Travels

As previously mentioned in my About Me page I am a traveller. I take any opportunity to see and explore the world and it has certainly influenced who I am. This page explains the projects that were done for three of my journeys. I encourage anyone who has an interest in mission work or cultural projects of any kind to look into these and find some trips near you.

Uganda, Africa (2009) – In 2009 I was given the opportunity to take part in this 2.5 week mission trip. With weekly meetings leading up to the big day of departure we had all out shots, supplies and courage to jump into a whole new world. The reason we were going to Uganda, to Jinja in particular, was to help out in various orphanages, donate supplies, teach children and help build a chicken farm that is larger than my house. Our home base was off the beaten path in Jinja, right on Lake Victoria, where we stayed under the hospitality of Pastor Isaac and his wife Rebecca. Isaac and Rebecca gave our group of 12 a small home right in the heart of their orphanage and school, Canaan Children’s Home. If you follow the link you will be able to read about the amazing story of Pastor Isaac, who survived death and saves children. He shared his story the first night we were there and it is still so unreal even today. During our stay at Canaan we donated supplies, helped in the medical center, taught the children English and played with them. (Shake Shake the Mango Tree was their favorite game). While I could write a novel about this place, for your patience it was an amazing stay. We then headed towards the eastern border to Tororo, which shares a border with Kenya. Aside from seeing many baboons and having them jump on our car this was the place that changed my life forever. We went to Smile Africa Ministries where we were humbled by what we saw. Pastor Ruth, another amazing women, started this organization as a safe place for all the orphans and slum children to go during the day. Here they can get an education and three hot meals as well as medical attention. The children who come there live in the streets, many drunk from fermented drinks and foods, and even more who are starving. Here they have hope and safety. The children at this ministry, in particular one girl and her sister changed my life. A girl who could have been no more than 3 was being carried by her sister, age 5 or 6, because she had clubbed feet and could not walk. It broke my heart to see a girl so young act as the role of mother, but I also admired that she did that and put her own life on hold. I gave the older girl a necklace that day and I have never seen a face light up more, she hugged me and showed all her friends. Making her day felt amazing! But, I wanted to help her sister too. So, a few others from my group and myself remembered a woman we had met who helps children who are disabled by paying for surgeries and nursing them to health, we gave Pastor Ruth her information and within a few months progress was being made. Christine, the young girl, has surgery and should be walking on her own. While I had many wonderful experiences in my stay in Africa this is the highlight and short version of my trip.

Me and my friend Charlotte (on the right) with some of friends from Canaan Children's Home

Me and my friend Charlotte (on the right) with some of our friends from Canaan Children’s Home

Christine and her sister at Smile Africa, photo credit to Brian Malarky

Christine and her sister at Smile Africa, photo credit to Brian Malarky

Poland (2011, 2012) – I learned of a very interesting project through my school and my professor Rick Brown. Him and his wife, Laura, run Handshouse Studio, where they involve students in projects to recreate many historical wooden objects using all period tools and materials. Many years ago they became involved in the reconstruction of the Gwozdziec Synagogue in Poland. The synagogue was destroyed during the WWII by the Nazis. Before its end, this was one of the wooden synagogues with the entire ceiling painted and walls. When the Brown’s caught wind that the Museum of Polish Jews was going to be built in Warsaw and were looking for a synagogue reconstruction, they immediately sent a proposal.  After years of research they had workshops to bring U.S. and Polish students together to construct and paint the ceiling of this reconstruction. I participated in the painting workshops for a 2.5 week period in the summers of 2011 and 2012. I stayed primarily in Krakow, Warsaw, Zamosc and Szczebrzeszyn. We mixed our own pigments, then mixed the pigment with rabbit skin glue to create paint, the same way it was originally done. Now after many hours of hard work the project is finally done and currently being installed into the museum which is projected to open in October 2013. For all the information I encourage you to visit Handshouse Studio.

Detail of one of the ceiling pannels

Detail of one of the ceiling pannels

2011 wall completed at our opening at the Royal Palace in Warsaw

2011 wall completed at our opening at the Royal Palace in Warsaw

2012 wall, also at the opening

2012 wall, also at the opening

Our whole team!

Our whole team!

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