As many of you may know by now, I am the one in our family who likes traveling the least. I LOVE our home and have earned the nickname “homeboy” because of it. Thus, I wish to speak about my emotions of while we are in Bad Blankenburg
In Bad Blankenburg
Now that we are here, I am glad that we came so that we can see our friends and help others here in in the town. I am still somewhat upset since I am missing other friends and events back home, like a play in which one of my friends appears. Yet, it is still nice to be back and see what has and has not changed. I may not have wanted to be here, at first, but I am glad we are in Bad Blankenburg now.
Even though traveling is not something I would choose for myself, I know that I will learn important lessons I might otherwise miss. I also get to spend time with my family, expand my horizons by learning more about the world, and help in a small way with problems that are bigger than I can imagine.
Hello everyone! If you didn’t know already, we are still in India, but no longer in New Delhi. However, I still want to tell you guys about a tour we took a couple weeks ago.
The tour company is unique, since the guides are adults who grew up as street kids! It’s called Street Connections, and is part of the Salaam Baalak Trust, which is an Indian non-profit and non-governmental organization dedicated to helping street children and working children.
Our guide, Khursheed, is currently one of the only two guides in the company. He is, as stated before, an adult who grew up on the streets. Around the age of 6 days old, his parents got divorced, and at age 6, his mother died, so he had to go live with his grandmother. Khursheed said that when he was young he was a pretty naughty boy who regularly got into trouble for stealing. When his grandmother eventually kicked him out, he went to live with his father and stepmom, who were abusive and cruel, until he ran away and lived on the streets. That’s when the Salamm Baalak Trust found him and brought him to one of their orphanages where he grew up the last 6 years of his childhood. When he had to leave the orphanage due to age restrictions, he joined their tour company and has been a guide for a year now.
We met Khursheed at a place called Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. On certain days of the year, it will have around 25000 people in it at once, all of them worshipping. Khursheed told us that it had cost the emperor Shah Jahan one million rupees, or the equivalent of $26,226,000 dollars today.
After leaving Jama Masjid, we started walking around on side streets, where we occasionally saw little ‘street temples’ where people could go and pray. They were about the size of an average living room, so just large enough for a statue, a shrine, and a prayer carpet to fit in comfortably.
When we were done walking around the streets, we went to a Jain temple. This temple was two stories tall, and on the second level there were around thirty little gold statues, and one large nude marble statue of a dude (Editor’s Note: The statue is of Lord Mahavir). In some smaller side rooms, there were a few small artifacts, but we didn’t know what they were since our guide had to stay at the entrance. Also, we couldn’t understand the descriptions because they were in Hindi.
We made another stop at the Spice Market (Khari Baoli), where Khursheed took us through the hustle and bustle of many shops and people up to the roof of the complex. On the way up, all of us were assaulted by a sensory overload of every type of spice in the market at once. At this point, we started sneezing and I noticed that every single person there (including locals) either had a mask on or was sneezing just as much as we were. That was especially difficult for Kamaile, due to the fact that she had a cold at the time and was already congested and coughing. When we got to the roof, I immediately noticed a dog that was tangled up in kite string. The string was wrapped around his torso and neck, so I helped free him. The we went back to viewing the Khari Baoli from above.
Finally, we went to the orphanage where Khursheed told us his story and a bit about the company. The company helps rescue basically slave children from companies, educates them, and teaches them life skills while giving them a home. After donating, he helped us find our way home on the super confusing subway system. We said our goodbyes on the train, and we walked home.
Today, the clothing donations that so many of you provided have reached their final (or almost final) destination, the refugee homes 5,105 miles away in Bad Blankenburg, Germany! K and I spent some of our day in what is called “The Boutique,” helping sort the THREE huge, 20 kilo (40 pound) duffel bags full of clothes that we brought from Seattle.
Today was also the day of the week that the refugees are welcome to “shop” in the boutique. In the first hour, there were five different families that came by. Only one family can shop at a time since the room is small, but there is a larger waiting room outside where there are refreshments like tea, coffee, and biscuits. Mom and Dad tried to talk to some of the visitors, but it was kind of difficult when the only common language was highly-limited German. Thankfully, we’re working hard on our German and getting better every day.
We would like to thank everybody for the donations that helped us fill the bags, as well as say thanks to Grandma Patty for helping us pack them!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
So far, we have been in Europe for about three weeks. I have accumulated many photos of the different places we have been to, so I thought I would share a few with you guys. Below you shall see 5 pictures from Paris, Frankfurt, and even Brussels!
I am super glad to be able to travel to all of these awesome places, and I can’t wait to go see more in Europe! See ya later!
Ps. Many of you probably know that we are already in the UK, but as I am going through all of my photos, I will make sure to post the best in the next blog!
Ever since I was able to talk, there was one prayer that we would always say. It goes like this: “Thank you Jesus for this food, and our friends, and our family. Please help us to make wise choices. In your name we pray, Amen.”
I wish to share this with you because the three topics that I am going to talk about today are Food🍔, Friends😜, and Family😀, and how I have specifically missed (or not missed) parts of each one during this trip.
“…I learned during this trip that you don’t need as much as you think you need to live.”
Some of the food that I missed during our trip was Mexican food. I totally didn’t think I would miss it, but the air here smells like a Mexican restaurant and it drives me nuts! When we get home, I hope that the first restaurant that we go to is Santa Fe, a really good Mexican restaurant in Kirkland, or the food truck at the bottom of the hill. The food that I thought I would miss was practically all American-style foods, but since there are tons of tourists here, I am able to have plenty of burgers, which is really surprising to me.
I am missing a lot of friends that I have back home, like Piers, one of my best friends, and Awsumb (pronounced awesome), my best friend at ICS. I have actually found some other friends in Indonesia, the Johnsons who live just down the road from where we were staying. My biggest surprise was that I was able to still text my friends in the States, even though I am fourteen time zones away.
I am sad because of how much I miss my family. This year we missed the Fourth of July party at my grandparents house, and I was really looking forward to seeing family and awesome fireworks. What surprised me though it’s that we have been able to FaceTime family and friends back home, and that helps me not miss them as much.
That is how I have missed food, friends, and family throughout our trip. The biggest surprise was that I really missed good ramen even though there are a bunch of other Asian noodles!😜 But I learned during this trip that you don’t need as much as you think you need to live.
In this post I am going to tell you about my favorite day, day five of the tour in Chiang Mai. By the time in this post, we had already seen 10 different temples and climbed what felt like THOUSANDS of steps to see temples, so we really needed something not temple-like.
The day before, our guide had mentioned the possibility that we could go see tigers! Mom and Dad decided to try and I was really excited! The next day I woke up at like 5 o’clock in anticipation. The car ride took forever, but it was totally worth it! When we got there, the place was still half closed. When they fully opened, they made us sign a billion waivers, saying basically if we got bit or eaten, we wouldn’t sue anybody. Dad found this scary, but we finally got our tickets and waited AGAIN! When we first started waiting we just chilled out in the front, but then we heard some roars! I saw there was a path to the bathrooms that went near some cages, and I got my first glimpse of a FULLY GROWN TIGER! We took some pictures from there, and then I noticed a sign that said, “Please do not use flash, light may harm THE EYE OF THE TIGER! For the rest of the day that sign became a joke because of the song The Eye of the Tiger!
Our number was finally called after that, and we descended into the land of the cages. We thought that they would have us follow a bunch of instructions, but we only followed the directions on the signs, and then we finally entered the cage! The photographer told us that we had to be firm with it, otherwise it might swipe at us. This, for some reason made me even more excited because the tiger was about the size of my torso! Since I was the least afraid in the family, I went first to chill with the tiger. The man had me put a hand on him and pet him, and the lay my head on him! Its heartbeat and breath speed was very fast, and it was super awesome! Next, we went to the slightly smaller and younger tigers, who were more awake than their brethren. They were scampering around there cage and generally just having fun. While we were taking a family photo with one another came up from behind and tackled the GoPro, since it was taking a video and there was a flashing light! It was hilarious! When we said goodbye to the Tigers, I was a bit sad that I couldn’t stay with them longer, but I had the elephants to look forward to!
After the Tigers I think I may have had the same or even more anticipation because we were going to an elephant camp! Thankfully, this time the camp was already open, so we bought our tickets at the front, and walked inside! First we just walked around a bit to see things like how big elephant dung is, and how big their foot is! They are both really huge! I think my foot was like a fifth of the size of the elephants! Then, since the tickets showed that a show was nearby and close time-wise, so we hurried to this awesome amphitheater type thing, and got some AWESOME seats! We were in the first row! When the elephants first came out they were carrying a cool sign that said “The Elephant Show!” in English and a few other languages that I’m pretty sure that said the same thing. Following the first two elephants that were carrying the sign were about 12 other elephants, all of them being directed by another trainer! They started doing stuff that you see on TV, like trumpeting and the like, but there was one really funny elephant that didn’t really listen to his master, because he kept stealing his hat and waving it around like a trophy while running around the arena with his trainer chasing him! Then they started PAINTING!!! They made pictures like elephants, trees, and lots of other stuff that was really well done! And they were all made by elephants! They started playing darts after that, and they pulled two random people from the crowd to be this elephant’s opponents! The people from the crowd won, but barely! But while everybody’s attention was on the people that were playing darts, other trainers had wheeled out a SOCCER NET!!! They were going to have elephants play soccer! Two elephants were strikers, while one was the goalie. The two strikers were taking turns shooting at the goal, but the elephant playing goalie was SUPER at his job! He may have blocked 80% of all the shots that were taken!
Then when the show ended, we hurriedly walked through the camp with much excitement, because we were now going TO RIDE ON THE ELEPHANTS!!!!! There was this really cool wooden platform, and even though there wasn’t really a line, there was certainly the ability to make a HUGE line! Dad and I went first onto our elephant, and we rode in this really cool box thing that was on the elephants back, while the trainer, driver, or steerer sits on the elephants neck. Our elephant was the hungry one, since it was always eating! Since it was hungry, it kept going wherever there were plants, and it was scary because it sometimes brought us to the edge of HUGE cliffs, for a snack!
The girls had an elephant that must have just had a large meal, because it was going to the bathroom for the entire hour long ride💩! We travelled along this really cool mountain path that had amazing views of everything in the mountain valley! From one spot, you could see the entire camp! Even though the ride gave me thirty bruises (the ride is REALLY bumpy), it was one of the best experiences of my life so far! My favorite part was when we crossed a river. WE CROSSED A FREAKING RIVER!!!!!!
This was my favorite day out of the entire tour, because since it was such a unique experience, and I’m glad I was able to make this post for all of you. See Ya!!!
On Saturday we visited Josie, the Kowalski’s friend and language tutor, and her family! The street that they lived on looked like many of the neighborhoods around here, with a mix of broken concrete and rubble. When we got inside, we learned that the house had been recently remodeled, but the main room was designed to look like the old house that it has been many years ago. The walls looked like many kids had already had their effect on it with nicks and stains all over the place. It was really cool!
Once inside, we were greeted by Josie’s family and a FEAST of food. I thought they were celebrating Jesus’ ascension into heaven (aka Ascension Day), but they were actually celebrating Josie and her mom’s safe return from a 3-week Europe trip. We asked Josie who made the food, and her mom had made it all! Turns out the mom had once been a caterer during part of her career.
Throughout lunch guests kept arriving. Somewhere in the middle of the meal one of Josie’s friends, Pauline, arrived (you will hear of her later).
There were many different foods. There was Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), Nasi Udok (white coconut rice), noodles, and many other assorted foods that were all very tasty! One of my favorites was the beef or chicken (I don’t remember which!) that was decently spicy. Another was the small noodles that were yellow/orange and it was amazing! I think it was called Bihun. I really hope I can find it at home.
The next day, I actually woke up sick, but I’m sure it wasn’t related at all. My stomach hurt and I also felt nauseous, so everyone went to church except me. I basically just stayed at home and slept/read the entire day. I was not happy with this. Miss Rosemarie stayed with me through the day and I was very thankful for that.
The next day I felt a lot better than I used to, so I got out of bed. We basically had a chill day on Monday since I was still recovering, so nothing much here.
IT HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY ONE WEEK ON THE ROAD!!!
I can’t believe that I have gone one week without a continually hot shower! No, seriously, I haven’t had one good hot shower for a whole week. It stinks. I have only had hot water once for fifteen seconds, but it’s not really anyone’s fault. We believe the reasons are that we only have tiny water heaters and that most people who live hear take showers in the evening because you get sweaty during the day.
On Monday, we went on a HUGE walk through town. We went to a store called ACE (just like back home) where they sold a bunch of households fix-its, everything from showerheads to toilets to basketballs. They had a ton of stuff. They even sold POPCORN if you wanted to eat while shopping. At the very front there was this restaurant called Chatime and we had cold tea with tapioca bubbles in it.
We also went to a bunch of other stores and other places, but I don’t remember the names, so 😔. On the way back we took a taxi/taksi and I sat in the front seat since it is proper for a male to sit in the front. It was really exciting since our taksi driver knew how to cope with the traffic here, with the monkeys riding bikes, and the motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic.
I know I’m a week behind, but I’m working on catching up and being more timely.
Hey guys, guess where we are now?! Indonesia! We are staying with some friends and the house is amazing, I have my own room with a huge loft!
When we got to SeaTac airport, and we boarded our first flight. It was a 12 hour flight to Taipei, where we had a four hour layover until our next flight to Jakarta for five hours.
While we were in Taipei, we had a meal that of consisted of dumplings and beef soup. While we were in the restaurant we met some people that were headed to Bandung to do missionary work! After the meal we passed the gates in the airport and they were all themed! There was even a Hello Kitty gate and our gate was dedicated to sports!
When we arrived in Jakarta, we were greeted by some friends who sped us past customs and immigration in a fraction of the time it usually takes. After we got out we found the friends we are staying with, and left for home away from home in Bandung.
I missed 90% of the ride home because I was asleep for it. For the parts that I was awake for was with very crowded roads, with cars within inches of each other and motorcycles still weaving in and out of traffic. When we got back, I was so tired that I had dinner and just went straight to bed.
We went to a very cool store where we got our groceries for the next few weeks.
When we got back, we had lunch and then I did my school for the day on my bed. After that we decided to go to dinner, but an unexpected guest arrived, so we got takeout instead. The takeout was stuff like Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) and Mie Tek Tek (Fried Noodles). While we were waiting for our food, we also watched a hilarious video named Flute 20th Century Fox.
When I woke up I spent a bit of time reading and texting friends back home. After I got out of bed, we had breakfast with the new groceries and it was very good. I worked on my school workbook and then had a very nice lunch that was made by the helper. We met some friends of our friends and they invited K and I to the pool! It was really fun, since there was a high dive that was maybe 12 feet off the water, and we used it a ton! When we got back, I took a quick nap (still dealing with jet lag), got up and went to dinner just down the road. When we for back, I flopped down and wrote the blog you are reading now! So far, the first three days traveling! My next post will be about our first walk from our neighborhood to the city center. It was a great experience!
Hey guys, today we went to Ueno Park to see the cherry blossoms! There were two colors, white and pink on many different species of trees.
It was very interesting because tons of people kind of claimed sections of the grass with tarps to hang out at, also called Hanami. This is an annual tradition that was started to welcome in the new year’s harvest. We also saw a lot of different people, even some guys dressed as anime girls! After leaving the park, we went to Ameyoko Market, where we saw one of the cosplay weirdos again.
We found a restaurant where we sat down and had a hard time ordering because the menu was in Japanese! This shouldn’t be surprising since we are in Japan, but thankfully when they saw our confused faces, they brought out a picture menu, which I was extremely grateful for.
After eating, we said goodbye to our grandparents since they are leaving today, and went to find our Tokyo Free Walking Tour.
The tour took us through the Tokyo Imperial Palace, where we learned all about the history of the place.
After the tour we decided to go home to relax for a while, and then go to dinner at a place called Brozers’. They have AMAZING burgers and awesome desserts. When we got home from the one minute walk, we got ready for bed and went to sleep