Friday, April 30, 2010

running, running, sprinting... deep breath

"I'm spinning out of control. I'm feeling panicked and rushed and hurried... I got a singular impression things are moving too fast."


This is from one of my favorite musicals of all time: The Last Five Years. The lyrics are SO out of context but they really encompass how I am feeling about this last week.

I'm ready to get back to a regular posting schedule. Taking a week-long break between posts is just unacceptable. LOL.

The update from this week:
I worked the rollout for the new line at J.Crew on Monday and Wednesday this week. It amazes me how much I love to do this kind of work, rather than "deal" with customers. Give me 300 shirts to fold (which is laughable, I folded MUCH more than that), over cleaning out a dressing room, any day. Also, I get to do pre-shopping. =) That's my favorite part.
- I'm a little worried that our J.Crew at home will not need any help for the summer and I won't get to transfer. If this is the case, I will have to officially quit and then be rehired when I return to OK in August. I don't want to lose my discount!! If that's going to be the case, I've got some shopping to do to take full advantage before I lose it!

I took two of my finals this week. What a relief!! It's nice to have them out of the way. And I'm confident that I did well. That's a great feeling too!

I completed 63 legal briefs for my Legal and Ethical Principles of the Mass Media course.

I wrote my last ethical paper for the same class. I'm glad that the weekly papers are finito!

I corrected my business stats test to get half the points back that I missed. I love my professor. I'm almost embarrassed to share... this will probably be my first C for the final grade... ever... in my entire academic career... people keep telling me it's good for me. False. It just kills me because I'm a math person, but this is just another world! ANYWAY, my grade on the test went from a 55 to a 75. Thank you teacher for grace!!

I went to a rehearsal day for the final speeches for my senior capstone class. My professor really liked mine! I'm so happy because it is a representation of who I am and my college journey... I didn't really want to have to change that. She really enjoys the "acting" bits that I have in the speech and gave me some pointers of how to make it even better. The speech is jam-packed with personality. Kind of who I am =)

I've worked with my group on my entertainment marketing project. We have to do a presentation on Tuesday and pitch our marketing campaign to make Vineyard, DA (don't try googling it, the city and state are BOTH made up. makes research difficult, lol) a destination location. I really want to share the project with you, but it's a secret, so look for an update on Wednesday!!

I went to the gym last night and ran a 5K. This was my first time running since my bout of food poisoning. It felt so good to run again. Time to sign up for another half-marathon! I really want to do it! I'm thinking of the half in Anaheim. You get to run through the Disneyland park and you finish at the stadium for the LA Angels.

Today is a special day: it's the last day of classes, I'm having sushi with M, I work tonight... but the special part is that The Prexie Awards are tonight. These awards recognize the work down by organizations and individuals in our university. I've been nominated for "Excellence in Student Leadership."

Also, have to throw a shout-out to Megs (who will thankfully be here with me next semester! Hooray for the continuation of weekly dates!)... She has worked tirelessly all year to plan the dance and arts management banquet, which is tonight. I am so proud of you friend; it's going to be great! I want to hear all about it... and once again, I'm sorry I have to miss it. Silly work!

Today is the last day of college... ever... for many of my friends. But not for me. Mine will come in December. It has been a really difficult week. I hate the idea that I won't be able to sit on my roomie's bed and just talk anymore. We probably had our last one of these conversations on Wednesday night. It makes me sad. I won't be able to call up Chels to go to the gym with me to walk and talk. And she won't be here to go shopping with me as we both tell each other, "I think you have a bigger problem than I do." Mere won't be here to go to church with me, or to die laughing with me when I say something stupid or when we re-count something that has happened to us in the past... there's no one else I'd rather "laugh until I cry" with.

I hate to say it, but my parents were right. Wishing away this semester was supposed to be restricted to the schoolwork part... not the friend part. "Things are moving too fast."

Okay, I think that's the update for the week. I promise, promise, PROMISE to start posting more regularly. I miss you all dearly!!

xoxo, E

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ahhhhh.

I'm going to love being in OKC for the next week.
Check out this weather.

I believe I will be doing homework outside this week... with plenty of SPF of course! =)
Happy Saturday!!
xoxo, E

Friday, April 23, 2010

Crunch Time

I've been spending oh-so-much time at my desk lately.
I wish it looked like this...

(christina aguilera's desk in her new home)

I'll be spending the next 12 days glued to my desk chair to get everything done before the semester is over.

Thinking of changing my blog title to "I like my life?"

Hehe. I'm kidding. Momma is here for the weekend, so I DEFINITELY love my life =)

Happy Weekend! xoxo, E

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Swaziland holds my heart... still

I received an email from a dear friend from our Swaziland trip. Doug is a wonderful man of God, who towards the end of the trip started calling me Molly (apparently I resemble the 80s star... I hear it all. the. time.) Anyway... On our loooong plane ride home, he passed around a journal for us to write down our thoughts about our trip. Reading everyone's words, and re-reading my own, brought me to tears. I want to share mine with you:

Just when you think God has pushed you to your limit, He pushes a little bit more.

Running around, getting your dress muddy, and sweating off the little make-up you have on can be/is FUN! You don’t realize how much joy is missing in your life until you experience a wave of it all at once. (and then, you don’t want to give it up)

Rival schools do not prevent fast friends.

Age really is just a number.

“Ugliness” can have majestic beauty

Doing away with the thought “I don’t want to shake/hold hands for fear of germs” increases relationships beyond a superficial level…even if you only spend 10 minutes with a person.

…You won’t get sick with this much Germ-X on the trip

Christians don’t always have to talk about “Christian things”

You can spend a lifetime with an acquaintance or spend 10 days forming a deep-connection. I’ll take the latter

Pre-conceived notions and quick judgments are usually horribly inaccurate

God had a specific role for each of us on this trip.

I have 22+ new friends because of this trip

A big part of my heart was left in Swaziland.

I NEED to go back

I miss brushing my teeth w/o a water bottle

Happy Wednesday! xoxo, E

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

gLee

I'm not a huge fan of Glee. However, I'm a huge fan of my roomie!
She submitted a video this week for their casting call.
Check it out here and give her a gold star =)
(scroll down the page halfway and you'll see her smiling face)
SO proud of you roomie!!! The second verse of "True Colors" still gives me chills.
Can't wait to see you shine in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" this weekend!!!
xoxo, E

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A week's worth of updates...

Man, it's been over a week since I've updated.
Sorry I've been absent, however I've got some good updates for you!

I have officially turned in my senior capstone!

As a reward, I picked up some new Sharpies and Sticky Notes at Office Depot!

I babysat one of my professor's kiddos while one of her classes took a test. We had a photo shoot by the fountain!

Spring has officially sprung, and the tulips are blooming on Western! My absolute favorite! (sorry, not a very good pic. but trust me, they're beautiful!)

I had a business statistics test on Friday... even with a ton of studying and this oh-so-fabulous (teacher approved) cheat sheet, I still don't think I did well =(

I also finished my Corporate Communications final project for my made up company:
You can visit the site, if you like, at www.lrhphotography.weebly.com

And to sum it up, I've had food poisoning the last 36 hours. I vomited for 8 hours Friday night and then literally slept from 6am Saturday - 8:30am today. Still feel a little stinky, but getting better.

Hope you've had a great week! Hopefully posting will get back to normal soon!

xoxo, E

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Typos

I'm just throwing it out there that there will probably be typos in this post. It is Saturday morning at 5:20am, I have been awake since Friday morning at 7:15am. Last night was Relay for Life. Although I was not on a team, I was a part of the Fight Back Ceremony. It was a really amazing experience. There were four of us on stage that had been directly impacted by cancer. We each represented a different phrase... "Get Well, Stay Well, Find a Cure, Fight Back." I represented "Stay Well." We had giant posters on which we wrote a few phrases to tell our story and share whatever was on our hearts and minds. This is what I had on my signs...


I Relay for Those Who Think "It Won't Happen to Me"


I'm NOT invincible


Cancer doesn't discriminate


It doesn't care if you're young or old


It doesn't always let you know it's there


Be Smart. Talk to your doctor.


Do your part. Educate yourself about the symptoms.


Be active in Staying Well.


I've beat Melanoma three times. And I'll continue to Fight.


Anyway, our ceremony wasn't until 3:00am. I worked on my capstone until about 12:45am, then I went out to the quad to spend time with some folks. After we finished the ceremony at like 3:30am, I went to Taco Bell (awful, I know, but it was so yummy), and I've been working on my capstone ever since. I think I'll be up for maybe another hour, then I'm putting my phone on SILENT and going to sleep. I really hope I don't get called into work tonight! :(

xoxo, E

Friday, April 9, 2010

Swaziland - The final days (5-9)

We drove to the southern part of Swaziland late on Tuesday. We stayed on a property that had 6 beautiful guest houses. We had the best meals of the trip here. I’m glad we were there the longest. I keep thinking “oh this was the best part of the trip” or “that was definitely my favorite moment.” But, I have to say that our time at the school in Ndubazi was the best! We spent some time painting the school. It’s amazing how different it looked after only 3 days.

 

  



The best part about it though was the time spent with the kids. We held VBS for three days and Sarah and I were responsible for the recreation aspect. We took frisbees and soccer balls, but the kids just wanted to spend time with us. We took pictures of them and they all wanted to see their faces on the screen. With grades 1-4, we played chase for a while and they laughed and laughed and shrieked and screamed. It was joyous chaos. We thought that the older kids would want to be left alone to play with the equipment we brought. Wrong. We were thinking of American kids. These kids wanted our attention as well. A group of boys were playing the drums on a tin water pump and we danced in the yard with the kids. After they taught us some African moves, we taught them the Macarena. It was great!

 


The transformation I saw in one little boy in the three days we were there was astonishing. When we first arrived, he would walk by the kids playing and glance over at them. I walked over to him on the first day, with a frisbee in hand, and asked if he wanted to play. He walked away on his crutches and wouldn’t look at me. Anytime I would see him after that I would smile and wave, but he still didn’t reciprocate. On the final day, we held an assembly and sang the songs we taught. I looked far to the right, beyond the crowd of kids, and saw this little boy. He had a big smile on his face and was doing all of the motions with us. I almost started crying. I spent the rest of the song looking directly at him as if he was the only one there. To me, he was. I went over to him after we were done singing and asked if I could take his picture. As I said, these kids love to have their pictures taken so these other boys rushed over. But when I look at this picture, he is the only one I see. Look at that smile.



Before we returned home, we went to Kruger National Park and saw some amazing animals. We had giraffes, elephants, a hyena, and a lion walk right next to our vehicle. It was amazing. (animal pictures were taken by my fabulous roomie: Sarah Privott)




Coming back home has been so incredibly difficult. My heart is still in Swaziland. I feel that God is calling me to go back to Swaziland. I’m hoping it will work out for next March. Thank you for being so willing to support me on this trip. God did some amazing things in my life and continues to do so. It would not have been possible without you. It feels so good to be God’s hands and feet to the people of Swaziland.

I heard a new song on the radio a couple days ago and it completely encompasses how I feel about my time in Swaziland: "surely children weren't made for the streets. And fathers were not made to leave. Surely this isn't how it should be. I will live, to carry your compassion. To love a world that's broken. To be your hands and feet. I will give, with the life that I've been given. And go beyond religion, to see the world be changed by the power of your name."

I cannot say “thank you” enough for your prayers, but I will continue to try!

I need Africa more than Africa needs me, E

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Swaziland - Day 4

On Tuesday, we went to the community garden that our church sponsors. The women and children of the co-op were so kind.





We all held hands and prayed that God would bless the land and the crops. When the prayer was over, my prayer buddy didn’t let go of my hand.



She and I walked hand-in-hand, along with some other children, back to the church. Some of the women and smaller children loaded up in our Kambi and drove behind us. When we reached the top of the hill, the Kambi was following pretty close behind. We had to walk on the main road because the grass was over three feet tall. Some of the older kids in front of us started running to get out of the way of the vehicle. I thought it’d be fun, so I took off running. My girls walking with me started giggling and ran to catch up. That sprint is one of my most cherished memories from this trip. Barbi, our trip coordinator said, “Elizabeth, I wish I had been able to capture a picture of that moment. It was so beautiful to see you running with those children.” It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a girlie girl and don’t like to be sweaty, dirty, or mess up my hair. My time in Swaziland was the polar opposite of that... It was freeing. It was awesome.

After we left the garden, we went to Gigi’s Place. They feed street children everyday at 3pm. We sang songs for the children in siSwati (“Yebo u Jesu, u Yangi Thanda, u Yangi Thanda, Ichwandi Ishola” “Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so”) and taught them some songs in English (“Deep and wide” and “Peace like a river”). They love anything with hand motions.



I learned a very cool lesson at Gigi’s Place because of this little girl: words are overrated.


After we finished the songs, I wanted to tell her that I really liked her dress. But of course, I had no clue how to say that in siSwati. Instead, I made a cutesy face and flicked my skirt towards her. What transpired next made me, and the rest of our group, grin and giggle. This little one looked at me and flicked her dress back at me with the exact same expression on her face. We went back and forth, flicking our skirts, for probably 2 or 3 minutes. Each time, I would change the expression on my face and she would mimic it.

After Evelyn (one of the HIV/AIDS task force women) explained to the children why we were there, they all lined up with their plastic bowls to receive the food we were there to serve. It was a pretty cool day; because of the money we had given to Gigi’s Place, the children were able to have fried chicken with their rice, beet salad, vegetables, and slaw. Protein items are very expensive, so it was a treat that day for them.



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Swaziland - Day 3

On our first real “work day,” we went out with the HIV/AIDS task force. Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS rate per capita. There are many living with the disease, and there are many living after losing someone because of it. This was the most emotionally draining day for me. We took gift buckets full of food to the homes of 8 patients. The first house we visited broke my spirit. We walked into a 2-room home to visit with Philip, a 92 year old man. I have never seen so many flies in my life. They were on the floor, on his bed, and on his body. I immediately started praying, “Lord, please give me strength.” John, another one of our team members, shared the story of Jesus and asked if he could pray for him. I opened my eyes during the prayer and saw tears streaming down Philip’s face. Of course, I started crying as well. It meant so much to him that we would come and pray with him and bring him food. As we walked out of the house I thought, “I don’t know if I can do this seven more times.” My heart was broken. God heard my prayer. Please let me introduce you to little Mandla (it means “strength”). He was outside the home and when I waved to him, he came running towards me. He has the most beautiful smile. I knelt down by him and held his hand for a few moments. I could hear God whispering, “Even when there appears to be such devastation, look into the eyes of this little boy to find joy and hope for a future.” I look at this picture often.


I wish I could share all the stories with you from each home we visited. But I will try to do a brief summary. Our next home had quite a few children. John brought a lot of toys to give away; he was like Santa Clause to these kids.


This little boy was one of my favorites. As you can see, he was giving some big boy attitude, and I copied what he was doing. He quickly learned the game and we had fun playing “copy cat,” complete with reaching for the sky, touching our toes, and flexing our muscles.

 


This was the patient we went to visit at the home. He barely looked at us when we first arrived, a stark contrast to the reaction of the other kids. When we opened the gift bucket, there was a teddy bear inside for him. His face lit up and he was trying not to smile. I took a picture of him and showed it to him. He really had to fight a smile then. When I look at this picture, I don’t see the wheel chair or even the lack of emotion on his face. I look at his eyes and see the glimmer of a smile that came after he saw his picture on my camera screen.


These women were a riot! I asked them if I could take a picture of them as well. The one in the middle had the shower cap on and ripped it off to fluff her hair before I snapped the picture. I started laughing so hard... women are the same all around the world! The woman on the left said “Give it to me! I’ll wear it!” I still laugh when I look at this photo.


Our next home had some older kids. They spoke English and we talked for a bit. Have you ever seen such beautiful smiles?!


On our way to the final home, a group of little children started chasing our vehicle. When we stopped, Jonathan, Carol and I jumped out with food and candy in hand to share with the kids.

 

I love this picture. Look at the excitement that came from a few peanut M&Ms!


This picture is currently the background on my computer. I hated watching the little ones leave, but I know that the few moments we spent with them made their day, and ours, a little brighter.




Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Swaziland - Days 1 and 2

It's time to start telling you all about my trip to Swaziland! I wrote a (loooooong) letter to my family and friends that sponsored me on this trip, and I want to share it with you as well. I will do a little bit each day. It was 9 pages of stories and pictures... my heart on every page! xoxo, E

Sawbona! Hello!

Unjani? How are you? Ngikhona, ngiyabonga. I am fine, thank you. That’s about all the siSwati I know. Well, I know one more word. My favorite word in the language is “yebo” which means “yes.” However, it’s also a more casual greeting, similar to our “hey.” In Swaziland, similar to America, there is a series of greetings that happen: “Hello” “Hi” “How are you?” “I’m doing well. And you?” “I’m fine.” We don’t think anything about these exchanges... until you need to have the conversation in a language that is completely different from your own. Solution? “Yebo!” When a Swazi greets you by saying “Sawbona,” you can avert the remaining dialogue by simply saying “Yebo.” Needless to say, I used it a lot.

This trip was hands down the most amazing experience that I have had in my life thus far. I wish I could videotape myself telling you all about it. I’m not sure I can completely convey God’s “awesomeness” in this letter, but I’m definitely going to try.

We arrived at the Oklahoma City airport at 5:00 am on Thursday, March 11. Our travel included layovers in Chicago, D.C., Dakar, and then we finally arrived in Johannesburg (Jo’burg for short) on Friday at 6:00 pm local time. Our first night was spent at the Good News Conference Center. We were all so excited to finally have a real meal, shower, and sleep in a bed. The next morning, we loaded up our Kambis (mini buses) and departed for Manzini, Swaziland.

We had a six hour drive, but it seemed like 30 minutes. I am still amazed by the beauty and majesty of South Africa and Swaziland. I took so many pictures of clouds and mountains. There is no doubt that Africa holds a special place in God’s heart.


After we went through immigration at the South African border and arrived in Swaziland, we stopped at a petrol station and guess who was there? The Prime Minister of Swaziland (imagine bumping into the President at the gas station). I was shocked that we had the opportunity to shake his hand and speak with him. His security was nearby but did not intervene. We found out later that the only reason we had this opportunity is because we are white. The Swazi people are not allowed to get close to the Prime Minister. It seems sad to me. The Swazis are his people, and we are just merely visitors to the country.

We arrived at the Tum’s George hotel and settled in. After three days of intense traveling, we were all pretty beat. But take a look at our hotel. This was right outside our room. Absolutely amazing.


When we got into our room, we discovered a few surprises. First, this little guy was hanging out on our wall when we walked in.


Sarah (my roomie on the trip. She is a junior at Southern Nazarene University here in OK and we became fast friends.) and I knew we couldn’t take care of him because we were squirmy and giggly in his presence. Jason, our hero, captured little lizzy and released him back into nature. Second, two windows had been left open and we had quite a few mosquitos in our room. Under normal circumstances, mosquitos are simply annoying. However, in Africa they are disease carriers. I went to the front desk to ask about bug spray and the woman handed me a can of “DOOM!” Man, that stuff works! I sprayed the room (quite aggressively) and then we left for dinner. When we came back, no more mosquitos!

We attended church while we were in Manzini and then had lunch at a game reserve. After we ate, we walked the grounds. There were no predators on the reserve so it was safe to walk around. We were taking in the beautiful scenery and there were two wort hogs grazing nearby. Greg, one of the guys on our team, accidently spooked them a bit, and while one ran off, the other turned around and stared me down. I froze dead in my tracks and told Greg, “If this guy starts charging me, I’m running straight for you!” Sarah, captured this moment. Please notice my wort hog friend in the background... he doesn’t look too happy.



I have to share this too. Sboniso, one of our drivers for the week, had on a Tarheel sweatshirt! He has mighty good taste!! He was excited to take the pic, don’t let that serious face fool you!


(more to come tomorrow!)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hope you had a Hoppy Easter

Well it's Easter Monday (this doesn't mean anything on College campuses, but in elementary, middle, and high school it meant an extra day off. Oh well. I digress). I hope you all had a HOPpy Easter.

Mine was oh so fabulous with the parents in NYC! I spent 2 hours solid (as well as the rest of the weekend) talking about Swaziland. Our eyes were filled with tears over some stories and pictures, and I think they were able to see the difference in me from this trip. I told them about the "new" direction I feel like God is leading me, and I am confident they support that 110%.

On a more "fun" note, we saw: The Addams Family, Promises Promises, and Come Fly Away while in NYC. They were all really good for different reasons! One of the highlights of the weekend was grabbing pizza with McCallann and talking for almost 2 hours in my hotel lobby.

As for the Easter Bunny... because of her/him, I'll be looking so legit on race day. S/He brought me new running socks and an ipod shuffle! Look out half marathon! I'm a'comin!
xoxo, E

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!
I'm constantly amazed by God's love and the beauty that He has created.
(photo by: Sarah Privott, my fabulous roomie from our Swaziland trip!)

On a slightly separate note, I get to eat sweets again today!! What an amazing season of Lent. I have learned so much. But today is the day! Hello dessert!!
(cupcakes take the cake)

Heading back to OKC today. 4 weeks until finals! Eek!
xoxo, E

Friday, April 2, 2010

SPRING!

Spring has sprung and it is warm in OKC!
The wind has been killer this week, but that will not blow away my love for dresses.
When I think of spring, I think of Lilly Pulitzer.
Love these:
Off to NYC today to spend the Easter weekend with the parents!
Hip. Hip. Hippity-Hop Hooray!!
xoxo, E

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Update

APRIL FOOLS!!!!
(re: the camera)

Really excited!!!

I'm so excited for 2 reasons...

First, I leave for NYC tomorrow!!

Second, ever since I had the opportunity to play with Sarah's digital camera on our trip to Swaziland, I have been itching to get a nice digital camera. I was really into photography in high school and have missed it so much. Sarah has the Canon 7d and it is amazing. However, it's out of my price range. I decided to go a camera store here in OKC yesterday, and I looked at some different models. After some serious thinking and talking with the guys in the store, I decided to splurge and get the Canon Rebel T1i. I can't wait to use it this weekend in NYC and take some great pics!!

Oh, and I got this ADORABLE camera strap! The back of the strap is a really soft material and it's Tiffany blue! Love!

Happy almost Easter weekend!
xoxo, E