{it takes a village- my friend amy}

Eleven Months.

It seems like an eternity before it begins.  And then, three weeks in, on the way to your second country- your realize… I no longer have eleven months left.  It never slows down.

Then it happens, between the teaching English, the washing babies, the all night worship… Somehow you end up here.  With only eleven weeks left.

This journey is not my own.  The story I’ve lived for the past fifteen months has been very much shared with a special community.

Over the next eleven weeks, I will attempt to express my gratitude.  But will undoubtedly fall short.  To those who have journeyed with me, you have stars in your crown in Heaven for this.  The list of those who impacted my race is, of course, longer than eleven- it has taken a village.  Each one of you reading has touched my race and my heart in some way, your prayers, your blog comments (Susie and Terri), and your support made my race what it is.  I have been able to love those around me because of the love shown to me by every one of you.

From the bottom of my heart-
Thank you.

read my letter to my dad here
or last week’s letter to my mom here
or what i wrote to my older sister here
or what i had to say to my little here
or what i shared about heather here

•••

Amy,

You are steadfast.  You called out growth in me when I didn’t see it in myself.  You are selfless and strong, and brave in ways I hope to be one day.  You love really well…really, really well.
More times than I can count, you’ve finished my sentences with exactly the words my heart couldn’t find.
I am grateful for your gentleness, wisdom, and friendship each and every day- and couldn’t truly say I was home until we had coffee together in your kitchen.  Thank you for opening up your home to me always and sharing your family with me for the past three years!

p.s. we have GOT to get a picture together

love you so so much!
-steph

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{it takes a village- my friend heather}

Eleven Months.

It seems like an eternity before it begins.  And then, three weeks in, on the way to your second country- your realize… I no longer have eleven months left.  It never slows down.

Then it happens, between the teaching English, the washing babies, the all night worship… Somehow you end up here.  With only eleven weeks left.

This journey is not my own.  The story I’ve lived for the past fifteen months has been very much shared with a special community.

Over the next eleven weeks, I will attempt to express my gratitude.  But will undoubtedly fall short.  To those who have journeyed with me, you have stars in your crown in Heaven for this.  The list of those who impacted my race is, of course, longer than eleven- it has taken a village.  Each one of you reading has touched my race and my heart in some way, your prayers, your blog comments (Susie and Terri), and your support made my race what it is.  I have been able to love those around me because of the love shown to me by every one of you.

From the bottom of my heart-
Thank you.

read my letter to my dad here
or last week’s letter to my mom here
or what i wrote to my older sister here
or what i had to say to my little here

•••

Heather,

You were a constant in the months leading up to the race.  Every anxiety I shared with you was met with graciousness and words of peace.  And while on the race, you are one of those who ‘get’s it’- I am learning every day how rare a treasure that is.
Thank you. Thank you for sharing in the excitement and emotion of the past eleven plus months.  Thank you for timeless gift of scripture and an amazing book that I’ve poured over and underlined new truths in monthly. Thank you for taking a chance on a friendship with a girl who cries a whole awful lot… it has meant the world to me.

love you girl!
-steph

{t-minus twelve days}

20140720-112820.jpgleave it to a traveling blogger to start a blog series then spend the following eight weeks in absolutely beautiful countries without wifi…

for all of your love and support and prayers in the final weeks of the race I give thanks. and I promise to fill you in on the final seven “it takes a village”ers come august.

until then, keep finding adventures wherever you may be!

-steph

 

{it takes a village- my little sister}

Eleven Months.

It seems like an eternity before it begins.  And then, three weeks in, on the way to your second country- your realize… I no longer have eleven months left.  It never slows down.

Then it happens, between the teaching English, the washing babies, the all night worship… Somehow you end up here.  With only eleven weeks left.

This journey is not my own.  The story I’ve lived for the past fifteen months has been very much shared with a special community.

Over the next eleven weeks, I will attempt to express my gratitude.  But will undoubtedly fall short.  To those who have journeyed with me, you have stars in your crown in Heaven for this.  The list of those who impacted my race is, of course, longer than eleven- it has taken a village.  Each one of you reading has touched my race and my heart in some way, your prayers, your blog comments (Susie and Terri), and your support made my race what it is.  I have been able to love those around me because of the love shown to me by every one of you.

From the bottom of my heart-
Thank you.

read my letter to my dad here
or last week’s letter to my mom here
or what i wrote to my older sister here

•••

2ao1uAOkSqxfkauKgriJlggo-ygbFuBS8IRxJZW5yVkVal,

You are a woman of beauty, and strength, and the best humor of any one I know.  One of my favorite titles of this lifetime is Valerie Cashin’s Older Sister.
Watching you grow more and more into a woman of God has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
The wisdom and depth you have when speaking is Christ in you, I see that every time we talk.  You are one of the greatest truths to the statement, “the world race doesn’t just change racers, it changes families.”  Your support and perspective over the last ten months have helped sustain me through the hard days- thank you.
War Eagle and I Love You Forever!
-steph

{for the dead and the living, we must bear witness}

yesterday, my team and I went to auchwitz.
and I wanted it to rain.  because if it had rained, maybe it would have made more sense- that is maybe the horror that happened here would have been reflected in the gloom of weather.  but instead i spent the day wrapping my mind around this fact Auchwitz didn’t happen in black and white.  some days the absolute hell that happened on these grounds happened on days where the sun hung high in the sky and the weather and the world kept on turning.

auchwitz 2014

arbeit macht frei– work will set you free

luggage collected from jews who were told they were being relocated

when the Soviet Union liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, there were 43,000 pairs of shoes found in the camp

a nun on our tour mourning those executed from one of the false trails held at Auchwitz

when the ss soldiers abandoned Auchwitz-Birkenau the prisoners tore down and used the barracks for firewood.  it was decided by survivors and government officials to never rebuild the barracks only preserve the remains

guardhouse and main gate of Auchwitz- Birkenau

a train boxcar once used to transport prisoners to Auchwitz- Birkenau.  up to 150 prisoners would be loaded into a boxcar this size.

remaining preserved barracks at Auchwitz-Birkenau

the hardest exhibit for me was TRACES OF LIFE.  the artwork is based on children’s drawings found on the walls of the camp.  artists assembled fragments of the drawings and drew them on the walls of the exhibits in their original sizes.

 

i am still grieving the reality of what i saw.
but i urge you, if the opportunity ever comes for you to walk the grounds of the camp- take it.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel, Night 

{it takes a village- my older sister}

Eleven Months.

It seems like an eternity before it begins.  And then, three weeks in, on the way to your second country- your realize… I no longer have eleven months left.  It never slows down.

Then it happens, between the teaching English, the washing babies, the all night worship… Somehow you end up here.  With only eleven weeks left.

This journey is not my own.  The story I’ve lived for the past fifteen months has been very much shared with a special community.

Over the next eleven weeks, I will attempt to express my gratitude.  But will undoubtedly fall short.  To those who have journeyed with me, you have stars in your crown in Heaven for this.  The list of those who impacted my race is, of course, longer than eleven- it has taken a village.  Each one of you reading has touched my race and my heart in some way, your prayers, your blog comments (Susie and Terri), and your support made my race what it is.  I have been able to love those around me because of the love shown to me by every one of you.

From the bottom of my heart-
Thank you.

read my letter to my dad here
or last week’s letter to my mom here

•••

with jes

Jes,

When I said yes to the race I knew it would change things between us.  There was fear of what that change would be, you were no longer just a call or drive across the state away.
And, it hasn’t been the same- instant coffee shared over facetime is no match for french press on the farm’s front porch…but the past thirty-seven weeks have proved, miles and time differences are no match for Cashin sisters who need to talk.  
I love you so much, you are the bravest big sister I have!
I can’t wait to interrupt you and quote every line from whatever movie Val tells us is funny in sixty-four days!
-steph

 

{it takes a village- my mom}

Eleven Months.

It seems like an eternity before it begins.  And then, three weeks in, on the way to your second country- your realize… I no longer have eleven months left.  It never slows down.

Then it happens, between the teaching English, the washing babies, the all night worship… Somehow you end up here.  With only eleven weeks left.

This journey is not my own.  The story I’ve lived for the past fifteen months has been very much shared with a special community.

Over the next eleven weeks, I will attempt to express my gratitude.  But will undoubtedly fall short.  To those who have journeyed with me, you have stars in your crown in Heaven for this.  The list of those who impacted my race is, of course, longer than eleven- it has taken a village.  Each one of you reading has touched my race and my heart in some way, your prayers, your blog comments (Susie and Terri), and your support made my race what it is.  I have been able to love those around me because of the love shown to me by every one of you.

From the bottom of my heart-
Thank you.

read last week’s letter to my dad here

•••

Mom,

I desperately want to make you proud.  Dad too of course, but you in a different sort of steph and momway.  You’re the woman I want to become.  But, my way of getting there and becoming doesn’t look the same as your journey did.  Thank you for letting me take my own trail, climb new mountains, and look under different rocks along the way.  Thank you for demonstrating the graceful courage of saying, “go, see, do, become, and tell me all about it along the way.”

I carry your heart with me…
-steph

{it takes a village- my dad}

Eleven Months.

It seems like an eternity before it begins.  And then, three weeks in, on the way to your second country- your realize… I no longer have eleven months left.  It never slows down.

Then it happens, between the teaching English, the washing babies, the all night worship… Somehow you end up here.  With only eleven weeks left.

This journey is not my own.  The story I’ve lived for the past fifteen months has been very much shared with a special community.

Over the next eleven weeks, I will attempt to express my gratitude.  But will undoubtedly fall short.  To those who have journeyed with me, you have stars in your crown in Heaven for this.  The list of those who impacted my race is, of course, longer than eleven- it has taken a village.  Each one of you reading has touched my race and my heart in some way, your prayers, your blog comments (Susie and Terri), and your support made my race what it is.  I have been able to love those around me because of the love shown to me by every one of you.

From the bottom of my heart-
Thank you.

•••

Dad,

I wonder this morning, as I write from Ukraine, when you took me to Costa Rica for the first time ten years ago, did you know what you were starting?  Did you know what kind of impact a passport stamp, a midnight worship service, “you-stink”, and a woman prophesying over me would have?

It all began there, dad.  All of this wondering as I’m wandering-
Can’t wait to hug your neck in seventy-eight days!

-steph

#worldraceparents

My parents came to Romania.
Yep- they traveled over 8,000 miles to come see what I’ve been doing for the past eight months.
We were welcomed into people’s homes, run off the road by horses and buggies, won the family spirit award, and laughed more than I have in 224 days.
And we asked hard questions, and prayed hard prayers, and dreamed really big dreams…

And it was so very personal-
So while I try and figure out what exactly to share, here are my three favorite pictures from the week.

tearful hellos at the airport
ya know… just walking through a goat pasture with my folks

impressing this babushka with all the romanian i’ve learned… not