A is for: Adventuring Again! There are times in our lives when opportunities arise that must be seized; experiences that cannot be missed nor squandered. Such occasions are rare, and can be either be those that are pursued or, that come as a surprise, unsolicited and Providential. Let me share here 2 such upcoming adventures with you, Dear Reader, should you care to follow along in this unpretentious telling of: The ABCs of Another Steppe Into Adventure!!! ...where your humble authoress will escort and chaperone you to destinations both familiar and comforting; unknown and exotic. Together, let’s embark on an adventure of exciting tales told through the eyes of yours truly… Steppesister. (I tend to be verbose and my TRs tend to last an inordinate amount of time. Your patience will reward you!) The story of how this lengthy and extravagant trek came about is not without its own tale worth telling. But first, let me introduce myself to those of you who might be new to me. I am confident we will be fast friends in no time! My name is Liesa. I am many things and wear many hats. Much like all of you, I love all things Disney and, having grown up near DLR, I enjoyed being a CM for a year where I worked in the Blue Bayou Restaurant. Fast forward many years… our family spent 10 years living overseas in “Crapistan” from 2001-2010, during which time I had a dry spell of getting to visit any parks. We returned in 2010, and only recently I am able to travel to Disney more frequently, and am quickly making up for lost time. (I chose this photo because it represents all things Disney in a such a beautiful and all-encompassing way.) I love to travel and have either lived in or visited Ecuador, Crapistan, several other “Stans”, Turkey, Dubai, Thailand, most of Western Europe, and have been to all 50 states. It’s a blessing that I hold dearly to have seen so many other places with rich and beautiful cultures. I am married and have 5 amazing kids. Andrew, my eldest, 26, lives in Guam where he is serving in the military. He and his wife are expecting my first grandchild of whom I feel FAR too young and not ready for. Our little princess is due Dec. 3rd. My next progeny is Rebekah, 24, who is married and an LPN working full time. You’ll see more of her in this TR. My middle kid is Michaela, or Mikki for short. She is a 22-year old Senior at Oregon State and almost done with a double major of Business Marketing and Management. Next down the line is Zach, my 19-year old Senior in high school. Studies don’t come easy for him, but he gives it his all and we’re exploring with him direction after graduation. Lastly, but certainly not least, is my little mini-me, Anara, 15. She is full of sass and ‘tude, but a hard worker and not a little OCD. When our family returned from our time overseas, I decided it was time to pursue a long-standing goal to become a nurse. So, I did. I graduated a year and a half ago and am now a licensed RN working as a post-anesthesia nurse at an ambulatory surgical center. I LOVE my job; I LOVE my patients! (I love my income which enables my Disney addiction and travel bug.) For my 50th birthday, I set out on a new goal to become a private pilot. I have completed a ground school and will attempt the written exam sometime in the Spring. Need to do a ton more studying this winter, but not until after I return from my adventures… speaking of which, you may be asking where those adventures might be taking me!! Well, hmm… where to begin… If you guessed a Disney park, you’d be correct. After all, this IS a Disney Forum. A little background: last year, sometime not too long after my October, 2016 Graduation Celebration Trip, I began to plan my next one. Not quite a bounceback, but close. I enjoy going in the Fall when crowds are lower, the weather is better, and the prices are right. I generally like to go solo and use that time to refresh, recharge, and do my own thing, in my own way. I like Food and Wine, have never been during Christmas, and have never been to an event I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while- Dapper Days- and without realizing it, except for Dapper Days, I scored a trip with all 3. While I’ll only be there for one, the very last, day of F&W, I’m still pleased. I’ve never seen the castle light up with the white lights, nor any of the Holiday Trees sprinkled throughout the parks. To see it snow on Main Street kinda tickles my fancy. I am confident I won’t be disappointed. And, I have a humdinger of a get up planned for Dapper Day in MK on the 18th. I also have a few DISMeets I’m looking forward to that I’ll be sharing with you upon my return. I’ve never had a DISMeet I’ve been disappointed with. So, with my Disney plans firmly in place and airline tickets purchased months and months before, another mind-blowing, bucket list opportunity fell into my lap. A couple of years ago, I happened to be at a family gathering that my aunt was at as well. She is a professional grant and proposal writer who is also on the Board of Directors for a DC-based NGO whose sole focus is to bring community development initiatives to Sierra Leone, a small country in W. Africa- one of the poorest in the world due to a lengthy civil war and repeated Ebola outbreaks. I cannot even begin to guess how long going to Africa has been a dream. Possibly as long as I can remember. She mentioned that there would always be a standing invitation to go with her, should the right time and opportunity arise. After a few emails and phone calls during the early Spring, such an opportunity came up. Common sense told me to piggyback it onto the Disney trip so I could launch off of the East Coast saving myself some money in airline tix. The only caveat was that I would have to develop the team’s purpose, vision, and well…. everything. Which quickly became overwhelming at times. I asked Rebekah is she was willing to go and do some medical work with me, and she quickly said “yes”. Then came the laborious and hugely time-consuming work of developing a 10-day program. My original goal was to take vaccinations and hold vaccination clinics, but that proved to be impossible due to a myriad of ridiculous roadblocks. Instead, now, we’ll be facilitating a series of 5 one-hour sessions of Healthcare Teaching in 3 different rural locations, conducting a full-day seminar to disabled war veterans from the decade-long Civil War that ended in 2002, and doing survey work to determine needs for future trips. It took time, and then some more time, to get these into a workable state, but we’re there and ready to take lessons from Germ Theory and Hand washing to Basic First Aid to hundreds of people in Sierra Leone. Many of you have followed the making of this trip from its inception during my last TR, and some of you have contributed financially to making this endeavor even possible. From the bottom of my heart… THANK YOU! There are go-ers and there are givers. They are mutually dependent, and I am honored that you feel this is a worthy cause and that you view me as someone you can trust to make a difference with your hard-earned money. There will no doubt be unbelievable joys and heart-warming stories along the way, but also frustrations, lows, and unexpected twists and turns as every overseas, cross-cultural adventure has. But, if you’re interested in hearing about all of those adventures, beginning in a place where dreams come true, and then from a place where poverty and hardship are the norm, then I invite you to follow along. The more you comment, the more fun and engaging it will be for everyone here. Seriously, a TR in which folks aren’t engaged isn’t nearly as fun, so please drop a comment saying hello, share stories from your neck of the woods, put your feet up and stay a while. Make sure to put the lid down when you have to leave (I almost said “go”, but that was altogether just wrong), but please, come back and enjoy your stay. I can promise stories and perspectives as I see them. I am taking my camera and all the lenses and hope to get plenty of photos from both my week at Disney and from Sierra Leone. And I have no doubt there will be loads of interesting chatter and interaction along the way. One other character that must be introduced at this point is a cavalier little friend of mine who will be traveling with me: Tater O’Patty (Tate for short). He is quite a spudly little character who has an uncanny penchant for getting into trouble wherever he goes. Then again, he’s always the life of the party, so naturally, Tate may very well be given a platform to share his adventures as well. Heck, I may even just let him write the TR saving me time and effort! I will likely do a Contest as is tradition for The ABCs of Steppe’s Adventures Trip Reports. But the creative juices don’t flow too terribly well during a Night Shift like that of which this was written during. But be watching for one when I return to greet you once again near Dec. 3rd- our scheduled return date. I’ll leave you with a Camaroonian Proverb to ponder: “Better little than too little.” Until next time, May all your dreams come true; Live big, love well, and enjoy life!!