Vote for Shanna ~ Travel Enthusiast

This is an awe inspiring story from my friend Ms. Shanna Stevenson! Expat ~ Travel Enthusiast ~ International Trip Planner ~ Dominican Republic Host. Please take two minutes to find out more about her travel business and most importantly vote for her to be a recipient of the FedEx Small Business Grant!

Votes are allowed once per person per 24-hour period now through April 4. So go vote.

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Be Joyful!

Be Joyful today. I know it’s hard sometimes because of what you’re going through or being exposed to others suffering. All we can do is try to be joyful.

I was catching up on the world news this past weekend and discovered that a man who was residing in Puerto Rico committed suicide. He had gone without a sufficient supply of food, clean water and electricity. The very next day after he passed away, the electricity was restored to his home.

Lord, when we are suffering from a lack of food, clean water and electricity, how long can we hold on?

FEB 20 2018, 3:26 PM ET

Suicide rates spike in Puerto Rico, five months after Maria

BY NICOLE ACEVEDO

Click here to read the full article

The March For Our Lives took place on our nation’s capital and other states around the world to bring attention to the gun laws to prevent mass school shootings. There were some pretty impressive speeches and some peculiar things happening on that stage. This one student threw up in the middle of her speech and stated, “I just threw up and it feels great!” I didn’t know if she was nervous about speaking publicly or had a hangover!

Click here to see how she bounced back from vomiting!

On a personal note, our Family Church Fast is finally over. I probably lost five pounds so now I need to eat like 10x to gain the weight I lost. Lol God gave me a small frame. I was not trying to lose any weight but I was led to fast and pray. I have some major decisions to make and I want the Holy Trinity to lead me into making these decisions. Thy will be done. YHWH

My oldest son should be graduating this year, but has been borderline with his academic success. As a parent, I take full responsibility for his failures. Being a single mother has its full responsibility and my plate is full. One day at a time, they try to ensure me that they will get the job done. They tell me I worry too much. Ok but when it’s time to graduate and you do not make it across that stage to get your high school diploma, then who is the one going to be worried now? Get it done, son!

I received a text from my long term, overseas friend, mi novio, now currently my fiancé asking me if we are getting married in April. I am thinking to myself, why did he ask me that? I paused for a long time because I did not know how to respond to him. Only God knows the plans he has for us. It is up to us to be close enough in communion with HIM to follow his lead. I am only trying to be obedient to the call.

This entire process of trying to marry someone from another country has been challenging. I am trying to learn the correct process in how to get things done.

1. Papers Apostilled

2. Papers Translated

3. Civil Ceremony

4. Visa/Passport

5. Airline Ticket

I may try to visit the Consulate of the Dominican Republic- Houston this week. I never knew they had an office here until yesterday. Even going through this challenging process, the Lord reveals things to me little by little and bit by bit. That is why I love the Lord so much because He teaches me to depend on the guidance of the Holy Trinity. Even in something as trivial as this, despite everyone else’s turmoil and suffering, God Is Still Omnipresent! Powerful and Superior. It is His will that everyone is saved and that no one shall perish.

Turn to the Lord and Be Joyful!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Shalom

Love, Quél

Our Love is still Pending

Been there, done that and keep doing it again. Got the t-shirt and gave it to a friend! Lord forgive me, but I have been busy. You told me that I could have some fun, but never imagined you could bless me with this. I’m so grateful. Most honor to you Lord, I can’t do this without you.

Now mind you I am accustomed to planning at least two trips to the Dominican Republic each year because I have developed some friendships over the past three years.

When I say friendships, I am talking deeply rooted and connected friendships. People you just don’t want to live without. I know friends come and go, but this could be just for a season, who knows? I was lucky enough to go to Punta Cana twice in the month of February. Now how did I deserve all of this? I don’t know. My God is an awesome God. He Reigns!

For those who don’t really know me… Where do I began?

Trip #1 ~ February 2015 ~ Hard Rock Resort ~ Punta Cana ~ I met Eduard on a horseback riding excursion ~ Traveled with a wedding group.

Trip #2 ~ February 2015 (two weeks later) ~ Be Live Resort ~ Bayahibe

Trip #3 ~ May 2015 ~ Air BnB ~ Volato Group ~ Cap Cana

Trip #4 ~ August 2015 ~ AlSol Luxury ~ Cap Cana

Trip #5 ~ February 2016 ~ Manaya BnB ~ Bavaro

Trip #6 ~ August 2016 ~ Paradisus ~ Punta Cana ~ Mi Cumpleaños

Trip #7 ~ May 2017 ~ Los Corales / Green Village Bavaro / Cap Cana

Ok so now that you’re caught up, on my Love Experience, let me tell you what’s really on my mind.

By this time, (my 7th trip) I’m thinking… is this getting old? I could be traveling to other places. I keep returning to this secret rendezvous, risking my life with you know who. I can do better.

So what’s next? Here comes the 90-day ultimatum to take charge of my own destiny.

No more weighing the pros and cons, I just want to know if he’s the one. And if in fact in 90 days it’s not what I expect, I should just stop and walk away because this is all just a fantasy anyway.

May 24, 2017

I send a Letter to my X

In the beginning, it was a discovery process to learn that your culture has taught you to invite foreign women to your country to come visit you.

I was one of them.

I fell in love with you and accepted you for who you were. But now, I do not believe you want to let go of that opportunity for me and for that reason I’m out. I could be wrong, but I’m willing to risk my life that I am right. Holding on to the most impossible love.

I know we had some language barriers that we both have managed to overcome. He speaks and understands Spanish very well, but as for me, I can read Spanish, but I do not speak Spanish fluently. When I sent him this letter, I am pretty sure he understood when I said, I’m out. I quit. I’m done. Let’s move on without each other. Caput. Finito.

It didn’t take me 90 days to determine what I wanted. I gave it all that I could give without expecting much in return, but to have a safe and good trip. Thank God they were all that. Safe, fun, authentic, happy times.

If I can recall, he agreed to my request saying, if that’s what you want it’s your decision.

Ok great. We’re good. No problem. You know how sometimes you think you can be strong enough to leave the door open, thinking you can just be friends with your ex? Well, I did that. If I ever decide to return to his country, I can have someone to call on if I ever needed anything. I left that door open.

May ~ June 2017

I worked hard to release my new book. The Love Experience ~ I was minding my own business trying to get the job done. I wanted to release my second self published book by my birthday. This was my way of rewarding myself. I thank God for allowing me to get it done with the help of my family and friends and some private sponsors. I felt like I had won! Not only did I get the job done, I was able to go on another trip last year to Puerto Rico and had more fun. This was my way of convincing myself (and him), yeah Papi, we’re done!

By the end of July, I am feeling good and confident and free. Although there were a lot of arguing back and forth between him and I. A fiasco or two still couldn’t hold us back.

For my book release party he tried to show some support by putting up my pictures as his profile picture in WhatsApp, but didn’t touch that Facebook page though. Hmmm cute Papi, but I am still moving on. Gracias.

By August, I was booking another trip to go back to Punta Cana, but it wasn’t for him. This time it was for myself. My first Group trip to the Dominican Republic. Actually my second group trip. The first one was for a wedding. Everyone else was kinda on their own. I was looking forward to some new and exciting fun. Remember I’m moving on.

September ~ 2017

Not much had changed, we still talked everyday if he had internet or could go in the street to connect to the wi~fi.

In October, as his friend, I decided to send him a gift for his birthday. It was then, things begin to change.

November ~ December ended the year on a pleasant vibe.

January 2018 the time for me to return is very close and all of a sudden, he wants to get married in February during my Be Mine Trip. Uhhhh no, if you would’ve done this right in the beginning, we wouldn’t have to rush and get married and what’s the rush for anyway? Besides, most importantly you have not proposed! The phone rings through WhatsApp. We have a conversation about what’s going on in his brain. He had it all planned out it seems. By the end of that call, he asked me to marry him. He can’t be serious right now, but things got silent… he was waiting on my answer.

He tried everything in his power to convince me of what he wanted to do. I couldn’t see how we could pull off a wedding in less than 30 days. There’s no way.

We spent days in WhatsApp sending documents back and forth. I guess trying to prove to each other and calling each other’s bluff. He got his birth certificate, I got mine. He got his affidavit of solteria, I got mine. We faced many many obstacles on this journey and getting these papers together was one of them. I realized I had to send mine to Austin to have them authenticated and they also needed to be translated into Spanish. I discovered this entire process takes time and money if you want them expedited quickly; but with limited resources, I decided that this was not going to happen when I had planned to come for my trips in February. Not sure if he was ok with that, but he never gives up.

He says to me, “Bring the rings and I will propose in February.” Hmmmmm

What kind of ring can he buy me? Would I wear it? Would I like it? Tricky Tricky Tricky.

I went looking for something very casual, yet sentimental for us. The Trio of Rings was exactly what I chose. Something that he could afford. Who needs 5 carats anyway? This is about true love.

I have lost count on how many times I told him I wanted to give up. Traveling back and forth in the name of Love.

But for someone without much, he has a savvy way of proving his love for me.

He communicates with me daily, he meets me where and when I need him. He gives me attention, he leads me to believe I am the most important woman in his life. He is appreciative. He is funny. He is forgiving. He is supportive. He is patient. He can be very sincere at times. He can be trusted. He is my love.

“This just doesn’t seem to be ending, he keeps us alive; our love is still pending; but if he ever stops texting me we are surely to go our separate ways.

Two hearts that could never be mended. “If he ever said he loved me, trust me, he did.”

Still exploring Love in the DR🇩🇴

Escape to see the Sun!

This year has been a year of stranger things. Traveling overseas once again to the Dominican Republic, traveling to Puerto Rico, self publishing my second book, (The Love Experience) a book release party, book signings, raising teenagers, teen drivers ed completion, working full time, trying to pursue other job opportunities to supplement income, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria, visiting our State Capitol in Austin, taking on extra projects at work, celebrating 20 years of working for the church, and also celebrating the MLB Houston Astros World Series Championship.

I am so grateful for these opportunities and also grateful for the loving people in my circle. Most grateful to the Lord for allowing me to experience it all. As I look back to gently reflect on my year, it was a blessed year.

If you are working hard and you feel as if you never get a break, sometimes you need to escape just to experience the best sunlight. Yes, you wake up everyday to your normal routine, but take the time to getaway, even if it’s just for one day. You need to take that time to just shine!

L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Only a short two hour drive from Houston, TX. This casino has restaurants, boutiques for shopping, a spa, a lazy river and cabanas for lounging by the pool. The Golden Nugget is also right next door. This was my first time ever visiting here. I was impressed.

Jack Daniels bar has some of the best garlic Parmesan wings. I should’ve brought hone a box before I left. Notice the US flag hanging above, it was meticulously made with lots of chains. Very unique work of art. Kuddos to the artist!

The pool area had plenty of loungers, cabanas, and two jacuzzis. Scenic and serene. This would be a great place to throw a party. Reflecting back on my year. I am blessed. God is Glorious! All the Time!

MLB World Series 2017 ~ Houston Astros 1st Championship

Congratulations again to our Houston Astros on winning the MLB World Series 2017! The entire team did an excellent job making baseball fun again! Go Correrra, Altuve, Springer! Correrra got down on his knee and proposed to his girlfriend immediately after the game. How can you say no to a champion? She’s one lucky chica! They won game 7 in Los Angeles against the LA Dodgers and came home to celebrate with a parade. #EarnedHistory

My coworkers all came together to support and participate in the history making celebration. Kirby Starchild Davis made us these fabulous T-shirts!

So grateful our employers let us leave to partake in the festivities. Around noon we were off to have some lunch and some fun.

Tasha Royal (Luv this Power Woman) invited us to Live Sports Bar & Grill at Main @ Preston served up a great strawberry salad with grilled chicken, walnuts, feta cheese, over mixed greens. Very good. These cute sliders that I️ didn’t get to taste. Those look like hearty burgers to me. My girls were full!

Jaz had a bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo, before I️ could even ask, her food was devoured. We must’ve been some hungry souls for food, laughter and fun! Thanks Tasha. Truly admire your grind. She knows how to build a brand and her empire. So proud of you Tasha.

Although we didn’t make it to the front of the parade route or City Hall, everyone was marked safe and we had a great time.

I’m so grateful for the Lord’s Protection. His grace is sufficient for us all.

Signing off… Until next time

#Author #Blogger #Poet

Raquel Helm

Travel creates Happiness

Life has changed since I was 17!

I attended college immediately after high school. That experience of being independent from my parents was a culture shock, but it was also rewarding meeting new friends. I learned to depend on my roommates, my college sweethearts, to get me through my independence, but most importantly I had to learn to depend on myself.

I had to hold myself accountable for getting to my 8:00 am Business class on the other side of the campus. I did not pass that class my first semester. Luckily, I had some great friends who chose to succeed in college and I wanted to do the same.

Life changed after I finished my second year of college. My father passed away right before the summer I was scheduled to return. I couldn’t go back to that college. I decided I wanted to start working. I remember my mother and our cousin Robin helped me get my first apartment. It was so cute. I had thrift furniture. I can remember it being so economical and simple. It was mine! It was my responsibility. It was my happiness.

After waiting 14 years to marry the man I wanted to marry, I had 3 gorgeous sons. Blessed to be with the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with; I was happy. The Lord loved me enough to allow that matrimony. Thank you, Lord.

Life changed after Marcel passed away. I miss him, but I am still here trying to create my own happiness.

I begin to travel overseas and I met some new friends. Traveling makes me happy.

As my life continues to change, sometimes I stop and try to wait for someone to bring me happiness, but why wait for that when I can create my own happiness.

My time is now.

In the Midst of the Storm

Soon I will be forced to return to my abode in HTX and will have to face all the issues I left behind. I will be searching for that sense of normalcy, but most likely I probably won’t find it knowing I should be somewhere else in this lifetime.

I left Houston, TX because I was under a mandatory evacuation from the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Hurricane Harvey.

Even I kept hesitating on whether or not to leave my home, but when I saw how high the water was rising, I just couldn’t see myself sitting in a house waiting to be rescued. I left! #ByeHouston

I saw my window of opportunity and I got on the road.

A three hour drive to my destination was not a bad idea to escape from the catastrophic events. Flooding, power outages, shortage on bread, meat and gas. Places to eat were closing before dawn. The Mayor would place a curfew on our city for several days. People were trapped in their houses days after the hurricane hit and my friends were out in boats doing citizen rescues.

Arriving here in Austin gave me a sense of “normalcy.” We had shelter, access to food, hospitality and a peace of mind. My family was marked safe.

Austin’s culture was every bit of cordial. The people here will greet you with kindness and go above and beyond to help you with whatever you need. Whenever I mentioned I was from Houston, I felt a little bit embarrassed to admit we were victims of a “natural” disaster and was seeking refuge. I was embarrassed to say, we were displaced from our homes and my children could not go back to school and I was out of work until September 5th. The people here seemed as if they understood and they made us feel welcomed.

As we settled in, we explored the city a little bit. Going to the state Capitol, and Lake Travis. Most of the time, my family and I got a chance to relax and enjoy a sense of normalcy outside of Houston’s catastrophic events.

As we come upon this Labor Day Monday, I will be traveling back to Houston to find that sense of normalcy in a town where I was born and raised. It will be a challenge to rebuild again and to empathize with those who lost their loved ones in the flood.

I am praying for those who were affected by this tropical storm and asking God to show his glory in the midst of recovering from this storm.

Shalom