Aruba!

We just returned from our 1st trip to Aruba!  It was exciting, different, interesting, beautiful, relaxing and just plain fun!  We drove over 200 miles on an island that is approximately 16 miles long and 6 miles wide. So you can see we did a lot of exploring, along with an abundance of amazing food, drink, meeting folks from everywhere, playing with the flamingos and some incredible snorkeling.  There are so many pictures so share but here is at least a smattering of our snorkeling!

Interested in seeing our pics?  Click here!

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Cuba Adventure – Part 2

This past month we were blessed with making our second trip to Cuba!  To say it was just as incredible as the first is an understatement.  This time, though, we added a little bit more travel to our excursion.  We spent our first 3 days in Havana catching up and spending some long awaited time with our Cuban “family”.  We love being able to spend time in their home, chatting, laughing, eating, and just “being”. As usual, we spent some time in Vieja Habana and this time we actually did a fair amount of exploring on our own.  Our 3 days there ended quickly as we boarded the Viazul bus for Camiguey, one of our favorite spots.  We love Camiguey for it’s people, the beauty of the city and the immense history. How surprised we were when we got off the bus and there were about 12 of our Camiguey “family” there to meet us!  Our time was spent, again, chatting, catching up, eating, exploring, worshipping with the people there and praying for them.  Our hearts are heavy at times for the people of Cuba, but they fill our hearts with love, laughter and everything that they have to give.  But, our next adventure began in another 3 days.  Off we were on Viazul to Santiago de Cuba.  We’ve not been there before and we were excited to see what it was like.  The bus ride was beautiful through the mountains and valleys of sugar cane, tobacco and coffee farms.  Santiago is beautiful with a harbor area that is becoming an up and coming spot.  The view of the city and countryside from the top of the main cathedral is breathtaking.  A day at a mission church in took us into the Sierra Maestra mountains where the revolution began.  Another day took us to a beach side mission.  Both incredibly breathtaking as the next.  Our time in Santiago allowed us also to explore the cemetery where Marti and Castro are both buried.  We arrived in time for the changing of the guard.  It was similar to our changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but in my opinion, far more precise and regimented.  We spent our time getting to know the people of Santiago and the churches we were working with.  We spent time praying for them and for the city as they spent time praying for us.  But, our adventure didn’t end here.  We were saddened during our trip because of the horrific plane crash that took place the day after we arrived.  Then they had more rain and flooding than they have had in 30 some years.  Not even a hurricane produced as much damage, flooding, loss of property, and deaths as this years rains did.  Of course, the main part of the weather was taking place right in Central Cuba, where we needed to travel through on our way back to Havana.  It was an interesting trip back to say the least.  We ended up driving through flooded roads, horrendous downpours, detours, we think at one time the driver may have been a little lost and of course, no wi-fi, which meant no way to connect with our friends in Havana.  Eighteen and a half hours later we arrived in Havana, tired, hungry and thankful to put our feet on the ground there. We were blessed with having our friend from Camiguey with us the entire time in Santiago and part of the way back. We could see the difference between this visit and last year, with more products available in the stores, tons of rebuilding and new construction, a wider variety of choices of both food and drink in the restaurants.  The people of Cuba are loving, generous and make you feel as if you really belong, even when you botch the little bit of Spanish that you may know!  They may laugh in jest with you and then they will speak English to you!

It’s an experience visiting Cuba.  An experience that lingers for a very long time in our hearts and in our souls!  We are anxious for our next visit!

The Cousins Take on Punta Cana

Laughter, fun, pool time, beach time, beautiful aqua blue water, water aerobics, rum, paella, Japanese steak house, buffets and sit down dinners, more rum, more laughter, family time, talking, chilling, more rum, more beach time…. Need I say more- a week in Punta Cana with our cousins was an absolute blast!  Along with an extended couple of days in Santo Domingo, a day trip up to the Samana Peninsula completed an absolutely awesome, relaxing and unbelievable trip!  We absolutely love the DR and are anxious for our next trip there!  Enjoy some pics of our time together!

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Cuban Adventure

Ever since travel to Cuba has been lifted it has been high on our Gypsy bucket list. This past month our dream has finally come true and we ticked off the box!

It was an absolutely incredible 10 days in Cuba! We have new brothers and sisters in Christ there! In 10 days we experienced 3 cities; Havana, Cardenas and Camiguey, a round trip bus ride from Havana to Camiguey ( 8 hours both ways), taxi rides in Classic American cars and horse pulled wagons, tons of amazing Cuban cuisine (they have the best chocolate, ice cream, and of course coffee!) and the beautiful people of this wonderful country that we know so little about. But most of all we saw the impact of God on the people there and how they are being the hands and feet of God in the work that they do. We had the honor and privilege to worship and pray with the people of 7 different churches, were hosted in the homes of 7 different families and Jon had the opportunity to preach in 6 different churches and one leaders conference. We have seen the power of prayer and God’s almighty power working already! We are blessed!

There are way too many pictures to post, but here it a link to our Cuban adventure album.

https://goo.gl/photos/ncryqFPALmQe5Fw28

What Would You Do With…

What would you do with 3 days in NYC and 4 days on Long Island?  Walk like crazy, plan carefully, reboot when plans don’t pan out and keep on walking (or riding the subway).  See as much as you can in a little time but really try to absorb the sights, sounds, smells and everything surrounding you!  Ok- so it was time for another trip to see family in NY.  One thing we love to do is to at least try to grab a little bit of time in NYC.  So our week long visit to NY began with some time in NYC.  We had so many things on our bucket list to tick off and believe it or not we actually got a fair share of them completed!   Oh- so what did we check off?  Well here we go—

Day 1:

As we did last time our adventure began in Astoria, which we absolutely love.  We branched out from there for the first 3 days.  Of course, no trip to Astoria is complete without a trip to Neptune Diner, which was our to go spot for lunch.  Then it was on to pounding the pavement in Manhattan!  We caught the N line into Union Square and headed down Broadway.  First stop- The Strand Bookstore (no trip is complete to NY without going here), Laughing Man Coffee (owned by Hugh Jackman), Bleecker Street Pizza (way tinier than we thought).  Tons of walking, browsing, riding the subway (with some pretty cool subway entertainment tossed in), & back to Astoria for dinner at Mosaic Wine Bar.  Cold, snowy, and tired it was time to call it a night!

Day 2:

Today was a highlight day of our NYC time.  We had tickets for a tonights taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  We were so excited because tickets are incredibly hard to get, plus one of the guests was Ricky Gervais, one of our favs!  We decided to center ourselves around midtown so we could be close to the theatre when we had to check in at 2:00.  We are learning that no one gets anywhere quickly in Manhattan!  Now, in my humble opinion, there must be a stop at Macy’s while in the city. Of course, we already knew that the N train stops at 34th and Herald Sq- OMG- right across from Macy’s!  Off we went into the flagship store- just browsing of course- and being just a little sentimental riding the wooden escalator!  It does remind us of Halle’s in downtown Cleveland!  Ok- off to Times Square and all points Midtown.  We got in a stop at Magnolia Bakery (an awesome blueberry scone somehow jumped into our hands), onto Rockefeller Center for some lunch.  We still had a little time before we needed to be to the theatre.  One place that was on my list was St. Bartholomew’s Church – I have no clue why I wanted to see it but we did find it.  And of course a quick trip into St. Patrick’s Cathedral while we were right there.  One more trip back to Rockefeller Center for just a little sustenance at Bouchon Bakery and then we were off to the Stephen Colbert Theatre.  After an hour waiting outside (in the cold mind you), then another hour inside (thank goodness it was warm and we got a bathroom break) it was time to head into the theatre for the taping.  It was so worth the wait and was an incredible and fun night!  We even made it on TV when he did his final audience run and we all got free ice cream afterwards!  It was Stephen Colbert’s very own Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream.  After chowing down our ice cream in 20 degree weather it really was time for a warm place to sit, have a glass of wine and dinner.  We came across an absolutely delightful Italian restaurant, Osterio Del Circo.  I will say it was probably one of the best Italian Dinners we have had in a very long time.  Another awesome day in NYC- and only one more to go!  But stuff is getting ticked off that bucket list slow but sure!

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Day 3:

Our last day in the city and then we are off to LI for some family time!  Our adventure today was another long awaited item- The Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufmann Studios-right in Astoria!  If you should ever be in Astoria I most certainly would recommend you check out the museum!  It was absolutely incredible and so interesting.  Make sure to try to get there by April to see the Martin Scorsese Exhibit!  After spending the morning at the museum we were off back into the city.  First item on our list- Katz’s Deli.  Oh- and we got our first experience with subway delays when the train we were on was taken out of service between Astoria and Lexington Ave.  Thank goodness we aren’t a little afraid of exploring and soon found our way to Union Square.  After a short jaunt we finally found Katz’s (this one being much bigger than we expected).  We certainly needed to walk off that lunch to we headed back to Broadway for another stop at The Strand.  It was getting on into the afternoon and the temperature was slowly dropping so we had decided to head to Central Park.  Two more things to check off our list for the day.   Of course, we were at the opposite end of Central Park from where we needed to be, but we did get in a good walk through the Park and then on over to… Strawberry Fields and the Dakota Building.  Very serene and emotional it was with a small bouquet of flowers quietly placed by someone on the memorial.  It was a perfect ending to our time in NYC.  Our day ended with one last stop at The Neptune Diner in Astoria before braving the traffic out to Long Island!

So much to see, so little time to see it.  But, we will be back!  More memories in the memory bank!

Next Stop… Long Island!