Monday, July 28, 2014


This past week brought on changes.  Changes in work, extra-curricular activities, and relationships.  Three events left me in reflection on what I transitioned out of and what I am stepping into.  Here's a brief summary of my experiences.

Last Wednesday I attended a meeting at the Rotary Club of Daniel Island.  When I entered the lobby and saw a photo of my face on a huge projector, I couldn't help but smile.  Members of my sponsor club walked up to me and offered thanks, congratulations, and firm handshakes.  Before the main speaker gave her presentation, I was asked to say a few words.  I told the club that by sponsoring me, they were helping me realize a four year dream of studying in sub-Saharan Africa, that I would be using my education to help people less fortunate, and that I would make them proud.  After the meeting, as I was driving out of the parking lot, a club member stopped me and told me about a mission trip she took to Uganda.  She told me I would witness wonderful things and that this journey would change me forever.  She then asked if she could pray for my safe travel.  As I left the club and headed to work that day, I had a feeling of calm and peace.

Sierra (me) addressing the crowd at the Rotary Club of Daniel Island weekly meeting

Photo: The Rotary Club of Daniel Island recently hosted Rotary Global Scholar Sierra Butler. Sierra has been selected by Rotary District 7770 and Rotary international for a year of study and service overseas. She will be leaving soon to attend the University of Ghana. There she will earn an MA in adult education and work to set up educational programs in remote villages. Sierra works at Water Missions International and enjoys volunteering and spending time with friends and family.(Photo by Mary Wessner)  #Rotary #Rotary7770
Rotary Club of Daniel Island members Pat Richards, Judy Burnstein, and I smile for the camera

A few weeks ago, a couple of church members coordinated a farewell dinner.  Last Thursday evening, we met up at a lovely restaurant downtown for food and fellowship.  We shared laughter together and stories of church events and meetings gone by.  Beyond the beautiful gifts, cards, and warm wishes they offered, what stood out the most was their love, support, and the time they took to show how much they cared.

Church members of Francis Brown AME Diane Grant, Cheryl Williams, and Zonya Mungin present some awesome gifts

Having some laughs

Having a great time at dinner with church members Florence Peoples, Kathy Cash, and Carolyn Emily

Enjoying a delicious dinner at Fleet Landing
This past Friday I wrapped up my last week at Water Missions International (WMI).  With so many projects,  activities, and events we were constantly involved in, the year and a half I'd spent there seemed to fly by.  Although my last week was surreal, it was very sweet.  Hanging out with the accountants brought laughs every hour.  When volunteers stopped by my desk with cards and hugs I felt very appreciated.  On Friday, my coworkers took me out to lunch.  Their questions about my travel and jokes about adapting to a new culture gave me comfort during a bitter-sweet time of change.

WMI staff enjoy farewell lunch with me at Phuong's Vietnamese on my last day

Throughout the past two weeks, as I've dined with friends and coworkers and exchanged ideas about expectations of life abroad, something very special happened.  I realized that as I continue to tie up loose ends and say goodbye, and experience many changes, I'm leaving part of one family to join another part in a foreign land.  It won't be easy, but I can't help but think that good things await me in Africa!

Monday, July 21, 2014

What's this all about?

Hello friends, family, readers, sponsors, supporters, and everyone in between!

On July 27, 2013 I was awarded a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship to study at the University of Ghana in Accra, Ghana.  In a couple of short weeks (less than three!) I'll be on my way to sub-Saharan Africa to earn my MA in Adult Education.

Obviously studying in Ghana will be much more than just studying in Ghana.  I will be learning about the people, the culture, a uniquely different way of life from my own, and if I'm lucky, my own heritage.  I've been doing the typical things-reading blogs, travel books, trying to understand proper etiquette and behavior in a foreign land-though nothing will measure up to living, breathing, and tasting everything for myself.

There are many members of my home church (in Wedgefield, SC) home-away-from-home church (in Charleston, SC), work, high school, college, and Rotary I'd like to stay in touch with, therefore, I've created this blog.  I hope it will serve not only as a place where I can share my excitement and curiosities with my loved ones, but also a place where I can keep in touch with all of you and know your whereabouts (sorry, I've had too many bad experiences with hackers on Facebook, shoot me a message here or through my email, please!).

So whether you're a dear friend who's curious about my travels or a web surfer who somehow stumbled across my blog, I say to you, welcome!

p.s.-you'll periodically see landscapes in my posts (I love photography, especially sunrises and sunsets).  I thought it appropriate to start this blog off by admiring the sun.  To me, this is a sunrise representing a new beginning.  Lots of people say this is experience is going to change me forever and I agree with them. Hopefully I will be changed in a positive way and will never be the same.  You must decide, though, whether this photo represents a beginning or an end for you!

Beautiful sunrise warming the earth