September 20, 2012


Whoa, what a task.  Packing for two years doesn't sound like it would be easy, and let me assure you, it's not.

Let me explain the bag situation for the Peace Corps.  We get two checked bags with the length/width/height dimensions of both bags summing 107 inches or less.  Each bag can weigh up to 50 lbs, so we get 100 lbs total.   Most volunteers choose to take a rolling duffle and travel pack for hiking, but since I'm not such a hiker myself, I'm going to take a small duffle bag and large rolling suitcase.

Next, I need to explain how the bag situation works.  So we have training for 10 weeks after arriving in Mozambique, in which time we will be doing a homestay program and living with Mozambican families.  This is called Pre-Service Training (PST).  During PST, we only have access to one of our two checked bags. (The other will be locked in the Peace Corps office in Maputo.  Then when we are assigned to the location for the 2 years of service, we will have both of our bags for the remainder of service.

The problem with this is that the majority of my things I will need throughout PST such as my clothes, host family gifts, shoes, toiletries, etc.  Clearly, I need to pack my big suitcase for PST.  This was the daunting task I set out to do today.

I decided to roll my clothes, which overall I think was a good decision.  I have to admit, I did a fabulous packing job.  Everything fit perfectly into the suitcase when it was expanded the extra two inches or whatever that little zipper thing adds. Then it was weighing time.   With most of my shoes and a few other things still out of the bag, the weight was 60.5 lbs.  How.  Upsetting.

Luckily, one of the people in the Mozambique 19 facebook group let us in on the little secret that we can put things in different bags to make weight for the plane rides, but then switch things around once we get to Moz, before we leave for Namaacha (where our homestay will be).  This will be my saving grace.

I got my bag down to 51.5 lbs by taking some things out, but the moment of truth will be tomorrow when I pack my duffle and see how much it weighs... I'm already nervous.

So that's just a little inside info on the packing situation going on at the Brandt house.  Not gonna lie, it looked like my dresser threw up on my bed a few hours ago.  Also, good thing I have a sister that everyone thinks is my twin because I'm going to need some clothes to borrow over the next 5 days. :)

If you're interested, Namaacha is located 80km west of Maputo, right on the border of Mozambique and Swaziland.

September 10, 2012

Thank you's

So I was under no illusion that the next 2 weeks were going to be easy, but I guess I just didn't realize how unbelievably difficult they would be.  Saying goodbye to my friends in Columbus shattered my heart into a million pieces, and I realize that the goodbyes aren't going to get any easier as my departure gets closer.  This is getting real, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.   Any time someone says "Don't go!"  or "Don't leave me!" I'm tempted to be like, "Alright, I'm staying."  But anyone who knows me knows that I can't just back down on what I've made a commitment to do.  It would be a heck of a lot easier to back out and not go, but if I made that choice I'd be letting myself down and most importantly not doing what I know I was meant to do.  So before I burst into tears again at the thought of not seeing some of my closest friends again for a few years, I'm going to take this opportunity to thank some of the people that have gotten me here.

Okay, let's start with my friends from the Newman Center.  Holy moly, you people are awesome.  You all have such a heart for God and have inspired me to follow my heart and trust in God's plan.  I don't think I'll ever be able to thank you for that.  Without Buckeye Awakening and the Awakening community, I can guarantee that I would not be in this place today.  Your love and support means the world to me.  All of you that prayed over me last night brought me to tears.  God was truly in that place with us.  Keep the faith.  I love you all. Oh and pleaseeee keep me in your prayers because I need to feel the presence of that MBOC when I'm half a world away.

Moving on to my math friends.  Looking forward to seeing you guys was the only thing that got me to class on more than one occasion.  At times we wanted to give up, but we got each other through.  Some of my fondest memories of Ohio State are from our crazy math parties.   Thanks for showing me a good time and being fellow math lovers.  I wouldn't have gotten through if I didn't surround myself with goofballs like you all.

Then we get to my best friends:  Mary, Lauren, and Stephanie.  The fact that we've only known each other for 3 years blows my mind, but I thank God every day for you guys.  You've always been there and I know you'll continue to be there.  There is not a doubt in my mind about our plans for when I get back and I'm eagerly awaiting the day we're all roommates again.  I love you more than I know how to express.  Thank you for the unwavering support, it means everything.

And to everyone else that doesn't fit in a specific category, thank you.  Your love and support mean the world to me.

Please keep me in your prayers over the next two weeks as I get ready to leave.  I have a feeling it's only going to get harder, which is pretty hard for me to fathom.  Thanks again to all!