TONS OF VIDEOS & OUR BIGGEST NEWS SINCE 2015!

The past couple of months have been a heavy editing time for us, mostly in North Carolina, but if you know us you know we are always on the move. So of course we also made a trip to the D.C. area to visit our home church, in addition to traveling to South Carolina and Guatemala for filming projects. We celebrated five years of marriage and even managed to take a good ole fashioned road trip to St. Louis for a family wedding.

But let’s start with that heavy editing and the fruit of that labor. When we ended our last update we were just starting to edit all of the footage we gathered during our tour of projects in Asia, and we are excited to be able to share some of those with you now!

Thailand

First off, we produced two videos for the International Community School in Bangkok, Thailand. The first is an overview of the school that highlights their emphasis on community and character. The second is an exciting announcement of their plans to build a second campus in an underserved area in northern Thailand called Udon.

Next, we produced videos for two different counseling centers in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a hub for many ministries and missionaries working throughout Asia, hence the need for counseling services. The first was The Well International, which serves cross-cultural workers in Asia and around the world through Clinical Counseling, Pastoral Care, Training and Events. This video highlights four of their clients whose lives completely transformed through their services.

The second was Cornerstone Counseling Center, which provides confidential and professional counseling, consultation, and training from a Christian perspective for individuals, marriages, families, teams, and organizations. The video we produced provides an overview of their services, and looks to the future as they transition to having more Thai staff to serve Thai nationals. We also made two other videos for them, but they are in Thai, click here to watch one of the two videos we produced in Thai, which does have English subtitles.

Malaysia

In Malaysia we produced the following video for a campus ministry that looks much different from American campus ministries. Take a look at how one missionary family is reaching out to students who study in Malaysia.

China

In China, we documented the recruitment part of a cultural exchange program, where American professionals go to Chinese universities to get students interested in coming to the U.S. for a life-changing experience.

United States

Back in the states, we produced five videos for Bethel Presbyterian Church, a beautiful, historical church in South Carolina to help them fundraise for improvements to the church. Here’s one of the five.

Guatemala

We took a quick, three-day trip to Guatemala to produce seven videos for an organization we have worked with in the past, and which you may already be familiar with, RestoringVision. We documented a distribution of reading glasses, similar to our previous project with them, but with different sponsors of big eyewear companies that have a heart to give back.

Check out the two videos below about some sponsors who make RestoringVision’s mission possible.

Our next filming project begins on June 7, 2018 when we travel to New York City for another repeat project with the Opportunity Agenda, filming their Communications Institute. We will also be doing a fun collaboration project with some creative friends of ours in Brooklyn (remember last year’s Body of Water?).

To conclude this update, we have some BIG news to share with you!

This is our fourth year documenting the work of non-profits and ministries around the world full-time, living out of our suitcases with no home base. The Lord has blessed us with consistent projects and provided abundantly for our needs. It’s been some of the best years of our lives and at the same time we are beginning to feel the desire for a longer-term vision, including a more stable home base. So, after much prayer, planning and consideration, we have decided to take a five-month sabbatical beginning immediately after our NYC projects, during which we will not be filming for any organizations to disconnect from the world and focus on prayer for our future. Oh, and we will be doing that while hiking 2,190 miles, the entire length of the Appalachian trail from Maine to Georgia. We realize it’s an atypical sabbatical, but I mean, did you really think we could sit still for five months? We also realize many people will have many questions about this, so we have attempted to narrow it down to the top ten questions below to answer some of those.

TOP TEN QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR APPALACHIAN TRAIL SABBATICAL THRU-HIKE:

  1. What is the Appalachian Trail?

The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. It stretches from Maine to Georgia covering 2,190 miles through 14 states. The trail is marked with white “blazes” for the entire distance (about 165,000 of them). The elevation gain/loss of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 16 times. It’ll take us about five months to hike the entire trail. In 2017, there were 3,839 hikers who attempted a northbound (Georgia to Maine) thru-hike, but only 677 completed it. For southbound thru-hikers (Maine to Georgia) like us, there were 497 who attempted it in 2017, but only 89 made it the whole way.

  1. You’re hiking in the wilderness for five months non-stop?

Not Exactly. The trail isn’t purely a wilderness experience, with a road crossing on average every four miles. The trail itself runs right through the middle of several towns and passes within a few miles of many others. We will be stopping every week or two to take a break, get a hotel room, shower, do laundry, eat some real meals, and pick up more supplies, mostly from our resupply boxes at the Post Office. There is one exception – the first two weeks on the trail we will be hiking through the infamous 100 Mile Wilderness, where the trail will not go near a town for, well, 100 miles.

  1. What are you going to do for food & water?

We thought of that! We already dehydrated, vacuum-sealed and froze 522 meals for our entire five months on the trail, which Jordan’s dad will be mailing to us along the way (thanks Capt. Dave!). Some of the rice dinners will be pineapple teriyaki chicken with green beans, deconstructed stuffed peppers, and Mexican meat and bean bowls. The pasta dinners will be chicken alfredo and beef Bolognese (with lots of veggies). Breakfast will always be oatmeal, but we have a variety of different fruits we added to keep things interesting. Lunches will be of the on-the-go variety, with homemade beef jerky (and one mistake batch of chicken jerky…), protein bars, pop-tarts, trail mix, and chocolate bars. Mmm mmm. Hungry yet? As for the water, we will be getting our supply from natural sources, and we have some pretty awesome Sawyer water filters that we have been using all over the world without ever getting sick.

  1. How often are you going to shower?

Probably about once a week, whenever we stop in a town. Think about this before asking question number 10!

  1. How much do your packs weigh?

Jordan’s full pack weighs 42 pounds and Cassie’s full pack weighs 38 pounds. That is with all our gear, two weeks of food, and three liters of water, which will be the heaviest our packs will ever be. Just for reference, our camera bags usually weigh around 30 pounds when fully loaded on an assignment.

  1. Are you taking a camera?

Yes. Believe it or not, we debated this one because our camera is so heavy, but in the end we knew we had to document this trip. We even bought a nifty device that transforms our trekking poles into a tripod!

  1. What if it rains?

We will be hiking rain or shine. Rain is just a fact of life and we have lots of miles to cover (averaging 8-12 miles per day at first and hopefully increasing to 15-20 miles per day by the end). There are shelters along the trail that we can stop in to get out of the rain, but we are opting to sleep in a tent at night. We have dry bags for our supplies, rain covers for our packs, rain jackets and rain pants. Plus, a rain fly for our tent, of course.

  1. What about bears and snakes?

Black bears are the only species native to the A.T., and most thru-hikers see a few of them, but they are generally shy and avoid people. According to statistics, the most common place along the trail to see bears is New Jersey. Who knew?! Snakes will be an occasional sight, but most often the non-venomous variety. There are only three venomous snakes that reside along the AT—the timber rattlesnake, the copperhead, and the cottonmouth water moccasin. Snake bites are extremely rare and typically only happen when a snake is stepped on or reached for on a rock scramble. The biggest threat will probably be ticks.

  1. Are you going to be doing blog updates?

Not as often. We are not taking a laptop, and typing an entire update on a phone could be tedious (yes, we will be taking a phone, but it will be off or in airplane mode most of the time to conserve battery), but there will be times we will have access to a computer and may have time to send out an update. However, this is a sabbatical, and our blogs are part of our work that takes a lot of time and energy, and we will be making a conscious effort not to get caught up doing work. This will primarily be a time of reflection and prayer, and the less we are distracted, the more we can focus on the true purpose of our thru-hike.

  1. Can I come with you?

Yes! Well, for a little while anyways. We are inviting friends and family to meet up with us at certain sections of the trail, either to hike (we promise to slow down), hang out in a town, treat us to an all-you-can-eat buffet, etc. If you’re interested, pick out a section closest to you or just a town you’d like to visit, and let us know so we can try to schedule something. Again, this is primarily a time for us to disconnect from the world, but we’ll definitely have plenty of time for that and would love to see you.

We officially step out on the trail on June 19, so if you have any additional questions (or helpful suggestions!) please email us at info@agapevisuals.com. We want to emphasize that this is not the end, it’s just us intentionally pressing pause to seek God’s guidance. You can pray specifically that we will hear from God while we make plans for the future, and that He will protect us each step of the way. If you need a place to start, here are some verses we recommend: Luke 11:9, Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 91:9-11. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. We love you!

 

 

Timpys in Asia (Part 3)

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.