Christmas Time in the Okanagan.

I wanted to write up a Christmas-y post this week before we our lives got so full that I forgot or ran out of time. One of the dear people in my life encouraged me to use the word “full” rather than “busy” and it does seem so much more positive to know that our life is full because of good people and fun students. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling for a post, so I decided to do a little glimpse into our lives at Christmas.

Some everyday things that are giving me joy:

  • my handcarved, wooden Nativity set I brought straight from the streets of Mozambique.
  • my students seem to love me.
  • Starbucks opened up 10 minutes away.
  • coffees brought to school from Lance&Tasha.
  • when I stood outside this week I could see the most perfectly formed tiny snowflakes landing on my plaid jacket.


-to serve your friends and families-

Some favorite Christmas recipes: Firecracker punch that’s a delicious easy go-to, a comforting soup I call Hauder Chowder, and a cinnamon side dish to inspire Christmas cheer. My students chose these pears for our Parent Supper this week and they seemed to go over really well. The oldest class boys sometimes promise me iced coffee if I will trade them some of these at lunch.

Firecracker Punch
4 cups pineapple juice
4 cups cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
Heat. Add 1 tsp. almond extract.
Add 2 liters of cold 7-up.
(we just each do our own cup)

Hauder Chowder
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 pound Italian sausage, Jimmy Dean’s is best
1/2 tsp. olive oil
4 cups peeled, diced potato
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup diced celery
1 cup heavy cream or millk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute. Add the Italian sausage and brown, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.
2. In a soup pot, combine potatoes, chicken stock, and celery. I usually add carrots or whatever else is available since I don’t like celery. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage and onions to soup pot. Add the cream and cheddar cheese, stirring until all ingredients are combined and warmed again.
4. Serve with cheese and onions sprinkled on top.

Red Hot Pears
-2 29 oz. canned pears in dish. (reserve 1/4 c. juice)
-cook until melted: 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup red hots.
-combine 1/4 cup pear juice and 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and add to red hot mixture. Cook until thickened.
Place pears into bowl and pour mixture over pears. Chill.


-to buy for people you adore-

Ember Temperature Controlled Smart Mug

Stanley Tumbler

Beeswax Taper Candles

Harry Potter Illustrated Books. I want all of them.

Ticket to Ride Europe Board Game

Audible 3-month Membership

Ancestry DNA Test Kit


-to relax by the fire with-

The Scarlet Pimpernel

A Year in Provence

The Spark


Charmont Bilingual Academy

Charmont Bilingual Academy is a little school in Roatan, Honduras, that Morgan and I taught English at for a couple months in 2019. I have talked about them before, and some of you have donated Bible School money, or just from your own hearts. It’s a donation only program that supports a school and a little clinic there on the island. Ms. Valerie often gives until the money is gone and lives as the people do. There have been several children with debilitating or life-threatening diseases that she has been able to send to Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula for surgeries, and different families she helps with bags of rice or chicken, all through donations. If you’d like a way to give back this season, this is the perfect place. We know for a fact how the program and Ms. Valerie work and exactly where the money goes and there’s no better cause.

If you click a link and order, I may get a small commission. Have a wonderful week.♡


Navigating it all.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table where the smell of potato soup still hangs in the warm air. When I look outside, it seems like a one-horse open sleigh should be jingling down the hillside but all I actually see is beautiful white snowflakes falling gently against the evergreen trees. There’s a lovely amount of snow on the ground, covering the brown grasses and leaf remnants of fall. The skates are being sharpened and sleds sit by people’s front doors. Winter is here and I’m overjoyed! Yay!

We arrived home – a loose word for us these days- from Conference a week ago Friday night. We moved out of our bus for the winter the day before we left for Conference so there has been a lot of in between the last few weeks. Due to a lovely offer from friends, we have a cozy basement and house to stay in until April so we are really excited about not sticking it out in the cold all winter, although the outdoor shower in 8*F certainly was exhilarating while it lasted.

Conference. How do you sum it up in a few words? It was amazing. Reconnecting. Rethinking. Reminders. And the warmth of everyone walking towards the same goal. Things seem easier when you’re with all those people you want to see in Heaven. Now we’re home and I think of the things we are in this battle against as I go through my day and remind myself that my all must be on the altar. Simple as that. I have been impressed this week because I have pulled my phone out for various reasons and our time in Tupelo came rushing back (bet not many people say that and want to remember Tupelo) and I remembered why we’re here and the peace surrounding the decisions of all of us. But the fight isn’t going away, so let’s pray extra much for each others battles. And if you happen to have notes to share from Conference, I would love to read your thoughts. We shared a room with Mom and Madison and Dillons and the boys were next door. It was so fun. Soaked up time with the cutest nephews and family and the whole week was just what we needed. We ended up across the road from some of Morgans family too so we had meals with Mom in law and sat together some.

This week has been kind of crazy. I was sick a lot of the week, and everyone else in BC is sick as well so we canceled school from last Tuesday through the end of the week. This week we’ll hopefully be back in business and the bugs will have gone through everyone by the time all the Christmas activities come around. Morgan has been fine and worked up at the ranch a couple of days, but this morning isnt feeling well so who knows. I have been working on Christmas school things since there’s not much else to do . We are doing a Walk through Bethlehem nativity for our school Christmas program this year which requires a bit of gathering supplies and making odds and ends so there’s been plenty of that to keep busy with. I’ve made a few trips to Value Village already and I’m not complaining.

Yesterday marked six months that Dad-in-law Kevin has been gone. I sometimes feel like I don’t know who I am anymore or who I was before our Dads were gone. We miss Morgans Dad every day. We’re looking into buying a house and I selfishly think we need him here so much. He did so much good and helped with our questions and was an underlying support for so many people and now he’s gone. Our evenings get long, for sure now that it gets dark at 4 in the afternoon. So we end up at Lance&Tashas alot or ask people if we can stop in for coffees so we don’t go crazy sitting and overthinking. I do a lot of comparing from where I was 6 months after my dad died, to now when it’s 6 months after my spouses dad. It’s not healthy, I suppose. But I tell myself if I got through it once, we will get through this again. We do request your prayers. Having no dad in either of our lives is just a shock and leaves a huge void we don’t know how to replace. Also tomorrow, Monday, would have been Dad Kevins 59th birthday so just a lot of heavy stuff the last couple days.

Yesterday we both felt well enough to go for a drive so we got coffees at a new coffee shop in Armstrong- London fog was maybe 3/10- and then we drove up to Farmstrong Cider which is a cider place obviously but with a huge cool barn you can eat supper in. They had a Christmas market so we sat in the entrance line for half an hour and sipped our drinks and talked. We toured around the market for awhile and found some Christmas gifts and a lovely pottery coffee cup for ourselves that is just THE perfect size and shape so of course if you’re lucky enough to find that you buy it immediately. This morning we are looking forward to church and a busy school week ahead of us. May or may not put out a little Christmas idea list this week. Wishing you all a courage-filled week.

Our Basic Packing List: Part 1

One of the first things I thought of this morning was making this post. We have learned the hard way with some of our travel products, and been surprisingly successful with others. This list is obviously customized for Morgan and I. If you follow me, you will know we travel low-budget and with backpacks, so this list may not be for you if you are used to posh, high-luggage volume travel. I hope this list, combined with my blog, inspires you to try something new or visit a different country and expand your horizons.

Cotopaxi backpack

Until January, I used a $20 backpack that Morgan had bought at the Turlock Flea Market when he was 13. It held up remarkably well and went a lot of places with me after we were married until Morgan bought me this lovely backpack this year and we should have bought it years ago! I liked it so well that Morgan was also convinced and had it on his wish list. He was gifted a matching one with mine in June at the end of school from his class. Yes. We have matching backpacks. Kinda extra but I like it. Anyways we love love love these. The backpack zips open and lays flat, and has zippered net compartments on both sides that keep everything in its spot and gets rid of the “digging to the bottom of the backpack trying to find what you need in a hurry at the hostel” part of travel. We have the 35L size, which easily fit as a carry-on in the overhead bins when flying but it is doubtful this size would be able to fit under the seat in front of you, if that matters. We traveled for our five-week trip to Europe this summer with these, and we also use them to travel anywhere we go. I haven’t traveled with an actual suitcase since we got married so you could say I’ve changed in some things! These backpacks come with a waterproof cover, as well as having a large front pocket that I use for my cosmetics bag, headphones, and phone charger. A con to this backpack, possibly the only one, is that there is not a water bottle pocket on the outside of the pack so we are going to try sewing something to the side. The 35L size isn’t available on Amazon which is where I link things from, so I have listed the smaller 24L backpack above.


  • zippered net compartments hold things in place
  • fit in overhead bins as carry-on luggage
  • waterproof and easy to clean
  • multiple sizes
  • adjustable waist and chest straps for plus size people:)


  • doesn’t have a place to carry a water bottle

Fjallraven Hip Pack

This hip pack was a fairly recent purchase that we wanted to try out in Europe this summer. We usually carry our backpacks with us that contain our passports, etc. but since we stayed multiple nights in one spot, we needed something to carry things in during the day. Enter this lovely fanny pack that Morgan literally wore the whole trip and we loved. We stored passports, money, the occasional half-eaten French croissant, and our phones in it when we were out sightseeing and the peace of mind in not worrying about who had the passports and where they were made the purchase well worth it. Morgan thinks he might wear it to school every day too.


  • adjustable waist strap that links through belt loops for safer carrying
  • outside pocket for even easier access to small items
  • minimal straps and buckles


  • looks like something someone who tells dad-jokes would wear

Sea to Summit travel pillow

Morgan bought this Sea to Summit inflatable travel pillow a couple years ago and it goes on most of our trips with us. It takes 3 good breaths of air to inflate, and packs down to a 2×2 inch square for easy carrying. I used a neck pillow for awhile, but when you are backpacking it’s not a valid option for light carrying because it’s in the way. Enter this 2-ounce beauty and you will be set for any trip you go on!


  • super light
  • a firm pillow rather than soft
  • maybe best for back sleepers?
  • easy to travel with


  • not as comfortable for side sleepers

Travel Adapter

There are a million travel adapters to choose from when you look, and probably all of them work the same but this is the one we use when we travel. The USA, Europe, the UK, and Australia all require a different source, although I wouldn’t personally know about Australia since I haven’t been there. This adapter has all four types of sockets, plus multiple charging ports that we put to good use. We had an alarming experience in Prague when a cheap wall block I was trying to use exploded in our room with sparks and fire. These travel adapters have surge protection and we have only had good luck and fast charging with them.


  • fast charging
  • can use in over 150 countries
  • multiple charging ports


  • chunky so doesn’t pack as easily

Portable Charger

The exact portable charger we have is currently out of stock so I have listed one that’s nearly identical so I can still tell you about ours. We bring this on every trip because we don’t always know if we will have power or a place to plug in while we’re traveling. In Europe this summer, we took FlixBus between countries. FlixBus advertises in-seat charging ports but we found out immediately that they usually don’t work so we used the battery pack a lot. Our battery pack lasts for multiple, full-phone charges and can slide into any space in a backpack.


  • fast-charging
  • slim and fits in backpack easily
  • plug in multiple devices to charge at a time


  • one more tech item to charge and keep track of

Women’s Xero Sandal

These sandals are for both men and women in different colors. I admit they aren’t the most beautiful shoe I’ve seen but Morgan and I have worn them everywhere. I bought mine right after we got married and the rubber just ripped on them on our way home from Europe this summer so they lasted almost 5 years. They are lightweight and have straps that keep them from coming off easily so I wore them for things like cliff jumping and river swimming. I also wore them in the hostel showers because it seemed like a good idea. The straps are the only things that absorb water and they dry super fast so they are my favorite water shoe. I also have hiked and just worn them as a summer sandal.


  • lightweight and flexible for wearing and packing
  • multiple colors
  • fast drying
  • land or water shoe
  • adjustable straps
  • great barefoot shoe


  • no arch support

Altra Women’s Shoes

Another brand of shoes Morgan and I both love. These shoes are so comfortable for any feet, but especially if you’re interested in the barefoot shoe lifestyle or if you have a wide foot. They are light, comfy, dry quickly, and pack quite well. These above are the ones I have, and Morgan has the same brand with a slightly different men’s shoe.


  • light
  • great for wide feet
  • good foot support
  • multiple shoe options for hiking, running, etc.


I don’t think I have any.

Leather Journal

Most of you wouldn’t be interested in bringing something like this but for those of you who like writing in leather journals, this is for you. I always make room in my backpack for this book. It’s bulky, not necessarily travel-friendly, but I love it and I often use it as a smash book type of journal. I have receipts from plays, and Michelin-starred meals, and border crossings. It contains money from different countries, brochures, and a dried flower plucked from Pompeii, Italy. It has signatures of people we have stayed with in hostels, and one of the pages contains the best secret restaurants we’ve stumbled across. It has it all.


  • it’s leather so it makes you feel like you have your life together
  • great for keeping memories
  • sturdy and cheap


  • bulky for travel
  • takes up valuable backpack space (but worth it)

This concludes our basic summer packing list. I guess this is my small business of sorts, so if you click on a link and purchase, I may get a small commission from Amazon. Thank you for your support and continued reading:)

Enderby Teachers Art Ideas 2022

Fall Watercolor Leaves


Scrap Paper Turkey


Leaf Doodle


Q-Tip Tree


Wood Slice Wreath


Nature Squirrel


Monarch Butterfly Science Craft


A Blog of Lists

After a busy month, California is in our rearview mirror and so is August. We have had good days with friends and tough days missing Dad and anticipating leaving here again. I’ve been packing and I’m into lists right now because they’re keeping my mind from insanity so I will be doing some listing today. First, some main events that have happened since getting back from Europe.

  • Skyler&Ann’s lovely reception at Ballico.
  • Michigan for 2 weeks with my family- trail rides, Lake Michigan, fishing, my wonderful family.
  • Kansas with Mom and Madison to help set up Mom’s classroom in Garden View.
  • Monday morning coffee group with Mom Yolanda.
  • Lunches and suppers and coffees with friends that are family. Uncle Evan’s, Jon’s, Dan’s, James’, Benny’s, Skyler’s, Jesse’s, Gary’s, Perrin’s to name a few.
  • Santa Cruz for a day with my honey.
  • D&D coffee shop on Saturdays.
  • Stops on travels at Tony&Tara, Darvin&Diane, and Mark&Melody.

Some things I see outside the Jeep window as we drive along that speak of California.

  • Oleander bushes blooming in the median in bursts of pink and white.
  • Rows of dusty almond trees baking in the sunshine.
  • A line of cars waiting in the In-n-Out drive thru.
  • Spindly palm trees standing out against the sky.
  • A neon sign proclaiming “extreme heat. conserve energy from 4-9 pm.”
  • Seedy taco trucks with plastic chairs and string lights.
  • Brake lights from the ever stop-and-go hwy 99 traffic.
  • A semi truck trailer loaded with piles of red tomatoes.

School started in California this week so Morgan and I stopped in and chatted with the teachers a couple times and checked out some of the classrooms. Since then, and because we are driving towards our own school year, I have been thinking of the top things/perks I enjoy as a teacher. actually, these ideas could also be for friends who are low, widows or ladies without a spouse to do these things for them, or busy moms.

  • Iced coffees after school. Or any drink really. You’d be surprised what an ice water would even do for me after some school days.
  • Meals that we can just heat up. Like these are perfect for taking back to the house to heat up or for warming up while you work late at school. And leftovers wouldn’t be shunned even.
  • Money. You might think the teachers just want another coffee mug but you’re probably wrong. Honestly sometimes we just want the cash to put in our “go home for Christmas” jar or to buy gas on the weekend.
  • Invites. Even if we say no because we’re exhausted and have been busy every evening that week, please don’t stop trying. It’s nice to know you’ve tried at least.
  • Snacks, obviously. If you left a sleeve of saltine crackers on our Enderby table we would eat them happily. It doesn’t have to be fresh that day or beautiful. We just like food.
  • Gift cards. It is so nice to know if you work late at school that you can just stop and grab food on your way home from the local Cafe. It’s also a nice bonus to get fuel cards that can help out your spring break or Thanksgiving trip.

We are driving straight thru the night so hopefully we will arrive to our little bus up on the mountain by early afternoon. It will be nice to be home. No big plans when we get back except to unpack our backpacks for the first time since May and drop some things off at school.

Also I need to tell you about this thing I received in the mail. I know other people around have got them also and they are neat. After Dad-in-law passed away, a group of my dear friends put together money and sent me a gift basket loaded with goodies. And now I am using my Harper&Jade minky blanket from the basket as we drive towards Canada. I have a card with all of your names on it so if you’re reading this, thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Have a good Labor Day weekend. And a safe one.

Italy + London

Burano, Italy

Monday morning we cruised out into the little cobblestone streets and found a place with muffins and lattes for breakfast. The city of Venice does not wake up early so it was fairly quiet in the streets. I wrote out some things to mail to my students:) and then we bought tickets to take the boat out to Burano. Burano is one of many little islands north of Venice and it took about an hour in a very warm ferry to get there. It’s a little fishing town with stone streets and lovely colorful houses lining the canals. They are also known for their lace making and there are lots of shops selling lace tablecloths and scarves. We had seafood pasta for lunch and walked through some of the town, then took the ferry back to Venice. We cooled off for a couple hours at the house. Our apartment is on the ground floor and you step directly out of a cobblestone alley through a big wrought iron door and into the hall. We went for a pizza and pasta supper and of course got gelato later.

Yesterday morning we were up at 4:00, packing and getting ready to leave. We had to take our trash with us to a trash barge when we left, although it was so early we couldn’t find one so we just found a garbage can in the main square. We took a water taxi to the main bus station in Venice, then a bus from Venice to the Marco Polo airport on the mainland. We flew out at 8:00, a 2 hour flight from Venice to London. Once in London we went to Borough Barista for a latte before touring some more around Buckingham Palace. We did a lot of casual walking around making sure we didn’t miss anything. It was only 72* here so it was a welcome break from the heat we’ve had lately. By late afternoon we were quite tired so we went to the mission house where we were a over a month ago. Gary&Bonnie left a few weeks ago and have been replaced by Dalton&Yvonne so we had messaged them a week ago to see if we could come meet them this time! We had a lovely time with them and a delicious breakfast this morning with Devon custard and crumpets. We left at 9 and stopped at a shop on the way out to the airport. Now we are boarded in London for San Francisco and I’m finishing this post.

We left on this trip with mixed emotions. Life had thrown a lot of things at us before we left, so we were glad to relax and take a breather for this time even though there were people who thought we were crazy. But of course underneath it all has been the sadness of what we will go home to. We have been so thankful for this time to focus on each other and Madison and other things, so in some ways we haven’t even grasped that Dad is gone. So once again, we ask for your prayers as we work with things when we get back to folks’, and as we anticipate going back to teach where we don’t have family around us. It looks overwhelming. Thanks for your love and the messages you have sent, even if we haven’t been too great at responding the last few weeks.♡

Slovenia and Italy

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Friday morning we left the little house on stilts around 8 and drove back to Zagreb for the last time to drop off our Fiat 500 rental car. Luckily we were able to put all the extra space haha in the car to use by drying laundry while we drove. Nobody has dryers here, of course. Then we caught a FlixBus to Ljubljana, Slovenia which ended up being a city we really liked despite the intense heat as soon as we stepped off the bus. More up with the times in some areas, and with the old architecture in others. We went straight to the apartment where Morgan made spaghetti and veggies for supper.

After some poking around online, I came up with a Saturday market to go to so we got a start on the day mid morning. We took the bus to the Dragon Bridge where the Market was close to and spent awhile perusing produce before we had lunch. Madison and I had pad thai from a street vendor and Morgan had breaded fish, sardines maybe? and fries. After lunch we walked through the handmade side of the market, no different than the ones in Canada and the US we go to with candles, soap, and knitted mittens. We discovered a little Nordic style coffee shop called Mariposa Coffee Roasters so we got iced coffees and blackberry lemonade while we talked with the owner. There is only one other coffee place in the world using the Mariposa Coffee title and that’s in Mariposa, California so the guy thought it superb we had been to that little place up in the Sierra foothills. After refreshing, (which is necessary like often because the stone streets here with brick walls on either side are basically a Dutch oven) we got bus tickets out to Lake Bled, Slovenia. The Ljubljana airport is far out of the city, surrounded by pine trees, so with only that stop, we arrived in an hour to Lake Bled.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

The water was so blue and green and it was breezy so little waves added white in the color mix against the mountains. A white church with a tall spire standing on an island in the middle of the lake completed the idyllic picture. We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking along the lake through the pines, and then walked through a market before we caught the bus back to Ljubljana. We collapsed in the a/c for a couple hours and Morgan brought pizza and kebaps back for supper.

We left early on Sunday morning and found a flea market that we walked through before going to Le Petit Cafe where we had scones and marmalade and eggs. Then we took our last FlixBus of the trip down to Venice, Italy, one of my top 3 favorite cities. We were here a couple years ago and have wanted to come back because we loved it. We arrived into the train station and caught a water taxi down the Grande Canal to San Marco Square close to where our apartment was. It was unseasonably warm here too, so we dumped off our packs at the house and took a break. Morgan has been living the dream cooking in all these countries and trying new foods. I’m living the dream because he loves to cook. Anyways he made a mushroom cream chicken with rice for supper and we went out late for gelato. Supper is in full swing between 9 and 10 here so the city was very busy while we were out. Men in striped shirts and flat straw hats sail people about the canals in gondolas and the sunshine on plants in faded courtyards paints a picture of serenity. There are lots of people in the main areas, but we find little streets, old walls on both sides and the smell of pizzas chasing us as we go. Its bittersweet that this is our last stop, but fitting that its a place we love and are comfortable.


Typical house here.

I have so much to write but I dont think I can do justice to everything we have seen so I may ramble.

First, Bosnia and Herzegovina. We crossed from Croatia on Monday and stayed in a little town close to the border called Novi Grad Monday night. It was an apartment up a flight of stairs in an old building that a little lady came to open for us. She could speak zero English. None. She was jabbering away and I was talking too and we were getting nowhere until I had the idea to get out Google translate on my phone. I typed to her in English that translated to Bosnian and her face lit up and she typed back in Bosnian. So we had a whole conversation about her age (65), her three sons (age 33, 30, 29) and that she needed an hour to make beds so could we please go eat supper. We went to a little place where again the man couldn’t understand us so we made our point with gestures and pointing. Something available everywhere here to eat is a cevapi in lepinja bread, like a sausage sandwich in pita. Their sausages are made of pork, lamb, beef and paprika and put in a grilled pita bread thing. They are medium. Not great but okay. Thats what we had for supper before hustling back to the apartment and sleeping. In the morning I had more typed conversations with the lady and she wished us good luck and said if she was young she would come with us right now. It was cute. We quickly discovered at a coffee place that cash is the only currency here basically. Our waiter spoke good English and said he has lived in Bosnia six years and that it is half Communist and half Democrat. The banks charge 40% and up on transactions so cash is king. We paid $4 total for 3 Italian coffees so its a budget destination for sure.

Tuesday morning we drove a half hour off into Bosnia to our house for the next 3 days, a little wood house on stilts on the bank of River Una. We stopped at a market on the way to our place and got groceries. The stores carry lots of pasta and cheeses and breads so we usually find what we need. Mayonnaise is in squirt tubes, not jars,and ketchup comes in flavors pizza, mild, or spicy. My Google translate actually brings it up as “angry” ketchup, not spicy. You also have to weigh out and price your veggies before you take them up to pay, which we have learned the hard way and a huffy cashier has had to do it for us a couple times because we forget. We drove by fields of corn and sunflowers and through villages spread across hills. There are so many trees and lots of dense underbrush everywhere. The fields are small and broken up by patches of trees. The town we are in is known for the surrounding forests having lots of chestnut trees, and the River Una has 147 different medicinal herbs along its banks. Its wild and unkempt and I love it. It’s been warm so we walk a few feet to the river and swim for part of the morning, eat jam tarts or pesto spaghetti for lunch, take a nap in the sun, and finish with more floating down the river. We’ve only found chest deep water and the water is absolutely crystal clear all day. It’s lovely. Yesterday I sat in the shallows by the bank and watched baby suckerfish on the riverbottom. There is an area 50 feet upstream that has grassy banks and a volleyball net and grill that is a public swimming area. Again, very few people here have a/c so there are lots of people sitting outside in the shade or at the swimming area near us. We are starting to recognize some of the people. The old men come and dive in off the rocks, float down to the landing, and sit at the picnic table talking until the cycle repeats. The families come with their naked little children and coax them to jump off the rocks. The old women lay on towels in their bikinis, gossiping and occasionally going into the water. We swim with them and smile because we can’t speak and I watch them all from our deck while I sit in the sun and think about how all these people are experiencing sadness and depression and joy and grief and love, just like me. I wonder about their lives and where they were 30 years ago when the Bosnian war atrocities were happening around them. The 90s do not seem very far in the past when I read about the things that happened here then. Last night we took a drive into the surrounding countryside, through tunnels of trees and brush on narrow roads with potholes. A church was lit on the hillside, people were cheering at a soccer game in the little town, and old ladies sat on walkers outside their wooden doorways hollering across the narrow streets to each other. The houses in Bosnia and Herzegovina are almost exactly the same. They are made of brick, with the main difference being that some have stucco and some don’t. The stucco is chipped off in places on lots of the houses, and most of them have orange tile roofs with chimneys poking up. It gives the countryside a rustic feel, and in all our exploring we haven’t been able to decipher which people are more wealthy than the next. The houses are the same style, they drive older vehicles, and very few of them have spotless yards. Most of the houses have yards though, or enough space to put big vegetable gardens in.

Jasenovac Concentration Camp Memorial

Today we decided to take a day trip into Serbia and I’m so glad we did! We crossed back into Croatia and then into Serbia and the border crossing into Serbia was long, around an hour. We have had no issues on any of our crossings, and today weren’t asked even one question. We spent some time driving in Serbia and then went into a town called Сремска Митровица where we had lunch outside at The Promenade on the Sava River. We had this delicious kind of salty saurkrat and sausage and chicken and pork. And bread of course. Our waiter said he knew English but he didn’t. I had to use Google translate. It was so hot today so lunch was short and everyone else was heading swimming while we ate. We headed back out of town and once in Croatia we stopped at the Jasenovac Concentration Camp. Even though it’s not the most heard of, it was the 3rd largest in Europe and the most brutal. We went to the memorial which is an opening cement flower where the camp once stood, the only thing left in an otherwise beautiful place. It was eerie when Morgan and I went to Dachau, Germany a couple years ago, and it was eerie now. The scars of WW2 hang over some of these countries with a heaviness rarely felt anywhere else and even the birds and cicadas were quiet in the trees today. We weren’t able to go through the museum today so we went back to the house and went for a swim. We had pasta for supper and I packed up my bag because its the last night in this house!

Memories of My Dad

My Dad was cool. I was so proud of him. He was a big guy with black hair and dark eyes and lovely tan Navajo skin and I think lots of people were intimidated by him. He was sometimes quiet in groups, but he could sure have corn-on-the-cob eating contests with friends Greg Koehn and Lance Johnson, or “Chubby Bunny” marshmallow contests with cousins Jerry Ensz and Dawn Nikkel. He had a big heart for his friends and would check in on people if he felt a nudge to. Usually when he talked, people listened. I loved how he stood up for what was right and that through his struggles he never doubted that this was the right Church. He was analytical, smart, and could physically outwork anyone I know. He would come home at the end of a 16 hour day of walking through cornfields in 100* Kansas heat and we would eat burgers and then he’d relax for awhile on the living room floor while we all sat around with him and Mom. He’d always let our dog, Spencer, inside in the evenings and he would just lay there with Dad. Sometimes we would take Herbie our hedgehog out and he and Dad would play tug-of-war with a sock.

I spent lots of my teens being rebellious and shallow, and unfortunately some of you reading this will remember those years. Before I could wear a new pair of Sunday shoes I’d have to have them proofed by Dad and that was the worst. Invariably they were too high. Now, I am so thankful for his and Moms direction. It seemed like I was grounded a lot of my youth for various infractions, and he was famous for telling me, “You know what I think about it but you do what you think.” Then I’d be forced to deal with the guilt of knowing I was going against his opinion, and it wouldn’t end well. I had a terrible car accident when I was 16, and Dad was the first one to me, always calm and cool. That night he was up by the couch all night checking on me, and I remember feeling totally safe. I was so proud of him for helping people and being an EMT. When we were little we would lay on folks’ bed in the old pink Gaye Moore house, and Dad would be out on a call and we would listen to the scanner to see if we could figure out who it was at the scene with him. When he was doing his EMT training, he would practice his blood draws on us kids and we would just beg for him to use needles on us. I was always competing with him to see who was darker, always him obviously, or we would wrestle in the kitchen. One of my favorite things to do with Dad was watch storms rolling in from the southwest there in Kansas. He would put up his lawn chair and take his peach iced tea and sit out by the garage and we’d watch the rain and lightning coming. I was never scared of storms while Dad was around. For my 18th birthday, our family went to Pueblo, Colorado. Dad loved skydiving and I had always wanted to since he did, so Dad took me skydiving over the Royal Gorge for my birthday. And Dad loved being in the kitchen. When folks and Mark&Rhoda would do meal ticket suppers together, he was in his zone, entertaining and serving food. His bbq ribs were delicious , as many of you know:) One evening I had a Valentines supper for the youth girls at Copeland, and Dad went and bought a bow-tie and wore a white shirt and waited on us for the evening. Our friends were equally in awe and scared of him, probably because he had no qualms about treating them like his own kids. He loved harassing them and loved when they gave it back. He and Jessica Jo would go in circles and he loved it.

There was aways fishing. It was Dad’s therapy. While I taught school I missed some of the good fishing trips to Colorado, so I mostly remember the ones to Lake Michigan. He loved Frankfort so we spent a good amount of time camping there. We would sleep in the vehicle, all but Dad, who would be out at the end of the pier under the lighthouse, fishing all night. Someone would occasionally awake and make the long walk out to fish with him, but that usually didn’t last long. Once, we all slept on the beach, a summer evening under the moon listening to the waves a few feet away, praying we wouldn’t get kicked off. Dad hit it off with Brian Murphy and that became his next obsession, charter fishing out on the lake with Brian. He lived for those days.

My Dad. I miss buying him Father’s Day cards and getting hugs from him. His hugs were the best. I miss how he would say “love you Sis” and knowing that if somebody wronged me, he always had my back. I miss seeing him in his suit on Sundays. I miss that he’s not there to call for advice. I miss my Dad. People say 9 years is enough time to get over someone. It’s not. I still think of him most days and wonder what he would think of us now. He’s part of us, and our life, and our memories. I cried more tonight missing him than I have for the last couple years. Please tell your Dads (and families) that you love them.


Cat Cafe

Tuesday- This morning we were heartbroken to hear the news of Taylor&Keelas child. They are special people to Morgans family and were just at Dads funeral and now we are grieving with them from over the water.

Heroes Square, Budapest

We packed up our clean laundry YAY and went for another good breaky before heading into the city with our packs for our final day here in Budapest. We went to a couple thrift stores this morning and wandered in there for awhile, and then Madi found a Cat Cafe so we sat and drank raspberry lemonade while the cats plodded around us and purred. Morgan took a walk rather:) For lunch we found a pizza place that made us think of Cyrus because his pizza is easily as delicious as this was! It rained while we ate and charged our phones so it was quite cozy. After lunch we went to the largest square in Budapest called Heroes Square which features a bunch of impressive statues of famous Hungarian chieftains that have impacted Hungary. We stopped for coffees on our way to the bus station, and our bus left for Zagreb, Croatia, at 6pm. I’ve been reading and watching the scenery which is tasseled cornfields and fields of sunflowers and tree rows. It’s beautiful here in Hungary, one of my favorite countries we’ve been to so far. Our border stops on the bus have been uneventful traveling through the EU but Croatia isn’t part of that so we had a 30minute passport check stop now. Our bus is pretty empty, and I can hear classical music that the driver is listening to and snatches of unknown languages in conversation around me. We have been steadily putting out tracts, quite a few in Budapest it seemed like, so we are going to run out soon. I was trying to carry too many with my phone today and I thought how tired I was of carrying them and I felt reproved immediately because it is something I can do and I was tired of doing it, like what in the world? I have just hoped that our head coverings and actions have shared of Jesus because it seems so small in these countries with sadness and fear that need Him. We arrived a little after 11 into Zagreb, and walked 5 minutes to our hotel.

Wednesday- We had a sleep in day and left the hotel at 11 for Verde Brunch and caffe where we had toast sandwiches which are really common here apparently. Also we had coffee while we sat under the umbrella outside. Its quite warm here today, some of the first actual heat we have had this trip and I haven’t minded the cooler weather! We went to a street market after brunch and looked at clothes and produce and fish. Now we are sitting in a gazebo eating ice cream cones after a failed thrift store attempt. There isnt a lot of things to do here so we’ve explored some of the city on foot and our bus leaves soon to take us to the coast, a tiny place close to Zadar. We are going to spend five days in our house 50 meters from the sea so you may not hear from me:)


Thursday- Now we are here at our house and have watched the sunset over the Adriatic Sea and just had chicken for supper. Morgan and I went for a swim this morning on our walk. The water is beautiful greens and blues and the shore is white pebbles. There are lots of white stucco houses with orange tile roofs and laundry fluttering from the little balconies. Its not commercialized like some of the Mexico beaches we’ve been to, and there are lots of locals at the beach. We walked a mile to Spar and got groceries for the next couple days. It was hot out so we had siesta hour and then we all went down and got cold drinks at a restaurant because our house doesn’t have ice or a freezer, unfortunately. We took a swim again this evening before supper when the people were fewer. When we walked home I could smell delicious things cooking in houses we passed. There are little vineyards in peoples yards and giant purple bushes blooming everywhere. We can hear the waves on the shore from our little balcony and its wonderful. I love this warm, been-in-the-sun-so-Im-gonna-sleep-good feeling after these days, so goodnight.