Who knows which way the wind will blow or where I'll be tomorrow, but this is about my journey in this life. The life I have been given is a beautiful & blessed one. Below you will find posts about my journey. This is my journey, this is "Life as I Know It."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reflection & Rediscovery

So I didn't blog like I intended last summer and I didn’t this summer either (oops). However, I did take some time this morning to reflect on the past year & spend some much needed time in the word of God.

As some of you may know, I moved to Houston, TX on July 2. I am extremely grateful and blessed for the opportunity I will have to teach in the Cypress area and experience the "big city life." I left Waco, TX with a heavy heart, knowing that I would be leaving my first set of “kids”. Yes, my students are my kids because I love and care for them as if they were my own. Needless to say, the last day of school was an emotional one. Never would I have expected some of my students to be in tears, hugging me. I was moved. Loved. Appreciated. I love those kids with all my heart, still to this day. Despite the challenges I faced in my first year, I know for a fact that I have learned SO much & am extremely grateful for the lives that touched me along the way. A new chapter has opened itself in Houston and I am ready to see what the Lord & Houston has in store for me.

Transition is a tough thing. Change is inevitable. Those of you that know me, I don’t typically enjoy either of those things. However, I’m embracing it all. Through all this time, I have struggled with spending time with my Savior. To be real with you, it was non-existent for quite some time. What did I do? I started of strong, then slowly other things began replacing my time with the Lord: grading, worksheets, etc. I got caught up in the business of life, literally. So many things, struggles, situations occurred and I found myself trying to figure things out on my own and through my friends help…not my Savior. I found myself in a real “low.” I was negative, upset often, and questioning my calling…Am I really suppose to be a teacher? Why am I enduring such struggles with a job that I knew I would love? Turns out, upon reflection this morning, I strayed away from the Lord, His purpose, His love, His desire, His will for my life this past year. Granted, I went to church, I listened to Christian music, I had devotionals every now and then. But I grew complacent, stagnant, and lukewarm.

 Revelation 3: 15-16 states, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

“If you get out of the light, you become a sentimental Christian, and live only on your memories, and your testimony will have a hard metallic ring to it. Beware of trying to cover up your present refusal to “walk in the light” by recalling your past experiences when you did “walk in the light.” –Oswald Chambers.

Ouch. That was me: lukewarm, metallic ring to my testimony. Am I ashamed? No. Am I convicted? Yes. That’s a HUGE difference. One should never feel ashamed in your faith, in your present situation, your past, your journey…because the Lord does not bring guilt. He brings conviction & opens your eyes to the things of Him.

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”  –Hebrews 12: 5-7.

“All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” –2 Timothy 3: 16-17

 Am I being disciplined? You bet. How so? Through the Lord, through the Spirit, and through Scripture. Am I okay with this? Yes. I am being refined through the Lord. And that’s the beauty of the Lord! I am in Christ & despite by “lukewarm-ness” throughout this past season, I am still with the Lord. He is still using me, teaching me, disciplining me. I am saying this because one thing I have learned through this time & if I can provide any encouragement to anyone: you cannot make it on your own. Period. No matter what your calling, your job, your situation, you NEED the Lord’s peace, guidance, conviction, discipline, love, & support daily. Being simply “lukewarm” and a complacent Christian is NOT enough.

This morning I spent some time in 1 John and I was moved, convicted, rejuvenated. I strongly encourage you to check it out. I was moved how it talks about the truth, sin, the love of Christ, and how I, as a Christian, should be living & loving. This could not come at a more important time as I start preparing for the new school year & how I show Christ in my life as a teacher.

The greatest commandment in the bible states to LOVE the Lord with all your heart, soul & mind (Matt 22: 37) And the second, to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39). How do we know what LOVE is? “This is LOVE: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we als0 ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10-11).

I must first love God with all my heart, soul, and mind in order to show others the LOVE of Christ. Being lukewarm does NOT allow one to do this. Going through the motions is being complacent. It is simply, NOT ENOUGH. People don’t understand Christ’s love for them because we are living lukewarm, complacent lives. We do not love & trust God fully, completely. We do not love others as Christ would. This was me. This was my story for the past year or so. It is my deepest desire to NOT be what I was, but to use what I’ve learned in this next season of my life.

 I want to be “on fire” for the Lord; love the Lord completely so others will see Him, His unending love, grace, & mercy through me. I want to show this in how I approach teaching and respond to situations in the classroom. People need to be loved and shown compassion. Granted, I am NOT perfect; I am FAR from it. 1 Timothy 1: 16 states, “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

I am the worst of sinners. But guess what? God has unlimited patience with me so I can be an example to others. So I can LOVE others as Christ loves me...endlessly, with grace, compassion, & mercy.

Why am I sharing this? So you know where I was and where I want to be. It is not an easy task to pick up the cross daily & follow Him. I know I will struggle. I know at some moments I WILL stumble or completely fail (because I already have many times in my life). But I have the reassurance that through the Lord’s discipline, guidance, instruction, and His word that I will be humbled, shown grace, and make it through.

I have been rejuvenated. I have found that my cup must be FILLED so I may pour out Christ’s love to others. To have JOY in life, in my job, and in all situations, God—His love, His word & the Holy Spirit must FILL me daily.

Be ENCOURAGED & be FILLED so that you may show JOY, LOVE & COMPASSION as Christ has shown in your own life. 

Rediscover Jesus. Rediscover His love for you...I am doing just that! Please take a time to listen to this song.

Be blessed,

Kelsey Michele

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wedding #3: Kyle & Andrea

This past week was spent on the East coast of the United States. Although I have traveled many places in my lifetime, I have not once set foot in the state of Connecticut or in NYC...I managed to do just that this past week. My family flew into Connecticut and spent a week in Norwalk, CT. My cousin, Kyle, was getting married June 11 (so he's happily married currently), so we decided to make a trip out of it. I saw the sights of Norwalk, drove to Mystic, CT, along with 2 trips into NYC. Not to mention, I got to see tons of family!! The wedding festivities consisted of a BBQ/Party on the Veranda at Andrea's (Kyle's wife) Moms house, followed by a rehearsal dinner at Oneill's (where the two met), a boat party/tour in Norwalk, the actual wedding, and 2 trips to NYC, one with a broadway show & the other, a trip to see the 9/11 exhibit and Yankees vs. Rangers game.

The week was long and filled with fabulous memories, but nothing tops my cousin getting married! I can honestly say that I have never seen a bride SO happy and full of LOVE. As she walked down the isle she looked stunning and had the biggest smile on her face. She was full of happiness, full of love, full of joy, and full of content. The ceremony was held outside followed by a cocktail reception and then a dinner reception. If you know Italians, they love their wine and their food; it was a great occasion filled with good times, good food, and great memories!

Here are some pictures that summarize my week on the East Coast (be sure to read the captions!):
Shopping in SoNo & found this. Sic'em Bears.

Charles W. Morgan Whaling boat in Mystic, CT.

Anyone remember the Julia Roberts movie, Mystic Pizza? Well behold: pictured above is Mystic Pizza. It was SO good. Probably the best pizza I ever had!

Cousin on the boat cruise! Allie, Kyle, Cody, Angie & myself. Love my family.

Andrea (my cousin's wife) and her mom, Ree, walking her down the isle! She is just BEAMING! :)
At the cocktail reception with my sister! Love you, Al!

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Kyle Hanson! What a lovely couple!

Radio City Music Hall! First trip to NYC, as well. Went to the top of the Rock and saw amazing views, too!
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Allie & I saw Wicked at Gershwin Theatre. By far one of the most impressive  musicals I've seen. I think I could watch it multiple times and still LOVE it!

Day 2 in NYC: Statue of Liberty. Breathtaking!

The Brooklyn Bridge!
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Ground Zero Museum. This museum captures the dreaded day of September 11, 2001 and the emotions of those working at Ground Zero. Truly moving and emotional.

Yankee Stadium. Spent our last evening in NYC at the Yankee vs. Rangers game. The stadium was impressive, however, the Rangers did not play well. We left early and barely made an express train back to Norwalk, CT.

Overall, the week was an enjoyable one and I was truly blessed to spend so much time with family. I had one day at home, then turned around and moved into my new place in Waco, TX. I still have a lot to do after just 2 days unpacking and organizing, but it will come together. Now, I'm on to preparing for a father/daughter trip to Seattle, WA and Alaska. I look forward to this trip and being in the same state as my dear friend, Caitlin. Sad, though, that I won't be able to see her! Watch out Seattle & Alaska, here I come! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Time In Between

So after graduation, I spent some time subbing at Connally Junior High, where I will begin working in the fall. I finally made some $$ for teaching! I received that paycheck in the mail and it was a reminder that I'll be teaching for real, very very soon! In the meantime, I've packed up the apartment off of Bagby and have been living out of suitcases & boxes at home until I'm officially in Waco. This has proved frustrating and unorganized, so while I'm enjoying the presence of family, I'm ready to get things where they are suppose to be!

I have been to two weddings! Yes, this is my summer of weddings; a grand total of 5! The first was a good friend from high school, Megan and Ty. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony on the Llano River with some great country music and dancing! It was nice to catch up with some old high school friends, dance, and celebrate their wedding!

This past weekend, I went up to the Dallas area for one of my pledge sister's wedding. Camille and I became very close our last two years at Baylor; we shared teaching stories, stresses, memories, and tons of laughter! I was extremely honored and blessed to attend her wedding! Also, it was one of the last times I would see a lot of my closest friends and Zeta Sisters for an unknown amount of time. I felt a sense of sadness as we all departed our ways, more so then than on graduation. The realization that all of use are going different directions in life, different cities, and different states truly hit me as we all said goodbye in the I-Hop parking lot on Sunday. I know, for a fact, our friendship and the sisterhood we share will forever be one of my greatest memories in college & that I will continue to maintain these friendships for a lifetime.
Some Zetas after the wedding! :)
My roommates. Shannon, Beene, & Linds.
Spent the past year being "room neighbors." I'm blessed to have her in my life & that she'll be in Waco next year!
Mr. & Mrs. Tyler Talbert!!
The happily married couple!
 After an amazing weekend spent with friends, I headed back home Sunday afternoon to unpack and begin repacking! My family will be celebrating my cousin Kyle's wedding (wedding #3 for me!). I am excited to spend time with family and make my first ever visit to Connecticut and NYC! Now, I'm off to finish the packing process!

Until next time,

Kelsey Michele

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Chapter Closes, Another Opens

I was inspired by my good friend, Amanda, to make a blog post. I had created this blog, much like her, to keep up with first my travels as well as my senior year at Baylor. As you can tell, I obviously did not blog...Oops! So thanks, Amanda, for your recent post--you've inspired me to update mine! :)

As some of you may know, I graduated from Baylor University one week ago. I was lucky to have my family (mom, dad, and sis) as well as my Mommom & Poppop come to the Wack to celebrate. I am officially a Baylor Alum and have officially started the next chapter of my life. While last Saturday was a day of rejoicing and celebration, I also felt a sense of sadness. The reality had sunk in: I'd be leaving the place I loved, that molded me into a better person, and gave me some of the best friends and memories I could have ever asked for. With that being sad, it was hard to say goodbye to my friends. Baylor has brought so many wonderful people into my life and now we all were heading in different directions. Ahhh! I've come to the realization that this is apart of life and what we experience, it's a "new chapter" that God has so graciously blessed us with; it is a matter of trusting in Him, His promises, and plans. I have no doubt that God will continue to bless the friendships I've made at Baylor, as well as the future of my friends and myself. He is good to those who love Him.
My 4-8 Mathematics Education Cohort before graduation. Blessed to have experienced 4 years with these ladies!

Celebrated with Britt & Chris @ Baris, along with my family!

I consider myself blessed because I have a j-o-b. The state of education in Texas is in "limbo" right now and the fact that Connally Junior High offered me a position as a 7th Grade Math Teacher is wonderful. I am extremely thankful and blessed to have this job and look forward to working with some amazing people come August. With that being said, I'm staying in Waco. I have found a one bedroom apartment outside of the "Baylor Bubble" where I can start this next chapter. I move in June 17. Here we go.

In the mean time, I'll be staying in good ol' Llano spending time with my family and friends. I have plenty of weddings to attend, including one tonight, and some travel time with my pops. I'm excited for a little R&R in Llano, planning for my classroom & apartment, traveling, and preparing for my new future.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Oprah House…No, the Opera House!

Another Disclaimer: One, I apologize, again, for the lack of posts. Two, this will be a lengthy blog as it covers a 4 day trip. I apologize for the length, but it’s for my benefit as well. If anything, at least check out the pictures once I get them uploaded—free internet that’s timed, takes too long!

Early Saturday morning (December 4th) we headed to the airport to fly to Sydney! We got up around 3am only to get to the airport and be put on a later flight. So I know have $130 dollar credit to Virgin Blue (that was nice of them), but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to use it! We arrived safely to Sydney and headed to the Travel Lodge, our home for the next 4 days! Oh and if you didn’t know, Oprah and her 300 fans are headed to Australia... While Oprah is in town, they will be naming the Opera house, the Oprah house…really!? Anywho, here’s an update about my trip to Sydney!

Day 1: Saturday, December 4th
·      Walked around Sydney and saw the following:
o   The Anzac Memorial: Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. The memorial honors the 30,000 Anzac soldiers that were injured or died during a mission in WWI.

o   The Sydney Tower: It looks like a needle.
o   Hyde Park: A Beautiful park just minutes from our hotel, which is home of the Anzac memorial and lots of greenery.

o   St. Mary’s Cathedral: a beautiful cathedral that we did not enter, we just took pictures. The two towers on the end (See picture) were completed in 2007 for the Popes arrival to Sydney and for his stay at the cathedral.

o   Sydney Hospital: There’s a lovely hog out front in honor of a person (I have since forgotten his name) and if you rub his nose it supposedly brings you good luck.

o   Parliament: The oldest parliament in Sydney. It wasn’t that pretty, so I didn’t take a picture.
o   The Mint Building: They print money there.
o   The Barracks at Hyde Park: The name is self-explanatory.
o   The Rocks: An old part of Sydney with historical buildings, shops, and cafes.
o   The Rocks Market: It occurs every Saturday and Sunday! This market had lots of crafts, jewelry, clothes, etc. I finally found my Australian ornament there!
o   The Opera House: It was a little hazy when we got to Sydney, so the Opera House didn’t look too magnificent, however, the next day in the afternoon sun it looked absolutely amazing!

o   The Sydney Harbor Bridge: It was huge! It is hard to believe that I will be climbing to the top on Tuesday (December 7th).

o   The Old Government House: looked and observed, then headed back to the hotel.
·      The Evening:
o   Darling Harbor: Ate at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. It came highly recommended from the front desk and Deanna’s Guide Book. Deanna had smoked salmon, Jess had fried shrimp, and I tried a fish fillet (the name of the fish starts with a B… ) Saw the first round of Darling Harbor fireworks to celebrate the Christmas season and the LED Christmas tree!

Day 2: December 5th, 2010
·      Took a bike tour of Sydney:
o   I saw some of the same things I did yesterday, but got a little background on some of the buildings and heard a lot on the history of Sydney.
o   Mrs. Macquarie’s Bench: A wife of one of the kings whom the people of Sydney attempted to please with a variety of things: a street named after her, an entire town, and a bench. She was never satisfied with either of these due to her loyalty and love to England.

o   The Botanic Gardens: I had pictured tons of flowers and color; however, it is more greenery than anything else. There are tons of paths around the gardens leading to several different places. It was very pretty and calming; some grass spots had an amazing view!

o   Witnessed a gay and lesbian celebration at one of the bays as we biked. I did not realize I was biking though one until I saw the rainbow flags at the end of the path. Interesting, very interesting.
o   Chinatown: We entered through the gates of Chinatown; the guide informed us that it is thought that all who enter leave as friends. I never knew this before, but the red symbolized prosperity. I must say that I have seen TONS of Asians here in Australia, out of all tourists, they are the ones I see the most—they are everywhere!
o   Side note: I dropped my camera on the bike tour. I even had a pouch to keep it in. It was open and it went crashing to the road. Luckily, it was not broken. My camera is still operable, the only thing that’s wrong is that it won’t shut fully! Phew, I got lucky on that one!
·      The Evening:
o   Walked around the Circular Quay for a bit and then went to find somewhere to eat. We ended up finding a Chipotle inspired restaurant minutes from the hotel, with help from others on the trip who ate there previously. Finally, MEXICAN FOOD! I was extremely excited and impressed with the food; it definitely hit the spot and was delicious! After dinner we headed back to the hotel to catch some sleep because we had an early departure for a Blue Mountain Tour!

Day 3: December 6th, 2010
·      Tour to the Blue Mountains:
o   It was a small group: a few couples from London, as well as a lady, a family from Thailand, others from the Asia area, a couple from Perth, Australia and us!
o   Olympic Park: The tour made a pit stop at Olympic Park, host of the 200o Olympics! We saw the Olympic stadium and the eternal flame that was lit at the opening ceremony in 2000! It was a sight to see and I was in awe that I was in a stadium that Olympic athletes once stood and competed in…Crazy!

o   Featherdale Wildlife Park: Went to a wildlife park, saw a crocodile feeding (it was nothing like the Crocodile Man Tour I went on in Costa Rica, but still pretty cool), and a variety of animals. The coolest part? Completing my “passport” of Featherdale Wildlife Park and a free cappuccino—love free stuff!

o   Common Ground Café: We stopped on the way to the Blue Mountains and a little town that had a Common Ground Café! Deanna, Jess, and I were extremely excited because it had the same name of the infamous Common Grounds in Waco, TX. If only it had the amazing coffee! The food was delicious and all organic! The café is a Christian based and profits benefit their cause—turns out there are a few in the States, just with different names!

o   The Three Sisters: This is based off an Aboriginal tale. There were originally 7 sisters, however, 4 have since eroded, leaving the 3 standing. The story goes somewhat like this: there were three sisters in a tribe who loved three males in another tribe. The males couldn’t stand being away from the sisters, so they came to take their lovers away. Turns out there was danger and a witch doctor was scared for the Three Sisters’ lives; he used his magic wand to turn them into stone, with hopes to turn them back after the danger had passed. The witch doctor one, didn’t survive the battle or two, has turned to a bird and is continuing to look for his wand today.

o   Katoomba Falls: Took a scenic skyway that overlooked the Katoomba Falls. We were lucky to see them because rain and fog settled in!

o   Scenic Railway: Deanna, Jess, and I rode the steepest railway in the WORLD. Yep, that’s right.

o   Rain: When we got to the rain forest, there was a downpour that never stopped. Being the adventurers we are, the three of us ventured to explore the short path…in the pouring rain! For the most part we were dry, however, my shorts were definitely wet.

o   Blue Mountain Chocolate: We stopped at this little shop that recently won a very impressive and exclusive chocolate award. I had some hot chocolate, which was made with real chocolate! It was insanely good, but I couldn’t finish it because it was so sweet!
o   River Cruise: Took a ferry to the Circular Quay in Sydney to finish the trip! It was extremely windy, but it was a very pretty ride and a great end to the day!

·      The Evening:
o   Once we arrived back at Circular Quay, we headed to the Rocks area to eat Chinese food. We ate at Wok On In. It wasn’t the best Chinese, but it definitely fulfilled my craving for Chinese food! While eating we met a professor from Wakeforest, which is kind of ironic considering Baylor and Wake are fairly similar and I had a cousin who recently graduated from there!

Day 4: December 7th, 2010
·      The Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb and Manly Beach:
o   The Bridge Climb: I successfully climbed and conquered The Sydney Harbor Bridge! The bridge is the largest single span arch bridge in the world and is 503 meters long and 134 meters high. Our group consisted of: Deanna, Jess, and I, a couple from Melbourne, a couple from Perth, a couple from New Zealand, a couple from Germany, and a father and his daughter! It was about a 3-hour process, with a majority of the time preparing for the climb. We had special suits, a hat, and various other equipment that was necessary for the climb (a harness, radio, etc). Once all of that was ready, we set out to conquer the bridge! The beginning part was the worst because it was mesh, so you could see all the way down. However, I was not bothered by the height at all during the climb! Our tour guide, Lauren, was an amazing guide and so much fun! The views during the climb were spectacular! You could see for miles and miles; it was definitely a worthwhile experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget! Some facts about the bridge: only 16 people died in the making of the bridge. Please remember that this was at a time where they had no safety equipment or precautions. If I remember correctly it took 6-7 years to paint the completed bridge. The bridge is held together by 3 ½ ft long rivets (there are a total of 6 million rivets) and is entirely made of steel! The workers would be on the top of the bridge, heating the rivets in an oven, and then would proceed to just toss them to another worker in the middle of the bridge that caught them with a bucket! CRAZY!

o   Manly Beach: After a successful bridge climb, the three amigos (Deanna, Jess, and I) took a ferry to Manly Beach to relax and lay out. This is exactly what we did when we got there: we laid out, got some sun, and took a good nap. Oh and I should mention…we got some color! After about an hour or two at the beach we walked around Manly and had dinner near the beach. We caught the ferry back to Sydney and grabbed some Gelato from Gelatissimo before heading back to the hotel. Just to inform you: we have become gelato regulars, eating it once a day while in Sydney!

Day 5: December 8th, 2010
·      Shopping in Sydney:
o   David Jones: this is a HUGE department store in Sydney. There are a total of 9 levels and it is split into two different parts. This was extremely overwhelming, even for a girl who loves shopping! There were at least 2 floors designated to woman’s wear and there were clothes EVERYWHERE—I didn’t know where to begin! Needless-to-say, we didn’t spend too long in David Jones! And it is important to note that the window display at David Jones was SPECTACULAR! For every different window, there was a Christmas carol! It was absolutely amazing!
o   Lunch was spent at Westfield Mall—Sydney and then headed back to the Travel Lodge to meet up with a few others and head to the airport! Soon enough we were on our way and back in Brisbane to spend our last night at The Medina!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Went to Camp!

Disclaimer: I apologize for the lack of posts the past week or so. I have not had internet and I actually had class work to complete (yes, there is work involved on this trip!) 

As I mentioned previously, I would be attending camp with my year 9 students. Well, my last week at Whites Hill State College included two days at the school and three days at camp. Monday and Tuesday were spent preparing for my students Michael Jackson performance. All of the year 9 students participate in different groups and the last week of school they perform. I was “in charge” of one group and assisting them with their choreography to Bad. I am no dancer, but I sure as heck tried hard!

Wednesday: Travel, Camp, Beach, and Surfing.
On Wednesday, Robyn (my mentor teacher), Jill (another teacher), Ben (another teacher), Craig (another year 9 teacher), and two other student teachers that Jill had previously. We headed to the Bryon Bay area of New South Wales and stayed at a camp there. For those of you in the USA, “camp” is not like our summer camps. Camp is a time for students, if they paid, to come together as a class and hang out in a setting other than school. There are planned activities and events, including formal dinner on the last night! Wednesday we got to the camp, got settled in the cabins, and then headed to the beach for a swim and a surf lesson! The teachers made sure that everyone had a sun shirt, sun hat, and sunscreen on—this included me! I am not use to all of this skin protection, because back in the states we slap on sunscreen and call it a day! Once we got to the beach, half the students swam, while half the students learned to surf. I am proud to say that I partook in the surf lessons for both groups. I can officially say I learned to surf in Australia—Chris Bernard you best be proud! Now the process of getting there was quite tricky and I did not stay on for too long, but I did it! Wednesday evening the students put on a talent show and I must say, some of my students are talented, some however, are not.
Bus Ride to Camp!
Learning the ways of surfing!
One of the Instructors and me after a successful attempt!
Thursday: Beach, Lunch, Scavenger Hunt, Girl time, and Formal Dinner.
            On Thursday we had a morning swim session at the beach that ended up being cold, wet, and rainy! No fun for me, but tons of the students enjoyed their time! Later on in the day students went on a scavenger hunt around camp; they were separated into color groups! I can proudly say that although my team did not win, they certainly did an amazing job! The late afternoon was dedicated to girl and guy time! The girls had a guest speaker on how to handle various situations and a beauty session, where they learned all about how to apply make up and various techniques! The girls were very into the lesson and they had a great time! Thursday evening was spent preparing and attending formal dinner. My students dressed in semi-formal attire and all of them looked handsome and gorgeous! Teachers matched up the boys and girls and it was his duty to knock on the girl’s door and formally invite her to dinner! It was precious to see and I loved to see my students all dolled up! Dinner was served at the made up “Hibiscus Inn,” where we served fried chicken with marinara sauce, salad, and potatoes. For Dessert: cheesecake and ice cream! All of the students had an amazing time and I enjoyed serving them! After dinner our night was spent learning 3 different Australian dances...Yes, I did participate! It made the night and my day was officially complete!
Scavenger Hunt!
Some beautiful ladies!
Robyn and me! :)
Learning to dance after Formal dinner!
Friday: Breakfast, Beach, Lunch, and Return to Brisbane.
            On Friday we had a pancake and bacon breakfast before packing up and heading out! The breakfast was delicious and definitely filling! Afterwards, students packed up and prepared to go home, prior to heading to the beach for a little while. While the students were at the beach, Robyn and I (along with the cooks for the trip) stayed back and made sandwiches for our picnic at Byron Bay. Once the students returned, they cleaned up, the bus arrived and we were off to Byron Bay for lunch. Lunch was short and sweet; the students and Robyn had prepared a gift for me and gave it to me in front of every one…those who know me, know I’m emotional…Whelp, I cried. I didn’t ball, but I had a few tears! I was extremely thankful for the gift and my time at Whites Hill State College; I will definitely miss the staff and my students! We then headed back to Brisbane on the charter bus by 3:30 pm!
all the kiddos! 
Lauren and Josephine!

Friday Night: Christmas Spectacular at Hillsong—Brisbane!
            As soon as I returned from camp, I started a load of laundry and jumped in the shower to get ready for the Christmas Spectacular at Hillsong. Jess, Deanna, and I took a bus directly to the church this time and arrived right on time! We were lucky to be at the performance; one of Jess’ students had 3 extra tickets and gave them to us! Now, when I heard Christmas Spectacular I expected Christmas Carols and the Christmas story…this was not the case. The show incorporated Cinderella with the message of Jesus and some Christmas carols. There was also some high school music inspired songs in this act. I enjoyed the costumes, songs, and what not, it was just a different way of portraying what I thought was going to be a “Christmas Spectacular.” It also did not help that there was a family in front of us with some uncontrollable kids that were obnoxious (this included the parents, too). However, it was a nice Christmas treat and the three of us enjoyed hearing Taylor Swift’s Romeo and Juliet as we exited. I also ran into another teacher at Whites Hill that was at camp with me, Jill. It was such a joy to see her face and give her one last goodbye hug!
After the Christmas Spectacular!
            Overall I had a successful time at Whites Hill State College and learned so much from Robyn and from my students. They truly embraced me and welcomed me and I will miss them all! We head to Sydney SUPER EARLY Saturday morning; we depart the hotel at 3:30am…that’s way too early for me!

Until next time,


Monday, November 29, 2010

Just Keep Swimming!

This past weekend we traveled to Cairns, Queensland home of the Great Barrier Reef. We brought our bags to school and headed to the airport at the end of the school day. Whites Hill was going to provide free transportation through their mini bus, but something occurred and it was no longer possible. The school then arranged for Deanna, Jess, and I to be picked up via taxi (as well as the other girls at Camp Hill) and paid for the trip. It was a very kind gesture and we were extremely thankfully that we didn’t have to pay for a taxi ride! We left at 6:40 and landed in Cairns around 9pm. We made it to our hotel, The Cairns Colonial Club. We arrived in what Deanna, Jess, and I called a “mini rainforest.” We unpacked; explored a little, and then headed to bed fairly early—Saturday was going to be a big day: THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!

            Saturday was spent at the one and only, Great Barrier Reef. On the way there, I was still in shock that I would be visiting such a renowned place and one of the Seven Wonders of the World…it was just unfathomable, until, of course, I arrived! We had about an hour bus ride and an hour and a half boat right before we got to the reef. Along the way, we were informed of some pretty cool Great Barrier Reef facts:
1.      The Great Barrier Reef is 2,300 km long.
2.      It is considered one organism.
3.      The Great Barrier Reef was formed over half a million years ago (CRAZY!)
4.      The current state of the Great Barrier Reef is, roughly, 8,000-10,000 years old.
5.      Reefs grow 3 cm every 100 years! (Just think: that’s very little progress made in just 100 years and the Great Barrier Reef is 2300 km long…AMAZING to think of God’s handy-work and creation.)
The Great Barrier Reef is out there somewhere! :) Simply Beautiful!
Just me on the Quicksilver! Such a lovely day!

Once we arrived at what they guides called the pontoon, we slipped into some protective wear: full body suits (we paid 5 dollars for these very attractive suits). The guides highly recommended them because it was jellyfish season. Deanna, Jess, and I were not going to take the risk of being stung, so we opted for the lovely suits! I’m glad we opted for those suits though, I felt safer! After a complimentary lunch, Deanna, Jess, and I decided to venture out on the reef prior to a group tour some of us had signed up with. Jess and Deanna had never snorkeled before, so I took them out for a little mini lesson and help comfort them on their first experience! Turns out the waves were fairly rough and made it a little difficult but they were troopers; Deanna went back out on her own and Jess joined the group on the “Advanced” snorkel tour!
Looking good! :)

With all of our gear!

On the tour we saw TONS of fish: small, big, skinny, fat…all types! I learned that butterfly fish always travel in pairs. They meet their “mate” fairly early in their life and travel with them always. When one dies, the other then travels alone the rest of his or her fish life. CRAZY! I also learned that clown fish undergo sex changes; they often change from male to female. I held a mushroom coral, a sea cucumber, and a bright blue starfish. I also got to touch a clam on the reef. It was crazy to touch it and then see it close…AMAZING. This experience was definitely a once and a lifetime one. I was completely amazed at God’s marvelous creation. The fact that He could create something so unique, so beautiful…I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me and completely humbled by the fact that I witnessed such a magnificent place. It was breathtaking and it was amazing…I definitely fill blessed to have had experienced the Great Barrier Reef and all of its inhabitants!

The next day we took a bus into Cairns and explored the city…found a casino (in which we did NOT gamble…we were already spending too much money!)…a dome filled with a rainforest and saw the beautiful Cairns harbour! We (Jess, her roommate Lauren, Deanna, and I) went to a great restaurant on the Harbour and we all ate burgers and fries! It was a great lunch! We spent the rest of the day walking around and exploring! Lauren and I found a mall and more importantly a nail salon. We decided to get manicures and pedicures; it was a nice treat and I was able to relax! After that we headed back to the hotel, killed some time, and then headed to the airport and headed back to Brisbane!
My roomie and I :)

The harbour at Cairns!
It was quite an eventful weekend and memories were definitely made; these memories will last a lifetime! It’s now time for the last week of school and camp with my year 9 students! We leave Wednesday…time is sure flying by here in the Land of the Aussie!

Until next time,

Kelsey Michele