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Moving Home: Why I Loved Intermissionary

I doubt anyone noticed, but I’ve been majorly MIA for TWO whole months! Consistency on the blog during summer is a challenge because my routine is all over the place. Last summer I took an unintended blog hiatus for two months (although I wrote about culture shock and re-entry afterwards), and the same thing happened this summer. Even though I only spent one week at Intermissionary Chamonix, I’ve gotta tell you about it. Partly because I participated in the very...

Thank You Benin

I left Benin 2 months ago. It already feels like an eternity. I’ve already started to forget things. The feeling I hold on to is the one that consumed me as we pulled away from the Cotonou dock, “I have to come back here” and, “Will I ever meet people as amazing as the ones I met here?” Yes, I do… and, yes I will. I do hope to return one day, yet I know I’ll meet beautiful, inspiring people...

Managing My Depression; Provocative Joy; West Africa Benin; Life Overseas

5 Essentials: Managing My Depression Overseas

Third time’s a charm This third season with Mercy Ships is the best so far. Last year was the perfect storm as lots of factors combined to make a sucky year culminating with a season of depression that lasted too long. I entered this third season back in August optimistically because it could NOT get any worse. Things HAD to improve. After my service in Madagascar came to completion, it was so much easier to see what I could have done differently to...

Provocative Joy Ivanna Overseas Volunteering with Mercy Ships in Cotonou, Benin West Africa This is how to drop it all and just do it

Overseas Volunteering: 3 Tempting Reasons to Try It!

overseas volunteering I arrived on this ship full of energy to pour into the lives of others and I was so psyched to live abroad on a ship for a full year (although it turned into 3 years). It wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me; it was something I couldn’t wait to try. I heard so many people say, “I could never do that. I’d never be able to live far from family with no steady source of income.” I...

Round Up Post including depression while travelling and global health

What Caught My Attention in April

I look at the calendar every day and wonder how it can really be mid-May, because it doesn’t feel like it! Here in Madagascar, the seasons are changing and we are approaching winter. It’s gotten cooler and the past few days have let down buckets of rain and lots of cloud cover. Cyclone season just ended and we finished April with an ominous cyclone with more bark than bite. I finally admitted I was depressed and increased my anti-depressives. I...

How to teach inner beauty

A Letter to Angeline: Inner Beauty

Angeline, I noticed you from the start. I chose you as a favorite because Evangeline is my favorite name in the whole world, and Angeline sounds just as musical as it escapes my mouth. You probably don’t know of the Evangeline that inspired me. She was an angel of a girl in a book; a little one who loved everyone with a naive, powerful love that made you feel special. When I met you, Angeline, I knew you carried something...

I want to encourage myself and others who are struggling with depression while working abroad. You are not alone.

Depression While Travelling: How Much Have I Missed?

Depression can’t see how amazing my life is I didn’t want to do anything except sit on my couch with the lights dim, the bed covers thrown around, and piles of clothes everywhere. Well, the bed covers and mountains of clothes isn’t that abnormal, but the apathy was. I’ve lost count of how many invitations from friends I’ve denied over the weeks and months. That’s not who I want to be. The problem is it actually IS me. I’m actually depressed....

How A Smaller Wardrobe Made Me More Grateful

This kid waded in and out of the ocean wearing underwear that may have started off as respectable briefs but had been worn through to G-string status. Actually, most of them wore only underwear in place of a swim suit. Why is this one kid even bothering to cover himself when there are plenty of kids swimming naked? At the HOPE (Hospital Out-Patient Extension) Center church service last weekend, I sat behind a little boy wearing athletic shorts with rows...

Who Taught This Man He Is Ugly?

Andre came back to see Dr. Tertius. He had a severe neck contraction that pulled his head down. His face was twisted, as if the skin had just melted off. I told Andre that my best friend at home, who I grew up with, was also named Andre. “I think you’re my Malagasy Andre since I cannot see my American Andre while I’m here.” He smiled, one of many times throughout our conversation. My friend Andre from Rochester is one...

Missing Rochester: How I Find Peace

I confess. I want to go home. I’ve been missing Rochester, NY for months. This isn’t homesickness. Rather, it’s a desire to connect to my community and the place I call home in the deep way I do here. There are plenty of things I’m missing out on at home, but I know I’m missing those things for a good reason. I know the reward will outweigh the cost. In the end, I’ll get exponentially more than I lost. More...