Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hi all,

I hope everyone has been doing well and enjoying the fall weather! I just wanted to drop in and keep everyone updated on the most recent, yet upsetting development for me. It has been 3 months now in the Peace Corps and I have just resigned my post in Peru.

I would first like to say that through all of this, I still believe that the Peace Corps is an incredible organization that is contributing a world of promise those that need it and, for those that are right for this experience, providing an incredible opportunity personally and professionally. I wish I was able to articulate the process behind this decision but I guess I’m still figuring it out myself and admitting what the situation has come to. I guess I’ll start from the beginning. For the past three months I had been experiencing what has been and probably will be the most interesting yet difficult experience I’ll see for a while. From eating raw cow heart, rice and potatoes every day, cold bucket baths outside every 4 days, sleeping with the fleas while my “estera” roof trickles in with the rain, all while trying to communicate in a Quechua-influenced Spanish language has been anything but normal!

I think my Water and Sanitation program and I built around 10 latrines over the training time in even poorer communities than I was living in (Yanacoto)... one of the most moving and humbling experiences possible. Some of these communities are thousands of years old but no more than 30 families live up there at about 10,000ft in the Andes Mountains still with no running water or electricity due to a 9 hour walk to the nearest other small community. In my first latrine assignment in another volunteer’s site, the family was made up of about 12 people, all sleeping in one seemed like one room. Between mixing cement, rebar and laying brick we helped them boil 7 kilos of potatoes then peel them with our nails and dry them to last them about 4 months of food (besides the few chickens and guinea pig running around). They had absolutely nothing; just the grass hut and fire wood where the 90 year old great-grandmother cooked bent over after 10 hours in the chakra gathering the food. They had nothing and somehow they were still one of the more wealthy families in the pueblo.

Right before this site visit I was in Bernales, Ica, Peru where I proudly survived my first bacterial infection!! I was in Bernales with my WatSan group building a ecological bathroom when I fell sick around 6am. It hit me within a matter a minutes. I tried to walk down to get help from my advisor and collapsed in the dirt road from the pressure in my stomach and the shaking from my fever of 102. Incredibly, this poor little woman saw this dying gringo in the road and pulled my in to her grass hut with a dirt floor, wrapped me in blankets with the 5 other people living in the one room house where I proceeded to be face down in a latrine vomiting for about an hour while at the same time having what is known as stage 7 diarreah (aka... pooping in your pants). This crazy little witch woman fed me her herbal teas which worked slightly as I vomited shaking on her floor and finally taken to the health post. I got shipped back to my home town where I didn´t get out of bed for about 30 hours. I think I was finally a real Peace Corps trainee with that! I definitely have some street credibility with that :)

A few weeks ago I got my new site that would serve as my home base for work for the two years. I was assigned to a small town of 3,500 (plus another 5k in all the annexes which were about 30-45 min walk out) called Herbay Alto in the district of San Vicente de Canete. It was nestled between a small river and the ocean. But unfortunately, even being so close to the beach the environment couldn’t make me happy enough. My mayor highly resembled Don Quixote with his long mustache, goatee and long hair tucked in to his hat. This is where some of my frustrations with my site began. For a mayor that was supposed to be my counterpart and my main source for work he was noticeable absent on 5 separate occasions all during my week long site visit where he had wanted to present me to the town (which I had to do myself, yikes! although my Spanish wasn’t half bad!) and show me the small annexes where the poorer population was. He was quite the frustrating person who unfortunately even my new host mom admitted was absent from most activities and liked to work mainly by himself.

For Americans, we pride ourselves on being timely when it comes to work and appointments. This is not the case for Peruvians. The first of 3 attendees showed up for my presenting to the town around about 2.45 hours late, and that is normal. I had scheduled about 3 meetings in the town during my first week with the heads of my community but already I could see the frustration in trying to motivate a group that was content in their ways. I guess that’s the challenge – how do you motivate people to change when they have been in their ways for centuries and how to motivate them to take charge instead of put all of the responsibility on the volunteer?

Some of the communities see an American come in and expect them to be the savior that will do all the work themselves and bring all the money possible from the States. I was the first outsider ever in this town. I remember one of my first days in training, one of my WatSan trainers told us that being the first WatSan people in our sites would mean that we would be laying groundwork, not really making huge leaps and bounds. Speaking to other volunteers from groups 12 and 13 it seemed like a consensus for those that are the first “gringos” in their sites, it's more than normal that they will get no work done. They are there to just get the community used to having an outsider in the town and prepare them to have another volunteer that will be able to do real work. I couldn't do that. I guess it was my own lack of being able to change that hindered my involvement. Being brought up as someone that is efficient, hard-working and likes to see results this was so hard for me. I just couldn’t sit around on a stump 14 hours a day, trying to get work done when no one else wanted to put in any effort. It was hard for me to drop my efficiency to then try to motivate others. So how could I ask the people in my town to change to help me when I couldn’t really change myself to work with them?

Thinking about a time frame was very very very difficult for me. It feels like those 11 weeks had gone by so fast but then again it felt like forever that I had been away from the people I miss and love. I never realized until now how important it is to me. I finally saw just exactly how I have always been surrounded by such a tight-knit support group and here I did not have that. I think here is where I felt most exhausted. Not having the close support I have always enjoyed and taken for granted in my family and friends, I guess I never really felt comfortable and never felt like myself. At times it was exhausting in that with a group of 57 type A people it was hard to find your own place. As I was already uncomfortable it seemed to be a struggle to get in a word because every time you add a comment, someone else had quite the experience as a one-up. But again, I will say there is always an exception… I definitely made a few incredible friends that I hope I will never lose, the volunteers there are all incredible people for the commitment they are making and I know they will make an immense difference in the lives of those who need it.

I guess it was just hard to have such a difference experience of the work and people in real life than what I had seen on paper. I had read many times on blogs as well as in the official PC website that one of the most difficult aspects is the isolation and depression that volunteers feel while being so alone in their communities and not being able to speak the language. I was surprised I already left like this in my training community. I think at my site visit is where I hit the point that if I couldn’t even be happy and be myself with a group of 60 Americans, I didn’t see this going positively for myself (my mental health) being alone in a new community where I didn’t necessarily feel the passion for my work. I think it was after the second night of having fleas in my bed on the floor and fourth time someone in my new family had walked in on me in our “bathroom” being sick on our bucket from the un-boiled water when I finally felt like I hit rock bottom. I feel okay with myself that it was not amenities that bothered me. Sure being sick every day from the water and living on 8 soles a day (about $3) was different from being home but I feel like I thrived in that respect. But when I started to feel like I wasn’t myself anymore and didn’t see any positive improvement in my mental wellbeing I had to throw in the towel.

As my family knows, I really wasn’t happy-go-lucky Lexie. I never really felt like a happy person even in the presence of other Americans. Although I gained so many experiences and new perceptions on the world I was losing myself, in retrospect I should have seen it coming as my dad had warned me of the isolation and depression that even those in the Armed Forces feel overseas. It was so shocking and uncomfortable to feel this way. After crying out all of the dirty water I had consumed I couldn’t take anymore of feeling upset.

While sitting in the airport I am already retrospective of things I wish I had done differently to maybe have made it a more successful situation but I know it was the right decision. But it was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life. Thinking about leaving made me upset; feeling guilty yet happy at the same time. How could I not have really given my new site a chance? How could I just up and leave the PC when I’m already in the country? How can I just turn down the opportunity to help those that truly need it and walk away? How come so many other people could make it through and I couldn’t? There are just so many uncertainties to how I was feeling and my decision which is still making me upset about the situation I had put so much hope in to in showing me who I was and where I was going. It is disappointing to have expected too much of me and this service and not make my goals, but I’m trying to remember all of the experiences I gained in such a small amount of time. My director of the Peru service and I talked for about 2 hours about my site situation and my personal feelings and she helped guide me through my decision. She assured me that it wasn’t failing. I was there in training to do information gathering about the country, culture and the service and after gaining as much information as the training could give me I was able to make an informed decision. It just feels unfortunate that it did not turn out positively after my family and I invested so much in to this.
I’ve certainly seen and been through a lot in what feels like a very small amount of time. For this I might say is where the regret comes in that I could have done so much more in 2 years. It is slightly shameful/embarrassing for my pride to not have reached the goal I set for myself but I will never regret the experience for what I am taking away. I still believe 110% that the Peace Corps is absolutely and incredible agency. They are contributing so much to developing countries and for those that can stick it out, it is a very rewarding experience. But I know it was rewarding to myself as well, even in just a short 3 months. I am proud of myself for learning the language, living in a tiny shack with my incredible training host family and appreciating all of the opportunities I have been given and that are sure to come. I don’t really know at all what is next. I will be heading back to Northern Virginia to be with my family, who through this, I learned how much I missed, rely on and need to value more. After teaching hand washing to tiny little Peruvians I know that working with children is a passion of mine and well as working with those that truly need the help I can give them so hopefully I’ll be looking for something that will be able to give me the same rewarding feeling I felt in my 3 months as a WatSan PCT.

I guess that is all I have for now. I wish I could give more definite answers as to what happened to lead up to this point but I just have to hope this was a gut instinct that will be for the better. I just wanted to thank everyone for being such great support over the last few months, I could not have gotten to where I did without you all. Hope to hear from you all soon, I have missed you all so much and have a great turkey day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Well, October 18th, a little over half way finished with training. We’ll be traveling most every weekend from here on out so things will be going by pretty quickly. This past weekend my program took a trip to Cañete, about 3 hours from Lima to see how some of the smaller towns are starting their trash collection programs. We went to one town in Lima that has about 20,000 people living up on a hill, quite an incredible site to see them all piled on top of each other, then one more tiny little town of about 80 families which was pretty neat to see a few donkeys trotting by. We’ll be going on a nice little 5 hour hike this next weekend, then to Ica to building some latrines, then it’s off to site visits, tie up some loose ends then head out to my site for 2 years! It’s kind of crazy how quickly these weeks are going by. On one hand when I’m sitting on my concrete stoop on Sunday evenings watching people walk by I can’t believe that the week has flown by. On the other hand it feels like we’ve been in training forever. I am partially really excited to be done with training and to start feeling like I have a job and work to do, as well as make my own schedule of course (this whole 8-6 thing, mon-sat kinda stinks) but then again it’s also quite terrifying that in just a few short weeks we’ll be out on our own, the only gringo’s in our towns, there to try to change the way people have lived for hundreds of years… a little daunting if you know what I mean.

So normally I wouldn’t dare sharing this story with just anyone but it’s almost too funny and embarrassing to not share… Every since we have all been at training, I’d venture to guess we talk about pooping and going to the bathroom about 50% of the day, no matter what company we are in. It’s not that we don’t have anything better to talk about, it’s just that with all the food, parasites, and getting used to the water, going to the bathroom pretty much consumes our lives. It’s certainly made me not as bashful, not sure if that’s a good thing though! Well anyways… it’s no secret that all I have been eating here is rice. Rice, rice, rice. No matter what meal we get, normally a heaping of 4 kinds of potatoes, there is always about 4 servings of rice accompanying it (I am eating portions bigger than they give at the Cheesecake Factory yet my madre still gossips to the neighbors that I don’t eat enough and that it must mean I don’t like her food). Not sure if everyone knows that rice is what people in the campo give to children that are sick from the water because it expands in your stomach and stops you up when you have diarrhea (which has consumed about 85% of the other volunteers). Well, I, as well as a few other people in my training group, have had the opposite problem. My family is very careful about being sanitary when cooking my food so I haven’t gotten sick yet, but then again I eat about the equivalent of the amount of rice of 6 family size dinners from Hunan Tasty. Needless to say I hadn’t gone to the bathroom in over 8 days. My friend here was pushing about 14 days! When day 9 came around I decided I needed a new plan of action because my family certainly didn’t have a problem with this for their personal schedules. I knew that the next day I was going to have classes in the training center instead of in our host communities so I decided that day I would boycott (I would shock my system like Fujimori shocked the economy here in the 90s).
So on that Thursday I had a fried egg with my family for breakfast and some café (man, could I really go for some Starbucks), and skipped out on my white bread sandwich. For lunch I grabbed a HUGE strawberry smoothie in Chaclacayo then some soft serve ice cream (Jo, nothing like Carvel though), some more chocolate, a few fruits and veggies and some more coffee and dairy. Unfortunately, all that happened was, excuse my language, I had to fart, a lot. I got back to my house around 7pm that night to a huge helping of yes… more rice. I thought my plan was ruined. The next day we had our language interviews at the center. My interview was scheduled for 8:30. At 8:33 I knew I had to go to the bathroom, and quickly (I went from intermedio mid to advanced low). My interview lasted for about 30 very long and painful minutes, after which I ran as fast as possible to the bathroom where I found my friend, who I will leave nameless for her sake, who wanted to go before me. I said sure go ahead just be quick. 3 minutes later I heard some noises coming from the bathroom and I couldn’t help my die laughing since she knew I heard. Laughing didn’t help my cause. Finally, mission complete. I think I lost about 10 pounds.
Later that afternoon we had a medical session with the doctor Jorge about more STDs (we actually went outside and had a race between programs with condoms… interesting for sure). Before the med session I asked Jorge if he would be able to give me some fiber or something to take home to prevent this shocking system from becoming a weekly thing. He told me to come to him after the session to talk. A few minutes in to the session our class was back to talking about diarrhea when he got in to the subject of constipation. He started talking about causes and effects and then pulled out a huge back of fiber (looks like gerbil food) then looked me dead in the eye. “Oh weren’t you looking for this later? When is the last time you went to the bathroom,” he asked me in front of all 57 volunteers and a few tech trainers. Bright red I answered “Um, actually I went this morning.” He then asked me how many days it had been and I told him I had been at about a week and a half but reiterated I had gone that morning to which, there was a resounding applause from the other volunteers. I continued to turn bright red and grab my new bag of fiber. I will say it might be up to now one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, but who else can say they received an ovation from 60 people for pooping? If you ask me, it’s quite an accomplishment.

So besides the bathroom talk things have been about the same. Learning about water and sanitation in the program and all it encompasses and trying to figure out this silly language called Spanish. I was so glad the other day we got to go in to the local school and teach hand washing to the little 8-9 year olds; I absolutely love the hugs they give you when you have to leave. I can definitely see myself spending a fair amount of time focusing my work in site with children. I’m supposed to be cooking for my family tomorrow (mac and cheese and French toast) but I think they are absolutely terrified to eat my food so they said I should just go for spaghetti and meat sauce and will probably make some back-up food in case I have issues cooking on our makeshift stove. But apparently they want to make Pisco Sour too so maybe everyone will be drunk enough to like my food! At least we’re not having red wine, every red wine I’ve had so far could pass for very aged balsamic vinaigrette, it makes me want some Mozzarella Cheese and a salad.
Any who, I hope everyone is doing well. For all your Windermere girls I hope the move in to the new apartments goes well (Meg, enjoy my room!), Jordan and boys hope the new houses are going well, JJH enjoy the Mt. Pleasant Pier for me, congrats on your wedding Zach and Kristy wish I could have been there, Harley hope you’re behaving yourself and be glad you’re not a street dog here (my neighbor has a little black puppy of 8 weeks that is always crying and already has skin issues, I think I might steal him and name him Skippy after peanut butter which I miss very much.) Mom and Dad I hope the kitchen renovations are getting started, Jo eat some amazing cheesecake for me, good luck in school Eli! Miss you all so much, it’s definitely hard being away from everyone and wishing I could be there for all the fun events. Being here and interacting with my family has definitely shown me things about my relationships with friends and family, how sometimes we all take family for granted. I’ve really started to realize that family is something that needs as much time and attention as friendships and relationships because those are the people who are there for you through and through (I love you family J). Miss everyone so much and hope to hear from you soon!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

El principio en Cuerpo de Paz

Hi all!! Sorry that it has been so long since I have updated this thingy but things have been well, hectic to say the least! Well, today marks about 3 weeks in Peru. Things have been anything but normal/boring.

So we had our staging event in DC the weekend of Sept 11, flew out of DC to Miami and then off to Lima, Peru. We arrived after about 14 hours of traveling and went to a neat little “retreat” called Huampani were we did some language testing and get to know you activities as always. I know this sounds cliché but even just the bus ride from the airport to the retreat was quite eye-opening. Right from the get-go we could all tell that this was not going to be a very lush and comfortable experience. Just 5 minutes out of the city and you were already looking at miles upon miles of lower-income areas, to say the least. After just a day in the retreat we hiked our way up a hill to the center where I will be training until the end of November. It is an amazing little compound-house with a pool we can’t use, some palm trees, nice little patio, etc. Big mistake that I keep making there is to lay down in the grass… those in Charleston know how swollen I get from bug bites… well these darn zancudos have absolutely torn me up! The average bit is about 1.5” in diameter with duration of about 5 days per bite. Right now I’m pushing about 140 bites total. I’m excited to see what the final count will be after 3 months of laying in the grass. It’s been quite the get-away at the training center in Chaclacayo. An average day consists of a few people playing the bongos, guitar, and ukulele off to the side, a good bit of Frisbee, hacky sack, and soccer (which is a seriously dangerous game played against Peruvians – I opt to play volleyball with the little elementary kids in my town although also a dangerous game which all too often erupts in to hair-pulling and punching by a few tough little gals). We’ve got 2-3 big organic composts going in the back, I’m in charge of feeding the worms for our big hanging worm compost J.

So after the retreat at Huampani in a few swift moments our host families came out of nowhere and all of a sudden we were shoved on to the combis with all 100 pounds of my crap (and yes out of those 100 pounds of crap I did forget to pack one thing – pajamas ugh!). Okay so the “combis” is a very interesting mode of transportation around here. They are more times than not about 35 people on one of these buses that only have 15-18 seats. They pull up next to you and the cobrador comes out yelling “get on get on get on!!!” and in those few moments you have to make sure he knows where your stop is and how much you’re paying (occasionally there is the cobrador that charges you too much money and goes right pass your stop just because he feels like it). Hanging on to one of these is the reason why we have hand sanitizer, pretty nasty. We take these pretty much all around the towns.

My town: I live in Yanacoto! Yay! I live in a teeeeeny tiny little town called Yanacoto outside of the larger city Chosica. There are 17 other volunteers in my town so I can walk around the hill to find someone if I need them. Not too much is here, just a few internet cafes, no real restaurants, no stores, just a HUGE hill settled among the hills and the dirt. We did get to take a hike up to the top of one of the hills to see my town’s version of the Nasca Lines (1hr hike up a whole ton of boulders, yikes). At the end of November is when I will be leaving here heading out to a new site where I won’t have any other volunteers in that actual town. I think I will be going to one of two departments here: Ica or La Libertad.

My family: I am living with one of the best families I think that are part of the Peace Corps. I have a 59 year old mom named Jesusa and a 21 year old brother named Alfredo. There are a few brothers, family members that are in and out of the house occasionally but mainly I am with these two. They are definitely some of the most patient people I have met as they are definitely putting up my lack of language skills (I’m in the intermedio-medio group which is good since I only need this level to pass out training but I certainly have a long way to go). I’m in a quaint little house that is about ¼ the size of our townhouse in Windermere. My room is about 6 feet by 7 feet, I’m probably one of very few that would fit on my tiny little bed (a bunch of 2x4s). My ceiling and my wall kind of reminds me of some beer pong tables, every now and then the wood that is breaking off falls on my bed so I have to make sure it’s nice and clean before going to bed. No rats yet, just a few cockroaches have been scattering around my room. We have a tin roof which makes it quite loud when the street cats fight on my roof at 3am, I think one of them has probably lost and eye or two. Dogs here don’t really have owners; they all just wander the streets eating out of the trash. There might be more dogs than people here. The announcements tend to wake me up at 6am too. A good portion of our town doesn’t have electricity so we have this announcement system that is wired throughout the hills to let us know something is up.

My first instance with the announcements was when we had a robber in the town. It was about 7pm on a school night and I was just sitting on my front dirt stoop with my brother watching people walk by when we heard something. Jesusa came running out screaming “Ratero Ratero! (rat, rat!). They kept trying to push me in to the house, to which I said no there’s a freaking rat in the house! Then all of the young guys in my town went running down the hill with rocks in their hands. Comes to find out there was someone robbing a house just a bit down from me. All of the young guys go down there and pretty much stone them. There are some times that because there really isn’t police, they thief is caught and stoned to death; I don’t think this has ever happened in Yanacoto though.

Heath has been an interesting situation around here. It is very easy to see how much work there is to do which sanitation and diet (even though I’m water and sanitation I’m pretty sure I’ll be moving in to these fields to work which I have a bit more passion for than worm composts and latrines but we’ll see). We eat rice, potatoes, rice, chicken, rice, and about 7 more varieties of potatoes. The occasional veggie is thrown in but we’re always skeptical because we know it’s being washed in dirty water which makes us so sick. I’m pretty sure all 57 of us have been sick at least a few times per week, every week. My good friend in my town has already had a parasite (we named it Polly). I’ve never talked so much about using the bathroom in my classes before. We’ve had probably 4 lectures of 4 hours each on the 7 stages of diarrhea. Unfortunately, all the girls say they gain about 20 pounds in Peru from the diet so looks like I’ll be putting on a bit of weight L

Well, I’m sitting here covered in cement from laying bricks today for my WatSan class so off to take a shower I go (my shower is outside in like a cement block, it is hands down the coldest water I’ve ever felt in my life especially when you have to shower at night when it’s only 45 degrees outside. It’s a real art trying to figure out how to not shiver so bad you can’t really wash yourself. I’ve got it down to about 3 minutes in and out and now I can even put my hold body under the water without convulsing!). I’m not gonna lie, I kind of like it when we don’t have water in the house because we only get it a few days out of the week so that I don’t have to shower.

Just wanted to tell everyone I miss them so much, much more than you know. Being away from everyone really makes you understand how important people are to you. I won’t lie that yes it has been extremely tough already, especially being away from family and friends that I love so much. Taking things here day by day and trying to get used to things is quite a tough job when it’s hard to not be able to communicate how you are feeling when you don’t know the words. I was definitely right when I said this would be a very eye-opening, testing yet interesting experience. My address is on facebook if you feel the urge to send some pictures (food!) or just a hello, it’s always nice to hear from everyone. I miss you all so much, Mom, Dad, Jo, Eli, Jordan, Windermere/Charleston hoodrats, and NoVa… I hope everyone is doing well. Can’t to hear from you all/see you!

Friday, July 17, 2009


bienvenidos amigos!

welcome to Lexie's first blogging space ever! i've never been big in to bloggin'/tweeting/yada yada yada since no one would care how many times a day i checked youtube or had a sonic icecream sundae but this is for a good cause... i'm going in to the peace corps!

on wednesday July 15th i was formally invited to serve with the peace corps and received my country of service today (friday).... headed to Peru :) relief to be going to such a beautiful country that i have heard nothing but good things about!

i'm not gonna lie, when i saw that (202) area code from DC pop up on my cellphone my heart stopped because only one person would be calling me from there. help help help, AH! from there my placement officer congratulated me and i continued to hyperventilate in the parking lot at my office :) SHOCK. absolute shock of what was happening! i had only applied about 3 months prior to being accepted and then all of a sudden i was accepted?? they normally suggest applying over a year in advance to a leave date but for some crazy reason i was pushed through the process at record speed and here i stand... 6 weeks from leaving in september! i honestly didn't think i would be accepted... what skills do i even have to offer someone in a 3rd world country? well, apparently the recruiters, etc saw something in me they thought would benefit another culture... maybe they knew i would be able to introduce them to snickers bars.

after about 4 days of pure panic and tears i got my placement/assignment and seem to have calmed down slightly... maybe even a little bit excited for what's to come! every 5 minutes is a different emotion - excitement, aprehension, fear, uncertainty, curiosity and anything you can imagine.. it's exhausting! but it's time to get serious, packing lists must be made, goodbyes must be arranged - let the mental/physical preparation begin!

my official assignment is water and sanitation from Nov 2009 through Nov 2011 (not including the 3 month in-country training that i will leave for on Sept 9) in Peru! i won't know the community/village i will be in until the end of our training so who knows! it could be along the amazon river or could be in the mountains... but in either situation i'm pretty sure there will be no electricity, no running water and clay houses, yikes! guess i should start getting used to not showering huh? i'm going to be working with NGO's, schools, health posts etc to help design and construct water systems, landfills and latrines (yay? handling poo?) and teaching hygiene and water management. in any case, i'm definitely not going to be staring at a computer screen for 40 hours a week anymore... woo!

anywho, just for planning purposes, it's looking like i will be leaving my lovely home in Charleston, SC around August 17th (going away party on August 15th!!!) and then headin' up to DC to prepare and spend some time with my fam :)

99% sure i won't be having any internet access in my post over there but i will hopefully be able to hike/bike down to a town with internet so i can update this little page thing as much as possible and let you all know what i'm up to and my address for packages as soon as i get it ;) please send me your phone numbers/email addresses so i can hopefully call if i ever come across a payphone but don't hold your breath because i have a feeling that may be few and far between.

so just wanted to inform everyone of the news and let you all know i love y'all so much and will miss every last one of my best friends and family! i'll update as much as i can over the next few weeks as i find out more about my town/assignment!