Sonnetta Conquers Fears In Costa Rica

Tanessa Noll is a Communications Ambassador for A Fresh Chapter, a member of the 2016 Peru Odyssey Tribe, and a Melissa Carroll Legacy Fund recipient. She lives in Shelton, Washington with her husband and two sons.

Written by Tanessa Noll | October 12, 2017
Time to live

Sonnetta Jones, from New Brunswick, New Jersey, knows what it is like to be a cancer caregiver and patient. When she saw a friend’s Facebook post about applying to A Fresh Chapter, she clicked the link and thought, This is exactly what I need. Sonnetta, a triple negative breast cancer survivor, prayed about her decision.

She hoped to volunteer in Peru but was accepted into the Costa Rica Odyssey. Prior to travel, the tribe discussed plans to go zip lining. Sonnetta, nervous about the activity, wanted as much information about it as possible. She prayed about it, so she could be clear if this was something she was meant to do. While she considered herself adventurous, she drew the line at risking her life. The answer was clear. She spent too much of life in fear, and it was time to live. Still, her fear did not automatically disappear. On the first day in Costa Rica, Sonnetta and the tribe crossed the first of many bridges they encountered during their stay. While sightseeing, they came to a suspension bridge, with water below them. Sonnetta froze. Members of the tribe encouraged her to walk. With their support, she made it across.

Sonnetta also faced challenges at her volunteer placement. She worked at a school, her “first exposure to being in the classroom and actually teaching something.” On the second day, the teacher was absent. Since Sonnetta spoke “less than a little bit of Spanish,” she used her knowledge of French to communicate with the classroom helper. She assisted students with numbers, English and homework. Since there was an active volcano in the area, the school prepared a safety drill. Sonnetta used her experience as a Red Cross volunteer to teach a disaster recovery class. “I hadn’t done disaster relief in a long time.”

Keeping an open heart

One of Sonnetta’s students was standoffish and unfriendly, at first. Rather than let that first impression fill her with judgement, Sonnetta continued to keep her heart open. By the end of her time in Costa Rica, they formed a bond. Sonnetta observed that people are basically welcoming, if you are not there to tear them down. “Be patient, love, accept them, and people will welcome you,” she said.

When it came time for zip lining, Sonnetta returned to her prayer. She anticipated only one zip line, but there were seven. She wished to truly appreciate the moment. By the second zip line, her reaction set in. “Parts of it were so surreal,” she recalled. “This has made me less fearful. We were all conquering something.” Now, she is thinking about bungee jumping.

Sonnetta says the tribe taught her to give people space to tell their stories. Her experience in Costa Rica made her more aware. “I do want to live,” she said. She believes there is more work to do. She wants to give back by working with cancer patients. “Cancer doesn’t have to defeat you. The more I share, the more it loses its power.” Sonnetta encourages anyone who is thinking about participating in A Fresh Chapter. “Don’t hesitate. Apply. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t let cancer defeat you. See how strong you are. Be reminded of who you are and who you can be. Do not let fear stop you from living.”

Read more about Sonnetta’s Costa Rica Odyssey experience, along with members of the 2017 tribe.

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