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March 23, 2011 / Meg

Alive and Well.

I’m back from Haiti!  Since I landed back in the States, things have been so incredibly busy.  Between midterms and multiple papers, I felt like I could hardly absorb the amazing experience I had in Haiti.  When people asked, “How was Haiti?”  All I could muster up was, “Heartbreaking. Joyful. Amazing. Sad. It’s still marinating; I haven’t digested it all yet.”

Now that some time has passed, I am eager to share with you all reflections from my time in Haiti.  It was quite possibly the most amazing week I’ve had, and I would go back in a heartbeat if I could.  I’m not sure how I’ll write the reflections, because it’s so hard to describe the experience; even my pictures do it no justice.  I may just take excerpts straight out of my journal, because if I really want to reflect on the experience, I have to share the vulnerability of every moment there in an authentic way.  There will be a series of posts, so stay tuned!

Please know that I am alive and well.  I haven’t disappeared…I’m just taking some time before I share my reflections.  Plus, a girl’s gotta do some homework every now and then.  I’m back in the midst of the hustle and bustle of my regular routine, and I am thankful to say that I’m all smiles over here!  Hope you are too :)  

[The blog is still being transformed.  I'll let you know when everything is up and running! :)  And yes, I do love me some sepia toned photos.]

March 4, 2011 / Meg

Leaving [In More Ways Than One].

I’m leaving for Haiti tomorrow!  I’ll be part of a mission team in Haiti March 5-13.

While I’m gone, please follow our Haiti blog where we will update daily: http://dukedivinityinhaiti.wordpress.com/

When I return, I’ll share my thoughts and reflections with you all.  In the meantime, please keep our group in your thoughts and prayers!

While I’m gone, a few changes will be taking place on my little corner of the interwebs.  I will be leaving wordpress.com and FINALLY switching over to my own self-hosted page.  Major thanks to Doniree, a blogger whose blog I’ve been following for what seems like forever, who is going to switch my blog over and install my pretty theme.  Also, mad props to my friend Bryant for his photoshop skills on my new blog theme.

Can’t wait to share all that I’ve learned in Haiti on my shiny new blog when I get back.  I’ll let you know if your Google reader/email subscription/RSS feed needs updated whenever I’m back in the States.  The new domain is megaugustine.com!

Hope you all have a safe and happy week when I’m gone!

February 27, 2011 / Meg

What I’ve Been Reading This Week.

…other than my Greek New Testament, of course!

What I’ve Been Reading This Week is my weekend post where I share with you all of the stories and headlines that have caught my eye this week.  Maybe there’s one or two you didn’t see; if so, check them out!  Happy weekend!

Wisconsin Governor Rejects Negotiations on Controversial Budget Bill

Beer Class Attracts Students to Appalachian State

Others React to Dave Duerson’s Suicide

Washington the ‘Blackest Name’ in America

Libyan Aircraft Crashes After Troops Refuse Bombing Orders

Project Conversion: 12 Faiths in 12 Months

Bono Interview: Grace Over Karma

Joyful Noise is Going Silent

Things Vanessa Taught Us [a blog post in memory of my friend's late mother]

I Want to be a Methodist

Where Have the Good Men Gone?

What Would Jesus Cut? Bread vs. Bombs

The Challenge of Women Leadership in Orthodox Jewish Communities

February 24, 2011 / Meg

Unglamorous.

The life of a seminary student is not very glamorous.

When I’m not eating, sleeping, or teaching group exercise classes, I’m reading, writing, or studying.  These activities may or may not be paired with eating lots of candy and downing excessive amounts of gatorade.  Hey, we all have our vices, right?!?

Needless to say, I’m very excited that spring break is right around the corner.  While most of my friends will be spending their spring breaks catching up on school work, I (and a handful of fellow Duke Divinity students) will be traveling to Haiti next Saturday. I’m excited and nervous to go on the trip.

I’m excited because I know it’s going to be an awesome opportunity.  We are going to be volunteering in orphanages and schools.  We may even be getting our hands dirty with construction work when we’re down there.  We’ll be meeting our prayer partners and celebrating Ash Wednesday alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  In fact, you can even keep up with us while we’re gone by reading our blog.  We’ll hopefully update every day.

On the other hand, I’m nervous about the mission trip.  I know that I’m going to learn so much and have my eyes opened to things I’ve never seen before.  I know it’s going to be transformational, and whether we like to admit it or not, change can be a scary thing.  It’s not easy stepping out of our comfort zone and embracing the reality of life in third world countries.

I say this from experience.  A year and a half ago I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua with my campus ministry.  It was life-changing.  It was my first time traveling to a third-world country, and although I had never been exposed to such poverty before, I had also never met people with such unwavering faith.

We worked with families who were literally living on garbage.

And worked with former banana workers who have been left crippled and physically ill due to an illegal pesticide that was used on banana plantations in Nicaragua.  My heart just breaks for these lovely people.

You don’t meet such wonderful people, share experiences with them, and leave unchanged.  It’s just not possible.

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere.  Haiti was the poorest country long before the earthquake, so I cannot even begin to imagine the sights I’ll see, sounds I’ll hear, and people I’ll encounter.  I don’t want to have any preconceived notions, so I’m going in with an open heart and an open mind.

If my mission trip to Nicaragua was any indication, I am certain that Haiti will also be a transformational experience for me.  When I came back from Nicaragua, the first thing I saw in America was an automatic toilet in the Atlanta airport.  I almost puked.  I couldn’t believe that I had worked with people who had almost nothing, yet we don’t even flush our own toilets.  Granted, I was experiencing some culture shock, and that’s just one of the realities of mission trips like these: they shock you to your core.

Volunteering anywhere–but particularly abroad–allows you to see just how glamorous our lives are.  You see how everyday realities such as a bed and running water can become luxuries.  We live in a society where the talk of town is what designer each celebrity is wearing on the red carpet, yet we forget about the unglamorous lives our brothers and sisters lead across the globe.  It’s a strange paradox that truly changes you.

As I sit here and think about how I started this post, by saying that my life as a seminary student is unglamorous, I realize I couldn’t be more wrong.

We are all so incredibly blessed–even on our unglamorous days.   I have a feeling Haiti won’t let me forget the countless blessings we all have, especially the gifts of faith, hope, friendship, and love.  At the end of the day, I think a life filled with those gifts is truly the most glamorous of all.

Has your perspective changed due to a volunteer experience?  Share your story in a comment!

February 20, 2011 / Meg

What I’ve Been Reading This Week.

Today is the inaugural post of my new weekend trend: What I’ve Been Reading This Week, where I share with you articles I’ve read and stories that have caught my attention this week.

Since there’s only about an hour and a half left in the weekend (at least in my time zone), I better get this ball rolling.  Let’s begin, shall we?

Female High School Wrestler Loses in Quarterfinals

The Christian Journey is Hard, But You Can Do It!

Steelers Put Franchise Tag on Woodley [thank goodness!]

Religion and Spirituality Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Auburn Fans Rally for Famous Trees

Blake Griffin Jumps a Car to Take Dunk Contest

Why More Americans Don’t Travel Abroad

Earth Could be Unrecognizable by 2050

Also, I’ve added a FAQ page to answer a lot of the questions I’ve received.

Have y’all read anything interesting lately?  Share the link in a comment!

February 16, 2011 / Meg

So.

What do you do when you realize that you’re Freshly Pressed and literally tens of thousands of people read your most embarrassing moment ever?

You laugh.  At least that’s what I’ve been doing.

Thank you all for the kind comments and hilarious stories you’ve shared.  I’m glad I’m not the only one who has been on an embarrassing date!  And I’m so happy I have been able to “meet” all of you.  Blogging is such a great way to be connected, and I am trying to read your blogs as well!

Please know that I’m also trying to reply to as many comments and emails as possible.  School has been incredibly busy so I haven’t been able to respond as quickly as I’d like.  But I’m definitely working on it!  I’ll be adding a FAQ page to respond to common questions from many of the emails I’ve received.

I’ll be back with a regular post in another day or two.

Happy Wednesday!  Anyone doing anything fun this week?

February 14, 2011 / Meg

Worst. Date. Ever.

Because if we’re not getting roses and chocolate, we at least need a good laugh, right?!?

In honor of Singles Awareness Day (aka Valentine’s Day for those of you in a relationship), this post by the hilarious Jon Acuff inspired me to share my most embarrassing date story.  Seriously, this should at least win me a People’s Choice Award or something.

It all started last year when I ran into this guy that I had met when I first moved to the Charlotte area in 2008.  After a month of flirtacious texting, we finally went on a date.  Although it was going pretty well, I didn’t really expect him to kiss me goodnight. But he did.

Then he pulled away and gasped. I was thinking, “Dang, it wasnt that bad was it?” but then I looked down…and saw that I had hives all over my arms and chest….so I ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My face was the size of a balloon and as red as a tomato, COVERED in hives. My lips were the size of Kansas and Nebraska. He had no idea I was deathly allergic to oranges and drank orange juice that morning (the kiss was around midnight, if that gives you an idea of how severe my allergies are).

Needless to say it was a long, medicine filled evening. He felt horrible, so we decided to go on another date sans oranges. We went on a pretty precious hike the next day and then went out to lunch afterwards.  Then at the restaurant, I slipped on the floor, wiped out, and BROKE THE HEEL off of my shoe.  [Let's be real, ladies--the heel breaking is clearly the most traumatic part.]  The manager came out to see if I was okay, and the couple  at the table next to us gave me this dirty nasty look like how dare you ruin my lunch.  Well excuuuuse me.

Those 48 hours are probably the most embarrassing of my life. Needless to say, we aren’t together now. [The funny part is that we continued "talking" for a few weeks after this.  Then I went out of town for a weekend, and by the time I returned, he was suddenly with his ex again.  Just 2 weeks ago, he texted me to apologize for everything that happened (regarding the whole returning to the ex situation).  All is well in the world, friends.]

But you know, just maybe the massive allergic reaction and the making a fool of myself while breaking my favorite heels should have been clear-cut signs that we wouldn’t last long, LOL. At least I can laugh about it now. :)

Your turn!  What’s your worst date ever?

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