Originally Scott and I decided that on this trip we wanted to stay in each country for a month at a time so we can get to know the place better, experience what it’s like to live there (public transportation, grocery shopping, working, attend play groups, etc), see as much as possible without rushing around (since we have a baby and we understand that some days we need to take it slow), and, honestly, because the phrase “Twelve Countries in Twelve Months” was catchy. ;)

Having spent a month in New Zealand (and now a month in Australia), I know that a month is not enough time to do all those things.  So how much time would be enough for us?  I have no idea.  Scott and I find ourselves asking this question quite often, especially at the end of each month.  We look back at the previous weeks and wonder if we did all the things we wanted to do and if we spent our time wisely.

At this point we always wish we had more money and more time.  More time in the day so Scott can get at least 6 hours of work in and we can make good use of the day exploring.  More time than just a month so that bad weather doesn’t hold us back.  More money to get everywhere we want to go and do everything we want to do.

We also find ourselves yearning for roots and stability to continue in building the relationships we’ve established in our short-term homes.  My favorite thing about visiting these new places is meeting new people.  Carter is the best ice breaker for conversation, and its been so fun to have people open up to us because of him.

Whether it’s meeting an amazing family of six kids who instantly take on the role of Carter’s siblings, a wise Japanese woman on the train who made him an origami crane, the young adventurous couple who approached us about the “mystery gel” on the beach, the Maori family that shared their culture with us, the aging mother and her daughter enjoying a beautiful afternoon walking along the river, the fun, new couple at church with a son the same age as Carter, the family we barely knew who took us in at the last minute when we were stranded, the man at the LDS Temple that gave us some advice of things to do, our hosts who enjoy their time as an interim grandma or grandpa for Carter, the Vietnamese woman who randomly gave us Carter’s fortune based on his physical appearance… the list could go on and on.

All of the people we’ve spent time with, whether for a moment or several times over the month, they are a part of us.  They are our friends and they have a place in our heart.

Meeting people is what make this trip the most that it can be.  Our friends are what makes it hard to leave each place.  Our friends are what helps us make such beautiful memories that we’ll get to share with Carter as he gets older.

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whakatu marae - Nelson, New Zealand

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