Monday, September 29, 2008


At The Citadel there is a section in the cadet's newspaper entitled "The Why Column". The Whys are always my favorite to read and it is the first section I've flipped to over my 10 year relationship with this great institution. As I am exhaustively sitting in my cubicle after working all weekend, I figured I'd send out my own "whys" today.

Why do I have to work all weekend, yet I do not receive comp time like our Assistant does? I do not make what a Director makes however when it comes to comp time all of a sudden I am granted Director status and must be back at work Monday morning?

Why does no one in my office communicate with each other?
Why did we have 4 hours of our Annual Staff Retreat designated to better communication practices and still no one communicates?
Why am I covering two positions now and being paid for one?
Why do I wish I was in 100 degree weather, dripping with sweat in Nicaragua, as opposed to sitting on my cushioned chair in our air conditioned office?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Simple Moments=Wonderful Memories

Playing with 70's and 80's glasses can be FUN! Too bad someone really had to wear those home.

Who knew laying in the grass, under the Nicaraguan sky with new girlfriends could be so much fun and an awesome way to close out another great day at the clinic?!

Warning: Drinking from your water bottle on Ariel's bus, do not try this at home kids!

Save the Pollo Campaign's Inaugural team meeting and Board Member photo.

I've never been more excited to eat Papa John's in my entire life! Simple pleasures in life are the best!

Friday, September 19, 2008

No more, No less.

No more, no less. That is where I am at in my life right now and let me tell you, it feels pretty darn good.

I am totally content (or satisfied depending on who you ask) and I really "want" for nothing right now. I have found something over the last few months both in myself and outside of myself that has completely changed my world for the better. I feel as though I have won some sort of sweepstakes that I didn't even know I entered. I can take deep breathes, I can stop second guessing, and I can rest easily in the fact that I never was in control and that's exactly how it was supposed to be.

Short story short, my life is amazing. No more, no less.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Confessions of the Bathroom Monitor (Revisited)

Although I still have a few more Nicaraguan moments to share, I thought I'd take a break from that today in honor of the recent, resurfacing issues that my office seems to have with people's bathroom etiquette. The blog below is an oldie from my first blog ( which I though I would bring out and dust off for the day. Nicaragua shall return...

Don't get me wrong, I love my new office. It's spacious, has beautiful furniture, and is way more than I deserve, but the location leaves a little something to be desired! My office sits directly in front of the women's bathroom and for whatever reason everyone who enters the restroom feels the need to comment on their experience. I used to look up from my keyboard every time someone went in but now I avoid looking up like the plague, hoping no one will see me sitting there and want to talk about their experience.

Contrary to popular belief, I don't need to know how every person's experience with the hand soap was. I swear I've heard every comment from "I hate that the soap doesn't lather. It really bothers me" to "yummy, do you think the bathroom soap smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream?" NOOOOOOO! First of all, I agree that the soap doesn't lather however if that is your biggest concern all day than please trade lives with me! And second, EWWW, why would I want to smell the non-lathering soap and dream of it being ice cream! On another note, although I agree it is rude, I refuse to keep a log of who went in there before you and if I heard the toilet flush. You probably think I am kidding but I have been asked to do that and I am just not down with being the "bathroom monitor" for a bunch of professionals who should know by now to flush.

I will say one of the perks of sitting here is watching every one's reaction when they are on a mission to the restroom and suddenly discover someone beat them to it. I think I could create a whole personality theory based on these reactions alone. Just to highlight a few:

1. The Snapper: The snapper seems to be more relaxed than most and has a carefree outlook on life. They give a hearty "oh shucks" snap when they need to go but cannot get in.
2. The "Oh-Man!": The "Oh-Man" tends to be more vocal and often feels the need to be the center of attention. They don't mind voicing their discontent to the whole office when nature calls and they cannot answer.
3. The "what...I didn't try to go in there?": These people are a little more self-conscious than the rest and try to keep a low profile. They don't like attention and would rather no one notice that they just tried to go in but couldn't. I think they view it as a form of rejection. These people give the door a slight push and when it doesn't open, they are swiftly on their way to the copy machine or water cooler in one single swoop, acting as if they never attempted to open the door in the first place. Don't worry guys and gals, no one is judging you on the fact that you needed to go, although if it were up to some people I'd have my ear pressed to the door to ensure you went and flushed and would then plug the stats into an excel spreadsheet! No pressure guys!
4. The Slammers: I think the slammers are my favorite! They seem to be the go-getter's in life, always on the move, and take life by the horns. These eager beavers are on such a mission that they proceed to slam into the door before realizing it's locked. This painful encounter usually follows with a grab of the shoulder that they just almost dislocated and a booming laugh. You'd think after one or two painful bathroom trips they'd slow down and ease into the entry but they are clueless. Gotta love their enthusiasm!

I know I've rambled on, but before I close may I leave everyone with a few words of wisdom from the bathroom monitor: Please enter carefully, if it's locked, don't get down on yourself, pick your ego back up off the floor and give it one more valiant try in roughly two minutes. Please remember to wash your hands before you leave. If the soap smells like food, don't eat it. If it doesn't lather, still use it. And for every one's peace of mind, FLUSH! Above all, have fun in there! If I'm going to have to hear about your experience I want to make sure it was a good one!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reunited....and it feels so good!

This past weekend we had our Nicaragua team reunion at Yomato's and it was SO good to see everyone! I'm always excited to see friends after a break in our hang-out bouts, but this reunion was different. I was genuinely grinning ear to ear as I got to hug the people who I've been missing since Aug. 18th. Everyone looked so beautiful with their hair and make-up done and in clothing that didn't entail scrubs and/or pajamas. Although I learned over our 10 trip that these 18 people were gorgeous inside and out, it was still awesome to see everyone so fresh, happy and healthy.

Dinner was spent eating and catching up with those that were seated close enough to chat with and afterwards, those brave enough to make the drive to Hanahan ( home) were my guests for coffee and desserts. It was great to relax, sit on the floor, and catch up with the girls. God blessed me with great roommies while I was on that trip and I hope that our friendships continue to grow in the states!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Alfredo...aka Nicaboo

Meet Alfredo. Alfredo is 26 years old and is the worship leader at the church where we served in our clinic. My parting memory of Alfredo was him mouthing the word "wimp" to me as all 40 or so of us stood in a circle on our last day and said our final goodbyes through my tears.

My first conversation with Alfredo began with me struggling through a few sorry attempts at questions in Spanish. Unaware of my own insecurity while trying to make small talk, I must've been starring at the floor while chatting because out of nowhere he said to me "don't look down when we speak, look at me". Wow. 1) I didn't know this guy could speak English (and now I feel really silly) and 2)okay, noted. His English voice was soft and somewhat confident and soon became the voice I looked for when I needed help speaking to someone or just wanted to chat to someone outside of our group. Alfredo, aka...Nicaboo, as a few of us called him due to his attractiveness (sorry ladies, he's married;), became a team favorite and friend.

Learning from Alfredo while also helping him practice his English allowed me to see just how badly some of our new friends in Nicaragua want to learn English. He shared with me that he has wanted to speak our language since he was a child. He said that after watching American movies, he would go in front of the mirror and rapidly rattle off gibberish and pretend he was speaking English fluently. His desire to learn sparked something inside of me and I hope one day to be able to write a full email to him in Spanish or to actually be able to converse on my own next August when I return.

Not only did Nicaboo become a friend, but he also became a communication bridge for our worship leader who was able to learn a worship song in Spanish and sing along with their church's team during their prayer service Thursday evening. I knew Alfredo could sing as I had listened to him sing a couple of lyrics to me out of his English workbook, but I didn't know at what capacity this man could sing. When the music started Thursday evening and while he was seated humbly behind his keyboard that the church had saved up for, yet again tears streamed down my face. His voice was rich and passionate and you could tell that he sang from a place that only the Lord could have led him too. I couldn't understand the lyrics but I knew they were beautiful and heartfelt. I was inspired yet again by our new friends in Loma Linda and wondered if I'd ever met people as joyful, humble, and passionate again.

Although I miss Nicaboo, and our other friends in Loma Linda, I pray for them all the time. I pray that the Lord will continue to work in Alfredo's life and that one day maybe we'll be blessed enough to have him and his wife in Mt. Pleasant, where he can stand again, on the same stage with our worship leader and sing to our God, their God, in both of our own languages.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hasta Luego, Gabriel

As I sit in front of my computer and search my brain for adequate words for this particular entry, I am completely at a loss. My heart is beating fast and my mind is suddenly being swept back to Managua. Back to the dirt road where we left Gabriel watching us wave through the bus windows as we turned the corner one last time at the end of the street where he lives. I want to go back. I want to hold him. I want this pain in my heart to stop. More importantly, I want the pain in his poverty stricken world to stop.

Gabriel is your typical 9 year old boy. He plays rough, he laughs when you say something silly or mispronounce a word, and he wants to be where the action is. Living just two doors down from the clinic/church, commutes were short and quick for Gabriel. After speaking with a few of the church members who knew of him, it was clear that this little boy does not have the best home life and childhood. His feet had never stepped inside of the church walls before our arrival and as I sit here, I wonder if they've stepped inside since? I pray that what led him to that gated window that first day where I met him, will somehow keep him coming back.

Everyday I looked forward to my first glimpse of Gabriel's handsome face. He would greet us outside with a smile, a hug, and mischievous look in his eye. He would play, get dirty, randomly show up munching on watermelon, but was ever present even if it meant standing outside in the dark by himself just to watch us as we drove away from the church Thursday evening after the prayer service. Gabriel and my communication was limited due to my lack of Spanish, but thanks to hand gestures, translators, and giggles, he managed to burn himself into my heart. My favorite part of the day was being able to squeeze Gabriel as we left the clinic and replying to his reoccurring question "Hasta manana, Brittany?" with a smile and a reassuring "Hasta manana, Gabriel". What had become my favorite way to end the day would turn out to be the hardest part of my trip as I look back. Although I was able to say 5 "hasta mananas" with a smile to this child, I did not prepare myself for the 6th, nor did I prepare myself for the heartbreak those two words would bring about.

As we left the church for the last time, tears replaced sweat that had soaked our faces all week and pain replaced joy that had carried us out to the bus every other time before this particular departure. As I choked back sobs and wiped away tears, I grabbed our translator Hellen to help me make out what Gabriel was asking me. She relayed the message that he wanted to know what happened inside and why everyone was crying. I asked her to please tell him that we had to leave and go back to the United States and we were all very sad and wanted to stay there with them. As Hellen translated my words, I felt as though my heart was being ripped from my chest. I could see the sorrow in his eyes and I felt as though we were abandoning this child who had found peace, solace, and joy for the week we came into his world. How could we leave? How could any of us get on that bus and force this child to go back to the life he's been dealt? What is his adult life going to look like after we leave? Will the drugs that run the streets of Loma Linda eventually run this precious boy's life as well? I hated walking away and it didn't feel fair and even as I sit here, part of me is angry for leaving him there, but what can I do?

As I watched the words sink in through his eyes and as I saw the tears form that he tried so bravely to refuse to let fall, he looked up at me and quietly asked "No hasta manana, Brittany?" My reply still torments me and for days after I left Managua; after I was back in the states, and after every smell and dirt fragment had reluctantly been washed away from this trip of a life-time; my response still causes me to spontaneoulsy burst into tears. On that final day with this child, with all of the children of that neighborhood, I shakily replied "No hasta manana, Gabriel."
Against what my heart was telling me, I got on the bus and I started my departure from Loma Linda. Clinging to air through my sobs, I made a silent promise to myself and to Gabriel. My goodbye, although inevitable right then, would not be a goodbye forever. I will be back and I will not forget. Hasta Luego, Gabriel. I will see you soon.