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Published: October 28th 2006
Group took a day trip to this cute quaint town in Belgium & ate their world famous mussels.
This is long over due. I have been back in the states for several months now. I've been able to tell some of you what it was like travelling the world for a year & a half. Of course, words, pictures & stories do not do justice. Some of you have no idea what I was doing overseas. Hopefully, this will give you a glimpse of the countries I saw, the people I met, the job I did, the memories I made, the experiences I encountered. I've briefly described each country I went to & have included pictures. The pictures don't line up with the countries, sorry, too many pictures. It's a bit long, so check it out when you have time! 😊
Off to Europe Map
Right after I graduted from UT I took an international travelling job
. My life was about to take a drastic change. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I flew to Brussels, Belgium where I was told to look for our company driver named Herman who would be wearing a yellow vest. I experienced the most
Graduation Day in Belgium
Michelle & me..happy that we both made it. She got sent to Qatar, me to Kuwait. She's an Irish girl who now lives in Dubai, she's great!
intense 2 weeks of my life. It was seriously like the Real World Belgium. I lived in an apartment with 11 other people from all over the world. All the girls slept on the top floor of a really tall & narrow building in Brussels & the guys slept one floor below us. We all came from different countries, backgrounds, cultures, but we spent every minute together for the next 2 weeks.
We had hard-core sales training all day where we'd give speeches, act, role-play, work shops, tests, etc. We were tested over international issues & business, country knowledge, and sales. Everything about us was being evaulated, our communication skills, business knowlege, our appearance, work ethic, etc. We were training to be young professionsl, where we would have to wear a business suit every day. I had never worn a suit before!
Our group really bonded though! We were all so stressed out & we spent almost every hour together. We all felt like we were on such thin ice! After the first week, one guy was already cut. By the end of the 2 weeks we had to give a final presentation on a country &
Plaza in Brussels
Beautiful plaza with lots of cafes.
get evaluated to see if we even got the job (even though we didn't know that at the time). So, the final day I was an absolute nervous wreck! I just knew they had it in for me & I wouldn't make it. After each of us was finished w/ our presentation over a selected country & they grilled us w/ questions, we were called individually into a room w/ the 5 "judges" if you will (the boss & his entourage) where they told us our strengths & weaknesses. It was like the Apprentice!! The results were shocking. Two of the most talented people, one guy & one girl didn't make the cut. And they had quit their previous job, sold their car & apartment, they were depending on this job, so now what for them? So, after they got cut I just knew for a fact I wouldn't make it. I wanted this job so bad! So I went into the room, sat down & waited for them to say, "I'm sorry." I felt like my life was in their hands! But they didn't! I couldn't believe it. They informed me that in 2 days I would be joining
Ladies in Training
These are the girls that made it thru training.
2 girls, one Croatian & the other Polish in Kuwait, Middle East!! What the heck! The 12 of us were about to go our separate ways. We had been through so much together & now we were going off to different countries spread all over the world.
I went to email my family & needless to say, they were NOT happy about getting sent off to Kuwait! They actually told me that I must quit & come home. Little did they know I would soon change their view on how the Middle East really is, contrary to how the media & the west portrays it.
First Assignment Destination: Kuwait, Middle East Map
Let me just tell you, Kuwait
is quite possibly the hottest place on earth. When I first arrived in the airport the first thing I noticed were men walking around in dish-dashes
(white robes w/ long hats), & women's clothing
where they covered from head to toe in black seeing nothing but their eyes (sometimes not even their eyes) & the extreme heat! Oh, & don’t forget the moaning coming from the mosques numerous times a day. That
Night out in Brussels
took a while to get used to. There were lots of customs
to learn. Kuwait has one of the highest GDPs per capita, so a very wealthy country with lots of oil. The two girls that were going to be training me: one Polish the other Croatian, both very driven & into the job. Our manager, whom I was terrified of was on his way. I had heard horror stories about him, of how hard-core he was. He was all work & no play.
And so the training began. Most of my training consisted of making phone calls ALL DAY, which made me get so homesick. Occasionally they’d let me go to a meeting, but usually I stayed at the hotel (which was the nicest hotel I had ever stayed in at that point). These girls were totally into the job & wanted to be Salesperson of the Year (which the Polish girl was). One day, I was done making my phone calls so I went to the gym for a short run (while they were at a meeting), well they ended up coming back early & caught me (heaven forbid). Needless to say I got in trouble. So
Crazy dessert safari driver
Going to the dessert in Qatar was amazing! To see the sunset, breat-taking! Our driver was crazy though, thought we were going to die!
after that I felt I was on very thin ice. I thought they saw me as a slacker, although I was trying sooo hard. I just didn’t feel sales was really for me & I didn’t belive in the product I was selling (over-priced commercial space in a country program that would cost anywhere from $10K-$100K…..such a rip-off!!!). The middle east is so hospitable! You must drink a hot drink when a guest somewhere. If you say only water, they will think something is wrong with you! Tea, coffee, arabic & turkish coffee, fresh fruit juices, etc...I didn't mind! Working days in the middle east are Saturday-Thursday (that's 6 days a week in case you didn't know!). Six days!!!! But what do you really call work? It is said that the average Kuwaiti works 15 minutes a day. What do they do the rest of the day??!! I'd still like to know! We were working more like 15 hours a day!! Seriously, it was work non stop. From the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. I'd fall asleep at night rehearsing things I would have to say at a meeting the next day.
Favorite Indian Restaurant
Sarah (from UT!!) and me at our favorite place to eat in Qatar.
So, there was another part to this job other than selling ads: networking. We were suppose to go networking through the week & weekend, basically the job is a lifestyle. So, we’d get invited to these ‘underground’ parties (in Kuwait there are no bars or clubs and alcohol is illegal in the country). However, that didn’t stop Kuwaitis & others from drinking. And alcohol is super expensive because they buy it from the black market. This is the part of the job that I really didn’t like. I saw how people led 2 separate lives. They had their business & family life during the day & then this other life when they wore normal clothes (I barely recognized people we had just had a meeting with earlier that day!) at parties, drinking, etc. Already, I discovered this job was not for me, even though I wanted it to be! I tried denying it & convincing myself it was not that bad, as long as I didn't lower my own morals, etc. but I knew in my heart I couldn't justify it.
One night the 3 of us girls were invited to a Dewaniah
(you could compare it to
In certain countries there has to be a mosque every 500 feet.
a presidential meeting where all the important decisions & issues are discussed behind closed doors). Imagine this, about 20 high-profile Kuwaiti men, some political figures, some private company owners, sitting around at night in a circle, discussing government & world issues & business (only men are allowed, no women!) & three white girls walk in as journalists. I was like, what the heck am I suppose to talk about?? However, we had a guy that was the right-hand man to the Prime Minister, who was our friend, that invited us & introduced us, etc. And then the dreaded question came, “Where are you from?” I hesitated….’Texas.” And of course, what followed, “Awwwww, are you a George Bush fan?” Trying to give a diplomatic answer, I replied, “well, some things I agree with & some things I don’t.” And then I quickly changed the subject. That seemed to work just fine. I would be getting that question a lot! After networking for awhile, there was a ton of food brought out. I went to get some food, looked around for plates, didn't see any. The men started digging their hands into the food & eating it while standing around the table
What a fiest!
One of my trainers, Sara, at dinner. They put TONS of food in front of you & you just dig in...with your hands! The food is the best I've ever had!
talking. Was I suppose to just dig in?? Well, I did! After the initial awkwardness of eating the food with my hands, I actually began to enjoy it! And so the networking began.
My experience of Kuwait was an eye-opener. I was pushed really hard in the job. They expected me to work nonstop & I actually did some pretty big meetings, which I was so nervous for! I stayed for 1 month in Kuwait. The girls were really in to the glitz & glamour of the job which I wasn’t. I tried to get used to the hotel life & getting invited to these big events. I discoverd that I wouldn't be using any of my domestic skills (or lack of). We didn't clean, cook, do our own laundry, etc. All we did was work, day & night. So, that didn't leave any time even if we wanted to do those things. Essentially, the hotel took care of everything & we ate practically every meal out. They worked 24/7, one day one of the girl's nose started to bleed because she was pushing herself too much! Never any free time or time to ourselves. Life in the
middle east wasn’t that different. People went to the mall, movies, out to eat, etc. But I always had the feeling I was being stared at, because I was a foreigner, which I didn't like at all. I really did start to appreciate the culture in the middle east though. It seems so different, yet similar at times. It's completely different than I thought it would be though. I didn’t talk to my family for over 1 month! I was homesick but I just kept telling myself to stick it out. It’ll get better Brittney, just make it thru training.
So my first month of training was over.
A verse that God gave me while in September 2004 in Kuwait:
Lord, even when I have trouble all around me, you will keep me alive.
Wow, it’s like this job, trouble all around me, but God is who gets me through it…
I was headed back to Belgium where I would get my next destination.
I was able to spend the weekend in Brussels & catch up with a couple people I had trained with & meet some people that had been in the
Dubai Water Taxi
Took a water taxi to one of the markets. Was a it scary, but an adventure.
company for awhile. We shared horror stories from being on the field in training, good times. It was so refreshing to be around familiar faces. Our office is actually in this middle of nowhere town called Overpelt. People that are in between projects stay there where we had 4 houses total. It’s like the real world again. It’s an opportunity to hang out with people from literally all over the world. Some of the people are really in to the job & some are just in it for traveling (they have no idea what they’re really getting into). We would prepare, research & plan for our upcoming project. So I ended up staying in Belgium only about 1 week. I was told I was going to Lybia, which I was a little uncertain about due to the major political instability, but also excited. However that changed in an instant & I found out I was going back to the Middle East to Qatar to join 2 more girls (both from the States) to do another month of training. They were supposedly the best sales team, so I would “learn a lot.” So, off to Qatar I went.
xmas shopping in Qatar
Anthony became a dear friend, a blast to hang out with! We did some xmas shopping at one of the crazy malls they have in the middle east.
personal journal from Oct 26, 04 that helped me get through starting a new job, being scared & overwhelmed:
1 John 4:18
Where God’s love is, there is no fear, b/c God’s perfect love drives out fear.
So refreshing. He’s always there. Even though I have no idea what I’m doing in this job right now & I’m scared to death….there He is!! Such a forgiving & compassionate God we have. I do not deserve to be his child. And he actually calls me his child….wow. Unbelievable.
2nd Assignment Destination: Qatar, Middle East Map
is a lot like Kuwait but not quite as strict & a little more to do. Drinking is legal so there were more expats. (Pretty sad that whether drinking is permitted or not determines where people live). I found out that the debt collector of our company was going to be staying with us & he was brand new. He was awesome! Such a blessing, because I felt I could actually let down my guard & just be myself & do something other than just think about the job. In Kuwait, I felt like the job was starting to consume me. Something I learned about a sales
Friends in Qatar
We had some great friends while in Qatar. They had lived all over & we just happen to cross paths for a short while in Qatar.
job is that there is always an underlying form of stress. SO the first night there I met one girl who would be training me. When I walked in she looked familiar. She said she was from Texas & went to UT, turns out she was an RA where I lived my freshman year! Small world!
These girls did other things besides work 24/7 so I felt like I actually had a life. We had a group of friends, went out to eat, went to the movies (I discovered that people answer their cell phones in the ME & talk very loud on them!), worked out, went wake-boarding, running by the corniche, took a safari trip out to the dessert (soooo amazing, to see the sunset in the dessert & I thought we were going to die going down the sand-dunes (sand mountains!) in the jeep, crazy driver!). We still did a bit of networking. We were invited to a dinner party one night & one of the dishes was pigeon. When you think of pigeons, what do you think of?? I think of flying rats! Surprisingly it wasn't that bad.
In Qatar was where I had
I had the opportunity to go shooting with the Gold Medalist from 2003 I think, in Dubai
to use ‘proper’ English. My trainers made me stop using my Texas slang…that meant no more “Ya’ll.” For some reason, while in the middle east, when people would ask my name, they could never understand it. Finally they'd get it & say, "Oh, like Britney Spears!" I got that EVERY time! Got slightly old. We found this really cute joint we’d hang out on Saturday mornings. It was opened by a Texan & it had down home southern cookin! Endless cups of coffee, French toast, biscuits & gravy, all the good stuff! All the expats would hang out there, good times. We had some local friends too & a guy from Australia that would have dinner parties. Anthony & I would go on movie marathons & watch movies all weekend long, one of my favorite things to do! The President of our company came to visit us on his middle east tour. Of course I was a nervous wreck. However, since I was still training, he managed to put the focus on the other girls. Got off on that one...
While in Qatar, Ramadan
started. This is a Muslim tradition. Once a year, Muslims will fast from sun
Christy from Texas, Beatrix from Canada & me took a weekend trip to Lebanon, beautiful!
up to sun down for one month. So they can not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or anything during the day. However, at sun down....let the parties begin! They would set up massive tents at night with endless food, entertainment, shows, etc. I've never seen so much food in my life. We were invited to some Iftars (meals after sunset) & it was quite an experience. One time I went to get some food & was piling on loads of what I thought were mushrooms. I later discovered it was brains & tongues!
I learned a lot in the business in Qatar, as my trainers were amazing! They challenged & pushed me & forced me to think for myself & learn from my mistakes, which was very frustrating at times! My aunt & uncle had been stationed in Dubai, UAE for my aunt's job so they came in a couple of times to Qatar to visit. It was such a blessing, I wanted to cry the first time I saw them because it made me realize how much I missed friends & family. The job was starting to take over!
Journal Inserts: Oct 4, 2004:
Let us run the race that is before us & never give up.
It's such a unique city! So much to do & see, one of my favorite countries!
12:1 The Christian’s race is not a jog but rather a demanding & grueling sometimes agonizing race. It takes a massive effort to finish strong. Likely you’ve noticed that many don’t? Surely you’ve observed there are many on the side of the trail? They used to be running. There was a time when they kept the pace. But then weariness set in. They didn’t think the run would be this tough…
Why am I not running Brittney? Sometimes I run, but other times I only trot. With this job it’s hard to run, no one to run with. I just need to be strong & open w/ my faith & make this my mission over here. People are called to do many different things for the Lord. This may be my calling & I have to give it my all. I need to think of it from a different perspective. Maybe I am exactly where God wants me, I’ve just being thinking about it all wrong. I should be reaching out to the people around me, wherever I am in this world. Wow, totally different way of thinking…
Oct 27, 2004 “
From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does.[
” 2 Cor 5:16
A group of us from work, some friends, & a few random people that joined our group.
Wow! God’s perspective sees every person as either:
Entering through the small gate or the wide gate
Heaven called or heaven bound
Kinda puts things in perspective. When we look into the faces of the saved, they are just one grave away from being just like Jesus. But on the other hand, when n we look into the faces of the lost we should pray. For unless they turn, they are one grave away from torment. When I think of all the lost souls here in the Middle East my heart goes out to them. Maybe this is why I am here….to plant seeds, maybe I won’t see the harvest, but God will. Please Lord, bring me in contact with the ones you want me to see & share about you!
Nov 1, 04 The future of America & the world lies in the hands of tomorrow. The world could take a drastic change tomorrow if Kerry is elected. I think Bush will win though, according to the polls right now. We’ll see! That’s all people are talking about over here.
Dubai, UAE, Middle East
I took a trip to Dubai to visit my aunt and uncle &
Love this city!
some friends from my training that were working there. It was a blast! Dubai is very international, you don’t feel like you’re in the Middle East at all. Dubai is the newest hotspot for expats to live. It’s thriving! Dozens of people from my company ended up moving there and my aunt & uncle lived there for 3 years! It’s crazy, they have an indoor ski dome, while it’s an insane 100+ degrees outside desert. Dubai has 300 islands that make the shape of the world
. All kinds of strange & extravagent architecture
. The Burj Al Arab
. Words can’t describe Dubai, you must go & see it for yourself! I was only suppose to stay in Qatar for 1 month but I found out I’d be staying till Christmas break. I was kinda bummed because I wanted to start a new project in a new country, but I made the best of it. We had Thanksgiving dinner with some of our local friends, the most untraditional & depressing thanksgiving dinner ever! There was no turkey & dressing, no holding hands & giving thanks, just a bunch of random food sitting around & watching a movie. We tried to make the best of
Simba & me in Amsterdam
U should check out his website: www.dubizzle.com. Sim now lives in Dubai.
it though. I'll never forget, I called my family on thanksgiving & each one passed the phone around & I got to talk to all of them. It made me realize how much I missed my family! So far, I was learning a lot, everything was still pretty new, but I was enjoying it.
Bahrain, Middle East
We had a regional training session in Bahrain. So everyone in the company that was working in the ME went there & we had some hard-core training. Of course, I was new, and was a nervous wreck. Even though we were in a new country we barely new it because it was mostly all work in our hotel. We had some time off in the evening but that’s it. It was great getting to know the people in the company. It’s crazy because everyone in the company is spread literally ALL over the world & you hear about them on our website, etc but it’s so different once you meet them in person. I was able to share a room with a fellow Texan, who I would later become good friends with! We were
My baby Jude in Amsterdam with me!
Yeah....we travel together...he met me there....in spirit.
both new so we vented to each other about the likes & dislikes of the company! Others from my training were there so it was like seeing old friends!
Throughout all my time with this company we would meet Ambassadors, Ministers, Presidents of major companies, political leaders, etc. So after a while, it wasn’t such a big deal. However, in the beginning, it was a huge deal! One night we had a late dinner (starting around 1am) with 3 ambassadors of Qatar; for US, UK, & France. We were all having dinner & talking politics! I mainly sat & listened (what was I suppose to contribute to the conversation??!!). Thankfully one of the girls who trained me was really in to middle eastern politics & very knowledgable in the subject so she did most of the talking. So I was let off the hook there, but what about later? Would I be able to hold my ground when talking business & politics? I wasn't so sure...maybe I could just fake it?...but I actually ended up learning more than I thought I would. Just by the mere experience, I learned more than I ever did in any job I had
Group in Holland
Fun trip. We rented a car & drove super early Sat morning, spent the night in a hostal & went back the next day.
in the past or school.
Beirut, Lebanon, Middle East
I took a 3 day trip to Beirut, Lebanon
. It was almost an all-expense paid for trip. I met up with 2 girls from my company there. We stayed at an amazing (almost mansion) in the mountains. It was crazy though, because the people we stayed with had bodyguards go with us girls…strange. I fell in love with Lebanon. What a beautiful, diverse country! So much energy! I told myself I wanted to move there one day & open a coffee shop! It is such an interesting country because it's part Muslim & part Christian. Lebanon has gone through so much tough times with war though, very sad because it truly is a remarkable country . One of my favorite countries for sure! And the food!!!….don’t even get me started!
However, I had a bit of a problem at the airport (a foreshadow of many to come), I ended up missing my flight (which caused me to make a scene at the airport, crying hesterically, because I had to get back to Qatar ASAP for work!). Remind you I was still
in training & I was having to prove myself!) They had no more flights going to Qatar that day, & the next day was a work day! They told me to take my chances by flying to the UAE & try to get a flight from there to Qatar. It was insane, a zoo!! I thought it would be impossible for me to get a flight in that airport, people were running all over the place, yelling, everyone else trying to get plane tickets. I somehow managed to scurry myself up to the counter & plead with them to get me on the flight to Qatar. I think my tears helped (they were sincere tears!). Somehow I got back to Qatar in the middle of the night, in time for work the next day, praise God!
So now there were only a few days left in Qatar & then Christimas break for 1 month! I could barely stand it! On the last day, just my luck, I got in a wreck, my fault. It was horrible, but I’ll spare you the details, with a lot of convincing, I was able to get out of paying anything! So much
Group in Paris
Another short weekend trip. I took a train there & rode back with the group (in the back of the rental car...freezing to death!)
So, not back to the USA quite yet. Everyone from the company was flown to Belgium where we had a Christmas party & everyone could meet each other. We had a costume party, awards show, dinner, dancing, etc. It was a blast! Then the next day (early next morning) we all flew to our own homes for 1 month. It was so weird when I arrived in the states to hear people speaking English all around me, all signs in English, etc. It had been over 4 months since I had been home. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see my family!
So, after christmas break I flew back to Belgium to get my next assignment. A lot of us were in Belgium at the time so while we waited on our projects we were able to take lots of road & train trips on the weekends. Best memories of the job was the part when I wasn't working!!
Amsterdam, Holland, Europe
A group of us went to Amsterdam one weekend.
Friends in Paris
Fellow co-workers at the time, Vanessa & Kevin.
We checked in to a cheap hostal, met up with some of our friends that were in Amsterdam too. Watch out for all the bike riders in this city, you’ll get run over for sure! I’ve never seen so many bikes in my life! Shopping was great, tons of stuff to do, just walk around & see all the ‘interesting things’ Amsterdam has to offer! All of the canals, cobble-stone streets, architecture...goregous! Everyone was so trendy there too! The Dutch are known for being well travelled, not to mention blunt😊 I loved Holland!!
Paris, France, Europe
The next weekend to Paris. It was my second time to visit Paris, but a wonderful time nonetheless. I ended up taking a train there & meeting up with friends & riding back in the rear of a rented car freezing to death! We stayed with a friend of a friend, went to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Mullan Rouge, Montmatre et Sacre Coeur
. The time spent during this off time in between projects, I met someone in the company who was to become one of my best friends, Camil (AKA: Camster). Just to give you an
Vanessa & me at Sacre Coeur in Paris
It has a breath-taking view of Paris.
idea of how unique he is….he was born & raised some in Lebanon & some in UAE, lived many years in Paris, is half Greek, speaks 5 languages, was the assistant to a Saudi prince. I’ve never laughed so much in my life. I love this guy! I hope you get the chance to meet him one day! You're life will never be the same.
Then I found out where I was going next & who my partner was going to be. I was going to be working with an Irish girl & we were going to Egypt! Super excited! It was both of our first projects so we were nervous & had TONS to work & prepare for! We were able to take a day trip to London to interview the Egyptian Ambassador to London (although I spent most of the day on the undergroud subway & barely saw anything!)
3rd Assignment Destination: Egypt, Africa Map
What can I say about Egypt
??!! We were based in Cairo…crazy Cairo! When we first arrived our taxi driver started driving on the wrong side of the road. That’s
City of Cairo
Amazing! Endless buildings! Most of them are unfinished. Miles & miles of buildings.
the thing with Egypt, there is no wrong! Anything, & I mean anything goes! People don’t even use their lights at night! Needless to say, we didn’t drive there. We were blessed with one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. He has driven all the teams that have worked in Egypt. His name is Hamdi, he became my best friend in Egypt, endless hours of driving with him in the car with the neverending traffic! So much conjestion! He taught me some Arabic…Inshallah!! He would have us over for dinner at his house & serve us as if we were royalty! So hospitable! I was vent to him about the job & he would try to reassure me & tell me, "it's okay Miss Brittney." Check out this video
I worked with an Irish girl & we had an added team member, Floris, from Holland. Floris was a trip! Always up for anything. Nothing too crazy for him. Was fun to hang out & get to know him. He has many life experiences, both good & bad, which gave him a heart for people & life. Of course we did the usual tourist things such as
Hamdi, our taxi-driver, & my best friend while in Egypt. He will always be dear to me!!! I wouldn't have surived w/o him...literally!
go to the pyramids, the Egyptian museum (1000 of year old mummies, still w/ hair on them!), floated down the Nile. I must say though, the inside of the pyramids was a disappointment, it’s just a bare empty room. But riding the camels was a blast! Every day in Egypt was a new adventure. I’ve never seen so many people, heard so much noise (never a silent moment, always honking, etc). At the end of the day I’d come in & wipe my face & black would come off, lots of pollution! SO much chaos! I think I lost a couple years of my life in Cairo, I’m serious! I aged there ! In the midst of all the chaos, I found a little piece of heaven….an American style coffee shop, with fat-free hazelnut lattes & wireless internet!! The mornings were great, every morning there would be fresh pita bread & fruit stands sold on the street. The food was incredible! Funny, we'd be sitting at an outside cafe, eating dinner, & cats would be walking all around...kinda made us wonder what we were really eating??!! I went to my first church service in months!! I had never been to
Chillin on the pyramids
Went on a couple tours to the pyramids while there. Each time was amazing. I called my mom while i was on my camel standing in front of the pyramid. I said, 'Guess where I am?'
mass before, but Catholic churches (very limited) was all they had, besides thousands of mosques of course! I had no clue what to do at mass, but it just felt so great to be in church, worshiping God with people from all over the world! And…it was in English!
The work aspect was really stressful! It was a difficult project & our sales manager had to come a couple times & made us work like mad! I was the 'closer' in the job, which I didn't like too much. This is hilarious. I had been trying to interview the Minister of Trade but it was impossible. I couldnt' get through the gatekeepers. Our team showed our face at their ministry all the time, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, his assistant called me & said she was having a private interviewing time for a select few of international journalists. I'M NOT A JOURNALIST!!! But that was what we told people & so they thought we were! (Shady, huh!!?) So, there I am, sitting at a round table with other qualified journalists with the Egyptian Minister of Trade & the American trade representative. I was freaking out, thinking what
the heck am I going to ask? I knew some about international trade going on between the US & Egypt with the research I had done for our project, but nothing compared to the rest, they were professionals! Thank goodness they only took a few questions & I didn't even have time to ask any.
It was also fun because a lot of people from the company came to visit & work some. Anthony came again! We lived in an apartment some of the time, which was a good change from a hotel. We got a third member added to the team, a dutch guy, & a trainee, Jan-Simon (also from Holland), so there were always people over at our place hanging out. We started watching Sopranos every night, Floris had all of the seasons on DVD so it became a routine. Even though it's a bit graphic & rough I became hooked!
Egypt was starting to feel like home. I was really starting to love it, for it’s beauty, liveliness, friends made there, the food, the culture, we had a life! Then we found out one of us was going to be pulled from the project. We
Egyptian Guard hard at work
hahaha....makes me laugh everytime! Tight security.
were a nervous wreck! Well, it was me! I was soooo sad to leave! I had been there almost 4 months! It was sad to say goodbye to my co-workers & to Hamdi!! I left right during & before more of the Egypt bombings
happened. So sad. But, guess where I was headed to next??!!….The Bahamas! Not too shabby!
A verse that God gave me that helped through Egypt:
Journal insert: Nov 30, 2005
I pray that you…will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love-how wide & how long & how high & how deep that love is.
Please Lord, help me to be a servant & witness in your name here overseas, where people need it so bad. They are so lost in the Muslim religion. It is quite fascinating how devoted they are, fasting all day, carrying prayer beads, ladies covering their entire bodies, praying before the sunrises & throughout the day….why aren’t more Christians like this to the one true God? I admire the Muslims, it’s just sad that they aren’t worshiping you Lord. But maybe that’s why I’m hear, to help save just ONE soul! Just one….I’m not here for sales, good Lord, so petty. No, I’m here for a much bigger purpose, you’re purpose. Please remind me of that every day!
We just couldn't help ourselves....walk like an Egyptian.
So, I headed back to Belgium to meet my new partner, a Brazilian girl, Bruna, & to prepare for our project. I had no idea that Bruna would turn out to be one of my closest friends ever!
We stayed in Overpelt, Belgium preparing for our project about a week or so. One weekend we took the train to Antwerpt, Belgium to eat & go out. The first train going back to Overpelt didn’t leave till 6am, so we had a lot of time to kill! After everything had closed, we sat at a coffee shop till about 4am then decided to head to the train station. There had been annoying guys all night yelling things at us & it was really starting to get to me. Then, one guy came up to us & said something in a foreign language & actually touched me! I was irrate & furious!!! Something took over me….I took my purse & hit him! (I know that wasn’t smart), anyway, he just yelled something back & kept going. So, Bruna later told me that she thought I was some
Ain't he a beauty!
This is California, my camel.
crazy girl & she was wondering what she got herself into. We laugh about it now, but I can tell you it was NOT funny at the time!
4th Assignment Destination: The Bahamas, Caribbean Map
So we headed off to the Caribbean! Talk about a culture shock having been in the Middle East (well, Egypt is actually in Africa but it feels like you’re in the middle east) for 6 months! The Bahamas
is a wonderful country! Did you know there are over 700 islands in The Bahamas! We were stationed in Nassau but we had the opportunity to go to many of the islands (all expenses paid for!). We stayed at the Hilton right on the beach. Before we got our rental car we rode around in the public transportation, which we loved! I had to learn to drive on the left side of the road. Everyone says, “Good afternoon” & always smiling, so friendly! They play Caribbean music all day long. There’s no hurry & their accent is adorable! They say, “all is well,” & “poifect” (meaning ‘perfect’) & have really good food (plaintains, Johnny cake!). We discovered they had
a TCBY & ate dinner there a couple times a week, we loved it! We went to Crab Fest on Andros Island (where we stuck out like a sore thumb being the only 2 white people among hundreds of Bahamians), Rose Island where we went snorkeling, Freeport (we stayed about 2 weeks there & did some work meetings), Harbor Island (I fell in love w/ this island! It is so cute w/ little shops, not touristy, no cars (golf carts), it made me want to open a coffee shop there!). We made some good friends too!
We went to Miami one weekend where we met up with my brother & dad. It's like a 30 minute flight from Nassau to Miami. It was SOOOO great seeing them! I’m not so sure about Miami though. I love how it is so international but it seems too superficial & pretentious. Not my cup of tea. We stayed in South Beach, it felt great to be in the States again, it had been a long while. Don't think I'd ever want to live in Miami though. When we returned to The Bahamas were
were held in immigration room because we had accidentally over-extended our stay there without renewing our visas. Oops! It was so scary, they held us there for over 4 hours!
I also went to New York for the first time & met up with my best friend in the whole world, Stacy. We stayed with Emily & Caley. I LOVE NY (I promised myself I was going to move there some day!). We did all of the tourist things & I loved it all! I love the walking around. You can spend a lot of money in NY, but there's so many fun things to do without spending money! Stacy & I saw a broadway play, Rent
, & it was absolutely amazing!
While in the Bahamas we had a trainee, Dean, from DC. He was a blast & it felt good to have a fellow American on board! We made friends with some of the locals, went to Atlantis
on Paradise Island, did the whole beach thing, etc. The beach was our backyard. We started taking advantage of the fact that we were living in the Caribbean. I would
On the Nile
We took a boat ride down the Nile a couple times. So relaxing!
wake up & run along the beach in the mornings, lovely! People would be there for honeymoons, graduation trips, etc (Senior Frogs was right next to the hotel…a bunch of drunk spring-breakers…so annoying…& we would get treated like we were tourists by the locals…that got old). On the weekends, we'd walk out the back door & we'd be at the beach! Some parts of the Bahamas were great, but it was the people that made it an unforgettable project. I remember strangers would hug us as if we'd known them forever!
Dominican Republic, Caribbean
We had an amazing project in the Bahamas! We were team of the month in September! I had become the 'interviewer' in the job. I liked it better, but it was a bit more difficult. I was interviewing intelligent business & political leaders. I somehow seemed to manage. When I didn't understand what they werer talking about, I'd just nod my head & say, "exactly." Seemed to work. Some of these people didn't even need someone to ask them questions, they could talk none stop, only long enough to take a breath & proceed to ramble on.
The women had to be covered when entering a mosque.
(I'm talking about the people we interviewed in general, not in the Bahamas).
We got our next destination, Barbados. We weren’t too excited about it though. On our way to Barbados we decided to treat ourselves for doing such a great project. We stopped & had a 3 day vacation in the Dominican Republic. What a terrific country! So much vibe, color, so alive! The food is amazing too! We stayed in Santo Domingo (very colonial). Thankfully, Bruna speaks Spanish (along w/ her 4 OTHER languages!), so we didn’t have to rely on my poor Spanish. We told ourselves how much we'd love to do a project there! Little did we know, that was exactly what was going to happen in the future.
5th Assignment Destination: Barbados, Caribbean Map
Guess what we called Barbados
….Land of Barbarians! It's the eastern most island in the Caribbean, former British colony. What a beautiful island, with mean people! They just aren’t friendly. We did have a couple friends that were great, our travel agent, Trisha was a sweetheart! We were only there 2 months, thank goodness. We had a wonderful apartment/hotel right on
the ocean (& I mean right on it, we could hear the waves from our room!). In Barbados they drive on the left side of the road & the steering wheel is on the right side of the car, had to get used to that. We didn’t do a whole lot in Barbados. We watched an insane amount of movies (a movie rental store was right across from our hotel). I did manage to get certified in scuba diving, which was awesome! Getting certified was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, but totally worth it! Can’t really say too much about Barbados. The best thing about Barbados was the food. This was where we discovered Rotis
(West Indies food). Amazing!. We had another successful project, which was great, but the whole while, I could tell this job just wasn't for me. I didn't like the sales pitching, the lifestyle, etc. I just kept telling myslef, just one more country, just a little bit longer. I felt that I was missing out on things back home while I was island hoping around. But part of me was loving the new sites, the adventure!
Traffic in Cairo
Absolutely insane!! Walking across the street was almost impossible...an art really....which I mastered by the time I left Egypt!
We did manage to go to Grenada for my 24th birthday. It was hit really hard by Hurricane Ivan
& was still recovering. Grenada is very green with waterfalls, mountains, colorful vegetation, friendly people with simple lives. The people had so little, yet they were so happy. It was a relaxing trip. We stayed on top of this mountain & would walk in to town down this long curvy dirt road.
Cuba, Caribbean...yikes 😞
We decided we needed a vacation after Barbados since we had been working nonstop since the Bahamas! I wanted to go to Cuba
but Bruna had a bad feeling so she wanted to go to Jamaica. I was stubborn & decided I would go anyway (even though I’m American & we’re not allowed, not to mention a young female & alone). Our travel agent was our friend & she said it would be fine. She helped me book my flight & hotel. The only thing is that you aren’t allowed to buy a departing flight out of Cuba until you arrive in Cuba & you have to buy that in person,
Hamdi & his fam
Hamdi & his family would have us over for a fiest! What a blessing!
don’t ask me why), but they said there were PLENTY of seats available so it wouldn’t be a problem. So, I needed to buy my ticket from Cuba to The Bahamas (b/c we had a flight leaving from the Bahamas to Belgium for work). No problem right?…WRONG!!!!
Okay, here we go. I arrive in Cuba, all is good, I made it thru customs. I got a taxi at the airport. He took me to the side of the airport (it’s midnight) & he had to hotwire his car! We went down a dark street, picked up 2 guys on the way! I’m like, okay, if I can just make it to my hotel, it’ll be okay. I get to my hotel, old & charming, & check in for 1 night. The next morning I go down for breakfast & go to pay for the next night at the hotel. However I can’t find my money. I go upstairs & tear apart my room…NO MONEY! I had 500 euros, GONE! I’m not freaking out yet. At this point I don’t realize how bad the conditions are. So, I go on a wild goose chase trying to find a place
A lot smaller than I thought!
where I can get money. NO PLACE IN CUBA WILL TAKE A U.S. CREDIT CARD! Keep in mind I still need to buy my plane ticket out of the country! It gets worse. There’s no US embassy! I’m not even suppose to be there! I find a US Service Center. By now I’m bawling! This guy, bless his heart, was so kind to me. He told me I’d have to wait until Monday to get money wired to me. This can’t happen, I need to fly out the following morning to be in Europe for work! I’d get fired! And no one besides Bruna knows I’m in Cuba! How can I get money??!!
They let me use their phone to call Bruna in Jamaica. She’s on tours so I leave her messages of pure panic! I’m histerical by now, thinking I’m going to be stuck in Cuba on the streets b/c I haven’t even paid for my room that night, NO MONEY! Bruna calls 3 different continents trying to find a way to get money wired to me. Get this, she happens to have a friend in Brazil who has a friend who just moved to Cuba. To
Bruna & I stayed at the Hilton while in the Bahamas. The beach was our backyard.
make a long story short, that friend came to the hotel & gave me money that they had wired to her.
(Side note: Get this, I had $3 on me. I was walking at night around the city square, not wanting to stay locked up in my hotel room all night. I passed by a building that was going to have a spanish play. Now, should I use the money for food or for the play? I thought about it.....the play! I went with out dinner & instead watched an amazing spanish play in Cuba. )
Back to the story, the girl ended up giving me just enough money to get a taxi to the airport, pay the hotel & pay for my plane ticket to the Bahamas! I”VE NEVER BEEN SO GRATEFUL & FELT SO HELPLESS IN MY LIFE! While standing in line to buy my ticket I look over & see there is a $25 departing fee! NO!! I can’t catch a break! There was a guy standing next to me (an American) who I had been telling my story to & he graciously gave me the money (I paid him back during our
Exuma Island, The Bahamas
We took many weekend exursions to the outer islands of The Bahamas. Much more beautiful than Nassau.
layover in the Bahamas). So, I MADE IT! I’ve never been so scared in all my life! Praise God! He protected me!
Journal Insert: Oct 15, 2006
Ephesians 1:18. I pray my heart & eyes will be focused on what only HE wants me to see, not what I or what others want me to see. Wow, amazing how God speaks to you. His words are so incredibly precious. Thank you Lord!
May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you.
God opened my eyes after my experience in Cuba! Why did all those people help me? I completely depended on God to get me through & to guide & protect me & he did of course! I never once doubted that he wouldn’t. I also felt a sense of complete helplessness! I had NO money...nothing...I was alone....I was stuck! I was no different than the homeless people on the streests. Why should the people have helped me rather than help them? A lady had come up to me at one point & asked me for money. I could honestly say I didn't have any, although I'm sure she didn't believe me. I will never forget the compassion the people of Cuba had
I must say, a bit overrated, but still a must see, it has everything! This was our great friend, Candiafrom the Bahamas!
on me. They will forever be in my heart & memory.
Prague, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe
So, we headed back to good ol’ Belgium, my second home. I decided to go to the airport & pick a last minute flight somewhere (destination unknown). I was becoming a bit more spontaneous. So, I was dropped off by our company driver & bought a ticket to Prague & was on my way. Prague is a beautiful, historical city! I spent a couple days there, walking around, shopping, went to the Symphony, went to St. Charles Bridge, had a creepy guy follow me around (I had to loose him in a crowd....kinda scary). It was very relaxing other than that, which was what I needed after Cuba!
London, UK, Europe
After Prague I met Camil in Amsterdam. We hung out there 2 days & then we went to visit friends in London, who formly worked for the company. (The turnover rate in the company is the highest I’ve ever seen. People quit left & right. From my
Family in Miami
I met my bro & dad in Miami for a weekend. It was wonderful, I missed them so much!!
training group, I was the only one left. You will meet someone & then a couple weeks later find out they quit. This is due to the stressfulness, the instability, the constant moving around, living out of a suitcase, too demanding, hard-core sales, can be very deceiving. People would come in & out of your life in a flash. Sometimes you'd meet someone you really liked & then you'd never see them again). So, I ended up missing my plane to London (go figure) & had to pay a crazy amount for a super short plane ride. Oh well. After the Cuba experience, those things didn't get to me that much. I had been briefly once before but didn’t get to apprciate it for what it is! I LOVE LONDON! I hope to live or go to school there one day! We had a bit of a reunion there! We stayed with our friend Luigi, an Italian character, Alaister from England came, Vanessa from Canada, & some others. It was great seeing friends! We did TONS of walking, seeing all the sights. We took a train back to Amsterdam (I missed my train back to Belgium so I stayed the
New York Friends
I visited some friends in NYC while stationed in the Bahamas. Good times!
night) & headed back to Belgium to get my next destination.
Road Trip: Dussuldorf & Berlin, Germany, Europe
Poland, Eastern Europe
The company kept stalling as to where our next project would be so we stayed longer than we thought. Cool by me, that meant more weekend trips! One Friday night we all decided to take a road trip….to Berlin! Picture this: roadtrip, 8 people, crossing Europe over a long weekend, all from different countries & backgrounds, great food, good convo, good music, good times! Really, one of the best weekends ever! Random spontaneous trips are always the best!
We took two cars, first stop was Dusseldorf, Germany, then on our way through the night to Berlin. Got there super early Saturday morning, had starbucks (yeah!), went to the Berlin wall, walked around, slept a few hours at hostel, went to Mexican food rest, went dancing till the wee hours of the night, so much fun! Slept in, went to a market, played stupid games at the park (best part!! i think we were a bit delirious due to lack of sleep), went to a Concentration
Dominican Republic Art
This is a great illustration of what a colorful country the DR is!
camp at night after hours when it was closed down, totally freaky!, amazing Chinese restaurant, almost hit a German police man on our way to the Chinese restaurant!!!, next stop…Poland! Yeah, we figured since we had gone this far, why not keep going. So, we drove to Poland, had dinner in a plaza, turned around & came back to Belgium. It was the best bonding time I had ever had! You can imagine the stupid, deep, funny, sad, corny conversations we had on the road! That trip is one of the best memories I’ve had! There will always be a special bond with the people from that trip!
Paris, France, Europe
The following weekend my dear friend Dell, Camil & I went to Paris. Camil lived in Paris for a long time & we stayed with his uncle who lived there. This was my third time to Paris, but this time we didn’t do all of the typical touristy things. Dell had never been to Paris so it was fun showing her around. What a sweet soul! So we did manage to go to Notre Dame, see the Eiffel Tower at
night, eat at some amazing restaurants, walk all around the city. We had locals with us to show us the really good stuff! Plus, you can sit in an empty room with Camil & it will be one of the best times of your life! So, another amazing weekend! Get this, I travelled to 9 countries in a span of 2 weeks! Crazy!
Belgium, Europe Map
6th & Final Assignment Destination: The Dominican Republic, Caribbean
When we returned to Belgium we finally got our next destination…The Dominican Republic
! Bruna & I were estatic! We were hoping for the DR! We felt we were finally getting respect in the company. We would be working in the office & new people in training would come through on a tour of the office & they would show them where the sales reps (us) work during projects. You could tell they were nervous & wanted to ask us questions, etc. It was only a short time ago when I had been scared to death & wondering all these things about the job. I wanted to tell them, get away while you can, don't do it! But
Hard at work. In our business suits next to the ocean.
of course I didn't, I tried to tell them it would be hard & some parts of the job they would love & some parts they would hate. I no longer put up a guard that I had been doing for so long. I learned that you couldn't trust anyone in the company. The only person I trusted was Bruna. Even though we were all spread thousands of miles apart, rumors & gossip would spread like crazy. So you always had to watch your back. However, by now, I had stopped letting those things get to me. I tried to be real. It's funny, when I was first hired for the job, I thought I had signed my life away for 2 years. By now, I was by far the only one still doing the job from my training group. All the others had quit by now. People from the job were spread all over the place. Some were living in the middle east, europe, canada, south america. It was kind of relieving when people were quitting, because it made me realize I could get out whenever I wanted. It was so much harder to quit than I thought it
Corington University in Barbados
A beautiful quaint university. It was a glorious drive, hidden in the mountains.
would. One more country we kept saying.
I went home to Texas for my friend Hayley’s wedding before arriving in the DR. It had been 11 months since I had last been home! Crazy! I had almost forgotten what home was!
In the DR, we ended up staying in the brand new Hilton overlooking the ocean in the DR! It was the nicest hotel I had stayed in thus far! There was a lot of networking done in the DR too. Check out an article written on us in The Dominican Today
. Besides the work aspect, we actually had a life in the DR. We had a group of friends. We’d go out dancing (they taught me how to dance latin style!, even though I can’t do it like them!). We had a trainee, Silvia from Spain, with us. It was SO helpful having her because of course she was fluent in Spanish! I didn’t learn a lot of Spanish because I mostly let them do all the talking! But I started taking private lessons, now I am determined! We took lots of trips around the DR & really got to see the country, even though it's an
Anandale Falls, Grenada
Not many tourists, lots of Grenada is untouched!
island, it’s huge! And very diverse! It’s got mountains, beaches, vegetation, rivers, waterfallas, etc. We took a trip to Puerta Plata & went scuba diving & parasailing, Punta Cana, white water rafting, soooo fun, I thought we were going to die! We managed to discover the best sushi restaurant in the entire world, no kidding! Sushi lovers, you must go! It's called Wasabi. It was pathetic really, we would go 4-5 times a week! My mouth waters just thinking about it! For breakfast every morning we would go to this lady that had a little fruit stand on the side of the road. She would cut up fresh papaya, melon, pineapple, banana, mango & drizzle sweet honey on top. It was a huge amount & it only cost $0.25! So cheap! I learned to become a very aggressive driver in the DR! They drive absolutely crazy there! We went to a spanish catholic wedding where there were 700+ guests! It was the most extravagent wedding I've ever been to by far! Oh yeah, I saw baseball player, David Ortiz, at a restaurant, sitting right across from us. I almost went over to get his autograph, but decided against it.
It was such a relaxing weekend, there's not a whole lot to do in Grenada but admire the beauty!
In the middle of our project was Christmas break. We went home for almost 1 month & then returned to the DR to finish the project. By the end, I knew it was time to quit the job. It wasn’t in my heart. I loved the traveling but not the job. It was wearing me down. I wasn't proud of the person it was making me become. The inevitable question, "where do you live?" was starting to get to me. Where did I live? I had no home. I had a box of things in Belgium, some things scattered around in Texas & Oklahoma, but I had no real home. I'd give people an honest answer, that my home was the Hilton (or wherever we happened to be staying at the time). They'd look at me with a confused look & say, "yeah, but you must have a home somewhere." Nope. I was a nomad. That question didn't bother me in the beginning, but by now, I was beginning to realize I didn't want to keep on living this lifestyle. It was as if I was living in some type of fantasy world, that things weren't real. But the
job did give me a feeling that was sense of endless opportunity in life. That, God willing, you can make anything happen. Life doesn't have to be about trudging to work everyday to a job that you hate in a city you don't want to be in. Life can be an adventure just waiting for you to jump in! Almost anything seemed possible! You should have heard Bruna, Camil, & my crazy ideas for life after our current job. We were going to start all of these businesses. All of the people I met inspired me so much! Take Bruna for example, she is half Brazilian, half Portugese, also lived in Belgium, Angola, travelled all over the world, speaks 5 languages. I knew it was time to persue something that I was passionate about & that would glorify God. But I knew I didn't want to live a normal boring life. God gave me a sense of adventure!
The day I had to leave Bruna was one of the hardest days of my life. We had been around each other 24/7 for over 10 months. She knew EVERYTHING about me & we had gone through so much together!
Calle en Havana, Cuba
Taken from my hotel in the plaza square in Havana.
I don’t know what I would’ve done with out her! We had shared a room for many months in the beginning, ate every meal together, worked out together, worked toether, cried & laughed together, soooooo many memories with my B! And then all of a sudden, we were going our separate ways, separate countries, separate continents, thousands of miles apart! She will be one of my best friends for life! Even if I didn’t like the job, it was all worth it because I met Bruna & Camil. I know I'll see them again, until then, I have the many wonderful memories to cherish.
Journal Insert: Feb 2006 :
Heb 11:6 This means to be hungry in your quest, relentless, don’t be satisfied w/ angels, or the stars in the sky. We should risk whatever it takes to see Christ. Do I do that? Do I earnestly seek God? Am I relentless in my search? Do I risk everything to see Him? Not all the time. All I have is this life, not another chance. It’s now or never. If I do not stand firm in my faith, I do not stand at all.
Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those that truly want to find him.
Do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has a great reward.
I could tell the job was really starting to wear me down. I knew I needed a change & was ready to live my life serving God. He gave me a heart for international missions so I began researching different missions organizations & it was a complete God thing that my path crossed with Praying Pelican Missions.
So, I headed back to Belgium for a few days to wrap up the project from the office. Bruna stayed a couple of extra weeks in the DR. Then of course, I took another vacation!
Lebanon, Middle East
I went to visit Camil in Lebanon. He’s from there so I stayed with him & his family for 2 weeks. This was only a short time before the bombings & war started in Lebanon
06. We went out to the country side, dancing, museums, lots of meeting for coffee, Lebanese food (my fav!), movies, always busy! One thing about Camil, he's always on the move! Never a dull moment. And Beirut is the city that never sleeps!
St. Charles bridge was flooded with tourists! I can see why, it's gorgeous!
I got to meet all of his friends & family. Lebanon has so much energy, I love it! It almost started to feel like home! One of my favorite countries!
Dubai, UAE, Middle East
Then I went to visit all my friends in Dubai for a few days. I stayed with my friend Christy, from Texas. There’s tons of people from my job that moved to Dubai. It was a blast seeing everyone! Plus, my uncle & cousins were visiting my other aunt & uncle that live there so we got to meet up!
Oman, Middle East
I took a short road trip with a friend to Oman, didn’t get to see much though. After Dubai I briefly stopped by Beriut then I headed back to Belgium for my exit interview. I was sad to leave the middle east. For a region that was so foreign to me before the job had become a place very dear & familiar to me. There is a certain fondness & appreciation I now have for the ME. I recommend everyone to visit someday. Tear down the sterotypes & negative images they
Hanging out at Luigi's apartment.
have of it. It's truly remarkable.
Being in back in Belgium was bittersweet. I was ready to move on, but it had been my life for 1.5 years. It seemed like forever that I had been gone, yet only a brief moment. So many memories, countries, friends, cultures, experiences, emotions, etc. I had been living out of a suitcase & been on the go for so long, hoping from hotel to hotel, country to country, continent to continent. I was used to always moving around, instability. The idea of settling down scared me to death! I couldn't imagine not getting on a plane or train every month. With that job, you would meet people, get to know them, then possibly never see them again. You’d go to a country, start to get settled in, it would start to feel like home, then move on to the next country & start the whole process over. Even though I knew I was ready to start something new, I was scared to move back to the states in way. Had I changed since I moved? While I was gone, people had been living their lives all along, had moved on. What
would it be like when I returned? Would we pick up right were we left off? How will people be able to relate to my stories? Will I be able to relate to their stories? Put me in front of a government minister or CEO of a major company & I'd be fine, but what about my friends, what will we have to talk about? Will we still have stuff in common? Will life be boring? Will I miss being abroad? Will I love being back home & wonder why I ever left in the first place? Will it all become clear that everything happens for a reason & I am exactly where I'm suppose to be? Only time would tell. I knew if I gave everything to God, he'd take care of everything.
Last time to Belgium, Europe Map
I flew back to Belgium to do an exit interview. I stayed my last night in the house I started in, it was kind of surreal. All of the memories came flooding back to me. I was remembering back to when the 11 of us were scared
Dell & Me in Paris
Cam, Dell & I took a boat ride seeing all the sights.
to death & not knowing what we were getting in to. Our lives were about to take a drastic change. Now, I was back in that house, alone this time, about to head back to the states. It was bittersweet. I was ready to move on to the next thing God had planned for me. But I knew I was leaving behind so many wonderful friends, countries, memories….I had experienced so much & grew in incredible ways. But God had called me to do my mission elsewhere. I do not regret the job I did at all. I really enjoyed it, especially when I go the hang of it. I still wonder about some of the people I met, who I'll probably never see again. They go on every day with their lives. For a brief moment, God made our paths cross for a reason. It's funny, while on the job I would be thinking of how much I wanted to be home, settled down, be around familiar friends & family....and now....I miss the spontaneous adventure of travelling from country to country, living out of a suitcase, being in a different country/continent all the time, meeting new people daily, etc.
Arriving in Berlin
Drove thru the night to arrive in Berlin, cold & tired...& ready to explore!
But that's just it, everyday should be like that, just in a different way. God brings new people, things & places into our lives daily. Sometimes we don't realize it till after it has happened. Till we can take a step back & look & see what God has perfectly illustrated before us. Now that I look back, God was with me the entire time, leading me, carrying me through everyday. There were times when I felt lonely & homesick....but he was always there, right there with me through it all. Now I can finally hear the symphony playing that God has been orchastrating the whole time.
Journal insert: March 15, 2006
If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me.
Back to the USA
So I flew back to the states. Thank you for all of your prayers while I was away. I am certain that your prayers got me through dangerous times & through emotional & spiritual hard times. I kept telling myself that I would continue to strenthen my walk with Christ while being away, that it didn't matter where you are in this world, you can always somehow worship God &
You can see the East & West side of Berlin, how much different they are. Walked around the Berlin wall area, saw some really sad horrific pictures from the war.
bring the gospel to the lost. That is true to some extent, but it made me realize how hard it is to walk with Christ alone, without fellow believers to encourage you & hold you accountable. I realized how much I needed fellowship & how much I was missing. I knew I was neglecting my spiritual needs & that I was headed down a dangerous path if I continued with the job. Your prayers got me through & for that, I will always be grateful!
You can check out some of the programs & projects I did that were aired on TV & published in newspapers. CBS2 New York
, CBS4 Miami
& New York Daily News
Here's my cover letter to Praying Pelican Missions
it will give you an idea of the job I did that & the new journey I was about to embark on. For the past year and a half I have been doing international media sales in Europe, Africa, Middle East and currently in the Caribbean. I have worked in both developed and developing countries. I am presently producing a country economic promotional TV program on the Dominican Republic for CBS4 Miami. My job entails selling commercial space to government and
Playing in the park in Berlin
I think we started making a scene in the park, acting like crazy people.
private sectors, writing the program script, marketing of project, setting up network, attending conferences and media related events, putting together daily presentations, interviewing clients such as presidents of countries, ambassadors and top CEOs of the country.
It has been a very challenging job and I have gained knowledge in every aspect. I have been out of my comfort-zone on a daily basis, learned international norms, felt the pressure of a sales-based position, but through it all God has been my rock. Without him, it would not have been possible for me to make it through this job. However, being a Christian, I also know this job is not for me. My job includes a fare amount of responsibility and independence and some of my colleagues take this for granted. I have seen many of my colleagues get swept away by the professional and flashy side of the job and I cannot sacrifice my morals and beliefs to be a good salesperson. I have been working among the privileged and elite in the countries, and I have seen the dishonest business world, even among country leaders. I am ready to work with the other side of the coin, with other
Out site seeing.
honest devoted Christians.
I spent six months in the middle-east where mosques are on every corner. Much of my mission was being a witness to my team and to everyday people I would come in contact with. Going to a home church has not been an option in all of the countries I have been working in, so much of my walk the past 1.5 years has been a very close intimate relationship with God and myself. I feel in a way, this has brought me much closer to him, but it also makes me realize how essential fellowship is and having a church I can call home. As missionary, Henry Martyn, says,
The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to him, the more intensely missionary we become.
I do not regret my experience at all, it has opened my eyes to parts of the world I would have never seen, the suffering, the poor, and most of all the lost.
In America, we live in a tiny bubble and forget there is a whole world out there, needing our help. Matthew 28:19 says,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .'
I am ready to give my life to reaching the lost, working every day for the Lord, not just after work, but constantly. Clifford Clark says, “All
DR with Miss Universe
Our friend's cousin was Miss Universe! No kidding. When we were with her it was a huge scene, she's a celebrity! We had a whole entourage when she was with us.
Believers are not called to be foreign missionaries, but they should struggle with the possibility.” I have always had a passion for travel and international work, now I realize why. I have the sales experience and have been on short-term mission trips to Mexico. Most of all I have the spirit of a dedicated believer, ready to serve where my skills are needed. God has given me this passion for a reason, he has called me to give my life to serving him, in the workplace, in my life, and reaching other nations.
Here am I; send me.
For the next couple months I moved around a lot in the states. I stayed with Stacy in Austin for about a month, went to Minnesota for a job interview, New York, Oklahoma, Houston.
With lots of prayer & guidance from God, I was led to join Praying Pelican Missions
. We are a Christian non-profit organization that does short term mission trips to Belize, Central America. We have 6 full-time employees & 26 during the summer. It is an amazing organization & I feel so blessed to be a part of it! During my old job, it was difficult not having
President Fernandez of DR
We met the President of the DR! Not too shabby!
fellowship, not having a home church, (or even the option to go to church!). God had been my rock through it all though. Having that job opened my eyes to parts of the world some people never see. Hurting people, lost people! God gave me a passion for reaching out to other parts of the world & tell them about Christ! Belize is astonishing & it is an amazing opportunitity to serve there! I have met some of the most selfless people in our organization along with the Belizean people!
I've been trying to adjust to life in the states again, trying to find my place. At times it's diffciult, other times it's like I was never gone. Sometimes I still long to be abroad. It's funny, I'll hear a song and it will remind me of a certain country. Or I'll smell something that will remind me of a restaurant that Bruna and I would eat at. And the memories will come flooding back. But I have to be content & grateful with the present moment & make the most of it.
I thank God everyday for his grace. Every moment, every breath is a gift
View of Caribbean
View from our hotel room in Santo Domingo.
The travel stories don't stop here! Stay tuned for my Fall & Winter travels...US cities & Central America countries!
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