Africa

Kruger Park Pictures

On our last day and a half in Africa we went to Kruger Park for a little bit of quality time with nature and the beautiful African animals. It might be one of our favorite spots on the planet. There is something about driving around and seeing these giant animals in their natural habitats. The giant sky. The sunrises and sunsets. Everything about this place is magical. During this time we saw tons of huge elephants...and so many baby elephants...they were adorable.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time and wanted to share some pics with you guys.

xo

j&k

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Early morning sunrise & fog.

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 One of the entrances to the park.

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 A huge group of elephants walked right in front of our car and down the hill into the river. So cool!

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The only place you are allowed to get out of your vehicles is on this huge bridge...photo time!

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I (kate) loved spending quality time with my dad :) He's the best.

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Baboons!

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This is a series of  pics entitled: "Carolyn steals Ryan's camera. Selfies ensue. Ryan's butt makes a cameo."

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Windy with the window open.  14402388458_73ee15da77_z

Breakfast under a tent. SO excited about coffee!

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Trying to take a selfie with an elephant in the background.

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There's the pic!

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Open aired vehicles are the VERY BEST THING.

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Vultures in the tree.

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This was in the elephant museum. We were loopy tired by this point.

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 Philip is the orphan home director in Zimbabwe and a dear friend. He's more like family actually. Love him!

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 So much love. 

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Bill using his camera to take pics on a viewing deck. We saw hippos and heard the crazy noises they make.

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Hyena.

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Cape Buffalo.

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Our last night in the park we enjoyed a dinner under the stars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trip to Houses of Hope Africa!

 Hi friends! Finally had some time to sit down and write some words about our recent trip to Africa to visit the children living at Houses of Hope Africa. On May 25th we (Ryan & Carolyn & us) took off from Nashville and headed across to the other side of the world...Southern Africa!

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...with a seven hour lay over in London-town. That's always fun right?

photo 3 We found some comfy chairs in the lounge (hallelujah) in the London airport and checked email for the last time since we would be in Zimbabwe with zero cell reception of any kind.

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It was an 11 hour flight from London to Johannesburg and we landed just as the sun was coming up.

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Kate's dad, Bill, met us at the airport with the van. He has more energy than all of us put together :)

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We got settled and headed over to the House of Hope in Temba. We were SO HAPPY to see these faces after two long travel days.

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 We passed out party supplies which included hand clappers and little noise makers--we were a LOUD bunch.

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 Some of the kids in the pictures have been at the house since it opened and some are so new to the home that they'd only been there a few days. 

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 This little guy below is amazing and such a fighter. When he first arrived at the home he needed serious medical attention. Since being at the house for a few years we are happy to report that he is doing SO WELL!

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Bill brought a guitar for the kids and so we got it out and Jill played songs that the kids were familiar with. Music...it's what brings us all together :)

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 We left the kids as the sun was setting and headed back to the hotel. We went to bed early cause we were leaving for Zimbabwe bright and early the next day...

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 Bill was our dedicated driver...he drove sooooo much...it was about 14 hours on the road to Zimbabwe (!!!)

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The open road in Zimbabwe.

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Why yes. Perfect place for a jumping picture. 14490828945_b046274677_z

One more with Carolyn!

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The paved road turned into a dirt road and it was SO bumpy. Almost two hours on a dirt road rock road. Wowza. 14304090338_686a83c3a4_z

Hooray. We finally spot the brand new House of Hope Whunga sign in the bush!14304248037_21275fda8f_z

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We arrive and get to see these faces. These faces. You guys, these are the faces that you help support. You are the ones helping to provide housing, food, and an education for these beautiful souls. The kids are doing really well and we were so happy to spend a few days with them.  14304097610_325de82588_z

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They love playing with balls--so much fun!14304141268_e6ac1c34d2_z

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Life is pretty simple up there. Our van was the only vehicle in the area because their main mode of transportation is donkey cart. The building on the left is the out-house. Let's just say that there is no electricity or running water.  Enough said about that. 14510894533_d24a2b8f9d_z

Group shot!! So many giggles. 14489507382_0b3336f5ed_z

This was one of our favorite parts of the trip. We woke up at the Philip's house (he is the orphan home director & builder of HOH Whunga) where we were staying and walked with his two kids to the orphan home. It's about a 10 minute walk and we left right around 6am--just as the sun was coming up.

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There is literally nothing around. If we look all bundled up it's because it's winter over there right now. Cold in the morning and evenings. Off to the orphan home we went...14510950313_ba91a0316e_z

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 The kids were in their uniforms all ready to go...we did some morning stretches & just general goofing off before we began the 6 kilometer walk to school (that's 3.72 miles.)

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We even ran for a few minutes cause we thought they were going to be late! Look at the smiles as we ran...they LOVE going to school.14467704166_82e79a5385_z

Long walk for this guy but he doesn't complain.

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After an hour walk we arrived at the school grounds. There are about 300 children at the school and some of the other surrounding village children have to walk up to 3 hours to and from school each day.

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We got to meet the teachers and the head master (principal) of the school.

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We might have been called into the head master's office...ugh oh...we weren't in too much trouble ;)14489514874_b5ff0abf71_z

We left the older kids at school and hung out with Suprise (the littlest guy at HOH) for the morning/afternoon.

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 ...after some playing he decided a nap was in order....right in Kate's arms. Love!

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The older kids got back from school and we played, played and played! We even got to watch some of the kids milk the goats!

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The sun set on the crops and the stars were INCREDIBLE!! Having no electricity has it's perks.

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We brought some glow sticks with us and decided to make our own shooting stars.

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Last couple of pictures on the morning we were leaving... just as the sun was coming up...we were half awake...and cold. 14489485042_d52a9790dd_z

This might be the most attractive picture of Kate you've ever seen. Hahaha.

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Philip's wife made us fried dough...it was sooooo good.14490701625_16c4458015_z

Then we hit the road again back to South Africa...

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But, we had to take one more picture on our way out! You know last year when we were in Zimbabwe and we got stuck cause the bridge was totally flooded? This was the bridge. Woohoo...no water :) Jumping picture had to be taken!14487310921_561107c31e_z

We had such a great trip....we'll post more pics from Kruger Park and of course the rest of our travels that took us over to the UK for the #jkUKtour :)

xoxo

j&k

PS.  Houses of Hope Africa is doing amazing work for the kids over there and we know a lot of you are just as invested in their lives as we are. So for that, thank you. Thank you for caring for these kids. We took all your love with us. If you are unfamiliar with Houses of Hope Africa click here for more info.

Africa Stuff

Hello! As most of you know we do a lot of work with the kids at the Houses of Hope Africa...and we are getting really excited because we're heading over there in the next few months. We can't wait to hang with the kids :)

So many of you helped support the #MonthForHope in December (thank you!) and we raised a bunch of money to help cover operating costs for the homes which was so fabulous. A lot of you have tweeted or asked us after shows if there is ever anything that you can give (besides money) that would be helpful for the kids...and the answer is YES.

These are the following things that would be helpful:

  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Crayons
  • Coloring Books
  • Kids Socks (color: maroon)
  • Target or Wal-Mart gift cards (which will be used to buy supplies)
  • Kids toothbrushes

If you would like to donate any of the following, please send to:

HOUSES OF HOPE AFRICA P.O. Box 3 Brentwood, TN 37024

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Here are some of the amazing faces at HOHA...they bring so much joy into our lives.

If you have any questions check out the HOHA website.

Thanks for supporting us & the kids at HOHA.

xo

j&k

A Month For Hope! (Day #2)

9153350510_e8ce07d46b You may or may not know that half of our hearts are half way around the world...in Africa...where we spend time every year with the amazing kids at Houses of Hope Africa...an organization that Kate's dad started to care for the orphans in Southern Africa.

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Sooooo many of you have been asking about "A Night For Hope" this year (if you don't know what that is, check out our last A Night For Hope concert recap from 2012) that we are are excited to announce this year that we are doing A MONTH FOR HOPE...a whole month dedicated to raising money to care for these kids for the next year. We have a BIG goal this year which is good because HOHA is growing and doing awesome things over there!

Like most everything, we cannot do it alone. We need your help to reach this goal. We always feel like when we are over there spending time with these kids that you are all there with us. So many of you have already donated money, sent hand-made items for the kids, sent friendship bracelets, etc....we are really all on this team for hope together.

So thanks so much for already being awesome!

Check out A MONTH FOR HOPE and help us spread the word...

1. You can Buy a T-shirt. (Really cool shirt designed by Emily Coey)

2. You can bid on an Ebay item. (autographed memorabilia and what not)

3. Or you can just give straight up Cash money :)

4. You can help us spread the word by following Houses of Hope Africa on Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr.

5. PLEASE... re-tweet, share and re-blog (this is seriously SOOOOOO helpful!)

Every little bit helps...so THANK YOU!!

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Thanks for believing in hope with us. Lots of love.

-j&k-

 

 

We Travel Light.

On our trip to Africa we brought tons of stuff to give away to the orphans and the houses/house parents. This is what all of our luggage looked like upon landing in South Africa:

Needless to say...

We travel light.

Using the free internet in the lounge at Heathrow airport. The sun is shining. 2 cups of coffee downed. Ankles are swollen. Thankfully we all slept a majority of the last flight. Thank God for sleeping aids.

Did we mention we saw a Cheetah in Africa? We did.

Okay. Off to more airline recycled air & more swollen ankles. Woohoo!

-j&k-

Day 10.

So y'all liked the Flashmob huh? We have to work on our routine a little bit. We had it down a few weeks ago and looks like it's time to brush up on a few areas.(Ahem, Jill) Watch out though, cause you never know when we're gonna bust it out! In other news, many of you have been asking about the "A Night For Hope" benefit show this year. We WILL be having another benefit, but it won't be in 2011 as we have been traveling so intensely. We haven't been available to plan the show the way we want to. Be on the lookout for another benefit in 2012. Thanks for being so supportive and contributing to a cause that's so close to our hearts. For more info, you can always visit www.housesofhopeafrica.com to support!

So far so good on the 31 days of blogging...what would you like us to blog about for the next 21 days?

-j&k-

2 months ago today.

I know I've always heard that time starts to fly the older you get...and wow, I'm really feeling that...cause it seems like just yesterday I was in South Africa with three good friends playing with beautiful kids...when in reality, it was two months ago. But here I am, two months later, sitting on my couch, my TV is on, fuzzy warm slippers on my feet, sipping my freshly brewed coffee and they are still where I left them two months ago. I'll admit that when I'm there I'm focused on their needs...I wonder if they are hungry or consumed with sadness or whether they are having a good time playing the silly game we taught them, etc. But somehow, when you are removed from them, you start to forget about them. I know that sounds horrible, but it's true--at least for me. Please don't get me wrong, I don't forget about them in a permanent sense but I don't think I live with the thought that every hour of every day I live in luxury and there are kids out there who need help...lots of help.

So that's where I'm at this morning...wondering how I can help more, how I can keep them at the forefront of my mind because they are still there. And for the twenty-something kids that I met and locked eyes with, there are millions more out there. I live in a world of absolute excess...I'm embarrassed at times at the amount of food I buy at the grocery store and waste because I just chose to eat something else. I wake up in the morning in a warm bed, can take a hot shower anytime I'd like, I can see a doctor whenever I choose, etc. I live in a world of excess.

The story I am about to share is heavy, heart wrenching and true. I wanted to share with you because this is reality. It's not separated from me anymore. A girl who was dropped off at an orphan home in South Africa hours before we got there is 13 and has AIDS. Both her parents have died. She was living with her aunt who was physically abusing her and while that was going on, her uncle was repeatedly raping her. Her aunt found out and got mad at this precious little girl and kicked her out. I could hardly believe my ears. This was this girl's reality just hours before we arrived.  And now she is living at one of the orphan homes in South Africa. This story hit me hard.

I wish I had a nice way to tie up my thoughts...so I'll leave you with a pic of the kids doing a little painting craft when we were there 2 months ago. You have no idea how much your prayers and love helps these kids. Thank you for supporting them with us. xoxo -k

Highlights from Africa

On August 10th, 2010 Team Africa...a.k.a. Jill, Kate, Todd & Meghan flew to South Africa to hang out with the amazing kids at the House of Hope. We had a fabulous time and wanted to share some highlights with you :)

Playing cards prior to boarding the 15 hour flight. Plus, Kate bought a new camera in the airport and was testing it out.

In the airport after landing, Todd met....drum roll....MISS INDIA GLOBE 2010!!! Who's excited?

Play time on the lawn out in front of the Houses.

Todd giving a little photo lesson.

Craft time with fun foam letters.

We did a painting craft out on the lawn...it was fun...some of the kids even used the paint to paint their faces. Haha.

Noted: Don't turn your back on kids with paint :)

Before we left, people donated clothes, shoes, etc. We divided them into plastic bags & gave one to each kid.

Team Africa!

Laundry drying.

More craft fun--we printed out pics and they decorated their own frames!

We made one to leave with them!

Coloring time.

One of the kids taking Todd's camera around taking some sweet shots.

Project OFB continues. We taught them how to make them and read them some of your letters.

More coloring.

Special delivery on some hand made hats!

The kids were so happy!

On our way to the airport we stopped and visited a kiddo that we met last time that is now at a different home. We got him some little shoes that light up! Woohoo!

We spent the last day of the trip in Kruger Park and saw some animals...but we'll share those pics in the near future. Thanks for all of your love and support for the kids.

Much love from super jet lagged jillandkate :)

Ps...our SOT17th is still coming...but Jill lost her voice on the trip so we are on hold until she has it back!

Back in the USA!

Hey! So, we are exhausted from travel but had an awesome time in Africa. Once we rest a bit we will tell you ALL about it :)

In the meantime...take the image below and help us spread the word about the Broke* wrap party tonight in Nashville. Make it your Facebook profile pic or post it on your wall or print it out and safety-pin it to your t-shirt...haha...

Se you all there at 8pm. 12th & Porter.

Bam.

-j&k-

Bracelets for days :)

So we are having a GREAT time with the kids at the Houses of Hope! The kids are seriously such a fun group :) We have made crafts everyday, sung songs, played games in the sun, and gotten tons of hugs...we've even had our hair braided numerous times! They have all LOVED the friendship bracelets too...We sat them down and told them how we told our friends about them and that that's who made the bracelets for them! Needless to say, they were so excited...we had so many bracelets that most of the kids got one on each wrist or an ankle too. We have been trying to document as many of them as possible but here are a few to start with :) Thanks again for sending your love with us to these kids...they need it!

-j&k-