First, you went by way too quickly. Luckily, I have three journals full of gems to reflect upon. If I could describe you, I’d say you were a year of transitions. I graduated from high school, began college, and made many memories along the way.
In the beginning, 2015, my mind was definitely preoccupied with trying to choose a college to attend. I only applied to three schools, and I was so anxious about whether I was limiting my options. Meanwhile, I was thoroughly enjoying forensics with all of my friends. Sure, we had to get up at 6am to go to the meets on Saturdays, but forensics meets were the best! My friend Maddie and I rocked the Group Interpretation category with our piece “Animals.” The story was about how a janitor saves a family of hamsters from barbaric second-graders. I’ve never had to act as a hamster before…it’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Maddie and I had so much fun performing together, and I think that’s why we did so well–we genuinely enjoyed the story that we were acting out. Forensics is the only thing I’ve ever won at, and the team holds a special place in my heart.
By the time spring rolled around, I committed to a college. Praise God! I was so worried about what to do, but He eased my anxieties, and I have no regrets about the choice that I made. Spring break was phenomenal because my family took a cruise to the Caribbean. We departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then voyaged to St. Tomas, Antigua, Martinique, St. Lucia, and Grenada. We went on so many adventures including snorkeling, riding jet boats, getting a mud bath in a hot spring, eating authentic Caribbean cuisine, and discovering all of the local spices and produce. While these adventures, sunny skies, and aqua-blue waters were incredible, the most memorable aspect of the vacation was the people that I met. Ricardo, Remi, Agnelo, and Ayessa were the main staff who took care of us on our trip. They all worked so hard, and yet were genuinely kind to us. They told us about their lives back home and about how rough their countries are. Despite all of this, they were radiating with positivity and joy. That was a common theme in the Caribbean–happiness. Everyone that I met was so happy even though they had so little. This sounds ridiculous, but even the way they beeped their car horns while driving on their skinny, winding roads sounded happy. Our tour guide at St. Lucia, King Nigel, said that their motto was “good vibes,” and that was clearly evident everywhere that we visited. I hope to one day go back to the Caribbean. I love the people, the culture, the food, and the climate. This is cheesy, but true. I left this vacation realizing how blessed I am. It opened my eyes to the lives that people live outside of my sheltered community.
June was filled with rejoicing! I survived my AP classes, and I finally graduating from high school. I loved my high school; we had great teachers, academics and sports. Not to mention, I had the most grounded friends, my sisters in Christ, who challenged me each day to deepen my relationship with God. Despite all of that, I was very ready to move on with high school. I couldn’t wait for the freedom and independence that college would bring!
The highlight of my summer was being a counselor at Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp for abused and neglected foster children. This was the second year that I was a part of this wonderful, life-changing camp. That August, we were blessed to have 30 precious campers with us. I was in charge of two, seven-year-old girls. The week flew by, but it was filled with so many memories: tubing in 60 degree weather, dressing up for the Royal Tea Party, picking out a special gift for each of my campers, and holding my girls’ hands as we walked from activity to activity. My favorite moment, though, was when I was reading heart notes to one of my campers (heart notes are words of encouragement that counselors can write to campers or vice versa.) Originally, she had no interest in them because even at age seven, she could barely read. However, once I started reading them to her, her eyes lit up. She even asked to sleep with some of them. I’ve never had a sister, nor have I cared for two children so deeply before. I don’t know their pasts, and I’m not certain of their futures.I pray every day that my campers, and all of the other campers, find secure, loving homes. I hope they remember that even in the darkest hour, God is always with them.
A day after Royal Family Kids Camp, I moved into college! What an adventure. I love my school. It’s small and charming and beautiful. I have group of friends at work, and my floor in the Honors dorm is the best. We are artsy, wacky, and a little nerdy. I wouldn’t have it any other way. With these gals I’ve danced for 13.1 hours at Dance Marathon, practiced yoga in the dorm, devoured numerous amounts of frozen yogurt, and laughed so hard that it hurts. I also learned at college too, don’t get me wrong. My professors were great! I knew them all really well… heck, I even wrote a Haiku about Alkaline Phosphatase for my biology professor. It was a wonderful, speedy semester.
It was a pleasure knowing you, 2015. All in all, it was an exciting year filled with endings and new beginnings. I’m thankful for all of the opportunities that I was given this year and for all of the new friends that I have made. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!
Lots of love,
P.S. If you would like to learn more about Royal Family Kids Camp, please visit http://royalfamilykids.org .