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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bye for now, Seattle

I am a bit in disbelief that I fly to Virginia tonight at 11:50.  There's a certain nostalgia that comes with leaving a place where you've resided for almost 5 years.  I absolutely love this city and the past few days as  I've been driving, I can't help but marvel at the landscape.  Mount Rainier has been beautiful as the sky has actually been somewhat clear at times and the sailboats on the water make a picturesque view.  I've been able to soak up a few days of the absolutely beautiful weather that makes living in the Northwest totally worth it.

I feel so blessed as I leave because I know I am taking the experiences and friendships that I have made with me.  There are so many people here that I love and who have changed my life.  I feel so incredibly supported and thankful for my time here in Seattle.  I can't wait to be back in the Northwest, but for now I will carry the memories and friendships and hold them close.

For those of you who remain in Seattle, thank you for your presence in my life.  I am filled with so much joy as I reflect on my time in Seattle and those of you who will forever be a part of me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Swimming for Africa

     I have been overwhelmed by the support I have felt in preparing for my trip.  I have left conversations with friends feeling encouraged by their excitement for me and their desire to be a part of this adventure. I could write all day of these conversations as I hold them close to my heart and reflect on them in moments where I am feeling overwhelmed or scared of the unknown, but I will take a moment now to write about one in particular.  
     A parent of one of my previous students is from South Africa.  She had me over for dinner a few weeks ago and shared their family pictures from a recent trip to Cape Town.  We then talked about Africa and about where I'm going and what I'll be doing. I instantly felt that our hearts connect with a passion for those unprivileged, especially children.  She asked me questions about the school and about my time in Malawi.  When I left, she told me she wanted to be a part of this with me.  
     A few days later, I received an email from her.  She had committed to supporting me monthly, but wanted to do something else to help.  Her idea completely floored me.  She works out at Gold's Gym and swims for her workout.  She has asked for friends to sponsor her $1 for every mile that she swims.  Her goal is to swim about 3 miles a week.  I love this because she has invited people in and will be doing this through her passion for swimming.  I am also excited because there is a pool at the school in Malawi and I hope to swim as well.  This will allow us to stay connected, even though we're continents apart.    
      As if this wasn't enough, I talked with her a few weeks later and she told me she was having so much fun brainstorming ways in which she can support me.  Her and her husband have also been thinking about the possibility of hosting a dinner party and inviting 3-4 couples.  This would provide another opportunity for raising money while also fostering relationships and having time together with friends.  
      This is just one of many things that have completely overwhelmed me in the past two months. I am so thankful for friends such as this who have committed to supporting me.  I feel so loved and I know I am not doing this on my own.  I am truly excited to see what lies ahead and to share with you about my experiences.  I could not do this without the love and support I have in my life.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The blue pill or the red pill

I have finally completed the "take care of shots" on my to-do list.  I honestly didn't think it would be a complicated process or one that would leave me with multiple decisions to make.  I figured I would schedule an appointment with the travel clinic, go over what shots are recommended/needed, and take care of it all in one day.  Needless to say, I was completely mistaken.  There were the easy ones including tetanus  and Hep. A (2nd in the series) as well as the malaria pills.  Then came the decisions.  For typhoid, have the shot that lasts two years or the pills that last five.  This one was an easy one for me.  One less shot was all I needed to hear.  However; it took me three pharmacies before I was able to fill the prescription.  There was also the decision about the rabies shot.  This one was highly recommended and the doctor told me that it was a bit expensive.  Turns out that it is a three series shot and each one is $300 dollars.  I almost fell out of my chair!  I had to think on this one and also contacted a teacher that has been teaching at the school in Malawi.  She told me she passed on this one and that if I am bit, I can be treated in Malawi.  The final decision was in regards to the yellow fever vaccination.  This is an active agent and you can actually get yellow fever from the vaccine.  It can also cause fevers and migraines.  It is not required in Malawi, but there are surrounding places where proof of the vaccine is required.  I ended up getting this shot because I want to go on a safari in Zambia and it sounds like I may need it in order to go.  Other than my arm being a little sore and swollen, i've felt just fine.  I'm feeling like I have lots in my body now.  I know this whole process has been worth it and i'm taking my safety very seriously.  I'm just so thankful that I can check this off my list and that I have no more decisions to make on which shots to receive!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Faster than a Cheetah

I have told my second grade class that I will be teaching in Africa next year.  There was quite the mix of emotions ranging from shock to sadness.  I absolutely love the responses of my students as they always express what they feel.  One was concerned that I would be trampled on by an elephant.  Another student came in one morning clutching a picture from a magazine in his hand.  He had this look of absolute urgency as he informed me, "Ms. Herbst, you cannot go to Africa!"  I was a bit surprised and asked him why.  He proceeded to tell me that there are Cheetahs in Africa that chase the planes as they are leaving.  He showed me this picture that he was holding and he looked very fearful.  My response was, "Didn't you know I can run faster than a Cheetah?"  After I took a closer look at the picture, I shared with this student that I had just spent time the night before looking for a flight on Ethiopian Airlines. We agreed this was quite the coincidence.  I now have a ticket on Ethiopian airlines for July 29th.  I know I won't be able to help myself from smiling as I board the plane and will most definitely glance out the window as I land to see if there is indeed, a Cheetah chasing me!