the country allows you to look at Haiti with a wide lens which pictures a mountainous, breathtaking country with crystal clear waters and a vast sky. But landing and driving for six hours from Port Au Prince to Les Cayes forces you to replace the wide lens with a zoom lens, capturing every detail of poverty and brokenness.

Millions of people are living in small homes or huts everywhere. The land is a trash can. Trash fills the streets, fields, and rivers as complete normality. People carry baskets of water and products on their heads to sell or to provide for their family. Goats, cows, dogs, and pigs are chained in the middle of fields and on the streets. The drinking water is unfiltered. There is a universal language on the road of beeping which means “move out of the way” without any traffic regulations or signs as people walk between vehicles.

There is no wifi, no consistent power, and no sweet, sweet American normality or home comfort. This is Haitian normality. A sad truth, but a real truth. And yet this is the lifestyle. How humbling is this place for an entitled American?

In the same breath that I speak of brokenness, culture and joy encompasses the island too. There is such bliss in simply sitting and listening to the sounds and atmosphere of Haiti:
The conversations between people, the traffic and beeping from cars, the barking dogs, loud roosters, turkeys, goats, children laughing and screaming, wind, singing, music, and the reassuring stillness from The Lord.

This stillness was present everywhere, especially in moments when the heat was unbearable. As the sun burned and as the mosquitos bit, He sent His breeze to keep us cool and His strength to keep us moving. Weakness was rare because He really provided that strength. I never experienced this blessing to such an extent which served as a reminder from Psalm 23 that The Lord is our Shepherd because He protects and provides always.

Purpose
Our broad mission for the week was to help build the foundation of what will be known as Mercy Hospital in Les Cayes as well as to spend time with children from two orphanages. On a more narrow view, our mission was to humbly serve and interact with the people of Haiti.

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We shoveled, passed, and dumped buckets of dirt and cement into sections of the foundation. We did this for a good portion of the week. As we walked away from the foundation each day, I noticed the progress we had made.
The image of rocks being placed in this foundation brings me to Psalm 18:31 which says, “For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” We know that God is our solid rock and our foundation, so as this foundation is being built with rocks, The Lord is built right into the hospital, too, and His shield of protection and provision will forever be present there.
IMG_4520During our last morning devotion, rocks from the piles at the foundation were passed to our team and we wrote scripture or something from our heart on each rock. When the next team comes to work on the foundation, the Pastor that we worked with will pass out the rocks to that team and place our rocks in the foundation as a symbol of the work we accomplished this week and of God’s blessing on the hospital.

Children
Haitian Children. So precious, so lovable, and so sassy all at once.
We spent one day with all of the orphans. When we first arrived at Ducis, the boys orphanage, their little faces lit up with joy and they immediately ran to our team with arms extended waiting for us to pick them up. This showed me that they wanted love, and it warmed my heart to know that we got to show them our own love, but more importantly, the love of Christ for the whole day.

IMG_7267When the girls came, we passed out skirts to them and we gave balls and bubbles to the boys along with a bag full of stickers, chalk, flip-flops, and more for all of the children. Before going to Haiti, our Cedarville team learned  Zumba and wrote a skit based on the story of Jonah for the children. Dancing with the girls was a blast and the children comprehended and really enjoyed the skit when it was interpreted!

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A highlight from this day was when a few of the boys noticed my cell phone, grabbed it from me, and began exploring the wonderful world of pictures. They took pictures of themselves and me, found snapchat and its filters, and looked through my own photos. Something that is so normal and uneventful to me was so fascinating and joyful for these kids. I loved watching them laugh and find fun in pictures.

Hospital
One of the hardest parts of the trip was when we went to a hospital for mothers and new born babies that looked like something you would see on a commercial for poverty to donate to.
The conditions were terrible – it was dark, hot, full of flies, and unclean with rows of beds directly next to each other. Most of the women were alone without the fathers and some babies were completely abandoned.
Because of a cookie sale at Cedarville, we purchased baby formula to give the mothers. Before we left, we prayed at the front of the hospital and our Pastor asked if anyone wanted to know The Lord. One woman said in Creole, “Yes, I want to know Jesus!” So, Pastor Lubin prayed for her to accept Jesus and for her baby who has a heart condition. This woman now knows that she is living in the love and will of God, and that her baby boy is being held by his heavenly Father who also happens to be the great Healer.

People
Haitians are passionate, fun, and selfless.
They make the most out of what they have which has challenged me to do the same.

I am thankful that our Cedarville University team was not the only group working on the foundation for the week because we got to join the native Haitians who have been working on it since the first rock was placed. We had opportunities all week to interact with who we now call new friends.

Before going to Haiti, I would have never categorized passing rocks and dirt as “fun.” But when God is in the midst of the passing and there is strong unity in His name between two languages, heck, I want to pass rocks and dirt all day! Between listening to music, singing along, dancing a ton, learning Creole as the Haitians learned English, and laughing together, unity quickly formed and we became one team.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was when some of the Haitians on the work site grabbed a soccer ball that our team brought and began playing volleyball with it. A few of the Cedarville students and I decided to join. This interaction verified that a barrier was non-existent between us and the Haitians – we were all on the same team and fulfilling the same mission.

I could not have asked for a better Cedarville team to serve with and experience Haiti with. From the moment we boarded the plane to Atlanta and then to Port Au Prince, we clicked, and it was not long until we became, as Pastor Lubin would call it, a “shucky ducky” family.

There is no other team that I would rather listen to Kelly Clarkson and Veggie Tails with, learn the intricate art of Avalon, pass “boockets,” and encourage each other to keep going and to learn as much creole as possible.


I am determined to see this hospital when it is fully built. Mercy hospital will be a blessing to so many people, including the little baby with the heart condition. There is no way I can simply let my passion for this place die out. I love the people, I love the atmosphere, and I love what The Lord is constantly doing.

I will definitely be seeing Haiti again!

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Pre-Haiti Thoughts in the Air

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
1:14 p.m.
Destination: Haiti

People are praying. Isn’t that knowledge comforting?

I have gotten loads of texts and notes from friends and family. It’s wonderful to see the greatness of prayer and how humbling it is to know that my friends and family are praying for this team. One prayer, though, has been glued to my thoughts from a good friend of mine who said, “I pray that people see God in you and that you see God in everything.”

See God in everything. What a vast statement; a powerful prayer.

This morning, I read Psalm 15 which starts with two questions: “Who may worship You in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on Your holy hill?”

David then explains in the following verses characteristics of those who may worship The Lord in this way. He then ends with an encouraging phrase of confidence to everyone when he says, “such people will stand firm forever.”

When I read those questions, I immediately thought that I am no where worthy enough to dwell in the Lord’s sanctuary or even be in His holy presence. I do not even live up to the characteristics that David lays out in verses 2-5. Sometimes, I do not even see myself trying to possess those characteristics and my heart is content with stunted growth.

But I know two things:

  1. God’s grace and love for me is massive – so massive that I cannot comprehend it.
  2. After reading this Psalm, my heart’s desire was transformed to become the person who can worship Him in His sanctuary.

I prayed about this prayer, “that people see God in you and that you see God in everything,” and God revealed to me that the only way people will see God in me is if I know that God is in me, which means that I need to be continually desiring to grow deeper in my relationship with Him.

Right now, I’m sitting next to a woman who does not speak my language, yet as I listen to her pray and water her worship our God through music on her phone, I know exactly what she is saying, and Who she is saying it to.

From what I am hearing and seeing to the right and a tad bit in front of me, there are more missionaries ready to serve in this country. Even the girls behind me seem to be going to Haiti for yet another kind of mission. Though all of our work will most likely be completely different, we are still partaking in the same exact mission; furthering God’s Kingdom and serving His people.

When we get off this plane, my team and I will be driving from Port Au Prince to Les Cayes. The woman next to me, the people on the other side of me, and the girls behind me will be spreading out to spread God’s name across the country. Just take a second to really focus on that imagery… God is placing every team on this plane with a destination and a mission in different parts of Haiti so that people will see God in us, and that we will see God in it all. God is with us, God is in us. God is with Haiti, God is in Haiti.

This journey has only just begun, and I am already seeing God in everything.

Yes, our team will be blessing the people of Haiti. And yes, the people of Haiti will be blessing us.

Perspective: Blessed

One morning last week, I was standing in front of my back porch door and patiently watched the snow fall. I noticed how the wind’s motion was unstoppable and unpredictable as it chose certain sections of the snow to swiftly move, like a joyful dance. I also noticed the snow’s sweet sound of absolute silence – unlike the rain, which creates a soothing and rhythmic tap. Then, I felt the urge to sit on the floor. Right away, I saw inconsistent icicles lining the bottom side of the deck’s fence. I also witnessed each individual snowflake gently glide to the ground, weaving together the deck’s bright, white blanket of snow.

I could easily parallel each observation from this morning with the possibility of what God is showing me, like how the wind “represents” the way that the Lord is unstoppable in how He moves. Or, how each individual snowflake “represents” situations through each day that weave together the entirety of life. Or, I could simply take the observations as they are: beauty in winter.

This is perspective.

I’ve decided that for the next couple months, I’m going to go through a series called “Perspective:” followed by a new perspective that I have learned.

There is an infinite amount of lessons to learn, places to explore, people to meet, feelings to feel, goals to achieve… there is even an infinite amount of “infinite amounts.” All I know is that I’m here, I’m alive, and I’m alive with a purpose. Part of that purpose is to learn perspective, and for me, that starts with the very basics… things that I thought I learned years ago, but haven’t truly lived out until recently…


“Let not your heart utter anything hastily before the Lord, for God is in Heaven, and you are on Earth.”
– Ecclesiastes 5:2

I am blessed.

I’m blessed with the Lord’s joy, true contentment, and the gift of perspective.

To me, perspective is my own plus the constant addition of God’s as He reveals it to me over time. This is something I have focused on and prayed about over the last few weeks and I have learned three lessons through it:

  1. I am thankful for joy
  2. My attitude determines the kind of day I will have
  3. Being in nonstop conversation with God shows me my blessings and contentment…

These lessons are simple, common, and cliché… So much so that I learned a fourth lesson: Sometimes “cliché” is overlooked.

“Everything happens for a reason.”
“Teamwork makes the dream work.”
“Practice makes perfect.”

When I hear sayings like these so often, they become nothing but commonly used words… empty. My response to any one of those would be, “Yeah, yeah. I know I get it.” I would look right over these words and get on with my day.

“I’m blessed.”
“Attitude is everything.”
“Pray about it.”

Empty? Nothing but words? Yeah, that has usually been the case. I’ve always known that I am blessed, but because I heard those sayings so much, I began overlooking what joy, attitude, and prayer for perspective change meant until, ironically, I prayed about it. Within weeks I saw the effects of genuine joy, felt my own attitude shift, and heard God a lot.

Let me give you an example:
It was a Monday. I had two exams and a biology lab the next day. It was also one of those days when I felt like the world was working against every task that I had to accomplish. So, I told myself, “Tomorrow will suck, and so will my mood.”And just as quickly as I conjured up those words and threw them at God, He hit me right back with, “Tomorrow will be good, and so will your mood.”

Was “tomorrow” good? Of course.
My mood, also? You betcha.

I know that my thoughts are the primary cause of everything – every person I encounter, every adventure that I  go on… literally, everything.

Once I really started to see the good in all things, to pinpoint the blessings around me, and to listen to that same Voice who altered my original negative thought into a completely different message, I realized that the cliché sayings I mentioned earlier are the very root of positive living.

One of the greatest blessings that I have is perspective. So whether I’m paralleling metaphors in the midst of nature or simply looking at it, my perspective is being transformed at every moment through the metaphors and by the looks.

Nervousness to Nervousless

Rhetorical questions are asked frequently. Out of all the rhetorical questions that I have conjured up within my own college freshmen mind, I quickly became stuck when I asked myself, “What is nervousness?”

This question has gone through my head more than once because now more than ever I have experienced this awkward sensation of fluttering wings aligning my stomach. So, like any rhetorical question, I put deep thought into my own answer.  I attempted a run through of words such as fear, timidness, butterflies, judgement, and so on. My final definition of nervousness is the following:

Nervousness: When your heart beat changes because of an event or opportunity that you have the possibility of failing at.

Nervousness is a dangerous place to be in because I put fear, unreasonable expectation, and anxiety in front of what The Lord is to me. So why? Why is the human go to for any competition nervousness? What makes the “scary” thing so scary in the first place? If I make it far enough, what do I have to be nervous about? I should be confident in Christ, shouldn’t I?

“If you have the talent, embrace it, be confident in it, and be bold.”

It sounds easy, so easy that it is dumb to even think about. Yet no matter how much time I spend in prayer asking the Lord to keep my heart beat at a normal pace just so that I can get through this one event, my heart refuses to listen to Him. Apparently the race that my heart is running is too monumental to lose, therefore, it races on.

But this race would not be happening without the One who created the track… and because of this, I want to make Jesus my heartbeat, not nervousness.

Something that I have learned is that Jesus is standing next to me even when I am unaware of the presence that He blesses me with at every moment. Jesus is. And in knowing that Jesus is, nervousness, fear, anxiety, and unreasonable expectation cannot be. Because Jesus is, the fear of failure is not. Because Jesus is, the heartbeat of nervousness cannot be. And once something is, it always is, unless the Lord tells it otherwise. Jesus simply being makes me want to change my nervousness to nervousless. Plus, the last time I checked, nothing on this Earth can tell Jesus that He is not, because He always was, He always is, and He always will be.

Falling for Fall

Let me set up a scenario… a few moments that I experienced this morning:

I opened my eyes at approximately 7:42, looked around the room at about 7:48, and got out of bed at nearly 7:50. But within the very first second that my eyes were aware at 7:42, my mind simotaneously remembered that today is September 22, better known as the first day of the most riveting season of all… Fall. So, I did what any 18-year-old lover of fall and Imagine Dragons would do – I consciously played Imagine Dragon’s “The Fall” while subconsciously, I closed my eyes and simply listened to the soothing season through Dan’s genius music.

Each year, I fall for Fall the moment that the leaves start changing and the temperature starts dropping. This song brings to life, for me anyways, not only what fall is as a noun, but also what fall does as a verb…

Fall breathes in the 90 degrees we’ve all been baking in for three months and gladly exhales its cool, cozy, and comfortable 60-70 degree temperature that leaves us, well, breathless. Its breeze guides its leaves ever so gently from the tree tops to the ground below, yielding the crunching sound we hear when our boots hit the ground.

Fall captures every intentional color that God creatively created to feel “warm.”
Yes, we know what the color yellow is, but what yellow does is so much more significant. The same thing goes for red, green, brown, and orange. Yellow initiates joy, red claims the emotion in your autumn memories, green is your relaxation, brown reminds you that the Earth is home, and orange carries your fascination. Each color combined defines Fall and its freshness.

Fall lets us copy its outfit so that we can match its style.
Nature is a fashion in itself. A tree’s roots can easily represent the boots we wear. The vivid leaves dress a tree in clothing, like a sweater or a flannel does to us. And the scarf? Easy. It’s the sun’s perfect light and warmth directing itself in the open spaces of the “sweater.”

Fall brings seasonal necessities such as fall flavors, autumn drinks, and a whole lot of pumpkin.
Every Fall my mom makes butternut squash risotto and it is by far my favorite fall-time meal and probably my favorite all-time meal.
There are some flavors that make sense only when a season sets in. For example, watermelon typically relates with summer while, unless you want a holly jolly feeling all year long, candy canes are usually enjoyed during the winter. Apple cider and pumpkin spice latte’s naturally fit into Fall.
Not only pumpkin spice latte’s, but the entire list of pumpkin: pumpkin rolls, pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin seeds… pumpkin everything.

Fall gives us opportunities to put its picturesque perfection into a picture.
The vibrant essence of this enticing season exposes the photographer in everyone (even if the photo is later posted on Instagram with a filter.) Its easy beauty captivates the eye and makes snapping the “perfect fall photo” effortless.

Fall reminds us that life has seasons.
Throughout the last two years, I did a video series called “Seasons” where I attempted to capture each season in its beauty and learn to fall in love with the weather God created. Some people hate Winter, others don’t enjoy Fall. Some dislike Summer and some aren’t fond of Spring. But what I learned is that the seasons change 1. because God created them to and 2. because there is beauty found in each one.
This is an obvious parallel that I think God intended for mankind to understand: There will be seasons that are wonderful and seasons that are challenging to get through, but finding the beauty that God is creating through it keeps you aware of Him and the growth in yourself.
What matters the most is whether or not you choose to get up, latte in hand, and walk strongly when that season causes you to Fall.

So here it comes… the brilliant color change, the fresh temperature drop, and the fundamentals of Fall.

I’m ready for the leaves, I’m ready for the joy, and “I’m ready for the Fall.”

Refreshmen

Ahh, freshmen year of college has arrived! “Today starts the best years of your life,” they say!

You unload your chic dorm room ideas into your perfect living space, you walk around campus with your parents and have a “movie moment” as you smile to yourself, and you are cheered on by your fellow schoolmates because guess what, you are here! Through the high energy excitement you hear a knock on your door. It’s a new friend down the hall from you and her name is realization. She introduces herself to you and says, “Hi! I’m sorry, but you’re on your own,” and all you can say is, “Oh no.”

Now comes the moment where you suddenly feel insecure because you know that some upperclassmen are quietly judging your try-hard freshmen awkwardness, you cry due to overwhelming pressure and stress, and you see that without your mom, you don’t know how to properly place the filter into your water pitcher. But wait! there’s more. Your new “friend” realization keeps coming back to tell you that you are a clueless mess, that you do not know how to properly start the shower without 1. freezing or 2. being naked in front of everyone, and that you have no one to hug yet when you feel lonely and homesick. At this point you are tired, sad, and ready to go back home, but again, realization tells you that this has to be your new home now.

Then you hear another knock on your door. With tears in your eyes and frustration in your mind, you open the door expecting realization to be there again. But this time a few new faces stand before you and their names are Trust, Peace, and Openness.

Trust sobs when He sees you and questions why you ran from Him.

Peace greets you with a hug and tells you that He has your heart in His hands.

Openness challenges you to stop living in senior year of high school and to be bold…

You have a realization, but not from your friend down the hall:
You realize that realization is the enemy, and the Lord wants to meet you where you are…

Let God refresh you and do not let the enemy restrain you.

I look back and notice that I spend so much time praying and asking the Lord where I am called to, but I often forget to ask Him to help me get there once He calls me. Though He makes the plan, I tend to make the details without first asking for guidance. So, when I arrived on campus two days ago, I quickly became overwhelmed with realizations from the enemy rather than becoming overwhelmed with peace from Spirit, and I let the enemy get to me. But then God told me that yes, seasons change, but I remain. And just the word “remain” itself gave me peace and relief. I let God be God, and I let Him refresh me with His immense love.

I am a freshmen all over again. My best friend’s are freshmen all over again at different colleges. We don’t know how to get from building to building on campus yet, we are slowly learning the “do’s” and “don’ts” to keep us somewhat cool, and we have to create a foundation of new friends. But we are not freshmen in high school… we have have grown, matured, and found our identity in Christ. I am ready to enjoy it, cluelessness and all.

“Though the seasons change, Your love remains.” 

Outward Adult, Inner Child

Babies stare, toddlers ask questions. Tweens follow, teens change. And once you hit 18, you’re “finding yourself.” That’s how the world tells you it’s supposed to be, at least. So each of these age groups follow that chain and go with it – they roll with the punches and agree to play “society says,” all while missing the point of actually living.

Society Says is an unknown game to man made up by yours truly. It’s where society says something like, “Worry about how many likes you get on that instagram picture,” and thereafter, well, society listens. Here’s the catch though: Everyone is playing it, but nobody ever realizes that they are.

I pray for more of our generation to live like my very first sentence: Babies stare, toddlers ask questions.

Side Note: It’s healthy to follow that chain to a certain extent… you have to first follow to lead, you have to first grow to change, and you have to find yourself at some point. But within this all, living with childlike wonder attached to your every thought is necessary while en route to a fulfilling life.

Ask questions often and stare at God’s beauty.

Ask questions – in your head and out loud. By thinking of “what if’s,” and internally exploring the possible unknown, you’re one step closer to wondering like a child.

Be amazed by the fact that you see the sun so much closer than the stars, yet there are some stars ten times the size of the sun. Wonder about the destination of the family driving next to you, or what kind of a day the person driving in front of you is having. Think about how many species of animals truly live on this Earth and strive to see every one of them.

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I took this picture on a morning hike along the Spooner Lake Summit Trail in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. I vividly remember looking up and smiling as the trees absorbed the sun’s bright yellow light perfectly.

These are a few steps that I’ve learned helps in the process of complete submission to admiration:

1. When you go to a new place, do not compare it to somewhere else… evaluate where you are, ask questions, and scope out its newness.

2. Take pictures, but not so many that you miss the reality of where you are and what you are visibly seeing.

3. Take home natural souvenirs – like giant pine cones or beautiful rocks… this is the best remembrance of where you were and what you accomplished.

4. Learn to be a “morning person.” (Mornings and mid-days are my favorite because of breakfast, sunrises, happy music, fresh air, and coffee.) When you do, your perspective on the day changes and those who are not “morning people” begin to enjoy your positivity in the mornings. Also, you have even more of an opportunity to enjoy your day from its beginning to very end.

5. Take smart risks. Not risks that put you in total visible potential danger – but if you want a picture standing on a rock atop a mountain peak, I say strike a pose.

6. Breathe and look. Be conscious of the fresh air that you breathe and aware of the sights set in front of you. When you are conscious and aware, you honestly cannot help but smile.

This is the simplest and most crucial piece of advice I can ever deal out: The only way to be amazed by something is to be amazed. I told you, simple. So simple that absolutely anyone can achieve it. When you wish for eyes that want to see detail and hope for a heart that strives for sold out adventure, in my opinion, you’re doing life correctly.

A Traveler’s Guide to Exploring

As humans, we have about one hundred years on Planet Earth, and that remains true only if we’re lucky. If our Creator put us on this planet, I find it very unlikely that He expects us to be stationary, consistent, and generic. There is a literal world of sights, feelings, and newness waiting to be explored by us; the explorers.

It is in my belief that we, as explorers, are all called to rename the “unexplored” as “explored,” even if the areas we wander to are only unexplored to us. Traveling allows for life experience and knowledge because the most productive and efficient classroom to learn in is the world itself. I mean, it’s great if you can figure out the circumference of a circle or what 49 times the square route of 48749385 is. It’s even better if you can tell me that you learned another level of selflessness through an act of kindness from a stranger on your way to Belgium, or that you gained Spiritual maturity through prayer during a missions trip in The Philippines.

Take one second to look around you…. Odds are that 95% of people reading this are somewhere in their house surrounded by furniture and four square walls. Don’t get me wrong, I love the comforts of my own home and my bedroom is a true happy place. But beyond my bedroom there are lakes waiting for submerged feet on paddle boards, mountains waiting for tennis shoe imprints on their dirt, roads waiting for 65 mile per hour wheels down the soon-to-be Memory Lane, oceans waiting for their shells to be taken for natural souvenirs, and airplane walls, above my own four, waiting for passengers to fasten their seatbelt’s to begin their journey.

When I was little, I didn’t appreciate nature, playing outside, or the “great outdoors” at all. I hated sweating on a hot summer day, and I despised shivering in the middle of winter. Even during the in-between seasons, fall and spring, I always had something to complain about.

Just as an example, I had the privilege of traveling to Hawaii in 2008 for a family vacation. We got to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial, and just to prove how much I hated my life at the moment, my mom took a picture of me.

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This is the face of a highly unfashionable 8 year old with a mushroom haircut despising every moment of being at one of the most significant places in world history.

Another example is when my family and I went to Disney World in Florida. I loved princesses, but apparently not as much as I loved being inside an air conditioned room. Because of my incompetence to enjoy any ounce of the heat, I barely took the monotone woman’s advice on the phone for room service at the hotel who told me to “have a magical day.”

But this attitude of mine changed when I started really looking at God’s perfect divinity. Here is a fact: Earth is beautiful, and God created us to enjoy His creations.

All of creation works together as one to make where we live a place of joy and pure bliss. This bliss takes place when you realize that the mountains are giant rocks placed intentionally throughout the world to amaze anyone in sight. It also sets in on a dark, cloudless night when millions of bright stars blanket a black sky – stars that are physically not tangible, but emotionally, they’re touchable.

We are all destined to be great souls, but with consistency, “great” remains only a word, not a truth. The word “explore” means to travel in or through an unfamiliar country or area in order to learn about or familiarize oneself with it. So I challenge you, fellow reader, to start familiarizing yourself with something unfamiliar, and to explore your own “unexplored.”

 

Fade to Black Slower, Please

As a “TV kid,” I learn terms such as “stand by,” “take DDR1,” “roll maters,” and so on. But as I look back, the term that represents my senior experience the most is “fade to black.”

Because I’m a senior, I’ve gone through almost all of my “lasts” in high school, and now I’m down to the last of the lasts. Today, I anchored my very last show on Steele News Live, and this past weekend, I performed at my very last Pop Show… ever.


When I think of Pop Show, the first term that pops into my head is “show bizz,” as if some sort of professional is telling us, “This is show bizz, people!”

Pop Show is a time for ridiculous entertainment, really bad un-organization backstage, and all seniors at that senioritis stage where they think, “screw it, I’m going all out… because senior year.”

My senior year happened to fall on the 50th anniversary of Pop Show, and I, as the president of concert choir, got to aid the choir director in making this year’s Pop Show as amusing as its limits could hold. Preparing was a smooth ride between choreography and memorizing music. Because the talent in choir this year overflowed into the previous three concerts allowing us to receive straight ones at contest, I knew this Pop Show had to, and was going to, put the “show” in “show bizz.”

Opening night came and the first song, “The Evolution of Dance,” started to play. I instantly felt connected – there was a thrilling vibe of excitement, and simultaneously, I had deja vu…

A treasured memory this year happened in a practice room as Concert Choir prepared for contest. Mr. Skladan, the choir director, put the choir to a sudden halt during our practice round of “Omnia Sol,” but allowed Eli, the pianist, to continue playing. Through the crescendo’s and the forte’s, we stopped singing at the most sentimental, emotional, bone chilling part of the song:

“And when we part and sorrowed can’t be swayed, remember when and let your heart be staid.”

That deja vu was nostalgia – a reminisce of connectedness between choir members. After we competed flawlessly, Mr. Skladan, Steven and I walked to our results, though we knew the good news coming already… straight one’s. We were ready for contest, we were set with staid hearts, and we were a go for for Pop Show.

My best friends and I performed the song “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips. As Jonah and I sang the very last line, we slowed down, sang “I’ll love you long after you’re gone, gone, gone” with shakiness in our voices and tears in our eyes, and realized it was over as the tech crew faded to black.

Then senior night came, and I cried. We all cried, we sang “We Go Together,” and we received our flowers. Then, in our black, signifying our senior position, we all faded to black together.

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This is me crying during “We Go Together” because senior year

Two years ago I sat at a news desk, auditioned for the TV Communications Class, and then received a golden ticket into the Steele News Live Class of 2016. Two years later, I sat at a news desk, announced to the school, and said goodbye to Steele High School forever.

Jessica: “Well Erica, do you want to cry now or later?”

Erica: “Well I really don’t think we have much of a choice.”

Jessica: “You’re right because this show is meeting its end.”

Erica: “Well Steele we have to move on, but we’ll love you when we’re gone. See ya round.”

Jessica: “And with that I say goodbye one last time… see ya Steele.”

It is from within every ounce of my heart that I thank everyone who allowed me, as well as 19 other students, to take 12 minutes of your mornings to read you the news. I am humbled to have learned how to produce news, how to handle the behind the scenes of broadcasting, and how to on air report and anchor. I’m forever grateful for a great teacher who put me in, and 19 classmates I shared my experience with.

Thank you for watching my ten minute midterm about cellphone use, for enjoying my “passion” feature, and for showing an interest in the “violent intruder drill” story. This is mile two of a 1,000 mile road trip, and the distance ahead is based off of the set foundation of Steele News Live. As I watched Jessica, Steven, and I fade to black today for the last time, I realized that it was only the last time in High School – there are many more “fade to black’s” left for my future… I just have to let whoever is directing control that.

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This side by side represents a journey… one that I grew in.