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Really are these the same kids that finished the 2015-16 school year just two months ago?

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This has been a long summer of travel but it is always so good to be back in Ontario and have the chance to hang out with family and friends. Steve’s time was pretty limited as he needed to get back to school but I stayed on for an extra couple of weeks to look after business. We are so grateful for Randy and Sylvia  who always make us feel so welcome and at home in their granny suite; a place where family can always drop by for a visit. Time was tight but we did get in some nice meals and even a few games of Rook before Randy and Sylvia headed out west, leaving Max and I to house sit.

Not all of your “family” are necessarily blood relatives. Some are friends who we  are proud to know, people we admire, love and respect; people who make our lives better simply by being in it. Al and Shelley hosted a completely lovely BBQ Sunday afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with them as well as Kevin and Colleen and Dave and Catherine and their families. It even morphed into a little bit of Canadiana because we were invited to join coach Dave and the entire Marchand family to watch Lana compete at the Rio Olympics.

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By heading out early in the morning, we managed to have a wonderful breakfast with other very special friends in “The Glen”.

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We got all the stuff done that needs to be looked at each year in terms of finances, back to school shopping and the condo and even applied for my OAS. I had a day to talk projects with the TWR team and some opportunities for good conversations with WLA friends and long time friends. Great summer all around but seven weeks is a long time to live out of suitcases and I was happy to be heading back to our little island.

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It is a wonderful thing to be back on the same side of the world as our kids and grandkids but even then we can’t always be everywhere we would love to be. Jon and Nic and the kids took a trip out west to meet Layla for the first time and as much as we would have loved to be there too, it brings us great joy  to see our children together and enjoying each others’ company.

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With all we had to do this summer and all that Jon and Nic and the kids had on their plates, it looked like we would not get to see them at all on this visit. However, as we were about to board our flight from LA to Toronto we recieved a text message from Jon saying that they were enroute to Calgary and had a three hour stop over in the Toronto airport. God is so good and as it turned out our flights landed about ten minutes apart and we were able to meet up for about a half hour and get in some hugs.

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Every summer, Nicole’s parents host a Fish Fry for the extended family and that happened to fall while I was in Ontario so I had another little stolen visit with the kids around Pat and Wendy’s pool.

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 “The P.A.C.K.” Purposed Around a Common Klesis (calling)35 Cohort map

Two years ago we began our journey with a cohort of fellow MAGLers with whom we would struggle through nine courses in leadership. We spent two weeks together last February in Colorado Springs and now we are together once again for our Capstone Seminar to mark the beginning of our two final courses. We have lost a few members along the way due to the demands of finances or their full time ministry. Others are still on the journey but have needed to temporarily slow the pace or could simply not join us these two weeks because of family needs or work assignments. We dearly missed Timothy, Nikole, Kris, Allison, Jonathan and Kurt.

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We finally were able to visit what will be our “alma mater” as the seminar was held at the main campus of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. The campus is beautiful and it was great to catch up with the lives of our cohort members. We did the intensive, in-class portion of two courses which we will complete over the next five months. Outside of class we had opportunities to visit over meals and walks through the charming, old city of Pasadena. It was a tiring intrusion into our summer but we are simply rejoicing that we “can smell the barn”.

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We began the summer 2016 marathon with a couple of glorious weeks hanging out in Calgary with Liz and Greg and Russ and Layla and even got in a few visits with Dave. The weather was beautiful so Steve got the deck painted and a few other odd jobs done around house. Liz is still off on maternity leave so we did some local excursions to the kids favourite spots. We even took in The Calgary Stampede for the very first time as it was senior’s day so we got in free; probably the only reason we would visit the stampede.

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We had to leave a few days before Russ’s 3rd birthday but we did a little celebration, with a Spiderman cupcake that I had promised him early in the visit, and Grandpa put together his trampoline.

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Ever since we left Canada, my long time friend Sonya has been planning to visit us but life, work and school kept getting in the way. Now it has finally happened and it was worth the wait. Most of our visitors thus far have been family  so our explorations have been beach and kid activity stuff which is great. However having Sonya here gave us the motivation to visit some new sights.

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is really lovely even though we were probably a week or two late the catch the flowers and trees in full bloom. It was still a very pleasant stroll on a lovely day and gave us the excuse to have lunch at the Lighthouse with the waves crashing around us.

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We discovered Pedro St James and spent an afternoon learning a bit more of the history of the settlement of the Cayman Islands. Referred to as “The Birthplace of Democracy in the Cayman Islands”, Pedro St. James was the venue for a meeting on December 5th, 1831 where the decision was made to form the Cayman Islands first elected parliament.

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We still had plenty of time for the regular island stuff like the submarine and beach walks;Sonya developed a new found love for snorkeling. We couldn’t help but use the excuse of company to take the night cruise to our favourite funky, little restaurant at Rum Point.

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It seems unbelievable that our first year is over. It has been incredibly challenging, stressful, fun and rewarding. We still basically wake up each day and marvel at the beauty of this country and the joy of living here. We have made some amazing new friends but as always comes with this life style; that means we have new people to say good-bye to.

We have been trying all year to do an evening catamaran sail across the North Sound to have dinner with our friends Kevin and Angie. Angie was the elementary school principal and Steve relied very heavily on Kevin for the needed training and tech support to make this school year a success. Now they are headed back to the States to provide the care that is needed by their aging parents. We managed to get in a wonderful evening with themjust days before they had to leave the island.

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