Knock, knock! It’s the Bundas calling.

We have visited so many places and the part of travel that is the most interesting and soul satisfying is connecting with people. This is one of those times when I feel like writing about our experience can only give a dull and flat reflection of something beautiful and rich. I wish that I was a real writer and could better portray these feelings! Sure, Disneyland Paris is amazing and we had a fabulous time time there. Seeing the wonders of Rome was awesome in every sense of the word. But spending time with new and old friends has made this time incredible. I could go on and on for ages about all of the friends we met and saw, but I will keep it to just the four families we stayed with.

We like staying with people for many reasons. We feel like we get a more realistic view of what it is like to live in a given place. What kinds of food are in the cupboards and what condiments are on the table? These things are different everywhere you go. Connecting with people is so much easier in a comfortable setting like a home. We had the opportunity to spend precious time with some old friends as well as stay with family of friends. Really, how cool is that: inviting strangers to stay with you based only on the fact that they know your sister? A couple of the friends we visited have children and seeing our children become friends is one of the most beautiful experiences!

In Paris we were privileged to be able to stay at the home of our old neighbor’s sister. I could not believe how welcoming they were! We were pulled in and treated as if we were part of the family even though we had never met and it was a little difficult to communicate due to the language difference. From the moment we walked on the door and were greeted with champagne and snacks while every evening we were absolutely spoiled with gourmet dinners as we began to develop a friendship. Their son, Antoine, was also home and added many memorable moments to our conversations and dropped us off at the train station in the mornings. Marie-Ludovich and Emmanuel hope to one day soon come visit some of the U.S. National Parks and I sincerely hope we are able to connect and spend time together again.

Emmanuel and Marie-Ludovique in Paris.
Antoine: “If it’s not French, it’s not cheese!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Once upon a time I had a very cool youth choir director that became a good family friend. He married a very sweet gal from church and they are now serving with their three kids as missionaries in Brussels. Well, when you are spending almost two weeks only a couple hours train ride away from an old friend, of course we would pop over for a visit! This was the first time on this trip for our kids to have time with other kids. It was so much fun to see the kids playing together until late at night while we got to spend time chatting as adults. Glen played the role of fabulous tour guide, they treated us to spectacular dinners, and all of the kids were glad to play together. Visiting Glen, Dana, and the kids was a special time for us.

Moules-frites (Mussels and Fries) with the Johnsen Family in Brussells.
The Bunda and Johnsen kids are pals now!

In southwest England we had the blessing of staying with the Ackrill family. Clare had been on the same DTS school as Paul 21 years ago and I had the opportunity to meet this sweetie the following year. She and Dave jumped to volunteer to have us at their home. We spent time exploring the Somerset area (Did you know that Cheddar is a place? Like where the cheese comes from?) and generally getting along amazingly well. Their girls and Kamaile now regularly text and are Instagram pals.

Bundas and Ackrills in front of the Wells Cathedral.
Fish and chips together at Papa’s in Weston-super-Mare.

So, what is it about the combination of spending time with people we haven’t seen for ages with seeing our children get along? There is something special there that is really difficult for me to articulate!

On the last couple days of our adventure we were able to stay with the Dahers in Switzerland. They treated us like family, welcoming us to their home and table and showing us some fabulous sight of the area. They introduced us to my new favorite food: reclette. If you need to know more about this heavenly dish, you can read this.

Lawrence and Doris were fabulous hosts in Thun, even introducing us to reclette here in their sunroom.

We are forever grateful to each of these families who provided us with a comfortable place to stay, introduced us to delicious local food, and welcomed us in their homes as family. We feel blessed for our time together and have come away with a richer experience than we even hoped for!

Holmsted Manor: The 40th Anniversary Day

I wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for this place!

Holmsted Manor is a place south of London that is run by Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-profit service organization that teaches young adults about Jesus and how to love and serve people the way Jesus did. My mom and dad met there 20 years ago, even though my dad is from Hawaii and my mom is from the Seattle area. Holmsted Manor recently celebrated its 40th anniversary as a YWAM base and we were there to experience it.

 

One of Dad’s amazing, long-armed selfie’s in front of Holmsted.
 
We were at Holmsted with the staff, this year’s Discipleship Training School (DTS), and some other families who had traveled there for the 40th anniversary. The staff also used the celebration as fundraising for general repairs of the Manor. These repairs included remodeling a bathroom, fixing special rooms, and removing the ivy that’s invading the house.

 

Brochure for the HM40 fundraising campaign.
 
In preperation for the event, everybody pitched in to help clean up the place. My family helped clean up the dining room by clearing and wiping down the tables and sweeping the floor. Other teams mopped, did dishes, or vacuumed. Designated guides practiced their lines for the tours which were being conducted for guests.

 

Washing the dishes.
 
Once people started arriving, we decided to roam the grounds and admire the scenery. Sadly, the cool stream that used to flow around the Manor needs to be fixed and dredged, but they don’t have the funds to do so. There were also really cool trees in the garden. One was even shaped like a chair!

 

The gardens and what’s left of the stream.
 
 
Sis sitting in the cool tree/chair/branch.
 
Once we had gone all the way around the gardens, my family and I went to take a house tour around the Manor. As we walked around, my father and mother told my sister and I just as much about the place that the guide did. The funniest part of the tour was seeing how small the boys’ prayer room is. It might have a total of 8 square feet of floor space. We also saw where Mom and Dad’s dormitories were!

 

One of the Boys’ dorms.
 
 
View of the driveway from Dad’s old bedroom when he was on Staff there.
 
At the end of the tour, our guide showed us that we were actually able to buy a tree out of the 40 different trees that were going to be planted around the grounds to celebrate the 40th anniversary. Our family decided to buy tree number 17, which is near a swing set that my parents used to hang out near, and the tree number is also part of the date of their anniversary, August 17.

 

The spot where the tree will be planted.
 
Once we finished the tour, my parents saw some old friends and started chatting with them. Us kids just stood there for 10-20 minutes, we started playing tag! After a while, it was time for the gathering to start. I must admit that I paid little attention to the actual talk, but did participate in the worship and prayer.

 

Thomas and I playing a game called “Ninja.”
 
 
3-person Ninja when Xiao-Yu joined the game.
 
Then our families walked around the gardens together. Once we had finished circling the grounds, they had to leave, so we said goodbye, but we just couldn’t quite say goodbye yet, so we all went to a restaurant for dinner together.

 

Dinner with Miss Kristy, the Chudleys, and the Hobbs at The Harvester.
 
This is an important day for my entire family. For my parents, it meant seeing the place where they met, and seeing old friends. For us kids, it meant seeing a place that is important to our parents, and meeting new people. Overall, we all enjoyed the experience that helped us understand the world a bit more.