Hershey and Philadelphia, PA

Today was another good day. No rain, which was a little blessing from God. First, we ate breakfast in Hershey, PA. We chose a place based on a recommendation from a friend of Patty’s and it was fabulous! It was called the Hershey Pantry. I had their famous baked oatmeal and also pictured is Carson with his yummy meal. Jennica’s cinnamon roll was AS big AS her plate (sorry no pic of that).

Next, we had to visit the Hershey store, of course. We chose not to do any of the attractions because of time, but we found the store to be quite fun all by itself. Nothing like spending $70 on candy. 🤔 oops!

Then, we headed to Philadelphia. It was a pretty cool city, we decided. We first went to the world’s first penitentiary (yep…the world’s first…not just the first in the US). Eastern State Penitentiary was something that Carson has seen on a TV show called “Mysteries of the Abandoned.” It was something that was recommended to us also because of where Andy works. It was really neat to see the inside and get a small glimpse of what Andy walks into every day.

Then, we headed to lunch, recommended by a local…it was yummy! I wanted a Philly cheesesteak sandwich while we were in Philly! We found a great one at Sonny’s and the kiddos had good food too.

While walking around we found the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center. Andy thought that was cool.

Next we saw some historic must-see places. Ben Franklin’s Grave, the Betsy Ross house, the Liberty bell, Independence Hall, the US Mint (you can watch them make coins- how fun!), plus many others…

Finally, we got to enter our 5th state to see thus far… New Jersey. Here, we met up with my sweet friend, Amanda Mapp. This girl and her sister will forever hold a piece of my heart (and they have ever since I baby-sat them over 20 years ago). I was so thankful to spend a little time with her. ❤️

It’s been a good trip so far. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for safety! God is good.

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Spring Break with Tilda

Day one consisted of driving to Somerset, Pa. we went through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania. It was a long day of driving! Day two we started at the Flight 93 memorial. It was somber but amazing. For Janine and I (Andy) it took us back to that dreadful day, September 11, 2001. We then drove a couple of hours to Gettysburg. It was amazing! We paid for a private tour in our own personal vehicle and our guide was so good! We highly recommend seeing Gettysburg this way!

We saw a house with a civil war mortar still in it.

And a house that has been hit by a cannon ball!

And a house where you can stick your fingers into bullet holes!

Our guide even took us to a covered bridge that was used by both confederate and union soldiers during the civil war.

We ended our Gettysburg trip with a great dinner at The Dobbins House. Built in 1776 and used for the Underground Railroad!

The kids got to swim, and we are ready for some rest!

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Thank you to those that have followed our adventures through our website! We are happy to say we are home! We had an amazing time, and cannot wait to go back some day, but it is always good to be home. Here are a few pictures that didn’t make the blog… we look forward to sharing with all of you!

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The most difficult day. 

Today was the day we have all been dreading, the day we had to say “see you later” to our German family. Lena does not believe in goodbyes, when she left America three years ago, she would not say goodbye, but simply see you later.  Uncle Frank and Uli (Lena’s dad) both came from work to see us off at the train station. After a few tears and lumps in our throats, we parted ways.  Unfortunately the G20 summit was in Hamburg Today and they didn’t clear it with the Sutton’s Holiday (European for vacation) and our travels back to Switzerland started with another hiccup, as our first train was delayed for 40 minutes.  Frank offered to drive us to Hannover as he was headed there for work. I could get used to this autobahn thing!  We topped out around 230/km/h (143mph) and made great time! We connected on our second leg of our journey from Hannover to Basel.  We then thought we had clear sailing, until our train broke down 30 minutes south of Hannover. So we had to switch from the high speed train to a commuter train. We saw every station between Mannheim and Basel! We could not all sit together, and I had a lovely conversation with an older lady who lives in the Black Forest area. She then pointed out some mountains that she claimed were in France!  After arriving in Basel, we figured out the train ride to Aarau and got some lunch.  Unfortunately our trials only began at that point, as we left Basel and had only three stops to our destination. As we entered the first train station, a man decided to jump onto the tracks and laid down to take his own life. Before the train engineer could stop it was too late. Fortunately we did not feel, see, or hear anything other than the engineer’s attempt to stop the train quickly. Carson immediately wanted to pray for the families involved once we found out what had happened. He and Jennica are both struggling tonight with this traumatic experience. Please pray for both of them! We then were stuck in Switzerland with no clue What to do and without speaking the language.  Fortunately, God sent us Miriam. She is a lovely lady who figured out our strife and committed to making sure we made it to Bernadette’s house in Aarau. She interpreted for us, offered to pay for an UBER for us and ultimately got on two separate trains with us to get us to our destination! We told her she could just point us in the right direction but she stated no, her ambition was to get us to Aarou safely, and she did. We could not thank her enough! We ended the day at the festival Bernadette wanted to take us to and it was fun, and busy! We are thankful for God’s provisions and His care for us throughout this trip, especially today. Please also pray for safe travels tomorrow for us and for the Porter family as they travel to Chicago to come pick us up! We have so many pictures and memories to share when we catch up on some sleep! 

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Last night in Germany

Today we celebrated Lena and Sarah’s 21st birthdays. We shared lots of laughter and spent time with friends and extended family. Tomorrow we travel back to Aarau, Switzerland before Flying home on Friday. We will be sad to leave, but are thankful for the experience that we have had here in Germany. It is easy to see why God gave us Lena for a year, and now our family is a little (ok a lot) bigger. 

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Today, we slept in a little, then we had the famous “Anja pancakes,” which we call “Lena pancakes” when we’re at home in the U.S. Yum! 

 Next, the girls went shopping and the boys hung out at home. It was fun to experience a German mall and other little shops too. Andy and Carson watched a movie, rode bikes around the village, skipped rocks at the river, packed a little, and then met us for ice cream and to look at a nearby “dome,” which is a big beautiful church. It’s interesting that both families wanted to show us nearby churches…you can just walk in and out of them because they open them to the public during the day. We’ve seen lovely buildings with a lot of history, including this church in Verden. 

We ended the evening with another bike ride for the kids, some grilled bratwurst (which andy eats but not the rest of us), and a nice 65 degree evening on their terrace just visiting. Nice. 

Jennica found some chips she loves. Crazy girl bought two bags today at the store. Lol

Check out this before and after picture. A little has changed in three years, but not how much we love this girl (and now her family too!)  ❤️

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Today we traveled to Cuxhaven, to see the North Sea. It may have been the craziest thing we have witnessed on this trip! The tide goes out so far you cannot see the ocean and you can walk on the mud/sand for several kilometers! We walked about two miles out into the North Sea and could not see the Water! You can even take a horse ride 12 kilometers out to an island! Tomorrow the girls shop and the boys get to bicycle around town and relax!  The star on the map is about where we turned around! We ended the day by visiting Lena’s grandparents and then visiting and playing games. 

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