last goodbye

And break!

Well, another chapter has come to an end. Friday marked the end of my Red Bus Project internship, and Sunday brought unwanted goodbyes and a sad drive back to North Carolina.

I don’t even know how to sum up these last three months into a blog post. Actually, I don’t even know how to describe these last three months in words. Or at least words that make some kind sense or could even possibly form legible sentences.

So much happened
So much life was lived.
So many lessons were learned.
So many friendships were formed.

Let me just start out by saying that I like LOVE Nashville. I think I fall in love with that city every time I visit. Somehow I have Nashville in my blood. Sure, I was born there to two Canadian parents, but I am almost positive that they snuck a little Nashville in my veins. Visit after visit, I knew there was something special about that city, but it wasn’t until I ended up back there (more grown up than thirteen year old me was) this semester that I really saw myself in the city itself. I love the culture, the coffee, the people, the architecture, the boots, the atmosphere, and did I mention the people? I don’t understand the magnetic pull that Nashville has on my heart, but it’s doing something right.

When I first arrived at the beginning of February, I had no intentions of being there long term. I was strictly there for a three month internship and then I’d be off to Uganda and back to North Carolina. It wasn’t until a few friends started planting a bug in my ear that maybe I should think about coming back to Tennessee after my trip. I remember the moment when we were talking and it finally clicked…this might just be a possibility. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what will happen through and after my trip to Uganda. Who knows where I’ll be when I get back.

I don’t know what plans God has for me in the next few months, but I do know that Nashville is on my list.

At the top of my list.

In all capital letters.

Underlined…twice.

You win Nashville. You’ve got me.

Will it be work? Will it be school? Will it be an internship? Will it be all three? I’d love to know the answer to that more than anyone. Time will tell. Plans will form. Connections will be made. God will provide. I cannot wait to see what comes of this.

As evidence by the rambling directly above, leaving Nashville last weekend was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had a great last couple of weeks there trying to fit in as many “Nashville” things as possible. We did a pretty darn good job. But it wasn’t until I said my last goodbye, got in my car, and made my way to the interstate that I truly realized what was happening. I was closing a chapter in this crazy book of life. Sure, I’ll be back and those relationships will continue, but that part of my life was over. Never again will I be in the same spot. I am so grateful for the people and experiences He placed before me throughout this internship. I could not have imagined anything better. It had it’s ups and downs, but somehow my heart was healed in ways that I didn’t even know it needed healing. It repaired things in my life that I didn’t even know were broken. I left Franklin, TN last Sunday a different person than I arrived three and a half months ago. I have Red Bus to thank. I have my fellow interns to thank. I’m just so in awe of what God has done through this Red Bus Project journey.

Now I’m home in North Carolina. I’m back with some of my best friends in the world. I’m back in one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen. I’m trying to process the last three months. I’m trying to think about packing for the next three months. I’m trying to be in a spot where I’m ready to experience and learn everything that will be thrown my way throughout this next chapter of my crazy story. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a hard adjustment coming back. It’s been a lot to process. It’s been a lot to wrap my mind around. It’s been a little overwhelming. Somehow God will show up. He’ll calm my nerves. He’ll take my hand and yet again ask me if I trust Him. At this point in my life, I don’t know why I still doubt that.

Like I said, there is no way that I can completely sum up my time in Nashville into words. To be honest, I’m not sure I did a great job of attempting to put words down here at all. All I know is that God is good. His hand is on all of this. I don’t understand the half of it, but I’m trying to reach out my hand and simply say, “Okay, I trust you.”

Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. – Proverbs 14:13.

photo

Advertisements

out of my head

Well Nashville, you’ve stollen my heart…yet again.

I don’t know what it is about this city. It got ahold of me oh so many years ago and it’s refusing to let go.

I cannot believe that I only have less than three weeks of my internship left. I refuse to believe it. I can’t begin to describe how amazing this entire internship has been.

I’ve learned more throughout this internship than I ever could have hoped to. I’ve discovered more about myself and my passions far more than I ever dreamed. I’ve developed more solid friendships than I thought possible in such a short amount of time. My heart has healed even more than I even thought it needed to be.

I’m so trying to enjoy these last few weeks and not allow myself to get caught up in the anticipation of an abrupt ending to my time here. I keep reminding myself that I have so much to look forward to over the next few months, but I just can’t help but think about all the things I’ll be leaving behind…for now.

For now. That’s what I need to keep reminding myself.

I know that nothing will compare to what I’ll experience in Uganda. I know it’s going to be a more wonderful and stretching experience than I can even imagine at this point. That alone is terrifying in itself. I’ve come to realize that I’m doing a really horrible job at balancing preparing for a trip that I know is going to be harder than I can even start to understand, and being completely excited for the entire experience. I realized that I’ve been leaning much more to the side of preparing for a difficult trip. I’ve lost a lot of the excitement that I once had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m unbelievably excited for my upcoming trip, but at the same time the knowledge of having so many unexpected things in the near future is psyching me out. I need to work on balancing these things better. I think it’s been even harder knowing that soon something that I love so much is ending just as something even more challenging is starting up. I think at this point, I just have so many thoughts running around like maniacs in my brain, and I have no idea how to sort through them, let alone process them all.

In slightly other news, I recently decided to jump into the world of hammocks. Yes ladies and gents, Elisabeth bought an ENO. I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to realize how amazing they are. How I lived for a year in the mountains of North Carolina without one is completely beyond me. (I promise these thoughts will connect with rest of this blog post. Just give me a moment.) Anyways, for the last week I’ve been spending every free moment hanging in a tree somewhere. Those moments have become my quite times. Even if there are other people around, I constantly find myself lost in thought, processing life. Is there a coincidence between the time that I purchase a ENO and the time that my brain is most unsettled? I think not. I’ve decided that I’m going to set aside time to just be still. Right now, that stillness comes with the rocking of a hammock.

Tomorrow we head out on our last run of multiple tour dates. I can’t wait to spend time on these campuses connecting with students. There’s nothing that I love more than being on the road. Pray that our dear bus stays put together and runs well all week. She’s such a sweet girl, but sometimes she gives us some trouble. Pray that our team has the strength to be push through all three dates and can finish with energy left at the end. I love this group of people that I have the honor of traveling with. I can’t wait for the conversations for years to come where we will be able to say “remember when…?” The anticipation of those days is what keeps me moving forward.

And off we go. Red Bus on three!

keep your head up

Oh, the life of a Red Bus Project intern.

Never predictable. Normally exciting. Always fun.

Last week started out with preparing for a long trek back to North Carolina. This was the week that I would be visiting friends, showing off Brevard, and sleeping in my own bed. Two days, a broken down bus, and three hours on the side of I-40 changed all that.

It was a hard adjustment.

I went from being so excited about being able to share what I love with all my friends back home, to driving back to Franklin in a rental car knowing that the rest of the week would be spent in the office, 5.5 hours away from home.

Luckily, I work with amazing people who made having to stay here completely enjoyable. As much as being in the office isn’t quite as fun as road life, there’s enough singing, dancing, joking and laughing to help you forget how many hours you still have in the office on any given day.

It turned into a week full of processing donations, brainstorming, and preparing to leave the next week (praying that the bus would be fixed in time for our next school stop). Thursday came and all of a sudden it was Easter weekend. Easter? How is it Easter already? I had all intentions of staying in Franklin for Easter weekend, but after some pretty easy convincing, I found myself North Carolina bound on Friday morning. Man, I didn’t realize how much I missed my friends until I got home that Friday afternoon. It was a great weekend filled with Bracken Mountain Bakery scones, Mela, “tresbonfires”, and time spent with some of my favorite people.

I’m beyond glad that I made the decision to go home, but I found myself sitting in North Carolina missing my new Tennessee family. I’ve spent so much time with these people over the last few months, that it was weird being completely removed from it. By the end of the weekend, I started to get more and more excited to head back to Franklin and see everyone on Monday morning at work. I wish I could somehow merge these two worlds into one. I’m so thankful that I have both of these amazing groups of people in my life.

Monday arrived and we were back in the office getting ready to leave for tour again the next day. We still weren’t 100% sure if the bus would be fixed in time, but we packed the Penske in hope that we would be back on the road the next afternoon. Tuesday morning brought disappointing news of a bus that wouldn’t be ready quite in time to leave for Atlanta that day. It was definitely disappointing to once again be in town when we were planning on being back on the road. I randomly decided to pop into the office and hang out working on some social media stuff there, when suddenly it was decided that we would in fact be heading to Atlanta for the first ever Red Bus Project stop…without a bus. We decided it was important enough to go, even if it meant busting our butts Tuesday afternoon and figuring out how create a slightly completely modified set up. Tuesday afternoon consisted of running around from place to place gathering supplies, and making sure everything was ready for a 4am departure for ATL. It turned out to be a crazy busy, but completely fun day. Finally, we were going to be back to tour life. Even if it was just for a day this week.

Yesterday we left crazy early for the long trek to Atlanta. We arrived, set up, and prayed that everything would go well. It turned into an amazing day. It was completely worth the crazy day on Tuesday, the long morning drive, and the modified set up. We had a great turn out and got to have some great conversations with students and visitors in downtown Atalanta.

You know it’s a long tour day when you see the sunrise and sunset all in one workday. We arrived back in Franklin shortly before eleven last night exhausted, but it was completely worth it.

We have an amazing team. I still can’t believe this team that only God could assemble. We arrived at the internship, most of us not knowing each other, and somehow we came together to create such a close knit team. I love this team. I can’t believe how quickly this internship is going. Slow down April! Please slow down!

Needless to say, you never know what a week may bring.

It’s an adventure. It’s exhausting. It’s energizing. It’s rewarding. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

I got on the roller coaster a little apprehensive and nervous, but I’m loving the ride more than I ever expected I would.

miles of skyline

Again, here I sit at the Frothy Monkey, drinking good coffee and digesting week two of the Red Bus Project Spring Tour.

It’s been a wild ride.

We thought the first week was cold. HA. Not even close. Week two was even colder FREEZING. Take 26 degree Indiana cold and add 30 mile/hour winds to that. It’s a wonder that I can feel my toes three days after.

While the weather was awful less than desirable, week two of tour was amazing. It was a lot of driving piled into three days, but I’m so thankful for that time that we got to be together as a team. You’re bound to get to know someone fairly well when you spend as much time together as we do, but this week pushed our relationships to the next level. This week I started to get to know people’s hearts, and not just the crazy personalities that we witness on a daily basis.

cbf0163e931311e29bb822000a1f9abd_6

I have a theory. The best talks happen while either driving, or sitting on the ground. Both of these prove to be even more valid after this week. Try sitting on the ground while driving. Jackpot. I don’t know what it is about these two activities, but somehow they draw out conversations that wouldn’t happen at any other time. We are at the point as a team where we feel comfortable enough to share things that we wouldn’t tell just anyone. It’s been such a cool experience being part of a team like this. There’s nothing like a eight hour drive in Penske truck to bring out great conversations, Panic! At The Disco, and extremely loud singing. Needless to say, driving may have been the highlight of my week. Either that or choking in the middle of a restaurant and having soda come out of my nose. It’s really a toss-up.

Having said that, we also had a great time at the campuses this week. Although the weather wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, the conversations we had with students definitely made up for it. We get to meet such awesome people at each school, and I love being able to hear their stories and what they want to do through their last years of school and beyond. At the end of the day, you remember who you talked to and what a great time you had, not the fact that you couldn’t feel your toes or nose most of the day.

I would definitely deem week two of tour a success. It may not have been the week we were expecting or hoping for, but it was 200% worth it. I cannot wait for this coming week when we will be travelling back to good old Brevard, NC. I can’t wait to see everyone at home and share my Red Bus passion with them. Watch out North Carolina, the big red bus is coming back.

551947_10151390351013802_535597094_n

Again, I just want to acknowledge what a stellar team we have working with the Red Bus Project. These guys are awesome. This definitely wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun or rewarding without y’all. I love you guys tons, and I cannot wait to see where God leads us over the next few months.

Red Bus on Three…

wagon wheel

Days like today are good for the soul. I think my mind has subconsciously been asking for a day like today for a while now.

It’s a sandal wearing, coffee drinking, book reading, ZZ Ward listening, life reflecting kind of day.

My life has been moving at a ridiculous bullet speed since I arrived in Franklin.

It’s been five weeks.

In one respect, it feels like I just arrived at the Show Hope office as a nervous intern that first Monday in February.

On the other hand, I’ve already developed relationships that make if feel like I’ve been here for at least ten times as long as reality depicts.

Two months ago I was living what I would call a pretty comfortable life. I had a job that paid well, a great house to live in, friends that most could only dream of having, and I was okay with it all. Never did the thought cross my mind that three short weeks later I would be moving five-and-a-half hours west to be apart of an internship that I never in a million years expected to be blessed with.

I have never been more convinced that the “man upstairs” has a fantastic sense of humour.

Here I sit, balancing somewhere between reality and what I am sure could only be a dream.

Let me explain the last month in a nutshell. (Although at this point, it may be a pretty long nutshell.) I arrived the evening before my internship started and although I felt completely unprepared, I felt this excitement that I still can’t fully explain. There is always an amount of uncertainty that comes with meeting a new group of people that you know you will be spending a significant amount of time with. I don’t think I can fully communicate how AMAZING this team is. It’s so clear to me that only God could assemble a group so diverse, but so like minded. I can honestly say that in the short time that I’ve spent with them, that I have been blessed with relationships that I know will make an impact in my life. I’ve never been a part of such a solid team that still has more fun than anyone could describe in words. I’ve laughed harder in the past few weeks than I have in the past few years combined. I pray these relationships only grow stronger over the next few months and will continue for years to come.

These interns are world changers. I cannot wait to see where the Lord takes each one of them. I’m so honoured to call them my friends. They’re rockstars and I love that I get to work alongside them everyday.

20130310-174019.jpg

Jill – Her one-liners will get you every single time…and you won’t see them coming. Ever.

Alexis – A fellow sarcastic soul. No further explanation needed.

Ericha (or Eric-ha if you will) – Fellow intern-hopper, grandma, and go-getter. (Check out Becoming Fools – a documentary she worked on for seven months in Guatemala.)

Will – The one who understands my musical taste, Instagrams as much as I do, and keeps things fun.

Wheeler – Dancer, singer, joker, leader, and great role model.

Believe me when I say this team is solid EPIC! I love every one of them.

The first few weeks consisted of processing donations, brainstorming new ideas, shooting promo videos, writing email bodies, and trying to prepare for a tour that most of us had never experienced. It was a great time to learn where we fit in the team. It was a great preparation for the first week of tour.

484928_345903815515172_2071009388_n

March 3rd. First bus call of tour. 7pm departure from Franklin, TN.

March 4th. 5am arrival at hotel in Asheville, NC. 2 hours of sleep. 7:30am breakfast. 8am departure. 9am set up at UNCA. First day of Spring 2013 Tour. And here we go.

We lacked an adequate amount of sleep. We had never set up the bus as a team.

Somehow we rallied, set up and opened the bus, and had a fantastic day. I’m still not entirely sure how we pulled it off so well. The day involved a cold start, some dancing, a little bit of limbo, tree climbing, and multiple cornhole competitions. It was a great start to what turned into a challenging but successful first week of tour.

Three days, a monsoon, a mountain trek, a snowfall, amazing volunteers, and a broken bus later, we completed our first week of tour. It’s a week I don’t think any of us will forget. We arrived back in Franklin as a colder, but stronger team. The broken bus could be explained by nothing else other than a God thing.

This brings us to sometime around today. We’re all digesting everything that happened last week, tweaking things for the next tour leg, and preparing to hit the road again next Monday. I think all of us are thankful for the week off from tour, but at the same time we’re completely anxious to get back out on the road with the Red Bus Project as we journey to Indiana for a five days.

Keep this team in your prayers. While we adore what we are doing, we are quickly discovering that we aren’t as invincible as we thought. We leave a lot on the road, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Follow the Red Bus Project’s journey through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website. We hope to see you on the road!

Franklin, so far you’ve been good to me. I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks bring. Knowing my life, it will include some excitement. Bring it on.

take a moment

Well, here we go. This girl will be on the move again staring May 26.  This journey will take me a little bit farther than the places that my last few adventures have, but I’m more excited than ever. I will be travelling to Jinja, Uganda for just over nine weeks. I really don’t think that any of this has really sunk in yet.

Uganda.

9 weeks.

Wait, WHAT!?

To say I’m excited is a complete understatement. To say I’m nervous doesn’t even come close to explaining the emotions that I’m feeling. There are so many mixed emotions, but at the same time I know that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Some of the trip is still in the planning stages, but I took the leap and purchased my plane tickets early this week. Hitting that buy button was slightly frightening, but I can now say with 100% confidence that I am going to Uganda this summer.

The organization that I will be working with for the majority of my trip is Abide. Basically, they are working to avoid having parents ever reach the point where they would have to give up their children due to preventable situations. Here’s a brief description from their website about what they are wanting to accomplish through this center:

“Abide Family Center will provide holistic, strengths based, social services to vulnerable families.  The center will serve as a transitional living and learning facility by providing caregivers the tools necessary to move toward independence.  Families will be referred to the center by local government officials who have determined the family’s need for supportive services rather than the removal of the child from the home.  A team of social workers will work with families to create individualized care plans. Depending on a number of factors, the family will receive either out-of-home supportive services or in-home supportive services.  Some of the services provided directly by the center will include: vocational classes and apprenticeships, parenting discussion groups, money management classes, nutrition planning, and child care services.” (http://www.abidefamilycenter.org)

I will be working with Megan and Kelsey there, setting up the center so that they will be at a place to start taking in families late this coming summer. I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with them in what I believe is such an important mission. Children belong in families. That’s all it boils down to.

I am also hoping to visit the dear Collies from Sole Hope! I’m so excited about that!

Unfortunately, all this does not come without a significant monetary cost. Everything from flights to transportation to housing to food add to the cost of the trip. While there are many expenses, I know that this is something that I’m supposed to be doing. Therefore, I am trusting that somehow I will be able to raise support to cover at least part of the cost of the trip.

Here are some of the approximate costs of the trip:

Airfare: $1500

Housing/Other Expenses while in Uganda: $1500 – $2000

I would also like to be able to raise money to take for the organizations themselves. I will hopefully be working with another organization before Abide, and will post an update with details and extra costs when that is finalized. Abide is also looking for used laptops that the social workers at the center can use. So if you have an extra laptop lying around and would be willing to donate it, please let me know!

At this point, I do not have a way to make donations tax deductible. I’m still trying to work at finding a way to make this possible, but as of now I do not have a way to do this. Any donation would be greatly appreciated. While this is something I know I should be doing, the costs associated with it are still somewhat overwhelming. If you do not need the donation to be tax deductible, I will put my address and PayPal email bellow. I will also update everyone if/when I find a way for donations to be tax deductible.

Even if you are not able to help support me financially, if you could partner with me in prayer for this trip and the time leading up to it, that would be appreciated more than you know.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this or even think about the possibility of supporting me through this new adventure!

PayPal Email: lissteckle@me.com

Address: 222 Batson Road, Brevard, NC 28712

set a fire

Sole Hope.

I first heard this name over a year ago from a good friend in North Carolina. As she started telling me about what they were doing in the United States and Uganda, I don’t think I could make it to their website fast enough. I started reading about how the idea for Sole Hope came to be and all that they were doing at that point. After reading through the website and watching some of their YouTube videos, I knew that I somehow wanted to be a part of what they were doing.

20130111-160525.jpg

Check out the Sole Hope website. (They explain everything that they do much more eloquently than I ever could.)

I had first contacted Drü early last spring wanting to find out more about how I could specifically get involved with what they were doing. At that point, I knew that I was moving to North Carolina, but I really didn’t have a single detail past that. With the craziness of moving and all that came along with it, I never ended up meeting with Drü and those emails got lost in the chaos of moving from one country to another.

Now let’s rewind to October. I finally decided that I needed to contact them again with the intention of making sure that I followed through with it this time. I sent Drü a message and a quick few emails later, I was signed up to help with their annual Art of HOPE event in Asheville.

This may surprise some of you, but I may be one of the shyest people you will ever meet. I know, I know…that’s now how I come across. I’ve worked many years to get to the point of coming across and confident and comfortable. I’ll let you in on a little secret – there’s a good chance that if I’m put in a new situation, I’m freaking out on the inside. I’ve made a point to not let that feeling hold me back, but that does not make things easier…at all.

I showed up for the Art of HOPE event not knowing who I was really looking for or what I was doing. The funny thing is, the minute I met everyone at the Altamont Theatre that afternoon, all my nerves disappeared. Working with Holly and Jessica that afternoon really solidified the fact that this was an organization that I really wanted to be a part of. I was also able meet Drü and Asher that night and had the privilege of hanging Asher’s wonderful photographs. That night was not only a great introduction to Sole Hope, but it was a wonderful event that involved so many amazing artists and photographers.

20130111-161011.jpg

Two weeks later I started what would develop into an internship at Sole Hope. I have loved every moment that I’ve been at the office and it has been a pleasure working with everyone there. (Okay, so counting hundreds of bead necklaces that ended up sprawled all over the floor may not have been the most fun I’ve ever had, but it does make for a good laugh now and again.) I’ve so enjoyed getting to know Jessica, Holly, Drü and Asher more, and this internship has truly turned out to be a blessing for me. It’s really solidified the fact that this is something that I could really see myself doing long term. I’ve even found myself putting more effort into my other job, just because I so look forward to heading over to Asheville and the Sole Hope office in “that building behind the iron”.

20130111-161155.jpg

Next week Drü and Asher make the move to Uganda where they will be running the Jinja side of Sole Hope. It will be sad to see them go, but I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through them over there. Hopefully I’ll be able to say “hi” in person this summer when I journey over there myself (and maybe listen to a little bit of Celine with Asher, just because we can).

Dear Sole Hope, you guys are awesome. I’m so thankful for the opportunity you’ve given me to join in the fun and gain so much experience that no textbook could ever begin to teach me. Y’all are great and I promise to try my best to keep your supply of Nibs at an acceptable level.

Head over to the Sole Hope Website and take a look at what these guys are all about. Check out their shoe cutting parties and feel free to order lots of merch. I’ll even write you a nice little note to send with it. Also, say a prayer for the Collie’s as they prepare to make the HUGE move to Uganda.

“Only those who risk going too far can possible find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot