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.