Thursday, October 13, 2016

What A Clueless Millennial Needs to Know About Voting

Amid all the traveling across country right now, and with the United State's presidential elections just around the corner in 25 days, it is hard not to have politics on the brain. Things are really heating up. It can be nerve wrecking and stressful trying to decide what presidential candidate is most worthy of our vote. With all the propaganda and hoopla bombarding us from every which direction, it is hard to know what of it to believe is actually true. Maybe you find yourself totally clueless about all that's going on, or don't know how to get involved?!?

Well, let's change that!

We are truly blessed in this nation to have the privilege and responsibility of getting involved. We need to take advantage of the freedom we have and vote for the presidential candidate we feel will shape our country with the same morals and values that we believe are best.

Does God expect Christians to vote?

Here are 6 of my favorite, reliable, and easy-to-navigate websites about voting and the elections. These helpful sites provide guidance and will equip you with the fundamental facts about each candidate running, and their platforms. Check them out and be transformed into a knowledgeable well-informed voter. 

#1 is a very straightforward, easy to use, no-funny-business resource. This website's mission is to increase voter turnout (not ballet turnout ^_^) with it's offered services. On this website you can:
  •  register to vote
  • check your registration status
  •  get your absentee ballot
 fast, free, easy, secure, and nonpartisan. 


This website is similar to but with a trendy, relevant pop culture edge featuring celebrity endorsement and such.
"Since 1990, Rock the Vote has fused pop culture, music, art & technology to fulfill its mission of building up long-term youth voters to the polls"  - as seen on their website
This site provides information about: 
  • Student Voter Guide
  • When You Can Vote
  • Where You Can Vote
  • Voter Registration
  • Voting Early and By Absentee Ballot
  • Identification Requirements
  • If You Have Moved Within Your State
  • If You Are in the Military or Are an Overseas Voter
  • If You Have a Felony Conviction
  • And more!


Skimm The Vote is a favorite resource during election season. It offers short, concise, brief summaries about the presidential candidates and their stances. It is also a great resource for receiving condensed updates about your everyday news!

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If you are looking for a more in-depth  comparison of the presidential parties from a Christian standpoint, visiting is for you! An organization with the desire to see God glorified and honored, The American Family Association also offers other excellent voter guide resources to help you nail down your vote.


Click image to get your voter guide!
This excellent voter guide provides an extensive comparison of presidential party candidates and is VERY helpful.


This website by the Family Research Council has an excellent blog and newsroom. It is another great resource I like to check out periodically to get the latest on what's going on in government and politics from a Christian perspective.

Click image to enlarge

I hope you found this post helpful!
Thanks for stopping by, NOW get out and vote!
comment, follow, subscribe, and don't be shy!
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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Brazil, Ballet, and Bountiful Blessings

Though I had a FANTASTIC time in Brazil; two and a half weeks performing, teaching, establishing the new trainee program, resting, and sight-seeing with Ballet Magnificat Alpha, by the end of the trip I was so ready to return back to the United States of America. Only a 20 hour travel day stood between me and my home country. Three Mondays ago was our day of departure from Brazil; bittersweet. After a lengthy day AND night of buses and planes, sitting and standing, long lines and little rest, I am now back home, safe and sound. 

Yet again and unfortunately, I've done a poor job these past weeks of updating ya'll about my time in Brazil. I have a desire to keep ya'll informed about my experiences and adventures, by posting blog entries and updating frequently while on tour, but I've realized that doing so just isn't always so feasible with having such a busy schedule and being in situations of limited WiFi or no internet access at all! This is especially the case on international tours. Because of these elements, it was to my surprise to discover that updating my blog while on tour would prove to be much more of a challenge than I expected. I have always been an ardent journaler the old fashioned way with paper and pen which is why I thought I would be good at keeping an online blog. I didn't anticipate all the preconditions of online blogging nor had I taken into consideration all the extra time it takes to formulate good posts, including time for text editing and uploading photos; extra time I don't really EVER HAVE while touring internationally. So please bear with me!

I STILL AM an ardent old fashioned journaler so I am happy to inform you that you will NOT be left in the dark concerning all my awesome adventures and experiences that I had in Brazil because I wrote them all down and was sure to snap lots of photos along the way to share with you at a later date! And that later date is TODAY! ^_^ Below I have provided for you in chronological order some of the photos that my friends and I took over the past couple weeks, as well as some excerpts of writing from my journal, about my time in Brazil. Enjoy! As you read about my experiences, I hope you will feel as though you were along side me, sharing in my Brazilian adventure!

Day One-

At the airport babysitting all our luggage; Getting ready for the 20 hour travel day to Brazil, nothing big.

Fellow company member Micky and her husband seated in the row in front of me.

 Observations  of  the  Brazilian  Landscape & Lifestyle

Graffiti and wall murals everywhere, some more pleasing to the eye than others.

The bathroom signs multiple places in brazil featured their stick figure people in this position! ^_^ 

I think it is so fun to experience grocery shopping in other countries!

Look! Their version of frosted flakes; and they hang their bananas, brilliant!

Their piles of trash on trash days were an overwhelming site.

I don't know if I ever saw a garbage truck, but I did see both men and women pulling carts like this, piled high trash.

The Coast

Day Two and Three-  Being in Rio

Journal  Bullet  Points:

  • The flight went well. Aisle seat, YES! sat next to a nice lady named Felicia.
  • Slept decently on plane
  • Arrived into Rio de Janeiro around 8:30 AM-ish.
  • Found some free maps!
  • John forgets/loses MIDI disk player outside airport (and it is miraculously found in the airport lost and found days later!!!)
  • Checked into our quaint hotel
  • Got the opportunity to wander aimlessly around Rio for a couple of hours
  •  Returned to the hotel and passed out into a deep sleep for a couple of hours
  • Discovered Rio has excellent food and dining!
  • Enjoyed sharing a room with my dear fellow dance buddies Emily and Emma.
  • We were blessed with complimentary breakfast delivered to our room each morning!
  • We had an amazing beach day Tuesday; many of us will be taking home good skin tans as a souvenir, by the time this trip is over. ^_^

Our amazing breakfast at the Copamar Hotel.

They would give us "Brigadeiro SpongeBob" muffins every day. We enjoyed them at first but then after a couple days we just started collecting them. ^_^

Sunrise at Copacabana Beach

Natalie and I at the beach

Browsing through some flea markets in Rio.

Dining along the beach with good friends

At The Bakers

Bonding time during dinner at The Bakers with Emma, Elisa and John; a commonly frequented restaurant during our time in Rio, due to it being conveniently located very near to our hotel. Great quality food!

Day Five-  Auditions and Workshop

In Rio, we held our first open audition for the new Brazilian Ballet Magnificat Trainee Program. It was VERY exciting!

Rachel and some of the judges deliberating prior to the beginning of the audition.

Sam desires to audition to see if he has a shot! ^_^

Dancers gather for registration

I spy Rachel!

The auditions were held in an upper room of this theater meanwhile, Ballet Magnificat also put on a workshop on the stage. This was the same stage we performed on the next day.

Margot and I ran into this young group of actors who were using the stage before it was our turn to teach. Even though there was a little bit of a language barrier we were able to converse some, and they even blessed us with a small presentation of what they have been rehearsing in preparation for their latest production of Alice and Wonderland. It was sweet.

A bad quality photo of a good quality teacher Sarah teaching ballet class on stage.
Sam and I with a few of our workshop students.
Preparing the stage for our performance; laying marley down on the floor.

Pre-performance preparations

In the dressing room, Emily reviews the game plan with us concerning the performance.

Narrow hallway (crossover) backstage before the performance.

Ballet Magnificat adopted this underprivileged ballet school. With the assistance of a local dance store in Jackson, MS called Jazzy Dancer, We donated brand new ballet shoes and leotards to the students, and gave these tiny ballerina's the opportunity to open our show with dancing. It was very dear. 

Here is a group picture of all of us. The name of the school is Na Ponta dos Pés and there is an EXCELLENT article about them you should be sure to check out HERE.

The Performance went well

John closing our performance sharing the gospel from stage with a Portuguese translator at his side. 

Packing up and leaving the theater with all our oddly shaped props and equipment is always an ordeal.
... And that is my finger at the top left. ^_^

We dined at this fancy pizza place late after the show.

Maggie and I drinking agua com gas from wine glasses. We were commonly served water in wine glasses in Brazil.

After our second show, we stopped at some local 'hole in the wall' near our hotel and had ourselves a helping heaping of french fries. Lots and lots of french fries and friends. ^_^


Sometimes we ate McDonalds. I Promise you, we did get to eat traditional Brazilian food at some point on our trip! ^_^ 

Here, a group of us are enjoying our favorite Brazilian treat- A blended Acai icy treat, very popular in Brazil.

I spotted more traditional brigadeiros at a local buffet. The real things! 

Another dish I spotted at the local buffet called Bacalhau. This is a dish that my Puerto Rican family loves to prepare and eat for the holidays.  I just had to snap a picture of it!

We found buffets to be extremely common in Brazil. We paid for our food according to the weight of our plate.

Before our performance one day, we got to go see the Paralympics; quite a memorable experience! 

The stadium

Emma and I

Maggie and I

Outside the stadium

Day Eight-  Next  stop : Campinas

We drove two relaxing hours from the airport in Sao Paulo to our Comfort Suites hotel in Campinas. Pictured here are two of our Portuguese-speaking team members that we love dearly, Karina and Beca! Karina was a huge help with booking our performances and Beca is helping us establish our Brazilian trainee program.
It was Josh's Birthday that day! After eating a delicious dinner at our hotel's restaurant, we arranged for a surprise birthday cake of chocolatey goodness to be brought out to him! I cannot go without mentioning how spectacular the customer service was in Brazil, at the restuarants, hotels, at the theaters and everywhere we went!


Here it appears John and Margot are bonding over a session of debate. ^_^

At the "Big Kid" table leadership discusses and reviews our plans and schedule for the rest of our time in Campinas.

This is Teatro Municipal Jose de Castro Mendes, The theater in Campinas that we performed at.

Before the show, we had lunch at a fun local place nearby to the theater. In this picture, I am sitting next to Vanessa, one of the sweetest Brazilians I know! She is helping us establish the Brazilian Trainee Program. Margot who was my wonderful roommate during our time in Campinas, joined us.
Margot and I with our leftover food

Our group praying upon arriving at the theater.
A few of the girls dancing for joy on the stage, probably in celebration of having marley on the floor, and a nice big stage! ^_^
Sweet Emma working on setting up the costumes.

 headpieces for our ballet 'Stratagem'
me working on 'Stratagem' props

Week Two-  Final Destination : Curitiba

The beautiful Curitiba Palace Hotel was our home in Brazil for the remainder of trip.

Our hotel was located at the center of the city of Curitiba, off an exciting bustling main street.

It was beautiful.

I spy a busker. This wasn't hard to do. There were so many everywhere!

The complimentary breakfast that the Curitiba Palace Hotel provided was AMAZING!


Brazilians love their cakes and pastries!

The presentation of everything was so beautiful!

The Teatro Guaira in Curitiba was where we performed.

I believe it provided the biggest stage I have ever danced on in my whole entire life!

'Do it all' Samuel, Micky's husband working hard behind the scenes; giving me his 'goofy face' for this photo.

We were blessed by our Curitiban friends with such a wonderful display of food and snacks to get us through our performance night.

We love fresh fruit!

White socks! John proudly dressed to the nines for our warmup class at Teatro Guaira

I had a unexpected run-in/ reunion at the theater in Curitiba, with a friend I made half a decade ago when I trained with the Miami City Ballet School. It was very sweet. We were both surprised!

Natalie and I after warmup class

Demon and Angel; Margot and I before our performance

In Curitiba, the auditions and workshop classes we taught went well. It was exciting to hold these events in the selected home city of where our Brazilian Trainee Program will begin! Pictured Here, Keith, Kathy, and translator Vanessa are being interviewed at the audition facility by a television news anchor concerning our Trainee Program. 

We got to experience having ballet class at the facility where the Brazilian Trainee Program will be.
Here, Maggie warms up for ballet class.

Elisa stretching

Getting ready for class in Thee official facility of origin for our up and coming Brazilian Trainee Program!!!

Sweet Melanie taught us!


In Curitiba, we had such wonderful opportunities to fellowship with believers from several different local churches; A few of us Alpha dancers with new found friends from Agape Church of Curitiba.

Friends from Primeira Igreja Batista de Curitiba

We had the greatest honor to be a part of Vanessa and her husband's renewing of vows.

It was the sweetest!

During time off in Curitiba, we had opportunites to go sight-seeing...

...pretending to be locals- grocery shopping

making meals in our hotel room...

Shopping around the mall in Curitiba and stopping for gelato

One day we were given the opportunity to help teach these cute little girls

Our last selfie in the hotel before parting with Vanessa and her husband. I felt more sad about it than I look.

.  .  .

Selfie on our plane back to America.

The End.

Well, that's all I got. I feel as though I have re-lived the whole trip all over again formulating this blog post. I hope you have similarly experienced a sense of sharing in my adventures while viewing this. Our trip was so unique compared to our other tours. It was like part business trip, part missions trip, part vacation! Thank you all SO much for all your prayers and support! God really did so much during our time in Brazil; establishing the trainee program, working within the hearts of the people in our group (including me), and being present during our ministry times after performances. Also, it was neat for me to return to Brazil after having visited last year, and to see this year, the fruit produced and prayers answered by God since our last trip. To God be the glory! We are excited to see what He has next!

Thanks for stopping by!
Deus te abençoê!
Leave a comment or question below!
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