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2014 Track

What a Break

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What a Break

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We have just come to the end of our break week - 5 full days of day trips and beautiful scenery to help us over our jet lag and give ourselves a little bit of rest before we jump straight into our full schedule for tour. 

After arriving at 4:30am we got ourselves sorted - picking up our rental car (Oh are we going to spend hours upon hours in this car!) and buying a GPS (our new best friend for the month).

A local couple offered to host us and have blessed us enormously by their excitement and love of the Auckland area, showing us around and giving us tips for our explorations, as well as sending us down to their beach house (or as they call it here - a bach) for a couple of days. 

Although it's been less than a week since we arrived we have seen black sand beaches, a waterfall, sunset and a super moon, sunrise several times (thank you jet lag), long winding roads surrounded by green hills/mountains and explored some of Auckland's inner city as well.

Our favourite Layne Grime also arrived a couple days into our break and will be here to support us behind the scenes throughout our first week of presentations. We couldn't have imagined a more perfect way to start our tour. 

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Preparation Complete.

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Preparation Complete.

We just finished packing up our office, and are now ready to fly out tomorrow morning - headed straight to Auckland. 

It's been a long stretch here in Canada but has gone surprisingly fast. We've written and crossed off numerous items from various to-do lists, had hours of conversation about how we would attempt to put together our website and who would take on which responsibility. 

Needless to say, it felt good to take down all of our lists and deadlines a couple of days ago as we cleaned up our office space and transformed it from our workstation into a normal, blank-walled room as we found it 3 months ago. 

We thought we would include a couple photos to prove just how many lists we had highlighted and completed - and then celebratory ones as we're done! 

Of course, there's still small steps of preparation to be done as we continue to work out travel plans, speaking engagements and other on the ground details - but for now we're celebrating the end of the Canada preparation season and looking forward to moving into a season of sharing what we've been working hard to create. 

As we fly out we start a short week's break to rest up and recover from jet lag before our first presentation in Auckland on Tuesday the 6th October. 
 

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Three Days To Go

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Three Days To Go

It's hard to believe but we have only three short days left in Canada. 

We've had a busy summer of preparation; getting this website up and running, choosing, editing and printing photos for our exhibition and other miscellaneous jobs such as screen printing our tote bags. 

However, we've also had a lot of fun spending time with the people who have become our Brantford family and who have made our time in Canada particularly enjoyable.  We've been invited out for meals, gone on day trips, had coffee dates and enjoyed conversation. 

A few days ago Layne and Hannah put on our final goodbye party - a fancy indoor picnic. Most of those who have a special place in our heart were able to make it and we celebrated our friendship and the closure of our time in Canada with lots of laughter, memories from Track and a photobooth. 

Canada has worked it's way into our hearts through these wonderful people and we're blessed to know them. 

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Our Website Now Launched

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Our Website Now Launched

Welcome to our brand new website. We're so excited to finally share with you all that we have been working on over the past few months! 

Please feel free to explore the nooks and crannies of our freshly polished site as there's lots to be seen. You can take your pick from photos to short videos, to written pieces about what we've seen over the past 18 months to a visual travel diary and map of some of our travels. 

If you're new to our blog there's a couple posts that explain a little of our story and how we got here. The first is the story behind our name. The second is simply a fun glimpse of our behind the scenes as we've created the website.

The best part is that we're going to be posting regularly as we go about our tour during October through December. We know that you'll want to keep updated as we share more about our heart for refugees and the ways that God is transforming individuals and communities as they take on the 52 Week Challenge which we have created to inspire people to adopt an attitude of hospitality.

 
 

Other small updates on our travels will come in the form of instagram photos and our facebook page . Following us on instagram or liking our facebook page will ensure that you get updated regularly when there's exciting things to share. 

We hope you enjoy the website and find it helpful or inspiring and that you'll continue to follow our travels as we head out on tour in just a few short weeks. 

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The Great Yard Sale

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The Great Yard Sale

Hello all, this is Hannah again! As you know, I've been heading up fundraisers for the girls and it's been going great. We've already done a Car Wash, a Bake Sale, and now a Yard Sale! The girls have been working so incredibly hard and it's paying off.  This last weekend we held our giant yard sale at our dear Jim and Shirley Grime's house. They were so generous to offer us their yard, help us collect donations, sell things, and then help us clean it all up.  We couldn't have done it without them. We planned to hold the yard sale just on Saturday but ended up making over $400 from opening early on Friday night!! It was just as busy or busier the next morning and we ended around 1:30pm with a profit totaling over $1,100!  It was so encouraging and great to see the fundraiser do so well. All of the proceeds will be going towards the girl's tour and it will help immensely. Thanks to all who donated, helped, and supported us.  It's such a blessing and I can't wait to see where God takes the girls. I know He has great plans.

We're also currently running a Raffle for a photo shoot from Jono and Laynie Co.  Our wonderful leaders and amazing photographers have donated an hour photo shoot ($450 value) for us to raffle off and fundraise some more money! Tickets are only $2 and you can enter as many times as you like.  The lucky winner will be drawn on September 20th.  Email jonolaynie@gmail.com to buy raffle tickets and check out Jon and Layne's website here: www.jonoandlaynie.com.


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Fun Fridays

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Fun Fridays

One of the highlights of our week at the moment is Friday mornings. On Friday mornings we take off to a coffee shop, set up our laptops and take out our bibles as Beth readies the notes that she's been working on that week. Beth is our School of Biblical Studies graduate who passionate about the bible and willing to share some of her knowledge.. so we take advantage of that.

Although we have a busy week and it can sometimes feel stressful to add something to the schedule, Friday are a refreshing way to break up the routine and focus on something that is far more than just a track task or to-do list. It's a chance when we get to spend time together studying the bible and learning how to do so in an effective way. It's much more lasting than oh-so-many of our tasks that fill the to-do lists and walls of our office and we're grateful to have these periods of time tucked away in the corner of a coffee shop together.

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Fundraising

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Fundraising

Now that we have gotten a little bit further in the planning of our tour to New Zealand and Australia we can see that there's a lot more money that goes into planning and actually going on a tour than we had thought. We therefore decided to do some fundraising while we are here in Brantford over the summer. We started it all with a car wash this past weekend, and will have a bake sale and a yard sale in the upcoming weeks.

To help us out with our fundraisers we have Hannah and she is the perfect person for the job. She is organised, detail minded, creative and good at communicating with everyone involved. It's been so nice to be able to focus on the project, knowing that all the planning and details for the fundraisers are taken care of. It's been such a blessing to us.

It's not just Hannah that has been amazing at helping us with the fundraisers. Our friends in the area and our church has been helping us in small ways, Jon and Layne have offered to donate a photo shoot where all the money goes to our project and Jon's family has been so good to us, helping us with everything from letting us borrow hoses and buckets for the car wash and helping us on the day to letting us use their house to store donations for the yard sale and helping us spread the word about the fundraisers to their friends.

We are so thankful for all the help, and feel really lucky to be surrounded by people that care and want to see this tour be a success.

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Small Steps

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Small Steps

At this point in track we're starting to see some progress in all of our plans.It's exciting. We also still have a long way to go.. but I don't want to focus on that tonight.

Slowly, but surely, we're seeing results in the different ares of our planning and I (Cat) have found it quite encouraging. There's decisions that have been decided; we now have a name, a logo, photos chosen for our exhibition (did we even mention that was a part of our project yet?), ordered some of our merchandise and our business cards.

It's easy for us to look at the whole of the project and feel overwhelmed by the entirety of it and how much we need to get done by the end of next month when we finish up here in Brantford, but I've been realising that if I look at the small deadlines that we've already met and the small steps along the way rather than everything at once - it becomes much easier to handle.

Actually, I think we're all on a similar page - Beth wrote a blog about it just the other day (you can have a read here) as well.

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Done and Dusted: Bucket List Items

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Done and Dusted: Bucket List Items

Quite often we reflect on different experiences that we've had throughout track and lately all three of us have had conversations about our bucket lists. All of us had some form of bucket list written pre-track and each of us have been able to cross off several items. I thought I'd give you a taste of some of the things that we've been privileged to do throughout our travels:

- Ride a Camel

- Sleep in a Hammock

- Walk across a land border (Crossing from Myanmar back to Thailand)

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- Buy a flight with air miles

- Go paddle boarding

- Become a better photographer

- Go to India 

- Go to South Africa

- Ride an Elephant

- Ride a Moped  

- Stay in a youth hostel

- Go on a Safari 

- See some Wonders of the World

- Also... riding on a motorcycle and seeing a Bollywood movie in an Indian theatre (for which we don't have photographic proof).

It's not an all exclusive list and some were on one of our lists but not the others - but you get the drift. We're pretty spoiled to have experienced a lot of what has come our way these past 16 months!

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Beth and Cat

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Beth and Cat

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I (Idun) just want to take some time to talk about my two wonderful team mates, Beth and Cat.

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Since they are the writers of the team and usually write the longer pieces on this blog they haven't really had anything written about themselves, so I guess now 15 months into the school it's time for that to happen.

I just have to start by saying that I have been so blessed by these two girls on this track, and I can't imagine what this past year would be without them. They both bring so many good qualities to the team, and I feel so lucky to have been able to live alongside them for this long. They are both so encouraging, committed, adventurous, talented and hardworking.

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Some of my favorite things about Beth:

  • She has such a good sense of humor
  • She loves the Bible and when she talks about it I feel inspired
  • She is so wise and has a lot of good things to share
  • She loves to sweep
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Some of my favorite things about Cat:

  • She loves hugs
  • She is so thoughtful
  • She make you feel important and is amazing at listening
  • She is quick to offer to do things and good at making things happen
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And now that we are back in Brantford putting our project together I have again been reminded of how valuable these two are to the team. They make this whole project possible, and on top of that they make it fun.

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Introducing... Status:Welcomed

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Introducing... Status:Welcomed

Introducing to you… Status:Welcomed We’ve spent months (literally) toying around with words and synonyms in hope to name our project in a fitting way. We’ve disagreed and we’ve changed our mind. We’ve dreamt up titles that describe the more negative side of what we’ve seen, like Uprooted and Displaced, and contrasted those with titles that speak of what we hope to see in response to these injustices. We sided with the latter. Here in Canada we’ve begun to notice breakthrough as over a years worth of stories/footage/questions have begun to feel stitched together and like they finally make collective sense. We have a vision for our project; for what we want Status:Welcomed to do, and I’d like to tell you the story of how we got there.

If you’ve been following my team’s journey you’ll know that early on, back in April 2014, we prayerfully decided to focus our travels on learning about refugee and displacement issues. Along the way we’ve been to countries that didn’t have predominant refugee influxes, and in those places we explored broader issues that are related to ‘home’. I’ve researched and photographed four slums within Africa and Asia, and my teammates have studied homelessness, people who live alongside train tracks and illegal migrants. I began to document the diverse versions of 'home' that we came across, varying from a railing and a tarpaulin sheet to wooden one-rooms with holes for windows.

In South Africa (where we spent January 2015) we spent a month volunteering for an NGO that offers aid to refugees (Adonis Musati Project/AMP). As a team we grew in compassion as we learned of the specific hardships that a refugee can expect as part of their journey into another country. The few times (over the past 15 months) that we have heard refugees share their story with us, the person retells and relives their tales of fear, loss and grief, sometimes speaking through tears, and their sacrificial willingness to share their pain has helped us to better understand their plight. Through AMP we heard of this NGO's ten weeks of free seminars offered to refugees/refugee applicants that gives practical aid covering topics like a refugee’s rights, free healthcare access, dealing with depression; grief; loss; forgiveness, and more. For the first time on Track I began to realise the overwhelming amount a refugee has to deal with, all the while attempting to build a new life in a new country, sometimes without an ability to speak the local language. We learned of some who died in this trial.

The refugee issue has been named the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. We team confess to having been left paralysed and doubting of how we can dream up any worthy response to such a worldwide issue. Eventually, one word came to mind and has led us ever since: hospitality. With the heavy multitude of problems that a refugee can expect in leaving their home and fleeing to another country, we’ve noticed how small acts of kindness can be a huge and hopeful part of their story. We’ve heard of people who haven’t eaten in over 24 hours being bought coffee by a kind stranger, and of some who offer rides or pieces of furniture or occasional meals to one in need. In a refugee’s bleak story, these small extensions of generosity become noteworthy to how that refugee tells their tale.

And so, we want to encourage communities to welcome refugees, to be aware of whether their local area houses refugees, and to cultivate environments where a refugee is noticed, heard, welcomed and assisted as they establish roots in a new place.

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Hello from Hannah

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Hello from Hannah

Hello all! I am Hannah. It’s probably about time I wrote on the team blog…hehe.

I staff on the girl’s track under the wonderful Jon & Layne Grime.  I like to call myself their right-hand man as my staffing duties consist of many different things. My track talents include coordinating, communicating, lots of paperwork, finances, discipleship, event planning, aaaand giving great hugs. Layne even had me take over as the school leader for our Hawaii portion which was such a great experience.

As you know, we are all back in Brantford now working on the project.  The girls are buckled down, working hard, and busy, busy, busy!  In this time, I’m helping out with planning fundraisers, some website stuff, research, button making, and video editing.  I’m sure more will come up but that’s it for now!  My goal in this quarter is to help the girls as much as I can but also have so much fun and cherish these last few months together (cue the tears…bah).  I’m very attached if you couldn’t tell.

Anywho, I will say goodbye for now. Until next time!

Hannah

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Highlights of the week

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Highlights of the week

From our last blog posts it might seem like the only thing we do here in Brantford is work. And it is true that we work a lot, but this week especially we've been able to squeeze in some fun stuff as well.

Sunday was Hannah's birthday, so we all went on a scavenger hunt around Brantford that Layne had put together for us earlier that week. It was maybe the hottest day we've had since being back, but we had a lot of fun and the scavenger hunt ended at a local ice cream place, so that made the long day in the sun worth it.

Every Wednesday evening Jon and Layne invite us over for family dinner, and we usually end up playing games, sharing stories or just hanging out. This Wednesday Jon made us dinner and even though we all weren't able to stay for the whole evening, we still had a really good time. Family dinners are always a highlight of the week.

Thursday night some of us went to a drive in theatre close to Hamilton, and it was such a fun night. We brought chairs, tons of blankets and picked up some snacks on the way. There wasn't a cloud on the sky, so we sat under the stars watching movies until 1:30 am.

And Friday was pizza and movie night with Layne. It's been a fun week!

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Project in the Making

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Project in the Making

Well, you've heard us go on about the to-do lists and our days that are filled with various tasks, so we thought that we would give you a small taste of what that actually looks like. Here is a glimpse into our daily life at the moment.


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Individual Roles

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Individual Roles

I knew we were a good team. We've had various moments on track when we've realised just how much each member of the team is needed for our track to be whole. But over the past two weeks it's becoming glowingly clear to me that we each need the other members to even think about completing our final project and tour.

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We're all similar as we prefer to work through to-do lists. That's a plus. However each to-do list has elements that suit one of us more than the others. Each of us has strengths that are standing out and it's exciting for us to be realising not only the strengths that we have but also to see the others shine in the areas of theirs.

Three times each week we come together to meet as a team and talk through anything that needs to be a group decision and deadline before we spend the rest of our time working on our individual roles, whatever that includes.

As it turns out - Idun is our design whiz. She's taken over the logo design, which isn't as simple as it sounds. Not only is she designing for our website, she's also chopping and changing it up to create beautiful images and logos for our merchandise. Idun also has an eye for colour, fonts and elements that pull everything all together.

Beth is our photography editor and has taken on all roles that deal with sorting, editing and deciding photos for our various needs. She has an eye for picking photos and enjoys spending hours tweaking details in our photos to make them a little more presentable. Beth is also our writer. She takes delight in stringing the right words together to create a work of art, to tell stories and provoke thought.

I (Cat) have taken on the job of organising and communicating with contacts for our speaking arrangements while on tour. Creating lists, seeking out contacts and writing numerous emails to multiple people in order to set up our presentations is something that I enjoy. I have also taken on the role of video editor and although I don't have any experience before, it's something that I'm looking forward to learning.

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Working on the project

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Working on the project

Our first two weeks back in Brantford has passed by really fast and we are already on our second week of working on the project. It doesn't feel like we have gotten too far along on our project yet since most of our time is spent sitting around a table in our office trying to plan out the next 2 1/2 months, week by week. But now that we are getting close to finishing the planing part I think we'll very soon start to see some visible progress. Last week was spent making a list of everything that needs to get done before we get on the plane headed to New Zealand in the end of September. And then we put everything that was on that list into a timeline and divided up the different roles between the three of us. We all know what needs to be done, and who needs to make sure it happens.

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Grace.

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Grace.

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You've all heard about Hannah (check out this blog if you haven't). Well, we want to introduce you to her sister Grace (above left) who you've probably seen in some of our photos from Hawaii.

Grace is hardworking. Grace is adventurous. Grace is creative. Grace is competent.

We were first introduced to Grace in Hawaii where she became an honorary member of our team for what we thought was only going to be three months. However, she has become more involved than that, for which we are thankful.

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The plan at the moment is for Grace to join us three girls as we tour New Zealand and Australia. As such a small team we have been aware of the different complications that could occur as we think about the different aspects of our tour.

For us, having Grace join our Tour will mean a pair of extra hands that can aid us with our information and merchandise booth, someone to help set up and set down the different aspects of our presentation and another person who will be available to help with various tasks or help problem solve. We're thankful that although she hasn't been with us for the majority of the time and therefore won't be doing any of the public speaking, she is fully capable of helping us in numerous ways that make a huge difference.

Currently she is in the process of raising enough money to join us and we're all praying that God provides a way for that to happen. We'd love it if you would pray alongside us as we trust God for this new turn of events!

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Back in Brantford

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Back in Brantford

Yes, it's been a silent few weeks on our end as we enjoyed a break between our time in Hawaii and arriving back here in Canada. We had the opportunity to go with Hannah back to her small town in Washington for a week to meet her family and friends and thoroughly enjoyed getting out and doing some of the walks and hikes together that are around the area.

The second part of our break was spent back in Canada, where we were able to settle back into our old house, greet friends we haven't seen for 7 months, go to the local church and catch up on some sleep.

It's nice to be in a familiar place (Including the map of the world that we drew on the chalkboard in April last year still on the wall) with familiar faces (especially our ever-favourite Jon and Layne Grime).

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We're starting to get our schedule a little more sorted and as the three of us all work well having some structure, it feels quite good. This quarter we are focusing on our tour and all that entails (which at the moment is detailed in a long, long to-do list for us to conquer), so we're glad to get to work and see how things unfold as we produce some of what we've planned.

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Writing Week

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Writing Week

If any of you have done a Discipleship Training School, you will have read a book titled 'Is That Really You, God?', right? These past two weeks we have been privileged to have been taught by Janice Rogers who was instrumental in putting together the above book. We've been working through a shortened version of the writing seminar that Janice runs numerous times each year in different locations and hearing a lot about the behind-the-scenes of the process that she went through with writing Loren's first book with him.

What we've learned is that storytelling is an art. It's not simply a bunch of words strung together to create a story - there's far more thought put into the process than that.

Over the past two weeks we've each taken a short story from Track that we felt will be useful in our tour speaking engagements and written it, done some self-editing and had some insight from Janice as to further editing that we could do.

We've learned that it's important to let loose your creative side when writing your first draft, then reigning it in for the next steps and looking at it all critically to tighten up the areas that need details added or taken out, improve characters who aren't fully formed, switch up the order of things or pick out wording that could be enhanced.

As one of our focuses is on telling the stories that we've heard throughout the past 14 months both through photography and speaking, these past weeks have been very valuable. It's been challenging and pushed outside of our comfort zones, but we're better off because of it and we'll end up with a better end product because of it.

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The Big Catch-Up

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The Big Catch-Up

Most of my communication back home begins something like this: "So, where are you in the world again?" And so folks, in case you need it, here is a bitesize catch-up of where we are in our travels and in our school.

  • We are 14 months through our 21 month Around the World Track (we'll end mid-December, 2015)
  • We spent one year travelling within five continents, researching injustices with our cameras in hand
  • Right from the start we have focused our research on refugee and displacement issues, a theme we're still carrying and championing
  • Our time of collecting relative footage/stories/information ended in April 2015, now we're compiling what we're gathered ready to present it to the masses on our Tour (October to December 2015)
  • We have spent these last three months in Hawaii learning about effective ways to present the footage we've gathered ready for our Tour
  • Here in Hawaii we have studied: identity, interpersonal communications, advocacy, web-design, public speaking and writing
  • We have a short break coming up (the end of June) where we'll rest and catch up with friends in USA's mainland
  • From July 4th we'll begin part 2 of our tour preparation in Canada. The difference with this upcoming quarter is that we won't have lectures (except a few Bible teachings) and will focus the majority of our time preparing for tour
  • Upcoming decisions ready for tour look like: creating and publishing our website, dreaming up our project name/brand/logo/design, ordering merchandise, choosing the photos/stories we want to tell, printing our photos for a travelling exhibition and speech writing. (Watch this space!)

Thank you for following our travels. We're surrounded by a diverse, international family that are rooting for us and spurring us on with wisdom and enthusiasm. In faith we believe God has good things for us up ahead!

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