Adventures Out West: Highlight 1

I’m finally back! I know some of you might have thought that I had forever given up my blogging, because of my not-so-ritual ritual of posting about once every four months or so then expecting everyone to go nuts over my”AAAHHH I’m back!!” post.

I’m so good at words. And yes, those are the best ones I could come up with. And YES, I was an English Major. That’s besides the point.

Since I’ve been gone (cue Kelly Clarkson), I finished a 6 month long-term Substitute teaching assignment that kicked my butt, and now, I can breathe for the first time. I’m not going to go into it that much right here right now, so I’ll save that story for another time.

After finishing said butt-kicking job, I decided to go on a two-week solo trip out west (to breathe for the first time) to Salt Lake City, Bend (Oregon), Yellowstone, and the Tetons (both in Wyoming). That’s right, I said solo. I didn’t say sobbing, but solo. Although I’m quite sure I had quite a few breakdowns during the trip.

I know what you’re thinking: “why would you want to go on a trip like this by yourself? Wouldn’t that be lonely?”

Well, sometimes yes, but also no; yes, because it is nice to share moments in beautiful places like these with someone else, and then no, because you get to learn, like I did, how fun it is to do things on your own. Essentially, I was never really on my own, because I stayed in Airbnb locations where you are usually bound to meet people that you can talk to, unless you’re staying in just a house by yourself. I stayed in a pretty cool one-person hut on a property complete with a greenhouse, some gardens, a chicken coop, a tepee, and even a common house, so I still got to meet new people.

I also wasn’t by myself because I was constantly in communion with Jesus, whether I was super stressed out, or just simply saying “wow God, wow,” at his amazing creation, like, oh this:

IMG_9664

I want to go on a spree and tell you guys everything that happened all at once, but I don’t want to lose you in the process, so I’ve decided to separate this into several different posts. Plus, I love keeping people on the edge of their seats, but not in a dreadful, thriller movie type of way. I’m hoping one day to perhaps write another memoir-type thing about this, but for now, here’s what I have to offer:

Four highlights.

People have asked me so far what my favorite part of the trip was, and, well, as my fellow travel-loving friends know, that question is nearly impossible to answer. So, I’ve decided to say that there were four highlights. I have since revised that list, several times, but there are, for the most part, four highlights. I will, like I said, post these in a series over a few weeks or so.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you in chronological order:

FOUR HIGHLIGHTS!!!!

…and, here we go:

Highlight 1: Bend, Oregon, Week 1, June 12-17

Technically, my journey began on June 10-11 at Salt Lake where I actually dipped my toes (just the toes, nothing more) into said Salt Lake, and saw where the antelope play and the buffalo roamed, but that wasn’t even the best part. Like I said before, this will also have to be another story for another time.

While I was in Bend, Oregon, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a horse ranch. If you ever have the chance to go out there, do it. Not only is Bend a beautiful area with the three sisters Faith, Hope and Charity, and Mount Bachelor all snow capped and doin there good old mountain thang in the background, but also the ranch is such an amazing place. What a great story of how God can use even a forgotten cinder pit and turn it into a working horse ranch that pairs broken youth (both mentally and physically) with horses who are also sometimes both mentally and physically broken. While I was visiting, I didn’t feel like just a visitor- I felt like a valued team member, and even got a t-shirt at the end of it all to prove it.

And by the way, meeting one of the founders-according to our volunteer coordinator at the farm I volunteer at here in Lancaster-is like meeting Pocahontas. She’ll look you deep into your eyes, and it’ll feel like she’s looking into your soul. Try talking to her for just five minutes without spilling out your entire life story and/or crying. Not like I did either of those or anything.

Before leaving, I had the chance to go up to the cross positioned at the top of what used to be the cinder pit, which also just so happens to have one of the best views of both the ranch, and the Sisters. If God can make something that we pass by indifferently on a daily basis (like an old quarry, for instance) different and beautiful, think of what else He can do. After surviving the most difficult job I have ever had for six months, and finally getting away (both physically and mentally), I could take a step back, and look at where I was. God had brought me through everything, and now, I feel different, and more prepared for anything.

So if you can this weekend, take a moment to get away and reflect. I’m sure you’ve gone through tough times as well, but think about where you are now. Those things that happened in the past was God equipping you with tools for the future. I also hate that cheesy saying that goes something like, “if God brings you to it, He can bring you through it”, but it’s true. With Him, you and I can face anything.

So without further ado, I conclude today’s post, and therefore the first highlight of the trip. Hope you’re feeling excited for the next one. I know I am because oooh man, it’s gonna be a good one, I can tell!

 

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Jesus Has Overcome!

It’s been quite a few months since my last post, but hey, I’ve been busy. We’ll get more into that at some later point, but right now, I want to take the time to rejoice on a day that’s meant to be more about joy, and less about self-deprecation, so let me just start by saying:

 

HE’S ALIVE!!!!**

**and that’s supposed to be meant like a joyous thing, it’s not for a mournful/horrific occasion, if you were, say Victor Frankenstein talking about the deadly monster you just created that was out to destroy all of humanity. But this is Easter for goodness sake (and for our sake), and Jesus is no zombie.

 

Anyways, on a much lighter note, I hope you guys had a chance to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at your church this morning, even if you don’t go to church on a regular basis. I had the privilege of being a part of our church choir, and these lyrics from one of my favorite songs have really stuck with me:

At the cross the work was finished

You were buried in the ground

But the grave could not contain you,

For you wear the Victor’s Crown!

Hallelujah!

You have overcome, you have overcome!

Hallelujah! Jesus you have overcome the world!

(see lyric video here)

 

Jesus has overcome the world. We have a reason to live because he died for us, and no reason to fear because he has conquered all. Lately, there’s been so much unrest in the world, but if you don’t know Jesus, you’re living in fear, and that’s the worst place you could be in.

So if you don’t know Him, introduce yourself to Him today, and invite him into your life as your Lord and Savior- that way when Easter rolls around next year and you find yourself at church, you can fully say this with confidence:

HE IS RISEN!!

HE IS RISEN INDEED!! HALLELUJAH!

Woohooo!!! I made it!

 

This is gonna be a quick post, but I finished NaNoWriMo again this year! I was originally not going to do it because I was working, taking a class and applying for a few jobs, but I made it with no serious side effects that I know of… besides a NOVEL!!

Ok, ok. Let’s be serious. But then again, this story isn’t serious at all. I still have some more details that I need to add (about 7 1/2 days from my trip, actually), but what I have is good enough for me to start watching Netflix again, and to resume social activities half, if not full-fledged (is half-fledged a thing, btw?).

So anyway, without further ado, here’s my certificate with the obviously non-serious title:

NaNo-2015-Winner-Certificate-Full (2)

Ok, that is all. Please resume your former activities of Internet scanning and stalking. But actually, try to keep the stalking to a minimum- it’s nearly impossible to pretend to be a corn stalk without too many people noticing.

Thank you Thanksgiving!!!

Before I begin with the craziness that always ensues in this thing called my crazy stream-of-consciousness writing, I decided that I wanted to start with something a little more serious and substantial before you guys floated downstream.

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! (even though I’m a few hours late- or actually, a whole day late- oops). I hope you guys got to stuff yourself with stuffing, lather your mashed potatoes with gravy, beef up your turkey helpings, and fill up on other fillers like applesauce, cranberry sauce and the like. Personally, my favorite is always the stuffing, but then again, who wouldn’t like that stuff?

Anyways, I wanted to kick off this post by saying a few things that I’m thankful for right now:

  1. Jesus. I’m always thankful for Jesus. Without Him, none of us would really have anything worth being thankful for.
  2. Family, friends and food. I decided to lump these together because without these, where would I be? I wouldn’t have a family, I wouldn’t have friends, and I wouldn’t have food- without which, a) I couldn’t survive, and b) I couldn’t write about cheesy love poems or random poems about donuts. So I’m definitely thankful for all of the above.
  3. Thanksgiving. Without Thanksgiving day, when would we be thankful for things? Well, I guess there’s the every day thankfulness, which is great and all, but Thanksgiving comes with so many perks: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Eukanuba/Purina Tournament of Champions which comes right after, and then the pre-gaming slumber/last minute preparations before the ceremonious, hour long face-stuffing. But let’s not forget the late night run to Target afterwards to get some Black Friday steals before hiding out for the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend.
  4. dirigible plum earrings- they add a hint of whimsy to any get-up. (they’re from Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter, if you’re into that kind of thing- which you should be, because the books are the bees knees, and so is she)
  5. oh and books. Books books books.

And yeah. That’s just about it. What about you guys? What are you thankful for? Deep fried chicken that’s finger-lickin’ good? Mershed Perderders? Mixing bowls? Mixed colors? Mick’s? Dick’s Sporting Goods? Sports? Baked Goods? Mixed maked baked colorful mershed perderders?

So before I go off the deep end, I should also fill you guys in on a few details:

I’m doing NaNoWriMo again! This post is actually an effort of procrastination from that massive lump of words, but I’m doing it! I’m actually a few days behind because I passed out the past few nights before getting a word in edgewise on my computer, but it’s ok. It kept me from writing about random things, which I’m about to do right now. Write now.

 

Narwhals. They’re real cool.

Unicorns of the ocean

Yes, they do exist

 

Inspired? Here’s another haiku.

Turkey turkey turk

turkey turkey turkey turk

turk turkey turkey

 

Hungry? After stuffing yourself with all that stuff, I’m surprised. But that’s all I have to give out- Sorry! I need to save some for leftovers.

Anyways, before I hibernate for the rest of the winter, I thought I’d share a little bit of what I have from my NaNo so far, just in case none of it sees the light of day (which I hope won’t be the case). But be prepared. Your mind is going to become derailed- in a figurative sense, of course.

 

Come in, train of thought, come in, this is Captain Conscious speaking, over.

Hello Captain Conscious, this is train of thought speaking. I thought you were unconscious! Over.

No, indeed, train of thought. I, Captain Conscious, am not knocked over, over.

Ok conscious Captain Conscious, I’m glad you’re consciously over being knocked over, over.

No, I was never knocked over, and I’m consciously aware that I was conscious, being conscious of my conscious decision of becoming Captain Conscious, over.

A good, conscientious decision on behalf of your conscience, Captain Conscious. But be cautious, Captain Conscious, my conscience tells you to cautiously proceed with conscientious caution, so as not to derail the entire conscience.

What-…..

Captain Conscious?

…..

Come in Captain Conscious, come in!

…..

Captain Conscious, do you read? Captain Conscious!

Train of Thought, this is Captain Unconscious speaking. Captain Conscious is now unconscious.

Oh no!! Not you, Captain Unconscious! Over.

Oh yes, it’s me, Captain Unconscious. I was closer than what you had thought over, over.

Oh no, we’re doomed! It’s all over, over.

Yes, it is. It’s over your head now, over.

 

So that’s just a little bit of the sumpin’ sumpin’ that I’ve been working on. I hope you found it to be somewhat enjoyable, even though it’s completely unrelated to the overall topic that I’m writing about, which is my trip to Porto from just a few months ago. Hopefully, it’ll make more sense if you read it, even though there’s a lot of random mutterings.

And that ends tonight’s session on how not to be a writer. Tune in next week for poems about donuts and the like. Goodnight!

Hellooooo from Portugal!!!

It´s been about two weeks that I’ve been here, and here you’ve probably been thinking that I wouldn’t post anything! Well, I hate to tell you that you’re wrong, all you naysayers, you’re wrong!!

*the writer slowly pulls her fingers away from the keyboard, realizing that calling her readers “wrong” from the getgo (get-go? get go? gecko??? Yeah, the last one is probably the right one, for sure) is probably not the best way to make friends, or to keep them, either. She slowly returns to the keyboard with a mug of tea in one hand, and laxatives in the other, to see which will best aid her in loosening the bowels of creativity and awkwardness. She starts anew.

Hellooooo from Portugal!!!

Why, hello my friends! If you haven’t already been thoroughly disgusted by my reference to bowel movements (all in the spirit of a semi-truthful blog that actually resulted in no laxatives whatsoever), and are still reading this post, I am proud to say that you are some of the strongest human beings, if not some of the craziest.

*once again, said writer raps her hand with a ruler. “How dare you be so rude to your readers!!” She sets the measuring device down next to the delightful drink selections, then begins once again.

As I was saying before I was so rudely being rude, I have been in Portugal for exactly two weeks now. Well, technically, I’ve only been in Porto for one week, since I did the Camino the first week (well, more accurately for four days, but still). So I started working here at the refuge since last Monday, and have gone on a few sightseeing excursions around Porto. Basically, it’s been pretty busy, yet not busy. You’ll see what I mean in a little while.

Well, first of all, we (and the “we” refers to my mentor and intern-training-extraordinaire, and a fellow extraordinary already-trained-by-the-intern-training-extraordinaire-July-Intern) did the Camino for a week, or as my mentor and intern-training-extraordinaire calls it, a “mini-camino”. We started out in Pontevedra, Spain, then made our way up to Santiago, Spain, which is only about 65 kilometers away (that’s 40 miles, but it sounds much better to say it in kilometers). Other pilgrims that we have met have come all the way from Porto, or even Lisbon, which can be around 250 miles and more.

When walking the Camino, we developed a very specific routine: wake up around 5 am, start walking at 6, take a break at a cafe at around 10 or so, then arrive at our hostel around 1, or even earlier. Then, after the refuge managers stamped our credentials and showed us our beds, we would set up our beds, shower, then take a nap for about 3 hours- all in no particular order. We would joke as we were walking during the day (or racing, more like) that each person we passed was a bed that we just gained, since the pilgrim’s refuges were first come, first serve. At one moment, I was at a breaking point with such a low amount of sleep, lots of back pain, and hip blisters, that I began to growl hysterically as we were climbing up a hill, to try to keep in front of a large group of Spanish kids. “AAAHHH!!! We need those beds!!”

I also think I’m a bit competitive naturally, so that could’ve been it. Though it was hard to silence that voice upon walking the last few kilometers to Santiago, since we wouldn’t be staying there overnight.

So without further ado, here’s a few pictures from my Camino!

The day before we began. I'm clearly very confused about how pictures work.

The day before we began. I’m clearly very confused as to how pictures work. To my right is the extraordinary already-trained-by-the-intern-training-extraordinaire-July-Intern, and to my left is my mentor and intern-training-extraordinaire.

photo 1

This is where we stayed for the 1st official night of the Camino. We got to meet so many new people!

photo 1 (1)

Walking into Valga, the town that never seemed to end. But hey, there’s some nice views every once in a while. I think this one was the worst. 

photo 3 (1)

Only 16.2 kilometers left until Santiago. Woohoo!!!

photo 4 (1)

Corn fields and vineyards- a combination I never thought I’d see in Spain.

photo 2 (2)

I see Santiago!! There it is! There! Right! There!!! 

photo 3 (2)

Oh. The Cathedral is under construction, and apparently always is… oooooookkkaaayyyy….

photo 4 (2)

Inside the cathedral. Quite nice actually. Freakin’ crowded though. 

photo 3 (3)

Inside the cathedral, with the thurible, which we unfortunately didn’t get to see at work.

So that’s basically it. I would tell you more about Portugal, but that might have to wait a little bit. One can only digest so much at a time (and one only has so much laxatives… jk. This one really has none, but one has to keep the gross theme comin), like parts of the Camino. But anyways, here are a few things that I’ve realized in the time that I’ve been here:

  1. The Francesinha is a lunch/ dinner of Champions. The Francesinha–which means “little french lady” for reasons I don’t quite know of yet– is a traditional sandwich comprised of bread, ham, two types of sausages, steak, ham, bread, egg, cheese, then a spicy, tomato-based sauce on top– all of that from bottom to top. Plus fries.
  2. I’ve been folding fitted sheets wrong my entire life.
  3. Sleeping on the job has never before been allowed, but here, it’s never been easier, or more accepted.
  4. I can pretty much butcher any and all languages, even English, even though I studied both English and Spanish in college. Yup.

And yeah. So this time, that’s actually about it! I wish I could say that I have a poem for you, believe me, I tried. But you know, sleepers gotta sleep. And poets gotta poet… yeah, that’s how it goes.

Night all! And keep away from those laxatives now.

T-minus 19 hours and 2 minutes until I leave for Portugal!!!

AAHHHHH!!!

Ok, so I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off today, trying to finish packing- aaaaannnd I still have quite a few other things to do tomorrow.. but it’s ok, it just means that I’m that much closer to being in Portugal!!

I don’t think that it’s really hit me quite yet, that I’m going on a mission trip to Portugal- a mission trip, where I’ll get to walk the Camino de Santiago for a week, then meet, greet, and eat with pilgrims of that walk for the whole duration of a month. How cool is that?

Do you know what’s even cooler? God couldn’t have been more clear about His plan for this. As of right now, I am FULLY FUNDED for my trip!! In just a short span of less than one month, God has spoken through and inspired many people to donate towards my trip (thank you so much to all of you who have, by the way!!), and even came through on my plane tickets, which ended up being around $300-$400 cheaper than the budgeted amount. He might as well have come down with chariots of fire and told me Himself- He has been that obvious. Ok, ok God, I guess I’ll go…. if I reaaaally have to….

I think that’s what this experience has taught me so far: when God wants you to go somewhere, or to do something, you’ll know. I was very unsure about the trip in the first place, because I was uncertain about my entire future. But as I pursued it with caution, I had no closed doors. I was accepted to the internship, sent out my letters and received gifts from friends and family members, and had two very successful and encouraging bake sales. It couldn’t have been more clear. He eliminated those doubts, and pushed me through those open doors- ok, maybe not pushed, but more like a little love tap- a little tippy tap tap tap-ed through the doors (a few of you might know what that is in reference to- let’s just say there’s some putting involved)..

“Ok, so that’s all I should write,” she wrote- or I wrote. ‘Tis 2 in the am, and I’m going to be quite busier than a bumblebee baking a banana batter bake (wait, what? that doesn’t even make any sense…).

Now, I’m at 18 hours and 36 minutes before I depart. And I know what you’re thinking, “wow, that’s very specific and skilled! How do you even know that? You must be excellent in Math!” And I would answer, “Why no, I am not, actually. I still depend on calculators to tip at restaurants.” But then I would explain my excellent negotiating skills that allow me to coerce Google to tell me everything that I need to know.

or….

… it just shows up because I have a Google account because Google can keep me accountable. Oh how I can always count on you, Count Google!

Well now, it is getting much later, and I am getting much weirder. Ta-ta for naww ma frahnds!

Back on the grid! Yet about to go back off.

Hey guys!!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, life has just been too crazy… crazy awesome!

For one, my sister just got MARRIED!!! Here’s a pic of us siblings (and our new bro) being all adorable together.

Ohhh yeah.

Awww yeah. We’re cute. 

So yeah. Seeing my sister/best friend get married to her high school sweet heart of 8 years was probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen/been a part of.

Other happenings is that I got accepted to go on an internship/mission’s trip to Porto, Portugal from around July 18th to August 16th this summer! I will be working with the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago, which is a trail that winds through many parts of Spain, Portugal, and France. As an intern, I will be welcoming the pilgrims to the refuge (pilgrim’s hostel) and the city of Porto, and serving them dinner. I will be walking the pilgrimage myself for about a week of the time that I’m there, so I will be able to share my stories as well as hear theirs. This will be an excellent opportunity to share Christ with them because as part of a pilgrimage, most people are already open to spiritual exploration.

Like any mission’s trip, I do need to raise support. I’ve added my newsletter link into this post, which also includes information on how you can be a financial partner with me. I’ve also posted a link to the donor site if it doesn’t work through the newsletter:

Jennifer Davies Portugal Newsletter

http://www.encompassworldpartners.org/missionaries-giving-list

Anyways, that’s my life in a nutshell. To end this post, I decided to include a poem that I had yet to post. I wrote it for the “Poem a Day” contest in April with Writer’s Digest Magazine, which was very challenging, but extremely rewarding. And hey, even though I couldn’t complete the contest, I got 22 poems out of it, so that’s pretty great!

I will have to warn you though; this poem is pretty sad, but it might be one of my favorites. And it talks about traveling, which I will be doing really soon, Lord willing!

A Trip to the Seashore

***

It’s time to bid you goodbye.

I tuck you in for the night

and make sure you have your ticket to ride.

***

Slowly, I tuck the ticket under your lapel

and ready your bags by the table

for as soon as you’re able.

***

You fill up on your fluids; it might be a long journey

to go to the sea, but you’ve got everything you need

from your suit, to your goggles; even your khakis.

***

You’re asleep, from what I can tell

Your eyelids flicker, as if dreaming or under a spell

I’d be happier if you were all well.

***

“It’s time to go, you might be late,”

I say to you, and nudge you awake,

“You don’t want to leave the others at the gate.”

***

You blink your eyes slowly; your breathing is steady,

but you look to me as if you are ready.

my legs begin to feel unsteady.

***

“Goodbye my darling,” I say with a smile

and turn to reach for the nurse’s dial.

“I’ll see you on the other side, though that might be a while.”

***