TheRealSharon's Blog

Part 2 showed some of the fun I had and some differences in the countries….This part will show you WHY I compare my missions trip to my honeymoon when it comes to negative experiences.

As I mentioned earlier, a day or two into the trip I started having headaches consistently. Since I didn’t have the option of just opting out and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss anything anyways, I ended up taking pill after pill JUST to manage every day. I only got to talk to my mom one time while I was in Wales. Back in 2001, believe it or not, cell phones weren’t as big of a thing and neither were laptops so I didn’t have a cell phone to just call people I loved whenever I wanted. Our leader had one, of course, and he arranged for all of us to call our parents for a short time after we arrived just so they could know we were safe. Of course, if there had been a problem, I’m sure we would have been allowed to call them as well.

It was lonely for me, though. I missed home ever so much and thank God for me having my own room that I could go to at night and cry and pray by myself. I needed that alone time when so much time on the trip was spent with new people. I also loved to gaze down from the window at the street below and wonder what the other people in the other buildings were doing at that moment. One day, as I was gazing out the window, I felt a drop of water hit me. It wasn’t raining outside so I was confused as to what I was feeling. I stepped back and noticed that not only was there a leak from up above dripping down but there was also some hair leaking through? Yea, I was completely mortified. It turned out the third floor shower was leaking into that room so that meant less showers and quicker ones for them and a bucket placed under the window. As I lay in bed, I could hear the water dripping every now and then and oddly enough, it didn’t keep me awake. I suppose because I was so tired. A few days later, the leak emerged down the wall next to where my bed was. I simply scooted the bed over a little and went on my way. All I cared about was that it wasn’t leaking on me.

Then, horror of horrors, came the night where I was laying in the bed and the water started leaking from the middle of the ceiling right above the light fixture. There was no longer a place safe enough to sleep in the room. The thought of having to move this late in the game, into the room where ALL the girls were, was frightening to me so I came up with my own alternative. The room at the end of the hall, right next to me, housed tons of VHS movies and while there wasn’t a bed in there, there WAS room enough for a mattress. I hauled my mattress into this room, laid it on the floor and that was my makeshift bed for the few remaining days of my trip. It might not have been the best situation but it worked for me and I could still use the other room to dress and store my stuff.

We eventually found out OUR shower was leaking into the daycare so all of us had to start taking really fast showers as to reduce the leakage factor. Like I said, this building had seen better days!

One of the things I had wanted to do on this Missions trip more than anything was to sing. I was shy, yes, but I loved to sing and I was willing to try to sing solos or duets, whatever was needed. Shortly after the headaches started, my voice started getting raspy and hoarse. I could talk fine but the singing wasn’t happening. That was hard for me because when I’m not able to sing, I feel empty. The fact that I wasn’t able to do something that I thought I could offer on a Missions trip above anything else really shot down my confidence and saddened me. So…headache, losing voice….pop more Ibuprofen to deal with the pain.

Then I walked into VBS one day and tripped over the bottom of the door frame. I ended up twisting my ankle and it HURT. Since I had no choice but to walk on it and A LOT, I popped more medicine to make the pain just go away. It worked, I didn’t feel my ankle hurting as bad, my headache was a distant aching pain and while I couldn’t sing, I could still talk fine.

By the end of the trip, I had gone through almost a whole thing of Ibuprofen…one of those big economical sizes. As we drove to the airport and got on the plane, there was a little bit of sadness in saying goodbye to Wales but I was also homesick and my body was giving out on me. I was exhausted. On the way to Pennsylvania, my headache came back with a vengeance and my back starting throbbing and aching. It seemed like I would never get home.

As we touched down in Pennsylvania, good byes were said and I was pointed on my way to my flight to Texas. Here I was again, on my own, all alone, walking to my flight. Kimberly had a connecting flight too, for Georgia, so luckily I had a companion for a bit of my walk. Then I found my connecting flight and got on. I freaked out when I saw I was seated next to two good looking college age kids. Great…here I am, a big girl with glasses, feeling like crap and stuck next to two guys….Good looking guys! UGh, kill me now!

The 3 hour flight to Texas seemed to drag on and on forever, my head wanted to explode and I began to feel nauseous. Oh no….please let me hold it until we get there!…….Perhaps, I should have been more specific? As we landed and were pulling up to our gate, I couldn’t hold back anymore and I had to grab one of those paper baggies in front of me…and yea, I think you know what happened next. I THINK the college guys were busy looking somewhere else but I am probably just deluding myself. When we got off the plane, I honestly could care less what anyone thought anymore, I felt horrible and I wanted my mom, I wanted my bedroom with my own bed and I wanted it now!

We still had a 2 hour drive to our house though and I lay in the backseat of the car, sick as a dog, all the way home. I got sick yet again on the road. 😦

When we got home, I went right to bed and stayed there for quite awhile. I later discovered I had strep throat, so it wasn’t that much of a shock that I had felt so bad. So why was my trip not so good? Well…a leak in my room, sick with a headache and strep throat for almost 2 weeks without knowing it, a very much probable close to overdose on Ibuprofen AND a twisted ankle….that’s why…

Do I regret my trip? No. Obviously, it would have been nice to not have been sick the whole time, but it was a growing up, life experience. I grew up so much from that trip, I learned new things about the world, I learned new things about myself and how much I can take and still overcome. I learned to be appreciative of what I have and how much I truly have to be thankful for. I had moments when my faith was tested in ways that I had never yet been exposed to at 17; eye opening experiences that really made me start to think for myself more and molded me into what I would later become in life. Before, I just believed things because it was what I was taught and I never really thought any deeper than that. There were tough questions I was asked by people that I was shocked that I didn’t have answers for. Though my shyness lingered for many years after this trip, on the inside I was changed from this trip and was slowly realizing that the world was about more than just believing based on what you were told. It’s also about searching out the truth for yourself and knowing the reasons behind WHY you believe what you believe. Learning to become confident and secure with not only what, but why you feel that way.

It was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

In an older post, I mentioned a little bit about a missions trip I took when I was 17. If you’re interested in what led up to the trip and what started it off in a somber mood, then you are welcome to go back and read it.

I was asked recently about what made that trip bad…Well, I hate to go so far to say it was BAD completely because it was a life changing experience in which I learned so much and I grew a lot. It did rival my later honeymoon for negative happenings, though. Instead of responding about what exactly did go wrong on that trip in my comments, I decided I would go ahead and do a post about my trip. It WAS back in 2001 so forgive me if every little detail is not as fresh on my mind.

Back in July of 2001, I headed off for Wales on a missions trip. I was 2 months short of 18, had just recently graduated high school and while I had flown on a plane before many, many times, this would be my first time flying completely alone. I was excited but also scared…I had always been a momma’s girl and though I had been away from her before, this was the first time I would be away for 2 whole weeks in another country. I admit I cried after I said goodbye to her and got on the first plane. The first plane landed in Pennsylvania where I was to meet some other people and stay with all the others going on the trip for the night. I was extremely shy and nervous…I was going from Texas to Pennsylvania all alone, meeting complete strangers and spending the night at someone’s house that I had just met. To make matters worse, on the way to the airport I had realized that I had forgotten some medicine at home that I would need. We weren’t able to get it before I left so my parents actually got them to call it in to where I was staying and some of the people went and got it for me!

There was one girl I met that night, named Kimberly. Me and her hit it off right away. She seemed more of a loner type just like me and she was so sweet. It was a breath of fresh air to find someone that I felt comfortable with. The next morning, we headed back to the Pennsylvania airport and flew to Heathrow Airport in London. Of course, I was seated with some of the girls that were going on the trip so I had to make small talk and it was a hard thing for me, honestly. I enjoyed the plane ride, though. We had a personal TV on the seat in front of us and we could watch movies, tv shows, listen to music…it was pretty cool. It was a long flight though, about 7-8 hours long and since we were leaving during the day our time, we would be touching down early morning their time. So when we got there was basically when we would normally be going to sleep. I tried to sleep on the plane but it didn’t work. I’ve never been very good at sleeping in moving vehicles…whether on the ground or in the sky.

The first thing I remember when we got off the plane was all the people pushing and shoving in the airport without as much as an “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry”…I remember thinking these people were very rude! After we had got all our luggage, we headed outside to wait for our bus that was going to drive us to Wales. It turned out that the bus was waiting for us on another floor so we ended up waiting for well over an hour before the misunderstanding was cleared up and we were finally off. Then came the billboards and ads with half naked people causing my jaw to drop. Apparently Europe is a lot more secure in the nude body than America is….I had a really good shock to my system there. We also had a bit of a holdup at one point because some sheep were blocking the road. I thought that was actually rather funny and I did manage to nod off for a bit while we were stopped so no problem there!

We didn’t get to see much of London, to my great sadness, because I have always wanted to tour there but it was a missions trip after all, so it wasn’t supposed to be a tour or vacation really. We ended up stopping for awhile at this little convenience mart place that had food, drinks, a little cafe and a little store. Before this trip, I had been trying to avoid caffeine because my doctor thought it was triggering migraines for me so I decided to buy me a Sprite with some food. I don’t believe I finished that Sprite because the first sip I took of it made me gag. How very horrid! Who knew a soda could taste so different in another country? I thought they all tasted the same! Nope…there was no way I was going to be able to make it the whole time drinking that stuff. I ended up later in my trip buying a Pepsi and was very excited to note, it tasted the same to me! : )

While I like to see new things, sometimes a bit of what you’re used to in a new place can make you feel right at home!

Fast forward to us finally getting to the place we were going to stay, which was an old YMCA building in a part of Wales. We stayed on the second and third floors and there was a daycare on the bottom floor. It was a very old building that looked like it had seen better days but it was big and there was this huge living room space with tons of comfy chairs and couches for us to sit and have our little meetings and talks. Since there were so many girls on the trip, there was one huge room that had about a dozen beds in it that us girls were to share. It seemed like all the other girls knew at least one other person and they got to the room first, leaving only one bed that was far against the wall. Honestly, I left my bags at the front of the room, went and sat down on the bed I was to use and just cried. Other than the one girl I had hit it off with a little so far, I didn’t feel the love for any of the other girls and I felt extremely lonely. I had never been put into a situation where I was to share a room with dozens of girls and I was more than just a little nervous at the idea of having to change in this room with them. As a big girl, I had always changed in bathroom stalls at school or not at all. To say I was shy would have been the understatement of the year.

Luckily, I was looked on with sympathy and given a room down the hall from the girls room. A single room no one was using. I’m not sure if any of the other girls looked on me with hatred because they thought I was shown favoritism or something cause they seemed to enjoy being with their friends. I was just extremely overjoyed that I had my own space where I can change clothes and go to bed at night when I wanted to without all the chatter around me. I went to bed that first night clutching my pillow I brought all the way from Texas and I cried into it. I cried because I miss my mom. I was 17 and I missed my mom….I was in another country for the first time surrounded by people I just met and most of them, I didn’t feel comfortable around. There was a window in the room that looked out on the corner of a street and right below was one of those bright red phone booths I had always seen on television. This was such a new experience for me and so many mixed emotions were going on inside my head. Fear, Sadness, Loneliness, Excitement, Joy…..and I still had almost two weeks to go in my journey.

How would I get through it? Would I overcome and learn to love this experience or would the experience swallow me whole?

WARNING: This post includes a section that may not be good to read if you are eating or have just recently ate…in other words, watch out if you have a weak stomach!

They say Life makes for some good stories and although I have told some of my friends some specifics about my crazy honeymoon, I have never sat down and done a full post about it…until now. People always warned me that things would go wrong on your wedding day and for the most part, it was pretty smooth, although there were a few minor things but that could be a whole other post in itself. Suffice it to say that apparently having a fairly great wedding must have thrown my life out of balance too much and they say something’s got to give….well, it definitely GAVE when it came to my honeymoon.

I guess you could say the omen of a bad weekend started as we drove off with a little over $100 in our pockets and about $50-60 in Target gift cards….all that had to last us for the whole week so we were starting off on a limited budget honeymoon. Our hotels were already paid for though so at least that was not a concern. As we left our wedding venue, we got no further than a 3/4 of a mile down the road and had to pull over due to a loud racket coming from the roof. Turns out, the balloons tied to my car antennae were causing the antennae to attack my roof…we had to get them cut off so we could continue down the road to Motel 6, where we were staying for the night. A lot of wedding guests called and inquired if we were alright as they zoomed past us on the road. “Yes, we’re fine, the decorations on my car were attacking us…that’s all!” and off we went….another mile and stopped in a McDonald’s parking lot to take off the noise making devices from our bumper. After the threat of an exterior attack by what some prankster family members deemed decorations, we were on the road to the motel.

We got there finally, tired because I had slept virtually none the night before and I was losing my voice. It could have possibly have been from having to raise my voice some….not that I did it a lot ~cough cough~ but maybe that was why. My new husband was also exhausted and newly sick. I didn’t make him sick…his mother, step brother and one of his nieces were at my wedding with some kind of stomach virus which I didn’t know about until AFTER and my husband apparently caught it from them. So my honeymoon night involved me as the going hoarse and exhausted wife and him as the upset stomach, running back and forth to the bathroom, husband. Such fun!

In the middle of the night, we discovered our toilet refused to flush. Since there was no plunger, we were both tired and I didn’t feel like calling the front desk, I figured I would just leave it for the housekeeper to deal with. We would be up early and heading on the road to San Antonio anyways, so why bother?

I woke up the next morning grumpy, still hoarse, still tired and realized my husband had “gotten sick” and left a mess in the bed. I had no cleaning supplies obviously and we were on a limited budget which I was in no way willing to waste a dime on for this situation. I used towels, water, soap, whatever I could find and cleaned up after my sick husband. Yes, I was grossed out but I still loved him. He was sick, not his fault!

We grabbed up our stuff, checked out and headed out on the road. Apparently it had rained the night before so the colorful and entertaining sayings on my vehicle were almost completely washed off. The sun was up and I was in good spirits considering everything. The day was looking up…or at least I thought so. We had to make a stop in the city we got married at to drop off our marriage license. The way certain things were going, I didn’t want to trust the mail to get it there safely and I was afraid it might get lost if we waited. So marriage license turned in and everything official now, we got back in the car and I started to get the directions from Jacksonville to San Antonio….only one problem….no directions! Where were the directions? I could have sworn I got them from the hotel room but obviously not…..I must have left them behind. Oh well, we decided to change our plans a bit. Since we were both sick, albeit of different afflictions, and I didn’t exactly have any medicine for either with me AND the limited budget….we decided to drive the hour back to where we lived and get some medicine and we would then look harder for the directions AND coupons I had found for the trip.

In all honesty, this didn’t bug me too much. I had my nieces in from Indiana and my 2 great nephews that I didn’t get to see very much at all. I kind of looked at it as an excuse to see them a little longer. Once we got there, we met my mom and nieces/nephews at Wal-mart and my mom offered to get us a few things for the trip. We ended up getting a medium sized cooler and some crackers and snacks for the road. We cleaned the car out good and no luck on the directions or coupons. It was either print everything out again or go back to the motel.

I finally gave in and called the motel. They seemed nice and helpful as they asked what room we were in and said they would go check. After a bit of a hold, the manager appeared on the line and started yelling at me. According to him, we had left the room a horrible mess, there was “shit” on the walls and everywhere and the toilet was left full. He HAD found some papers but they threw them away because of the state of the room and I was BANNED from Motel 6 for the rest of my life. I got off the phone in tears and drove over to my Nanny’s to see my mom and family again. I was still bawling when I arrived there to tell my story of the Motel 6 manager. I was horrified! He made me feel filthy, gross, disgusting. The only truth to what he said was the toilet being full because it wouldn’t flush! I cleaned up that room as best as I could and there was no “shit” on the walls! What a ridiculous, horrid thing to say! Apparently as I was carrying things out of the room, I must have laid the papers down on the desk and forgot to grab them back up. After all, I had ALOT on my mind, you know?

Thanks to my wonderful mom and my nieces, I calmed down enough to go back to my parent’s house and reprint directions and as many of the coupons as I could. I was still incredibly hurt by the words I was told over the phone and I couldn’t help but feel like I was dirty even though I knew what the man had said were lies and nowhere near the truth. My niece Beckah mentioned calling the Motel and hollering at them for the way they treated me…I don’t remember if she ever did but I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s an awesome woman…I’m incredibly lucky to have her as a niece AND a best friend.

We headed back on the road after everything was printed and ended up at our hotel in San Antonio around 8 or so that night….It was extremely rainy and windy but we made it there safely. That place was way nicer and I would definitely stay there again. Days Inn at WindCrest, you are awesome! 🙂

The rest of the honeymoon was definitely hard with the budget and being sick…stay tuned for a part 2 later……

et cetera
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