hey there, beautiful

Do not be afraid I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are Mine

First days in Washington, DC

Ten days later and I still can’t believe I’m here. Even though it didn’t start that long ago, ever since our family vacation to DC three summers ago, I’ve dreamed about living and working in the capital. I fell in love with its richness, history, activity, and the east coast. When I came across the opportunity for a non-profit internship and summer classes in Washington, I knew that was how I wanted to spend my summer. And I am so glad that I applied and God sent me here!

I’m staying at the lovely George Washington University, where just down the street, you can see the Lincoln Memorial all lit up at night! I’m taking two classes in Arlington, VA (a quick Metro ride away) at George Mason University. My political theory professor is a professor at Georgetown, which most of you know was high on my colleges list, so it’s seriously like a dream come true that I’m getting a little taste of Georgetown (even though I go to the best university out there, go Illini)! He is so intelligent and quirky and passionate about what he teaches, I really like how he makes us think in that class.

I am interning in the Development department of Martha’s Table. Martha’s Table is a non-profit in DC that’s 30 years old and is striving to break the cycle of poverty in its community through its many food program services, clothing centers, and educational programs from ‘cradle to career.’ It’s a $4 million cash organization (with $2 million in food/clothing/furniture donations additionally) and was named after Martha from the Bible, who opened up her home and fed Jesus and his disciples when they came. It’s one of the most well-known organizations in DC, with big-name donors and 10,000 volunteers a year. I absolutely love it. Walking through its buildings, all colorful and organized, decorated with artwork from the kids and filled with the sounds of knives on the cutting board from volunteers chopping up fresh vegetables. I am in the administrative building, but I love how just below me all the action is happening. Kids are running around, clothes are being donated, meals are being packed to be brought into the inner-city. I am doing data entries, working within their donor database with deposits, donor relations, and will get my hand into some volunteer coordination, too. As an accounting major, I’m trying to see as much of the financials as they will let me! I just finished my first week, and I love it so much. I love getting to see the behind the scenes of a non-profit, all that happens financially in order to be able to provide the programs it does. It’s a huge learning experience, and I will hang on to every tid bit I can. Plus, my supervisor is really sweet and likes to challenge me, which I really appreciate. I get the fuzzes just thinking about how happy and lucky I am to be there! They really know how to run a non-profit!

I’ve made a “DC Bucket List” with about 35 items on it to do before I leave in August. I’ve been trying to make a dent in it whenever I can. It’s got museums, monuments, day trips, famous restaurants… Lots to do! So far I’ve checked off: the Newseum, Museum of Natural History, seeing a show at the Kennedy Center (saw the National Symphony Orchestra for free, it was great!), Chinatown (went with a girl from China who ordered her favorites for us), and ate lunch at Farragut Square on “food truck friday,” where about 20 food trucks surround the park of all different cuisines. I tried Vietnamese for the first time! 

It’s been fun to start cooking on my own. I really love going through the grocery store and picking up stuff, it’s neat to see all there really is! I look forward to cooking every night, although we have a pretty full schedule between class and internships and project meetings. I won’t complain though, I’d like to get everything out of this summer that I can! Once in a lifetime. 

I’ll try to post as cool things happen, I know I’m going to want to look back and relive this summer in the future! :] Feeling SO BLESSED to be here!

Since Getting Home…

Lots of good has made the reality of leaving Spain a lot easier. It has been so great to see my friends and family! In the first few days back in Cary, I got back to my mom’s delicious cooking; got to spend a few days with Ev at a Hawks playoff game, the Brad Paisley concert (which was great!), and just spend time with him and our families; celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom’s side; and catch up with my Cary girlfriends and Champaign girlfriends. These wonderful people in my life have made the reverse culture shock so much easier.

I have to say, it’s so nice being able to watch the TV and understand everything it says! I can even be doing three things at once and still catch what it’s saying! I feel like I don’t think as much here since I’m not conjugating and working to form or understand every sentence. Driving is weird, too! Having to drive to the store for groceries, then another 10 minutes for clothes, as opposed to being able to stop for everything on my walk home from school. It’s fun to be baking again and not gorging myself at lunch every day, however, my 8-to-10-hours of sleep every night is not going away very easily. That will be a fun wake up when I start my internship in DC in a few weeks! 

As much as I miss Spain and Irene and walking the streets of Granada carefree, it is very nice to be home. I missed and love the people here, so it’s only a matter of time until I bring them all to Spain with me! 

"We’ve been told that productivity is all, that rushing is an imperative, that going and doing and pushing define us. But those things aren’t true. God made a world of extraordinary beauty, and sometimes the most productive, most important thing we can do is slow ourselves down enough to see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, enter into it.

—Shauna Niequist 

El 6 de mayo

Irene just taught me how to make gazpacho, yum! What a healthy way to get all your vegetables. Here they will sometimes bring it “to-go” on excursions in water bottles with ice and drink it at the beach!

I started packing yesterday…..it can’t be happening…….I don’t want to leave!!!

Now I’m off to the “farewell lunch” I’m having with my girlfriends with the euro my parents left me (cha-ching! ;] ) to treat my friends. ¡Hasta luego! 

Barcelona - Day 3

On our last day in Barcelona, my BC friends came with us to venture around to the smaller attractions like the Arc de Triomphe. We came across a random park with a huge fountain and a gazebo with couples dancing swing, it was cool! We also passed a “Rent a Vespa” place that let us take pictures on their Vespa. Maybe one day…

After tapas for lunch, Emily, Daniela, Kendall and I waited for an hour in line to get into the Picasso Museum. It was well worth it! I think I may have even liked it more than the Louvre…sorry Paris. It was remarkable to see the incredible works Picasso made when he was just 14 years old. Jaw-dropping. 

At night, we scored some 29 Euro tickets to the Barcelona game. It was awesome! We all wanted to go to a futbol game while we were in Spain, and this worked out perfectly, considering it can be said (by everyone other than Real Madrid fans) that Barça is the best team in Spain. We had a great time and were able to check that one off the list! I even authenticated the FC Barcelona jersey I got Anthony by wearing it ;]

Loved, loved, loved Barcelona and its vibrant vibes! Can’t wait to go back someday for some more juice :]

Barcelona - Day 2

We grabbed fruit salads and some fruit juice (I think I went banana-blackberry that day) before hopping in a taxi to the Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia church is obligatory for any tourist in Barcelona to see. It was started in 1883 with Gaudí heading the project and wasn’t finished when he died in 1926. It is still under construction to this day, with a goal to be finished by 2016 for the 100th anniversary of his death. I really loved the Sagrada Familia (sacred family; Joseph, Mary and Jesus) because it was so modern in comparison to the antique ones we’ve been seeing around Europe so far. Gaudí was a very religious artist and loved to incorporate religion, nature and architecture. I read that when asked if he was concerned about how long his masterpiece was taking, he said “my client is in no hurry,” meaning God. I loved that. Three sides of the church have themes to their outsides; the Nativity, Passion, and Glory. Outside one of the walls, there was a huge facade of the Lord’s Prayer and had “Give us this day our daily bread” in 50 different languages which was really cool. 

Afterwards on our walk back into the city, we saw more Gaudí works at the Casa Milá and Casa Batlló. Both very interesting looking apartment buildings by Gaudí. He was just such a cool guy.

So once upon a time when we were all pre-teens, the Cheetah Girls made a Disney Channel movie in Barcelona. We relived those days and did poses from the movie all over Barcelona. The one I have posted of us on La Rambla is the ‘gelato one.’ Unfortunately I screwed this one up by facing the wrong direction, but we (and the people taking our picture) always got a kick out of it!

At night, we met up with my friends from Business Council that are studying Paris and Milan. We went to la Fuente Mágica (Magic Fountain) which does music and light shows at night. It was very cool!

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Thank about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

—Philippians 4:8

Yesterday was possibly the most beautiful Granadan day so far — 60s and sunny! My friends Erin, Kendall, Taylor and I went for a hike up to the Campo de los Martires (place of the martyrs). It was where Christians were executed by the Arabs when Granada was still under Islamic rule, however it is encompassed by beautiful gardens. While wandering around, we found a peacock! I was ecstatic because the peacock is my second favorite animal (after giraffes)! That was very exciting. After eating our bocadillos from our host moms, we decided to keep ascending and found ourself at one of the high points of Granada. On the top of this mini mountain, there is the cemetery. The first week of our program, Miguel Angel took us on el Paseo de los Tristes (path of the sad ones), named so because years and years and years ago people used to walk that trail up the mountain to the cemetery to bury their dead. A long, exhausting, emotionally taxing walk it must have been. It was crazy to actually be at the top. However, it was not the normal cemetery we are used to; it contained graves stacked upwards in walls and TONS of flowers. It was not sad or depressing at all. It was nice to see it as a place of colorful remembrance. After that, we went up even further and found what I assumed to be olive tree vineyards. It was very pretty! Once we returned to level ground, couldn’t end the day with anything but some Nutella and white chocolate ice cream….

i wish i had brought your letters here because there are nights when i really miss you.

La Iglesia

This is going to be a long one because, well, I love church. I just got back from Sunday morning service at a church called “La Iglesia Evangelista Bautista” about 15 minutes from my apartment. I went with Kendall and two other girls from my program. It was amazing! The church has probably 100 members and the room was packed. In the beginning they had new people stand up and introduce themselves, so Kendall, Vienet and I stood up and got a warm welcome. The service was set up very similarly to what I’m used to; we started with a prayer and then a woman came up to give some announcements. Then, always my favorite part, the worship. They put the words up on a screen so I could easily follow along and sing with everyone else in Spanish. It was awesome because some of the songs I know in English, but they were translated to Spanish! I was really able to connect and sing loudly  with those songs. One of them was interpreted from “Sing, Sing, Sing” a song my band and I used to play when we led worship in high school, so that was definitely my favorite one of the morning.

 ”Vamos a cantar can la música del cielo

Vamos a cantar alegres porque escuchas cuando cantamos

Para exaltar tu nombre”

It was also neat because in between two of the songs, they opened it up to anyone who wanted to speak out to God, and person after person spoke loudly and thanked God for being Himself, for always being here, for never changing, for His love, and for being at the beginning and end of everything. It was really awesome to see people so boldly stepping up and praising our God. And of course, every proclamation was echoed by the congregation, “si, amen” “ayy, si” “Gracias a Dios!” Loved it.

After the music, the pastor gave the message and I was able to understand most of it! The scripture it was based off of was Juan 1:14-16, concentrating on verse 16:

"De su plenitud tomamos todos, gracia sobre gracia."

This translates to, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

While this is just what an American girl got from it, the message was about God’s great grace and how it is all we need. A phrase I remember was “la fuente de gracia es infinita, nunca termina,” or “God’s fountain of grace is infinite, it never stops.” The pastor talked about accepting that grace and extending it to one another as well. There was probably a lot more that was said in that message, but that’s the jist I was able to get! 

Afterwards we met so many cool people! I met a blind man named Manuel, who knew I was American just by how I spoke, he didn’t even have to see me, ha! I also met a girl named Emily who studied at Cambridge (and spoke with an awesome British accent) and now runs a youth group here that I’m hoping to attend. I met Adriano, a boy a bit older than us who liked to practice his English, the drummer named Zach, one of the vocalists April (who is actually from California but has lived here 7 years and looks and sounds like a Spaniard!), and some other girls our age who are from the Chicago area too! It was such a welcoming environment and I loved it so much. It’s a bummer I’ll miss most of these services because I’m traveling most weekends, but I hope I can get involved in the weekday youth groups!

Dios, “no puedo vivir si no estas junto a mi.” I am finding You here in Granada! :]

here goes nothin


In 14 hours I will be boarding a plane to travel across the Atlantic to my new home for the next 4 months…eek! In Granada, Spain I will be studying, photographing, practicing my Spanish and exploring. While I’m quite nervous about staying with a host family and speaking a second language every day, I’m just as excited to see the sights, people, and lessons I am going to learn by living abroad. I am so fortunate to get to do this and will squeeze every bit out of it I can! I am so looking forward to spending time with God in a new and strange place, trusting Him every bit of the way and seeing Him everywhere I go. As my silly self worries, I remember that my God is going to be with me every step of the way and that I should not be afraid! As one of my new favorite songs says, “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind; the God of angel armies is always by my side.” It’s going to be quite an interesting experience, but oh Lord, how I look forward to the plans you have for us over there!

i’ve decided my “one word” to strive for in 2013 is the word less. 
i do not need more of anything: i don’t need more food, more clothes, more commitments, more distractions, more of anything. i’ve been generously blessed with plenty, and i do not need to seek more to satisfy myself. the one and only thing i need more of is God. more God, less me. i’ve learned doing my own thing is not satisfying; i need more time with Him, more time in His Word, more energy put towards pursuing Him.
"He must become greater; I must become less."
John 3:30 

i’ve decided my “one word” to strive for in 2013 is the word less. 

i do not need more of anything: i don’t need more food, more clothes, more commitments, more distractions, more of anything. i’ve been generously blessed with plenty, and i do not need to seek more to satisfy myself. the one and only thing i need more of is God. more God, less me. i’ve learned doing my own thing is not satisfying; i need more time with Him, more time in His Word, more energy put towards pursuing Him.

"He must become greater; I must become less."

John 3:30