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Wanting to stay and wanting to go

February 6, 2016

If you’ve lived overseas and then come home for an extended period of time you can probably relate to what I am feeling right now. That torn, restless feeling of wanting to be able to be with family and not miss out on anything but at the same time also wanting to be overseas where life is fun and exciting and random and funny and never boring. Part of me can’t wait to be overseas again (for a lot of reasons) and part of  me knows that when I am there I will be missing family again and wishing I could just pop in every now and then for family dinner night.

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I’m going to miss this kid SO MUCH! =(

So because I’ve been restless and wishing I could just jump on a plane and head overseas (seeing all these ridiculously cheap deals from LA doesn’t help, either), I’ve been scrolling through pictures from the last year and taking long extended strolls down memory lane. =)

Some random pics from random places over this past year. There are so many fun and interesting things to see and do and experience when you are in a new location.

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Seeing fairy penguins waddling around out in the wild is so cool!

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Watching surfers at the famous Bells Beach in Victoria

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Eating THE best fish and chips I’ve ever had anywhere

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Getting to use train stations with awesome names like Batman station

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Cultural performances like Eisa dancing in Okinawa

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Trying local foods and laughing at funny signs and bad English

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Walking on powder-soft beaches and swimming in crystal clear water

 

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Hiking/walking/climbing to gorgeous views

I’m so thankful for all the wonderful memories from these past 3 amazing years. I can’t wait to see everything that 2016 holds. It hasn’t started out exactly like I’d planned, but I am thankful that God is in control and for the assurance that everything He does is good.

 

So I’m not in Fiji yet…

January 27, 2016

EVERYone has been asking me lately when I am leaving for Fiji. Understandably, of course, since I actually planned to be there already. Truth is that I don’t even know the answer to that question anymore. [Well, I guess I never did know the answer to that question but I thought I did.]

So now I find myself without a job, or a car, just hanging out waiting on word from Fiji to let me know I can book a ticket.

In the meantime, though….I booked a flight (thank you frequent flier miles!) to Fairbanks, Alaska to see a friend and *hopefully* see the Northern Lights. (I read that if you spend 3 nights in Fairbanks you have an 80% chance of seeing them. I have about 8 nights there, I think, so hopefully that pushes my chances over the top *grin*.)

Anyway…so that gives me something fun to look forward to. I haven’t been in cold temps in quite a while (not since Russia anyway) so I’m looking forward to digging out all my winter stuff and unpacking my suitcase of all its tropical weather ready-for-Fiji contents and repacking it with boots and scarves and gloves and popcorn and candy for a week of girls slumber party/Northern Lights chasing adventures! Seriously…I was always a huge fan of girls nights when I was in high school and slumber parties were one of my favorite things, so I get really excited about stuff like this. Keeps me feeling young. ;)

15 more days! And maybe when I get back then I will be booking my Fiji trip and heading off to the tropics. I seem to always do this cold place/hot place thing in rapid succession so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it worked out for me to be flying to Fiji days after getting back from Alaska.  And then I keep switching hemispheres…Northern Hemisphere-Southern Hemisphere-Northern Hemisphere-Southern Hemisphere…my brain can’t keep up with the seasons anymore. (Seriously). But I can’t say life is boring.

 

**Eeek! So excited to finally, *hopefully*, get to see the Northern Lights. It’s been a dream of mine for years and I certainly didn’t expect to get a chance to try and see them this year. But God always surprises me with things like this, and I’m so thankful for how He works things out.**

A Tribute to 2015

January 1, 2016

My bday in Chiangmai elephant ride and tiger etc

2015…what can I say? It was AMAZING. When I look back over the last 12 months, I can’t believe all that happened! I knew a year in Australia would be amazing but I really didn’t have any idea just HOW amazing it would be. I am so, SO thankful that I did it while I had the chance. I highly recommend the experience! There is no way to summarize in just one post all that this year held for me but here are a few highlights:

  • Celebrating New Year’s in Sydney overlooking the harbor with our feet dangling over the water and watching fireworks and a firefall off of the Sydney Harbour Bridge [beautiful!]
  • Hiking around the Blue Mountains and other Sydney sightseeing with my Dutch friend.
  • Spending a fabulous several months living in Brisbane and getting to know so many wonderful people there.
  • Missions trip with my CA church to the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
  • Playing with tigers and riding elephants in Thailand on my birthday
  • Finally getting to Bali and enjoying daily (cheap!) massages and mani/pedis and yummy food.
  • Climbing the hundreds of steps to the amazing Batu caves in Malaysia and seeing the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
  • Running through a torrential downpour in KL and streets that had turned into 8 inch high rivers and arriving at our hotel completely soaked
  • Singapore – finally!
  • Road tripping New Zealand with my Estonian friends and getting to hear Russian again. =)
  • Finally crossing blackwater rafting off of my bucket list [craaazy experience because contrary to popular belief I am NOT brave and having to jump backwards off of TWO different waterfalls into the inky black darkness of a cold cave river while clutching an inner tube in a death grip is definitely crazy!). But I will never forget when our guide turned off his flashlight and we turned off our headlamps and we floated in total darkness looking up at thousands of brilliantly glowing blue glowworms on the ceiling of the cave above us. Incredible.  Definitely an experience of a lifetime.
  • Whitewater rafting class 5 rapids (eek!)
  • Flying from NZ directly across Australia to move to Perth on the west coast.
  • Road tripping up the coast to Monkey Mia and crazy camping adventures with a French girl. Getting to feed one of the wild dolphins that come up to the shores most mornings in Monkey Mia and watching them swim close to shore every day. Getting to stop at so many stunning and deserted beaches along the way.
  • Spending 5 amazing months living in Perth and getting to see so many fabulous places like Rottnest Island.
  • Learning to play the didgeridoo
  • Roadtripping down south to Albany and Esperance [incredible coastline and beaches!] and Wave Rock.
  • Getting to show my parents around Perth for a few days and getting to show off Australia’s incredible wildlife and scenery.
  • Getting to hold a baby crocodile
  • Getting to see SO many animals in the wild: dingoes, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, snakes, quolls, quokkas, fairy penguins, dolphins, whales, stingrays, lemon sharks, flying foxes, eastern water dragons (that can stand up on their hind legs and run like men when fighting!!), lorikeets, many different kinds of parrots, corellas, tawny frogmouths, kookaburras, emus (and many more amazing birds!), tiny frogs the size of a thumbnail, Australian possums (that are adorable!) and probably more animals that I don’t even remember right now.
  • Spending 10 days in Japan during typhoon Chan-hom and trying sushi for the first time
  • Doing a solo trip to Hong Kong and staying in the Chungking Mansions (what an experience!!! Would totally do it again though.). Even though I went solo I ended up meeting up with a girl I met through a Christian backpackers site, a guy from couchsurfing, and a Canadian girl who was staying in the Chungking Mansions as well. It’s so fun being able to just make new friends wherever you go. Thanks, social media, you’ve revolutionized travel!
  • A crazy last minute trip up to Broome before saying goodbye to Australia. What an amazing trip! The Kimberley region is SO expensive, so I only got to see Broome but I am thankful I at least go to see that. Someday when I’m rich I’ll go back and do the Kimberley properly. ;)
  • Getting to see the Staircase to the Moon while in Broome!
  • A whirlwind day layover in Honolulu and the adventure that was me trying to rendezvous with a friend of a friend who was going to to show me around for the day. If only a camera had followed me around the airport that morning…it was a comedy (which kinda reminds me of a date I had a few weeks later…both were comedies of the same sort!!)

Those are just some of the many, many highlights of this year. God spoiled me rotten this year. I don’t take for granted that I got to do more this past year than a lot of people will get to do in a lifetime and I am so thankful for all the places God let me travel, all the friends He let me make, all the experiences He let me have, the churches he let me be a part of and the memories He allowed me to make. I will cherish those memories forever.

2016 will be different in a lot of ways (mostly because I’m not planning to do much traveling), but similar in some: A new country to live in, more chances to live by faith and watch God work, a new culture to learn… I’m excited to see what happens!

I hope you all have a wonderful 2016. Let God lead you this year. I know you won’t regret it.

Happy New Year!

New Adventures!!

December 9, 2015

I’ve been waiting on a bit more of a definite answer as to when I will be leaving the USA again before I tell everyone about my new adventure. However, it seems that once I do get a work visa, I will be most likely leaving the country quickly as I will already be late for the start of the school year, so I might as well give everyone a little notice now. =) Assuming everything works out, there are no problems with the work visa, etc, my plan is to head back overseas sometime around the end of Jan/Feb. That’s about the time-frame I had been hoping for all along, but up until recently there were zero open doors so I had assumed maybe I was supposed to stay here a bit longer. Then God surprised me and dumped something, completely out of the blue, into my lap. It’s certainly not a place I had been considering, but I’ve learned that when God is leading, it’s best to follow along and be right where He wants you. I’ve been wanting a place where I could get involved in ministry, a place that needs an extra pair of hands around, and it certainly sounds like I will be more than busy there.

I’ve lived in a couple of first world countries now, lived in a second world country, so why not try a third world country, right? Does this place look familiar? I visited there 10 years ago. (So this will be the first country I’ve moved to that I’ve actually visited before moving to. It’s also the first foreign country I ever set foot in.)DSCN0825

Yep, that’s Fiji. [This is a picture of Savusavu and I will be in Nausori, on the other main island, but close enough. =)]

I have mixed emotions about going, of course, but mostly I’m really excited.  This will certainly be another situation where I have to live by faith and rely solely on God and His provision and strength, but I know that’s the most exciting way to live so….I’m excited. =) The plan right now is to be the high school supervisor at a Christian school there, and help out in various ministries. It probably means putting a hold on traveling for a while, but not *too* much of a hold on it, as there are several close island nations I’d love to explore on school holidays ;).

I would LOVE your prayers over the next few weeks and months as there are lots of details to work out, things to learn, plans to make, things to buy and pack, etc, etc. Moving overseas is always a challenge, even if you’ve done it before. Each country is different and means different things you need to buy/bring, etc. I’d also love your prayers over the next year+ as I transition to living there, try to learn the culture, and help out in the various ministries in addition to working. I know that I can’t do any of this without God’s help and I covet your prayers while I am there.

I can see God’s hand all over these last few months of coming back from Australia and settling back into American life and then preparing everything for me to go back overseas. It’s so exciting when you can see how God is working. He has blessed me SO MUCH these last few years, I feel spoiled rotten. He is so good to His children.

I can’t promise lots of beautiful travel pictures over the next year(s) [although I will do my best to get around the South Pacific a bit more and see some stuff and post some pictures when I have time] but I think I *can* promise some adventurous and hilarious stories. Those just come part and parcel with living overseas and I can’t wait! =)

A baby butterfly!

December 7, 2015

 

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I feel like this needs some really great caption about freedom or flying or something but I’ve got nothing

So this morning this little guy came into the world, err…again, in my brother’s kitchen.  Do you think I was just a little bit excited to pull out my new camera and record this guy’s first day as a butterfly? Yes, just a little! Too bad I only read part of my camera manual last night (so many new things compared to my Rebel!) so it was a crash course in figuring out the different settings this morning, trying to capture all the bright morning light behind this guy’s wings. But what a fun experiment!

 

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He was really attached to my brother. The only father he’s ever known, and he was trying to get him to fly out the window. Baby butterfly was having none of that.

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He was quite comfortable on our hands and let me pick him up from the flowers my brother left him on and move him around to get some pictures. Such a willing model! We never could get him to eat anything, so hopefully he figured that out on his own after we left. He didn’t seem to enjoy the Santa Ana breezes blowing these leaves around, and he seemed quite hesitant to try out those wings. Although he did eventually fly a little bit.

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Love all that black!

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Fly free, little butterfly, and make our skies beautiful.

New Mexico

December 5, 2015

After our quick Thanksgiving trip last week, I said goodbye to my Alaskan friend, and my brothers, and my grandparents and I started the 10 hour drive to New Mexico where I would spend the next 6 days before flying back to California.

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Seen in the little (famous?) hole-in-the-wall Buckhorn Tavern (we went for the food people, it’s hardly a tavern)

It had been a few years since I had been to NM so it was interesting to see how much the area around Albuquerque has grown.  We didn’t get any snow this time, but it was cold and wintry. My sinuses didn’t really like the dryness and pretty much made life miserable for me until we made a quick Wal Mart run to grab some meds! But in spite of the sinus headaches we had a great time. Took a day trip down to the Bosque del Apache which was pretty fun. Gave my new Canon 70d a chance to get out and take some photos.

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A million sand hill cranes flying overhead

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Can you see the bald eagle in the tree? (why do I never travel with my zoom lens???)

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We saw so many hawks

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Not sure what kind of birds they are, but all that white in the background is birds.

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Such pretty colors

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A hawk among all the sand hill cranes

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So many cranes!

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I can’t help myself when I am out in nature and I have a camera in my hand. =) I always take way too many pictures. I think it’s an addiction. ;)

Thanksgiving

December 2, 2015

This time of year is my absolute favorite! We get fall (usually) and Thanksgiving and Christmas all about the same time and it’s just so much fun to pull out scarves and boots and coats and bundle up and spend time with family and friends eating and playing games. Last year I didn’t get most of that as I was living in Australia where it was summertime and I was away from family. Thankfully I had American friends to celebrate Thanksgiving with, and my Australian family to celebrate Christmas with. But it was summertime and it was certainly not sweater weather! (and Brisbane celebrates Christmas by setting off fireworks. With the weather it felt like the 4th of July to me. With Christmas music playing.

Anyway, this year my parents headed to Israel over Thanksgiving so my brothers and I all met up with my grandparents in Las Vegas, where my brother lives, and celebrated there.

I also got to meet my Alaskan friend and we drove to Vegas together since her brother also lives there. It was so great to finally meet her after all these years. It’s been so encouraging having a friend like her!

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Las Vegas was a whirlwind trip, and on the last night we decided to go check out some hotels on the strip since I’d never been. While it was an interesting experience, I don’t feel the need to go back again.  I was impressed with the Venetian, but real Venice is still better. =) Everything real is better and everything in Vegas seems so fake.

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The real Eiffel Tower is better, too.

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Barrie will never forget this night, and neither will I.

I have so, so, SO much to be thankful for. I am so thankful for the chance to be home for the holidays right now. It’s so fun being with family and eating yummy American foods again. I know I probably only have a few weeks left of it, so I am trying to enjoy every minute!

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