Simply Love

My life has been turned upside down…

A few weeks ago 16 of us arrived in Lungi, Sierra Leone immediately hit with the moist African air.  The phrase “culture shock” doesn’t even do justice to the feelings I had walking off of the stairs of that plane.  Jet lagged, scared, walking onto a new continent with 14 strangers I didn’t have any idea that this third world chaos of a country would change my life.

I had meant to blog a while back and give details about the trip.  But honestly, details are just fillers and will come up without trying.  I want to focus on what needs to be said about this trip: Life is much less complicated than we make it out to be, simply love with all your heart.  We walked through villages where houses were huts, floors were dirt, bathrooms were holes, food was scarce, health was uncertain, children roamed, parents were sparse, and electricity was unfathomable.  A country where death is so close while just coming out of war and movies like Blood Diamond based off of their tragedies.  A country where the life expectancy is 41 and one in four women dies from giving birth.  A place where getting malaria is like catching a cold and it can be arduous to find a paved road.  On paper this sounds like a tragedy, but I’m here to tell you my friends, this place is a little piece of heaven.

Everywhere you go you are greeted with a handshake and a smile from ear to ear.  Life for them is simple and with that they focus on the important things; the things that come freely.  Here in America we find happiness in the amount of friends we have, the relationship we are in, the family we came from, the career we achieve, and most importantly the possessions we hold.  In a country like Sierra Leone, in order to be happy all they need is love.  They find happiness in the little things that we look over.  Although there’s nothing wrong with finding happiness with the friends we have, in their country they treat everyone like friends.  They welcomed us Americans with open arms and open hearts.

Yet again, it is important to find happiness in your relationship or your family, but there it is very common to be stripped away from all your loved ones.  We spent the week at a Child Rescue Center and ran a vacation bible school for the kids.  The children were placed here because they are orphans either by sickness, the war, or some other circumstance.  This place was a snip bit of the kingdom of heaven.  We arrived with children clinging to our sides, holding our hands, and embracing our hearts.  They gave all of their souls to us and opened up to us about their lives.  It was the seven most amazing days I’ve spent in regards to getting to know people.  Everything was pure and everything was genuine.  The “white people” (Americans) were stripped away of our cell phones, our laptops, clean water, HOT water for that matter, electricity, large meals, expensive clothes, and make up.  I don’t think I have ever felt more like myself than those two weeks.

I’m writing this in hopes that you feel as inspired as I do by the people we met in this tiny country.  I believe that these people live by the saying “What would Jesus do?”  They don’t care what you look like or where you came from they just want to love you and share with you their hearts.  I’ve never had so many hugs in my life and it is also normal to be holding hands while talking to someone.  As unusual as this may sound, I wish these were things that occurred here.  Also, even in the absence of owning any possessions, they always think about other people’s happiness before their own. Here are a few stories that may warm your heart:

During our first day of vacation bible school the morning started and all we wanted to do was herd the kids into their seats.  A few of our leaders found there weren’t enough seats so they decided to just stand by their group of kids.  During our morning one of the kids named Kemoh age 12 got up out of his chair and started to walk towards the stage.  Our instinct was that he was being incredibly rude by interrupting our lesson because not only did he get up, he hopped on the stage!  We looked around confused about what to do until three seconds later he was lugging two chairs in his hands with a grin from ear to ear.  We were floored by his sense of selflessness and I find myself wondering if I would ever think to do that especially as a kid!  This same child led prayers that brought me to tears because he thanked God for us.  Also at church we all remember him getting up to help guide a blind man to his seat.  These acts were a common thing, and I thank God that I got to witness them.

On New Year’s Eve our group attended the Methodist church that was right next to the Child Rescue Center.  We were greeted with warm handshakes and smiles and dancing and singing like you would never believe.  Church for them is almost like a party by praising God through their musical instincts.  I recommend ANYONE that is at all musically inclined to please visit an African country.  Their ability to naturally make beautiful music through their voices and drums is uncanny.  Anyways it was ten minutes until midnight and the minister asked us to bow our heads to pray.  The first thing he said was “Thank you Lord for bringing us from January 1st 2011 to January 1st 2012.” That line cut me real deep because it made us realize how close to death they really are.  Another year of life is precious and should be thanked.  After this the prayer was opened up to the people.  From all around I heard murmurs of people praying.  Some were loud and some were whispers but they all had the same meaning.  Thanks. They thanked God for everything in their life, for the love they had, and for a new year.  As my head was down I began to sob thinking about how many times I have complained about the most miniscule things.  And even when I did pray a lot of it was to ask God to help me in some sort of situation.  Yet for them in a life where it seems they have nothing, all they have is thanks. 

The next day we took a hike around Bo, where we stayed the whole week and a half, and took a tour of the “city.”  We saw all kinds of things and walked through the slums that were their normal streets.  Per usual we were hand in hand with our kids.  My tour guide in particular was Momoh, 11 years old with the most pure heart you have ever met.  He is a very quiet boy and he does not even live at the CRC, he just loves to come and hang out with all of us.  He was my tour guide and I loved holding his hand and sharing his home with him.  It was a walk that took a few hours and in the middle of African heat it was not easy.  I remember at one point he took my satchel with my camera out of my hands and at first I was a little caught off guard because I didn’t want him to take my camera.  Then he took my water, and I was incredibly thirsty from the hike so again I was a little set back.  He looked me in the eyes and said “I want to carry these for you so you can enjoy the walk.”By the way he was FASCINATED   with our cameras because they are very high tech in their eyes and I know he was probably thirstier than me, yet all he wanted to do was provide me with more enjoyment.  I drank some of the water but ended up giving him the rest and gave him some free range with my camera.  Momoh taught me what it really looks like to be humble, loving, and selfless.  I think about you every day Momoh, I love you.

To big Kemoh, Mariama, Cecilia, Abdulai, Ganda, my little kids: Joseph, Julie, and little Kemoh, Kabela, Idirissa, Rebecca, Mamie, the Mohammads, Johanese, Momoh, Saffe, Tikoh, Coi, Olsen, Ella, Aminata, all the Aunties, Hassan, Lansana, Alieu, and all the wonderful children I personally did not get enough time to spend with.  I love you to all the partners from the US that I traveled with and mis syou very much.  Thank you for changing our lives.  I hope that we can pass on the love and try to live more like you.

“Brethen let’s love one another for this is the commandment God gave us.” – The Reconciliation Song


The Deal Breaker

  So the semester ended and it was a rough one.  It was pretty odd too i must admit, just knowing I should have graduated if I weren’t behind.  But you know what?  I don’t regret anything, except for one thing… selfishness.  I guess when you’re a 23 year old and single, you have one person to look after.  I’m fighting for what I want to do, what I want to be, who I want to grow into… all the while forgetting what life is really about.  Life is about love.  A handful of people may or may not know the adventure I’m headed on in a few days, I tried not to boast about it because it is something that’s very dear to my heart. 

  On Tuesday I’ll be boarding a plane in D.C. to Bo, Sierra Leone for 2 weeks.  My sorority sister Nicky has done it for a few years and I contacted her because I knew this was something I wanted to do.  I really don’t know a lot, I have to admit.  But what I do know is that I will be spending two weeks in Africa, living in an orphange with no elecricity, makeup, celebrity gossip, reality TV, or any of the other mindless topics that so consume our society.  We are going to spend 2 weeks with children that have never known their parents; that fight off sickness and war everyday yet have an appreciation for life in way that we could never imagine.  When I first talked to Nicky about going on the trip I was a little nervous.  This group is affiliated with a church, and although I believe and love God dearly, I was nervous about preaching it because I’m not sure how confident I was in that.  Nicky looked at me and said “Kelly, these kids are more religious than you could ever dream.”  I’ll never forget that.  Here I am living in suburban America with the world handed to me, while these kids have literally n.o.t.h.i.n.g, yet they have more love inside of them than I could ever dream of.  I’m excited about meeting a ten year old that could teach me more about life than I’ve ever learned before.  The first team meeting we was in August and I went because I had been working up in DC this summer.  We went around the table and asked each other why we were going on the trip.  On a side note, I knew nobody hahah.  Anways, everyone said their piece, and one of the guys said “This trip is a deal breaker, I mean my life is changed because of this.  I am a college student and really I need to be spending my money on car payments but making this trip is more important to me.” 

  I loved how he said “this trip is a deal breaker.”  I feel like secretly that’s what we are all looking for.  Something deeper than where we are now.  We all want a life changing experience.  It may not be that we want these things, but as people in this generation we need experiences that help us appreciate all the simple things we have in life.  I mean to think that in a week I will be brushing my teeth with a candle and avoiding water at all costs due to parasites, I hope to come back and think fondly of all the simple things we do daily.  This trip is not going to be easy, and I hope it’s not for the lack of elecricity, warm water, or comfortable bed… but that I’ll have to leave an orphanage full of children I fall in love with.  I want this trip to be difficult because I met a kid (or kids) that just completely turned my life upside down, and made me realize how much I love all that I have and all the people in my life.  I want this trip to be difficult because when I hug those kids goodbye I’ll feel like I leave a piece of my heart with them.  I’m ready for a “deal breaker.”  This may be a little too much information for some of you reading this, but no matter what you believe in… I’m going to go ahead and say it.  I believe that God put me on the earth to be a part of missions like this.  I think this is why I am here at the end of the day, to share love. 

  We all know you don’t need to go to Africa to do this.  It’s the person next door, the lonely person in your class, the old woman at your church that sits alone everytime, the friend you haven’t called in a long time that you know is going through a rough time, your parents you love, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your best friend… they all deserve to recieve a glimpse of the love that these children in Africa give everyday.  No matter what your faith is, or if you have one at all.. the message is the same.   “The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” – Mitch Albom.  In the spirit of the holidays, whatever it is, or just the fact that you are alive… go love somebody today.  A simple smile or acknoledgement that you care about what the other person has to say could change somebody’s life.  “Be the change you wish to see in this world. – Ghandi” I will be writing in my diary daily, so expect blog posts when I get back to technology….

I love people, I love God, I love this wonderful chance to live.  I love you 🙂 

Something I dabbled with…If you want to feel infinite.

It MUST be finals week, spending way too much time procrastinating.

Some of the tracks aren’t so good because it was my first time… but I hope you enjoy!


Kyle Dooley inspired me for most of this.

Hopeless Romantic

A pretty personal poem… but it is probably important to share.  People feel comfort in what they can relate to.

As todays turn to tomorrows, the air becomes colder

Looking into the mirror, I grow older

It’s a blow to my chest when I remember what was

It’s shredding to the heart when I realize its fuzz

As if love never ensued

Cynical thoughts of love being so crude

Envelop my mind, leave me without hope

Turning to outlets, mere ways to cope

Being in love makes us truly feel whole

How do you replace it when it is stole?

When is it time to heal the scar?

When do you know you have come too far?

The future is bright and my spirit is bursting

For true love is what I am clandestinely thirsting

The hole will be filled in this derelict heart

For every soul eventually discovers its counterpart.

Music is food for the soul…

Also I feel like this is me a lot:

Here are a few songs that I haven’t been able to stop listening to all semester:


help you get through a creative rut, or exams!


More posts about my upcoming trips this December to come…

Procrastinating After An Event.

It’s been an extremely long time since I have written… sorry.
Today is December 9th, and yesterday a tragic even to occurred here at Virginia Tech.  Another senseless act of violence happened on this campus, although completely unlike the one in 2007, scars had been re-opened.

As I sit here trying to study for my finals, that seem so much less important than they did a few days ago, I can’t help but feel the need to write…

There’s a reason why there is a sense of welcome every time you enter this town

There’s a reason why Virginia Tech is advertised anywhere in the country

There’s a reason why our fans are obsessed to the point of obnoxious, to other schools

There’s a reason why people travel from all over the country to come back to Nowheresburg, Virginia year after year.

There’s a reason why our football team is going to one of the biggest bowls this year.

There’s a reason why everyone who graduates from here decks some part of their house in Hokie gear or names their first dog “Beamer”

I’m sure that from an outsider that follows media, we look like a football school that underwent a few tragedies.

…For those of you that feel this way, I want you to know that it is so much more than you will ever know…

…It’s more than a winning season.  It’s more than a sport.  It’s more than the fact that we have faced adversity.

We are Virginia Tech.  We love our school and couldn’t be more proud to represent despite all that we have been through.  Our blood pumps in maroon and orange and we may come across as obnoxious fans because this university means so much more to us than just a great education.  This place is our life.  We are family.  Anyone ever affiliated with Virginia Tech is a Hokie, we do not discriminate.  We all share a bond that cannot be put into words and a unity that is undeniably indestructible.  We respect each other, and we take a piece of the Hokie stone with us for the rest of our lives.  We are thankful and privileged to be given the chance to go here, and forever be a part of this community. 

As I left the candlelight vigil this evening with thousands of my Hokie family, I caught the eyes of the family of the officer who was deceased just yesterday.  I could not even fathom the loss they have dealt with nor could  I even know how to handle a situation as inconceivable as this.  So through our teary eyes we just nodded to eachother and I just raised my candle.  In that moment of shear despair and bewilderment of humankind, there was a glimpse of a mutual respect for each other.  We knew that we were both Hokies  and that we loved each other.  There were no words, and there will never be words, that can describe that moment, but I will carry it with me for the rest of my life. 

Fight like a Hokie, dream like a Hokie, be courageous like a Hokie, respect like a Hokie, explore like a Hokie, love like a Hokie.  All of this and more can be summed up in three words.

Be a Hokie.

  I love you all.

# 83 Up and #408 Drink the Best Tea from China

# 408 Drink the Best Tea from China

So I want to apologize upfront if my writing seems sporadic and hyper, because this tea REALLY gets the blood pumping!  I also want to apologize, I can’t lie to you, this number is kind of made up.  I decided that this bucket list is open to amendments when interesting things are placed in before me.  Basically Tim’s, my boyfriend’s, roommate went to several Asian countries for his job and brought home a few souvenirs.  One of them being ‘Long Jing’ tea.  It is considered one of the best tea drinks in China.  This may not sound very exciting, but this is definitely the most alive a drink has made me feel!  It makes you feel rejuvenated and clean inside.  I mean if drinking hot water that has been doused in real Long Jing tea leaves doesn’t cleanse your body with a million antioxidants then I don’t know what does.  Like I said I may be a little too hyper right now, but you should try it! Hopefully one day I will get the chance to drink Long Jing tea on Chinese soil.

#83 Up

So this is number 83 on the IMDb list and not necessarily my bucket list because… i am not on my computer!  The movie was great!  I don’t want to ruin the movie for you but, old people in movies are my weakness… so expect this movie have a few sad moments.  It was a perfect length though, about an hour and a half so it’s easy to sit down and watch it.  People had already warned me about the sadness factor in the movie, so I think I was mentally prepared for it.  Therefore, I didn’t cry as much as I expected.  This is good news considering sometimes I am an uncontrollable crier in movies.  Anyways, great movie watch it anytime because it’s short enough and bring some tissues if you’re anything like me.

P.S. Fun fact:  Tim’s roommate also brought home Kopi Luwak coffee beans, the same ones that Jack Nicholson feened over in the movie “The Bucket List.”  Coincidence?

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