Timpys in Asia (Part 3)

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We’re back from our first international trip of 2018, which took us to several places in Asia for lots of different projects including an international Christian school in Thailand, a university ministry in Malaysia, a foreign exchange program in China and more. But before we jumped into those filming projects, we crossed off a few things on our bucket list and visited New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand

New Zealand is one of those places I think most people want to go, and probably most often because of the beautiful scenery they saw in some blockbuster trilogy. For us, it was definitely about the scenery, but it was also about the adventure. We wanted to see as much of the country as we could, so we booked flights into the North island and out of the South island and rented a minivan to traverse over 1,300 miles. And we only had one week to do it.

We hit the ground running from the Auckland airport, averaging 6 hours of driving each day and an equal amount of time hiking, stopping each night at a different campground cuddled up in the back of a Toyota Previa. One of the biggest surprises for us was the diversity of the landscape and how fast it changed before our eyes as the road passed beneath our wheels. We saw beautiful black sand beaches, green rolling hills, geothermal hot springs, surreal turquoise-blue lakes, glorious glaciers and wide valleys cut by ones that had receded. And that was just on the first day!

The town of Rotorua was one of our stops on our first day in New Zealand, and it’s renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. We enjoyed beautiful gardens in the town center and then soaked in a secluded hot spring that dyed our bathing suits orange from all the natural minerals.

On our second day, we did an 8-hour hike called the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which goes around, up and over volcanoes and crater lakes with views that took our breath away. The highlight of the hike was about halfway, when we came across the three “emerald green lakes”, but really two are emerald green and one is a beautiful turquoise color.

On our third day, we took the 3-hour ferry between the North and South islands, conversing with locals and being entertained by a great folk band that just decided to set up and play some beautiful music.

On our fourth day, we visited some of New Zealand’s most photographed natural landmarks including Lake Matheson, a picture-perfect lake that offers mirror-like reflections of the mountains behind it and Fox Glacier. Then we hiked downstream from the glacier for a plunge in its freezing cold glacial pools and stopped to see the lone tree in Wanaka Lake. These sights on our way to Milford Sound were only a glimpse of the beauty to come. Up until this point in our trip, we’d only been eating camp meals, so after lunch we washed our dishes in crystal clear water so cold that our hands went numb, and then splurged for dinner in Queenstown — a HUGE lamb shank with scalloped potatoes at a take-away shop famous for just that. YUM! For the first time in many days, we were finally FULL!

Our fifth day, we toured Milford Sound by boat, one of the more famously beautiful fjords nestled in the dramatic Fjordlands National Park. When our captain and tour guide gave us the weather report, he told us to enjoy the “liquid sunshine” in the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world (with an average annual rainfall of 252 inches). After the wet boat tour, we headed to the only place where we spent two consecutive nights, at the base of Aoraki (the tribal, Maori name for Mount Cook), the highest mountain in New Zealand at 12,218 feet. We spent many hours hiking around that mountain, waiting for the clouds to lift to catch a glimpse of the elusive peak to no avail. The clouds even blocked our view of a lunar eclipse, despite our seemingly perfect plan to be in the International Dark Sky Reserve for the event.

On our last day, we made a quick pass through Christchurch and jumped on a plane to Australia. Now on to the next adventure!

Australia

Immediately when the plane’s wheels touched the tarmac, a huge bucket list item got crossed off – our sixth continent! Then, the next day, another one – scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. What an amazing experience! The reef extended endlessly through the clear blue water, allowing us to see all kinds of magical sea life, including turtles gulping down jellyfish (or “stingers” in Ozzie English), reef sharks cruising swiftly, and stingrays camouflaged in the sand.

The next day it was back on the road – this time in a Hyundai Santa Fe. We had two weeks to cover over 3,500 miles mostly stretching along the east coast of the country, and once again we were surprised by the diversity of the landscape. It wasn’t so much the quickly changing ecosystems like in New Zealand, but more so the contrast of what we were seeing to our preconceptions about what Australia looked like. We barely saw the red-dirt, “outback” bushland that we were expecting, and instead found lush rainforests, green grasslands, granite mountains, and of course paradisiacal beaches. Australia is an outdoorsman’s adventure land, a surfer’s paradise (and there’s even a town named Surfers Paradise to prove it!), and a wildlife enthusiast’s dream. We did so many fun hikes, laid out on (and drove on) the softest and whitest sand beaches in the world, and spotted some of the most unique animals we’ve ever seen.

Thailand

After three long weeks of vacation, it was time to get to work. We headed to Thailand for our first project with International Community School in Bangkok. ICS is one of the top K-12 schools in Bangkok and manages to integrate Christian teaching and values into everything they do. Our job was to capture how their Christian values translate into a unique and loving community in addition to the character formation of their students. We are also putting together a video to promote their expansion into the northern part of Thailand with a second campus. We also had two weekends off to explore Bangkok, so we made sure to get out and do some sightseeing too!

Our next two projects took us to Chiang Mai, Thailand to document the work of two different Christian counseling centers. Both The Well and Cornerstone Counseling are providing exceptional counseling services to missionaries as well as Thai nationals. We heard so many client testimonials of how the services they received enabled them to stay in the mission field, to avoid burnout, and even to become functional again in everyday life. It was a joy to work with both organizations and we learned so much about mental health and missionary care.

Malaysia

Next, we made a quick trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work with a campus ministry. When you think of a campus ministry, you might be picturing an American university with a nice big green space, libraries, dining halls, etc., but universities in Kuala Lumpur look a little bit different. Most colleges are privately owned enterprises that look like your typical office building. There’s usually not much of a campus to speak of, and definitely no green space – the ultimate Frisbee club we filmed played on a concrete court next to a volleyball team. This doesn’t stop one missionary family from reaching out to students who study in KL.

We even made some time to teach a photography class to some young enthusiasts, an impromptu elective during home school one day!

China

Last, but not least, we documented a foreign exchange recruitment trip in China. Last year we captured the U.S. side of the exchange, where university students come to the states to tour Fortune 500 companies, meet CEOs and other successful business people, while being hosted by American families in their homes. While we were in China, we traveled by plane, train and automobile to several different cities to document the journey of four American businessmen as they lectured on professional topics, conducted mock interviews, and shared meals with students seeking direction in all areas of their lives. Our shared meals with the team was also one of our favorite parts of the trip — Chinese food is so delicious!

North Carolina

Now that we’re back in the states, we are busily editing the nine videos we filmed for in Asia. We’ve also been filming in South Carolina for a historic church that requested five videos for their fundraising initiative that will expand and safeguard their old sanctuary. We look forward to sharing all of these video stories with you as we finalize them. Looking further into 2018, we have some pretty exciting endeavors lining up that we will save for another update!

Timpys in Asia (Part 2) & Our Annual Year in Numbers

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If you missed Timpys in Asia Part 1, click here to read the blog post about our time in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia and to see more pictures like these…

Picking up where we left off on our last blog post, we departed the hot and humid jungle town of Sanggau on the island of Borneo in Indonesia and 36 travel hours later [via car, plane, and train], we arrived in the chilly city of Busan, South Korea. All our projects for this overseas mission were in Southeast Asia where summer is in full force year round with the exception of this project in South Korea. Busan city is about the same latitude as North Carolina and since it was now November, we got to experience the beautiful colors of autumn but had to pack a whole different wardrobe for this one project. Our down jackets and close-toed shoes were definitely necessary, since temperatures were between 30 and 50 degrees! On the three-hour train ride from Seoul to Busan we traversed the entire length of the country from the northern border to the southern tip, and got to see the changing landscapes from bustling city to beautiful mountainous farmland. South Korea appeared to be a very well off country, far more advanced and Westernized than all the other countries we’d visited on our tour of Asia so far, and that’s precisely the reason why we were there!

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Timpys in Asia (Part 1)

Thailand

We had a lot of work ahead of us for our five weeks in Asia, but first, we had to build in time for a big bucket list item. A trip to Southeast Asia would not have been complete without seeing Thailand, which is why we actually started our trip there, just for vacation. Cassie’s been dreaming of visiting Thailand ever since her sister traveled there more than a decade ago to scuba dive. Now that dream became a reality.

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Summer in Moldova

Sometimes when someone tells you about a place where they’ve had a wonderful experience, you aren’t sure if their experience was swayed by their personal circumstance or if it truly is an objective review of a place’s culture and setting. That’s how I felt when one of my (Cassie’s) friends told us we were going to LOVE Moldova, the teeny-tiny landlocked country in between Romania and Ukraine, and the poorest country in Europe.

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Nicaragua to NYC to NC

We’ve been stateside for seven weeks now and EVERYONE has been asking us — “What have you been up to?!” With the exception of a few filming projects in NYC and Charlotte, the answer is “EDITING!” We have lots of videos we’re excited to share with you!

The month of May marked the fourth time we’ve visited AMOS Health and Hope in the past six years. Each time we go back, we see improvements in Nicaragua — both in the Nicaraguan infrastructure and in the lives of people living in the communities where AMOS works. This year, AMOS is celebrating their 10th anniversary, and we had the opportunity to film and produce their anniversary video. It’s our honor to share with you the below video, which dives deep into the foundational approach of the organization that really began 50 years ago, and on through the organization’s growing impact in the lives of Nicaraguans so they everyone can enjoy health and hope.

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Guatemala to Haiti to Nicaragua

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March in Guatemala

Back in March, we had the opportunity to work with two organizations in Guatemala. The first organization is RestoringVision, a nonprofit that provides nominally priced new readers and sunglasses to those throughout the world who otherwise would not have access. Vision is one of our most important senses — it impacts one’s ability to interact with the environment and other people. Unfortunately, 2.5 billion people worldwide suffer from uncorrected vision impairment, and of that number, 544 million people only need reading glasses to correct this issue but live in developing countries with limited or no access to glasses. That’s why RestoringVision is hoping to distribute 20 million pairs of reading glasses to 20 million people by 2020.

We produced three different videos for RestoringVision and its corporate sponsors. Below is one that we’d like to share with you.

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Reflecting on 2016

We are happy to be spending time with our families for the first time in 10 months as we celebrate Christmas (and both of our birthdays, along with many other family members’ December birthdays)! We have officially finished all of our work with Silent Images and it’s amazing to look back on all that we’ve accomplished by the grace of God in serving Him and organizations throughout Latin America.

We thought you might enjoy a look back at our 2016 by the numbers:

132 people trained at our storytelling workshops

80 videos completed

56 flights taken

48 different beds slept in

43 buses taken

41 organizations served

15 nights spent in a tent

14 boats ridden

10 countries visited

10 books read

9 German Shepherds petted

4 parades attended

2 trains taken

2 blenders broken

2 camera lenses broken

2 passports filled

1 18-wheeler ride hitched
1 foot broken
1 water bottle lost
1 country’s Independence Day celebrated (Colombia)

0 regrets

countless blessings

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Sewing Threads of Hope in Peru

Long ago — way back in May 2016 — we had the pleasure of producing four videos for Threads of Hope.

Threads of Hope is an incredible nonprofit and we fell in love with its mission to empower impoverished women through microenterprise for artisans in Peru. Threads of Hope is different though, not only do they pay the women artists the wages they want for their handicrafts, they also sell their art in the US and give 100% of its proceeds back to the women in the form of grants.

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