Saturday February 23, 2019

Numbers 14:19-21 Forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have pardoned this people, from Egypt even until now.” Then the Lord said, “I do forgive, just as you have asked; nevertheless—as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord

We enjoyed leisurely getting out of bed and down to breakfast this morning followed by a drive to Mirissa, a bordering beach town where the whale watching is superb. We hired a driver who was more than willing to make a quick pit stop in Galle to check out the old Dutch Fort that overlooked the Indian Ocean. We enjoyed walking around this quaint tourist town, checking out local shops and indulging in some waffles (the kids were in heaven).

We arrived at our hotel in Mirissa and headed straight out to dinner in the sand at a local restaurant. The food here was great and so were the margaritas! This was a wonderful evening watching the kids play in the surf and sand, just like they did last night. I think they are really enjoying the beach lifestyle. I am so thankful to be sitting here surrounded by God’s beautiful creations.

We have to be up very early for our whale watching excursion, so we put the kids to bed and then we headed outside to have some beers by the pool at the hotel. But we ended up sitting down at a table with 2 of the guys that worked at the hotel to drink our beers. We enjoyed some great conversation and laughter. It was a wonderful hour or so getting to know these nice young men. I love that Jeff enjoys this just as much as I do…putting ourselves out there to meet new people and that we are both able to have a conversation and loads of laughter with people we just met. It was a nice ending to our day.

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Thursday February 21, 2019

Matthew 5 14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Today was another tank cleaning day and I am surprised at how much fun this hard work actually is. Anjali and David are having a harder time getting involved in this process. They are not quite strong enough to clean the tanks at the same level as the adults, but they are trying. Today Lucia realized that cleaning the tanks is just not something that she is able to do, so she took it upon herself to seek out another job. She found herself working alongside Madu (one of the staff at the project) feeding the turtles. Madu will cut up the fish and then tell Lucia where to take the pieces of fish and which turtle to feed. She is such a joy to watch as she scampers about the hatchery thrilled that she has the important job of feeding the turtles. Her joy is infectious and I can’t help but be happy amidst being covered in green algae and turtle poop!

It brings me so much joy to see her being a light amongst all this “dirty” work. She allows her light to shine through all the raw fish, the algae, the sand, the turtle poop, etc and leads us all by example. Our job is to help protect and care for these turtles, for all of God’s creatures, and even if the work is “dirty work” we should still be joyous and happy; we should allow God’s light to shine through the dirt and muck and be a witness to His creation.

I can’t even count how many times I was leading a tour and folks were just amazed to see my children doing work around the hatchery. Children can be seen as unable to do work and I think it surprises people to see them so happy caring for these turtles. Both Jeff and I had many people ask about our mission and the work we were doing and I loved telling them about our various volunteer projects and how much our family has loved showing God’s love around the world. It is not about us, it is about God and His love for all of us. It is about being a light to shine on those in need, to show them that they are loved by a stranger from the other side of the world, to show them that they are loved by God.

Friday February 8, 2019

Daniel 2:23 To you, O God of my ancestors, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and power, and have now revealed to me what we asked of you, for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.”

We got up this morning and did a very small bit of school with the kids and then headed out to Fremantle about 35-40 minutes away. I was very much looking forward to seeing this old port town. We did some shopping and enjoyed walking up and down the beach and touristy shops. I found a new pair of sandals that I was desperately needing and we all found some fun souvenirs from Perth. We enjoyed a nice lunch right in the bay with a beautiful ocean view and then finished our day with a tour of the shipwreck museum and some ice cream. We headed home for some showers and dinner. It really was a wonderful afternoon with only a few arguments and tantrums. I thoroughly enjoyed the day today and loved the town of Fremantle, though I am still grateful that we are staying outside of the city in our quiet little town of Ocean Reef.

Driving home the kids were so wound up, yelling and playing loudly in the car, and after about 20 minutes I couldn’t take it any more and asked them to quiet down, but as soon as I did I could feel an immediate shift in the atmosphere. You could actually taste the tension in the car and I instantly regretted saying anything at all. They really were not doing anything bad, just being loud and obnoxious kids (basically they were being irritating). Had I just kept my irritation to myself, the mood of the car would have stayed the playful and happy atmosphere. I kicked myself for my lack of patience and vowed to try harder to allow my kids to just be kids.

My poor choice in the car was quickly forgotten when we arrived at the beach with the boogie board and this time we brought the phones for pictures!

Thursday February 7, 2019

1 Peter 5:2-5 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.  In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

We made an awesome purchase today. As we were walking around the mall picking up a few items that we needed and we wondered into a surf shop searching for a large-brimmed hat for David. (David had gotten a sunburn on his face during the fishing trip in Bali and sunblock was very uncomfortable to apply.) We ended up finding a hat for him, but also a boogie board. The kids were so excited to try out this new beach toy. We quickly made a run to Target to gather some swim shirts for everyone and after a quick bite to eat at home, we were beach bound for the afternoon. I didn’t get many pictures because I too was enjoying our new toy, plus bringing the phones out to the beach just seems like a bad idea.

Everyone had an absolute blast playing at the beach with the boogie board and playing in the sand. All three kids built sand castles while we took turns boogie boarding. Jeff even got into the fun by completely burying Lucia in the sand.

So far this vacation has been a total beach vacation, which has been great. We have been waking up and doing a small bit of school work before having lunch and then heading off to the beach. It really has been relaxing, but for the most part, at least one of the kids ends up off their rocker each day. It would just be really nice to have all them happy one day. But I will take what I can get. Anjali has been doing a great job going to bed and not getting involved in altercations with David and Lucia. She has been working so hard on improving her attitude and behavior and it is such a wonderful sight.

This evening Jeff and I also got to message back and forth with Cathy from the Farm, which was a lot of fun and we scheduled to call everyone this weekend. I am so excited to hear their voices again. We all miss them so very much.

Tuesday February 5, 2019

Psalm 35:5 Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them on.

Jeff and I woke up to the kids watching TV. They were totally engrossed in it so Jeff and I headed to the supermarket for some breakfast and groceries. We came home to the kids in the exact same place as they were. I wondered if they were still alive, but jumped right up when we got home with food. After a bit of food, we all decided that today we needed to run a few errands before spending the afternoon at the beach. So after a stop at the mall to get some new swimsuits for the kids and a few necessary items at the supermarket, we dropped our stuff off at home, changed into our suits and headed down to Hillary’s Harbor to find a nice boardwalk with shops and restaurants and just across the street a beautiful beach.

After about 2 hours at the beach, I was ready to go and I think everyone else felt the same way. We headed home for dinner. We had such a late breakfast that we skipped lunch and just had an ice cream snack at the harbor. Today really was nice, but the hard part is that we are having a difficult time planning the rest of our time here. After dinner we all discussed the things that we would like to do and the things that made the cut were: Rottnest Island (to see the quokkas), Yanchep National Park (to see the kangaroos and koalas), Serpentine National Park (hiking and natural swimming holes), Swan Valley Wineries, Fremantle (shops and restaurants), and of course as many days at the beach as possible. We went ahead and booked Rottnest Island for Monday and planned to do Swan Valley tomorrow, for the rest we will just wing it!

They plan all sounded great until we began putting the kids to bed. I guess they were just too excited or felt that because we were on vacation they didn’t want to go to bed at a reasonable hour. The problem with this, was that if we didn’t get them the rest they needed there was no way I was going to attempt to enjoy a winery. Both Jeff and I were in agreement that Swan Valley was just not going to be possible, so we went ahead and scrapped that idea. Tomorrow was going to be another beach day.

Monday February 4, 2019

Job 27:2-6 As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; until I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness, and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.

Today we headed down to Perth, Australia. We deviated from our original plan of utilizing public transportation and opted for a rental car (I am so glad we did because we were staying a bit out of the city and as it turned out it would have been quite difficult to get around without a car, not impossible, just more challenging). Outside of the flight and the drive to our new home for the next 12 days, we really did nothing. By the time we got to the house it was 7 pm, so we quickly dropped off our luggage and headed to dinner. We were surprised to find that most places in this area closed at 8 pm so we only had a few options and no option for a supermarket or a liquor store. Boo. The kids were exhausted and pretty much went right to bed with Jeff and I were not too far behind them.

Our house is absolutely perfect. We are minutes from the beach and have a beautiful view from the upstairs of the Indian Ocean. I am really grateful we are not in the heart of the city, this is going to be so much more chill for us, and for those that know us, outside the city is ideal for Jeff and I.

Saturday February 2, 2019

Isaiah 66:13 As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

Today we all went our separate ways, boys and girls. Jeff and David went on a fishing adventure. While I wasn’t there, he shared his photos with me. They had a really good time and David was very excited to catch so many fish!

While the boys played out at sea, us girls took to the spa for the morning. Anjali had a facial and a manicure, while Lucia opted for a massage and a pedicure. I enjoyed watching the girls get pampered, just as I did yesterday, and couldn’t resist a pedicure for myself! Then to sit poolside while we waited for our boys to return from fishing.

We all had a great day. We tried to top it off with a dinner at a pizza place just across the street from the resort, but David and Lucia were just too tired, so Jeff took them back for room service while Anjali and I enjoyed a girls night with good conversation. It was so nice to sit and talk with Anjali like a big kid, discussing adult topics that I would not otherwise be able to with David and Lucia. I think Anjali really enjoyed this extra attention too.

Thursday January 31, 2019

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Our kids were very tired today and boy Jeff and I had to bear their burdens : ). LOL. We took the kids on a bit of an excursion today into town. Now Jeff had gone into town the other day by himself to hit up the ATM and found that he was basically accosted by women offering massages to him. Today’s experience was quite different, according to Jeff that is. There were still women offering massages and shop owners trying to engage you and get you into their shop; however, it was not as aggressive at Jeff’s description. No one was pulling on our arms to get us inside their shop and offering countless “types” of massages! We made our way to the main shopping mall where we found some fun souvenirs and a dress for me and Lucia. We had a lot of fun touring through the shops and market in the middle.

Tonight, we had dinner again at the poolside restaurant. Every night the buffet menu changes, as does their theme/entertainment. Tonight we had Aussie BBQ and a magic show. The kids really enjoyed magic show and Lucia even got to be an active participant. She was thrilled and was a great assistant. I have the video on my Instagram page (@sarassimplelife)

Towards the end of our dinner we had a nice surprise phone call from the Farm. We got to talk with so many of the kids via video call and it was so beautiful to see their faces again. I miss that place and the people so much. I can’t believe how much that place has changed my life and I can’t wait to go back and spend more time with them. When we got off the phone I experienced so many different emotions; happiness for getting to talk with them, sadness that we aren’t there, longing to see them again soon, and the joy that their smiling faces brought me were all overwhelming. Walking back to our room I was both happy and sad.

Wednesday January 30, 2019

Matthew 26:39-42 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

I woke up this morning and enjoyed a peaceful yoga practice while all three kids played in the pool. I was able to do my yoga in the shade on the side of the pool while Jeff took advantage of the gym. After that we all just hung out poolside, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, endless cocktails while our children played in the pool. We finally pulled the kids out of the pool so we could get cleaned up and head to dinner. We enjoyed this peaceful meal while a band made their rounds and eventually ended up at our table. The kids thought this was the best!

We all enjoyed the day today and I think we all took full advantage of the relaxing day today. It has been wonderful to watch our children play together and have fun with each other. Trust me, there are still fighting and bickering, but in the grand scheme of things, they really are getting along well and we are all having a great time as a family. I can’t help but be a little sad knowing that we are the back end of this journey. I have never before felt so alive and truly “lived” life. My challenge over the coming months is going to be figuring out how to “live” after this year is done. I will continue to pray for God’s wisdom and guidance and I know He will show me the way when the time is right and when He is ready.

Sunday January 27, 2019

James 1:17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

We arrived in Singapore early this morning and as soon as we walked outside the first thing out of Anjali’s mouth was “holy cow it is clean here! Even the streets are clean!” It was a nice change to drive in a car without hearing the blaring horns and without seeing tons of motorbikes and cars (granted, it was 7:00 am on a Sunday). This moment of our year marks the halfway point. We have been volunteering for the last 6 months and while we didn’t plan for this long of a vacation, here we are. Just as a recap, our hope was to stay in India until we had to be in Sri Lanka on Feb 17, but we could not get our Visa for more than 60 days. So here we are, ready to enjoy a long vacation. I keep reminding myself that this whole journey is God’s plan, not mine and as much as I would rather be serving and working, this may be what our family needs; a bit of reconnection and focus before we begin the back-end of this year.

Before leaving Germany, when we realized that we were not going to be able to stay in India until Feb 15, we gave the kids a project–plan our vacation. They unanimously decided on Australia (actually New Zealand initially, but we couldn’t make that happen), so we are headed to Perth. But as we were looking at airline tickets we quickly realized that the flights were long, the layovers long, and just all-around not conducive to traveling with kids. So we decided to make use of the layovers and break up the travel to Australia into sections. Singapore is our first stop, with main focus being Universal Studios on Sentosa Island. We are only here for 2 nights; long enough to get some rest before and after Universal Studios and to see a bit of Singapore. While we got rest, we did not get to see much of Singapore since we pretty much stayed on Sentosa Island.

Today we made a grievous error, we broke the number one rule when traveling overnight–do NOT take a nap that first day. You should stay awake and go to bed as close to a reasonable hour as possible in order to help your body adjust. But I guess we were all so tired and needed some rest. After our rest we ventured into Sentosa for some beachside lunch. After eating, the kids played in the surf while Jeff and I enjoyed a drink beachside! It was superb.

The kids, especially Lucia, got completely soaked playing in the surf. Thankfully it was warm

outside so she was able to dry quickly. They had so much fun playing together and just being kids.

It was a beautiful sight!

Here are some pretty pictures exploring Sentosa Island.

After some exploring we let the kids do some swimming at the hotel before heading out for some dinner and wrapping up our first day here.

It was a great day, though Jeff and I learned that everything on Sentosa Island closes at 9:00 pm. It’s like the whole island shuts down-no bars, no restaurants, and no people. It was almost eerie to be walking around the island with no one else around you.

Sentosa Island is beautiful and clean with tons of shopping opportunities. This place reminds me a lot of Vegas, but the difference is that Vegas doesn’t sleep and Sentosa has a 9:00 bedtime! This place is perfect for the family, just be ready to spend some money-everything is expensive!