Central Asia

Refresh My Soul: Past Vacations

 St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida

I've been thinking a lot about vacation recently. Hot season has arrived and my already weary soul is so ready for some rest! It's actually been a long time since the hubby and I have planned a vacation. What I mean is that most of our trips have been tagged on to conferences or taken because we live in unique places. Even our honeymoon was decided based on the cheapest thing out there. But for the first time we have saved and saved so we could go somewhere new for our 5 year anniversary in September. When I floated the idea by my precious mother she decided it would be a great family vacation! So now all of us and little man will be heading on a 7 day Alaskan cruise in July! Say what?! Bucket list location for sure. Reed and I love cold weather and mountains and living in one of the hottest places on earth we are eager for some cooler weather. 

I have often met people who don't take vacation. They throw around the phrase, "You can sleep when you're dead." Guys, don't be this person! Vacations are good and healthy! One of the best pieces of advice we got when we were preparing to move overseas was to "vacation" every day, every week, every month, and every year. What that look likes practically (for myself) is this:

Daily I spent time with God, reading, relaxing, praying, working out, and even napping at times!

Weekly we take a day where we don't do work, we sleep in, watch movies, laugh, explore new places. 

Monthly we have a date night (or family night). We go to a nice restaurant, swim in a pool, take a trip out of town.

Yearly, we take a vacation. Visit somewhere, stay in a hotel, order room service, get a massage, and DO NOT feel guilty about it. 

So for this month's refresh the soul I'm taking us back to some of my favorite vacations since being married. And if you have a vacation planned for this year, comment below, or share your favorite vacation you've been on. We are always looking for new places to explore! 

 Nice, France

Nice, France

 Grand Cayman Island

Grand Cayman Island

 Epcot Center, DisneyWorld

Epcot Center, DisneyWorld

 Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

 Central Asia

Central Asia

 New York City, New York

New York City, New York

 Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

 Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope, Alabama

 RMNP, Colorado

RMNP, Colorado

 Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park, Colorado

 Verrana, Italy

Verrana, Italy

 Antalya, Turkey

Antalya, Turkey

 Paris, France

Paris, France

 Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

 Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

 Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores, Alabama

 Grand Lake Lodge, Colorado

Grand Lake Lodge, Colorado

 Marseille, France

Marseille, France

 St. Paul de Vence, France

St. Paul de Vence, France

 Annency, France

Annency, France

 Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

 Lyon, France

Lyon, France

 Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

 Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas

 Monaco

Monaco

 Albertville, France

Albertville, France

 Murren, Switzerland

Murren, Switzerland

Central Asia Recap

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This past October we had the privilege to travel to Central Asia. I had never been to this part of the world so I was needless to say I was beyond excited. Reed, however, had been before back in 2007. While the trip was a whirlwind (aren't they all) we managed to spend 3 days in the mountains getting to know a wonderful family. While we were there, we distributed food, clothing, and water filters to a nearby boy's home and some surrounding villages. Back in the capital we went to several schools, spent time with the local staff, visited a leper colony, and even went to a wedding. All in all it was a great trip and we both hope to go back very soon. Next week on the blog Reed will be sharing the story of one man we met named Kuzratalo.

Below you can see the whole team and the family we stayed with in the mountains. Many of the team members were able to make connections with the older boy and continue to follow up with him on facebook. (Isn't technology great!?) To the bottom right you can see the matriarch of the family, or who I like to call, Grandma. She lost her husband last year and has managed to do nothing but continue to provide for her growing family. It was a joy to get to serve alongside them. And of course I had to take a picture when I discovered a box full of Baylor Bear shirts in our clothes we brought to hand out to a local school. 

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 A sweet couple who lives in a leper colony.

A sweet couple who lives in a leper colony.

 The couple to the left showed us this photo of their son's new marriage. Aren't they beautiful?!

The couple to the left showed us this photo of their son's new marriage. Aren't they beautiful?!

Meet Kuzratalo

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JANUARY 18, 2013

*Guest Blog by my beloved hubby, Reed Gardner.

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After a long scenic drive through the mountains we finally arrived at our destination.  It was a small village that few choose to frequent.  Due to the high rate of Tuberculosis in this village, they are seen as outcasts. Even government officials were surprised when our team showed up ready to distribute food, clothing, and other aid to this small, forgotten town.

My wife and I had the privilege of meeting a sweet elderly man named Kuzratalo.  He lives in the village with his brother. He has lost all of his other family members due to tuberculosis, but you wouldn’t know it by the joy on his face and his radiant smile. We were able to give Kuzratalo and his brother a box of food and clothing.  As we carried on conversation through a translator, I shared with him that the woman who was that caretaker at our guest house was praying for my wife and I too have 10 children!  He laughed and said “Ten is not enough; I am going to pray for 20!” Needless to say my wife was not too happy with that response!

Before we left, Kuzratalo walked up to my wife and reached into his pocket and pulled out a 5 Somoni bill (the equivalent of about $1).  With a smile on his face he preceded to hand it to her.  Through a translator, he said that he wanted to give us a gift to remember him by, and that we were always welcome to visit him in his home.  Unfortunately we could not visit him that day, but judging by the smile on his face I believe we have an open invitation should we ever return.

We came to help meet physical needs through food and clothing, but perhaps the best thing we had to offer that day was the gift of friendship. Kuzratalo now knows that he matters and that he has not been forgotten.  We certainly won’t forget him either… 

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