Stories of travels my all across the world :)

Volunteer work Guatemala! {summer 2014}

Our brilliant Guatemala team :)

Our brilliant Guatemala team πŸ™‚

Andy and I had a great time leading our team of 12 in Guatemala. We worked hard and made a lasting impact. Waking up at 6am and working hard all day until 8 or 9 at night where we would crash into our beds totally exhausted. We had fun and absolutely loved it, what more could you ask for?

Once we landed in Guatemala city we started out with a ride in an old American style school bus. Except this one was pimped out and had flames and Christmas lights decorating it! Apparently that’s what they use for public transportation. I love it!

A Pimped out Guatemalan bus :)

A Pimped out Guatemalan bus πŸ™‚

We were staying in a small town called Zaragoza. One of the poorest towns in Guatemala. We stayed in a 3 story rented house complete with a flat roof that we could sunbathe on! We were working with a group called Educando Para La Vida (Education for Life). A project started by Guatemalans and that is basically self sustaining. It is great to work with a project like that where it isn’t just a bunch of Westerners coming in telling them how to do things but it is exactly what they need done just how they need it.Β Educando Para La Vida works with kids who are at risk for dropping out of school. They also do their best to support the families of the kids. They are self sustaining in that they have a water purification system where they sell the water to families in the city. They get the older kids in the program to help with orders and deliveries, giving them a responsibility and sense of ownership.

The kids at Educando Para La Vida :)

The kids at Educando Para La Vida πŸ™‚

What does this look like? It looks like a bunch of volunteers showing up every day after school to do a kids club! They provide homework help, singing, dancing, snacks, and games. All things that they don’t get at home. Most of them don’t have dads around (either because they were abusive, they are alcoholics and the moms don’t want them around or they just split when times got hard) and with so much poverty there is often a lot of abuse and the kids are forced to work instead of going to school. Also, with the nature of this lifestyle often times there is not much love or fun coming from home. It can be very rough and hopeless. So Educando Para La Vida tries to give the kids love, affection, support, and encouragement to strive for more. We were able to help with this after school project which was very fun! We brought a lot of art supplies that they cannot afford to buy themselves which was a real treat for both the kids and workers. We planned out each day, did puppet shows, plays, and various other things they hadn’t gotten to do before. It was pretty tiring with all the dancing and translating that we were doing. I cannot believe that the volunteers do that every single day! They also have occasional days out like going to a water park or going into the city. Opportunities many of them wouldn’t have without the center. The center also encourages them to apply for University!!! Almost unheard of for a lot of the children in Zaragoza.

Sometimes we had tickle fights ;)

Sometimes we had tickle fights πŸ˜‰

Another aspect of our project was setting up 12 small businesses with families of kids involved in Educando Para La Vida. Before leaving the UK we raised money to put into this project. We were creating a system of interest free loans. This is a vision that the center has to help the families in this community. So we split into teams of 2, met with each family, planned what business they would like to start, wrote out a budget, bought all necessary supplies, and got them set up to start working. There were all sorts of businesses: Making clothes and selling them in the market, raising pigs and selling them for food, setting up a street food stall, or raising chickens to sell the eggs and even more!

Bringing home the chicks :)

Bringing home the chicks πŸ™‚

Andy and I were in a team working with two different families. The first family was a single mom named Helen and her 4 boys (she called them her 4 little earthquakes, hehe). She had lost her daughter a few years back from a lung condition. She was a uniquely wonderful hardworking mom with so much love for her boys. She wanted to raise chickens and sell them for food. So we bought the supplies, built the coop, and got the chicks and their food for the next 6 months.

Setting up the chicken coop with Helen and two of her boys

Setting up the chicken coop with Helen and two of her boys

The second family we worked with was a mom YaseΓ±a, her two kids and her husband (out of the 12 families this was the only one that had a dad in the picture). She was such an amazing mom! So much love and care for her kids. The most stable family we were involved with. They already had the beginnings of a farm but she wanted to buy a pig to have babies and she would sell the piglets. We bought the pig, and supplies for a pen, and enough food for 6 months. We bought cement, mixed it on the ground with our hands and a hoe, and spread it on the ground with pieces of wood, HARD WORK! The neighbors even came to help us out. She was 9 months pregnant while we were working with her. She actually passed her due date while we were making the pig pen with her and she was working just as hard as we were!!! What an amazing woman! They don’t have any concept of maternity leave there πŸ˜‰ I was so impressed and how hard working all the families we were working with.


Making a cement floor for the pig pen

Making a cement floor for the pig pen

It was amazing to be working with families in Guatemala, being a guest in their home, chatting with them, encouraging them, and making a difference in their life. A once in a lifetime opportunity for every one of these families. But the biggest thing I took away was how welcoming they were of us into their families! Every home we went into we just felt like the most honored guests! They thanked us repeatedly for coming so far just to be with them. I can honestly say I have never felt so welcomed and invited into somebody home. We got other opportunities to be part of the community like attending evening single moms support groups, prayer meetings, youth groups, churches, and small groups. We also got to do a bit of preaching and sharing of our testimonies. From what we heard, we were very encouraging to everybody we came in contact with. I couldn’t believe the welcome we received πŸ™‚

Doing crafts with the kids

Doing crafts with the kids

Our team leading singing during a church service

Our team leading singing during a church service

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Hawaii Day 5 {sister love}

Sister love <3

Sister love ❀

Collecting flowers for mommy :)

Collecting flowers for mommy πŸ™‚

So today we didn’t do too much. We had a very relaxed morning since it wasn’t brilliant weather outside (ok, so it was pouring down rain…) which meant we had perfect time to play skip bo with the kids, get a bit of shopping done and then go on a walk with my sister who I absolutely adore (in case you haven’t caught onto that yet). So we went on a walk and took my camera to have a bit of a photoshoot and take some photos around our condo. This is what we ended up with πŸ˜‰



The flowers were as big as her head!!!

The flowers were as big as her head!!!

Um...yeah we're twinnies ;)

Um…yeah we’re twinnies πŸ˜‰

Love this place <3

Love this place ❀







My Palm tree impression...

My Palm tree impression…

Lily's Palm tree impression...

Lily’s Palm tree impression…

The massive tree in the carpark

The massive tree in the carpark

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London adventure numero quatro!

Tower Bridge, London

Tower Bridge, London

An evening of wine, movies and friends. Can't ask for anything better :)

An evening of wine, movies and friends. Can’t ask for anything better πŸ™‚

So last Friday Andy and I got to go celebrate thanksgiving with the lovely Alex and Natosha in Potters Bar which was so wonderful. Their church doesn’t have very many young people in it so we were truly loved for the entire evening. So much food! Lots of laughs and hugs aswel. We spent the night at their flat watching some movies and drinking wine. You couldn’t ask for a better evening.

The Shard. Tallest building in Europe!

The Shard. Tallest building in Europe!


The Hay's Market ;)

The Hay’s Market πŸ˜‰

The next morning we started to head home and have to go through London so we thought we would stop off at the Tower of London to have a wee look around. We walked along the Thames, past the shard rising into the clouds, through the markets there and then over Tower Bridge to the tower of London.

Walking through the markets along the Thames

Walking through the markets along the Thames

We got to have a tour with a Beefeater (the x-military personelle in charge of guarding the crown jewels) who told us all about the goings on in the castle over the last centuries. Beheadings, a zoo, a jail, and a place for the royals to stay.

Me and our friendly beefeater ;)

Me and our friendly beefeater πŸ˜‰

The Beefeaters actually live in the tower itself. Between the inner and outer wall you can see their flats with cars, animals plants, and kids! It’s like it’s own little city. Can you imagine growing up in the tower of London and asking your friends if they wanted to come over and hang out in the Tower with you?????Crazy eh?

The "village" portion of the Tower

The “village” portion of the Tower


Watching the sky darken from the Tower of London πŸ™‚

I really enjoyed imagining what it would have been like hundreds of years ago for people who didn’t haveΒ hot showers, wellies, umbrellas, long dresses, and armor.It was pouring down rain while we were there so I felt like I had really stepped back in time. There are some good views from the tower of the Tower Bridge and the buildings inside the tower. It is quite grand if I do say so myself. I love visiting theses old castles, dungeons, and towers.

The courtyard where many beheadings have taken place :S

The courtyard where many beheadings have taken place :S

We finally arrived home with enough time for dinner and to crash into bed. A very exhausting, very fun day πŸ™‚

The Tower of London with the Shard rising behind it. The old and the new

The Tower of London with the Shard rising behind it. The old and the new

The Tower of London at night with the Tower Bridge in the background :)

The Tower of London at night with the Tower Bridge in the background πŸ™‚


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Getting through the UK border

Took off from Chicago airport, took a sleep aid and snoozed through the 8 hour flight to Dublin. Got the the passport control and started getting my passport checked when the officer started giving me a hard time. He told me my UK visa from my last trip did not roll over onto my next trip. When I tried to explain that I wanted a new one he started telling me it was not allowed. I tried to explain that I had the UK border control laws in my bag explaining that my returning on a visitor visa was perfectly legal…”I don’t care about the laws”…were his exact words in my attempt to defend myself. He raised his voice and said…”do you know that I have the power to put you on a plane and send you back right now!?”…”I know that, please don’t”…”even if you make it to the UK they will just throw you out as soon as you get there!”…yeah…I was pretty heartbroken at this point and couldn’t stop the tears from pouring out πŸ˜₯ After over 20 minutes of this torment not to mention that everybody else getting their passports checked nice and easy were allllll staring…urg…he finally sent me to another part of the airport where I chose passport-check line with a lady who looked much much nicer than the big scary Irishman with the large white beard. She didn’t give me as hard of a time but instead gave me a week-long tourist visa to Ireland and told me to get my passport stamped by the UK border control or else I would be breaking the law by being here.

I sat in the Dublin airport bathroom for 2 hours crying my eyes out just trying to become stable enough to tackle the next flight. I tried using my phone but it wasn’t working (hadn’t topped it up for Janurary), tried using the internet as a desperate plea for help and prayer but it cost loads of money and kept freezing up. So irritating! So I decided to distract myself with some gilmore girls while I waited out the next 3 hours. I think most people who saw me watching a film on my computer with tears streaming down my face were bewildered but decided not to ask any questions…not sure if I liked that or not :S

Finally got on the plane and sat next to a really lovely family with two small children who I was able to tell my sob story to. It was nice to talk to some friendly faces. I was the first passenger off the plane in Edinburg and started walking through the checkpoints you would regularly see getting off of a flight but…there was nobody attending the desks…thought that was weird…went through the stiles where you get your passport stamped…still not a soul…k…really weird…finally went through a few hallways, some metal tables, filing cabinets, and sliding doors and I was standing by baggage claim and there was Andy and Linda sitting on a bench waiting for me…ummm…no passport control?

So I was quite confused. No visa means no staying in the UK right? Long story short, we found some policemen who were hanging out with border security and told them our whole story, back to back tourist visa and all. They were so friendly and welcoming and very happy we were trying not to break the laws πŸ˜› After some phone calls we went backwards through passport control (apparently this is not really allowed but cuz of the situation we were made an exception), met up with a UK border control guy who explained that I cannot get a stamp because I was already in the country but I was welcome to stay stamp-free for 3 months at that point “you should get your husband to take you on a romantic trip to Pairs” then upon return I will get another tourist visa which will enable me to stay through to June when we will return to Alaska and begin my application for a spousal visa.

So that is my story…lets just say it took 2 days to get over the extreme anxiety that we experienced during my entrance back into the UK, still not over jet lag so waking up at 10am is a major chore and I dont’ get tired until after midnight.

It’s good to be back in the UK especially knowing that Andy and I will not need to spend any length of time apart again πŸ™‚ Crazy busy coming back but nice to be in our own flat finally πŸ™‚

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A wee trip through Chicago :)

The last day in Alaska was an absolutely wonderful one. After weeks of constant snow it finally cleared into a wonderful winter day with blue skies and no wind. No problem to fly out that night. We got my dad and the kiddos and went for a good long ski. Dad and I took Andy and the kids through all the hardest ski trails in Valdez. Including Skyline, Roller coaster, The Knoll and Otter Hill. They did so incredible! No complaining or anything πŸ™‚ We spent the rest of the day packing and saying goodbye. When we got into the car to drive ten minutes to the airport. During the drive the wind was picking up and the snow started coming down…it didn’t look good. We got to the airport and found out that there would be a delay in the plane landing due to weather. Later on we found out there was only a half mile of visibility…the flight later got cancelled 😦 We went over to Grant Aviation and got to be 4th on the standby list. We waited around a few hours trying to decide if we should drive Andy to Anchorage and just let me miss my flight, book a new one and possibly get to Scotland a few days late or to keep waiting. Considering we still did not even have a seat on the potential plane that may or may not even make it into Valdez (or back out again). We talked to some of the other passengers and with the help of the ticket agent (and some vouchers to stay in a hotel complete with personal hot tub) we convinced some people to give us their seats and they could get the flight in the morning. Long story short…we got the plane out and right after we took off Valdez got socked in right after we took off. Sprinted from Grant aviation to Alaska airlines and made my flight with not ten minutes to spare πŸ™‚

The flight to Chicago was fine, didn’t sleep much but that’s ok. Landed in Chicago and went into town. Amazed at the huge buildings, great architecture and artsy sculptures I wandered all over the city. Went up the sears tower, to the Navy Pier, down the Magnificent Mile aka Minnesota Ave. and even got to go over to Moody Bible Institute and go on a tour through the campus and museum. I even got to see the giant silver jelly bean!!! I had no idea where it was or how cool it is!

So the trip to Chicago was a success!!! Best layover I have ever had πŸ™‚

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Christmas Day cont.

Managed to finally get out of bed. We opened presents, went to church, spent the whole day putting together steam engines, hair pins, and eating too much chocolate πŸ™‚ we finished off with a wonderful christmas dinner complete with Christmas Crackers. Such a good day!

The next day we met up with a few friends to play showshoe baseball. It didn’t exactly work out how we had planned especially with 45 mph winds so we played showshoe olympics with facefirst snow angels, races, spinning games, and more! So much fun!

Since then we have been havin some game nights with friends, playing in the snow, and getting Andy on skis for the first time! He did so well and only fell twice! He’s definitely getting the hang of it and has a new favorite winter activity. Just wait until we get him on a dog sled!!! We’re going skiing again tonight and tomorrow morning πŸ™‚
Tomorrow afternoon Juaquine and Mandi (brother and sister-in-law) are going to arrive from Fairbanks for the weekend. That means another Christmas! It will be good to see them since I haven’t seen them since our Alaska Wedding. I cannot wait to see them again. We’re planning a double date and some fun times hanging out drinking tea. Isaiah and Lily are quite excited aswel πŸ™‚ Only 16 hours!

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It is finally here! I’m laying in bed begging the clock to say it’s 8am! My little brother set the time for everybody to get up and for some crazy reason he picked 8!!! What sort of a kid is he!? SO here I am bored out of my mind, nothing is new on facebook, pintrest has even lost my interest, I just want the next 30 minutes to be gone so Christmas can really start!!!

Yesterday was tons of fun. We went and played outside in the snow for a few hours sledding, making snowmen, building forts, having snowball fights, and throwing my little brother down hills πŸ˜› Spent the afternoon lazing around watching A Town Called Panic. It was really funny! then the rush ensued about 3:45 when we realized we needed to make a 4th trip to the store, had to get everybody dressed for church at 5 practice our songs we were performing, make dinner, clean the house, and look pretty all in 1.25 hours! It was a bit crazy to say the least. The christmas eve service at my church was fun. So many cute kids performing christmas songs, a poem, the Christmas story from Luke, and lots of visiting with friends. We came home to our “traditional” Israeli Christmas-eve dinner. with olives, cheese, meat, avocado, different types of salad, and much much more. We sat on the floor and had loads of fun.

After opening up our one christmas-eve present, drinking some mulled wine, and skyping Andy’s family we crashed into bed about midnight πŸ™‚

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The beginning of our Alaskan Adventure!

Traveling in Alaska is never boring…NEVER! We got to Glenallen about 4pm very excited about getting home in time for dinner. We start leaving town and see a sign saying Thompson pass is closed. This happens every now and then when avalanches are prevalent or if there has already been one down and they are clearing it out. So this was one of those instances 😦 We went out for dinner at the Caribou, a restaurant in Glenallen…the only restaurant in Glenallen πŸ™‚ We met up with a few friends there who were in the same situation as we were. After a few hours we heard the pass was opened and we were able to drive all the way to Valdez!

We got to Valdez and Andy was surprised at how much snow there actually is here…that is putting it lightly. He was more astounded πŸ˜€ There was about 5 or 6 feet of snow on the ground and the last few days it has been snowing constantly!

We have made the most out of the snow and all put on snowshoes to collected our Christmas tree πŸ™‚ It has just been snowing and snowing and snowing. I have grown up in this little crazy town and still am amazed with the amount of snow we get every year! Andy learned what a

snowblower was and has throughly enjoyed it πŸ™‚
Our house finally looks all Christmas-ified with the tree in it. We decorated a gingerbread house today, went christmas caroling, and played in the snow for a few hours. I’m feeling the Christmas feeling πŸ™‚

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Alaska Day 1

We are currently driving through the mountains of Alaska! We just had to stop and wait for a moose to cross the highway!!! It feels like I’m driving through a winter wonderland almost too good to be true. The snow is all stuck onto the branches of the trees, the mountains are completely white, the lakes are all frozen and covered in snow machine tracks and moose tracks.The trip to Alaska was far too long and much too eventful. We went to bed at 11pm and woke up at 1:30am to start driving to Edinburg. I slept for an hour on the flight from Edinburg to Paris and when we arrived we found out that all the security personnel went on strike. They would stand outside the barriers to security with megaphones and signs yelling and changing…slight unnerving :s So we went upstairs to find out that we had to go through security to board our next flight…the line was about a mile long and had thousands of people standing in it…and our flight took off in an hours time. So I found a guy named Ollie and a woman named Elaine (see picture)

who were both on the same flight to Salt Lake City. We stood in line and would take turns finding French workers who were not too pleased to have people asking them questions. We finally figured out that all the planes were delayed and at the last second the workers would yell out a destination and you would shove your way through the masses, get to the front of security, then have to run to your gate and barley get to your plane. None of the connecting flights were still valid. Everybody’s schedules were totally thrown down the drain. So…talk about stress. I kept with Ollie and Elaine and we were able to figure out the system and get on our plane ok. The 11.5 hour flight turned into a 13.5 hour flight. So that was no fun but we eventually made it to Salt Lake city where my 7 hour layover had changed to 5.5 hours. I took advantage of the free internet, starbucks, and restaurants. It was an ok layover. I slept the next 5 hour flight to Anchorage where my dad and Andy met me. The weather was too bad in Valdez for planes to fly out so my dad drove to Anchorage to pick up Andy and I from the airport. Andy arrived at the airport several hours before me and was quite surprised to see my dad waving at him in the airport πŸ™‚

So we spent the morning doin some errands around Anchorage including a huge shop at Sams Club and Fred Meyer (oh how I have missed you!). We are currently driving to Valdez. I’m slightly bummed that we’re missing a day with my brother, sister, and mom.

But visiting with my dad has been amazing and Andy is able to see one of the prettiest places in the world all snow covered! It is such a different place in the winter πŸ™‚ I am so ecstatic to be back at home especially in the winter. There is so many things we have planned in order to give Andy a tride and true wintery experience ❀

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Dundee Day 5-6

Shepherds, angels, innkeeper, mary, joseph, and some wise guys πŸ˜› The nativity at CBC was absolutely hilarious. The kids all mimed a recorded play so the kids were free to focus on their acting. If you could look past the shepherd who kept putting his crook around his neck, the angel with her wand up her nose, and the wise men who almost fell off the stage it was a very well done play. Complete with a dance party in the stable πŸ™‚ We got home and were having a nice relaxed sunday-lunch when Linda asked us if we had our passports…such an obvious question that she almost didn’t mention it…we didn’t. We had been so busy getting ready to go to Dundee that we totally forgot that we were going from Dundee to Alaska…meaning the UK to the USA…you need passports to do that apparently πŸ˜› So Andy was a gent and spent his afternoon on a train going back to Glasgow just to get our passports. What a good guy.

While he was away I went to a frozen lake with Mike, Linda, and Tom. The almost-visa-fiasco was just about too exciting for us. Just thinking about what would have happened if we hadn’t remembered before going to the airport :s So that made Monday much more relaxed when we realized there was nothing else vital that we hadn’t forgotten πŸ™‚ Monday was spent packing and just general hanging out. It was pouring down rain so it made it feel better staying inside with the first day not having sun. Off to Alaska on Tuesday morning!!!

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