Friday, December 30, 2011

The World

Now that Matthew and I have safely arrived back on home soil, many of you have asked us the question, "What was your favorite country?"  After experiencing a trip like this with 20 different countries and such varied experiences in each one, it feels nearly impossible for us to answer that!  So, instead we have written a blog post describing our trip for you.  We have included our destinations, highlights from the trip including craziest and funniest memories, and other interesting facts that we discovered along the way.  We hope that you enjoy reading it and if you do talk with us about our adventures, feel free to ask other questions besides the "favorites" now that you know more about the trip  :)

We traveled from America to...
London, Sheffield, and Manchester England
Edinburgh Scotland
Prague Czech Republic
Gusternhain and Kaiserslautern Germany
Paris France
Alicante Spain
Pisa, Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice and Rome Italy
Thessaloniki, Athens, and Poros Greece
Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, En Gedi, Masada, Dead Sea, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem Israel
Amman and Petra Jordan
Dahab, Red Sea, and Cairo Egypt
Nairobi Kenya
Kigali, Cyangugu, Kibungo, Ruhengeri, Akagera, and Byumba Rwanda
Delhi and Mussoorie India
Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Thokarpa Nepal
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Legian, Panangbai, Panang Panang, Rendang, Amed, Candidasa, and Kuta in Bali Indonesia
Phuket, Ko Yao Noi, Phang Nga, Krabi, Ao Nang, Ko Phi Phi, and Ko Lanta Thailand
Melbourne, Sydney, and Wollongong Australia
Nadi and Sigatoka Coral Coast Fiji

20 Countries
224 Days of travel
32 Flights
38,104 Air miles
2,330 Train miles
2,706 Car/Bus miles
Total 43,120 miles (the earth's circumference is +/-24,901 miles so that's almost twice around the globe)

We had ministry opportunities in...
Germany (visited our friends Lou & Cathy who are missionaries with Cadence International, running a hospitality house which ministers to American troops and their families stationed in Germany)
Egypt (visited and stayed with missionaries serving Cairo)
Kenya (led a short term mission trip with Child Specialists from the US evaluating orphans and training staff and community members)
Rwanda (toured the country seeing several ministries with Mark & Peg including clean water projects, a housing project, the wedding dress shop and many other projects)
India (visited the eMi office in Mussoorie - an organization - that Matthew's dad started - of engineers and architects volunteering alongside the local church)
Nepal (hiked to a mountain church that Matthew's dad designed and funded, visited orphan homes)

We visited friends living in...
England (John & Megan, Alex & Georgie, Jeff)
Scotland (Peter & Heather)
Germany (Rina, Lou & Cathy)
Australia (Monique, Levi, Joe & Mel, Ferdie, Brenden)

We met up with American friends who were traveling in...
Germany (Jenny)
Israel & Jordan (Rob & Shini, Paige, Erin)
Kenya (Hope's Promise team - Colleen, Justin, Phil, Beth, Rachel, Shamin, Amanda, Jenn, Aleta)
Rwanda (Mark & Peg)
India (Satish)

We visited family living in...
England (my dad's cousin, and a close family friend of my mom's family)
India (my dad's side of the family including his aunt and his first cousins and their kids)
Australia (my mom's side of the family including her first cousins and their kids)

We made new friends (that we have stayed in contact with) in...

We Couch Surfed in...
Prague, with 3 different families
Italy, with 2 different guys
Greece, with 2 different couples
Israel, with 4 different families

Most expensive gas prices...
Israel - converts to $10/gallon!
Europe - converts to $6-8/gallon
Australia - converts to $7/gallon

Least expensive gas prices...
Egypt - converts to $1/gallon (I think this was the only country where gas was cheaper than the U.S.)

Most expensive countries overall...

Least expensive countries overall...

Craziest Adventures...
Taking the ferry from Jordan to Egypt when we had to surrender our passports and everyone around us was only speaking Arabic and kept bursting out in arguments

The flight from Greece to Israel leaving at 2am and arriving at 4am

Barely getting through passport control into Israel

The hike and leeches in Nepal

Waking up to the sound of metal scraping when our bus slid off the side of the road in Rwanda

Getting off the train one stop too early in Germany when we only had a 7 minute connection for the next train (thankfully a kind person helped us realize it and we were able to hop back on the train in time to make our connection!)

Funny moments...
The "bus" that showed up in Thailand which was really a truck for just the two of us

Tossing rocks in the air and catching them on the back of our hands with the Nepali kids

People assuming I was a native in...
     Thailand, Bali, India, Nepal, Fiji, Egypt, and Malaysia,
     and the Rwandans said I looked Rwandan except for my hair!
     and someone in Fiji told me I looked Brazilian!

Having 2 rickshaw drivers in India take us to the wrong movie theaters on the same night and having to walk (actually run) to the 3rd theater to see our movie

Having a live chicken suddenly placed in my hands in Nepal

Suddenly seeing a goat living inside a family's living room in Nepal

The man in Jordan offering "200 camels and 1 chicken" for me...then when we told him I was married and pointed Matthew out to him, he said, "Oh, okay, I'll go ask him"

All the times Matthew and I shared a single bed (not a twin bed people, a single!)

People jumping in our taxi to sell us things on the way to the Pyramids in Egypt, including one man jumping on top of the taxi!

Our favorite food...
Thai (It was so good, I even took a cooking class!)

Our least favorite food...
Rwandan (too plain)

Most beautiful countries...

Interesting facts...
The languages Nepali and Hindi have the same script and many words that are similar

Most countries are not crazy about Americans!  We heard all kinds of interesting stereotypes!

Many Christians around the world today face severe persecution for their faith

Gas in most countries around the world is significantly more expensive than the U.S.

40% of Fijians are from India

Not only is the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, it also sparkles!

Disasters averted...
Missed a riot in Athens because we decided to postpone going to see the Parliament building until the next day

Missed a protest in Israel because we decided not to go to a particular area in old Jerusalem until the next day

Missed a bombing in India because we left Delhi and went to the mountains

Missed an earthquake in Nepal because our hike to the mountain village was postponed by a day so we were not in Kathmandu

Missed another earthquake in Bali because our computer was not ready for pick up so it postponed our return to Kuta by one day

We went to church services in...


Currencies... and approximate value amount per U.S. dollar (e.g. .64 Pounds equals $1 USD)
England & Scotland - British Pound (.64)
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Greece - Euro (.77)
Czech Republic - Koruna (19.7)
Israel - Shekel (3.8)
Jordan - Dinar (.7)
Egypt - Pound (6)
Kenya - Shilling (85)
Rwanda - Franc (598)
India - Rupee  (53)
Nepal - Rupee (85.4)
Malaysia - Ringgit (3.2)
Bali - Rupiah (9,060) - can you imagine calculating how many dollars it is when it's 9,000 to 1??
Thailand - Baht (31.7)
Australia - Dollar (.98)
Fiji - Dollar (1.8)

Overall Highlights/Favorite Memories...
Leading the Kenya Team of Child Specialists
Hiking to the mountain village in Nepal where Matthew's dad designed and funded a church
Singing songs with the orphans in Kenya and Nepal
Seeing Les Miserables in London (thanks to Matthew's mom!)
The birthday party that was thrown for me with the kids in Kenya (best birthday party ever!)
Meeting up with our American friends traveling around the world
Singing oldies with my friend Shini in Jordan
Snorkeling in the Red Sea in Egypt
Meeting our Compassion child, Asha, in India
Sitting on the beach (Moni) and Surfing (Matthew) in Bali
Watching fireworks in Rome from the top of a building
Meeting friends in Australia
Making new friends around the world
Touring the Holy Land
Seeing family around the world
Visiting the eMi office and spending time with other missionaries around the world
Watching breathtaking sunsets over the ocean and
Seeing amazing scenic & historical sights including...

Big Ben & Parliament (London England)

 Westminster Abbey (London England)

The Royal Palace (London England)

The Edinburgh Castle (Edinburgh Scotland) 

Charles Bridge (Prague Czech Republic)

Prague (Czech Republic)

Dachau Concentration Camp (Dachau Germany) 

Notre Dame (Paris France)

Eiffel Tower (Paris France)

Sacre Cour (Paris France)

Palace at Versailles (Paris France)

The Cinque Terre (Italy)

 The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa Italy)

Colloseum (Rome Italy)

The Vatican, Museum, and Sistine Chapel (Rome Italy)

The Acropolis & Parthenon (Athens Greece)

Greek Island (Poros Greece)

The Sea of Galilee (Israel)

The Dead Sea (Israel)

Israel Museum with the Dead Sea Scrolls (Israel)

Jerusalem - view from the Mount of Olives (Israel)

Petra (Jordan)

Pyramids and Sphinx (Cairo Egypt)

The Red Sea (Dahab Egypt)

Nairobi Kenya (didn't see sights but worked with some amazing kids!)





Twin Towers (Kuala Lumpur Malaysia)




The 12 Apostles (Great Ocean Road, Australia)

Sydney Opera House (Sydney Australia)

Sydney Harbor Bridge (Sydney Australia)

Coral Coast (Fiji)

Life lessons...
Leading the Kenya team of Child Specialists was an incredible experience.  It definitely fueled my passion for leading short term trips to help people in the U.S. go overseas to use their skills to bless others.  We loved leading this team together because we were both able to use our gifts of leadership.

Likewise, Matthew really enjoyed meeting engineers and architects serving as missionaries around the world.  It fueled his passion to volunteer in this way in the future.

In several countries for weeks at a time, (especially Bali and Thailand) we often did not plan in advance where we would be staying for the night, which was a lesson in learning to trust God and trust Matthew.

Learning to live with only a few clothes, shoes, and minimal toiletries coupled with seeing poverty and the way people live around the world helped us realize how little we actually do need to live.  We experienced how much simpler life is without all the complications that technology and material possessions can sometimes bring.  It enabled us to truly enjoy creation, relationships, and live in the moment every day.

Meeting Christians around the world was inspiring, especially after hearing about how many many of them have faced severe persecution for their faith.  Their stories and their passion and devotion to Christ is incredible!

We overwhelmingly and consistently felt God's hand of protection over us - Not only did we miss several disasters (mentioned above) but we did not have anything stolen from us, we did not have any delayed or cancelled flights, and our transition back to life in the U.S. was smooth as we both get to go back to our old jobs.

Experiencing how God is at work around the globe and seeing how different cultures worship was amazing!

I read "The Purpose Driven Life" book throughout the journey.   Rather than reading it straight through in 40 days, I randomly read it throughout the trip.   I was amazed at how it always directly applied to what I happened to be experiencing right when I read it.  It was another way that we felt that God's hand was on our trip.

Spending 24 hours a day together for nearly 8 months was a joy and also challenging at times.  Matthew and I learned much about one another and we were truly able to see how similar we are and how very different we are from each other.  We were able to figure out how to travel best together and learned to appreciate our differences.  Our hearts have become all the more bonded together and it will be a lifelong treasure to remember the memories created on this adventure.

And finally, to bring it back around to our initial blog post and the purpose of our trip which was to learn to Love Well, we both strongly feel that we have grown in our ability to love one another, love those that God brings into our lives, love ourselves and the way God created us uniquely, and to love God more deeply each and every day.  Thank you for following our blog and for all of your support for us to fulfill this once in a lifetime adventure.   We are excited to see how this trip continues to impact our future over the coming months, years, and even decades.  Blessings to you!!