Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: Tough As They Come

As many of you probably know by now, I participate in a program called Blogging for Books. Basically, I get to request free review copies of books in exchange for posting a review on this blog. I enjoy it a lot, its super easy to sign up and there are no deadlines (you just can't request a new book until you've posted a review of the last one). So if you like books and/or blogging, you should check it out!

I'm not usually the biggest fan of non-fiction, but I couldn't put this book down; I finished it in just 2 days! This is the story of a soldier, Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, who became only the fourth American soldier to survive becoming a quadruple amputee. Travis is very matter-of-fact about his story. He tells it like it is, from giving history about his life and time in the military, to the way he felt after his injury, to his mindset that drove him to get better ("never give up, never quit"). He is an engaging storyteller, and doesn't flinch from talking about mistakes he's made and the harder moments in his journey. He doesn't like to call himself a hero, because in his mind he only did what he had to in order to overcame the obstacles that were placed in his way, the same as everybody else.

The book is written in a refreshingly casual style, with Travis telling stories from his own perspective and chiming in about how he felt about different events. He describes unimaginable stories of his time spent in heavy combat in Afghanistan, but also emphasizes the camaraderie he felt with the men he served with and the more light-hearted aspects of deployment (like the drawn out conversations they would have about nothing to try and relieve the intense boredom). He talks about not only the physical challenges he faced but also the intense emotional roadblocks. In his words, the moment that he was told he had no arms or legs hit him just as hard as the original explosion, and it took him a couple days before he could work up the courage to even talk to his wife. I don't want to give too much away, just read the book for yourself! I promise you'll be encouraged and inspired.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Update: My Trip to North Africa!

Hi everybody! It has certainly been a long time since I've posted here... Oops. This has been an exciting time in my life, I just returned home a couple days ago after my graduation last week from Wellesley College. 4 years just flew by! I'm enjoying spending some time at home, finally having all of my belongings in one location and just relaxing after my last finals period and all of the celebrations.

I'm writing to share about a really exciting opportunity I have this summer. On June 21 I will be embarking on a 6 week long service trip to North Africa, through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Global Urban Trek program. Along with a team of about 15 students (plus staff) I will be living and serving in an urban poor neighborhood in North Africa. This program is InterVarsity's way of giving college students (and recent graduates such as myself) firsthand experience living in a different culture and serving the global urban poor. While there are still many things I don't know about the trip yet, most likely we will be living with host families and serving alongside pre-existing local ministries. The Global Urban Trek has many different locations, so while my primary ministry site will be North Africa and we will be there for 4 weeks, for a week at the beginning and end of the trip we will be in Thailand with other Trek students for orientation and debrief. This time of debriefing at the end of the trip will be invaluable for exploring how we can continue this important work after we return home.

One of the reasons that I'm so excited about this experience is to take time before I start working full time to think about how I can engage in service for the rest of my life. One of the main focuses of InterVarsity's Global Urban Trek program is for students to spend time without distractions (no cell phones or electronics allowed!) thinking about how they can use the rest of their lives to serve the urban poor. Whether that means longer-term international missions, supporting others who do this work or getting involved closer to home, everybody has something they can contribute. After devoting four years in college to learning new skills, this trip will allow me to continue learning more about myself and about the world. The 5 months I spent studying abroad in Ireland last year were focused on education and travel rather than service, but I still learned a huge amount about myself and gained a lot of confidence. I know this trip will help me to continue that learning and growing process.

How can you get involved?
Since I am going on this trip to serve, I need to raise all of the funds for the trip through supporters like you. My overall goal is to raise at least $4000, the cost of the trip for one person. (If I raise extra, that money will go towards other students who didn't meet their goal, or for other operating costs or future trips.) Thanks to many generous contributors, I'm already about halfway to my goal. If 50 more people each contributed $40, all of my costs would be covered! Would you consider helping me continue that progress? Every little bit is important, so please get involved however you feel comfortable. I also need prayer support to make this trip successful, and if you just want to receive updates before, during, and after the trip you can sign up for that. If any of those options sound interesting, you can fill out this online form (the form also provides instructions for donating). I leave on June 21, in about 3 weeks, and while I can still receive donations after then, the closer I am to my goal when I leave, the better!

I'm so excited about this opportunity that I have, I feel very lucky to be able to devote these few weeks to service before I settle in back at home. I hope that you can get involved and share in this adventure with me! I'm sure I'll have interesting stories to tell.