Our journey to Solwezi

Wow. What an incredible opportunity this trip has been so far. I’m sure my peers have grown tired of my constant asking “do you guys know where we are?!” as I continue to come to terms with this African experience. We’ve traveled around the world to meet and walk with entirely new people in a completely different culture. We have all had the opportunity of a lifetime thus far, and are even beginning to call Zambezi “home.” I can easily say many of us have struggled, grown, and maybe even changed in this incredible process. To top it all off, our group has grown incredibly close throughout this experience. It’s hard not to call all these amazing, inspirational, funny and awesome people my family.

Tuesday morning, a few of us (Hayley M, Delaney, Shaun, Garret and I) set off to accompany Josh as he dropped Susan and Erik off at the airport in Solwezi. (Don’t worry parents Mateo, Brittany and Raymond Reyes were holding down the fort in Zambezi.) We woke up early, and with the rising sun, began our 500km trek east across Zambia. We didn’t realize we were beginning one of the longest and most challenging journeys we had yet faced in Zambia. 25 minutes in, we ran into our first problem. The inner tube of the left rear tire popped, as Josh calmly and smoothly steered to the side of the road. Garret and I (mainly Garret) were able to change the tire within 20 minutes, and with laughter about our bad luck, we were off again. Three hours later, a spiking temperature gage and the sound of steam shooting from the radiator alerted us to our next problem. We pulled over, let it cool, and compiled our water from our Naglenes to fill up the drained radiator. We were off again. For about 15 minutes. The next time we pulled over (thanks to the help of a stranger and some deductive reasoning) we realized the problem. The belt that spins the fan to cool the radiator and charge the battery was gone. We were stranded next to one of the smallest villages I had seen yet (the beautiful Kamakuku), 2 hours outside of Solwezi, in the middle of nowhere. Josh was able to call ahead to friends we were planning to meet, asking for help. The said they would come, and the wait was on. It was hot, uncomfortable, and bug-filled. Things began to get a bit hopeless. Some of us began rationing our remaining cliff bars and water, in case of an overnight stay in the bush. It was decided that we would eat Garret first. However whenever I would stare at the dead Land Cruiser with dwindling hope, a positive remark from the group reminded me to enjoy the experience. After all, this is Africa. Thankfully, three and a half hours later, Father Sidney arrived. Sidney arrived with a fan belt, and his uncle, a mechanic, on the Bishop of Solweizi’s orders. We eventually got the car running, and it drove like new as we finished the journey with the setting sun. We dropped our bags, and hit the town looking for some good food. I don’t want to rub in the amenities of the trip to my friends who stayed back in Zambezi, but it involved pizza, and maybe even a hot shower.

I was told recently that there was “no hope for Africa”. I have to disagree. I have seen an immense amount of hope in my time here. I’ve seen it in my fellow “Chindeles” (white or western people) who came here to love, and see how they can help sustain and empower people. I’ve seen it in people like Sandu, who travels miles just to learn, grow, and positively impact his community through the leadership course. I’ve seen hope in clean mission hospitals, and in villages like Dipolata who have a mindset of sustainability. I’ve seen it in computer classes full of people eager to learn skills that can empower them and their community, and in our teachers who walk miles (past a library rising, thanks to Gonzaga) to teach young Zambians. In the health group who has crisscrossed the area educating community health workers, students and medical staff. I’ve seen it in the little warm hands that shoot from every direction when we leave the convent, and in the warm smiles and kindness that surround us in the Zambezi community. There is a lot to be hopeful for, but turning the hope we all have into a reality is going to be the struggle. Actually, it’s going to be a lot like our journey to Solwezi. Tires are going to be popped, fan belts blown, and we can feel a bit stranded and without hope. But, just as in our journey, that hope of arriving at reality will eventually come. With a positive mindset, friends willing to help, kind strangers, the realization and appreciation of the experience and journey, good old hope and maybe even a new fan belt, one day, we’ll all arrive. And who knows what awaits when we do.

Much love to my mom, dad and brother Chad, as well as all of our friends and family following this blog from home. Your warm and encouraging posts are something we all look forward to. Susan and Erik, fly safe. We already miss you.

Agape,

Conner House, Class of 2015

 

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28 Responses to Our journey to Solwezi

  1. carole marti says:

    Holy Zambia! Stranded with a broken down vehicle in the literal-middle-of-nowhere scenario…….well if nothing else you will never forget that experience. I like how several of you have mentioned growing so close together as a group while there, and I think having a broken down vehicle and rationing water and Cliff bars definitely will rate as one of those experiences where you grow closer together!

    Love you Shaun and miss you tons!

    I love the blog references to Hope for Zambia and the analagies to the broken down vehicle. This is a situation in Africa that will take many years and cultural change to move along, but with the presence of you all and the information and teachings that you and others before you have imparted, there definitely is hope and gradual change. You are making a difference in so many lives.

  2. Amber Siciliano says:

    All of you have such a beautiful way of telling your stories through these blogs. It is so amazing to be able to imagine what challenges you are overcoming, and the memories you are all making. I love how you related your (not so quick) trip to Solwezi into turning all of the hope in Zambia into a reality. Not only are there going to be challenges along the way and it will take time, but you will get to the end of the tunnel one day, and like you said, who knows what awaits when you do. You are all making a difference in the lives of the Zambian people, and it sounds like they are doing the same for you. I hope you are all having an amazing time and staying hydrated!! :) It’s nice seeing all of the pictures too! :)

    Katie!!!
    Do you know how many times I have picked up my phone and wished I could call you just to talk? LIKE A MILLION GAZILLION TIMES!! I miss you so much best friend and I hope you are doing well and still taking lots & lots of pictures!! ;) It hasn’t been sunny here for the past couple weeks since you left.. I guess the sun left with you! So I hope you are getting a nice tan for all of us here who are going to be very pasty and white when you return (mainly speaking for myself when I say this)! I still am looking forward to when it is your turn to post on this awesome blog!! We all miss you here and cannot wait till you come back! :) Love you bestie!! Xoxoxoxo!

  3. Brady says:

    So to give you a quick visual, I’m in the gym at GU right now (listening to Chris Brown blast over the speakers) on those cross trainer machines, you know the one along the far wall? Figured I’d check in on my favorite chindeles. Of course it woild be ypur post Connor, and as I’ve got my arms pumping, sweat dripping, reading off my iphone, I’m instantly in tears.

    Then I have that whole awkward laugh/cry/sniffle combination as you wrote about eating Garrett first.

    TIA right? True Gonzaga problem =trying to not cry thinking about Zambezi and you all in your incredible journey.

    You all have brought back such beautiful memories and are constantly amazing me with your lessons of hope, struggle, growth, and as always, the manifestation of love.

    I hope you were able to meet my dear friend Howard. If so, please let him know I think of our conversations nearly everyday and miss him very much.

    Hanna, Hayley, Teo, Ally, Garrett, Jason, Connor, Lucy — can’t wait to give you hugs on hugs when you get back. So many stories.

    Ps–how’s that poor goat sound? Crying all night? Yikes, I remember that one all too well.

    Teo, will you check in on Graham, Sharon, baby Joseph and Shiq? And Edith yoo? I’d love to know how they are. Send the kids all my love. Take some cool tree pictures mmk?

  4. Vince Sutton says:

    Here in the States we depend on schedule. It helps us plan our day, set our alarms and make reservations. For many of us, myself included, if something doesn’t happen when it is supposed to we become impatient. Why do I have to wait 20 minutes for the waiter to serve my dinner? Why do I have a 45 minute delay in my flight? Why can’t the plumber get here in less than an hour? As we listen to your journey to Solwezi, it makes me a little embarrassed and puts things in perspective. So what if I have to wait an extra 30 minutes? Well it sounds like in Zambezi it is probably more of a surprise if things do go as planned. And Connor it seems like you and your team did a great job of making the best of it and keeping it in perspective.

    Garrett, I am really glad to see that those strange, mysterious flat tires you’ve had in the past were all part of a greater plan to help you arrive in Solwezi. Love, Dad

  5. Sherie Crha (Ally Crha's mom) says:

    Wow, it never amazes me how well you all describe your day and the events that have taken place. Thank you so much for sharing your stories in depth, everytime I am reading a blog I almost feel like I can visualize what your going thru (ok thats just me!) I am sure I have no idea, but like all the other people can’t wait to see photos and hear more stories when you return. Please stay well (yes Allison I hope you are doing much better), since I haven’t heard anything else. Miss you very much, and like the previous comment, the sun hasn’t been shining much since you left, I think you took it with you to Zambia! My love to Allison, and keep the wonderful blogs coming!!!!

  6. Lynda McCann says:

    Conner, I’m speechless!! I’ve reread your blog 5 times!! It may just be one of my favorites so far! Not that I liked hearing that some of you were stranded, and ill be honest I was relieved to hear Katie wasn’t sharing that adventure. Although by the end of the blog I guess I would’ve been okay if she had…Knowing that you worked together and with help from others, were able to laugh about it, tie it to the common theme of “hope” and now have yet one more memory to add to your experiences! Thank you for sharing a part of your adventure with us all and keeping it so positive! I HOPE you have an amazing birthday…turning 20 will forever be an extra special memory for you! Enjoy it!
    Katie~ yes I’m still checking the website constantly and have read and reread every post a dozen times…not only do I love the actual blogs but I love each title and am so excited to read yours. I have to share that everyday I get a text from Christian or Amber saying “new post!” Clearly you are very loved and being missed tons!! Keep enjoying every moment baby girl…I can’t wait to have you home! I love you…(((hugs))) to you and everyone! God bless you all always and stay safe! Xoxo

  7. Dad says:

    WOW!!! what luck, good and bad. what an adventure to remember. So good to finally read your blog son, and so good to see a pic of you. glad all went well. guess you will never hear me worry aloud about you driving to Spokane again! your analogy is so insightful. glad you are getting as much out of the trip as the people of Zambia are. well better make this short as your mom just came home from work and she is rushing to read your post. chad says Hi and he loves you and happy birthday, i would like to tell you happy birthday young man!, wish I could share the day with you, but to know you are well and happy makes me relax. I love you and am very proud of the outstanding young man you are.
    hope your birthday is one you will always remember. love and miss you, dad. p.s check out the fishing prospects if you get a chance, maybe one day we can make it back.

  8. Tom Hobson says:

    That sure sounds like my first car. I wonder how it got all the way over to Zambia???

  9. Lori Newman says:

    Megan,
    I can’t wait for your turn to write in the blog. What an amazing ability you all have for transporting us to Africa. I miss you like crazy, but I know you are having the time of your life. Everything is the same at home. Please don’t bring that goat home. Your dad would be giddy if you did. He somewhat, quite a bit, really resembles a billy goat with his “beard”. I bet you can’t wait to see that. Katie graduates in two weeks. It sure went fast the 17 years we spent at St. Luke’s….I selfishly want to know how you feel, are you sleeping? are you eating? do you feel good? are you happy? But I know you are…

    I love ya Bugs,
    Mom

  10. Andre House says:

    Bubs!! (aka…Conner) So nice to read your blog and see your wonderful dimple smile in the above picture! What an adventure you and your team had in route to Solwezi-Leave it to you to translate the experience into a positve analogy! Love it. We are very proud of the spirit you all are bringing to Zambezi and other areas traveled throughout your visit. Upstanding, genuine, respectful and integrity filled individuals such as all of you, truly are making a difference in the everyday lives of the Zambians. Judging from the blogs, I’m quite certain the Zambians are also truly making a difference in each of your lives as well. Love you dearly, son and………..HAPPY BIRTHDAY as it’s now May 30th in Zambia!!!!! We’ll celebrate when you come home :) XOXOXOXOX

  11. Mikaela Medeiros says:

    Wow! What a great reflection and metaphor for life! I’m glad I’m hearing about this adventure after the fact though and that you made it back to Zambezi safely!

    H, I imagine it was a much more challenging situation than our Thanksgiving shortcut flat tire, but that one’s experience I’ll never forget. I’m sure you were a big help or at least took some good pictures. ;) I hope you’re having a great time! I miss you lots! Bobby and the rest of the fam do too. We can’t wait to see you! Love you girl!! xo

  12. Grandma Ginger Melville says:

    Hi there Conner!
    Quite the cute picture of you in front of the broken down vehicle you were just riding in, enjoying thetrip when all of a sudden-you found your rig broken down out in the middle of no where in Africa! When you shared in your recent blog that you had spent a night with a family in the “bush”-all kinds of pictures came to my mind of what that whole scene might look like! And I have heard loud and clear from you and your fellow Zags that Agape love is definitely in your midst with the Zambians. That is cool!
    Grandpa and I enjoyed your blog, Conner. We wish you a very special and happy #20th birthday! We love you and are so very proud of you.

  13. Kirsten Visco says:

    Conner!
    That was an amazing story. Quite the experience and insight you were able to have and thank you for sharing it with us, we can all learn to have hope even in tough situations.
    Also that is a great picture by the newly fixed tire a job well done!

    Happy Birthday!!! It is awesome that you will get to experience the Zambian culture to celebrate it–I believe beer is poured on your head if I correctly remember you telling me that? I can’t wait to hear about that story!
    Best wishes to you and a continued safe journey.

    Katie-hello my dear. I can not wait until it is your blogging day. I always love reading your writing because you possess such an incredible skill! I hope you are loving every second of teaching the kids and enjoying every elephant and sunset you see. Missing you bunches!!!!

  14. Monte Marti says:

    What an awesome experience and post. It takes a lot of faith and courage to use your drinking water for the radiator. This will be one of those memories that you all will look back on and laugh. Wow ~ How did we get into this? Wow ~ How did we get out of this? Wow ~ We are blessed to have each other and a great support network to help us along our journey. I bet you were excited to “get back home” at the end of the day. You make me smile. GOD BLESS! Monte

  15. Molly Baker says:

    Good Morning to all of you!!!
    Conner thank you for the wonderful post! I can’t believe that you guys had such an adventure on your african road trip! Hailey B it reminds me of our trips to the lake – not car problems but it usually takes longer than it should!!!

    Hailey B We think about you all the time. Wondering what you are all doing??? I can’t wait to hear every detail of the experience! Take lots of pictures!!!

    I love you to the Zambian moon and back!!

    Mom

  16. Melissa Houglum says:

    Connor, awesome reflection. Africa (and life) can throw a lot of punches and you just gotta roll with them. Way to keep a positive attitude and sense if humor! Loved reading this post.
    Take care and God bless, ya’ll! –Melissa Houglum
    PS yes, Teo you gotta let us know how Sharon, Graham, and fam are… Just don’t let Shiq get loose again! Lol!

  17. Larry and Lori Newman says:

    The recurring theme of all the blog postings and my discussions with Megan over the past few years I’m struck by the consistency of the overwhelming desire to help by all of you on the trip. I had often worried (and still do to a smaller extent) that Megan might come to realize on the trip that despite her endless reserves of empathy, hard work, perseverance and love that changing the world is a bigger job than she imagined. Some of the postings have hinted at this mild despair with the realization of the hurdles placed before the African people. I remember a tale (easily as it turns out because I’ve heard it a trillion, zillion times in church, seminars and volunteering situations) that nevertheless is quite relevant to your situation.

    At the risk of repeating an inspirational parable that every man, woman, and child in the Western world has probably heard before (forgive me if it’s been cited already on this blog):
    A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

    She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

    The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

    “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

    Heart by heart you’re changing the world for those people. Teachers might be sparking the interest of a future Prime Minister. The health workers might be educating someone who may grow up healthy and find the cure for those countries economies.

    Keep up the great work and cherish every second over there, even the tough ones and take tons of pictures.

    Megan,
    What the heck do goats like to eat and try and figure out if it has a paint color preference.
    Love, Dad

  18. Hikaru says:

    Conner! You had me laughing at pizza and hot shower :) Thank you chindeles for really sitting down and taking the time to reflect and process all that you are experiencing for friends and family back home to be able read. To me, it’s like a tiny bite of chocolate. A little teaser, walking down memory-lane, it makes me so happy. Thinking about the smell of the computer room, everyone anxiously listening to Conner read his blog then read the comments, it really brings tears to my eyes. Each and every one of you are thought of and prayed for while you experience Zambia. You are truly loved more than you can imagine. I can no longer eat Luna bars so please, enjoy them while you can! & WOW! Dr. Reyes is with you and Fr. Baraza from what I’m assuming?!? That is so cool!

    Jason; keep smiling. Tell Domity I say hi, thinking of you, sending you positive thoughts. Remember reappraisal is good, negatively reappraising is bad, 2nd bad effect, wait for the second marshmallow, if you go to class the day before spring break, you will get donuts, barbie is not cool, what would Heinie (Hi-Knee) say? :) \
    Mateo; I hope we can still pass as cousins despite our differences in hair length. Thinking of you!!
    Tamryn; I remember I would see you out running before my 8AM yoga class… Hope you’re maybe enjoying your sand runs in Zambezi!!
    Hayley; you are so silly. Can’t wait for training!!
    Ally; continue to shine brighter than the sun, you are wonderful!
    Lauren; I still remember the day you showed me a funny video of the baby (I think niece…) in Crosby. I bet she misses you TONS too!!
    Hailey; It’s time to begin, isn’t it…? Welcome to Dragon Training.. THERE’S NO TURNING BACK!
    Fr. Baraza; I hope I’m not making up in my mind that you’re there… Otherwise I bet all of you are laughing at this comment. BUT IF YOU ARE THERE… Father, you are so cool! Sasa and Zamani! Live in the present! WHOO!

    With lots of love,
    Hikaru

  19. Christian Hoag says:

    Conner!!!!! It’s sooooo great to finally hear from you! Ahhhh I miss you man. It sounds like you’re having a great great amazing fantastic time over there. I have to say that I laughed when you were talking about fixing the tire… Just because of my past driving experiences with you… Remember that time, when we were headed home, and you and mark went to red rooster, and when you parked you drove over the curb so your car was basically hanging over the cliff?? hahahaha I would post the picture if I could… So funny. Sorry, I feel bad now, I shouldn’t be cracking fun at you when you are doing such amazing things for people so much less fortunate than us “chindeles.” (Did I do that right?) But it’s awesome that you are seeing the positive things in Africa, and that it truly is getting better. The way I see it, every good thing has to start from somewhere, and you guys are all starting it, and stoking it, and tending it, and keeping it going, and just like a flame, that good thing will soon enough catch and spread like wild fire. Please keep it up! You are all an inspiration for us here at home to do something for more than just ourselves. Most of all, be safe, and continue to have an amazing time, you’re all in my prayers!!!

    Christian

    ps Katie, my stomach literally hurts I miss you so much… I didn’t know that was possible. But I love you. Please be safe, and continue to cherish every moment you have there!! You only have like 2.5 more weeks!! (Thank God ;)!!!) Bye best friend

  20. Leslie Ross says:

    Happy Birthday Conner – great to finally hear from you!

    I have to admit I was relieved to hear that my little Lauren was not on your journey to Solwezi, especially with the heat & bugs! (she does not like bugs). Thanks for sharing your awesome story. I feel so many different emotions reading all your blogs. All I can say is “Wow, what an opportunity you have & how amazing you all are!”

    We sure miss you Lauren. (Mom, Dad, Cali, Jovi, Evi & Family) We are counting the days until your return home, and look forward to hearing your voice & seeing your beautiful smile. You are an amazing young woman with a very dear heart. We love you with all our hearts. Best wishes for a safe journey ahead. X0x0 You are always in our thoughts & prayers.

  21. Susan Norwood says:

    First of all, happy birthday, Conner! Goat for birthday dinner? Electricity maybe?
    I am sitting in Heathrow waiting for the third leg of my trip home. So far, it’s all been much less dramatic than the journey to Solwezi…I even slept most of the flight from Jo’burg. Don’t worry, Hailey B., a manicure is on today’s agenda!
    I miss all of you already and wish it had been possible for me to stay longer. You are an amazing group. I feel honored and humbled to have worked with all of you and to have been a part of this amazing experience. Every time I travel to Africa, she teaches me more — about herself and her people, myself, resilience, hope, and creative problem-solving. As you are all learning, in the end, Africa must define and solve her own problems. The focus of the Zambezi experience on accompaniment — walking with, hanging in there with, and supporting in both tangible and intangible ways — is “spot on” and makes more of a difference thanyoublikely realize.To me, it shows faith and belief in our partners’ abilities and hope for their future.
    I will be following the blog and thinking of all of you.Health group, I hope all goes well (no more topless cooking classes!)….you have put together great plans for the rest of your teaching sessions and are in good hands with Brittney.
    Take care and stay well,
    Susan
    PS….fabric weighs a lot….careful with those purchases!

  22. Katie Blackburn says:

    What a day that must have been- and a fun memory (now that you’re not waiting in the heat any longer)! I had a smile on my face thinking of all you problem solving with that Land Cruiser, and the fact that Josh knows half of Zambia and can call for help- you are traveling with the right guy, people! And Connor, Happy Birthday!! Sorry to tell you this but I don’t think you’ll be able to top spending your birthday in Zambia, all down hill from here buddy :)

    Lots of love!
    Katie

  23. Grandma Ginger Melville says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU-HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU-HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR CONNER-HAPPY #20TH BIRTHDAY TO YOU (AND MANY MANY MORE)!
    I WILL NEVER FORGET THE DAY YOU WERE BORN AS I WAS BLESSED TO BE IN THE DELIVERY ROOM. THE DOCTOR PRECEDED TO CHECK YOU OUT WHICH WAS AN “A” EVALUATION. AS YOU LAID ON THAT SAME LITTLE BED YOU WERE CRYING (LOUD AND CLEAR!-SUCH HUSKY LUNGS YOU HAD)! AND I SAID, “HI CONNER! I’M GRANDMA GINGER”. THE MINUTE I STARTED SAYING THOSE WORDS YOU QUIT CRYING, TURNED YOUR HEAD TOWARD ME WITH YOUR PIERCING EYES, LOOKING AT ME, AS IF YOU UNDERSTOOD EVERY WORD I SAID. LOOK WHERE YOU ARE TODAY: AN INTELLIGENT, SPIRITUAL, CARING YOUNG MAN IN AFRICIA! ENJOY THIS EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME! -LOVE YOU, GRANDMA GINGER

  24. Tessa Helber says:

    Such amazing stories you are all writing! Every morning at work the first thing I do is hop onto this website and take a quick trip to Africa thanks to you guys. Each post is so amazing and I can only imagine how life-changing every day is for you. Thanks for keeping all of us updated! I’m so jealous of all of you!!! And Conner HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Megan, Katie and Ally- I MISS YOU GUYS! I can’t wait to see you all very soon and hear allll the amazing tales of Zambia! You’re not missing much here, it’s been raining pretty much since your departure. Washington’s sad that you’re gone, clearly. Oh, and we just got into our new 1005 house and had a yummy dinner on the living room floor yesterday! :) SEE YOU SOOOOON, Can’t wait to read more!!
    xoxoxo (nuzzle for meg)
    Tessa

  25. Kelsey Hansen says:

    CONNER!!! Oh my word, can I just say how good it is to know that you are doing well and living it up!!! As I woke up this morning I realized it was your birthday, and in my half sleep state I made efforts to call you this morning… Didn’t really think that one through. After a few tries however I finally realized my mistake and made way to fid a way to contact you and say, Conner, you are truly a remarkable friend! And through the years I’ve made my fair share of comments insinuating how loyal you are as a friend, but I hope you know that despite all our jokes and fun, I do believe you to be one of my best friends! You have always been there for me and are a huge part of every one of my favorite memories! I cannot thank you enough for your friendship! Also, it is beyond wonderful to hear that Africa is treating you well. Know you are in my prayers and I hope you continue to enjoy every minute of your adventure! Can’t wait for you to come home so we can hike the PNW like crazy! Happy birthday friend!
    Love Kelsey

  26. Brandon Hinricksen says:

    I’ll start out with Happy Birthday (wishes from the whole Hinricksen family)!!! First thing I did this morning was try to figure out how to send you a birthday wish (guessing the cell reception in Zambezi is nonexistent). Sounds like you are having some awesome experiences. I bet you are exited to get back though too. Cant wait to hear all about it! Have a fun rest of the trip and be safe. I wish you luck with your fan belt and no more flat tires!!

    Brandon

  27. Ashlee Lawrence says:

    CONNERRRR. It has been incredible being able to keep up with your journey on this blog and I’ve been counting down the days till I got to hear from you, secretly hoping you would post near your birthday. So with that being said, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR FRIEND. You have been an incredible friend to me over the past few years and I’m so thankful to have you in my life. You are missed so so much but I know you are literally living out a dream in Africa right now. I can’t wait to hear every story and see very picture when you’re back!!! Hope you’ve had the most amazing birthday yet and know you are loved and missed so much!

    Hales and Lucy- MY GIRLS! I miss ya both TOO much! You guys are in my thoughts and prayers every night and I cannot wait to be reunited with you both in the Fall. Keep brightening every room with your beautiful smiles, and keep falling in love with everything around you, I can’t wait to hear all about your experiences. I love you both so much!

    Love always,
    Ash

  28. Kim Hinricksen says:

    Happy Birthday Conner!! I cannot come to terms with the fact that you are 20 years old. It seems like yesterday I was heading to Gildo Rey to watch you and Brandon in some of the best Kindergarten performances ever witnessed. haha. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog but I did have one thought: It’s too bad your truck didn’t end up “high-centered” because I know you would have had first had knowledge on how to get out of that predicament! I can’t wait for you to get back to Washington and share more stories. I’m so proud of you and hope you have the best 20th birthday. We’ll celebrate when you get home. Be safe. Love, The Hinricksen’s

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