Rotaract & The Peace Project!

Mike and I volunteered at the Peace Project Nicaragua in the Laguna de Apoyo back in September 2013. We had such a positive and enlightening experience there, that we found a way to continue giving back to an organization and mission that made such a difference in our lives. We are both board members of the Annapolis Rotaract Club (basically, it is Rotary International for 18-35 year olds) and I am the Director of International Service. Our club decided to take an international service trip and voted on going to the Peace Project! This August, four of our members will be making their way to Central America to volunteer with the same kids that touched our hearts a few months ago ūüôā Here is a little fundraising video I put together with photos from our trip there last year.


Our Inspiration

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. ¬†In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. ¬†In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Victor Frankl

Finding Our Latitude

The past few years have been very transformational for both of us; Mike lost his Father (but ended up finding himself), my parents¬†ended their marriage (but¬†got back together), my brother found¬†light and love, I finally left Corporate America to take my photography business full-time and Mike gave up a well paying banker job to help people in a more fulfilling financial advising career. ¬†While I have always been encouraged to follow my heart and dreams, to say we’ve been inspired to begin doing those things as a unit (husband & wife, heart & soul) would be an understatement. ¬†We’ve both had experiences that have seriously hit hard enough to knock us down and keep us down, but we’ve been able to stand back up, forgive, and move forward together with full hearts.

So, all of that said, we decided that want to make the most of the short lives we have and we had the ability to make choices to just just that.  We want our minutes spent on earth doing something good for the well-being of others, the world and ourselves.  We wanted to find our latitude and we want to do something that mattered.  We started this by celebrating our first year together as husband and wife.  Instead of lounging at an all-inclusive resort with pina colada in hand, we decided to rough it, put others before ourselves, take an adventure in Central America and make some memories that would, to some people, be quite different.

Our adventure started at 4am on 10/1/13. ¬†We flew from BWI-MIA and MIA-MGA. ¬†This was the first time that Mike was really culturally immersed and it was evident by the blank/distressed/vacant look on his face as he drove our rental car around the cows¬†that shared the road with us from Managua to Masaya. ¬†Yep, cows were just grazing the grass in the medians of the roads and wandering around the streets. ¬†When we finally got to Masaya, it looked like a storm had just passed. ¬†I was looking down at a map while we tried to find our hostel and I was startled when Mike yelled, “HOLY SHIT!!!”. ¬†I looked up and what appeared to be Class 4 rapids were raging down the street we were about to turn down. ¬†This is no exaggeration. ¬†There was literally white water coming down this street. ¬†Apparently drainage is an issue when these rains come so heavy and fast. ¬†After watching a few Geo Metros successfully ford the rivers, we decided to head in since we had a SUV, after all. ¬†Our adventure began and it began in Masaya, Nicaragua.

We never did find our hostel. After driving and asking around for about an hour, we ended up finding a clean little place for $35/night, which is actually expensive for Nica standards. ¬†We had the luxury of A/C and spotty wifi, which was pretty nice, especially since Mike was still getting acclimated to his new environment. ¬† We wandered the town of Masaya for two days and some highlights were having some authentic Nicaraguan food called “Baho” (yucca, beef, plantains and a vinegary slaw wrapped and cooked in banana leaves), some of the worst and the best Chinese food we’ve EVER had (who knew we’d find it in Nicaragua??), Independence Day celebrations in the streets, driving the volcanic rock base of Volcan Masaya, and the old, drunk, toothless man playing guitar, laughing and singing at the Chinese restaurant, the artisan market and our discovery of gallo pinto, which we’ve been making ever since we got back. ¬†The next stop on our adventure was what we were really excited about; ¬†volunteering and working with kids at the bottom of a crater lake‚Ķ‚Ķ.