Our Next Steps

With the big move out of Chattanooga behind us, we’re turning our focus to the details of this trip. Having lived in the world of project management for most of my career, my professional brain views this adventure as a complex, international program that I need to design, develop and execute. :-) Similar to other work I’ve done, this trip involves significant research, a wide range of partners, serious strategic planning and a little bit of faith in the unknown.

Over the next few weeks while we’re travelling to see family throughout the Midwest, I’ll be hammering out some of the details for the first countries on our itinerary and researching other locations through international contacts. It’s amazing how this site has already helped to create connections throughout the world. We are so grateful to those that have reached out to us with ideas and contacts, and we hope to see that continue throughout this journey.

The overall structure of this trip is to make our way around the world by heading east. We will leave for Europe on May 13 after spending a couple days in New York City. We’ve never been there as a family, so we will see some of the tourist sights while we’re there and I’m working on setting up a small service project for us. (Please contact me if you have any ideas on this!)

On the evening of May 13 we will fly out for Oslo, Norway. We found an amazing ticket deal on Norwegian Airlines, and when you’re buying five tickets, that really starts to matter. :-) We’ll spend a little time in Norway, overcoming our jet lag and exploring the country’s fjords. Next we’ll fly out for Barcelona and drive to Andorra, a tiny country between Spain and France, to visit our family there. In an effort to help our girls adjust to this major life transition, we thought it might be a good idea to go somewhere we’ve been before and be around some familiar faces for a while. Not to mention, Brian’s step-sister Mari, her husband Ori and their 4 kids are great fun to be around.

After Andorra we will be spending a month in Lisbon, Portugal. The parent’s of a good friend have offered their home to us while they’re away and also provided a connection to a local church community center as a resource for our service work. This is an awesome hook-up for us so we need to shout out a thank you to them. THANK YOU INES AND FAMILY!

Next stop will be a quick trip to Germany to visit our neighbors in Chattanooga. Confused? Next door to our Chattanooga house lived a great family from Burghausen who have been in Chattanooga for several years on a work contract. We’ve had a lot of fun times with them and will now get to have a few more in their hometown when they’re back there for the summer.

After Germany we would like to find another country in Europe for an extended stay. A number of people have suggested Croatia, so I’ve been researching it and seeing what kind of service opportunities might be available there. We’ve also recently gotten a great connection to Ireland, again through a friend in the U.S. whose parents own a home there and are willing to rent it to us for cheap. THANK YOU LOIS AND MARYLOU! Ireland would wrap up our period in Europe. I will be spending a lot of time searching for local partners to arrange service projects in each place we visit.

Next we are looking to Africa. We’ve gotten so many great connections to different programs there! To be honest, when we first started planning this trip I wasn’t sure we would be willing to take the girls to this continent, but that was simply my own ignorance. Over the past weeks I’ve learned so much through conversations and email exchanges with people living there, some of them with young children. We are currently working with an organization in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we could stay in a house with fellow volunteers. Other contacts in Kenya and Zambia are also possibilities.

The rest of the trip will evolve in the coming months. Our plan is to follow the connections we make to different countries and service programs. We will continue heading east through Asia, down into New Zealand and Australia and then end our journey in South America.

As my dad would say, “That’s the plan, Stan.” Keep the ideas and contacts coming! They are incredibly helpful and will make this crazy thing our family is doing all the crazier. :-)

10 Comments

  1. Don’t rule out Tanzania; and check out Kilimanjaro while it still has a snowcap which will probably be gone within the next few years. . .

    1. Thanks Rusty! As mountain lovers we would love to see Kilimanjaro. I’ve heard good things about Tanzania too.

  2. Let me know if you want more connections in Portugal (Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto) or Spain (Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid). These are early-intervention connections so they’ll probably know about service opportunities.

  3. HI Tracey,
    What your family is doing is so interesting. Good for you!
    Hope your Midwest family visits are wonderful. Our family is from Pella, Iowa–fellow Mid-westerners, I guess.
    Norway sounds great. Are you familiar with the Svalbard Global Seed Vault–a secure seedbank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen? It was started to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds and an attempt to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises or even war devastation. It has primary funding from such organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other governments from around the world.
    I promise to follow your journey. This is fascinating.

    1. Thanks so much for this info. Didn’t know this existed and will look into it to see if it’s near where we’ll be in NOrway. We’re spending very little time in the country, but maybe there’s a chance to incorporate this in somehow.

  4. I have worked with a couple who have a missions place in South Africa. I am trying to contact them to see if they would be able to help you out.

  5. So sorry the Africa contacts I checked into did not work out, but am very glad others have. I lived in Norway for 6 months and loved it. Hope you will, too.

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