Patio Chairs

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So here we are.

We knew this would happen. A blink of an eye and it would be summer.

Today we are TWO MONTHS from flying to Lesotho! Right after I took the NCLEX I started packing things up in our apartment. Who knew you could accumulate so much stuff in such a short amount of time with only two people?

Our apartment lease runs up early July and we will move into my parents house for the remainder of our time in the States. A huge shout out to Justin and Ryan Hatfield, Mo Feliciano, and Tanner Goins for helping Tyler move our heaviest furniture this past Saturday.

We are currently living with no dressers, no kitchen table or chairs, and no couches and we are loving it. We have our patio chairs standing in as couches, my desk as our kitchen table, and plastic tubs as dressers and it’s working just fine.

God has given us so much peace during this time. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some really sad moments where we walk into the house and feel how empty it is. We had an amazing few years in this apartment, and we are grateful God has given us such a great place to call our first home.

We still have a lot to accomplish over the next two months, but we are so excited to keep checking off the to-do list as we count down the days!

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

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Called To Serve

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Wow!!!

The biggest accomplishment of my life has been achieved!

A few weeks ago I graduated from Bon Secours and earned a Bachelors of Science in Nursing.

And, as of today, I have passed the NCLEX and am officially a Registered Nurse.

I have wanted to be a nurse since middle school. The ability to use the knowledge and skills with my future children, the chance of using nursing on medical mission trips, the flexibility of the job, and the endless opportunities all drew me to this field.

My journey through school has been the most difficult experience of my life thus far. It has forced me to honestly place all my trust in the Lord and truly cast all my anxieties on Him (and boy were there a lot).

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

I noticed a pattern throughout my years in college, when I was reliant and focused on the Lord, I was much less stressed.

He provided me with strength when I had no more.
Gave me the drive when I wanted to quit.
Provided grace and understanding when I needed it most.

I can look back on my nursing education and see the Lords hand guiding me through each step I took.

Back in 2013, when I first started school at Bon Secours, I wrote a paper about my philosophy of nursing. In that paper I wrote:

“Nursing involves so much. Defining the term nursing seems impossible when you think about all it encompasses. Nursing is an occupation to some, advocacy to many, and service to all. To me nursing is a calling that will be used in all aspects of my life.”

No joke.
All aspects of my life!

One of my favorite parts about graduation was decorating my cap. I loved being able to express my philosophy of nursing proudly. On the top of my hat was the phrase “Called to Serve”.

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I thought that was a fitting display of where my heart truly lies.

Only the Lord knows where this new degree will take us. But I am incredibly excited to see how He will use me in Lesotho. Through health assessments of the children at the care centers, to mobile clinics in villages with Me Teresa, I am so excited to put this degree to work!

To all my nursing friends, get your passports ready!

With Love,
Rachel

Clean Up

Over the past week I have had the incredibly depressing job of packing up my office at Cool Spring.

I have gone through all my binders.
Cleaned out my desk and cabinets.
And reorganized all my files and materials for the office’s next occupant.

It looks really clean, and empty, and sad.

Emphasis on sad.

I did all of this in an effort to make my replacement’s transition much easier. She can start next week and immediately have a space to call her own. A corner to call home.

Just like I’ve done for the past three years.

I took this job at Cool Spring back in 2013, and on my first day I helped clean out a closet in the corner of an upstairs classroom. This closet became my first office. Two windows, a small desk, a bookshelf I would eventually fill with books and binders, and more than a few secret stashes of candy.

As I was cleaning, I couldn’t help but be proud of the accomplishments I have made, and saddened by the things I failed to see through. I remember some of my earliest tasks, sitting at that small desk, starring out the window brainstorming ways to incorporate classroom devotions into our daily schedule, writing some of my first policies and procedures, and planning the first Summer Camp I would direct. I also remember difficult conversations with my teachers and kids, big ideas that were written on the white board only to be erased several months later after deciding they weren’t going to work out, and countless mundane tasks I always seemed behind on.

As time went by, my office grew into a cluttered collection of these accomplishments (and failures). I would hang artwork and collect pictures from games and activities. My little corner closet grew from a tiny, empty box into a home away from home.

And now it’s empty again, ready to begin the journey all over with a brand new resident, longing to have it’s walls and shelves filled with new memories from a whole new chapter.

One of my favorite shows of all time is The Office. There are so many funny moments and quotes from the show. But one that will never leave me comes from the show’s series finale. Creed Bratton is giving a final interview for the documentary and makes the comment, “No matter how you get there, or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.”

Cool Spring has been an amazing home for me for the past three years, and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this chapter of my life.

I truly love this job. The people I work with are incredible and I have cherished every moment with some of the best kids in the world.

My next home will be Lesotho. And after that only God knows. I just have to thank Him for allowing me to call each place home, if only for a season.

With Love,
Tyler

The Work Begins

We are now just three months away from our big move to Lesotho. And today we can officially celebrate reaching our support raising goal three months early!

If you are one of the many who have given towards our goal, Thank You!

We really can’t say “Thank You” enough!

Just to be safe here’s one more… THANK YOU!!!

Below is a short video highlighting some of the amazing work God has tasked us with for the next few years!

We are blessed by the opportunity to serve, and blessed by everyone’s heartfelt support and encouragement!

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

Stacked Rocks

Sorry Rachel, I can’t let you have all the fun!

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While Rachel spent her spring break serving in Haiti (read all about it here), I decided to knock something off my bucket list that I have always wanted to do.

Backpacking!

I teamed up with my good friend and college roommate Bryan for one of the most awesome adventures of my life. Backpacking through West Virginia’s Dolly Sods.

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I’m not going to lie, there was a moment of panic when I first put on my backpack and realized that would be living off of its contents for the next three days. Also, feeling 40lbs on my back (even in my new backpack) put the challenge we were about to face in a bit more perspective. But we bravely took the first steps.

By mile one we were already feeling the symptoms of an overanxious weightlifter on leg day!

About ten steps later we were lost.

Miserably, unexplainably lost.

We had somehow wandered off of our perfectly nice people-trail and stumbled unto an overgrown, poop filled animal-path. The worst part is, we kept going on the animal-path until we were sure it was the wrong way…

The thought actually went through my mind, “If we just continue through this mess a bit longer, we’re bound to meet up with the trail eventually.”

Well that was the farthest thing from the truth, we actually met up with a huge muddy bog. So, defeated, we turned around and went back the other way.

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Once we found the actual trail again, the rest of the day’s hike was relatively uneventful.

Besides the sore neck and blistering thigh muscles.

We made it almost 8 miles before collapsing in a slightly slanted clearing and set up camp for the night. It was so beautiful on top of the mountain. We watched the sun disappear and the brightest moon rise as we sipped coffee, ate dinner, and enjoyed being at one with nature.

I could go on forever about the next days hike. The beautiful changing scenery, breathtaking views, difficult trails, and great conversations were such a joy.

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We hiked another 8 miles on the second day. It was so peaceful outside, and because the trails mostly snaked along the mountain-tops, there was very little elevation change throughout the day.

This, coupled with the fact that we had lost a few pounds in supplies and water, made for a much less demanding second day. We were able to walk at a slower pace, really open our eyes, and enjoy God’s creation to the fullest. God is so good.

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
Psalm 19:1

But amidst all of creation, one man-made thing caught our eye:

Stacked rocks.

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If Bryan and I had any idea what we were doing, we probably would have realized sooner what these little piles of stones meant. They were trail markers, signaling that we were on the correct path, encouraging us to continue on the trail.

Previous hikers had gone before us, explored the trails, and marked the best pathway for future travelers to take.

If only we had known about stacked rocks during the first mile of our journey.

Once we realized what the stacked rocks meant, we began to relax even more on our hike. Now we didn’t continually need to consult the map, we could move forward with the confidence that someone had gone before us, marked the best path for us to take, and was leading us closer towards our goal.

And then it hit me like one of the stacked rocks across the head.

Jesus went before us.
Jesus marked our path.
He stacked rocks.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.”
Isaiah 42:16

It really doesn’t get any better than that.

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Actually, it does!

You see, Bryan and I have no idea who stacked the rocks along our trail. We trusted that they were leading us the right way, but couldn’t be totally sure.

But we can remain confident that the one who goes before us and will never leave us, the one who leads the blind in unknown ways is leading us along the right path.

What an amazing God we serve!

These stacked rocks made me think back on the last few years of my life. Looking back I can clearly see how God was leading me along an unfamiliar path. I can see the stacked rocks, like checkpoints or milestones, encouraging me to go forward in faith.

From high school, to college, to career.
From dating, to engagement, to marriage.
Mission trips, vision trips, moving to Lesotho.

All milestones that required God’s direction.
Piles of stacked rocks that both encouraged me to more forward,
And challenged me to continually seek God’s leading.

The last night on the trail we camped by an awesome river. After another great meal and several cups of coffee, we drifted off to sleep. Tired but proud of our accomplishment.

The final two miles of the journey came early in the morning. We followed the last few piles of stacked rocks along the river, actually across the river, and back to our car.

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What an amazing experience!
I am looking forward to another few nights in the woods soon!

With Love,
Tyler

Spring Break In Haiti

A few weeks ago a group we traveled to Haiti for a medical mission trip. I decided to post a little about the trip and share with everyone what I learned!

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We had such a great trip and it was the best team of girls I could have ever asked for! We arrived in Haiti on Friday, March 18th. Pastor Franck and Timothy picked us up at the airport (they were our drivers for the week and two of our translators). We spent a couple hours in traffic going through Port-au-Prince on Friday afternoon. It was neat to be able to see the city and markets lining the streets.

Our first day of clinic was on Saturday. Kent and I were assigned to pharmacy where we gave out the medications and creams that were suggested by the nurses seeing the Haitian patients. I liked being in pharmacy the first day because I was able to learn the flow of clinic and got to see all the medications and creams we had with us. Kent was great to work with and we had fun keeping each other in good spirits despite all the creams we had to squeeze into baggies.

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Sunday we went to Pastor Franck’s church in the morning and then visited (and climbed) a waterfall! It was a wonderful day of rest. Church was very nice and the youth choir was amazing! The waterfall was incredibly refreshing too. That night we prepared more medications and squeezed more creams into baggies for the next three days of clinic.

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Monday was my first day of clinic working as a “nurse.” I was incredibly nervous that morning and didn’t know what to fully expect. We got to the school building (where the clinic was held) and there were so many people waiting outside. After getting the pharmacy table and our separate nurse’s stations set up we began seeing patients.

Tuesday we met for clinic under the biggest tree I have ever seen! Again, when we arrived there were already people waiting. We set up clinic in the shade of the tree among all the gigantic roots. It was an amazing experience!

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Wednesday we had clinic in a tin-roofed church. By the third day of clinic, I felt much more comfortable with my skills and was able to focus on getting to know the patients a little more. I really enjoyed the conversations I had with the patients that day.

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So many of them had headaches, vision problems, upset stomachs, or back pain. A lot of the children had skin problems (fungus, ringworm, or scabies) and some showed symptoms of having worms in their GI system.

On the last night, we spent some time reflecting (as all nurses do) on our time serving the Haitians. In the four days of clinic, we saw 1,200 patients. I struggle with the fact that we cannot provide continued care to each one of the patients we saw. We were able to give them some medications, depending on their needs, but those medications and creams will run out.

In the little bit of time we got to spend with each patient, I’d like to think we provided education that will empower them.

Empower them to make decisions that will improve their well-being.
Educate them to eat healthy foods and sanitize (boil) their water.
And Empower them to advocate for their own health and the health of their families.

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Team Haiti 2016 was one of the greatest groups I have ever worked with. I made friendships that will last a lifetime. I have been so lucky to have such great friends to suffer through nursing school with, and I honestly could not have gotten this far without them. We shared so many laughs throughout the week and we each learned so much!

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Thank you to everyone who supported me financially to go on this trip and for all the thoughts and prayers while we were away!

With love,
Rachel

Off To Haiti

We are so blessed to have such supportive friends and family that helped us host a very successful fundraiser dinner for Reclaimed this past Sunday. Thank you to everyone who came out to support Tyler and I!

I wanted to take a moment to share some more exciting news with you all. As you may know, I am in my last semester of nursing school at Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing and boy, will I be glad when graduation day is here!

Every spring break, the school sends a team of faculty and students to Haiti to provide nursing care to Haitians without access to health care. This year, I was chosen to be a member of the team! What a blessing!!! This trip will give me priceless experience in providing nursing care on the mission field. I am beyond excited!!!

We leave this Friday, March 18th, and will return on the 25th. While in Haiti we will provide care to hundreds of patients in the four days of our clinic.

Please pray I will be a sponge, soaking up all the wisdom and skills I can. Pray for Tyler as this will be our first time apart for many days since we’ve been married. And pray for my team, 8 students and 3 professors, that we will be able to work well as a team and grow relationships that will last a lifetime. I will write a blog post when we return to share about what I saw, did, and learned!

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With love,
Rachel